Sidebilder
PDF

Am. m] TREACHERY or THE LIMIGANTES. 205

pretences, to enter Pannonia, meaning to lay it waste during the severity of the winter season, before the snow had been melted by the warmth of spring and the river had become passable, and while our people were unable from the cold to bear bivouacking in the open air.

5. He at once therefore sent two tribunes, each accompanied by an interpreter, to the Limigantes, to inquire mildly why they had quitted the homes which at their own request had been assigned to them after the conclusion of the treaty of peace, and why they were now straggling in various directions, and passing their boundaries in contempt of his prohibitions.

6. They made vain and frivolous excuses, fear compelling them to have recourse to lies, and implored the emperor’s pardon, beseeching him to discard his displeasure, and to allow them to cross the river and come to him to explain the hardships under which they were labouring ; alleging their willingness, if required, to retire to remoter lands, only within the Roman frontier, where, enjoying lasting peace and worshipping tranquillity as their tutelary deity, they would submit to the name and discharge the duties of tributary subjects.

7. When the tribunes returned and related this, the emperor, exulting that an affair which appeared full of inextricable difliculties was likely to be brought to a conclusion without any trouble, and being eager to add to his acquisitions, admitted them all to his presence. His eagerness for acquiring territory was fanned by a swarm of flatterers, who were incessantly saying that when all distant districts were at peace, and when tranquillity was established everywhere, he would gain many subjects, and would be able to enlist powerful bodies of recruits, thereby relieving the provinces, which would often rather give money than personal service (though this expectation has more than once proved very mischievous to the state).

8. Presently he pitched his camp near Acimincum, where a lofty mound was raised to serve for a tribune; and some boats, loaded with soldiers of the legions, without their baggage, under command of Innocentius, an engineer who had suggested the measure, were sent to watch the

1 Salankemen, in Hungary.

channel of the river, keeping close under the bank; so that, if they perceived the barbarians in disorder, they might come upon them and surprise their rear, while their attention was directed elsewhere.

9. The Limigantes became aware of the measures thus promptly taken, but still employed no other means of defence than humility and entreaty; though secretly they cherished designs very different from those indicated by their words and gestures.

10. But when they saw the emperor on his high mound preparing a mild harangue, and about to address them as men who would prove obedient in future, one of them, seized with a sudden fury, hurled his shoe at the tribune, and cried out, “ Marha, Marha I” which in their language is a signal of war; and a disorderly mob following him, suddenly raised their barbaric standard, and with fierce howls rushed upon the emperor himself.

11. And when he, looking down from his high position, saw the whole place filled with thousands of men running to and fro, and their drawn swords and rapiers threatening him with immediate destruction, he descended, and mingling both with the barbarians and his own men, without any one perceiving him or knowing whether he was an oflicer or a common soldier; and since there was no time for delay or inaction, he mounted a speedy horse, and galloped away, and s0 escaped.

12. But his few guards, while endeavouring to keep back the mutineers, who rushed on with the fierceness of fire, were all killed, either by wounds, or by being crushed beneath the weight of others who fell upon them; and the royal throne, with its golden cushion, was torn to pieces without any one making an effort to save it.

13. But presently, when it became known that theemperor, after having been in the most imminent danger of his life, was still in peril, the army, feeling it to be the most important of all objects to assist him, for they did not yet

think him safe, and confiding in their prowess, though from

the suddenness of the attack they were only half formed, threw themselves, with loud and warlike cries upon the bands of the barbarians, fearlessly braving death.

14. And because in their fiery valour our men were resolved to wipe out disgrace by glory, and were full 0

II-r'

AD. 1159.] PROSECUTIONS ros ramsox. 207

anger at the treachery of the foe, they slew every one whom they met without mercy, trampling all under foot, living, wounded, and dead alike; so that heaps of dead were piled up before their hands were weary of the

slaughter. For the rebels were completely overwhelmed,

some being slain, and others fleeing in fear, many of whom implored their lives with various entreaties, but were slaughtered with repeated wounds. And when, after they were all destroyed, the trumpets sounded a retreat, it was found that only a very few of our men were killed, and these had either been trampled down at first, or had perished from the insufficiency of their armour to resist the violence of the enemy.

15. But the most glorious death was that of Cella, the tribune of the Scutarii, who at the beginning of the uproar set the example of plunging first into the middle of the Sarmatian host.

16. After these blood-stained transactions, Constantius took what precautions prudence suggested for the security of his frontiers, and then returned to Sirmium, having avenged himself on the perfidity of his enemies. And having there settled everything which the occasion required, he quitted Sirmium and went to Constantinople, that by being nearer to the East, he might remedy the disasters which had been sustained at Amida, and havin reinforced his army with new levies, he might check the attempts of the king of Persia with equal vigour; as it was clear that Sapor, if Providence and some more pressing occupation did not prevent him, would leave Mesopotamia and bring the war over the plains on this side of that country.

XII.

§ 1. BUT amid these causes of anxiety, as if in accordance with old-established custom, instead of the signal for civil war, the trumpet sounded groundless charges of treason, and a secretary, whom we shall often have to speak of, named Paulus, was sent to inquire into these charges. He was a man skilful in all the contrivances of cruelty, making gain and profit of tortures and executions, as a master of gladiators does of his fatal games.

2. For as he was firm and resolute in his purpose of injuring people, he did not abstain even from theft, and invented all kinds of causes for the destruction of innocent men, while engaged in this miserable campaign.

3. A slight and trivial circumstance afforded infinite material for extending his investigations. There is a town called Abydum in the most remote corner of the Egyptian Thebais, where an oracle of the god, known in that region by the name of Besa, had formerly enjoyed some celebrity for its prophecies, and had sacred rites performed at it with all the ceremonies anciently in use in the neighbouring districts.

4. Some used to go themselves to consult this oracle, some to send by others documents containing their wishes, and with prayers couched in explicit language inquired the will of the deities; and the paper or parchment on which their wants were written, after the answer had been given, was sometimes left in the temple.

5. Some of these were spitefully sent to the emperor, and he, narrow minded as he was, though often deaf to other matters of serious consequence, had, as the proverb says, a soft place in his ear for this kind of information ; and being of a suspicious and petty temper, became full of gal] and fury ; and immediately ordered Paulus to repair with all speed to the East, giving him authority, as to a chief of great eminence and experience, to try all the causes as be pleased.

6. And Modestus also, at that time count of the East, a man well suited for such a business, was joined with him in this commission. For Hermogenes of Pontus, at that time prefect of the praetorium, was passed over as of too gentle a disposition. '

7. Paulus proceeded, as he was ordered, full of deadly eagerness and rage; inviting all kinds of calumnies, so that numbers from every part of the empire were brought before him, noble and low born alike; some of whom were condemned to imprisonment, others to instant death.

8. The city which was chosen to witness these fatal scenes was Scythopolis in Palestine, which for two reasons seemed the most suitable of all places; first, because it was little frequented and secondly, because it was halfway between Antioch and Alexandria, from which city many of those brought before this tribunal came.

""

u. 359.] . summons EXECUTIONS. 209

9. One of the first persons accused was Simplicius, the son of Philip; a man who, after having been prefect and consul, was now impeached on the ground that he was said to have consulted the oracle how to obtain the empire. He was sentenced to the torture by the express command of the emperor, who in these cases never erred on the side of mercy ; but by some special fate he was saved from it, and with uninjured body was condemned to distant banishment.

10. The next victim was Parnasius, who had been prefeet of Egypt. a man of simple manners, but now in danger of being condemned to death, and glad to escape with exile; because long ago he had been heard to say that when he left Patrae in Achaia, the place of his birth, with the view of procuring some high office, he had in a dream seen himself conducted on his road by several figures in tragic robes.

11. The next was Andronicus, subsequently celebrated for his liberal accomplishments and his poetry; he was brought before the court without having given any real ground for suspicion of any kind, and defended himself so vigorously that he was acquitted.

12. There was also Demetrius, surnamed Chytras, a philosopher, of great age, but still firm in mind and body; he, when charged with having frequently offered sacrifices in the temple of his oracle, could not deny it; but aflirmed that, for the sake of propitiating the deity, he had constantly done so from his early youth, and not with any idea of aiming at any higher fortune by his questions; nor had he known any one who had aimed at such. And though he was long on the rack he supported it with great constancy, never varying in his statement, till at length he was acquitted and allowed to retire to Alexandria, where he was born. '

13. These and a few others. justice, coming to the aid of truth, delivered from their imminent dangers. But as accusations extended more widely, involving numbers without end in their snares, many perished; some with their bodies mangled on the rack; others were condemned to death and confiscation of their goods; while Paulus kept 0n inventing groundless accusations, as if he had a store of lies on which to draw, and suggesting various pretenses

P

« ForrigeFortsett »