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Julianus Caesar attacks the Alamanni, slaughters, captures, and vanquishes them.


Accordingly, while he was passing a busy winter in the above-mentioned town, 1 in the thick of rumours which kept persistently flying about, he learned that the walls of the ancient city of Autun, of wide circuit, to be sure, but weakened by the decay of centuries, had been besieged by a sudden onset of the savages; and then, though the force of soldiers garrisoned there was paralysed, it had been defended by the watchfulness of veterans who hurried together forits aid, as it often happens that the extreme of desperation wards off imminent danger of death. [2] Therefore, without putting aside his cares, and disregarding the servile flattery with which his courtiers tried to turn him to pleasure and luxury, after making adequate preparation he reached Autun on the 24th of June, like some experienced general, distinguished for power and policy, intending to fall upon the savages, who were straggling in various directions, whenever chance should give opportunity. [3] Accordingly, when he held a council, with men present who knew the country, to decide what route should be chosen as a safe one, there was much interchange of opinion, some saying that they ought to go by Arbor 2 others by way of Saulieu 3 and Cora. 4 4. But when some remarked that Silvanus, commander of the infantry, with 8000 reserve troops had shortly before passed (though with difficulty) by roads shorter but mistrusted because of the heavy shade of the branches, the Caesar with the greater confidence [p. 207] made a strong resolve to emulate the daring of that hardy man. [5] And to avoid any delay, he took only the cuirassiers 5 and the crossbowmen, 6 who were far from suitable to defend a general, and traversing the same road, he came to Auxerre. [6] There with but a short rest (as his custom was) he refreshed himself and his soldiers and kept on towards Troyes; and when troops of savages kept making attacks on him, he sometimes, fearing that they might be in greater force, strengthened his flanks and reconnoitered; sometimes he took advantage of suitable ground, easily ran them down and trampled them under foot, capturing some who in terror gave themselves up, while the remainder exerted all their powers of speed in an effort to escape. These he allowed to get away unscathed, since he was unable to follow them up, encumbered as he was with heavy-armed soldiers. [7] So, as he now had firmer hope of success in resisting their attacks, he proceeded among many dangers to Troyes, reaching there so unlooked for, that when he was almost knocking at the gates, the fear of the widespread bands of savages was such, that entrance to the city was vouchsafed only after anxious debate. [8] And after staying there a short time, out of consideration for his tired soldiers, he felt that he ought not to delay, and made for the city of Rheims. There he had ordered the whole army to assemble with provisions for a month and to await his coming; the place was commanded by Ursicinus' successor Marcellus, and Ursicinus himself was directed to serve in the same region until the end of the campaign. [9] Accordingly, after the expression of [p. 209] many various opinions, it was agreed to attack the Alamannic horde by way of the Ten Cantons 7 with closed ranks; and the soldiers went on in that direction with unusual alacrity. [10] And because the day was misty and overcast, so that even objects close at hand could not be seen, the enemy, aided by their acquaintance with the country, went around by way of a crossroad and made an attack on the two legions bringing up the rear of the Caesar's army. And they would nearly have annihilated them, had not the shouts that they suddenly raised brought up the reinforcements of our allies. [11] Then and thereafter, thinking that he could cross neither roads nor rivers without ambuscades, Julian was wary and hesitant, which is a special merit in grett commanders, and is wont both to help and to save their armies. [12] Hearing therefore that Strasburg, Brumath, Saverne, Seltz, Speyer, Worms, and Mayence were held by the savages, who were living on their lands (for the towns themselves they avoid as if they were tombs surrounded by nets), 8 he first of all seized Brumath, but while he was still approaching it a band of Germans met him and offered battle. [13] Julian drew up his forces in the form of a crescent, and when the fight began to come to close quarters, the enemy were overwhelmed by a double danger; some were captured, others were slain in the very heat of the battle, and the rest got away, saved by recourse to speed.

[p. 211]

1 I.e. Vienne

2 The name cannot be completed.

3 In the department Côte d'Or.

4 A small place in the neighbourhood of Autun.

5 The cataphractarii were mounted warriors; both horses and men were heavily clad in armour; see xvi. 10, 8.

6 The ballistarii had charge of the ballistae, which took the place of modern artillery; described in xxiii. 4, 1.

7 Dieuse.

8 In xxxi. 2, 4, a similar statement is made of the Huns, that they avoid houses as they would tombs. E. Maass, Neue Jahrb., xlix. (1922) pp. 205 ff., says that graves of women who died in childbed, and might return to get their offspring, were surrounded with nets.

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load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BROCOMAGUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHORA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), NOVIOMAGUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TABERNAE
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