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The Quadi, aroused by the ruthless murder of their king Gabinius, with the Sarmatians lay waste Pannonia and Valeria with fire and sword, and almost wholly destroyed two legions. Of the city prefecture of Claudius.
While the said general was panting through this dust of Mars throughout Mauritania and Africa, the Quadi, who had long been quiet, were suddenly aroused to an outbreak; they are a nation now not greatly to be feared, 1 but were formerly immensely warlike and powerful, as is shown by their swift and sudden swoops in former times, their [p. 283] siege of Aquileia in company with the Marcomanni, the destruction of Opitergium, 2 and many other bloody deeds performed in rapid campaigns; so that when they broke through the Julian Alps, the emperor Marcus Pius, 3 of whom we have previously written, 4 could with difficulty check them. And, for savages, they had a just cause of complaint.  For Valentinian from the very beginning of his reign burned with a desire of protecting his frontiers, which was indeed praiseworthy, but carried too far; for he ordered the building of a garrison-camp across the Danube in the very territories of the Quadi, as if they were already claimed for Roman rule. The natives, being indignant at this and cautious for their own interests, tried to prevent them for a time merely by a deputation and by whispered complaints.  But Maximinus, 5 being prone to every kind of wickedness and unable to control his native arrogance, which was swollen still more by his prefecture, upbraided Aequitius, who was at the time commander of the cavalry in Illyricum, as rebellious and slothful in not yet having finished the work the earlier construction of which had been arranged; and he added, as if having regard for the general welfare, that if the rank of general 6 in Valeria 7 were given to his own son 8 Marcellianus, 9 the fortification would rise without any excuses.  Both objects were presently attained. When the newly appointed general had set out and had reached the spot, with unreasonable arrogance, as was to be expected of [p. 285] the son of such a father, without any words to soothe those whom the dreams of a design never actually carried out was driving from their country, he took up the work which had been begun a short time before, but was suspended because of the opportunity given for protesting.  Finally, when king Gabinius mildly asked that no new step should be taken, he pretended that he would assent, and with feigned kindness invited 10 the king with others to a banquet. But as Gabinius was departing after the feast and suspected no treachery, Marcellianus, with abominable violation of the sacred duties of hospitality, had him murdered.  The report of so atrocious a deed at once spread abroad on all sides and roused the Quadi and the tribes round about them to madness. Weeping for the death of the king, they mustered and sent out devastating bands, which crossed the Danube while no hostility was anticipated, and fell upon the country people, who were busy with their harvest; most of them they killed, the survivors they led home as prisoners, along with a quantity of all kinds of domestic animals.  Surely at that time an irreparable crime would have been committed, to be numbered among the shameful disasters of Roman history; for the daughter of Constantius, when being conducted to marry Gratianus, was very nearly captured while she was taking food in a public villa called Pristensis, but (by the favour of the propitious godhead) Messalla, the governor of the province, was at hand and placed her in a state-carriage 11 and took her in all haste back to Sirmium, twenty-six miles away. [p. 287]  After the princess was saved by this fortunate chance from the danger of wretched slavery, which, if it had been impossible to ransom the captive, would have branded the state with the greatest disaster, the Quadi, in company with the Sarmatians, ranged more widely; and being peoples most skilled in rapine and brigandage, they drove off as booty human beings of both sexes 12 as well as cattle, exulting in the ashes of burned farmhouses and the sufferings of the slain inhabitants, whom they took by surprise and destroyed without any mercy.  So, when the dread of similar evils spread over the whole . neighbouring country, Probus, the praetorian prefect, 13 then at Sirmium, being accustomed to no horrors of war 14 and so overcome by the sorrowful and unusual sights that he barely raised his eyes, hesitated for a long time in doubt what action to take. And after he had equipped swift horses and determined on flight the next night, he thought of a safer plan and remained where he was.  For he had learnt that all those who were shut up within the walls would at once follow him, in order to take refuge in convenient hiding-places; and that if this should happen, the city, being without defenders, would fall into the hands of the enemy.  Therefore, soon calming his fear, he roused himself with vigorous effort to meet the urgent situation. He cleared out 15 the moats, which were choked with rubbish, and being naturally inclined to building, since the walls through long-continued peace had in great part been neglected and had fallen, he raised them [p. 289] even to the completion of pinnacles of lofty towers. And the work was quickly finished, because he found that the materials 16 which had long since been collected for the purpose of building a theatre were sufficient for what he was hastening to accomplish. Also to this excellent plan he added another equally useful by summoning a cohort of bowmen from the nearest station, to aid them in a siege, if one should come.  By these stumbling-blocks (so to speak) 17 the barbarians were turned from attacking the city, having little skill in such refinements of warfare as well as being impeded by their packs of booty, and turned to the pursuit of Aequitins. And when they learned from the information of prisoners that he had gone to the remote spaces of Valeria, they quickly made their way thither, grinding their teeth and bent upon cutting his throat for this reason—that they believed that it was he who had brought their guiltless king to destruction.  When this became known, at headlong speed two legions were sent to meet them in battle, the Pannonica and the Moesiaca, a strong combination for fighting, which, if they had acted in harmony, would undoubtedly have come off victorious. But while they were hastening to attack the bands of plunderers separately, they were made ineffective by quarrels that broke out between them, and contended for honour and prestige.  When the Sarmatians, who were very keen-witted, learned of this, without waiting for the usual signal for battle, they attacked the Moesiaca first; and while the soldiers were somewhat slow in getting their arms ready because of the confusion, they killed a great number of them, and [p. 291] then with increased confidence broke through the line of the Pannonica. They thus threw the whole army into disorder, and with repeated attacks would almost have annihilated it, had not speedy flight saved some from the danger of death.  At the time of these losses due to a harsher fortune, Theodosius the younger, general in Moesia, a young man whose beard was then only just beginning to appear, afterwards a most glorious emperor, 18 wore out by frequent engagements, drove back and defeated the Free Sarmatians (so called to distinguish them from their rebellious slaves 19 ) who were invading our territories from the other side, crushing them in densely packed conflicts; and so thoroughly did he overwhelm the hordes which converged in floods and resisted most bravely, that he sated the birds and beasts of prey with a veritable feast of many slain. 20  Therefore, the remainder, their arrogance now cooling down, feared lest the same leader, a man of ready valour (as was evident), on his first entrance into their territories should lay low or put to flight the invading hordes, or should lay ambuscades for them in the dark woods; so, after making many vain attempts from time to time to break through, they lost their confidence for battle and begged for indulgence and pardon for the past. And after being thus conquered for the time, they did nothing in violation of the conditions of the peace that was granted them, being especially struck with fear because a strong force of Gallic troops had been added to the defence of Illyricum. 21  At the time when these storms, so many and so terrible, were causing constant disturbances, while Claudius was governing the Eternal City, 22 the [p. 293] Tiber, which cuts through the midst of our walled town and, with many drains and streams pouring into it, mingles with the Tyrrenian Sea, was swollen by an excessive rainfall, and extending beyond the appearance of a river, covered almost the whole place. 23  While all the remaining quarters of the city, which extend down to a gentler level, 24 were under water, the mountains alone, and such buildings 25 as were especially high, were protected from present danger. And since the height of the waters prevented movement anywhere on foot, a supply of food was furnished in abundance by boats and skiffs, for fear that many people might starve to death. But, in fact, when the stormy weather moderated, and the river, which had broken its bonds, 26 returned to its usual course, all fear was dispelled and no further trouble was looked for.  This prefect himself 27 passed his term of office in complete quiet, allowing no public discord over and above reasonable remonstrance 28 ; and he restored many old buildings. Among others he built a huge colonnade near the Baths of Agrippa and called it the Portico of Good Outcome, because there is a temple 29 to that deity to be seen near by.
1 They had been conquered by Constaltius; see xvii. 12, 9 ff.
2 Modern Oderzo.
3 I.e., Marcus Aurelius.
4 In a lost book.
5 See xxviii. 5 f.
6 I.e., dux per Valeriam.
7 Cf. xix. 11, 4.
8 For parvus meaning son cf. Statius, Silv. i. 6, 43 f.; una vescitur omrnis ordo mensa: parvi, femina, plebs, eques, senatus; Theb. vii. 520.
9 Called Celestius by Zos. xiv. 16.
10 For corrogavit cf. xviii. 2, 13.
11 A vehicle at the disposal of the officials of the province, the city prefect, and other high dignitaries (iudices).
12 For secus cf. xvi. 11, 9.
13 In Illyricum.
14 These prefects were civil officials.
15 For retersit of. detersit, Suet., Aug. 18, 2.
16 Wagner with considerable probability takes impensas as the materials for building the theatre, citing Juvenal, iii. 216, and other examples.
17 Ammianus uses obex without apology, e.g. xvi. 12, 36; xxi. 12, 13; xxiv. 5, 2; xxxi. 4, 9; as here xxvii. 10, 8.
19 The Limigantes; cf. xvii. 13, 1; xix. 11, 1.
20 For sagina, cf. xxii. 12, 6. On this victory see also Zos. iv. 16.
21 374 ff. A.D.
22 As prefect of the city, in 374.
23 Floods of the Tiber were frequent; cf. Plin., N. H., iii. 55.
24 Cf. xvi. 10, 14; intra septem montium culmina. . . posita urbis membra.
25 I.e., blocks of houses.
26 Cf. xxiv. 1, 11; Livy, xxvii, 28, 10 (Wagner).
27 Claudius; see § 17, above.
28 That is, which the prefect could not quiet in that way. Querella is ambiguous; and the meaning may be: “except that caused by just complaints.”
29 See Varro, R.R. i. 1, 6; cf. Cato, Agr. 141, 3 (of Mars), utique tu fruges . . . grandire beneque evenire siris; Pliny, N.H. xxxiv. 77, says that she was represented in Rome with a patera in her right hand and an ear of wheat and poppies in her left. Her temple at Rome was in the Ninth Region.
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