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When the Picts, Attacotti, and Scots, after killing a general and a count, were devastating Britain without resistance, Count Theodosius routed them and took their booty from them.


Having set out then from Amiens and hastening 1 to Treves, 2 Valentinian was alarmed by serious news which showed that Britain was brought into a state of extreme need by a conspiracy of the savages, that Nectaridus, the commanding general of the seacoast region, had been killed, and that another general, Fullofaudes, had been ambushed by the enemy and taken prisoner. [2] This report aroused great horror, and the emperor sent Severus, who at that time was still commander of the household troops, to set right the disasters, if chance should offer the desired opportunity. But he was recalled a little later, and Jovinus . . . having set out for the same regions, allowed them to return at quick step, intending to seek the support of a strong army; for he declared that this was demanded by the pressing necessities of the situation. 3 [3] Finally, because of the many [p. 53] alarming things which constant rumours reported about that same island, Theodosius, a man most favourably known for his services in war, was chosen to be sent there with all speed, and having enrolled legions and cohorts of courageous young men, he hastened to depart, preceded by brilliant expectations.

[4] And, since in giving an account of the history of the emperor Constans I described the ebb and flow of the ocean 4 and the situation of Britain, as well as my powers permitted, I have thought it superfluous to unfold again what has once been set forth, just as Homer's Ulysses among the Phaeacians 5 shrinks from repeating the details of his adventures because of the excessive difficulty of the task.

[5] It will, however, be in place to say, that at 6 that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones 7 and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, 8 wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.

[6] In order to prevent these outrages, if favourable fortune gave an opportunity, that most energetic leader hastened to the world's end, and reached the coast of Bononia, 9 which from the spacious lands opposite is separated only by a narrow space of a sea wont in turn to swell with dreadful surges, and again, without any danger for sailors, to sink to the form of a level plain. From there he quietly crossed [p. 55] the strait and landed at Rutupiae, 10 a quiet haven on the opposite coast. [7] When the Batavi, Heruli, Jovii, and Victores, who followed him, had arrived, troops confident in their strength, he began his march and came to the old town of Lundinium, 11 which later times called Augusta. 12 There he divided his troops into many parts and attacked the predatory bands of the enemy, which were ranging about and were laden with heavy packs; quickly routing those who were driving along prisoners and cattle, he wrested from them the booty which the wretched tribute-paying people had lost. [8] And when all this had been restored to them, except for a small part which was allotted to the wearied soldiers, he entered the city, which had previously been plunged into the greatest difficulties, but had been restored more quickly than rescue could have been expected, rejoicing and as if celebrating an ovation.

[9] While he lingered there, encouraged by the successful outcome to dare greater deeds, he carefully considered what plans would be safe; and he was in doubt about his future course, since he learned from the confessions of the captives and the reports of deserters that the widely scattered enemy, a mob of various natives and frightfully savage, could be overcome only by secret craft and unforeseen attacks. [10] Finally, he issued proclamations, and under promise of pardon summoned the deserters to return to service, as well as many others who were wandering about in various places on furlough. In consequence of this demand and strongly moved by his [p. 57] offer, most returned, and Theodosius, relieved of his anxious cares, asked that Civilis be sent to him to govern Britain as deputy-prefect, a man of somewhat fiery temper, but steadfast in justice and uprightness, and also Dulcitius, a general distinguished for his knowledge of the art of war.

1 367–8 A.D.

2 In order to make war on the Alamanni; cf. 10.

3 Text and meaning are very uncertain; see crit. notes.

4 In a lost book; the same expressions are used by Gellius, xiv. 1, 3, but in the order usual in English, senescit adolescitque.

5 Odyss. xii. 452 f.

6 368 A.D.

7 Called Caledonians by Tacitus, Dio, and others.

8 The coast of Gaul opposite Britain.

9 Boulogne.

10 Modern Richborough, cf. xx. 1, 3.

11 London.

12 Probably in honour of some emperor, but the date is uncertain.

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1940)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1939)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
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