Chronicle of Events by Ammianus Marcellinus

Urs Graf the Younger (Swiss, 1485-1527)
Ammioni Marcellini Rerum Gestarum, early 16th Century
Purchase, 1967
McMaster Museum of Art
(Photo credit: John Tamblyn)

The last of the most recent batch of translations from McMaster Museum of Art is a full page of Latin. It is the first page of a longer document, and it cuts off mid-sentence. This is a selection from the Chronicles of Ammianus Marcellinus. I found a text online at the Latin Library that differs from the text on this document in some small ways. Usually the differences make more sense than the version here, so in my translation I’ve marked alternates to italicized words offset [in brackets]. In one or two cases, the alternate text was clearly the correct version and the version above was nonsensical, e.g. autorem vs. [auctorum]. In those cases, I translated according to the correction without any notation of it.

A few public domain translations of this document are also available, such as at The Tertullian Project and at Lacus Curtius.

The shield at the bottom contains some Greek, which I’ve also translated.

Chronicle of Events by Ammianus Marcellinus, Part Fourteen

After the events of an insuperable campaign were passed through, while the spirits of many were still weary, broken by the variety of struggles and toils : and the clang of war-trumpets had not yet ceased, nor indeed was the soldier yet stationed to his winter post, other storms of the raging winds of fortune try to engulf the [public] affairs, by agency of those many & dire deeds of Caesar Gallus, who had advanced from excessive [deepest] squalor of miseries [in] the first bloom of his adult life to the chief summit by an unexpected honoring [leap], and who now reached beyond the limits of his destroyed [alotted] power, and polluted everything by his excessive cruelty. For by his proximity to the royal stock, and by kindred relations, even now [even then], to the name of Constantine, he was haughty to the point of contempt, and if he had been more powerful, he would have even dared hostilities against the author of his good fortune, so it seemed, and whose wife added grievous incentive to his cruelty, for she was swollen beyond measure by her sisterhood to Augustus, for her father, Constantine, had formerly married her to Hannibalianus, the son of his royal brother. She was a Megaera, who inflames mortal furies, perpetually eager for human bloodshed. No more gentle than her husband, they who by degrees and with the passage of time became more educated in causing harm, by gaining information more easily through clandestine and devious rumour-mongers, who themselves became wickedly accustomed to add certain deceits & saying [learning] things pleasing to themselves, for they used to cast down upon innocents false charges of striving for the throne, or of the abominable arts. One crime, however, lessened [distinguished itself] among the lesser, although their power [intemperance] already surpassed the limits of middling transgressions, the abominable, unexpected death of a certain, renowned Clemantius Alexandrinus: whose mother-in-law had become impassioned to couple with her son-in-law, and when she did not obtain his love as she herself felt it, by the offer of a precious necklace to the queen, brought in through a secret entrance of the Palatine, it followed soon after that a death warrant was sent to Honoratus, at the time a courtier of the East, and the self-same Clemantius, although stained by no capital crime enmity [whatsoever] C c

one will find fault more quickly than he will imitate

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