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After Nicaea and Chalcedon have been freed from siege, Bithynia is brought under the sway of Procopius, and later, by the taking of Cyzicus, Hellespontus also.

To this success of the rebels was added another still happier event. For a tribune called Rumitalca, who had been won over to the party of Procopius and given the charge of the palace, upon a carefully devised plan crossed the sea with his soldiers and came to the place formerly called Drepanum, now Helenopolis, 1 and then with unexpected speed seized Nicaea. [2] To besiege this city Valens sent, besides others skilled in that kind of fighting, Vadomarius, a former general and king of the Alamanni, 2 and went on himself to Nicomedia. Leaving that place, he carried on the siege of Chalcedon with great vigour, from the walls of which city insults were hurled at him and he was derisively addressed as Sabaiarius. Now sabaia is a drink [p. 625] of the poorer people in Illyricum, a liquor made from barley or some other grain. 3 [3] Finally, worn out by scarcity of supplies and the very obstinate resistance of the defenders, he was already pre- paring to depart, when those who had meanwhile been blockaded at Nicaea suddenly opened the gates and rushed out, and after slaying a great part of the besiegers, headed by their bold leader, Rumitalca, hastened eagerly on with the purpose of surrounding Valens from the rear; for he had not left the suburb of Chalcedon. And they would have been successful, if the emperor had not from an earlier rumour learned of the danger that threatened him, and by a hasty retreat by way of the Sunonian lake 4 and the many windings of the river Gallus 5 outwitted the enemy, who were close upon his heels in vain pursuit. And by this mischance Bithynia also fell into the power of Procopius.

[4] When Valens had returned thence by rapid marches to Ancyra and learned that Lupicinus 6 with a force not to be despised was drawing near from the Orient, his hopes for better success were aroused, and he sent his best general Arintheus 7 to attack the enemy. [5] When Arintheus reached Dadastana, the station where, as we have said, 8 Jovian died, he suddenly saw Hyperechius and his forces opposed to him; he [p. 627] had before been merely in charge of the commander's supplies (that is, a servant of his belly and gullet), but Procopius had entrusted him as a friend with the command of a band of auxiliaries. And scorning to overcome in battle so despicable a man, relying on his authority and his imposing stature, Arintheus ordered the enemy themselves to put their leader in irons; and thus this shadow of a commander was taken prisoner by the hands of his own men.

[6] While affairs were proceeding in this way, a certain Venustus, an attendant on the state-treasury under Valens, who had been sent long before to Nicomedia, in order to distribute into the soldiers' hands the money that had been raised for the pay of those stationed in various parts of the Orient, hearing of this unfortunate occurrence, and seeing that the time was unfavourable for his task, quickly made his way to Cyzicus with the money he had received. [7] There he chanced to meet Serenianus, at that time commander of the household troops, who had been sent to protect the treasures there; and since the city had an impregnable circuit of walls, and was known because of its old monuments, he tried to hold it, relying on the hastily formed garrison. Procopius had appointed a strong force to storm that city, in order to join Hellespontus to his side now he held Bithynia. [8] However, the success of the work was delayed because often whole masses of the besiegers were slain by arrows, slingshots, and other missiles, and through the skill of the garrison the entrance to the port had been barred by a very strong iron chain, which was fastened to the land on both sides, so that even [p. 629] the armoured ships of the enemy could not force their way in. [9] This chain, after various efforts of the soldiers and their leaders, who were exhausted by the hot fighting, was broken through by a tribune called Aliso, a distinguished and skilful warrior, in the following manner. He fastened together three boats and built upon them a protective covering after this fashion: in front stood armed men on the thwarts with their shields held close together over their heads, those behind them stooped down somewhat lower, and those in the third rank gradually lower still, so that, since the hindermost rested on their hams, the whole gave the appearance of an arched building. This kind of device, used in battles against walls, has this form in order that the volleys of missiles and rocks, gliding down the sloping side, may flow off like showers of rain. [10] Thus Aliso, defended for the time being from the volleys of missiles, being a man of great bodily strength, placed a block underneath and struck the chain heavy blows with an axe, breaking it in such a way that it fell apart and opened a broad entrance; and by this result the city was exposed unprotected to the enemy's attack. Because of this, when the ring-leader of the whole rebellion was later killed, and the members of his party were cruelly treated, this same tribune, being allowed to keep his life and his position in the army in view of his brilliant exploit, was slain long afterwards in Isauria at the hands of a predatory band.

[11] When Cyzicus had been opened to him by this martial stroke, Procopius quickly hastened to the city; he pardoned all who had opposed him, except [p. 631] Serenianus alone, who was by his order put in irons and taken to Nicaea to be closely guarded. [12] And immediately afterwards Ormisdas, a mature young man, son of the royal prince of the same name, 9 was given the rank of proconsul, and therewith according to ancient usage the control of civil and military affairs. This man acted with great mildness, in accordance with his disposition, and when he was on the point of being seized by a sudden onset of the soldiers whom Valens had sent through by-paths of Phrygia, he made his escape with such vigorous courage, that he embarked on board a ship which he had got ready in case of danger, and carried off his wife safely amid volleys of arrows when she followed him and was all but taken prisoner; she was a rich and distinguished matron, whose high reputation and commendable firmness later saved her husband amid extreme dangers.

[13] By this victory Procopius was elated, beyond what is lawful for mortals, and forgetting that any happy man, if Fortune's wheel turns, may before evening become most wretched, he ordered the house of Arbitio, full of priceless furniture, to be completely stripped. Hitherto he had spared it as if it were his own, believing that the man was on his side; but he had been incensed because he had summoned Arbitio several times to come to him and Arbitio had put him off, pleading the infirmities of age and illness. [14] And although for this reason the usurper feared serious consequences, nevertheless, since he could now boldly invade the oriental provinces without opposition, in fact even with the free consent of all—as those provinces were eager to see any change, [p. 633] from their dislike of the strict rule under which they were then held—for the purpose of winning over some cities of Asia and surrounding himself with men skilled in raising money (as likely to be helpful to him in the numerous great battles which he expected) he slothfully delayed and became blunt, just as a sharp sword might. [15] Exactly so formerly Pescennius Niger, 10 when often summoned by the Roman people to aid them in their expectation of extreme need, while he was delaying a long time in Syria, was defeated by Severus at the Issic Gulf (which is in Cilicia, where Alexander routed Darius), and driven from the field lost his life in a suburb of Antioch at the hands of a common soldier.

1 Named from the mother of Constantine the Great.

2 Mentioned in xxi. 3, 5, as general in Phoenicia; cf. xxix. 1, 2.

3 A kind of beer.

4 Near Nicomedia, mentioned by the geographer Ascanius.

5 The Gallus is in Phrygia, but nothing is known of its windings. There was, however, a river Drako at Helen- opolis in Bithynia, which in a journey to Bithynia one had to cross twenty times.

6 Appointed commander of the infantry (magister militum) by Jovian in the Orient, probably the man mentioned in xx. 1, 2; 4, 3, 9; 9, 9. He did good service against Procopius and was made consul in the following year.

7 Cf. xxv. 5, 2; 7,

8 Cf. xxv. 10, 12.

9 See xvi. 10, 16; xxiv. 1, 2; etc. The text varies in the spelling.

10 Cf. Herodian, iii. 4, 4 ff.

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