Festus : Breviarium

      of the accomplishments of the Roman people

Festus wrote this little compendium of Roman history in about 370 A.D., during the reign of the emperor Valens.

The translation is by Thomas M. Banchich and Jennifer A. Meka (Canisius College Translated Texts, Number 2, 2001). It is already available on the Roman Emperors website, but has been copied here and re-formatted to make it simpler to link to the translation. See key to translations for an explanation of the format of the translation.

Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter ( based on the edition by J.W. Eadie ).

[1] L   Your Clemency {Valens} enjoined that a summary be made. To be sure, I, in whom the facility of broader discourse is lacking, shall comply happily with what has been enjoined. And, having followed the fashion of accountants, who express immense sums through fewer numbers, I shall indicate, not explicate, past events. Receive, therefore, what has been succinctly summed up in very concise sayings, so you may seem, most glorious princeps, not so much to recite as to enumerate to yourself the years and duration of the state and the events of yore.

[2] L   From the foundation of the city to the rise of Your Perpetuity, by which Rome has been allotted a very prosperous imperium of brothers, are reckoned 1,117 years. Thus, under kings are reckoned 243 years {753-510 B.C.}; under consuls, 467 years {509-43 B.C.}; under imperatores, 407 years {43 B.C. - 364 A.D.}. 2 For 243 years, kings, seven in number, reigned in Rome. Romulus reigned 37 years; senators for five days and one year; Numa Pompilius reigned 43 years; Tullus Hostilius reigned 44 years; Ancus Marcius reigned 24 years; Priscus Tarquinius reigned 38 years; Servius Tullius reigned 44 years; Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was expelled in the twenty-fourth year of his reign. 3 From Brutus and Publicola to Pansa and Hirtius there were 916 consuls, beyond those who were those chosen as replacements in the same year by some allotment, through four hundred and sixty-seven years. For nine years, consuls were lacking in Rome, thus: for two years Rome was under decemvirs, for three years under military tribunes, and for four years without magistrates. 4 From Octavianus Caesar Augustus to Jovian, there were imperatores, 43 in number, through 407 years.

[3] L   Therefore, how much Rome has advanced under these three types of rule - that is, regnal, consular, and imperial - I shall briefly sketch. Under seven kings through 243 years, Roman imperium did not advance beyond Portus and Ostia, within 18 miles from the gates of the city of Rome, seeing that she was as yet small and founded by shepherds, while neighboring cities were hemming her in. 2 At the same time, through 467 years under consuls, among whom there sometimes were dictators, too, Italy was occupied as far as beyond the Po, Africa was subjugated, the Spains added, and Gaul and Britain made tributaries. As for Illyricum, Histri, Libyrni, and Dalmatae were mastered; it passed to Achaea; Macedonians were subjugated; with Dardanians, Moesians, and Thracians it warred; and it reached all the way to the Danube. 3 After Antiochus had been expelled, Romans first set foot in Asia; when Mithridates had been conquered, his kingdom was occupied; Armenia Minor, which he likewise had held, was obtained by arms; a Roman army reached Mesopotamia; a treaty was initiated with the Parthians; against Carduenians and Saracens and Arabs it warred; all of Judaea was conquered; Cilicia and Syria came into the power of the Roman people. Egypt's kings became allies. 4 Moreover, under the imperatores, through 407 years, while many principes were directing the diverse fortune of the state, the Maritime Alps, Cottian, Raetian, and Norican Alps, the Pannonias, and the Moesias accrued to the Roman world, and the entire bank of the Danube was reduced to provinces. All Pontus, Armenia Major, all Oriens, with Mesopotamia, Assyria, Arabia, and Egypt, passed under the jurisdiction of Roman imperium.

[4] L   Moreover, in what order the Roman state acquired individual provinces is described below. Sicily was made first of the provinces. When Hieron, King of the Sicilians, had been defeated, Marcellus obtained her. Then directed by praetors, she afterward was committed to praesides; now she is administered by consulars. 2 Metellus conquered Sardinia and Corsica; he celebrated a triumph over the Sardinians; the Sardinians have often rebelled. There had come to be a joint administration of these islands; afterward praetors held them; now they are ruled individually by praesides. 3 Roman arms were sent across to Africa for the defense of the Sicilians. Thrice Africa rebelled; in the end, after Carthage had been destroyed by Scipio Africanus, she was made a province; now she functions under proconsuls. 4 Numidia used to be held by friendly kings, but war was declared against Jugurtha because of the murder of Adherbal and Hiempsal, sons of King Micipsa; and after he had been worn down by the consul Metellus and captured by Marius, Numidia came into the power of the Roman people. The Mauretanias were obtained from Bocchus. But, with all Africa subjugated, King Juba was still holding the Moors - he who, after he had been conquered by Augustus Caesar in the course of the civil war, voluntarily committed suicide. 5 Thus did the Mauretanias begin to be ours and six provinces were made through all Africa; Africa itself, where Carthage is, is proconsular, Numidia consular, Byzacium consular, Tripolis and the two Mauretanias - that is, Sitifensis and Caesariensis - are praesidal.

[5] L   Through Scipio we first bore aid to Spaniards against the Africans. We obtained the rebelling Lusitanians in Spain through Decimus Brutus and we attained the sea from Gades to Ocean. Afterward, Sylla, having been dispatched against the Spaniards, who were in an uproar, conquered them. 2 The Celtiberians in Spain often rebelled, but, when Scipio the Younger had been dispatched, they were, with the destruction of Numantia, subjugated. Nearly all Spain was brought under sway through Metellus and Pompeius on the occasion of the Sertorian War; afterward, when his imperium had been extended for five years, they were subdued by Pompeius. 3 Ultimately, too, the Cantabrians and Asturians, who, relying on the mountains, were resisting, were destroyed by Octavianus Caesar Augustus. 4 And now through all Spain there are six provinces: Tarraconensis, Carthaginensis, Lusitania, Gallaecia, Baetica, also across the strait in the soil of African land is a province of the Spains, which is named Tingimauritania. Of these, Baetica and Lusitania are consular, the others praesidal.

[6] L   With the Gauls the Roman people had the gravest wars. For the Gauls also used to hold the part of Italy in which Mediolanum now is as far as to the Rubicon River, trusting in a number of men so great that in a war they assailed Rome herself, and, when the Roman armies had been destroyed, entered the walls of the city and besieged the Capitolium, to the citadel of which 600 most noble senators had fled: it was these who ransomed themselves from the siege with 1000 pounds of gold. Afterward, Camillus, who was in exile, with a multitude gathered from the fields, defeated the Gauls as they were returning with victory; the gold and standards which the Gauls had taken he brought back. 2 Many consuls, praetors, and dictators contended with the Gauls with varied result. Marius drove the Gauls from Italy; when the Alps had been crossed, he battled successfully against them. 3 C. Caesar, with ten legions which had 3,000 Italian soldiers each, over nine years subjugated the Gauls from the Alps as far as to the Rhine, battled with barbarians settled beyond the Rhine, crossed to Britain, and, in the tenth year, made the Gauls and Britains tributaries. 4 There are in Gaul, Aquitania, and the Britains eighteen provinces: the Maritime Alps, the province of Viennensis, Narbonensis, Novempopulana, two Aquitanias, the Graian Alps, Maxima Sequanorum, two Germanies, two Belgicas, two Lugdunenses; in Britannia, Maxima Caesariensis, Flavia Caesariensis, Britannia Prima, and Britannia Secunda.

[7] L   From the shore of the sea, we gradually moved on Illyricum. The consul Laevinus, having first entered the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, obtained the coastal cities. Crete was made a province by the proconsul Metellus, who was called "Creticus." 2 When Greeks were seeking succor in our protection, we came to Achaea. The Athenians sought our aid against Philippus, King of the Macedonians. For a while Achaea was free under our good offices; finally, when ambassadors of the Romans had been done violence at Corinth, after Corinth had been captured by the proconsul Lucius Mummius, all Achaea was obtained. 3 The Epirotes, who once with Pyrrhus the king had even presumed to cross to Italy, and the Thessalians, when they had been conquered, were added together with our territories of Achaea and Macedon. 4 Macedonia thrice rebelled - under Philippus, under Perseus, under Pseudo-Philippus. Flamininus defeated Philippus, Paulus Perseus, Metellus Pseudo-Philippus, by whose triumphs Macedonia was joined to the Roman people. 5 The Illyrians, who had borne aid to the Macedonians, we conquered on that same occasion through Lucius Ancius, a praetor, and we received them, with King Gentius, in capitulation. Curio, a proconsul, subjugated the Dardanians and Moesiacians and was the first commander of Romans to penetrate all the way to the Danube. 6 Under Julius Octavianus Caesar Augustus, a road was made through the Julian Alps; when all the Alpini had been conquered, the provinces of the Norici were added. After Batho, King of the Pannonians, had been subdued, the Pannonias came under our sway. After the Amantians between the Save and Drave had been laid low, the area adjoining the Save and environs of Pannonia Secunda were obtained.

[8] L   The Marcomanni and Quadi were driven from the environs of Valeria, which are between the Danube and Drave, and a frontier between Romans and barbarians was established from Augusta Vindelicum through Noricum, Pannonia, and Moesia. 2 Trajan conquered the Dacians, under King Decibalus, and made Dacia, across the Danube in the soil of barbary, a province which in circumference had 1,000 miles; but it was lost under imperator Gallienus, and, after Romans had been transferred from there by Aurelian, two Dacias were made in the regions of Moesia and Dardania. 3 Illyricus has 18 provinces: two of Noricas, two of Pannonias, Valeria, Savia, Dalmatia, Moesia Superior, Dardania, two of Dacias, and in the Macedonic diocese are seven provinces: Macedonia, Thessaly, Achaea, two Epiruses, Praevalis, and Crete.

[9] L   It was run across to Thrace on the occasion of the Macedonian War. The Thracians were the most savage of all races. The Scordisci, equally cruel and cunning, also used to dwell in the environs of Thrace. Many tales are told about the savagery of their divinatory rites, that to their own gods they sometimes made sacrifices of prisoners, that they were accustomed to drink human blood in skulls. 2 A Roman army was often destroyed by them. Marcus Didius checked the wandering Thracians, Marcus Drusus confined them within their own borders, Minucius annihilated them in the ice of the Hebrus River. Through Appius Claudius, a proconsul, those who used to inhabit Rhodope were conquered. Earlier a Roman fleet obtained the coastal cities of Europe. Through Thrace, Marcus Lucullus first clashed with the Bessi. 3 The head of our race conquered Thrace herself. He subjugated the Haemimontani, Eumolpiada - which is now called Philippopolis - , Uscudama - which presently is called Hadrianopolis - he brought under our sway, he took Cabyle. He occupied cities situated above Pontus: Apollonia, Calathum, Parthenopolis, Tomi, and Hister; reaching all the way to the Danube, he displayed Roman arms to the Scythians. 4 Thus were the six provinces of Thrace added to the sway of our state: Thrace, Haemimontus, Moesia Inferior, Scythia, Rhodope, and Europa, in which now have been established the secondary defenses of the Roman world.

[10] L   Now the Eastern parts and the entire Oriens and the provinces simply located in the vicinity, which have furnished authors for your scepters, I shall explicate, so that the interest of Your Clemency {Valens}, which you have in these same being preserved, may be more amply aroused. 2 Asia became known to the Romans through the partnership of King Attalus, and we took possession of it by the law of inheritance, when it had been bequeathed in Attalus' will. Nevertheless, lest the Roman people should hold anything not obtained by strength, it was delivered by means of arms by us from Antiochus, the Syrians' greatest king. 3 On the same occasion, Lydia, ancient seat of kings, Caria, Hellespontus, and Phrygia came under the power of the Roman people. 4 Having contended with Rhodes and the peoples of the islands, at first extremely hostile, we afterward began to employ these same as most trustworthy assistants. Thus, at first, Rhodes and the islands were conducting affairs independently; afterward, when the Romans kindly invited them, they attained to the status of dependent and, under princeps Vespasian, the province of the Islands was created.

[11] L   The proconsul Servilius, who had been dispatched to a pirate war, obtained Pamphylia, Lycia, and Pisidia. Bithynia we attained through the will of the late King Nicomedes. 2 Gallograecia - that is Galatia (and indeed, as the name echoes, "Galatians" is from "Gauls") - we invaded because it had supplied aid to Antiochus against the Romans. Mummius, a proconsul, pursued the Galatians and, when some of them fled toward Olympus, some toward Mount Magaba (which now is called Modiacus), forced them from the heights to the plains, and, after they had been conquered, reduced them to perpetual peace. Afterward, Deiotarus the tetrarch controlled Galatia with our permission. In the end, under Octavianus Caesar Augustus, Galatia was reduced to the status of a province and Lollius, a propraetor, first administered her. 3 The Cappadocians first sought our partnership under King Epafrax, and, afterward, Ariobarzanes, King of Cappadocia, who had been expelled by Mithridates, was restored by Roman arms. The Cappadocians always were among our assistants and so nurtured the Roman majesty that Mazaca, the greatest city in Cappadocia, was named Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus. Ultimately, under imperator Claudius Caesar, when Archelaus, King of the Cappadocians, had come to Rome and, having been detained there a long while, gone to his rest, Cappadocia changed to the status of a province. 4 Pontus, after Mithridates, King of Pontus, had been conquered by Pompeius, received the form of a province. King Pylaemenes, a friend of the Roman people, controlled Paphlagonia. Having often been driven thence from his kingdom, he was restored by us and, with his death, the legal status of a province was imposed on Paphlagonia.

[12] L   In what manner Roman control spread beyond the heights of Mount Taurus will be demonstrated through a consecutive arrangement of locations rather than of times. 2 Antiochus, the most powerful king of Syria, waged a formidable war on the Roman people. He had 300,000 armed men, and also drew up a battle line of scythed chariots and elephants. After he had been conquered in Asia at Magnesia by the consul Scipio, brother of Scipio Africanus, when a peace had been agreed upon, he was allowed to reign beyond the Taurus. His sons retained the rule of Syria under the patronage of the Roman people. When these had died, we acquired the provinces of the Syrias. 3 Servilius, a proconsul, having been dispatched to a bandit war, subjugated he Cilicians and the Isaurians, who had allied themselves with pirates and seagoing marauders, and first established a road through Mount Taurus; and he celebrated a triumph over the Cilicians and Isaurians and thus received the cognomen "Isauricus."

[13] L   Cyprus, renowned for riches, seduced the poverty of the Roman people in order to be occupied. A federate king was ruling her, but so great was the poverty of Roman finances and so immense the report of the wealth of Cyprus that, after a law had been issued, Cyprus was ordered confiscated. When this announcement had been received, the Cyprian king took poison in order to forfeit his life before his riches. Cato transported the Cyprian wealth to Rome by means of ships. Thus, more avariciously than justly, did we attain jurisdiction of the island. 2 Cyrene, together with the other cities of Libya's Pentapolis, were obtained through the liberality of an older Ptolemy. We acquired Libya after the mastery of King Appion had been suppressed. 3 All Egypt had been subject to friendly kings, but, when Cleopatra, together with Antonius, had been conquered, in the times of Octavianus Caesar Augustus she took the form of a province and first among the Alexandrians Cornelius Gallus, a Roman judge, took charge.

[14] L   Through the confines of Armenia, under Lucius Lucullus, Roman arms were first sent across the Taurus. The phylarchs of the Saracens, after they had been defeated, withdrew to Osrhoene. In Mesopotamia, Nisibis was captured by the same Lucullus. 2 Afterward, through Pompeius, these same locations were obtained by arms. Syria and Phoenicia were received in a war with Tigranes, King of the Armenians. Arabs and Judaeans were conquered in Palestine. 3 In the end, under the princeps Trajan the crown of the King of Armenia Major was offered, and through Trajan Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Arabia were made provinces and an eastern frontier was established above the banks of the Tigris. 4 But Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan, envying Trajan's glory, returned Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria of his own volition and wanted the Euphrates to be a median between Persians and Romans. 5 But afterward, under the two Antonines, Marcus and Verus, and under Severus, Pertinax, and other Roman principes who battled against the Parthians with varied result, Mesopotamia was four times lost and four times regained. 6 In the times of Diocletian, after the Romans had been defeated in an initial encounter, when, however, King Narses, had been overcome in a second engagement and his wife and daughters had been captured and cared for with the utmost concern for their chastity, when peace had been made, Mesopotamia was restored and the frontier above the banks of the Tigris was reformed, so that we attained sway over five peoples settled beyond the Tigris. The terms of this treaty, having been preserved, endured to the time of the Divine Constantine.

[15] L   Now I know, Renowned princeps, where your intent is heading. You assuredly seek to know how often the arms of Babylonia and Rome were joined and in what places spears contended with arrows. The outcomes of wars I shall briefly enumerate. In a few, you will discover the enemy, as a result of stealth, to have rejoiced; however, you will judge the Romans always to have been revealed victors as a result of genuine courage. 2 First, Arsaces, King of the Parthians, after a delegation had been dispatched, asked and obtained from Lucius Sylla the good offices of the Roman people. 3 Lucius Lucullus pursued to Armenia Mithridates, who had been deprived of the rule of Pontus. The same man, with 18,000 Romans, conquered Tigranes, the Armenians' king, with 7,000 armored horsemen and 2,000 archers. He subdued Tigranocerta, the greatest city of Armenia. He obtained Madaena, a rich region of Armenia, he descended through Melitene to Mesopotamia, and took Nisibis, along with the king's brother. After he had prepared to march against Persia, he accepted a successor.

[16] L   Cn. Pompeius, of proven good fortune, after he had been dispatched to a Mithridatic War, having attacked Mithridates in Armenia Minor, prevailed in a night battle and, when forty-two thousand of the enemy had been killed, he occupied his camp. Mithridates, with his wife and two companions, fled to the Bosphorus and when, in desperation of his affairs, he drank poison, and when the poison's strength did not prove sufficient, he commanded that he be run through with a sword by one of his own soldiers. 2 Pompeius pursued Tigranes, King of the Armenians, Mithridates' supporter; the latter, after the crown had been offered, gave himself up near Artaxata. By him were received Mesopotamia, Syria, and a considerable part of Phoenicia; and he also was allowed to reign within Armenia Major. 3 Likewise, Pompeius imposed a king, Aristarchus, on the Bosphorians and Colchians; fought with the Albani; granted peace to Orhodes, King of the Albani, after he had thrice been defeated; received in surrender Hiberia, with King Atrax; and defeated Saracens and Arabs. After Judaea had been captured, he obtained Jerusalem and made a treaty with the Persians. 4 Returning to Antioch, he, delighted by the loveliness of the place and its abundance of waters, consecrated the grove belonging to Daphne, with a wood added on.

[17] L   Marcus Crassus, a consul, was dispatched against rebelling Parthians. He, when he was asked for peace by a legation dispatched from Persia, said that he would respond at Ctesiphon. He crossed the Euphrates at Zeugma, and, having been guided by a deserter, a certain Mazzarus, descended into an remote wilderness of plains. 2 There the army was surrounded by formations of archers flying around them from all sides, with Silas and Surenas, the King's prefects, and was overwhelmed by the impact of the missiles. Crassus himself - when, after he had been enticed to a parlay, he was nearly captured alive - had escaped while his tribunes resisted, and, seeking flight, was killed. 3 His severed head, with his right hand, were borne to the king and then maintained for sport, so that molten gold might be poured into his throat: to wit, in order that he who, burning with lust for plunder, after he had been asked by the king to grant peace, had declined, flames of gold might consume his remains even after he perished. 4 Lucius Cassius, Crassus' quaestor, a vigorous man, gathered the remains of the scattered army. Against the Persians, who were rushing toward Syria, he thrice contended in most admirable fashion and, after they had been repelled across the Euphrates, he ravaged them.

[18] L   The Parthians, with Labienus, who had been of the Pompeian faction and, having been defeated, had fled to Persia, commander, rushed toward Syria and occupied the whole province. 2 On Mount Caper, P. Ventidius Bassus, with a few men, engaged the Parthians who had invaded Syria with Labenius in command, escaped, killed Labienus, and, pursuing the Persians, cast them into utter destruction. In this engagement, he killed Pacorus, the king's son, on the same day on which Crassus had been defeated, lest the death of a Roman commander ever be left unavenged. 3 Ventidius first celebrated a triumph over the Persians. M. Antonius, having invaded Media, which now is called Madaena, waged war against the Parthians and defeated them in initial battles. Afterward, after two legions had been lost, when he was being overwhelmed with famine, pestilence, and tempests, he barely withdrew the army through Armenia, with the Persians in pursuit, shocked with so much terror as a result of how times had changed that he contemplated being run through by one of his own gladiators, lest he come alive in the enemies' power.

[19] L   Under Octavianus Caesar Augustus, Armenia conspired with Parthia. 2 Claudius Caesar, grandson of Augustus, when he been dispatched to Oriens with an army, when he had settled everything for the benefit of the majesty of the Roman name, and the Armenians, who, with the Parthians, were then the stronger at the time, had surrendered themselves to him, Claudius Caesar appointed to the aforementioned peoples judges on the basis of Pompeius's settlement. 3 A certain Donnes, whom Arsaces had put in command of the Parthians, through an orchestrated treachery, offered a book in which treasures were contained, inscribed. While the Roman imperator was reading very intently, having attacked with a knife, he wounded Claudius. The assassin was indeed killed by soldiers. Claudius, after he had returned to Syria, died from the wound. 4 The Persians, for satisfaction of such an outrage, having been granted an audience, then first gave hostages to Octavianus Caesar Augustus and returned the standards taken under Crassus. When the peoples of Oriens had been pacified, Augustus Caesar also first received a legation of Indians.

[20] L   Nero, the vilest imperator the Roman state has endured, lost Armenia. Then two Roman legions, having been sent under the yoke by the Persians, defiled with the utmost infamy the military oaths of the Roman army. 2 Trajan, who, after Augustus, set in motion the muscle of the Roman state, regained Armenia from the Parthians, and, after the crown had been offered, abolished the kingdom of Armenia Major. He gave a king to the Albani; received Hiberians, Bosphorians, and Colchians into the protection of Roman sway; occupied localities of the Osrhoenians and Arabs; obtained the Carduenians and Marcomedians; received and maintained Anthemusia - Persia's finest region - , Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Babylon; and, after Alexander, even reached the ends of India. He established a fleet in the Red Sea. He made provinces Armenia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia, which, situated between the Tigris and Euphrates, is made equal to Egypt in fecundity by the flooding rivers. 3 It is certain that Hadrian envied Trajan's glory. His successor in imperium, after the armies had been recalled, he surrendered Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria on his own initiative and willed that the Euphrates be a median between Romans and Persians.

[21] L   Two Antonines, Marcus and Verus, that is, father-in-law and son-in-law, simultaneously Augusti, first held the imperium of the world with an equivalent power. But of them, Antoninus the Younger, having set out on a Parthian campaign, felicitously accomplished many and momentous things against the Persians. He took Seleucia, a city in Assyria, together with 40,000 of the enemy, and with immense glory he celebrated a triumph over the Persians. 2 Severus, by birth African, was a most active imperator. He quickly conquered the Parthians, annihilated the Aziabeni, gained control the Arabs of the interior, and made a province in Arabia. Titles were obtained by this man for these victories: for he was given the titles "Aziabenicus," "Parthicus," and "Arabicus." 3 Antoninus, with the cognomen Caracalla, son of imperator Severus, preparing an expedition against the Persians, died a fitting death at Osrhoene, near Edessa, and was buried in the same spot.

[22] L   Aurelius Alexander, born as if by some destiny for the destruction of the Persian race, took the helm of the Roman imperium while still a youth. He gloriously conquered Xerxes, noblest king of the Persians. He had Ulpian, the jurisconsult, as Master of the Secretariat. At Rome, he celebrated with remarkable pomp a triumph over the Persians. 2 Under Gordian, a princeps active through the assurance of youth, the rebelling Parthians were beaten in great battles. Returning from Persia a victor, he was killed by the treachery of Philippus, who was his praetorian prefect. Twenty miles from Circensium the troops built for him a tumulus, which now exists, and they escorted his remains to Rome with the greatest deference of respect.

[23] L   It is disgusting to report the fate of the unfortunate princeps Valerian. After the army had made Valerian imperator, and the senate Gallienus, Valerian, having contended against the Persians in Mesopotamia, was defeated by Sapor, King of the Persians, and, having been captured, wasted away in shameful servitude. 2 Under Gallienus, when Mesopotamia had been invaded, the Persians would have begun to claim Syria for themselves, except that - it is shameful to relate - Odenathus, a Palmyrene decurion, by means of a conscripted force of Syrian peasants, had resisted sharply and, after the Persians had several times been scattered, not only defended our border but also - what is astonishing to say - had, avenger of Roman imperium, penetrated to Ctesiphon.

[24] L   Zenobia, Odenathus' wife, added to the glory of imperator Aurelian. For, after her husbandís death, she was holding the imperium of Oriens by means of a feminine sway. Aurelian defeated her, relying on many thousands of armored horsemen and archers, at Immae, not far from Antioch, and led her captive before his chariot in a triumph at Rome. 2 Imperator Carus' victory over the Persians seemed too mighty to the Celestial Divinity. For it must be believed to have led to the jealousy of heavenly indignation. For, after he had entered Persia, he devastated it as if no one opposed him and took Coche and Ctesiphon, the noblest cities of the Persians. While, victor over the entire race, he was occupying an encampment beyond the Tigris, he died, having been struck by a bolt of lightning.

[25] L   Under princeps Diocletian, there was observed a procession of victory over the Persians. Maximianus Caesar, who had been repulsed in an initial engagement, when he had battled fiercely with a few men against a countless multitude, withdrew and was received with such great disdain by Diocletian that, garbed in purple, he ran several miles before his chariot. 2 And when he had with difficulty gained that, after his army had been revived from the frontier troops of Dacia, he might seek a resolution on the battlefield, in Armenia Major, he himself, with two horsemen, reconnoitered against the enemy and, having fallen suddenly with twenty-five thousand soldiers upon the enemy encampments, after he had attacked countless formations of Persians, he utterly annihilated them. 3 The King of the Persians, Narses, fled; his wife and daughters were captured and kept with the utmost concern for their chastity. In admiration for this, the Persians admitted that the Romans were superior not only in arms but also in behavior. They returned Mesopotamia, along with the Transtigritanian regions. The peace made endured to the benefit of the state to our own memory.

[26] L   In the final portion of his life, Constantine, master of affairs, prepared an expedition against Persia. For, more glorious since the races throughout the world had been pacified and the recent victory over the Goths, he was descending on Persia with all his formations. 2 During his approach, the court at Babylonia was so frightened that a supplicant delegation of Persians hastened to him and promised that they would obey his commands, but, in return for the constant raids which they had attempted throughout Oriens under Constantius Caesar, did not gain a pardon.

[27] L   Constantius fought against the Persians with uneven and more troublesome result. In addition to minor encounters of sentries on the border, an engagement to a harsher Mars was fought nine times, seven times through his commanders, he himself present twice. 2 To be sure, at the battles of Sisara, Singara, and Singara again with Constantius present, and of Sicgara and also Constantina, and, when Amida was captured, the state received a serious wound while he was princeps. Moreover, Nisibis was thrice besieged by the Persians, but, while involved in the siege, the enemy incurred its own, greater loss. 3 Moreover, at Narasara, where Narses was killed, we departed winners. Indeed, in a night battle at Eleia, near Singara, where Constantius was present, the outcome of all the campaigns would have been offset if the imperator himself, in adverse locations and at night, had not been able, by addressing them, to recall the soldiers, who had been aroused to fury, from the inopportune timing of the battle. Nevertheless, unconquered in strength - an unforeseen reserve against a shortage of water - , when evening was now falling, after they had attacked the encampment of the Persians and, when the wall had been breached, occupied it, and, after the king had fled, when, recovering from battle, with torches held before them, they gazed with eagerness on the water that had been obtained, they were buried by a cloud of arrows, since they themselves thoughtlessly supplied flaming torches to direct the hits more accurately through the night toward themselves.

[28] L   To princeps Julian, of proven good fortune against external enemies, due measure against Persia was lacking. For he, with immense provision, in as much as he was sovereign of the entire world, set hostile standards against the Parthians, and sailed through the Euphrates a fleet furnished with supplies. Relentless in his advance, he either took control of many of the Persians' cities and bases which had surrendered or took them by force. 2 When he had made camp opposite Ctesiphon on the banks of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates and was holding daily competitions in order to reduce the enemy's attentiveness, in the middle of the night he rapidly transferred to the opposite bank soldiers who had been loaded on ships. These, distinguishing themselves through hardships which would have been difficult to surmount even in daylight and with no opposition, threw the Persians into confusion by means of unexpected fright and, when the units of the entire race had been turned about, the victorious soldiery would have entered the open gates of Ctesiphon, if the opportunity for plunder had not been greater than the concern for victory. 3 Having obtained such great glory, when he was warned by his staff concerning his return, he gave his own plan more credence and, after the ships had been burnt, when, having been led on a route toward Madenea by a deserter who had delivered himself for the purpose of deceiving him, he pursued shortcuts, again traversing a route along the right bank of the Tigris, with his soldiers' flank exposed, when he wandered too incautiously through the formations and when his own men's sight had been snatched away as a result dust that had been stirred up, he was wounded, pierced through the abdomen near the groin with a lance by a cavalryman of the enemy who had encountered him. Amidst an effusion of much blood, after he, though injured, had restored the ranks of his men, having said many things to his friends, he breathed out his lingering soul.

[29] L   Jovian received an army superior in battles but confused by the sudden death of the departed imperator. When supplies were deficient and a very long road loomed ahead on the return, the Persians, by swift assaults now from the front, now from the rear, and also attacking the flanks of the middle, delayed the march of the formation. After several days had been consumed, so great was the reverence of the Roman name that a discussion about peace was held first by the Persians, and the army, weakened by famine, was allowed to be withdrawn, after - what had never happened before - conditions inimical to the Roman state had been imposed, with the result that Nisibis and part of Mesopotamia was surrendered, things in which, unskilled in imperium, Jovian, more desirous of rule than of glory, acquiesced.

[30] L   How much, in turn, must your deeds, Invincible princeps, be broadcast with a lofty voice. I, though unequal to the task of speaking and rather burdened by age, shall ready myself for these matters. May the felicity now vouchsafed by God's command and granted by the friendly Divinity in which you trust and by which you are trusted endure, so that for you the palm of a peace of Babylonia, too, may accrue to this momentous one concerning the Goths.

Copyright (C) 2001, Thomas Banchich.   |   18.01.22   |   Any comments?