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Valentinian's parentage and his deeds as ruler.
It is now in place to go back and (as we have often done) in a brief epilogue run through the deeds of this emperor, from the very birth of his father to his own decease, without omitting to distinguish his faults or his good qualities, brought to light as they were by greatness of power, which is always wont to lay bare a man's inmost character.  His father, the elder Gratianus, was born at Cibalae, a town of Pannonia, of a humble family, and from his early boyhood was surnamed Funarius, 1 because when he was not yet grown up and was carrying round a rope for sale, and five soldiers tried with all their might to tear it from him, he gave way not an inch; he thus rivalled Milo of Croton, from whom no possible exercise of strength could ever take an apple, when he held it tightly in his left or his right hand, as he often did.  Hence, because of his mighty strength of body and his skill in wrestling in the soldiers' fashion 2 he became widely known, and after holding the position of one of the bodyguard and of a tribune, he commanded the army in Africa with the title of count. There he incurred the suspicion of theft, but he departed long afterwards and commanded the army in Britain with the same rank; and at last, after being honourably discharged, he returned to his home. While he was living there far from the noise and bustle, his property was confiscated by Constantius, on the ground that when civil discord was raging he was said to have shown hospitality to Magnentius when the usurper [p. 355] was hastening through Gratianus's land to carry out his designs.  Because of his father's services Valentinian was favoured from early youth, and being commended also by the addition of his own merits, he was clad in the insignia of imperial majesty at Nicaea. He took as his imperial colleague his brother Valens, to whom he was greatly attached both by the tie of fraternity and by sympathy, a man with an equal amount of excellent and bad qualities, as we shall point out in the proper place.  Valentinian, then, after suffering many annoyances and dangers while he was a private citizen, 3 had no sooner begun to reign than he went to Gaul, to fortify the strongholds and cities lying near the rivers; for these were exposed to the raids of the Alamanni, who were raising their heads higher after learning of the death of the emperor Julian, who was absolutely the only one whom they feared after the death of Constans.  But Valentinian also was rightly dreaded by them, both because he increased the armies with a strong reinforcement and because he so fortified both banks of the Rhine with lofty castles and strongholds, that nowhere should an enemy be able to hurl himself at our territories unobserved. 4  And to pass over many things which he did with the authority of an established ruler, and the reforms that he effected either personally or through energetic generals, after admitting his son Gratianus to a share in his power, he secretly, since he could not do so openly, caused Vithicabius, king of the Alamanni, 5 son of Vadomarius, a young man in the first bloom of manhood, to be stabbed, because he [p. 357] was rousing his people to rebellion and war. And joining battle with the Alamanni near a place called Solicinium, 6 where, after falling into an ambuscade and all but losing his life, he could have utterly destroyed their entire army, had not swift flight saved a few of them under cover of darkness.  While he was accomplishing these exploits with due caution, the Saxons, 7 who had already broken out into formidable madness and were always rushing wherever they pleased without reconnaisances, had then invaded the maritime districts, and had almost returned enriched with the spoils which they took; but by a device which was treacherous but expedient he overwhelmed and stripped of their booty the robbers thus forcibly crushed.  Again, when the Britons could not resist the hordes of enemies that were overrunning their country, he restored them to freedom and quiet peace with the hope of better conditions, and allowed almost none of the plunderers to return to his home. 8  With like effectiveness he also crushed Valentinus, the exile from Pannonia, who was trying to disturb the public peace in that province, before his design came to a head. 9 Next, he saved Africa from great dangers, when that country was in the throes of an unexpected disaster; for Firmus was unable to endure the greed and arrogance of the military officials and had aroused the Moorish tribes, whose ardour can always easily be fanned to any plan of dissension. 10 With equal courage he would have avenged the lamentable catastrophes in Illyricum, had he not [p. 359] been overtaken by death and left that important matter unfinished. 11  And although these successes which I have mentioned were brought about by his admirable generals, yet it is also well known that he himself, being a man of nimble mind and hardened by long experience in military life, performed very many exploits; and among these it would have been a most glorious feat 12 if he had been able to take King Macrianus alive, who was at that time formidable. He had made great efforts to do so after he learned with grief and sorrow that the king had escaped from the Burgundians, whom Valentinian himself had aroused against the Alamanni.
1 Cf. Pseud.-Aurel. Vict., Epit., 45, 2.
2 On this see Capit., Max. Duo, 6, 5 ff.
3 I.e., not yet emperor (cf. Lucan, v. 666, of Julius Caesar, quoted on p. 520, n. 1).
4 xxviii. 2, 1.
5 Cf. xxvii. 10, 3.
6 Part of Schwetzingen; cf. xxvii. 10, 8.
7 Cf. xxviii. 5, 1.
8 Cf. xxvii. 8, 5.
9 Cf. xxviii. 3, 4 ff.
10 Cf. xxix. 5, 3, 15, 25.
11 xxix. 6, 12 ff.
12 Cf. xxix. 4, 2, 5.
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