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Orosius, Book 2

      Chapters 1-19 :   751 to 389 B.C.  

Adapted from the translation by I.W. Raymond (1936). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.   


Book 1

[1] L   There is no person living today, I think, who does not acknowledge that God created man in this world. Hence, whenever man sins, the world also becomes subject to censure, and owing to our failure to control the passions that we ought to restrain, this earth on which we live is punished by having its animal life die out and its crops fail. 2 It follows, too, that if we are the creation of God, we are also properly the object of His concern. For who loves us more than He who made us? Who orders our existence better than He who has created and loves us? Who can order and control our actions more wisely or more firmly than He who foresaw what must be done and then brought to pass what He had foreseen? 3 Hence those who have not read, feel, and those who have read, recognise, that all power and all government come from God. But if powers are the gift of God, all the more so are the kingdoms from which all other powers proceed. 4 If the kingdoms, however, are rivals, it is better that some one kingdom be supreme, to which all the other kingdoms are subject. Thus, for instance, in the beginning there was the Babylonian kingdom, then the Macedonian, later the African, and finally the Roman, which endures even unto our own day. 5 By the same inscrutable plan, four main kingdoms were preeminent in successive stages at the four cardinal points of the world, namely, the Babylonian kingdom in the East, the Carthaginian in the South, the Macedonian in the North, and the Roman in the West. 6 Between the first and the last, that is, between the Babylonian and the Roman, bridging as it were the space of years between an aged father and his little son, there intervened the brief period of supremacy of the African and Macedonian empires, circumstances rather than the law of inheritance determining their role as guardians and trustees. I shall now try to explain as clearly as possible whether this is really the truth.

[2] L   Among the Assyrians, Ninus was the first king who achieved pre-eminence. After his death, his wife Semiramis, the queen of all Asia, restored the city of Babylon and made it the capital of the Assyrian kingdom. 2 For a long time the power of the Assyrian kingdom remained unshaken. But when Arbatus, otherwise called Arbaces, the prefect of the Medes and himself born a Mede, had killed his king Sardanapalus at Babylon, he transferred the title and supreme power of the kingdom to the Medes. 3 In this way the kingdom of Ninus and of Babylon was turned over to the Medes the same year in which Procas, the father of Amulus and of Numitor and the grandfather of Rhea Silvia, who was the mother of Romulus, began to rule among the Latins. 4 Moreover, I will prove beyond question that all these events were arranged according to the inscrutable, mysterious, and unfathomable judgments of God and that they were not brought to pass either by human agencies or by mere chance. Now, all histories of ancient times begin with Ninus, and all histories of Rome begin with Procas. 5 There was an interval of sixty-four years from the first year of the reign of Ninus to the time when Semiramis began to restore Babylon, and from the first year of the reign of Procas to the founding of the city of Romulus there was a like interval of sixty-four years. 6 Thus in the reign of Procas the seed of future Rome was sown, although as yet the shoot had not appeared. In the same year of the reign of this Procas, the kingdom of Babylon came to an end, though Babylon herself has survived to our own day. But when Arbatus withdrew to the Medes, the Chaldeans successfully maintained their right to Babylon in opposition to the Medes and continued to hold part of the kingdom. 7 In this way the Medes legally ruled Babylon, but the Chaldeans were in actual possession. The latter, however, on account of the ancient dignity of the royal city, preferred not to name the city after themselves, but rather to take their own name from it. 8 Hence it happens that although Nebuchadrezzar and his successors down to Cyrus are considered powerful because of the strength of the Chaldeans and famous because of the Babylonian name, nevertheless they are not included in the number and line of illustrious kings.

9 To resume my argument, Babylon under her prefect Arbatus was dishonoured in the very year when during the reign of King Procas, to speak accurately, the seeds of future Rome were sown. Babylon was finally overthrown by Cyrus at the time when Rome first freed herself from the despotism of the Tarquin kings. 10 Indeed, it was as if the one fell and the other arose at the same instant: while Babylon endured foreign rule, Rome for the first time began to resent the arrogance of her own princes; Babylon, like a person awaiting death, bequeathed an inheritance, for which Rome, though still a minor, presented herself as the heir; and as the rule of the East fell, the rule of the West arose.

11 And now without further delay I commit myself to the teeth of madmen, to be freed by the assistance of truth alone.

[3] L   Ninus reigned for fifty-two years and, as I have said, was succeeded by his wife Semiramis. She ruled for forty-two years, and in the middle of her reign she established Babylon as her capital. 2 Babylon thus had almost reached the one thousand one hundred and sixty-fourth year from her foundation, when she was robbed of her wealth and deprived of both king and kingdom by the Medes under Arbatus, the king of the Medes and the prefect of Babylon as well. The city herself, however, flourished for some time afterward. 3 In like manner, after an equal number of years, that is, almost one thousand one hundred and sixty-four years after her foundation, Rome, too, was invaded, but in this case by the Goths under Alaric, king of the Goths and count of Rome. The city was despoiled of her wealth but was not deprived of her sovereignty. She abides even unto our own day and exercises her rule unimpaired. 4 Indeed the hidden decrees of God have preserved to so great an extent the parallelism between the histories of the two cities that at Babylon, Arbatus, the prefect of that city, usurped the rule, while at Rome, Attalus, the prefect of Rome, attempted to seize control of the government; yet the impious attempt was frustrated at Rome alone and then only by the aid of a Christian emperor.

5 Therefore I have believed that these matters should be especially mentioned, so that by a partial exposition of the inscrutable judgments of God, those who grumble (foolishly, to be sure) about our Christian times may know that one God has directed the course of history, in the beginning for the Babylonians and in the end for the Romans; and that they may also know that it is only because of His mercy that we live at all, and that if we live in misery it is because of our own uncontrolled passions. 6 Mark well how similar were Babylon and Rome in their origin, how similar in power, in size, in age, how similar in good and in evil. Yet how different were their decline and fall. For while Babylon lost her rule, Rome retains her rule; the one was left desolate by the murder of her king, the other is secure with her emperor unharmed. 7 And why is this? Because in Babylon the punishment for the shameless passions of her people was visited upon the king, whereas in Rome the serene, even temper of the Christian faith was preserved in the person of the king; in Babylon wanton folly, lacking all reverence for religion, satisfied to the full its thirst for pleasure, whereas here in Rome there have been Christians who were merciful and Christians to whom mercy was shown, and Christians on account of whose memory and in whose memory mercy was shown. 8 So let these grumblers stop railing at religion and provoking the patience of God, who will surely grant them forgiveness if at any time in the future they cease abusing Him. 9 By all means let them reflect with me upon the times of their ancestors, which were so disturbed by wars, accursed with crimes, rank with dissensions, and unending in miseries. They then can properly shudder to think that such times existed, and they cannot help but pray that they may never return. 10 They will pray to Him as the one God, who by His inscrutable justice permitted such days to exist in the past, and who by His manifest mercy is now responsible that they are no longer here. I will now set forth these matters more fully by unfolding my history in due order from the very beginning of the City.

[4] L   Four hundred and fourteen years after the overthrow of Troy, in the sixth Olympiad {756-753 B.C.} (which is a festival that is celebrated every four years), which was wont to be celebrated with contests and games at the city of Elis in Greece, the city of Rome in Italy was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus. 2 Romulus at once ruined the reputation of his reign by murdering his brother and immediately followed this crime by another of equal cruelty. He gave as a dowry to the Sabine women, who had been seized and bound in shameless wedlock to the Romans, the blood of their husbands and parents. 3 After killing first his grandfather Numitor and next his brother Remus, Romulus seized the sovereign power and founded the city. With blood he dedicated the kingdom of his grandfather, the walls of his brother, and the temple of his father-in-law; and he assembled a band of criminals by promising them exemption from punishment. 4 His first battlefield was the forum of the City, a fact signifying that foreign and civil wars, always interrelated, would never cease. 5 His action in holding the Sabine women, whom he had enticed by offering them a treaty and by inviting them to a celebration of games, was as wicked as was his dishonesty in seizing them in the beginning. 6 As soon as he had received Titus Tatius into an alliance, he killed this old man, who had always pursued the cause of honour and piety and whose forces had long been repelled by Roman arms. 7 He provoked a war with the Veientes, hitherto of little importance, but now a very powerful people. The town of Caenina was captured and destroyed. 8 Once the Romans took up arms, there was no more rest, since they were fearful of the abject poverty and dreadful famine which threatened them at home if they should ever become peaceful.

From this point on, I shall touch as briefly as possible upon the struggles that went on without interruption, the seriousness of which may be gauged by the number of men involved.

9 I shall tell how Tullus Hostilius, the founder of the military system, with full confidence in his well-trained army, declared war on the Albans, and how, although the issue was for a long time in doubt, disaster to both sides was inevitable; how the short conflict of the triplets finally put an end to this destructive and indecisive struggle; 10 how when peace was again broken, Mettus Fufetius, during the war with the Fidenates, planned to betray his country but was prevented and paid the penalty of his double-dealing by having his body torn in two by chariots moving in opposite directions; 11 how the Latins, who had always fought under the leadership of Ancus Marcius, were at last defeated; how Tarquinius Priscus in repeated conflicts destroyed all the powerful, neighbouring peoples of Etruria, at that time twelve in number; how the Veientes were conquered but not crushed by the persistent attacks of Servius Tullius; 12 how Tarquinius Superbus gained control of the state by murdering his father-in-law, how he held on to it by his brutal attacks on citizens, and finally how he lost it by the disgraceful rape of Lucretia. Along with his vices at home I may also mention his brilliant achievements abroad, namely, his capture of the powerful towns of Ardea, Oricolum, and Suessa Pometia in Latium, and his exploits against the city of Gabii, accomplished either by his own trickery, or by the punishments carried out by his son, or by the strength of the Roman forces.

13 The expulsion of one king, together with the abandonment of the very name and office of king, shows what continuous misfortunes the Romans had suffered for two hundred and forty-three years under the despotism of their rulers. 14 For if only the arrogance of a single king had been at fault, he alone would have necessarily been expelled, and the royal prerogative would have been reserved for better men. 2 15 Accordingly, after the kings had been expelled, the Romans thought that they ought to look after their own affairs rather than to allow any other person to restrain their liberty, and they therefore created consuls. As the Republic grew older and more mature, it entered upon bolder enterprises under the direction of the consuls.

[5] L   Two hundred and forty-four years after the founding of the City, Brutus, the first Roman consul {509 B.C.}, desired not only to equal but to surpass the number of parricides committed by the founder and first king of Rome. He dragged before the assembly his own two young sons and the two youthful Vitellii (his wife's brothers) on the charge that they had been plotting to recall the kings to the City; and he had them beaten with rods and beheaded. 2 Later, in the war with the Veientes and the Tarquinienses, Brutus himself fell in an encounter in which Arruns, the son of Superbus, also lost his life. 3 Porsena, king of the Etruscans and a strong supporter of royal prerogative, attempted to restore Tarquinius to his throne by force and for three whole years harassed, encompassed, and besieged the terrified city. Mucius made a profound impression upon the enemy by the heroic fortitude that he displayed in burning his own hand and the virgin Cloelia made a like impression by the admirable bravery that she showed in crossing the river. But for them, the Romans would surely have been forced to suffer captivity after defeat at the hands of an unrelenting enemy or else slavery by becoming the subjects of Tarquinius, who would once more be their king.

4 After this, the Sabines gathered together every available soldier and with a great army hastened towards Rome. Alarmed by the danger which threatened, the Romans elected a dictator whose authority and power exceeded that of a consul. At this juncture of the war, this move was of the greatest advantage. 5 Then followed the secession of the plebeians from the patricians. The people, aroused by divers wrongs, took up arms and occupied the Sacred Mount at the time when the dictator M. Valerius was making a levy of soldiers. What could have been more dreadful than the ruin that resulted when the body, severed from its head, planned the destruction of that which gave it life? Had not a hasty reconciliation taken place before the separation had made itself felt, the Roman nation would have been destroyed by internal disaster. 6 For an insidious disease through its malignant growth spreads and threatens destruction as surely as do the visible disasters of war. And in the consulships of T. Gesonius and P. Minucius {492 B.C.} the two evils most abhorred by the human race, famine and pestilence, swept the wearied city. There was some respite from battles, but there was none from deaths.

7 The Veientes and the Etruscans, both dangerous enemies, reinforced by the troops of their neighbours, took arms and were met by the consuls M. Fabius and Cn. Manlius {480 B.C.}. The Romans then took an oath pledging themselves not to return to camp unless victorious. So fierce a struggle ensued, bringing disaster to conquered and conqueror alike, that the greater part of the Roman army was lost. Manlius, the consul, and Quintus Fabius, a man of consular rank, were killed in the battle. The consul M. Fabius, however, refused to accept the triumph granted him by the Senate on the ground that the Republic should rather mourn such great losses.

8 The family of the Fabii, greatly renowned for its size and power, was chosen by lot for the conflict with the Veientes. The death of its members caused the Republic so great sorrow that even today the evil names given both to the river in which they were drowned and to the gate through which they set out remain as witnesses. 9 Three hundred and six of the Fabii, the brightest lights of the Roman state, sought permission to carry on alone the war against the Veientes. They were strengthened in their hope of victory by the initial successes of the expedition they had so rashly undertaken. Afterward they were drawn into ambush and surrounded by the enemy. All were killed on the spot. Only one man was spared to report the news of the great disaster, so that his country might experience even greater misery when it learned of the losses which it had suffered. 10 Not only were these calamities taking place in Rome, but in addition each province was aflame from its own fires; and what the poet has particularly described in one city, I myself shall apply to the whole world:

Bitter mourning everywhere, everywhere fear, and many a shadow of death.   { Vergil, Aeneid, ii.368-9 }

[6] L   At that time, Cyrus, king of the Persians (I have mentioned him earlier in the course of my history {1.19} when he was ravaging Asia, Scythia, and the whole East, at the time when Tarquinius Superbus, king or traitor as you will, was oppressing Rome either by reducing her people to slavery or by making war upon them) 2 Cyrus, as I said, after subduing all his adversaries, attacked the Assyrians and Babylon, a people and a city at that time richer than all others. But the Gyndes River, the second in size after the Euphrates, blocked his attack. 3 Now one of the royal horses, remarkable for its glossy coat and its beauty, and very confident of its ability to cross the river at a ford where the dashing waves were lifted high by the rapid current, was carried away by the force of the current, cast headlong, and drowned. 4 In his anger the king decided to punish the river, declaring that this river which had just now devoured his splendid horse should be made so shallow that women would scarcely have to wet their knees in crossing. In order not to waste a whole year there with his entire army, Cyrus diminished the volume of the water in the Gyndes River by cutting canals through it and drawing off its water through four hundred and sixty streams. 5 After he had shown the trench diggers how to do this work, he also drew off the water of the Euphrates, which flowed through the middle of Babylonia and which was by far the mightiest of rivers. 6 Cyrus was thus able, without getting wet, to make his way by means of the passable fords - now that parts of the river bed lay exposed - and captured a city that men scarcely believed either that human labour could have constructed or human strength have destroyed.

7 Many, indeed, have told how Babylon was founded by Nebrot the Giant, and how she was restored later by Ninus or by Semiramis. 8 This city, surrounded by level country and delightfully situated, was arranged like a camp, with her four surrounding walls formed into a square. The report of the strength and size of these walls hardly seems credible; they were fifty cubits wide and four times as high. 9 Its circumference was 480 stades.The wall, constructed of burnt brick with bitumen used as mortar, was surrounded on the outside by a very wide moat in place of a stream. 10 In the circuit of the walls were a hundred bronze gates. Small stations for defenders, facing one another, were placed at regular intervals along the edges of the two sides of the wall and between them there was sufficient room for a four-horse chariot to pass. The houses within the city were of eight stories and were remarkable for their imposing height. 11 Yet that great Babylon, the first city founded after the re-establishment of the human race, was now almost immediately conquered, captured, and overthrown. 12 At this time Croesus, a Lydian king famous for his wealth, came to bring relief to the Babylonians. He was defeated and fled back in alarm to his own kingdom. After Cyrus had attacked Babylon as an enemy, had overthrown it as a conqueror, and had set it in order as a king, he transferred the war to Lydia. There he had no trouble in defeating an army already demoralised by the previous battle. He also captured Croesus himself but granted him both his life and a patrimony.

13 It is unnecessary to add here further instances of the unstable conditions that have followed the changing events of history; for whatever has been built up by the hand of man falls and comes to an end through the passage of time. This truth is illustrated by the capture of Babylon. Her empire began to decline just as it had reached the height of its power, so that, in accordance with a certain law of succession which runs through the ages, posterity might receive the inheritance due to it - posterity which was fated to hand on the inheritance according to the same law. 14 Thus great Babylon and vast Lydia fell at the first attacks that Cyrus made after his arrival. The mightiest arms of the East and also the head succumbed in a campaign of a single battle; and now we ourselves, as we anxiously watch the structure of the once powerful Roman Republic, debate whether it is tottering more from the weakness common to old age or from the blows struck by foreign invaders.

[7] L   With the approach of the next season, this same Cyrus declared war on the Scythians. Though Queen Thamyris, who was then ruling over this people, could have prevented Cyrus from crossing the Araxes River, she permitted it: first because she had full confidence in her own abilities, and secondly because she would be able to hem in her enemy by using the river to block his retreat. 2 Cyrus then advanced into Scythia and pitched his camp at some distance from the river that he had crossed. After preparing wine and food, he craftily abandoned the camp and fled back as if terrified. On learning of this, the queen sent a third of her forces under her young son to pursue Cyrus. 3 The barbarians, as if guests at a banquet, were overcome by drunkenness, and when Cyrus shortly thereafter returned, all, including the young man, were cut down. 4 After the loss of her army and her son, Thamyris prepared to wash away her sorrow - that of a mother or of a queen as you will - with the blood of the enemy rather than with tears. She feigned anxiety and despair over the disaster that she had suffered and retreated gradually, drawing the overconfident enemy into ambush. 5 By placing ambuscades among the mountains, she destroyed two hundred thousand Persians together with their king; beyond all else, her delight at this success was increased by the fact that not even one man survived to carry news of the disaster. 6 The Queen had the head of Cyrus cut off and thrown into a leather bottle full of human blood, mocking him in unwomanly fashion: "Sate yourself," she said, "with the blood for which you thirsted, and of which for thirty years you have never had your fill." 

[8] L   In the two hundred and forty-fifth year of the City, some time after Cyrus had lost his life among the Scythians, Darius obtained possession of the kingdom by a stroke of luck. The ruler of the kingdom in the interval between the reigns of Cyrus and Darius was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. 2 After conquering Egypt, Cambyses abolished its sacred ceremonies and destroyed its temples because he abominated the whole religion of the country. 3 After his death, the magi, using the name of the Smerdis whom they had murdered, attempted to foist an impostor upon the kingdom, but they were soon found out and overcome. 4 Darius, one of those who had put down the insolent magi by the sword, was then unanimously chosen king. After Darius had reconquered the Assyrians and Babylon, which had broken away from the Persian kingdom, he declared war on Antyrus, king of the Scythians. The real reason for this action was his failure to obtain the king's daughter whom he had sought in marriage. 5 Undoubtedly an urgent reason for exposing seven hundred thousand men to death - the lust of one man! Taking with him incredible quantities of war material and accompanied by seven hundred thousand armed men, he invaded Scythia to war against an enemy who gave him no opportunity for a regular battle, but who tore his rear guard to pieces by their sudden attacks. 6 Fearing that his retreat would be blocked by the destruction of the bridge over the Hister, Darius fled back in alarm after losing eighty thousand of his troops. He did not, however, reckon the number of slain among his losses; indeed that famous king did not even feel a loss, which involved numbers that few other kings would have hoped to muster in their army.

7 Darius then attacked Asia and Macedonia and completely subdued them. After a sharp naval struggle he also conquered the Ionians. Next he directed his arms in an attack against the Athenians on the ground that they had lent assistance to the Ionians. 8 The Athenians, when they learned that Darius was advancing, requested aid of the Lacedaemonians. But when they found out that the Persians would be delayed by a religious holiday lasting four days, they grew confident as a result of this favourable opportunity. Drawing up ten thousand citizens and a thousand Plataean allies in battle array, they rushed forth against six hundred thousand on the fields of Marathon. 9 On that day Miltiades was in command of the battle. Relying more on speed than on courage, he engaged the enemy at close quarters, making a well-timed and swift attack before the enemy could repulse his charge by a shower of arrows. 10 So great was the contrast between the two modes of fighting that it gave the impression that on the one side there were men prepared to slay, whereas on the other the men were like cattle ready to be led to slaughter. 11 Two hundred thousand Persians fell on the field of Marathon that day. 12 Darius really felt that loss and, beaten and routed, he fled back to Persia in the vessels which he had seized. 13 While he was on the point of renewing the war and striving his utmost to take revenge upon the victors, he died in the midst of his preparations. This was in the seventy-fourth Olympiad {484-481 B.C.}, that is, in the two hundred and seventy-fifth year after the founding of the City, at the time when Popilia, a Vestal Virgin, was buried alive at Rome because she had violated her chastity.

[9] L   Xerxes, who succeeded his father Darius on the throne, took five years to make' preparations for the continuation of the war which his father had begun against Greece. Demaratus, the Lacedaemonian, who at that time happened to be an exile at the court of Xerxes, imparted this information to his countrymen by writing upon tablets and then covering the writing with wax. 2 Xerxes' forces are said to have numbered seven hundred thousand soldiers from his own kingdom and three hundred thousand from allied states; he also had one thousand and two hundred beaked ships and three thousand transport vessels. Thus it has been recorded, and not without reason, that there were scarcely enough rivers to drink from, scarcely enough lands to occupy, and scarcely enough seas to traverse for an army so unprecedented in size and for a fleet so huge.

3 This army, so incredibly large from the point of view of our times - it is more difficult to count its numbers now than it was to conquer it then - was met in the passes of Thermopylae by the Spartan king Leonidas and his four thousand men. 4 Contemptuous of the small numbers of his opponents, Xerxes ordered battle started at once and to be fought at close quarters. Those Persians whose relatives and comrades-in-arms had fallen on the field of Marathon were at the forefront of the struggle and the slaughter. 5 Following on their heels was a larger and more sluggish group that was neither free to advance, ready to fight, nor prepared to flee, so that they were there solely to be killed. The battle, which lasted three days, was not a battle of two peoples but the slaughter of one.

6 On the fourth day, however, Leonidas saw that the enemy had surrounded him on all sides. He urged his auxiliary allies to withdraw from the battle and to escape to the summit of the mountain, so that they might save themselves for better times; but for himself and his Spartans another fate was in store: they owed a greater duty to their native land than to life itself. 7 After dismissing the allies, Leonidas warned the Spartans that they had much to hope from glory, but nothing from life; that they should not wait for either the enemy or daybreak, but, taking advantage of the night, must break into the camp, attack in hand-in-hand conflict, and throw the lines of battle into confusion. Where could victors perish more honourably than in the camp of the enemy? 8 Persuaded, therefore, to prefer death, they armed themselves to avenge their approaching death as if both making sure and taking vengeance for their own destruction. Remarkable as it may seem, six hundred men burst into a camp of six hundred thousand. 9 An uproar arose throughout the camp. The Persians themselves lent aid to the Spartans by killing one another. The Spartans, seeking the king and not finding him, cut down and overthrew everything. As they overran the whole camp, they were barely able to pursue the fleeing men on account of the dense piles of bodies. Without doubt they would have been victors had they not chosen to die. 10 The battle continued from nightfall through the greater part of the next day; and then each man, worn out at last by his efforts to conquer and with his limbs now failing him, seemingly satisfied that he had avenged his own death, sank down in exhaustion and died amid the tangle of dead bodies, in fields palpitating with thick and half-congealed blood.

[10] L   Xerxes, twice defeated on land, prepared for war on the sea. Themistocles, the Athenian general, now learned that the Ionians were sending a fleet, ready for action, to assist Xerxes. He decided to win them over to his side and to detach them from the enemy. In fact he had brought the attack of the Persians upon himself by furnishing aid to these Ionians in an earlier war. 2 Since there was no opportunity for a conference, he ordered signs to be displayed and fastened on rocks in those places toward which the Ionian ships were believed to be heading. By these signs he fittingly rebuked and blamed his former allies and comrades in peril, who through inactivity were now failing to do their duty. By means of a religious exhortation he persuaded them to respect the oaths of their old treaties and especially urged them, when battle had begun, to stop rowing instead of advancing and then to withdraw wholly from the battle.

3 The king kept part of the fleet nearby and stayed on shore as a spectator of the fight. On the other hand, Artemidora, queen of Halicarnassus, who had come to the aid of Xerxes, joined very fiercely in the fray among the foremost leaders. Thus the actual characteristics of the sexes were reversed; feminine caution was seen in a man and manly boldness in a woman.

4 While the issue of the battle was still in doubt, the Ionians, complying with Themistocles's request, gradually began to withdraw from the battle. Their defection persuaded the Persians, who were already contemplating flight, to flee openly. 5 In this panic many ships were sunk and many were captured; but the greater part of the fleet, fearing the rage of the king no less than the cruelty of the enemy, slipped away and set sail for home. 6 Mardonius came to Xerxes, now a prey to anxiety because of his many misfortunes, and told him that he must return to his kingdom before the news of defeat stirred up revolution at home 7 and that he, provided that the remaining troops were entrusted to him, would wreak vengeance upon the enemy and avert disgrace from the royal family. But if the reverses of war should continue, he would indeed yield to the enemy, but yet without bringing dishonour upon his king. 8 Xerxes approved the plan and entrusted the army to Mardonius.

The king set out with a few men for Abydos, where, as though he were conqueror of the sea, he had built a bridge. But when he found that the bridge had been shattered by winter storms, he crossed over in a fishing skiff in fear and trembling. 9 What a sight for men to look upon and grieve over as they measured the fickleness of fate by this great reversal of fortune! He before whom the very sea had lain concealed and had borne as the yoke of its captivity the bridge that joined its shores was content to hide in a tiny boat; 10 he to whose power nature herself had yielded as he levelled mountains, filled valleys, and emptied rivers, lacked even the humble service of a single slave. The foot soldiers also, who had generals assigned to them, became exhausted by toil, hunger, and fear. As disease spread and grew worse, a great and deadly stench arose from the dying and the roads were filled with corpses. Horrible birds of prey and scavenging beasts, attracted by the lure of food, followed the dying army.

[11] L   Mardonius, however, whom Xerxes had appointed to finish the war, first enjoyed a brief period of success but soon was reduced to sore straits. He took Olynthus, a Greek city, by storm. 2 He then tried by various inducements to win over the Athenians to a peaceful settlement, but when he saw their indomitable spirit of independence he set fire to part of the city and shifted the entire field of operations to Boeotia.

3 Thither a hundred thousand Greeks pursued him and at once engaged him in battle. After destroying his forces, the Greeks compelled Mardonius to flee with a few men, destitute, as if he had been shipwrecked. They captured a camp filled with royal treasure, but this wealth greatly weakened their former valour, because after the division of this booty Persian gold at once began to corrupt the virtue of the Greeks. 4 Complete ruin followed hard upon these wretched beginnings. For it happened that on the same day that the forces of Mardonius were destroyed in Boeotia, part of the Persian army in Asia was engaged in a naval battle under Mount Mycale. 5 There a report suddenly spread among each of the fleets and people to the effect that the forces of Mardonius had been wiped out and that the Greeks had been victorious. A wonderful ordering of divine judgment this, that the report of a battle joined in Boeotia at sunrise reached Asia at noon of the same day, even though so great a stretch of sea and land lay between! 6 This report agreed well with the fact because when the Persians heard of the destruction of their allies they were overcome first with grief and then with despair, so that they were neither ready to fight nor swift to flee. Thus strengthened by continued good fortune, the Greek army attacked the enemy while they were still overwhelmed by their defeat and utterly demoralised. 7 Xerxes, despicable in the eyes of his own subjects on account of his unsuccessful campaigns in Greece, was deceived by his prefect Artabanus and assassinated in the royal palace.

8 Surely such times are ideal and worthy of commemoration! Oh those days of uninterrupted serenity that are laid before us to be recalled as though we were in darkness! In a short time three wars with three neighbouring kings carried away nine million men from the bowels of one kingdom, not to mention the wretched condition of Greece at that time, where the deaths by war exceeded even this number, the very thought of which makes us grow faint. 9 Leonidas, the most famous of the Lacedaemonians in this war against Xerxes, realising that the moment of his own death and that of the enemy was at hand, spoke to his own six hundred these famous words of encouragement: "Eat your breakfast as if you were about to eat among the dead." But he mercifully persuaded his auxiliaries, whom he ordered to withdraw from the battle, to save themselves for better times. 10 Take note that whereas Leonidas promised better times in the future, our contemporaries insist that the better times were in the past. What else can be deduced, when both berate their own times, but that the times either have always been good though unappreciated, or that they will never be good in every respect?

[12] L   It is my purpose now to return to Rome and to that period from which I have digressed. The fact is, I am not forced by any cessation of calamities to pass over to other peoples. But since in former times evils were everywhere rampant, intermingled in their actual occurrences, it is perfectly proper to report them in this manner. Indeed it is my aim to compare the periods of history, not to scoff at the trials of any particular age.

2 In Rome, then, during a short interval of peace, two hundred and ninety years after the founding of the City, a severe plague raged violently throughout the city. This plague was like those that had so often disturbed the rare periods of truce or forced such truces to be made. Just as the omen had foretold, the heavens themselves seemed to be aflame when the mistress of the nations burned with the fires of this disease. 3 In that year the plague killed both consuls, Aebutius and Servilius {463 B.C.}, and carried away most of the military forces. Its horrible contagion led to the death of many nobles, but even more of the plebeians, 4 whose numbers had already been depleted by a plague four years earlier.

5 In the next year the exiled citizens and fugitive slaves under Herbonius, a Sabine, invaded and burned the Capitol. 6 There the young men, led by the consul Valerius, opposed them with the utmost bravery; but so savage and desperate was the battle that the consul Valerius {460 B.C.} himself was killed and by his own death diminished the glory of his victory, ignominious at best since it was gained in a battle against slaves.

7 The following year a consul was besieged after the defeat of his army. The Aequi and the Volsci had met and overcome the consul Minucius {457 B.C.} in battle. After he had taken refuge on the Algidus, they surrounded his army and began to reduce it by famine and sword. It would have turned out badly for the consul had not the renowned dictator Quintius Cincinnatus raised this close siege by defeating the enemy. 8 While he was working in the fields, Quintius was summoned from the plough to high office and, after assuming command and marshalling his army, he soon conquered and imposed the cattle yoke upon the Aequi. Holding victory in his hands as he had held the handle of the plough, he was the first to drive his enemies before him like oxen under the yoke.

[13] L   In the two hundred and ninety-ninth year of the City, while the Romans were waiting for the return of the legates whom they had sent to the Athenians to copy the laws of Solon, they were restrained from further warfare by famine and pestilence. 2 But in the three hundredth year, that is, in the (?) ninety-fifth Olympiad, the potestas of the consuls was entrusted to the decemvirate in order to establish the laws of Attica. This brought great disaster to the Republic. 3 For one of the decemvirate, Appius Claudius, continued to hold the imperium after the others had retired from office. Immediately there followed a conspiracy of the others. All of them contemptuously disregarded the custom which reserved the distinction of the imperium to one officer alone, while it awarded the potestas to all alike, and each one, pursuing his own evil inclinations, helped to throw everything into confusion. 4 Among other actions they all had the insolence and presumption to appear unexpectedly in public with the twelve fasces and with the other symbols of authority. 5 When this new and evil regime had begun and the consuls had abandoned all sense of duty, there sprang up a line of tyrants who added two tables of laws to the previous ten. Acting always in a most overbearing and arrogant manner they appeared in public with these same symbols of authority on the day when it was customary to lay down their official powers. 6 Likewise the lust of Appius Claudius aroused the greatest hatred. In order that he might dishonour Verginia, he first accused her of being a slave. For this reason, her father Verginius was driven to commit a righteous murder out of his anxiety for her liberty and by his shame at her disgrace. As the people looked on, he killed his daughter, whom Appius had already reduced to slavery. 7 The people, thoroughly aroused by this necessary atrocity and warned by the danger threatening their liberty, took up arms and occupied Mount Aventine. Nor did they cease to guard their liberty with their arms until the conspiracy had dissolved itself and the conspirators laid down their arms.

8 In the one hundred and third and one hundred and fifth Olympiads, frequent earthquakes shook Italy throughout the entire year. They were so severe that Rome was constantly disturbed by reports of innumerable tremors and of the destruction of villas and towns. 9 A drought came later. It was so parching and lasted so long that hope was then and there abandoned of raising crops on the land during that or the succeeding year. 10 At this time the Fidenates, terrible enemies and supported by great auxiliary forces, were threatening the Roman defences. But Aemilius, dictator for the third time, captured the city of Fidenae with great difficulty and thereby rid the state of a great burden of evil and restored it to health. 11 These evils which they had suffered and the excited state of their minds created such a tension in the Romans that the wars which spread far and wide abroad caused them to forget the disasters at home. On the other hand, following the losses of war, various plagues raged in heaven and on earth and by their increasing malignity caused the breaking of the truces which previously had been observed.

[14] L   In the earliest times Sicily was the land of the Cyclopes and since that time has ever been the nurse of tyrants. Much of the time, moreover, Sicily found herself under the rule of slaves. These Cyclopes were gratified by the flesh of men, the tyrants by the torture of men, and the slaves by the death of men. This was her fate except that in foreign wars she was wont to be considered an object of spoil or booty. 2 To put it briefly, the island has never known any respite from misfortune until now; nay rather, as her changing fortunes show, in times past this island alone of all countries has always suffered from both internal and external revolutions, but now she alone is free from them. 3 Indeed, to make no mention either of the long period of suffering and misfortune that the island has undergone or of the peace that she now enjoys, Etna, which in former days used to boil over from frequent eruptions that brought ruin upon cities and fields, at present only smokes harmlessly as if to prove that it has been active in the past.

4 For the time being I shall omit the history of the tyrants, which records how one tyrant took vengeance upon his predecessor and then succeeded him, and I shall resume my narrative with the middle period, that is, from the three hundred and thirty-fifth year after the founding of the City. The people of Rhegium, a city near Sicily, were suffering at this time from internal discord, and the city was divided into two factions by dissensions. One party called to its assistance veterans from Himera, a city of Sicily. 5 After these soldiers had driven from the city the citizens whom they had been asked to fight, they proceeded to kill those whom they had come to assist. They seized the city as well as the wives and children of their allies, thus daring to commit a crime more extreme than that of any tyrant. 6 Surely it would have been better for the inhabitants of Rhegium to suffer anything at the hands of their fellow citizens rather than to call in of their own accord strangers who would take as booty from them their native land, wives, children, and household gods after they themselves had been driven into exile.

7 Similarly, when the inhabitants of Catana were suffering harsh treatment at the hands of the hostile Syracusans, they asked help from the Athenians. The latter equipped and at once dispatched a fleet to Sicily. But they did this in their own interest rather than in that of their allies. For they were striving to extend their own power and were afraid that the Syracusan fleet, which had been recently equipped, would increase the strength of the Lacedaemonians. 8 Seeing that the first detachment of their troops had made an auspicious beginning, cutting the enemy to pieces, the Athenians again sent an expedition to Sicily, but this time with more supplies and a stronger army under the command of Laches and Chariades. 9 Wearied by the long war, the people of Catana concluded a treaty with the Syracusans and later spurned the assistance of the Athenians. 10 But when the Syracusans, wishing to expand their power, transgressed the terms of peace, the people of Catana again sent envoys to Athens to beg for assistance. They came clad in mourning, with hair and beard unshorn, trying to excite sympathy by their manner of dress and speech.

11 A large fleet was then fitted out and placed under the command of Nicias and Lamachus, who set sail once more for Sicily with so large a force that even the people of Catana, who had summoned them, became frightened at the consequences of their own decision. 12 The Athenians fought two successful infantry battles and shut up the exhausted enemy in the city. As a result of the blockade by the fleet, the enemy were now surrounded on both land and sea. 13 The Syracusans, after their resources had been dissipated and they themselves had become exhausted, begged assistance from the Lacedaemonians. The latter at once sent Gylippus. He was alone, but his personal value was greater than that of many troops. Hearing on his arrival that the course of the war was going adversely, he gathered auxiliaries, partly from Greece and partly from Sicily, and then seized strategic positions. 14 Defeated in two battles, he was undismayed. In the third encounter he killed Lamachus, put the enemy to flight, and freed his allies from the siege.

15 After this defeat on land, the Athenians undertook to try their fortunes on the sea and prepared to engage in a naval struggle. On learning of this, Gylippus summoned the fleet which the Lacedaemonians had been fitting out. 16 Thereupon the Athenians sent reinforcements under Demosthenes and Eurymedon, two generals who were to take the place of their lost leader. The Peloponnesians, too, acting in accordance with a decree approved by many cities, sent large reinforcements to the Syracusans. 17 Thus, under the guise of waging a war in behalf of their confederates, both sides carried on their domestic quarrels and, as if by an official order, transferred the struggle from Greece to Sicily. In this way the war was prosecuted by both sides with the utmost vigour.

18 In the first engagement the Athenians were conquered and lost their camp with all its wealth, both that belonging to the state and that owned by private citizens. They also lost the entire equipment which had been prepared for a long campaign. 19 Their resources were now destroyed and they were in a critical position. In these circumstances Demosthenes advised them, while all was not yet lost, however much they seemed to be afflicted, to leave Sicily and to return home. 20 Nicias, however, more desperate than the others because he was conscious of his own bad management from the beginning, begged earnestly to remain. 21 The Athenians renewed the naval battle and soon, through lack of skill, were enticed into the straits of the Syracusan Sea and caught in the trap prepared by the enemy. Their commander Eurylochus was among the first killed, and eleven of their ships were burnt. Demosthenes and Nicias abandoned the fleet, thinking that it would be safer to make their escape by a land expedition. 22 Gylippus first took possession of one hundred and thirty of their abandoned ships and then set out to pursue the fugitives themselves, of whom he captured and killed as many as he could. Demosthenes escaped the disgrace of slavery by taking his own life, but Nicias crowned his discreditable and shameful career with a dishonourable captivity.

[15] L   The Athenians, after being harassed in Sicily for two years (during this time the Lacedaemonians also were not without losses) were then encompassed by other disasters at home. Alcibiades, who earlier had been appointed general in the war against the Syracusans, was shortly afterward summoned to stand trial in answer to an accusation. 2 He went into voluntary exile in Lacedaemon. There he urged the Spartans to concentrate their efforts once more upon a new war against the Athenians and not to allow them any breathing spell while they were sore pressed. 3 All the Greek states agreed to carry out this undertaking. It was as if they had planned, for the public good, to assemble their forces to extinguish a general conflagration. 4 Moreover, the Persian king Darius, remembering his father's and grandfather's hatred of Athens, employed Tissaphernes, the prefect of Lydia, to act for him and instructed the latter to conclude a treaty with the Lacedaemonians, promising to send them troops and money to defray the costs of the war. 5 Strange to relate, the wealth of the Athenians at that time was so great that, though the forces of Greece, Asia, and the entire East were launched against them, that is, against a single city, yet by constantly fighting and never yielding, they seem to have been worn down rather than conquered.

6 First of all, Alcibiades forced all the Athenian allies to desert to the Lacedaemonians, but when the latter in their envy plotted against him he fled (to Media) and took refuge at the court of Tissaphernes. By his genius in adapting himself easily to circumstances and through his ability to speak with eloquence and tact, Alcibiades soon came to be quite intimate with his host. 7 He persuaded him not to assist the Lacedaemonians with such lavish support, but rather to play the role of an arbiter and spectator of the struggle and to maintain intact the forces of Lydia against the victor. 8 For this reason Tissaphernes ordered only part of the fleet to sail to Lacedaemon. It was manned by a considerable force, so that the Lacedaemonians, supported by just enough reinforcements, should have to fight and yet not be entirely safe from danger at the hands of the enemy; but these were large enough so that they should not feel ill supported and therefore give up the struggle which they had begun.

[16] L   The Athenians, long disturbed by domestic discord, when threatened by actual danger transferred the highest authority, by will of the people, to their senate. For discords are nourished by idleness, but when necessity presses, people normally put aside private contentions and hates and take counsel together. 2 In the case of the Athenians, however, this move would have ended in disaster, because they had an innate pride in their race and were enslaved by their lusts. Alcibiades, therefore, was finally recalled from exile by the army and put in charge of the fleet. 3 When this became known, the nobles first tried to betray the city to the Spartans, but when they had come to the conclusion that this would be useless, they voluntarily went into exile. After freeing his native land, Alcibiades directed the fleet against the enemy.

4 The Athenians were victorious in the battle that followed. What is more, the greater part of the Spartan army was slain, almost all their leaders killed, and eighty of their ships captured, that is, all those ships which had not been either burnt or sunk in the battle.

5 When the war was transferred to the land, the Spartans were equally unfortunate. Broken by these disasters, they sued for peace but were unable to obtain it. 6 Moreover, the Syracusan troops were recalled to Sicily upon receiving news that Carthage was threatening war. Taking advantage of the situation, Alcibiades and his victorious fleet sailed up and down the entire coast of Asia, ravaging and destroying the country by warfare, fire, and sword. He captured and regained as many as possible of the cities that had withdrawn from their alliance not long before. 7 Having thus gained a great reputation, Alcibiades came as conqueror to Athens where everyone received him with admiration and joy. 8 Shortly afterward he strengthened his forces, increased the size of the army and fleet, and once more attacked Asia.

Thereupon the Lacedaemonians put Lysander in charge of their fleet and the direction of the war. 9 Cyrus, the brother of Darius, who had been placed at the head of the government of Ionia and of Lydia to succeed Tissaphernes, also strengthened the forces of the Spartans with large supplies and reinforcements. Lysander then suddenly attacked and crushed the army of Alcibiades while it was intent upon booty and for that reason was scattered far and wide. Lysander was able, therefore, to gain the victory without any real conflict and to slaughter the soldiers while they were running away. 10 The Athenians suffered a great disaster in this battle and received a much more serious blow than any that they themselves had previously inflicted. When the Athenians learned of this disaster, they thought that Alcibiades had made it his concern to avenge himself upon them by becoming a traitor because he was still resentful over his former exile. 11 They therefore appointed Conon in his place and entrusted to him the remaining forces and the highest command of the war.

12 In his desire to increase the number of his depleted forces, Conon gathered together old men and boys and enrolled them into an army. But a force of this kind could not prolong the war, since a war is usually decided by the strength of an army, not by its numbers. 13 This unwarlike band was immediately captured or slain. The losses in that battle were so great that not only the empire but even the Athenian state seemed to have been destroyed. 14 These desperate conditions led the Athenians to give the freedom of their city to foreigners. Thus those who a little while before had dominated the whole province of Asia were now reduced to the position of safeguarding their own walls and liberty with the help of this last line of defence. Though they did not judge themselves strong enough to protect their homes and liberty even behind their own walls, yet they prepared to try their fortune in a second naval battle. 15 Madness divorced from reason thinks anger bravery; and rashness promises the fulfilment of what wrath contemplates. 16 Consequently all were either captured or killed. There was nothing left for the survivors to do. Conon was the sole general to survive the fighting, and he, fearing the vindictiveness of the citizens, withdrew to the court of king Cyrus. 17 Euagoras, leader of the Lacedaemonians, deprived the Athenians of all their (subject) cities, leaving them nothing except a spiritless city. And even this was not left them for long, because he afterward blockaded Athens herself. Famine, desolation, and disease harassed the besieged Athenians. 18 After suffering frightful miseries too horrible to relate and seeing that there was nothing to look forward to except death, they sued for peace.

[17] L   At this point an important conference between the Spartans and their allies was held. Most of the allies voted to raze the restless city of Athens to her foundations and to blot out her troublesome people together with her very name; 2 but the Spartans said that they would not permit one of the two eyes of Greece to be torn out. Furthermore the Spartans promised peace, provided that the fortifications of the harbour of Piraeus, which led to the city, be dismantled, that the remaining ships be voluntarily surrendered, and finally that the Athenians be willing to accept the thirty rulers chosen for them. 3 The Athenians agreed and submitted to these terms. The Lacedaemonians then appointed Lysander to frame the laws that the city was to obey.

4 This year was noteworthy for the capture of Athens, the death of the Persian king Darius, and the exile of Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily.

5 The thirty rulers who had been set over the Athenians became thirty tyrants. Their first action was to surround themselves with three thousand bodyguards and soon afterward they summoned to their side seven hundred soldiers from their victorious army. 6 They then began an indiscriminate slaughter of all the citizens, after first murdering Alcibiades who, as he fled, was cornered in a bedroom and there burned alive. 7 After his death, the tyrants, no longer dreading his vengeance, proceeded to deplete the ranks of the wretched survivors in the city by murdering them and confiscating their property. They also put to death Theramenes, one of their own number who, they felt, did not approve of their actions, making his fate an example to inspire fear among the others.

8 All the people left the city, fleeing in every direction; but since throughout all Greece exiles were denied hospitality by an interdict of the Lacedaemonians, they betook themselves to Argos and to Thebes. There they were so heartened by their cordial reception that they not only succeeded in mastering their grief over the loss of their country, but even came to consider the possibility of recovering it. 9 Among the exiles was Thrasybulus, a man of action and distinguished among the people because of his noble birth. He originated a daring project in behalf of his native Athens. The exiles gathered their forces into one body and captured the fortress of Phyle on the Attic border. Strengthened by the assistance offered by many states, they grew more powerful. To help the city that had been the universal home of eloquence, Lysias, the Syracusan orator, sent them five hundred soldiers and the money with which to pay their wages.

10 The battle that followed was fiercely fought. One party was struggling for the liberty of its native country, the other to uphold the rule of a foreign power. The battle itself reflected well the spirit and causes of both sides. After suffering defeat the tyrants fled back into the city and relieved from their posts all those Athenians whom they had earlier chosen as guards of the city, but whom they now suspected of treason. 11 They even dared to tempt Thrasybulus himself with a bribe; but when this hope failed, they summoned reinforcements from Lacedaemon and again rushed into battle. In this engagement the two tyrants who were by far the most cruel of them all were killed. 12 Thrasybulus, realising that the others who had been defeated and put to flight were for the most part Athenians, shouted and ran after them. He halted their flight by a speech and held them fast by the force of his entreaties. He pointed out clearly to them "the kind of people from whom they wished to flee, and the kind of people to whom they wished to flee for refuge." He also stressed the fact "that his party had undertaken war against the thirty tyrants, not against unfortunate citizens; nay, rather that all who remembered that they were Athenians ought to join those who were exacting vengeance in the name of Athenian liberty." 13 This exhortation proved so convincing that they turned back immediately to the city and forced the tyrants to withdraw from the citadel and to emigrate to Eleusis.

Those citizens who only recently had been exiles and who had been welcomed and restored to full citizenship by Thrasybulus and his party now stirred up jealousy and strife among the tyrants, who saw in the freedom of others slavery for themselves. 14 Soon after the declaration of war, the tyrants assembled as if to take part in a conference. They were surrounded by ambuscades and butchered like the sacrificial victims in times of peace.

Thus restored to unity, the Athenians shed copious tears to express their great joy and built the foundations of their new-born liberty on the binding force of a solemn oath: to consign past discords and animosities to perpetual oblivion and unending silence. 15 This kind of agreement, forming, as it were, a new structure of society and a new basis for happiness, they called an amnesty, that is, a complete abolition of existing differences. This was a very wise provision of the Athenians, especially after so many examples of misery; if the pact had been honoured, human affairs would have prospered as a result of the harmony which prevailed when it was originally made, 16 but this decree was vitiated to such an extent by its very wording that hardly two years had elapsed before Socrates, the most renowned of philosophers, was driven by the evil conditions of his time to take his own life by drinking poison. When almost forty years had passed (I shall say nothing about other matters) the Athenians themselves completely lost their liberty and became subjects of Philip, king of the Macedonians. 17 What is more, being wiser than the rest, they now banished their domestic hatreds and brought their foreign wars to an end. They were well convinced by their own misfortunes that even the smallest affairs prosper as a result of harmony but that the greatest fail as a result of discord and that all actions, whether advantageous or harmful, which had been performed abroad, had been sown and had sprouted from roots at home. Their descendants were left an example of ruin and a plan for recovery, if indeed, after making allowance for the vacillation of the human mind, we concede that man remembers in prosperity what he heeded in adversity.

[18] L   About this time a civil war was waged among the Persians. Indeed it was even more than a civil war, for it ended only after a fratricide. Following the death of their father Darius, Artaxerxes and Cyrus contended for the throne. After both sides had made great preparations, they finally began a struggle that brought ruin to provinces and inhabitants alike. 2 In this conflict, fortune set the two brothers charging against one another. Artaxerxes was the first to be wounded by his brother, but he was saved from death by the swiftness of his horse. 3 Cyrus, on the other hand, was soon overwhelmed by the royal cohort. So the struggle was brought to an end. Artaxerxes, gaining possession of his brother's army and its booty, strengthened his power over the kingdom by killing his brother. Thus all the peoples of Asia and Europe, now one against the other, now among themselves, were from time to time involved in murders and infamous deeds.

4 Notice that though I have discussed in so small a book and in so few words such a great number of events affecting many provinces, peoples, and cities, I have set forth no deeds that did not also involve a great number of misfortunes. Who could describe the desolation of that age, who could find words to tell of its deaths or who could weep sufficient tears for its sorrows? 5 Yet these very misfortunes, because they have grown dim with the passing of centuries, have afforded us exercise for our talents and interesting subjects for our stories. Let anyone really apply himself wholeheartedly to an investigation of wars and their causes, and, standing as if on the top of a watchtower, let him compare the conditions of both ages. I am sure that he will then say that these unhappy and disturbed times could not have come about except through the will of an estranged and angry God. Nor can the present times become quiet again unless He becomes gracious and merciful.

6 Later Sicily was shaken by an exceedingly severe earthquake and was devastated by erupting fires and hot ashes from Mount Etna. These greatly damaged the fields and villages. 7 At that time, too, the city of Atalante, adjoining the territory of Locris, was suddenly cut off by an inundation of the sea and was left an island. Also a plague attacked the wretched remnant of the Athenians and ravaged them for a long time.

[19] L   Three hundred and fifty-five years after the founding of the City, the siege of Veii, which lasted ten continuous years, destroyed the besiegers rather than the besieged. The Romans lost large numbers through sudden sallies made by the enemy. Moreover, they were driven to carry on war from winter quarters and to pass the winter under canvas. In the end they even had to endure hunger and cold within sight of the enemy. 2 Though they failed to show any signs of true Roman courage, they finally took the city by surprise, employing mines and a concealed attack. 3  This advantageous rather than famous victory was followed by the exile of the dictator Camillus, who had defeated the Veientes. Then came the invasion of the Gauls and the burning of Rome. 4 Let anyone dare, if he can, compare any disturbances of this age with that disaster; he must, however, overcome a natural tendency that refuses to attach equal importance to a story of a past disaster and a calamity suffered in the present.

5 The Senonian Gauls had become angry on account of an outrage. They had received the legates whom the Romans had sent to conclude a peace. But when a well-equipped and strong Gallic army under Brennus was besieging Clusium, now called Tuscia, they saw these legates fighting against them in the opposing battle line. They at once raised the siege of Clusium and hurried with all their forces towards Rome. 6 The consul Fabius and his army overtook them as they were pushing on towards Rome, but did not succeed in halting them; on the contrary, the attack of the enemy overthrew, cut down, and passed over the army of Fabius as if it were a ripe cornfield. The Allia River commemorates the disaster of Fabius as the Cremera did that of the Fabii. It would not be easy to recall a similar disaster to a Roman army, even if in addition Rome herself had not been destroyed by fire.

7 The Gauls poured into the defenceless city and slew the senators who sat as rigid as statues in their chairs. They set fire to the houses, the flames cremating the bodies and the falling roofs burying them. 8 They then besieged and surrounded the entire group of the survivors, reckoned at that time to be barely a thousand young men, who were concealed in the citadel on the Capitoline Hill. There the Gauls first wore them down through hunger, plague, desperation, and fear. They then subdued them and imposed a ransom on the unhappy survivors. 9 As the price of their departure the Gauls bargained for a thousand pounds of gold, not because they held Rome in small esteem, but because they had already so depleted the city that it could not bear a higher price. 10 When the Gauls had departed, only offensive heaps of shapeless ruins remained within the circuit of the former city. Everywhere the echo of the voices of those who wandered amid the obstructions, ignorant where their own property was, resounded and kept the ears alert. 11 Horror shook men's courage. The very silence was terrifying; for loneliness in the open is in itself a cause of fear. On this account, the Romans considered, accepted, and attempted a plan of changing their home, settling in another town, and calling themselves by a new name.

12 Behold the times in comparison with which our present age is judged! Behold the times for which memory breathes a sigh! Behold the times which demand penitence on the part of the religion that has been selected, nay rather on the part of the religion that has been neglected! 13 For truly these captivities are similar and comparable with one another. The one raged for six months; the other ran its course in three days. The Gauls, after wiping out the populace and destroying the city, continued to persecute the very name of Rome even when the city lay in ashes. The Goths, relinquishing their intention of plundering, drove the bewildered crowds to a safe refuge, that is, to the sacred precincts. During the Gallic invasion scarcely a senator could be found who had escaped death even by flight; in this Gothic invasion there was scarcely a senator missing who chanced to meet his death while hiding. 14 I could make the correct and sound comparison that the number surviving in one case was the same as the number lost in the other. It must be freely admitted, as the fact is clear, that in the present calamity God has been more angry than the men were, because by performing what they could not have accomplished He has proved why He sent the Goths. 15 Certainly it was beyond human strength to set fire to bronze beams and to destroy great and massive structures. The forum with its vain images, which by a wretched superstition gave God a human shape, was smitten by lightning bolts; all those abominations, which the fire let loose by the enemy did not reach, Heaven-sent fire destroyed.

16 Since the descriptive material is very rich and can in no case be exhausted in this book, I shall bring to an end the present volume, so that we may pursue the subject further in subsequent books.

Book 3


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