As they made their way through the mountains of Armenia they
encountered a heavy snow and the entire army came near to perishing. What happened was this. At
first, when the air was stirred, the snow began to fall in light quantities from the heavens,
so that the marchers experienced no trouble in their advance; but after this a wind rose and it
came down heavier and heavier and so covered the ground that not only the road but even any
distinguishing landmarks could no longer be seen at all.
Consequently despondency and fear seized the army, which was unwilling to turn back to
certain destruction and unable to advance because of the heavy snow. As the storm increased in
intensity, there came a great wind and heavy hail which beat in gusts on their faces and forced
the entire army to come to a halt; for everyone, being unable to endure the hardship entailed
in a further advance, was forced to remain wherever he happened to be.
Although without supplies of any kind, they stuck it out under the open
sky that day and the following night, beset by many hardships; for because of the heavy snow
which kept continually falling, all their arms were covered and their bodies were completely
chilled by the frost in the air. The hardships they endured were so great that they got no
sleep the entire night. Some lighted fires and got some help from them, and some, whose bodies
were invaded by the frost, gave up all hope of succour, since practically all their fingers and
toes were mortifying.
Accordingly, when the night was past, it
was found that most of the baggage animals had perished, and of the soldiers many were dead and
not a few, though still conscious, could not move their bodies because of the frost; and the
eyes of some were blinded by reason of the cold and the glare from the snow.
And every man would certainly have perished had they not gone on a
little farther and found villages full of supplies. These villages had entrances for the beasts
of burden which were tunnelled under the ground and others for the human inhabitants who
descended into them by ladders . . .1
and in the houses the animals were supplied with
hay, while the human inhabitants enjoyed a great abundance of all the necessities of life.