Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 25.2

That second paragraph, I can’t even.

After this, with three days resolved for an armistice, while everyone tended to his own wounds or of those nearby, a fast—already unendurable—afflicted us, destitute of supplies; and on that account, since the harvests and foodstuffs had been burned, men came into extreme danger, and the pack-animals, too; from that food which the animals of the tribunes and the companions conveyed, and to the lowest plebeian of the soldiers, in the very depths of need, a great part was distributed.  And the emperor, for whom there were no delicacies of food, according to the regal custom, but rather he dined more sparingly beneath the low columns of a tent, prepared a mean portion of gruel, loathed even by the common custodian, whatever was demanded for the ministers, he himself discharged, untroubled, for the poor common tents.

He himself, wearied for a short time, for his rest was interrupted and agitated; once, when sleep was thrust away—as was his custom, in emulation of Julius Caesar—by which, writing beneath pelts in the deep dark of night, he was striving for understanding of some philosopher, he saw rather squalidly, as he confessed to those closest, that aspect of public Genius which, when he was rising to the Augustan peak, he observed in the Gauls, the veiled cornucopia with his head, he departed with much sadness through the embroidered curtains.

And nevertheless, he stayed for a moment fixed by astonishment, yet superior to all fear, he entrusted his goings to heavenly decrees, and with the bed left behind, spread out on earth, roused in the night already advanced, while he was supplicating to the divine powers with rites for averting evil, he thought a blaze vanished, though it seemed to burn so very brightly, as if falling, ploughing a part of the aether, and he was imbued with horror, lest thus the menacing star of Mars should openly appear.

However, the fiery lustre was that which we call diaissonta (Greek: “rushing across”), neither falling anywhere, nor touching the earth. For he who believes bodies are able to fall from heaven, is judged, with good reason, as profane and mad. This condition, however, is made in several ways, of which it is sufficient to show a few. Some think that sparkling lights shining brightly from the aether, and not sufficing to reach widely enough, are extinguished, or at least that, when the flames of their rays are applied to dense clouds, they sparkle brilliantly on contact, or when any light coheres to a cloud. For it indeed traverses, fashioned in the appearance of a star, while it is sustained by the power of its brilliance; emptied by the true extent of space, the body dissolves in the air, passing away to its essence, by the exhaustion of which, it burned too hot.

And thus immediately prior to the firstlings of light, the Etruscan diviners were summoned and consulted, what did the new aspect of a star portend; they responded with great caution that it must be avoided, lest anything be tried at that time, showing that in the book of Tarquitian, with the title, On Divine Matters, this is related: that when a brand is seen in the sky, it is not opportune that battle be engaged, or anything similar. But spurning this, among many other things, the soothsayers pleaded with him to put off the departure for at least a few hours, and they would not even achieve this, since the emperor resisted the expertise of all prophesying, but as soon as the day arose, the camp was pushed onward.

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Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 25.1

In general, my translations are filthy literal. I’m not translating Latin idioms into graceful English, partly because I often don’t recognize the idioms when I see them (but not always–I’m well aware that, “the boundaries of the light,” for example, would make more sense rendered as “the crack of dawn” or something similar). And I often cling to Latin ordering of words and phrases, even when it would make more sense to use a more English structure. This entry seems particularly egregious in this respect. In a couple of places below (marked in italics) the construction is especially strained, however, because I genuinely don’t understand how the Latin is working. If you want a clearer translation, there are a couple freely available on the internet.

And indeed that night, shining with no glitter of stars, as is usual for severe and doubtful affairs, we drove out and neither did anyone dare to sit nor turn the lamps to quietude, on account of their fear. When, truly, the day first became light, shining on the iron bands of the encircled defence, and the glittering breastplates, seen from afar, showed that the army of the king was near. And once this was seen, although the soldier was inflamed, hastening to engage—the river separated them—the emperor briefly held them back, and not far off from the rampart itself, during a bitter fight that broke out between our scouts and the Persians, Machameus fell, the leader of one of our armies. His brother, Maurus—afterward a Phoenician general, although he intended to rush out, since he would slaughter the killer of his brother, terrifying anyone in the way, weakened himself by a javelin to his upper arm, growing pallid, with death at hand, he had the power to withdraw Machameus from the fight with great strength.

When the factions fatigued, from the magnitude of the heat, scarcely endurable, and the frequent clashes, finally the enemy troops were seriously repulsed, shattered. With the nobles falling back from that place, the Saracens followed at great length and although, due to fear of our infantry, they were compelled to turn back, they soon afterward, once they were more safely joined to the Persian multitude, they attacked, to capture the Roman baggage, but when the emperor was seen, they returned to the auxiliary wings. Proceeding from that place, we reached the villa, named Hucumbra, where after two days, while everything was suitable for use and the grains we sought were in abundance, we departed restored to highest hope, and immediately after this, what the occasion allowed by wagon, the rest was consumed by fire.

The next day, when the army was proceeding well-appeased, the men at the very end, those who, by chance, bore the duties of collecting the train on that day, these men the Persians suddenly accosted, and would have killed in short order if our nearby cavalry, as soon as this was perceived, although they were spread widely though the broad valley, had not repelled the mass so great discriminis, wounding those who overtook them. In this battle, Adaces fell, a noble satrap, once sent as an ambassador to the princeps Constantius, and kindly received; his killer offered his equipment and clothing to Julian and was remunerated, as was befitting. On the same day, the equestrian band of the Tertiacori was accused by the legions, that, when they themselves had burst through the opposing battle-lines of the enemies, they, dispersing little by little, almost completely diminished the alacrity of the army. From this, the emperor, raised to just indignation, with their standards taken and their spears shattered, all those who were shown to have fled he positioned to make the journey among the baggage and supplies and the captives, their leader, who alone contended bravely, was posted to another troop, whose tribune had been proven to have shamefully deserted the battle. Yet another four were cast down by their oath, too, due to a similar disgrace of a battalion’s tribune; For this, to be sure, the emperor was content with a more lenient management of correction in consideration of the difficulties hanging over them.

And thus they progressed for seventy furlongs, the supplies of every kind diminished, since the green crops and grains burned, from the very flames fruits and foods were captured, as anyone able to carry something, preserved it. Yet once this place was left behind, when the entire army arrived at a tract of land called Maranga, very near the boundaries of the light, the immense multitude of the Persians appeared, with Marana, a master of equestrian warfare, and the king’s two sons, and a great many aristocrats.

Indeed, all the crowds were furnished with iron, in this way, each limb covered with thick plates, such that they came together, stiffening at the joining of the limbs, simulacra of human visage likewise carefully attached to their heads, so that, with their bodies bedecked solid, even where a great many missiles fell upon them they could stand fast, which, through minute cavities and placed at the orbs of their eyes, is seen but sparingly and breath is emitted through supremely narrow straits of the nostrils. Part of which stands to fight, immovable, with pikes, such that you would think them fixed by bronze cables, and archers nearby, confident in their art from the very cradle, the band prevails to a high degree, they stretch their flexible bows, drawing apart their forearms, so that the strings touch their right breasts, the sharp points unite with their left hands, and the highest skill of their fingers proven, singing with strikes, the shafts fly forth bearing ruinous wounds.

After this, the dreadful aspect of gleaming elephants, howling savage cries, the trembling minds of men scarcely endure, and by the shrill noise and stench of these and the unaccustomed sight, horses are greatly terrified. Upon these their masters are seated, wielding handled knives tied to their right hands, mindful of the disaster received at Nisibis, and if the animal, going mad, overcomes the power of the man controlling it, lest it turn back on them, so as there to fell them, to throw them down to the clashing mass, the vein which divides the head from the neck, they cut through this with a desperate thrust. For this was discovered at another time by Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, thus quickly in this way to snatch life from the monsters.

When these were seen (and not without great terror), pressed by the masses of armed cohorts, the emperor and his most trustworthy highborn men, as the great and terrible power demanded, at the crescent front-line, and the curved flanks, he readied the companies to rush the enemy. And so that the sallies of our archers would not scatter the wedge-formations, with signs quickly executed, he cut off the assault of arrows, and with the sign customarily given for decisive combat, the densely-packed Roman infantry thrust laboriously into the pressed fronts of the enemies, with great precision. And in the roiling mass of battles, the din of shields and men, and the crashing of arms plaintively whistling, abiding nothing still to be abated, it covered the fields with blood and the carnage of bodies, especially with fallen Persians, for whom often sluggishly, foot bound closely to foot withstood more gravely in conflict, inclined to fight bravely from a distance and if they felt that might of their own declined, when retreating,  their arrows scattered in the manner of rain after them, they reliably deterred enemies from following. So once the Parthians were struck by a weight of great power, the soldiery, long since wearied by the flaming course of the sun, after the signal to retreat was given, fell again to their tents, sustained for daring greater things afterward.

In this battle the carnage of the Persians, so it is said, appeared greater, and our lighter by a great deal. Nevertheless, from among the various fallen in battle, the death of Vetranio stood out, a pugnacious man, who led the legion of the Zianni.

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Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 14.6

Meanwhile, Orfitus ruled the eternal city with the power of prefect, exalting himself immoderately beyond the measure of the office conferred upon him, a man—it is true—of foresight, and exceedingly skilled in forensic affairs, but in the splendor of a liberal education he was furnished less than befits a noble. While he governed, serious mutinies were stirred up by a lack of wine, for which, the mob—eager for greedy use, was agitated to action desperate and frequent.

And, since I suppose that some foreigners, those who may perchance read this (if one comes upon it), could wonder for what reason, when the account turns to showing that which was done at Rome, I narrate nothing except uprisings and taverns and other vulgarities similar to these, briefly I will touch on the reason, nowhere of my own volition intending to digress from the truth.

In the time when, from first auspices, Rome ascended to world-wide brilliance, to live as long as there were men, in order that she be exalted by lofty increase, Virtue and Fortune came together for a pact of eternal peace, although usually disagreeing, if either of them were absent, she would not ultimately reach the highest point. Her people, from earliest cradle right up to the last period of childhood, because they were enclosed all around for almost three hundred years, endured wars around her walls; and then entering her adult age, after multifold tribulations of wars, she traversed the Alps and the sea; raised to her youth and manhood, from every region that the boundless sky encompasses, she carried back laurels and triumphs; and now turning toward senility, and conquering now and then in name alone, she departs to the more tranquil age of her life.

Therefore, the venerable city, after the haughty necks of savage tribes were oppressed, and laws were borne, that fundament of liberty and its eternal tether, just as a frugal parent, both prudent and wealthy, thus to the Caesars as if to her own children she has permitted the right to rule over her estate. And for a time there was license for the tribes to be idle, and the centuries pacified, and there were no contests for suffrage, but the security of the time of Pompilianus had returned, yet through all boundaries and parts of the world, as many as there were, as a mistress and a queen she is received, and everywhere the grey eminence of the senators is revered with authority, and the name of the Roman people is regarded and venerated.

But this magnificent splendor of unions is wounded by the disordered inconstancy of a few, giving no consideration of where they are begotten, but like indulgences that give licence to faults, they are fallen to error and impudence. For as Simonides of the lyre instructs, he who would live blessedly by perfect reason, it is agreed, must before all other things have a glorious nation. Some of these men, estimating that they can commend themselves to the ages with statues, ardently strive for them, as if to attain more reward from formations of bronze lacking feeling than from an awareness of deeds done honorably and righteously, and they take pains that these are gilded in gold, which was conferred first to Acilius Glabrionus, when he overcame the king of Antioch by arms and counsels. How fine it would be, however, spurning things petty and least, to reach for the ascents of true glory, distant and steep, as the seer Ascraeus recalls, Cato Censorius did demonstrate. He was asked, for what reason, among so many men … he had no statue. “I prefer,” he answered, “the good to debate, for what reason did I not merit it, than, which is more serious, to mutter, why did I win it.”

Some men, placing the highest honor in carriages grown more lofty than custom, and in much-sought finery of vestment, sweat beneath the weight of their cloaks, which, inserted into their collars, they fasten around their own throats, fluttering too much for the delicacy of the weave, awaiting with violent agitation and especially the left, so that the lengthy fringes and their tunics glitter conspicuously, fashioned with a diversity of threads in manifold depictions of animals. Others, although no one asks, with their faces in feigned severity, exalt their own estates to immensity, multiplying the annual fruits of their fertile (so they think) plantations, which they proclaim they possess in abundance from rising to setting of the sun, no doubt ignorant that their own ancestors, by whom Roman greatness was thus extended, to shine forth not by her riches, but through terribly savage wars, differing not in their means, nor in their sustenance, nor in the cheapness of their garments from common soldiers, surpassed all opposition by their virtue. For this reason Valerius Publicola himself is interred with small offering, raised by contributions, and by the subsidies of her husband’s friends, the destitute wife of Regulus, with her children, is sustained, and the daughter of Scipio is endowed from the treasury, since the nobility blushed on account of the flower of matured virginity lasting so long, due to the absence of her impoverished father.

But now, if you should, for the first time, enter as an honorable visitor to pay your respects to anyone well moneyed, and puffed up on this account, you will be received as if long wished for, and be asked many questions, and be compelled to speak falsehoods; you will wonder, since you have never before been seen here, at an eminent man so strenuously attending to you, a trifling man, so as to make you sorry, on account of these things, like special favours, that you had not seen Rome a decade earlier. And once you had confidence in this affability, when you do the same the next day, you will be tarried, like an unknown and unexpected visitor, while that man, yesterday’s encourager … for counting, wonders all day who you might be and whence you came. Finally recognized in truth and received in friendship, if you yield to constant attendance, paying your respects for three years without pause, and you are absent the occasion for the same number of days, you will return to endure the same things, and not asked where you were, and, if you do not depart from there unhappy, you will squander your whole life in vain from submitting yourself to a blockhead.

When, however, separated by appropriate intervals, they begin to prepare their tedious and offensive feasts, whether the distribution of the ritual gifts is managed with anxious deliberation, or, with those excepted to whom the vicissitude is owed, it is decided that the foreigner be invited and if, once the council is fully arranged, it is pleasing that it be done, he is summoned who sleeps outside, before the houses of charioteers, or who professes his skill of dice, or who pretends that he knows certain very secret things. For they shun learned and sober men as if they were ill-omened and useless, in addition to which, their secretaries,1 habituated to selling these and other such favours, once a fee is accepted, introduce to the payments and the luncheons certain counterfeit men, ignoble and obscure.

The endless maw of the dinner tables and the various enticements of pleasures, so that I don’t go on too long, I will pass over to change the subject, that some men, rushing through the ample spaces of the city and the overturned stones, without any fear of the risk, they urge their horses like the public ones,2 with marked hooves, dragging a train of servants like a predatory throng at their backs, and not even Sannio, as the comic says, is left at home. Imitating these men, numerous matrons run about, their heads and sedans covered, through all quarters of the city. And like leaders practised in battle, who first place dense crowds in opposition, and strong, and then lightly armed men, spearmen after that, and finally the auxiliary battle-lines, if chance should grant, to provide assistance, thus it is for the overseers of the urban household, carefully and anxiously arranging their own, whom they make prominent by rods fitted to their right hands, like the watchword given to a soldier; near the front of the carriage the whole weaver’s shop marches; to this the blackened ministry of the kitchen is attached, and then the whole servitude in common, with unemployed plebs from the district joined in; long after, a multitude of eunuchs going from from old men to boys, pale and tormented, deformed at the join of their lineaments, so that wherever anyone departs to, when they see a train of mutilated men, he curses the memory of Semiramis, that queen of the ancients, who first of all people castrated males of a tender age, as if applying violence on nature, and twisting the same from her fixed course, which, during the very childhood of a man’s arising, through the originating fonts of seed, by a silent law, as it were, she shows the ways of increasing posterity.

Since this is so, the few houses formerly celebrated for their serious cultivation of studies now toil in mockeries, numbed by laziness, resounding with the sound of voice, the fluttering tinkling of lyres. And finally, instead of a philosopher, a singer is invited, and in place of an orator, a teacher of skill in games, and after the libraries shut up in perpetuity, in the manner of tombs, hydraulic organs are constructed, and huge lyres in the appearance of chariots, and flutes and not insignificant instruments of theatrical gesture.

At last we have come to this state of indignity, such that, not so long ago, when because of a feared poverty of provisions, the foreigners were being driven headlong from the city, and although the very few adherents of the liberal disciplines were expelled without any respite, the attendants of mimes were most certainly kept, whoever impersonated them for the occasion, and three thousand dancing girls remained, with their choruses, not even disturbed, and just as many conductors. And there was liberty, any which way you might turn your eyes, to gaze upon many women, curls in their hair, to whom, had they married, already thrice by their age the pain of children could have come; sweeping the floor with their feet to the very point of tedium, to be thrown in flying gyres, while they portray the innumerable forms which the theatrical tales devise.

This, however, is not doubted, that once, when Rome was the domicile of every virtue, most of the nobility held fast to her free-born visitors, as the Homeric Lotus-eaters did by the sweetness of their berries, they by the multifarious kindnesses of their humanity. Now, rather, the vain blustering of some esteem anyone born beyond the walls of the city as cheap, except for the childless and the unmarried, and it could not be credited with what diversity of obsequities men without children are cultivated at Rome. And since then, among those men, as in the capital of the world, the bitter pains of diseases have gained high dominion, for the allayment of which, every public promise of healing is idle, an auxiliary for giving health has been devised, that one does not even see a friend enduring anything similar, and another sufficiently powerful remedy has been added by a cautious few, such that servants, sent to inquire to what measure they gain strength—those known to be bound by the illness, are not received to the house before they cleanse their body with a bath. Thus even a blemish seen by the eyes of another is feared. But even so, although these things are so very carefully attended to, some men, although the vigour of their limbs is diminished, when they are invited to weddings, where gold is offered to the fortunate cupped hands, they diligently proceed even as far as Spoleto. These are the habits of the nobles.

Of the throng of the lower lot and the poor, in truth, some stay all night in wine taverns, a few lurk beneath the coverings of the theatrical awnings, which, imitating Campaniam lewdness, Catulus hung up during his aedileship; either they contend combatively in dice games, clamouring with foul sound, by breath withdrawn through their roaring nostrils; or, which is the greatest of all endeavors, from the rising of light to evening, rain or shine, they tire themselves seeking in minute detail the strengths and flaws of charioteers and horses. It is a marvel of great measure to see the innumerable plebs, some ardent desire applied to their minds, hanging on the outcome of furious chariot races. They permit these and similar such things to be done at Rome, but nothing earnest or worthy of memory; thus we must return to the text.

1. The Latin word that I’ve translated as “secretaries”, nomenclatores, refers to servants that had the job of keeping a list of all the attendants at a banquet, and keep their masters informed of who they were speaking to.
2. The Roman Emperor kept horses hitched at points throughout the city so for his servants to use on urgent business.

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Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 16.8 to 16.9

16.8 Accusations and chicanery in the camps of Constantius Augustus, and the greed of courtiers

Once Marcellus was overcome, as I have related, and he returned to Serdica whence he arose, in the camps of Augustus, via the sham of caring for the emperor’s majesty, many nefarious deeds were perpetrated. For if anyone consulted an expert concerning the noise of a shrew-mouse, or the sight of a weasel, or the likeness of a sign for favour, or used charms for soothing pains, like an old woman, which even medical authority permits, the person in question, from what source he could have no opinion, was indicted and taken away to the courts, to be punitively ruined.

Around this time, the wife of a certain Salonian man, Danus by name, had accused him of trivial matters, to the point of terror. Rufinus waylaid this woman, who knows whence he knew her, —it was by this man, revealing certain things known through Gaudentius, an agent in affairs, that when Africanus was governer of Pannonia, killed him with his guests at a feast, as we related—even then, because of his devotion, he was chief of the household of the praetorian prefect.

This man, so boastfully loquacious, after he nefariously bedded her, lured the fickle woman into a dangerous deceit. He persuaded her with woven lies to accuse her innocent husband of high treason, and to feign that he had stolen the purple garment from the sepulchre of Diocletian, and that he was hiding it with certain accomplices. And with such fabrications as this, to the destruction of many, he himself with hope of better things flies to the camp of the Emperor, to stir up his customary chicanery.

Once the matter was disclosed, Mavortius, a man of eminent integrity (who at the time had been appointed to the praetorian prefect) was ordered to examine the accused with careful investigation, with Ursulus, an officer of the treasury, and likewise a man  of severity not to be denied, joined to the fellowship for the hearing. And so, with the matter exaggerated in accordance with the judgment of the times, when nothing was discovered after the torture of many men, and the judges, uncertain, were brought to a stand-still, the truth finally breathed free from its oppression, and at the point of necessity, the woman confessed that Rufinus was the author of every machination, not even the foulness of her adultery was held back. Immediately, the laws observed, those men united in the love of the right and the just, condemned both to a lethal punishment.

Constantius, when he learned of this, roaring and lamenting as if the champion of his own well-being had been extinguished, swift horses sent, angrily ordered Ursulus to return to court. When he came and he wished to approach the Princeps, he was kept away by the courtiers, so that he was not able to assist in defending with the truth; but he, removing whomever would prohibit him, broke through undaunted, and advancing to the emperor’s cabinet, with unshackled mouth and breast he told what had happened; and once the tongues of the sycophants were shut up by that fidelity, he withdrew himself and the prefect from weighty hazard.

Then something occurred in Aquitania which report spread widely. A certain old hand, asked to a banquet, sumptuous and genteel, of a kind that are plentiful in those regions, when he saw the purple stripes of the linen couch-covers so very wide that they all gathered together as one by the skill of those who ministered them, and the tables covered in sheets equally grand, bearing the foremost part of his Greek cloak inward with both hands, he furnished the whole arrangement like the garment of an emperor; a thing that overturned a wealthy estate.

With like malignance, a certain agent in affairs of Hispania, invited to a similar dinner, when he heard the boys bringing in the evening lamps cry out in the customary manner, “Let us conquer,” the ritual phrase interpreted cruelly, he destroyed a noble house.

And because things such as these waxed more and more greatly, Contantius was a great deal more fearful and concerned for his life, he constantly expected to be attacked by sword, like the tyrant Dionysus of Sicily, who because of the same flaw, even taught his daughters to be his barbers, so that his face would not come near any stranger for shaving, and his little sanctuary, where he had been accustomed to lie down, this he encircled with a deep ditch and extended a collapsible bridge across it, the planks and posts of which he carried with him when he went to sleep, and he put them back together to go out at first light.

Likewise, the mighty in the palace were blowing the trumpets of civic wickedness, for the purpose that they might incorporate for themselves the goods confiscated from the condemned, and it would be the stuff for rioting widely through their neighborhoods. For as clear proofs disclosed, Constantine first of all opened the jaws of those nearest him, but with the marrow of the provinces Constantius fattened them. For below him, the leaders of each rank burned with limitless desire for wealth without discrimination for justice or righteousness; among the judges ordinary, Rufinus was first, the praetorian prefect, among the military men, Arbetio, master of the horses, and the chamberlain Eusebius …anus the quaestor, and in the city, the Anician family, whose succeeding generations seeking rivalry with their ancestors, were never able to be satiated, even with much greater possessions.

16.9 Peace is made with Persia

But the Persians in the east, moreso through trickery and robbery than (as they had been accustomed to do in times past) through straight-up battles, hunted the plunder of men and cattle, which sometimes being unexpected, they won, other times overcome by a multitude of soldiers, they lost, and occasionally they were not permitted to get sight of anything which could be taken. Nevertheless, Musonianus, the praetorian prefect, educated (as I have said) in many fine skills, but venal and easily bent from truthfulness by money, through certain spies versed in deceiving and incriminating, came to know the plans of the Persians, with the leader Cassianus of Mesopotamia brought into consultation of this subject, hardened by military service and by diverse crises. Once they knew clearly, by the harmonious assurance of their scouts, that Sapor, in the furthest borders of the realm, by the copious spilled blood of his own men, was with difficulty driving back hostile tribes, they put to test Tamsapor, a general in a section of lands neighbouring our own, by hidden communications through unknown soldiers, that he might, should chance grant favour, through letters persuade his king at long last to fortify peace with the Roman emperor, so that untroubled from the whole western flank by this deed, he might fly upon his assiduous enemies. Tamsapor complied, and relying on these men, he reported to his king that Constantius, entangled in bitter wars, desired the prayed-for peace. And while those letters were being sent to the Chiontae and the Euseni, in whose borders Sapor spent winter, a long time intervened.

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IV Maccabees 1:1 to 2:14

Chapter One
1 Since I am about to exhibit the most philosophical (wisdom-lovingest) argument (logos : the word), whether pious reason is sovereign of passions, I would advise you rightly such that you readily cleave to philosophy (love-of-wisdom). 2 For indeed the word is necessary for knowledge in all things and even of the greatest virtue, indeed I speak of good judgement, it surpasses praise. 3 Whether, perhaps, reason is shown to get mastery of the passions that hinder prudence, both gluttony and lust, 4 but also it is plainly shown to be the lord of the passions that trammel righteousness, that is, malignant habit, and of those passions that trammel bravery, anger, fear and pain.

5 How then, some might ask, if reason has mastery of the passions, is it not the ruler of forgetfulness and ignorance?1—they are trying to say a laughable thing. 6 For reason does not have mastery of its own passions, but rather of those opposed to prudence, and bravery, and righteousness, and of those not so as to destroy them, but rather so as not to yield to them.

7 For many and various reasons, then, I should be able to show you that reason is the autocrat of the passions, 8 far and away I would show this out from the bravery of those who died for the sake of virtue, Eleazar and his seven brothers and their mother. 9 For all of them, by overlooking pains to the point of death, have proven that reason overcomes the passions. 10 For their virtues, then, it is up to me to praise those men, in the prime of life they died with their mother for the sake of the good and noble, and for their honours, I would consider them blessed. 11 For they are admired not only by all men for their bravery and endurance, but also by their torturers, they are conceded to be responsible for destroying the tyranny against their nation, conquering the tyrant with their endurance such that through them their homeland was cleansed. 12 And concerning this, it is possible for me to speak immediately to the main point of my discussion, which I am accustomed to do, and then I will turn to their story, giving glory to all-knowing god.

13 Accordingly, we are seeking whether reason is the autocrat of the passions. 14 We shall consider what reason is, and what passion, and how many are the forms of passions, and whether reason overcomes all of them. 15 Reason, therefore, is the intellect along with correct argument (logos) paying honour to the life of wisdom. 16 Wisdom, accordingly, is acquaintance with matters both human and divine, and the causes of these. 17 This, furthermore, is the cultivation of the law, through which we learn things, the divine with reverence and the human to our profit.

18 And the forms of wisdom are established as good judgement, righteousness, bravery, and prudence. 19 Good judgement is the lordliest of all, by this indeed reason gets mastery of the passions. 20 Two of the passions are an all embracing kinds, both pleasure and pain; of these each singly has begotten concerning the body and concerning the soul.

21 With respect to pleasure and pain, the retinue following from the passions is great. 22 Ahead of pleasure, then, is desire, and after pleasure is joy. 23 Ahead of pain is fear, and after pain is grief. 24 Anger is a passion sharing pleasure and pain, if one reflects what befalls him. 25 There is also within in pleasure a malicious condition, since it is the most fickle of all the passions, 26 and of the soul there is pretension, and avarice, and glory-seeking, and contentious striving, and envy, 27 whereas with respect to the body, over-eating, gluttony, secret eating.2

28 Therefore just as pleasure and pain are two plants of the body and the soul, many are the offshoots of these plants, 29 for each of which the master-gardener is reason, which cleanses, prunes, twines, irrigates and turns every pot, and reclaims the woodland of habits and passions. 30 For reason is chief of the virtues, autocrat of the passions. Therefore examine it first, through deeds that hinder prudence, because reason is sovereign over passions. 31 Prudence, accordingly, has mastery of lust, 32 and of lusts there are those of the soul and those of the body, and over both of these, reason is shown to have mastery. 33 Otherwise whence, stirred to forbidden foods, do we turn away from their pleasures? Is it not that reason has power to overcome the reach of our hand? Indeed, I know it is. 34 Well then, although we desire food of all kinds—whether that of the waters, or the birds, or four-footed— that forbidden to us according to the law, we abstain on account of reason’s mastery. 35 For the passions of our reaching hand are held back, restrained by measured thought, and all the stirrings of the body are muzzled by reason.

1. This makes more sense in Greek. The word used for passions or emotions, πάθα, can in another sense refer to misfortunes or ordeals, and means generally, things experienced.
2. More literally, everything-eating, gluttony, and alone-eating. Secret eating is a rather strained translation. The point behind alone-eating is not that the eater is shamefully hiding their activity, but rather that eating is supposed to be a social activity. The person who eats alone violates social norms, shunning the company of others.

Chapter Two
1 And why is it astonishing if the lusts of the soul are cancelled by the communion of beauty? 2 In this, at least, temperate Joseph is praised, because, by his manner of thought, he prevailed over sensual pleasure. 3 For although he was young and in his prime for companionship, he cancelled the frenzy of the passions with reason.
4 And reason is shown to have mastery not only over the mad passion of sensual pleasure, but also all other lusts. 5 For the law says, Do not lust after your neighbour’s wife nor after your neighbour’s possessions. 6 And indeed when the law tells us not to lust, far and away I would persuade you that reason has power to get mastery of your lusts, and likewise the passions that hinder righteousness.
7 When someone who has a certain manner, being accustomed to secret-eating and gluttony or even drunkenness, is re-educated, is it not clear that reason is lord of the passions? 8 Immediately, at least, he who is a citizen under the law, if someone is avaricious, he breaks his manner toward those in need by lending without interest and sets himself to be defrauded the loan during the seventh year. 9 And if someone is miserly, he is mastered by the law through reason so that he does not cull the harvest, nor cut the grapes from the vines. And in each case it is possible to recognize this, that reason is master of the passions.
10 For the law even gets mastery of goodwill toward the parents so as not to utterly betray virtue on their account, 11 and it overcomes love for your wife, to chastise her for her transgressions, 12 and it masters your love for your children, to punish them when they are bad, 13 and it rules over the companionship of your friends, to charge them for their faults.
14 And do not make a custom of being contrary, where reason even has power to get mastery of hatred through the law, so that you do not cut down the cultivated plants of your enemies, and save those of your hated foes from being destroyed, and gathering together what has fallen.

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The Testament of Asher

Chapter One
1 A transcript of the testament of Asher which he spoke to his sons on the hundred and twentieth year of his life. 2 When he was still healthy, he said to them: Listen children of Asher, to your father, and I will show you all that is righteous in the face of god. 3 God granted two paths to the sons of humans, and two dispositions, and two actions, and two positions, and two ends. 4 For this reason all things are two, one the opposite other. 5 These are of two kinds, good and evil: among these, there are two dispositions in our breasts discerning them. 6 If, then, the soul is willing in the good, its every action is in righteousness, and if it sins, it repents immediately. 7 For he who gives thought to what is fitting, and casts off wickedness, immediately he overthrows the evil, and uproots sin. 8 But if the disposition inclines to wickedness, all its action is in wickedness. And he who thrusts away from the noble, fastens to evil and he is ruled by Beliar, and if he does a noble thing, he turns it around to wickedness. 9 For whenever he makes a beginning to do a noble thing, he drives the end of his action to do toward the evil; because the storehouse of the slanderer has been filled with the wicked spirit of poison.

Chapter Two
1 There is, then, a soul that speaks, saying the good for the sake of evil, and the end of the matter goes toward evilness. 2 There is a person that does not feel pity for one serving him in evil; and indeed this is two-faced, but the whole is wicked. 3 And there is a man who loved one who acts wickedly, in a like manner he is in wickedness, because he chose to die in evil due to him. And concerning this, it is manifest that it is two-faced, but the entire action is evil. 4 And indeed, although it is love, it is wickedness, concealing the evil; as if it is in the name of the noble, but the end of the action works to the evil. 5 One man steals, wrongs, plunders, is greedy, and shows mercy to beggars; this is also two-faced, and the whole is wicked. 6 He who takes his neighbour’s share angers God, and he forswears the most high, and he shows mercy to the beggar; he breaks faith with the Lord who commands the law, and provokes him, and he hinders the labourer; 7 He stains the soul and shines the body; he destroys many and shows mercy on few; and this indeed is two-faced. 8 Another man commits adultery, and prostitutes himself, but he avoids the shameful, and although he fasts, he does evil, and with his power and his wealth, he overpowers many, and from the evil of excess he does the commandments. But this is two-faced, and the whole is evil. 9 Men of this sort are like swine, split-foot, because they are half purified, but the truth is unclean. 10 For thus said God in the tablets of the heavens.

Chapter Three
You, then, my children, do not become two-faced like them, of goodness and evilness, but rather to goodness alone be glued, because God settles upon it, and people long for it. 2 Do away with the evilness, destroying the slanderer in your noble doings, because the two-faced are slaves, not to God but to their desires, so that they might appease Beliar and people like themselves.

Chapter Four
For the noble and single-minded men, even if they are believed to sin by the two-faced, are righteous with God. 2 For many, destroying the wicked, do two deeds, the evil on account of the good, and the whole is good, because he has uprooted and destroyed the evil. 3 There is someone who hates the pitiful, but wrongs the adulterer and the robber. And this is two-faced; but the whole deed is noble, because he imitates the Lord, not welcoming what seems good with genuine evil. 4 The other does not wish to see a good day among the profligate, so that he might not pollute the mouth, and he does not sully the soul; and this too is two-faced, but the whole is good, 5 because men of this kind are like the deer and gazelles; because in the custom of the wild they seem to be unclean, but on the whole, they are purified, because they proceed in the zeal of God, departing from that which God also hates, and forbids through his commandments, they warded the evil from the good.

Chapter Five
1 See then, children, how there are two in all things, one opposite the other, and one is hidden by the other. 2 Death takes over life, as dishonour does esteem, and the night the day, and the darkness the light; and all things are under the day, and all righteous things under life; on account of which eternal life awaits death; 3 and it is not possible to say that a falsehood is the truth, nor a wrong the righteous thing; because the whole truth is under the power of the light, just as all things are to God. 4 In my life, I put all these things to the test, and I was not led astray from the truth of the Lord, and I sought out the commandments of the most high, to the best of all my strength, conveying myself single-mindedly toward the noble.

Chapter Six
1 Therefore, children, be you also intent upon the commandments of the Lord, single-mindedly, guided by the truth, 2 because the two-faced are doubly chastised. Hate the spirits of error, they that contest for one person after another. 3 Keep the law of the Lord, and be not intent upon the evil as the good, but rather pay attention to the truly good, observe it closely in all the commandments of the Lord, rallying yourselves to him, and abiding in him, 4 because the ends of men show their righteousness, when they meet the messengers of the Lord and of Satan. 5 For if the soul departs disquieted, it is put to the rack by the wicked spirit, of whom it was also a slave in desires and wicked deeds; 6 but if quietly in joy, it met the messenger of peace, it will summon him in life.

Chapter Seven
1 Do not become, children, like Sodom, which did not recognize the messengers of the Lord, and it was destroyed for eternity. 2 For I know that you will sin, and you will be handed over into the hands of your hated foes; and your land will be laid waste, and you will be scattered to the four corners of the earth, and you will be in the diaspora, exhausted, like useless water, 3 until the most high visits the earth, and he himself coming like a man, eating and drinking with men, and in silence crushing the head of the serpent through water. This man will save Israel and all the tribes, God playing the part in a man. 4 Therefore tell these things to your children, and do not disobey him. 5 For I read in the tablets of heaven that being unpersuaded, you will disobey him, and being impious, you will sin against him, and being not intent upon the law of the Lord, but rather in the commandments of men. 6 Because of this, you will be scattered, like my brothers, Gad and Dan, who will not recognize their own lands, nor their clan, nor tongue. 7 But the Lord will gather you in faith, on account of the hope of his good heart, on account of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.

Chapter 8
1 And once he told them these things, he enjoined them, saying: Bury me in Hebron. And falling into sweet sleep, he died; 2 and after that, his sons did as he enjoined them, and bearing him away, they buried with his fathers.

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James 4-5

Chapter 4

1 Whence opponents and whence fights among you? From there? From your pleasures that campaign among your limbs? 2 You yearn but you do not have, you kill and you are jealous and you are not able to obtain, you fight and battle but you do not have due to not asking. 3 You ask and you do not receive because you ask badly, so that you might spend on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that love of the world is hatred of god? For if one wishes to be beloved of the world, he is put down as a hated enemy of god. 5 Or do you think that the scripture speaks in vain: that he yearns with envy for the spirit which dwells within you, 6 but he grants greater grace? On which account it says:

God sets himself against the arrogant, To the humble he grants grace.

7 Therefore, be subject to god, set yourself against the slanderer, and he will flee from you, 8 draw near to god and he draws near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your heart, ye double-souled. 9 Endure hardship and lament and weep. Let your laughter turn into grief and joy to sorrow. 10 Be humble in the face of the lord and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak against each other, brethren. He who speaks against his brother and he who judges his brother speaks against the law, and judges the law; and if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but rather a judge of it. 12 There is one law-giver and judge, who has the power to save and to destroy; who are you, who judges his neighbour?

13 Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will march to that city and we will spend a year there, and we will trade and we will make a profit? 14 Not any of you know what sort of tomorrow your life is; for you are a mist, manifesting briefly, and then done away with. 15 Instead, you are to say: if the lord wishes it, we also will live and we will do this or that. 16 But now, you brag in your pretensions; every boast of this sort is wickedness. 17 He who knows, therefore, to do good and does not do it, this is a sin for him.

Chapter Five

1 Come now, wealthy men, cry, ululating over the hardships that come upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten, 3 your gold and silver has rusted and the venom of these things will be as a witness to you and it will eat your flesh like fire. You hoarded away to the very last days. 4 Behold, the wage of the workers who reaped your lands, he who was defrauded wails on your account, and the cries of those who reaped have reached the ears of the lord of hosts. 5 You fared sumptuously upon the earth and you lived in indulgence, and you fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter, 6 you condemned, you killed the righteous man, he did not set himself against you.

7 Be therefore of long sufferance, brothers, until the arrival of the lord. Behold, the farmer welcomes the prized fruit of the earth, suffering long for it until it receives the early rains and the late. 8 Be you also of long sufferance, make fast your hearts, because the presence of the lord draws near. 9 Do not groan, brethren, against each other, so that you may not be judged: behold, the judge stands before the gates. 10 Take the warning, brethren, of the affliction and of the long-sufferance, with respect to the prophets, who spoke in the name of the lord. 11 Behold, we bless the endurers: you have heard the endurance of Job, and you know the ends of the lord, because the lord is much-pitying and merciful. 12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear oaths, not by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor any other oath: let your yea be yea and your no no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

13 Who among you is afflicted? Let him offer prayers. Who is joyful? Let him sing hymns. 14 Who among you is feeble? Let him summon the elders of the assembly, and let them offer prayers for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the lord, 15 and the vow of faith will save the sick, and the lord raises him: and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven by the lord. 16 Confess to each other, therefore, your sins and pray for each other so that you might be healed. The entreaty of the righteous, if it is employed, is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a man similarly afflicted as us, and with prayers offered he offered prayers that it not rain, and rain did not fall upon the earth for three years and six months: 18 and again he offered prayers and the heaven gave rain, and the earth sprouted her fruit.

19 My brothers, if someone among you strays from the truth, and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brought the sinner back from his erroneous path will save his soul from death and he covers a multitude of sins.

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