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 for the sake of a similar sign, 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 Africanus, governer of Pannonia at that time, was killed with his guests at a feast, as we related—even then, due to 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.

And once the matter was revealed, Mavortius, a man of eminent integrity (at that time, the praetorian prefect) was ordered to examine the accused with keen 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, truth finally breathed free from 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. And immediately, the laws observed … united and just, condemned both to lethal punishment.

When this became known, Constantius, 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 † to be able to stand trial for truth, but he, scorning those who were blocking 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 both the prefect and himself from grave 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 chlamys inward with both hands, he furnished the whole arrangement like the imperial mantle. This matter overturned a wealthy estate.

With like malignance, a certain agent in affairs in Hispania, invited likewise to 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 such things thus waxed greater and greater, because Contantius, a great deal more fearful … expected always [to be attacked] by iron, like that tyrant Dionysus of Sicily, who because of this same vice, even taught his daughters to be his barbers, so that he might not entrust his face to any stranger for shaving, and his little sanctuary, where he had been accustomed to lie, this he encircled with a deep ditch and crossed it over with a collapsible bridge, the disassembled 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 as their own the goods confiscated from the condemned, and it would be the stuff for trampling 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 this leader of each rank, they burned with limitless desire for wealth without discrimination for justice or righteousness; and among the judges ordinary, Rufinus was first, the praetorian prefect, and among military men, Arbitio, master of the horses, and the chief chamberlain laps… …anus the quaestor, and in the city, the Anician family, whose succeeding generations seeking rivalry with their ancestors, could never to be satiated, even with much greater possession.

16.9 Peace is made with Persia

But the Persians in the east, moreso through trickery and robbery than (as they were accustomed in times past) through straight-up battles, hunted 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 at all 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 Cassianus, general 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 princeps, so by this deed, safe from harm along his flank, 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 prayed-for peace. And while those letters were being sent to the Chionitae and the Cuseni, in whose borders Sapor spent winter, a long time intervened.

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