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Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623. Page 1 of 27 Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.            I. Omens announcing the death of the Emperor Valens, and a disaster to be inflicted by the  Gauls. II. A description of the abodes and customs of the Huns, the Alani, and other tribes, natives  of Asiatic Scythia. III. The Huns, either by arms or by treaties, unite the Alani on the Don to themselv
  Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History  . London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.  I. Omens announcing the death of the Emperor Valens, and a disaster to be inflicted by theGauls.  II. A description of the abodes and customs of the Huns, the Alani, and other tribes, nativesof Asiatic Scythia.  III. The Huns, either by arms or by treaties, unite the Alani on the Don to themselves;invade the Goths, and drive them from their country.  IV. The chief division of the Goths, surnamed the Thuringians, having been expelled fromtheir homes, by permission of Valens are conducted by the Romans into Thrace, on conditionof promising obedience and a supply of auxiliary troops. The Gruthungi also, who form theother division of the Goths, secretly cross the Danube by a bridge of boats.  V. The Thuringians being in great distress from hunger and the want of supplies, under thecommand of their generals Alavivus and Fritigern, revolt from Valens, and defeat Lupicinusand his army.  VI. Why Sueridus and Colias, nobles of the Gothic nation, after having been received in afriendly manner, revolted; and after slaying the people of Hadrianopolis, united themselvesto Fritigern, and then turned to ravage Thrace.  VII. Profuturus, Trajan, and Richomeres fought a drawn battle against the Goths.  VIII. The Goths being hemmed in among the defiles at the bottom of the Balkan, after theRomans by returning had let them escape, invaded Thrace, plundering, massacring,ravishing, and burning, and slay Barzimeres, the tribune of the Scutarii.  IX. Frigeridus, Gratian's general, routs Farnobius at the head of a large body of Goths andTaifalae; sparing the rest, and giviug them some lands around the Po.  X. The Lentiensian Alemanni are defeated in battle by the generals of the emperor Gratian,and their king Priamis is slain. Afterwards, having yielded and furnished Gratian with a bodyof recruits, they are allowed to return to their own country.  XI. Sebastian surprises the Goths at Beraea as they are returning home loaded with plunder,and defeats them with great slaughter; a few saved themselves by flight. Gratian hastens tohis uncle Valens, to carry him aid against the Goths.  XII. Valens, before the arrival of Gratian resolves to fight the Goths.  XIII. All the Goths unite together, that is to say, the Thuringians, under their king Fritigern.The Gruthungi, under their dukes Alatheus and Salaces, encounter the Romans in a pitchedbattle, rout their cavalry, and then falling on the infantry when deprived of the support of their horse, and huddled together in a dense body, they defeat them with enormous loss,and put them to flight. Valens is slain, but his body cannot be found.  XIV. The virtues and vices of Valens.  XV. The victorious Goths besiege Hadrianopolis, where Valens had left his treasures and hisinsignia of imperial rank, with the prefect and the members of his council; but after tryingevery means to take the city, without success, they at last retire.  XVI. The Goths, having by bribes won over the forces of the Huns and of the Alani to jointhem, make an attack upon Constantinople without success. The device by which Julius, thecommander of the forces beyond Mount Taurus, delivered the eastern provinces from theGoths.  BOOK XXXI. |576 Page 1 of 27Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.  [Translated by C.D.Y ONGE ] I.  A.D. 375.§ 1. In the mean time the swift wheel of Fortune, which continually alternates adversity withprosperity, was giving Bellona the Furies for her allies, and arming her for war; and nowtransferred our disasters to the East, as many presages and portents foreshowed by undoubtedsigns.2. For after many true prophecies uttered by diviners and augurs, dogs were seen to recoil fromhowling wolves, and the birds of night constantly uttered querulous and mournful cries; and luridsunrises made the mornings dark. Also, at Antioch, among the tumults and squabbles of thepopulace, it had come to be a custom for any one who fancied himself ill treated to cry out in alicentious manner, May Valens be burnt alive! And the voices of the criers were constantly heardordering wood to be carried to warm the baths of Valens, which had been built under thesuperintendence of the emperor himself.3. All which circumstances all but pointed out in express words that the end of the emperor's lifewas at hand. Besides all these things, the ghost of the king of Armenia, and the miserableshades of those who had lately been put to death in the affair of Theodorus, agitated numbers of people with terrible alarms, appearing to them in their sleep, and shrieking out verses of horribleimport. 4. . . . and its death indicated an extensive and general calamity arising from public lossesand deaths. Last of all, when the ancient walls of Chalcedon were thrown down in order to build abath at Constantinople, and the stones were torn asunder, on one squared stone which was hiddenin the very centre of the walls these Greek verses were found engraved, which gave a fullrevelation of what was to happen:— But when young wives and damsels blithe, in dances that delight, Shall glide along the citystreets, with garlands gaily bright; And when these walls, with sad regrets, shall fall to raise abath, Then shall the Huns in multitude break forth with might and wrath. By force of arms thebarrier-stream of Ister they shall cross, O'er Scythic ground and Moesian lands spreading dismayand loss: They shall Pannonian horsemen brave, and Gallic soldiers slay, And nought but loss of lifeand breath their course shall ever stay. II.  § 1. The following circumstances were the srcinal cause of all the destruction and variouscalamities which the fury of Mars roused up, throwing everything into confusion by his usualruinous violence: the people called Huns, slightly mentioned in the ancient records, live beyond theSea of Azov, on the border of the Frozen Ocean, and are a race savage beyond all parallel.2. At the very moment of their birth the cheeks of their infant children are deeply marked by aniron, in order that the usual vigour of their hair, instead of growing at the proper season, maybe withered by the wrinkled scars; and accordingly they grow up without beards, and consequentlywithout any beauty, like ennuchs, though they all have closely-knit and strong limbs, and plumpnecks; they are of great size, and low legged, so that you might fancy them two-legged beasts, orthe stout figures which are hewn out in a rude manner with an axe on the posts at the end of bridges.3. They are certainly in the shape of men, however uncouth, but are so hardy that they neitherrequire fire nor well-flavoured food, but live on the roots of such herbs as they get in the fields, oron the half-raw flesh of any animal, which they merely warm rapidly by placing it between theirown thighs and the backs of their horses. |577|578 Page 2 of 27Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.  4. They never shelter themselves under roofed houses, but avoid them as people ordinarily avoidsepulchres as things not fitted for common use. Nor is there even to be found among them a cabinthatched with reed; but they wander about, roaming over the mountains and the woods, andaccustom themselves to bear frost and hunger and thirst from their very cradles. And even whenabroad they never enter a house unless under the compulsion of some extreme necessity; nor,indeed, do they think people under roofs as safe as others.5. They wear linen clothes, or else garments made of the skins of field-mice: nor do they wear adifferent dress out of doors from that which they wear at home; but after a tunic is once put roundtheir necks, however it becomes worn, it is never taken off or changed till, from long decay, itbecomes actually so ragged as to fall to pieces.6. They cover their heads with round caps, and their shaggy legs with the skins of kids; theirshoes are not made on any lasts, but are so unshapely as to hinder them from walking with a freegait. And for this reason they are not well suited to infantry battles, but are nearly always onhorseback, their horses being ill-shaped, but hardy; and sometimes they even sit upon them likewomen if they want to do anything more conveniently. There is not a person in the whole nationwho cannot remain on his horse day and night. On horseback they buy and sell, they taketheir meat and drink, and there they recline on the narrow neck of their steed, and yield to sleepso deep as to indulge in every variety of dream.7. And when any deliberation is to take place on any weighty matter, they all hold their commoncouncil on horseback. They are not under the authority of a king, but are contented with theirregular government of their nobles, and under their lead they force their way through allobstacles.8. Sometimes when provoked, they fight; and when they go into battle, they form in a solid body,and utter all kinds of terrific yells. They are very quick in their operations, of exceeding speed, andfond of surprising their enemies. With a view to this, they suddenly disperse, then reunite, andagain, after having inflicted vast loss upon the enemy, scatter themselves over the whole plain inirregular formations: always avoiding a fort or an entrenchment.9. And in one respect you may pronounce them the most formidable of all warriors, for when at adistance they use missiles of various kinds tipped with sharpened bones instead of the usual pointsof javelins, and these bones are admirably fastened into the shaft of the javelin or arrow; but whenthey are at close quarters they fight with the sword, without any regard for their own safety; andoften while their antagonists are warding off their blows they entangle them with twisted cords, sothat, their hands being fettered, they lose all power of either riding or walking.10. None of them plough, or even touch a plough-handle: for they have no settled abode, but archomeless and lawless, perpetually wandering with their waggons, which they make their homes; infact they seem to be people always in flight. Their wives live in these waggons, and there weavetheir miserable garments; and here too they sleep with their husbands, and bring up their childrentill they reach the age of puberty; nor, if asked, can any one of them tell you where he was born,as he was conceived in one place, born in another at a great distance, and brought up in anotherstill more remote.11. In truces they are treacherous and inconstant, being liable to change their minds at everybreeze of every fresh hope which presents itself, giving themselves up wholly to the impulseand inclination of the moment; and, like brute beasts, they are utterly ignorant of the distinctionbetween right and wrong. They express themselves with great ambiguity and obscurity; have norespect for any religion or superstition whatever; are immoderately covetous of gold; and are sofickle and irascible, that they very often on the same day that they quarrel with their companionswithout any provocation, again become reconciled to them without any mediator. |579|580 Page 3 of 27Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.  12. This active and indomitable race, being excited by an unrestrainable desire of plundering thepossessions of others, went on ravaging and. slaughtering all the nations in their neighbourhood tillthey reached the Alani, who were formerly called the Massagetae; and from what country theseAlani come, or what territories they inhabit (since my subject has led me thus far), it is expedientnow to explain: after showing the confusion existing in the accounts of the geographers,who . . . . at last have found out . . . . of truth.13. The Danube, which is greatly increased by other rivers falling into it, passes through theterritory of the Sauromatae, which extends as far as the river Don, the boundary between Asia andEurope. On the other side of this river the Alani inhabit the enormous deserts of Scythia, derivingtheir own name from the mountains around; and they, like the Persians, having gradually subduedall the bordering nations by repeated victories, have united them to themselves, andcomprehended them tinder their own name. Of these other tribes the Neuri inhabit the inlanddistricts, being near the highest mountain chains, which are both precipitous and covered with theeverlasting frost of the north. Next to them are the Budini and the Geloni, a race of exceedingferocity, who flay the enemies they have slain in battle, and make of their skins clothes forthemselves and trappings for their horses. Next to the Geloni are the Agathyrsi, who dye both theirbodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small—thenobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.15. Next to these are the Melanchlamae and the Anthropophagi, who roam about upon differenttracts of land and live on human flesh. And these men are so avoided on account of theirhorrid food, that all the tribes which were their neighbours have removed to a distance from them.And in this way the whole of that region to the north-east, till you come to the Chinese, isuninhabited.10. On the other side the Alani again extend to the east, near the territories of the Amazons, andare scattered among many populous and wealthy nations, stretching to the parts of Asia which, asI am told, extend up to the Ganges, a river which passes through the country of the Indians, andfalls into the Southern Ocean.17. Then the Alani, being thus divided among the two quarters of the globe (the various tribeswhich make up the whole nation it is not worth while to enumerate), although widely separated,wander, like the Nomades, over enormous districts. But in the progress of time all these tribescame to be united under one generic appellation, and are called Alani . . . . . . . .18. They have no cottages, and never use the plough, but live solely on meat and plenty of milk,mounted on their waggons, which they cover with a curved awning made of the bark of trees, andthen drive them through their boundless deserts. And when they come to any pasture-land, theypitch their waggons in a circle, and live like a herd of beasts, eating up all the forage—carrying, asit were, their cities with them in their waggons. In them the husbands sleep with their wives—inthem their children are born and brought up; these waggons, in short, are their perpetualhabitation, and wherever they fix them, that place they look upon as their home.19. They drive before them their flocks and herds to their pasturage; and, above all other cattle,they are especially careful of their horses. The fields in that country are always green, and areinterspersed with patches of fruit trees, so that, wherever they go, there is no dearth either of foodfor themselves or fodder for their cattle. And this is caused by the moisture of the soil, and thenumber of the rivers which flow through these districts.20. All their old people, and especially all the weaker sex, keep close to the waggons, and occupythemselves in the lighter employments. But the young men, who from their earliest childhood aretrained to the use of horses, think it beneath them to walk. They are also all trained by carefuldiscipline of various sorts to become skilful warriors. And this is the reason why the Persians, whoare srcinally of Scythian extraction, are very skilful in war. |581|582 Page 4 of 27Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 31. pp. 575-623.
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