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Valentinianus Augustus crosses the Rhine on a bridge of boats, but although Macrianus, king of the Alamanni, was off his guard, he was prevented from capturing him through the fault of the soldiers.
These, then, are undeniable indications of Valentinian's character and his blood-thirsty tendency. But, on the other hand, no one, not even one of his persistent detractors, will reproach him with lack of ingenuity in behalf of the state, especially if one bears in mind that it was a more valuable service to check the barbarians by frontier defences than to defeat them in battle. And when he had given 1 . . . if any of the enemy made a move, he was seen from above from the watchtowers, and overcome.  But among many other cares, his first and principal aim was to capture alive by violence or by craft King Macrianus, 2 just as, long before, Julian took Vadomarius; for Macrianus, amid the frequent changes in the policy followed towards him, had increased in power, and now was rising against our countrymen with full-grown strength. Accordingly, having first provided what the circumstances and the time demanded, and having learned from the reports of deserters where the said king, who expected no hostile move, could be seized, Valentinian threw a pontoon across the Rhine as quietly as his means allowed, lest anyone should interfere with the bridge while it was being put together.  And [p. 243] first Severus, who commanded the infantry forces, took the lead by marching against Mattiacae Aquae; 3 but alarmed when he considered the small number of his soldiers, he halted, fearing that he might be unable to resist the onrushing hordes of the enemy, and so might be overcome by them.  There he chanced to find some of the traders 4 leading slaves intended for sale, and because he suspected that they would quickly run off and report what they had seen, he took their wares 5 from them and killed them all.  Then the generals, 6 encouraged by the arrival of additional troops, encamped, with a view to a very short stay, since no one had a pack-animal or a tent, except the emperor, for whom a rug and a rough blanket 7 sufficed for such a shelter. Then, after delaying for a time on account of the darkness of night, as soon as the morning-star uprose, since the campaign called for haste, they advanced farther, led by guides who knew the roads; and a large force of cavalry was ordered to precede them under command of Theodosius, that nothing might be unobserved 8 . . . was lying at the time; but he was prevented by the continuous noise made by his men; for although he constantly commanded them to abstain [p. 245] from plundering and setting fires, he could not make them obey. For the crackling flames and the dissonant shouts awakened the king's attendants, and suspecting what had happened, they placed him in a swift wagon and hid him in a narrow pass of the precipitous hills.  Valentinian was robbed of this glory, 9 not by his own fault or that of his generals, but by the indiscipline of the soldiers, which has often caused the Roman state heavy losses; so, after reducing the enemy's territory to ashes for fifty miles, 10 he returned sadly to Treves.  There, as a lion, because he has lost a deer or a goat, gnashes his empty jaws, just when the forces of the enemy were broken and scattered by fear, in place of Macrianus he made Fraomarius king of the Bucinobantes, a tribe of the Alamanni dwelling opposite Mainz. And soon afterwards, since a recent invasion had utterly devastated that, canton, he transferred him to Britain with the rank of tribune, and gave him command of a troop 11 of the Alamanni which at that time was distinguished for its numbers and its strength. Bitheridus, indeed, and Hortarius (chiefs of the same nation) he appointed to commands in the army; but of these Hortarius was betrayed by a report of Florentius, commander in Germany, of having written certain things to the detriment of the state to Macrianus and the chiefs of the barbarians, and after the truth was wrung from him by torture he suffered the penalty of death by burning.
1 There is a lacuna of five lines, doubtless containing a description of a line of fortifications with watch-towers.
2 King of the Alamanni, xviii. 2, 15; xxviii. 5, 8.
3 Cf. Plin., N.H. xxxi. 20, sunt et Mattiaci in Germania fontes calidi trans Rhenum; Tac., Ann. 1, 56. Perhaps Wiesbaden.
4 scurrae is used also of Germans serving in the Roman army. Cf. Lampr., Alex. Sev. 61, 3, unus ex Germanis, q ui scurrarum officium sustinebat. Here perhaps campfollowers.
5 I.e., the slaves.
6 Here iudices is used of military officials.
7 Cf. xvi. 5, 5.
8 Here there is a lacuna of 3 1/2 lines. The general sense probably is, that the emperor went on to meet the king.
9 Of taking the king prisoner.
10 Some MSS. say five hundred.
11 For this meaning of numeri, applied both to cohorts and legions, cf., for example, militares numeros, xiv. 7, 19; numeris Moesiacorum duobus, xx. 1, 3; Suet., Aug. 17. 3.
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