Orosius, Book 7

      Chapters 26-43 :   310 to 417 A.D.  

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

Previous chapters (1-25)   

[26] L   In the one thousand and sixty-first year of the City, Constantine, the thirty-fourth emperor, received the helm of state from his father Constantius. He held it for thirty-one years {306-337 A.D.}, to the good fortune of everyone.  

2 At this point somebody suddenly runs up to me and dancing with joy taunts me, saying: "Aha! we have long waited for you and at last you have fallen into our trap. Here we were lying in wait for you to overrun your mark, here we caught you when you fell down, here we held you fast then you became confused. Until now we have borne with you while with a certain skill and ingenuity you fitted together the accidental vicissitudes of history with the vengeances exacted in behalf of the Christians. 3 At times, indeed, we men, in our ignorance of the secrets of Heaven, were disturbed by the apparent truth of the parallel. We turned pale with fear. But now our Maximianus has cleared away the entire stage setting of your play and has himself become conspicuous as the unshakable pillar and prop of our ancient religion. 4 For ten years your churches were overthrown, as you yourself admit; the Christians throughout the world were racked with torture and their ranks depleted by slaughter. We have your plain testimony that no previous persecution was either so severe or so long continued. 5 Yet see, amid the quiet and prosperity of those days, the unusual good fortune of the very emperors who accomplished the deeds. At home there was no famine, no pestilence; abroad there was no war except by their own choice, and that only to exercise their strength and not to endanger their forces. 6 There was also a condition of affairs previously unknown to mankind - the lasting association of a number of rulers at the same time, their remarkable harmony, and a joint sovereignty directed to the common good, now as never before. 7 Finally - and this was an act never known before the time of these great emperors - these very persecutors laid aside their office and found rest as private citizens, a lot that men consider the greatest blessing and highest good of a life well lived. And this came, as it were, as a reward to the authors of the persecution at the very time when its fires were still raging in the middle of their course throughout the world. 8 Or do you maintain that even this happiness which befell that generation was a punishment, and do you try to frighten us on this ground also ?"  

9 To these persons I reply in all humility that in my extreme regard for piety I am reminding them of the truth and not frightening them with falsehoods. Ten persecutions, from Nero to Maximianus, were suffered by the Church of Christ. Nine vengeances, as I have called them, or calamities, as my opponents themselves do not deny them to be, immediately ensued. I do not insist upon the form of expression. It makes little difference whether these vengeances be regarded as merited or as vicissitudes of chance, since at any rate they were disasters according to the admission of both sides. 10 These poor blind people indeed think there was some difficulty with regard to the tenth vengeance; they do not see that it was all the more severe the less it was perceived. For the impious man is beaten and does not feel it. After my explanation the convincing nature of the facts will compel them to admit, even though unwillingly, that it was as a supreme punishment for Maximianus' persecution that they received these blows have come which still cause them pain. Indeed they even cry out and provoke us to cry out in turn, that we are now becoming anxious about the way to silence them.  

[27] L   As we set forth in the first book, according to the incomplete accounts of Pompeius Trogus and Cornelius Tacitus and according to the trustworthy and adequate account of our own Moses, who even my critics admit was a reliable authority, the Egyptians and their king were vexed by ten grievous plagues. In order to restrain the devotion of God's people, who were ready and eager to serve Him, the Egyptians called the Jews back to the clay and straw. 2 Severe misfortunes later crushed the Egyptians. Then they not only urged the Jews to go in haste but even loaded them down with gold and silver vessels. Afterwards they forgot the lesson of the plagues. Led by greed for property which did not belong to them and by hatred for a foreign religion, they eagerly pursued the innocent exiles but were finally overwhelmed in the Red Sea and were all destroyed. This event can be confirmed by its result even if we do not accept it on faith. I recall and mention it at this moment because these events came to pass as an example to us. 3 In each case a people served the same God and struggled for the same cause. The synagogue of the Israelites was subject to the Egyptians; the Church of the Christians was subject to the Romans. The Egyptians inflicted persecutions; so also did the Romans. In the one case the Egyptians sent ten refusals to Moses; in the other, the Romans directed ten edicts against Christ. In the one case the Egyptians suffered various plagues; in the other, the Romans suffered various calamities.  

4 In order to draw a parallel, between these two series of plagues, so far as their different appearance admits comparison, let me point out the following. In Egypt the first visitation caused quantities of blood to rise from the wells and to flow in the rivers. In the Empire the first slaughter in the reign of Nero filled the whole land with the blood of the dying, whether flowing from the diseased in Rome or shed in war throughout the world. 5 In Egypt, during the second plague, frogs that croaked and hopped in the temples caused the inhabitants to starve and to go into exile. Rome likewise suffered a similar punishment. During the reign of Domitian, his retainers and soldiers, executing the orders of their bloodthirsty prince, reduced nearly all of the citizens to want and scattered them in exile. 6 In Egypt the third affliction consisted of gnats {sciniphes}, that is, very small and troublesome flies, which often in midsummer gather in dense swarms about filthy places and as they buzz around settle down and lodge in men's hair and on the hides of cattle, stinging their victims and causing acute pain. At Rome the third plague, in the reign of Trajan, stirred up the Jews, who in their general dispersion had until then been as quiet as if they had not existed, but who suddenly became enraged and vented their fury upon their fellow inhabitants everywhere. I say nothing of the great destruction numerous cities suffered when they were overthrown during these same days by the frequent earthquakes. 7 In Egypt, during the fourth plague, there were dog flies, truly the offspring of putrefaction and breeders of worms. In the Empire, during the fourth plague, under the rule of Marcus Antoninus, a pestilence spread over a great many provinces, and the whole of Italy, including the City of Rome; it also attacked the Roman army which was scattered along the distant frontiers in its various winter camps and made its dying members at once a prey to decay and worms. 8 In Egypt the fifth visitation came as a sudden destruction of the flocks and beasts of burden. In Rome, similarly, a fifth vengeance, under the persecutor Severus, caused the very vitals and support of the state - I mean the people of the provinces and the military legions - to be wasted by incessant civil wars. 9 In Egypt the sixth affliction brought running sores and festering ulcers. Rome, in like manner, suffered her sixth punishment as a result of the persecution of Maximinus. He had ordered the slaughter of the bishops and priests especially, that is, the chief men of the churches, and had spared the common people. Thereupon this sacrilege was revenged by repeated outbreaks of rage and hatred - not by the slaughter of the masses, but by the wounding and death of the princes and powerful men. 10 In Egypt the seventh plague was a shower of hail caused by condensation of the air that brought destruction to men, beasts, and crops. In Rome, similarly, during the reign of Gallus and Volusianus, who had succeeded the short-lived persecutor Decius, the seventh plague came from the poisoning of the air. This caused a pestilence which, spreading through all the regions of the Roman Empire from east to west, not only killed off almost all mankind and cattle, but also "poisoned the lakes and tainted the pastures" { Vergil, Georg. 3.481 }. 11 The eighth affliction in Egypt was caused by locusts that swarmed everywhere, occupying, devouring, and covering everything. The eighth in Rome, in like manner, was inflicted by nations that swarmed on every side seeking to lay waste whole provinces with fire and sword and to overthrow the Roman world. 12 There the ninth disturbance brought a long-continued darkness so thick that it could almost be grasped with the hand; it threatened more harm than it actually inflicted. Here, in like manner, the ninth visitation occurred when, during a fearful gale, a thunderbolt, terrible and distressing in its consequences, struck at the very feet of Aurelian, who was ordering a persecution, and showed, when such a vengeance was exacted, what so great an avenger could do, were He not at the same time both merciful and patient. Even so, within six months from that time, three emperors in succession, Aurelian, Tacitus, and Florian, were killed for one reason or another. 13 In Egypt, finally, the tenth plague, the last of all, was the slaughter of every first-born son. In Rome herself the tenth and last punishment was the destruction of all the idols, which were the first and foremost love of the Romans.  

14 The Egyptian king experienced, tested, and learned to fear the power of God, and therefore he allowed the people of God to go free. At Rome the king experienced, tested, and learned to believe in the power of God, and therefore he also allowed the people of God to be free. In Egypt the people of God were never afterwards dragged back into slavery. In Rome the people of God were never afterwards forced into idolatry. There, the precious vessels of the Egyptians were handed over to the Hebrews; here, the principal pagan temples were turned into Christian churches. 15 It is certainly my duty to indicate, as I have said, that everlasting ruin overwhelmed the Egyptians beneath the waves when, having allowed the Hebrews to leave after the ten plagues, they undertook to pursue them. So alas a persecution by the Gentiles at some future time awaits us while we are journeying in freedom, until we cross the Red Sea, that is, the fire of the judgment, with our Lord Jesus Christ Himself as our leader and judge. 16 Those, however, who assume the role of the Egyptians, the power having temporarily been given them by the permission of God, will show their fury and persecute the Christians with the most grievous tortures. But all those enemies of Christ, together with their king, Antichrist, will be caught in the lake of eternal fire, which, because of the thick darkness, is entered upon without being seen; and they will receive the lot of everlasting damnation, being doomed to burn in eternal torment.  

[28] L   Now, as I have said, after the death of Constantius in Britain, Constantine was proclaimed emperor. He was the first Christian emperor with the exception of Philip, whose Christian reign of a very few years was, in my opinion, established only to the end that the thousandth anniversary of Rome should be dedicated to Christ rather than to idols. 2 From the time of Constantine, however, all the emperors have been Christians up to the present day, with the exception of Julian, whose pernicious life, it is said, was cut off while he was plotting shameful deeds. 3 This is the slow but inevitable punishment of pagans. This is why they rave, though in their right mind. This is why they are goaded by the stings of conscience, though they have not been hurt. This is why they groan, though they laugh. This is why they begin to fail, though they are still in sound health. This is why they are tortured in secret, though no one persecutes them. Finally, this is why there are now but few left, though they have never been punished by any persecutor. 4 Now I shall show the sort of end that awaited those persecutors who tried to make their immunity from punishment a ground not only for boasting but even for insults.  

5 While Constantine was most vigorously carrying out the policies of the government in Gaul, the praetorian soldiers at Rome named as Augustus, Maxentius, the son of Herculius, who was at that time living in retirement in Lucania. 6 This Maximianus Herculius remained a public persecutor of the Christians. He was tempted by his son's opportunity and seized the tyranny. 7 Galerius Augustus then sent Severus Caesar with an army to Rome against Maxentius, 8 but soldiers of Severus treacherously abandoned and betrayed him while he was besieging the city. He took to flight but was killed at Ravenna. 9 The persecutor Maximianus Herculius, once an Augustus and now a usurper, attempted to seize the royal robes and authority from his son, who held the imperial office. However, he was terrified by the open insults and rioting of the soldiery. He then proceeded to Gaul, in order to effect a union, equally treacherous, with his son-in-law Constantine, intending later to supplant him as emperor. 10 When detected and betrayed by his daughter, he fled, but was seized and killed at Massilia.  

11 After the murder of Severus, Galerius made Licinius emperor. 12 Galerius himself issued harsher edicts and thus intensified the persecution started by Diocletian and Maximian, and for ten years he drained the provinces of their population. Finally an inward rotting of the chest and a decay of vital organs attacked him so that, in addition to the ordinary hideousness of human disease, he even vomited worms. While his physicians, who were unable any longer to endure the stench, were being put to death one after another by his orders, 13 one of them rebuked him with the courage of despair, saying that his punishment was the vengeance of God, and that he could not be cured by physicians. The emperor then sent edicts far and wide recalling the Christians from their places of exile, but still finding his torment unendurable, he took his own life.  

14 Thus the state at that time came to be ruled by four new princes, Constantine and Maxentius, the sons of the Augusti, and Licinius and Maximinus, self-made men. 15 When Constantine gave the churches peace after they had been harassed by persecution for ten years, 16 a civil war broke out between him and Maxentius. The latter, exhausted by a long series of battles, was finally defeated and slain at the Mulvian Bridge. 17 Maximinus, who had instigated and carried on the persecution of the Christians with the greatest bitterness, died at Tarsus while preparing for civil war against Licinius, 18 who, stirred by sudden madness, had ordered all Christians to be expelled from his palace. Soon a violent war raged between this Licinius and Constantine. 19 The latter first defeated Licinius - who was his sister's husband - in Pannonia, and then crushed him at Cibalae. After gaining possession of all Greece and thwarting the attempts of Licinius by land and sea in numerous battles, Constantine finally forced him to surrender. 20 Being warned by the example of his own father-in-law, Maximianus Herculius, he ordered Licinius, who was now deprived of office, also to be put to death, so that he might not again assume the purple and bring ruin upon the state. 21 Thus, although all the agents of that detestable persecution had already been destroyed, this man, who persecuted as much as he could, was overtaken by the punishment he deserved. 22 Crispus and Constantine, the sons of Constantine, and the youthful Licinius, the son of Licinius Augustus and, on his mother's side, a nephew of Constantine, were proclaimed Caesars.  

23 At this time Arius, a priest of the city of Alexandria, turned from the truth of the Catholic faith and set forth a dogma that was fatal to many. 24 As soon as he became famous, or rather infamous, at Alexandria among his universally confused adherents and his opponents, he was expelled from the Church by Alexander, who at that time was bishop of that city. 25 When Arius also incited to riot those whom he had led into error, an assembly of three hundred and eighteen bishops was convened at Nicaea, a city of Bithynia. These bishops, clearly perceiving the vile and pernicious nature of the Arian doctrine, publicly exposed and condemned it.  

26 The emperor Constantine, without apparent cause, now turned the sword of vengeance and the punishment appointed for the impious against even his nearest and dearest. He put to death his own son Crispus and his sister's son Licinius. He also subdued many tribes in different campaigns, 27 and was either the first or the only Roman ruler to found a city named after himself. As the only city free from idols, Constantinople was raised up within a very short time after her founding by a Christian emperor to be, in splendour and power, the only worthy rival of Rome, which had been advanced to her supremacy after many centuries and much suffering. 28 Then for the first time Constantine reversed the situation by a just and pious order. He issued an edict that the pagan temples should be closed without the killing of a single man. 29 Soon afterwards he destroyed the valiant and populous Gothic tribes in the very heart of the barbarian territory, that is, in the region of the Sarmatians. 30 In Cyprus he crushed a certain Calocaerus, who was plotting a revolution; and, on the thirtieth anniversary of his accession, he appointed Dalmatius Caesar. 31 Constantine died in his official residence near Nicomedia, while he was preparing for war against the Persians. He left the state in good order for his sons.  

[29] L   In the one thousand and ninety-second year of the City, Constantius, the thirty-fifth emperor, ascended the throne. He shared it with his brothers Constantine and Constans and held it for twenty-four years {337-361 A.D.}. Among the successors of Constantine was Dalmatius Caesar, the son of his brother; this Caesar, however, was soon entrapped by a conspiracy in the army.  

2 The ever-malignant opposition of the devil to the true God from the beginning of the world until now has been confusing the minds of men with the mists of error and leading their uncertain steps astray from the undefiled path of religious faith. But it ceased to persecute the Church of Christ with the zeal of idolatry after the Christian emperors had applied the sovereign power to better ends. The devil then devised another scheme to harass the Church of Christ through these same Christian emperors. 3 Arius, the author of the new heresy, and his disciples found ready access and an easy road to the friendship of Constantius. Arius induced the emperor to believe that there are certain gradations in God, and thus, after leaving the error of idolatry by the main door, he was led back into it through a side entrance, as it were, while seeking to find gods in God. 4 His authority, though ridiculed, became armed with a perverted zeal, and a violent persecution was started in the name of religious devotion. An argument arose about the choice of a new name, and it was urged that: the churches should belong to the Arians rather than to the Catholics. 5 Then followed a fearful earthquake that levelled to the ground many cities of the East.  

Constantine, while making war upon his brother Constans, exposed himself to danger in a foolhardy fashion and was slain by his brother's generals. 6 Constans fought nine unsuccessful campaigns against the Persians and Sapor, who had been ravaging Mesopotamia. Finally his soldiers, now out of control, mutinied and compelled him to make a night attack, and he not only lost the victory that had been almost won but was actually defeated himself. 7 Later, when he had given himself up to excessive license and was gaining the favour of the soldiers by oppressing the provincials, he was treacherously killed by Magnentius at a town called Helena on the border of Spain.  

8 This Magnentius assumed the imperial title at Augustodunum and immediately extended his authority over Gaul, Africa, and Italy. 9 In Illyria the soldiers proclaimed as their emperor the aged Vetranio, a man of simplicity and kindly disposed toward all, but one who had never received even the rudiments of an education. 10 While the aged emperor against his will was studying the alphabet and the syllables of words, he was ordered to abdicate by Constantius, who, burning to avenge his brother, was preparing war against Magnentius. Vetranio laid aside the purple along with his studies and gave up palace and school at the same time, content to lead a life of leisure as a private citizen.  

11 Nepotianus, the son of Constantine's sister, aided by a band of gladiators, then seized the imperial power at Rome. His wickedness, however, made him universally hated. He was defeated by the generals of Magnentius. 12 Then followed that fearful battle between Constantius and Magnentius at the city of Mursa. The great losses of the Roman forces in this battle brought harm even to posterity. 13 Magnentius, however, escaped after his defeat and not long afterward killed himself with his own hand at Lugdunum. His brother Decentius, whom he had appointed Caesar over the Gauls, hanged himself at Senones. 14 Constantius at once chose his cousin Gallus as Caesar, but since the latter behaved in a cruel and tyrannical manner, he had him put to death soon after his appointment. The emperor also took care that Silvanus, who was eager to see a revolution in Gaul, was speedily surrounded and overcome. 15 He then killed Silvanus, appointed his cousin Julian, the brother of Gallus, Caesar, and sent him to the Gallic provinces, which the enemy had overrun and devastated. With a great display of energy, Julian restored the provinces to their former condition, routed a vast multitude of the Alemanni with but a small force, and again pushed back the Germans beyond the Rhine. 16 Elated by these successes, Julian usurped the dignity of Augustus. Soon afterward he made his way through Italy and Illyria, and deprived Constantius, who was occupied with the Parthian War, of a great part of his realm. 17 When he learned of Julian's treachery, Constantius abandoned the Parthian campaign and turned back to engage in civil war, but he died on the road between Cilicia and Cappadocia. 18 Thus the man who had rent asunder the peace and unity of the Catholic faith and had, so to speak, dismembered the Church by civil war, arming Christians against Christians, used, passed, and expended the entire period of his troubled reign and his wretched span of life in civil wars which his own kinsmen and blood relations stirred up.  

[30] L   In the one thousand one hundred and sixteenth year of the City, Julian, who had previously been Caesar, then established himself as the thirty-sixth emperor in succession from Augustus. He reigned alone for a year and eight months {361-363 A.D.}. 2 Attacking the Christian religion by cunning instead of by force he sought to make men deny the faith of Christ and adopt the worship of idols by the temptation of honours rather than by the infliction of tortures. 3 Our elders tell us that when he issued a public edict forbidding any Christian to be a professor of the liberal branches of learning, almost all Christians everywhere, in compliance with the terms of the ordinance, preferred to abandon their positions rather than their faith.  

4 When Julian was preparing war against the Parthians and was taking Roman forces recruited from all quarters with him to certain destruction, he vowed the blood of the Christians to his Gods, intending to persecute the churches openly if he should be victorious. 5 In fact, he ordered an amphitheatre to be constructed at Jerusalem in which upon his return from Parthia he could expose bishops, monks, and all the saints of the locality to the fury of wild beasts that had been deliberately enraged and then could watch the martyrs being torn to pieces. 6 After he had moved his camp away from Ctesiphon, he was treacherously led into the desert by a traitor. When his army was perishing from thirst, the heat of the sun, and the fatigue of marching through the sands, the emperor, becoming anxious at so dangerous a situation, rashly ventured to wander through the desert. There he encountered one of the enemy's cavalrymen and met his death from a blow of the other's lance. Thus God in his mercy brought these evil designs to naught through the death of their evil author.  

[31] L   In the one thousand one hundred and seventeenth year of the City, when her affairs were in a most critical state, Jovian became the thirty-seventh emperor {363 A.D.}. He was proclaimed emperor by the army which had been caught in an unfavourable situation and hemmed in by the enemy without chance of escape. In these circumstances Jovian made a treaty with Sapor, king of the Persians, which, though considered quite dishonourable, was unavoidable. 2 Sapor agreed to leave the Roman army safe and unharmed either from attack or from the dangers of the locality, provided the Romans surrendered to the Persians the town of Nisibis and a part of Upper Mesopotamia. 3 While marching through Galatia on his way to Illyria, Jovian withdrew to sleep in a newly built bedchamber. There he was overpowered and suffocated by the fumes arising from the action of the heat of the burning coals on the dampness of the newly plastered walls. His life came to an end in the eighth month of his reign.  

[32] L   In the one thousand one hundred and eighteenth year of the City, Valentinian, the thirty-eighth emperor, was proclaimed emperor at Nicaea by agreement of the soldiers. He held office for eleven years {364-375 A.D.}. 2 Though a Christian, Valentinian without violating his faith had performed military duty under the emperor Julian as tribune of the bodyguard {scutarii}. But when he was ordered by that sacrilegious emperor either to sacrifice to idols or to leave the service, he withdrew voluntarily, knowing as a faithful man that God's judgments are severer and His promises more to be desired.  

3 Thus it happened that soon after Julian was killed and directly after the death of Jovian, this man, who had lost his tribuneship in defence of Christ's name, became emperor in his own persecutor's stead as his reward from Christ. 4 Later he made his brother Valens joint emperor  and subsequently killed the usurper Procopius and many of the latter's followers. 5 At this time an earthquake occurred throughout the world and so greatly agitated the sea, that, according to report, the plains along the coast were inundated, and many cities, situated on islands, were struck, collapsed, and perished. 6 Valens was baptised and converted by the bishop Eudoxius, a supporter of the Arian views, and thus he fell into most terrible heresy. For a long time Valens concealed his wicked intention to persecute and did not use his power to further his desire because the authority of his brother, so long as the latter lived, restrained him; 7 for he well knew what force Valentinian as emperor could exert in avenging the faith, when he had possessed such firmness in keeping it as a soldier.  

8 In the third year of the reign of these brothers, Gratian, the son of Valentinian, was made emperor. In the same year, in the territory of the Atrebates, real wool, mixed with rain, fell from the clouds.  

9 Moreover, Athanaric, king of the Goths, with the greatest cruelty persecuted the Christians living among his own people and raised many of the barbarians to the crown of martyrdom by putting them to death for their faith. There were many who, because they acknowledged Christ, had to flee to the territory of the Romans. They went, not apprehensively as if going to enemies, but with assurances as to brethren.  

10 The Saxons, a tribe living on the shores of the Ocean in inaccessible swamps and dreaded for their bravery and rapidity of movement, undertook a dangerous raid in full force against the Roman possessions, but they were crushed by Valentinian in the land of the Franks. 11 The Burgundians, a new enemy with a new name, numbering, it is said, more than eighty thousand armed men, settled on the bank of the Rhine. 12 In earlier times, when the interior of Germany had been subjugated by Drusus and Tiberius, the adopted sons of Caesar, the Burgundians were stationed at different frontier posts. Later they united to form a great people. They took their name from their stations, for the dwelling places at frequent intervals along the frontier are commonly called burgi. The power and destructiveness of their tribes is manifest even today from the condition of the Gallic provinces where they have now settled, their right to do so being undisputed. 13 Nevertheless, through the providence of God they have all recently become Christians, embracing the Catholic faith and acknowledging obedience to our clergy, so that they live mild, gentle, and harmless lives, regarding the Gauls not as their subjects but in truth as their Christian brethren.  

14 In the eleventh year of his reign, Valentinian started to make war upon the Sarmatians who had overrun and were ravaging the Pannonian provinces. But at the town of Brigitio he was choked to death by the sudden haemorrhage that the Greeks call apoplexy.  

15 Valentinian was succeeded as emperor of the West by his son Gratian, while Valens, the latter's uncle, ruled in the East. The new emperor shared his throne with his brother Valentinian, who was a mere child.  

[33] L   From the one thousand one hundred and twenty-eighth year of the City, Valens, the thirty-ninth emperor, ruled for four years {375-378 A.D.} after the death of Valentinian, who alone had been able to make him blush for his impious deeds. Immediately, as if his shameless boldness knew no bounds, he made a law requiring military service of the monks. These men were Christians who had given up the transaction of secular business in its various forms and were devoting themselves solely to the work of the Faith. 2 The vast solitudes of Egypt and its stretches of sand, which were unfit for human use because of their aridity, barrenness, and the extreme danger from numerous serpents, were then filled and inhabited by great numbers of monks. 3 Officers and soldiers were sent there on a new type of persecution to drag away to other places the saintly and true soldiers of God. Many companies of saints suffered death there. 4 As for the measures taken against the Catholic churches and orthodox believers throughout the various provinces under these and similar orders, let my decision to remain silent be sufficient indication of their nature.  

5 Meanwhile, in certain parts of Africa Firmus stirred up the Moorish tribes, made himself king, and laid waste Africa and Mauretania. Caesarea, the most important city of Mauretania, was captured by treachery, filled with fire and carnage, and given over to the barbarians for pillage. 6 Thereupon Count Theodosius, the father of the Theodosius who afterwards became emperor, acting under Valentinian's orders, broke the strength of the roaming Moorish tribes in a number of engagements and compelled the discouraged and vanquished Firmus to take his own life. 7 Later, acting with well-trained foresight, he more than restored Africa and Mauretania to their former condition, but without realising it he aroused so much envy that he was condemned to death. Before his execution at Carthage, he resolved to be baptised in order to obtain the remission of his sins; having received the sacrament of Christ which he had desired, he offered his throat to the blow of the executioner with the assurance of eternal life to come after his glorious life in this world.  

8 Meanwhile the emperor Gratian, who was still a youth, saw a countless multitude of enemies invade the Roman domain. Relying on the power of Christ, he met them with far inferior forces and, in a battle at the Gallic town of Argentaria, straightway by a wonderful stroke of good fortune brought to an end a most formidable war. More than thirty thousand of the Alemanni, according to report, were killed there with but slight loss on the Roman side.  

9 In the thirteenth year of the reign of Valens, that is, in the short interval of time that followed the wrecking of the churches by Valens and his slaughtering of the saints throughout the East, that root of our miseries simultaneously sent up a very great number of shoots. 10 The race of Huns, long shut off by inaccessible mountains, broke out in sudden rage against the Goths and drove them in widespread confusion from their old homes. The Goths fled across the Danube and were received by Valens without negotiating any treaty. They did not even surrender their arms to the Romans, an act which might have made it safer to trust the barbarians. 11 But the general Maximus by his unbearable avarice brought famine and injuries upon the Goths and drove them to arms and rebellion. After defeating an army of Valens, they overran Thrace and swept the whole country with fire, murder, and rapine. 12 When Valens had left Antioch and was going to his doom in that ill-fated war, he was pricked with a tardy remorse for his heinous sin and gave orders for the recall of the bishops and other dignitaries from exile.  

13 In the fifteenth year of his reign, Valens fought that lamentable battle in Thrace against the Goths, who by that time were well prepared in the matter of military training, and who had an abundance of resources. The very first attack threw the squadrons of Roman cavalry into confusion and left the infantry forces without protection. 14 The infantry legions were at once encircled by the enemy's cavalry. They were first overwhelmed by showers of arrows, then, mad with fear, were forced to scatter by devious paths, and finally were cut to pieces by the swords and lances of their pursuers. 15 The emperor himself, wounded by an arrow, turned to flight and was with difficulty brought to a cottage on a small farm. While he was hiding there, the pursuing enemy came upon him. They set fire to the building, and Valens perished in the flames. In order that the punishment visited upon him - this manifestation of divine wrath - might serve all the more as a dreadful example to posterity, he was not even given a common burial.  

16 The wretched and obstinate heathen may find comfort in this one fact alone: these great disasters in Christian times and under Christian rulers (the ruin of the provinces, the destruction of the army, and the burning of the emperor) occurred all at once and bowed down the neck of the state already sore oppressed. This indeed grieves us much and is all the more lamentable for being so unprecedented. 17 But how does it serve to comfort the pagans who can plainly perceive that in this case a persecutor of the churches was also punished? The one God revealed one faith and spread one Church over all the world. It is the Church whom He beholds, whom He loves, whom He defends; and, whatever the name by which a man shields himself, he is an alien if he is not associated with her, and an enemy if he attacks her. 18 Let the heathen take what comfort they may in the suffering of the Jews and the heretics, but only let them confess that there is one God and that He  does not have different "persons" as is most conclusively proven by the destruction of Valens. 19 The Goths had petitioned through ambassadors that bishops be sent to them from whom they might learn the rule of the Christian faith. In fatal perverseness the emperor Valens sent teachers of the Arian doctrine, and the Goths continued to believe what they first learned concerning the basic principles of the faith. Therefore, by the just judgment of God Himself, Valens was burned alive by the very men who, through his action, will burn hereafter for their heresy.  

[34] L   In the one thousand one hundred and thirty-second year of the City, Gratian, the fortieth emperor in succession from Augustus, became emperor. He reigned for six years following the death of Valens {378-383 A.D.}, although he had already reigned for some time in conjunction with his uncle Valens and his brother Valentinian. 2 Seeing the distressed and almost ruined condition of the state, he exercised the same foresight which led Nerva, in a former time, to choose the Spaniard Trajan, who restored the state. Gratian in his turn chose Theodosius, likewise a Spaniard, invested him with the purple at Sirmium for the necessary work of re-establishing the government, and made him ruler of the East and of Thrace as well. 3 In one respect Gratian's judgment was the better; for Theodosius, who was Trajan's equal in all the virtues of our mortal life, surpassed him beyond all comparison in his devotion to the faith and in his reverence for religion, inasmuch as the earlier emperor was a persecutor, and the latter a propagator, of the Church. 4 Trajan was not blessed with even a single son of his own to succeed him, whereas the glorious descendants of Theodosius have ruled over the East and the West alike through successive generations to this very day.  

5 Theodosius believed that the state, which had been brought low by the wrath of God, would be restored by His mercy. Putting all his trust in the help of Christ, he attacked without hesitation those mighty Scythian tribes, which had been the dread of all the earlier ages and had been avoided even by Alexander the Great, as Pompeius and Cornelius declare. These same tribes were equipped with Roman horses and arms, though the Roman army no longer existed. Yet he defeated these tribes, that is, the Alans, Huns, and Goths, in a series of great battles. 6 He entered the city of Constantinople as a victor, and made a treaty with Athanaric, the king of the Goths, so that he might not exhaust the small body of Roman troops by continual campaigning. 7 Athanaric, however, died immediately after reaching Constantinople. Upon the death of their king, all the Gothic tribes, on seeing the bravery and kindness of Theodosius, submitted to Roman rule. 8 At the same time the Persians voluntarily sent ambassadors to Theodosius at Constantinople and humbly begged for peace. These Persians previously had killed Julian and frequently defeated other emperors. Recently they had put Valens to flight and were now manifesting their satisfaction over this latest victory by offering foul insults. A treaty was then made, the fruits of which the entire East has enjoyed in great tranquillity until the present day.  

9 In the meantime, by subjugating the barbarian tribes in the East, Theodosius finally freed the Thracian provinces from the enemy. He made his son Arcadius associate emperor. The army in Britain proclaimed Maximus emperor against his will. Maximus was an energetic and able man and one worthy of the throne had he not risen to it by usurpation, contrary to his oath of allegiance. 10 He crossed into Gaul where he treacherously killed the emperor Gratian, who, in his fright at the sudden invasion, was planning to go to Italy. He drove Gratian's brother, the emperor Valentinian, from Italy. The latter took refuge in the East with Theodosius, who received him with a father's affection and soon even restored him to his imperial dignity.  

[35] L   In the one thousand one hundred and thirty-eighth year of the City, after Gratian had been killed by Maximus, Theodosius, the forty-first emperor, became ruler of the Roman world. He remained in office for eleven years {383-395 A.D.}. He had already reigned in the East for six years during Gratian's lifetime. 2 The demands of justice and necessity persuaded him to engage in civil war, since, of the two imperial brothers, the blood of the one slain demanded vengeance and the misery of the other in exile pleaded for restoration to his former position. Theodosius therefore put his trust in God and hurled himself against the usurper Maximus with no advantage but that of faith, for he was inferior in every point of military equipment. 3 Maximus at that time had established himself at Aquileia, to be a spectator of his own victory. Andragathius, his count, who was in charge of the general direction of the war, greatly strengthened all the approaches through the Alps and along the rivers, placing there large bodies of soldiers and employing skilful strategy that counted for even more than strength of numbers. But by the inscrutable judgment of God he abandoned of his own accord the very passes that he had closed up, intending to catch the enemy off their guard and destroy them by a naval expedition. 4 Thus Theodosius crossed the undefended Alps without being noticed, much less opposed, by anyone, and arrived unexpectedly before Aquileia. His mighty enemy Maximus, a stern ruler who exacted taxes even from the savage German tribes by the mere terror of his name, was surrounded, captured, and put to death without recourse to treachery and without a contest. 5 Valentinian, when his power was restored, proceeded to gain control over Italy. On learning of the death of Maximus, Count Andragathius threw himself headlong from his ship into the sea and was drowned. Thus under God's guidance Theodosius gained a bloodless victory.  

6 Observe how, under Christian rulers and in Christian times, civil wars are settled when they cannot be avoided. The victory was won, the city was stormed, the usurper was seized. And this is not half the story. Look elsewhere and see a hostile army vanquished, a count in the service of that usurper - he was more violent than the usurper himself - forced to take his own life, many ambuscades broken up or evaded, countless preparations rendered useless. 7 Yet no one planned stratagems, no one drew up a line of battle, and, lastly, no one, if I may use the expression, even unsheathed his sword. A most formidable war was brought to a victorious conclusion without bloodshed and with the death of but two persons on the occasion of the victory itself. 8 Now, to prevent anyone from regarding this as the result of chance, let me produce testimony to God's power, which orders and judges the universe, so that its revelation may either confound the objectors or force them to believe. I mention, therefore, a circumstance unknown to all and yet known to all. 9 After this war in which Maximus was slain, many wars, both domestic and foreign, have indeed been the lot of Theodosius and his son Honorius up to the present day, as we all recollect, and yet almost all have ended either without bloodshed or, at least, with very little, as a result of a decisive victory due to divine influence.  

10 After the destruction of Maximus and of his son Victor,whom Maximus had left among the Gauls as their emperor, Valentinian the Younger, now restored to his realm, passed over into Gaul. While living there peacefully in a country then tranquil, so the story goes, he was treacherously strangled to death at Vienna by his count Arbogastes. Valentinian was hanged by a rope so that it might appear he had taken his own life.  

11 Soon after the death of the Augustus Valentinian, Arbogastes ventured to set up the usurper Eugenius, choosing him as a figurehead on whom to bestow the imperial title, but intending to manage the government himself. Arbogastes was a barbarian who excelled in spirit, counsel, bravery, boldness, and power. He gathered together from all quarters enormous forces as yet unconquered, intending to seize the sovereignty. He drew partly on the Roman garrisons and partly on the barbarian auxiliaries, in the one case by virtue of his power and in the other on account of his kinship. 12 It is not necessary to describe in words events that many have seen with their own eyes and of which they as spectators have a better knowledge. In every respect the career of Arbogastes clearly shows that Theodosius was always victorious through the power of God. At the time when he was loyal to Theodosius, Arbogastes, in spite of his own slender resources, captured the strongly supported Maximus. But when he clashed with Theodosius, though aided by the united strength of the Gauls and Franks and though also relying upon his devoted worship of idols, he was nevertheless defeated with great ease. 13 Eugenius and Arbogastes had drawn up their army in battle array in the plains and, having very craftily sent ahead ambushing parties, had occupied the narrow slopes of the Alps and the passes which had to be used, so as to win victory by strategy alone, even though they were inferior in numbers and in strength.  

14 Theodosius took up a position on the heights of the Alps and remained there without food or sleep. Knowing that he was abandoned by his men, but unaware that he was surrounded by enemies, he prayed alone to his one and all-sufficient help, the Lord Christ, while he lay with his body stretched upon the ground but with his mind fixed upon Heaven. 15 After passing a sleepless night in continual prayer and leaving as evidence pools of tears that he had shed as the price of Heavenly aid, he confidently took arms alone, knowing that he was truly not alone. Then with the sign of the cross he gave the signal for battle and plunged into the fight as if destined to conquer even though none should follow him. 16 The first step to deliverance appeared in the person of Arbitio, a count of the opposing army. The latter had caught the unsuspecting emperor in an ambush laid for him, but moved to reverence in the presence of his Augustus, he not only freed him from danger but even provided him with aid.  

17 The moment that the forces came within fighting distance, an indescribably great windstorm suddenly began to blow violently into the faces of the enemy. The javelins of our men flew through the air and were carried over a great distance, farther than any man could throw, and they fell scarcely anywhere without striking their mark. 18 Furthermore, the force of the unabating gale now dashed the shields of the enemy so heavily against their own faces and breasts as to strike them repeatedly, now pressed their shields so close as to take away their breath, now tore away their shields so violently as to leave them unprotected, now held their shields so steadily against them as to force them backward. Even the weapons that they had hurled with all their might were caught by the wind and driven back to transfix the unfortunate throwers. 19 The terrified consciences of the men drove them to seek safety, for as soon as a small detachment of the enemy had been routed their army surrendered to the victorious Theodosius. Eugenius was captured and killed, and Arbogastes dispatched himself with his own hand. Thus in this case too, the fires of civil war were quenched by the blood of two men, leaving out of account the ten thousand Goths, who, it is said, were sent ahead by Theodosius and destroyed to a man by Arbogastes; for the loss of these was certainly a gain and their defeat a victory. 20 I do not taunt those who disparage us. Let them point out a single war in the history of Rome undertaken from such conscientious and compelling motives, carried out with such divine good fortune, stilled with such merciful kindness, one in which the battle did not entail heavy losses nor the victory a bloody revenge. Then perhaps I may admit that these blessed victories were not the rewards of the faith of a Christian general. 21 Yet I am not anxious about this testimony of theirs, since one of their own number, a distinguished poet but a most obstinate pagan, has borne witness both to God and to man in these verses:
  O thou much beloved of God! for whom the sky does battle,
  For whom the winds in concert heed the trumpet's call.
        { Claudian, Panegyric on the third consulate of the Emperor Honorius, 96-8 }  

22 Thus Heaven gave judgment between the side that humbly placed its hope in God alone even without the aid of man and the side that arrogantly trusted in its own strength and in idols. After reducing the state to order and tranquillity Theodosius died at Mediolanum.  

[36] L   In the one thousand one hundred and forty-ninth year of the City, Arcadius Augustus, whose son Theodosius now rules the East, and Honorius Augustus, his brother, by whom our state is now completely supported, occupied the forty-second place in the imperial line and began to exercise a joint sovereignty {395 A.D.}, but in different capitals. Arcadius lived for twelve years after his father's death, and, when he died, left the supreme power to his son Theodosius, who was still very young.  

2 Meanwhile Count Gildo, who was in charge of Africa at the beginning of his brother's reign, revolted as soon as he learned that Theodosius had died. Induced by some sort of envy, according to some, he planned to add Africa to the districts of the Eastern Empire; 3 according to another view, he was influenced by the belief that there would be little hope for the young rulers, since, except for them, hardly any young boy who inherited the throne had ever before reached full manhood. This, indeed, was almost an unparalleled instance in which youths, separated  and forsaken, prospered under the guardianship of Christ on account of their own and their father's remarkable faith. Gildo, then, dared to claim for himself Africa, which had been detached from its allegiance to the state. He did this more because he found satisfaction in his heathen life of licentiousness than because he was inspired by any ambition or royal pretensions. 4 His brother Mascezel, thoroughly detesting Gildo's revolutionary undertakings, left his two sons with the troops in Africa and went back to Italy. Gildo, becoming suspicious both of his brother's absence and of his nephews' presence, treacherously seized the youths and put them to death. 5 When it was decided to make war upon Gildo as a public enemy, Mascezel was given the command. His fitness for the service of the state was assured by the fresh grief of his own bereavement. Recognising, like Theodosius, how much in a desperate situation the prayer of man can gain from the mercy of God through faith in Christ, Mascezel visited the island of Capraria and took with him from that place some holy servants of God who were moved by his entreaties. He continued in prayer, fasting, and singing psalms with them day and night, and was thus enabled to gain victory without war, and vengeance without bloodshed.  

6 The Ardalio is the name of a river that flows between the cities of Theveste and Ammedera. Here Mascezel encamped with a small force of five thousand soldiers, as it is said, against seventy thousand of the enemy. After some delay he laid plans to leave his position and march through the narrow passes of the valley that lay ahead. 7 When darkness came, he dreamt that he saw the blessed Ambrose, the lately deceased bishop of Mediolanum, making a sign with his hand, striking his staff thrice upon the ground, and saying these words, "Here, here, here." He wisely inferred that this vision indicated assurance of victory from the trustworthiness of his prophet, the place from the word spoken, and the day from the number. 8 He therefore held his ground, and on the third day, after keeping vigil through the night with prayers and hymns, went forth from the very mysteries of the Heavenly sacraments to meet the enemy who had surrounded him.  

9 While he was speaking pious words of peace to those whom he first encountered, one of their standard-bearers insolently withstood his entreaties and kept urging his side to begin the battle that was imminent. Thereupon Mascezel struck his arm with a sword, disabled his hand, and thus compelled him to lower the banner to the ground by the force of the blow. 10 At this sight, the other cohorts, thinking that the front ranks were already surrendering, reversed their standards and hastened to give themselves up to Mascezel. The barbarians, of whom Gildo had brought a great number to the war, fled in all directions, after they had been left entirely alone by the desertion of the regular troops. 11 Gildo himself tried to escape by seizing a ship and putting out to sea, but was driven back to Africa where some days later he was strangled to death.  

12 In telling of such miracles we would run the risk of appearing deliberate and shameless liars, if the testimony of those who were eyewitnesses did not outstrip our words. Yet all this was done without the concocting of plots and the practice of corruption. Seventy thousand of the enemy were overcome almost without a battle. The vanquished rebel fled for the time being, lest the angry conqueror dare a greater deed. Gildo was carried away to a different place so that his brother might not know of the slaying whereby he himself was avenged. 13 This Mascezel, it is true, became puffed up with the haughtiness that comes of success and neglected the society of the holy men through whom he had won the victory as a champion of God. He even dared to violate a church, not hesitating to drag from it some refugees. This sacrilege met with its due reward, for some time afterward, while the very men whom he had dragged from the church in order to punish them were still alive, he himself was punished amid their rejoicing. By his own fate he showed that the judgment of God ever watches with a double purpose, since when he trusted in it, he received help, and when he despised it, he was put to death.  

[37] L   Meanwhile the emperor Theodosius the Elder had entrusted the care of his children and the direction of his two courts, respectively, to his two most powerful subjects, Rufinus in the East and Stilicho in the West. What each man did and what he attempted to do, the fates of each made plain. Rufinus, aspiring to the royal dignity for himself, brought in the barbarians; Stilicho, desiring it for his son, gave them support so that the needs of the state in the sudden crisis might veil his wicked aim. 2 I say nothing of King Alaric and his Goths, often defeated, often surrounded, but always allowed to escape. I say nothing of those unhappy doings at Pollentia when the chief command was entrusted to the barbarian and pagan general Saul who wickedly profaned the most solemn days and holy Eastertide and who compelled the enemy, then withdrawing on account of religious scruples, to fight. The judgment of God soon disclosed not only the power of His favour but also the demands of His vengeance, for although we conquered in fighting we were defeated in conquering. 3 I say nothing of the many internecine conflicts between the barbarians themselves, when two divisions of the Goths, and then the Alans and Huns, destroyed one another in mutual slaughter.  

4 Radagaisus, by far the most savage of all our enemies, past or present, inundated all Italy by a sudden invasion with an army reported to number more than two hundred thousand Goths. 5 Aside from the fact of his own dauntless courage and the support of the vast multitude, he was a pagan and a Scythian, who, according to the custom of the barbarous tribes, had vowed the blood of the entire Roman race as an offering to his gods. 6 Consequently, when he threatened the defences of Rome, all the pagans in the City flocked together, saying that the enemy was powerful, not merely because of the size of his forces, but especially because of the aid of his gods. They also said that the City was forsaken and would soon perish because it had completely abandoned its gods and its sacred rites. 7 Great complaints were raised everywhere. The restoration and celebration of sacrifices were at once discussed. Blasphemies were rife throughout the City, and the name of Christ was publicly loaded with reproaches as if it were a curse upon the times.  

8 Since in a mixed people the pious deserve grace and the impious punishment, according to God's inscrutable judgment, it was deemed just to allow such enemies to chastise the altogether stubborn and refractory City with a scourge of unusual severity, but not to permit them to destroy everything indiscriminately. At that time there were roaming wildly through the Roman provinces two Gothic peoples, led by two powerful kings. 9 One of these kings was a Christian and more like a Roman, a man, who, through the fear of God, as the event showed, inclined to spare men's lives. The other was a pagan, barbarian, and true Scythian, who in his insatiable cruelty loved not so much the fame or the rewards of butchery as he did slaughter itself. And this man had already reached the heart of Italy and was causing nearby Rome to shake with fright. 10 If, then, he had been the chosen instrument of vengeance - the Romans feared him especially because he courted the favour of the gods with sacrifices - the slaughter would have been more unrestrained without effecting any reform. Thus the last error would have been worse than the first; for had they indeed fallen into the hands of a pagan and an idolator, not only would the remaining pagans have been firmly persuaded to restore idolatry, but the Christians would to their peril have become confused - the latter terrified by the warning, the former encouraged by this precedent. 11 Hence God, the just steward of the human race, willed that the pagan enemy should perish and allowed the Christian enemy to prevail, in order that the pagan and blaspheming Romans might be thrown into confusion by the death of the one and punished by the invasion of the other. In particular, the holy faith and continence of the emperor Honorius, remarkable in a ruler, merited no small measure of divine mercy.  

12 Against Radagaisus, our most savage enemy, God granted that the minds of our other enemies should be disposed to help us with their forces. Uldin and Sarus, leaders of the Huns and of the Goths, came to the aid of the Romans. But God did not allow the workings of His power to appear as the valour of men, particularly when they were our enemies. 13 He smote Radagaisus with supernatural terror, drove him into the mountains of Faesulae, bottled up his two hundred thousand men - this number is the lowest estimate cited - without food or resource on a rough and arid ridge. Weighted down with apprehension, the band that had but lately found Italy too small was crowded upon one small summit, where it hoped to lie concealed. 14 Why delay the tale? No army was arrayed for battle; no fury or fear prolonged the uncertainties of the fight; no killings were done; no blood was shed; nor finally was there that which is usually considered a reason for congratulations, namely, a loss in battle compensated by the fruits of victory. While our men were eating, drinking, and making merry, the enemy, so numerous and so savage, were worn out by hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. 15 All this would matter little if the Romans did not know that the man whom they feared had been captured and subdued and if they did not see that idol worshipper, whose sacrifices they pretended to dread more than his arms, defeated without a battle, sent under the yoke, and exposed to their contempt as a prisoner in chains. So King Radagaisus secretly deserted his men, hoping to escape by himself, but he fell into the hands of our soldiers. He was captured by them, held for a while, and then put to death. 16 The Gothic captives are said to have been so numerous that droves of them were sold everywhere like the cheapest cattle for an aureus apiece.  

But God did not allow anything to be left of this people; for immediately all those who had been bought died, and what the hard bargainers had shamefully saved in price was mercifully spent on their burial. 17 Thus ungrateful Rome, which now felt the indirect mercy of her God and Judge, not for the pardoning but for the checking of her bold idolatry, was also soon to suffer the wrath of God, although not in full measure on account of the pious remembrance of the saints, both living and dead. In case by any chance she should repent in her bewilderment and learn faith through experience, she would be spared for a short space of time from the invasion of Alaric, a hostile but a Christian king.  

[38] L   Meanwhile Count Stilicho, who was sprung from the Vandals, that unwarlike, greedy, treacherous, and crafty race, thought it insufficient that he had imperial power under the nominal emperor, and tried by every possible means to place upon the throne his own son Eucherius. According to common report, the latter had been planning the persecution of the Christians from the time when he was a boy and still a private citizen. 2 Hence, when Alaric and the whole Gothic nation begged humbly and straightforwardly for peace on very favourable terms and also for some place to settle, Stilicho supported them by a secret alliance, but in the name of the state refused them the opportunity of either making war or peace, reserving them to wear down and to intimidate the state. 3 Moreover, other nations irresistible in numbers and might who are now oppressing the provinces of Gaul and Spain (namely, the Alans, Suebi, and Vandals, as well as the Burgundians who were driven on by the same movement) were induced by Stilicho to take arms on their own initiative and were aroused when once their fear of Rome was removed. 4 Stilicho's plan was to batter the Rhine frontier and strike against the two Gauls. This wretched man hoped that in this dangerous situation he could thereby wrest the imperial dignity from his son-in-law and give it to his son, and that it would be as easy to repress the barbarian nations as it was to arouse them. 5 When the character of these crimes was openly revealed to the emperor Honorius and to the Roman army, the soldiers very properly mutinied and killed Stilicho, who, in order to clothe one boy with the royal purple, had imperilled the blood of the whole human race. 6 Eucherius was also slain, who for the sake of gaining the favour of the pagans had threatened that he would celebrate the beginning of his reign by the restoration of the temples and by the overthrow of the churches. Several accomplices also were punished for their wicked plots. Thus the churches of Christ and the devout emperor were freed as well as avenged with very little trouble and with the punishment of but a few persons.  

[39] L   Therefore, after this great increase of blasphemies without any evidence of repentance, the final, long-impending doom overtook the City. Alaric appeared before trembling Rome, laid siege, spread confusion, and broke into the City. He first, however, gave orders that all those who had taken refuge in sacred places, especially in the basilicas of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, should be permitted to remain inviolate and unmolested; he allowed his men to devote themselves to plunder as much as they wished, but he gave orders that they should refrain from bloodshed. 2 A further proof that the storming of the City was due to the wrath of God rather than to the bravery of the enemy is shown by the fact that the blessed Innocent, the bishop of Rome, who at that time was at Ravenna, through the hidden providence of God, even as Lot the Just was withdrawn from the Sodomites, did not witness the destruction of the sinful populace.  

3 While the barbarians were roaming through the City, one of the Goths, a powerful man and a Christian, chanced to find in a church building a virgin advanced in years who had dedicated herself to God. When he respectfully asked her for gold and silver, 4 she declared with the firmness of her faith that she had a large amount in her possession and that she would bring it forth at once. She did so. Observing that the barbarian was astonished at the size, weight, and beauty of the riches displayed, even though he did not know the nature of the vessels, the virgin of Christ then said to him: 5 "These are the sacred plate of the Apostle Peter. Presume, if you dare! You will have to answer for the deed. As for me, since I cannot protect them, I dare not keep them." 6 The barbarian, stirred to religious awe through the fear of God and by the virgin's faith, sent word of the incident to Alaric. He ordered that all the vessels, just as they were, should be brought back immediately to the basilica of the Apostle, 7 and that the virgin also, together with all Christians who might join the procession, should be conducted there under escort. The building, it is said, was at a considerable distance from the sacred places, with half the city lying between. 8 Consequently the gold and silver vessels were distributed, each to a different person; they were carried high above the head in plain sight, to the wonder of all beholders. The pious procession was guarded by a double line of drawn swords; 9 Romans and barbarians in concert raised a hymn to God in public. In the sacking of the City the trumpet of salvation sounded far and wide and smote the ears of all with its invitation, even those lying in hiding. 10 From every quarter the vessels of Christ mingled with the vessels of Peter, and many pagans even joined the Christians in making profession, though not in true faith. In this way they escaped, but only for a time, that their confusion might afterward be the greater. The more densely the Roman refugees flocked together, the more eagerly their barbarian protectors surrounded them. 11 O sacred and inscrutable discernment of the divine judgment! O holy and saving river, which begins its course at a small house and, as it flows in its blessed channel to the abode of the saints, bears wandering and imperilled souls to the harbour of salvation by its pious power of drawing them to it! 12 O glorious trumpet of Christian warfare which, inviting by its sweet notes all without distinction to life, leaves those who, for want of obedience, cannot be roused to salvation, to meet their death for want of excuse! 13 The celebration of this mystery with its transferring of the vessels, its singing of hymns, and its escorting of the people, resembled, in my opinion, a huge sieve, through which the congregation of the Roman people was sifted like a great pile of grain; for through all the apertures of the hiding places in the entire circuit of the City the living kernels flowed forth. It was a question whether it was the occasion or the truth that stirred them. 14 All, however, that believed in the present salvation were received as if from the granary of the Lord's preparation, but the rest, like dung and straw, were left to be destroyed and burned, since either their unbelief or disobedience had already been judged. Who can ponder these things with sufficient wonder; who can proclaim them with befitting praise?  

15 The third day after they had entered the City, the barbarians departed of their own accord. They had, it is true, burned a certain number of buildings, but even this fire was not so great as that which had been caused by accident in the seven hundredth year of Rome. 16 Indeed, if I review the conflagration produced during the spectacles of Nero, her own emperor, this later fire, brought on by the anger of the conqueror, will surely bear no comparison with the former, which was kindled by the wantonness of the princeps. 17 Nor do I need in a comparison of this sort to mention the Gauls, who, after burning and sacking the City, camped upon her ashes for almost an entire year. 18 Moreover, to remove all doubt that the enemy were permitted to act in this manner in order to chastise the proud, wanton, and blasphemous City, it may be pointed out that her most magnificent sites, which the Goths were unable to set on fire, were destroyed at this time by lightning.  

[40] L   It was in the one thousand one hundred and sixty-fourth year of the City that Alaric stormed Rome. Although the memory of the event is still fresh, anyone who saw the numbers of the Romans themselves and listened to their talk would think that "nothing had happened," as they themselves admit, unless perhaps he were to notice some charred ruins still remaining. 2 When the City was stormed, Placidia, the daughter of the princely Theodosius and sister of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius, was captured and taken to wife by Athaulf, a kinsman of Alaric, as if she had been a hostage given by Rome as a special pledge, according to divine decree; thus, through her alliance with the powerful barbarian king, Placidia did much to benefit the state.  

3 Meanwhile, two years before the taking of Rome, the nations that had been stirred up by Stilicho, as I have said, that is, the Alans, Suebi, Vandals as well as many others with them, overwhelmed the Franks, crossed the Rhine, invaded Gaul, and advanced in their onward rush as far as the Pyrenees. Checked for the time being by this barrier, they poured back over the neighbouring provinces. 4 While they were roaming wildly through Gaul, Gratian, a townsman of Britain, was set up in that island as a usurper. He was later slain and in his place Constantine, a man from the lowest ranks of the soldiery, was chosen simply from confidence inspired by his name and without any other qualifications to recommend him. As soon as he had seized the imperial dignity, he crossed over into Gaul where, repeatedly tricked by the deceptive alliances of the barbarians, he did much harm to the state. 5 He sent magistrates {iudices} into Spain where they were obediently received by the provinces. Thereupon two brothers named Didymus and Verinianus, who were young, noble, and wealthy, undertook not only to seize the power of the usurper, but to protect themselves and their country for the lawful emperor against both the usurper and the barbarians. The order of events made this clear; 6 for every usurper swiftly matures his plans for power before he secretly seizes and publicly establishes it. Success lies in being seen with the diadem and the purple before being found out. These men, on the contrary, spent a long time merely in gathering the slaves from their own estates and in supporting them out of their private incomes. Taking no pains to conceal their purpose, they proceeded to the passes of the Pyrenees without alarming anyone.  

7 To oppose them, Constantine sent into Spain his son Constans, who, shameful to say, had been transformed from a monk into a Caesar. With him Constantine sent certain barbarians, who had at one time been received as allies and drawn into military service, and who were called Honoriaci. They were the cause of the first misfortune that befell Spain. 8 After killing the brothers who were trying to defend the Pyrenean Alps with their private forces, these barbarians received permission to plunder the plains of Pallantia as a reward for their victory. Later, after the removal of the faithful and efficient peasant guard, they were entrusted with the defence of the mountains just mentioned and their passes. 9 These Honoriaci, having had a taste of plunder and being allured by its abundance, planned to secure both freedom from punishment for their crimes and a wider scope for their wickedness. Therefore they betrayed their watch over the Pyrenees, left the passes open, and so loosed upon the provinces of Spain all the nations that were wandering through Gaul. They themselves even joined the latter. 10 After engaging for some time in bloody raids and inflicting serious damage upon people and property (actions which they themselves now regret) they cast lots, divided their holdings, and settled down where they are in possession to this day.  

[41] L   There would be ample opportunity now for me to speak about these things if it were not that, according to all men, the secret voice of conscience speaks in the soul of each and every man. 2 Spain has been invaded and has suffered slaughter and devastation, but this is nothing new. During the last two years, while the sword of the enemy raged, she endured no harsher treatment from the barbarians than that which she had formerly suffered under the Romans for two hundred years, or than that which she experienced when ravaged for almost twelve years by the Germans in the reign of the emperor Gallienus. 3 Nevertheless, if a man knows himself, his acts, and his own thoughts, and fears the judgments of God, would he not admit that all his sufferings are just and even insignificant? Or, if he does not know himself and does not fear God, how can he maintain that his sufferings are not just and insignificant? 4 In the light of these truths, God's mercy brought about the result with the same compassion with which it had formerly made the prediction, for in accordance with His incessant warning in His Gospel, "When they shall persecute you in one city, flee into another" { Matt. 10.23 }, whoever wished to go out and depart, found mercenaries, helpers, and defenders in the barbarians themselves. 5 At that time they were voluntarily offering this help; and though they could have killed everybody and carried off everything, they demanded only a trifling payment as a fee for their services and for the transportation of loads. Many persons indeed did take this course. 6 But those who did not believe the Gospel of God, being obstinate, doubly obstinate if they had not even listened to it, did not flee the coming wrath and were justly overtaken and overwhelmed by a sudden attack of God's anger. 7 Nevertheless, soon afterwards, the barbarians came to detest their swords, betook themselves to the plough, and are affectionately treating the rest of the Romans as comrades and friends, so that now among them there may be found some Romans who, living with the barbarians, prefer freedom with poverty to tribute-paying with anxiety among their own people.  

8 Yet if the barbarians had been let loose upon the Roman lands simply because the churches of Christ throughout the East and the West were filled with Huns, Suebi, Vandals, and Burgundians, and with believers belonging to various and innumerable races, it would seem that the mercy of God ought to be praised and glorified, in that so many nations would be receiving, even at the cost of our own weakening, a knowledge of the truth which they could never have had but for this opportunity. 9 For how does it harm a Christian who is longing for eternal life to be withdrawn from this world at any time or by any means? On the other hand, what gain is it to a pagan who, though living among Christians, is hardened against faith, if he drag out his days a little longer, since he whose conversion is hopeless is destined at last to die?  

10 Because the judgments of God are inscrutable and we can neither know them all nor explain those we know, let me state briefly that the rebuke of our Judge and God, in whatever form it may take, is justly undergone by those who know and likewise by those who know not.  

[42] L   In the one thousand one hundred and sixty-fifth year of the City, the emperor Honorius, seeing that nothing could be done against the barbarians when so many usurpers were opposed to him, ordered that the usurpers themselves should first be destroyed. Count Constantius was entrusted with the command of this campaign. 2 The state then finally realised what benefit it derived from having a Roman general at last and what ruinous oppression it had been enduring for years from its subjection to barbarian counts. 3 Count Constantius then advanced with his army into Gaul and at the city of Arelate besieged, captured, and slew the emperor Constantine.  

4 To take up at this point the succession of usurpers as briefly as possible, Constans, the son of Constantine, was killed at Vienna by Gerontius, his count, a worthless rather than an upright man, who replaced Constans by a certain Maximus. Gerontius himself, however, was killed by his own soldiers. 5 Maximus, stripped of the purple and abandoned by the troops of Gaul, which were transferred to Africa and then recalled to Italy, is now a needy exile living among the barbarians in Spain. 6 Later the tyranny set up by Jovinus, a man of high rank in Gaul, fell as soon as it had been established. His brother Sebastian chose to die as a usurper, for he was slain as he took office. 7 What shall I say of the unlucky Attalus, for whom it was an honour to be slain among the usurpers, and a blessing to die? Alaric, who made, unmade, remade, and again unmade this emperor, doing all this in almost less time than it takes to tell, laughed at the farce and looked on at the imperial comedy. 8 Nor is it strange that this pomp was rightly used to mock the wretched man, when his shadowy consul Tertullus dared to say in the Senate House: "I shall speak to you, conscript fathers, as consul and pontifex, holding one of these offices and hoping for the other." But he put his hope in one who had no hope, and in any case he was surely accursed because he had placed his hope in man. 9 Attalus, merely a figurehead of sovereignty, was taken by the Goths into Spain; and, having departed from there in a ship for some unknown destination, he was captured at sea, brought to Count Constantius, and displayed before the emperor Honorius. His hand was cut off, but he was allowed to live.  

10 Meanwhile Heraclian, who had been appointed count of Africa while Attalus was exercising his shadowy rule  and who had vigorously defended Africa against the magistrates sent by the latter, obtained the consulship. 11 Puffed up with pride at this honour, he married his daughter to Sabinus, his chamberlain {domesticus}, a man of keen intelligence and skilful enterprise, who might have been called wise if only he had devoted his mental powers to quiet pursuits. Heraclian sided with him when Sabinus was suspected of dangerous designs. 12 After withholding the African grain supply for some time contrary to law, Heraclian set sail in person for Rome, accompanied by a huge fleet, the size of which was unheard of, at least in our times. 13 He is said to have had thirty-seven hundred ships, a number that was not possessed, according to the histories, even by Xerxes, the famous king of the Persians or by Alexander the Great, or by any other ruler. 14 No sooner had he disembarked with his troops on his way to the capital than he became terrified in an encounter with Count Marinus and took to flight. Seizing a ship, he returned alone to Carthage and was immediately killed by a band of soldiers. His son-in-law Sabinus fled to Constantinople, but was brought back some time afterward and condemned to exile.  

15 This entire series of open usurpers or disobedient generals was, as I have said, overcome by the exceptional piety and good fortune of the emperor Honorius and by the great diligence and quickness of Constantius. 16 Their success was deserved because in those days, by the order of Honorius and the aid of Constantius, peace and unity were restored to the Catholic Church throughout Africa, and the Body of Christ, which we ourselves constitute, was healed by the closing of the schism. The execution of the blessed command was entrusted to the tribune Marcellinus, a man of exceptional common sense and diligence and an eager follower of all good studies. 17 He was, however, put to death at Carthage by Count Marinus, the latter being incited by jealousy or bribed with gold, it is uncertain which. Marinus was at once recalled from Africa, reduced to the status of a private citizen, and turned over to punishment or to the penitence of his own conscience.  

[43] L   In the one thousand one hundred and sixty-eighth year of the City, Count Constantius, who was occupying the city of Arelate in Gaul, drove the Goths from Narbo, and by his vigorous actions forced them into Spain, especially by forbidding and completely cutting off the passage of ships and the importation of foreign merchandise. 2 The Gothic peoples at that time were under the rule of King Athaulf, who, after the capture of Rome and the death of Alaric_I Alaric, had succeeded him on the throne and had taken to wife, as I said, Placidia, the captive sister of the Emperor. 3 This ruler, an earnest seeker after peace, as was often claimed and finally shown by his death, preferred to fight loyally for the emperor Honorius and to employ the forces of the Goths for the defence of the Roman state. 4 For I have myself, while at the town of Bethlehem in Palestine, heard a certain man of Narbo, who had served with distinction under Theodosius and who also was a pious, sensible, and serious person, tell the most blessed priest Jerome that he himself had been a very intimate friend of Athaulf at Narbo, and that he had often heard what the latter, when in good spirits, health, and temper, was accustomed to answer in reply to questions. 5 It seems that at first he ardently desired to blot out the Roman name and to make all the Roman territory a Gothic empire in fact as well as in name, so that, to use the popular expressions, Gothia should take the place of Romania, and he, Athaulf, should become all that Caesar Augustus once had been. 6 Having discovered from long experience that the Goths, because of their unbridled barbarism, were utterly incapable of obeying laws, and yet believing that the state ought not to be deprived of laws without which a state is not properly a state, he chose to seek for himself at least the glory of restoring and increasing the renown of the Roman name by the power of the Goths, wishing to be looked upon by posterity as the restorer of the Roman Empire, since he could not be its transformer. 7 On this account he strove to refrain from war and to promote peace. He was helped especially by his wife, Placidia, who was a woman of the keenest intelligence and of exceptional piety; by her persuasion and advice he was guided in all measures leading to good government. 8 While he was thus eagerly occupied in seeking and offering peace, he was slain at the city of Barcinona in Spain by the treachery, it is said, of his own men.  

9 After him Segeric was proclaimed king by the Goths, and, although he likewise was inclined towards peace by the will of God, he too was nevertheless killed by his own men.  

10 Thereupon Vallia succeeded to the kingdom, having been chosen by the Goths to break the peace, but appointed by God to establish it. 11 He was especially terrified by God's judgment, because a large band of Goths, provided with arms and ships, had tried to cross into Africa a year before but had been caught in a storm within twelve miles of the Strait of Gades and had perished miserably. 12 He also remembered that disaster suffered under Alaric when the Goths had attempted to cross into Sicily but were shipwrecked and drowned within sight of their comrades. These fears caused him to conclude a very favourable peace with the emperor Honorius giving hostages of the highest rank; he restored Placidia, whom he had treated with decency and respect, to her imperial brother. 13 To ensure the security of Rome he risked his own life by taking over the warfare against the other tribes that had settled in Spain and subduing them for the Romans. 14 However, the other kings, those of the Alans, the Vandals, and the Suebi, had made a bargain with us on the same terms, sending this message to the emperor Honorius: "Do you be at peace with us all and receive hostages of all; we struggle with one another, we perish to our own loss, but we conquer for you, indeed with permanent gain to your state, if we should both perish." 15 Who would believe these things if they were not proven by the facts? Thus it is that we are informed by frequent and trustworthy messages that warfare among the barbarian nations is now being carried on daily in Spain and that much blood is being shed on both sides; especially is it reported that Vallia, the king of the Goths, is intent upon bringing about peace. 16 In view of these things I am ready to allow Christian times to be blamed as much as you please, if you can only point to any equally fortunate period from the foundation of the world to the present day. 17 My description, I think, has shown not more by words than by my guiding finger, that countless wars have been stilled, many usurpers destroyed, and the most savage tribes checked, confined, incorporated, or annihilated with little bloodshed, no real struggle, and almost without loss. 18 It remains for our detractors to repent of their endeavours, to blush on seeing the truth, and to believe, to fear, to love, and to follow the one true God, who can do all things and all of whose acts (even those that they have thought evil) they have found to be good.  

19 I have set forth with the help of Christ and according to your bidding, most blessed father Augustine, the passions and the punishments of sinful men, the tribulations of the world, and the judgments of God, from the Creation to the present day, a period of five thousand six hundred and eighteen years, as briefly and as simply as I could, but separating Christian times from the former confusion of unbelief because of the more present grace of Christ. 20 Thus I now enjoy the sure reward of my obedience, the only reward that I have a right to enjoy; as for the quality of my little books, you who asked for this record will be responsible for them. If you publish them, they must be regarded favourably by you; if you destroy them, they must be regarded unfavourably.

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