Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Breviarium of Festus

The first post should doubtless be short. 6000 words, short? In its way. Festus' Breviarium, dedicated to the emperor Valens in 370, has not previously been translated into English, as far as I know. I shall hope to follow it up with comments on individual points. The text translated is Arnaud-Lindet's Bude, for the most part.

Disclaimer: this is a tentative translation, undertaken at speed and intended as a guide to the content of the breviary. I have aimed to be literal not elegant. For example, I have adopted the late Roman usage of referring to countries which the Romans divided up into provinces in the plural (the Spains, the Mauritanias). Festus’ brevity led him to make some embarrassing mistakes, but not all the mistakes are his by any means. I have not had time to think carefully about all the textual problems. The existing editions do not offer a very translatable text, and it would be misleading to offer something smoother.

1.1. To become brief Your Clemency advises; I shall gladly obey the advice, as one who lacks the capacity to elaborate expansively; and following the practice of accountants, who express huge sums with abbreviated figures, I shall outline and not elaborate history. 2. So receive a work such as is totted up more briefly than words briefly spoken: so that you seem, glorious prince, not so much to read of the years and age [n.1] of the republic and the deeds of past time, as to count them.

2.1. From the foundation of the city, then, up to the rise of Your Perpetuities, by which the rule of brothers became Rome’s lot with happier outcome, there are counted 1117 years. So under the kings are counted 243 years, under the consuls 467 years, under the emperors 407 years. 2. There reigned at Rome for 243 years kings seven in number. Romulus reigned 37 years, the senators, five days each, for one year, Numa Pompilius reigned 43 years; Tullus Hostilius reigned 32 years, Ancus Martius reigned 24 years; Priscus Tarquinius reigned 38 years; Servius Tullius reigned 44 years; Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was driven from the kingship in the 24th year. 3. The consuls from Brutus and Publicola down to Pansa and Hirtius were 916 [or 917?] in number, except those who by some chance were substitutes for the same year, over 467 years. For in nine year there were not consuls at Rome; in two years under the decemvirs, in three years under the military tribunes, and Rome was without magistrates for four years. 4. The emperors from Octavian Caesar Augustus down to Jovian were 43 in number over 407 years.

3.1. To what extent Rome advanced under these three types of empire (that is, royal, consular, imperial) I shall briefly make known. Under the seven kings over 342 years, the Roman Empire did not advance further than Portus and Ostia, within the eighteenth milestone from the gates of the city of Rome, still small as she was and founded by shepherds, while neighbouring cities pressed around. 2. Under the consuls, among whom there were also occasionally dictators, over a total period of 467 years Italy up to beyond the Po was occupied, Africa was subdued, the Spains were added, the Gauls and Britains were made tributary. Out of Illyricum, the Histrians, Libyrnians and Dalmatians were tamed; the crossing to Achaea was made; the Macedonians were subdued; war was waged on the Dardanians, Moesians and Thracians, and as far as the Danube was attained. 3. In Asia the Romans first set their feet when Antiochus was expelled, when Mithridates was vanquished Pontus, his kingdom, was occupied; lesser Armenia, which the same man had held, was taken with arms; a Roman army reached into Mesopotamia; a treaty was entered with the Parthians; war was made on the Carduenians and Saracens and Arabs; all Judaea was vanquished; Cilicia, the Syrias came into the power of the Roman people; the kings of Egypt had been made federates. 4. Under the emperors over 407 years, when many emperors ruled and the republic’s Fortune was variable, there were added to the Roman world the Maritime Alps, the Cottian Alps, the Rhaetias, Noricums, [n.2] Pannonias and Moesias and the whole shore of the Danube was turned into provinces. [n.3] All of Pontus, Armenia minor, the whole of Oriens with Mesopotamia, Assyria, Arabia and Egypt passed beneath the laws of the Roman Empire.

4.1. And the order in which the Roman state acquired the individual provinces is shown below. Sicily was made the first of the provinces. It was obtained by Marcellus the consul, when Hiero king of the Sicilians was vanquished. It was then ruled by Praetors, afterwards was entrusted to praesides: now it’s governed by consulares. 2. Sardinia and Corsica Metellus conquered; he triumphed over the Sardinians – the Sardinians often restarted the war. The government of these provinces had been joined, afterwards they had their own praetors, now they’re individually ruled by praesides. 3. Roman arms moved across to Africa for the defence of the Sicilians. Three times Africa returned to war; at the last, when Carthage had been destroyed by Africanus Scipio, it was made a province, and now is under proconsuls. 4. Numidia used to be held by friendly kings, but against Jugurtha war was declared, because he’d killed Adherbal and Hiempsal, the sons of King Micipsa; and when he had been ground down by Metellus, and captured by Marius, Numidia came within the power of the Roman people. 5. The Mauritanias were obtained by Bocchus. But when all Africa had been subdued, King Juba ruled the Mauri, and having been conquered in the course of civil war by Augustus Caesar he chose by his own wish to kill himself. 6. So the Mauritanias began to be ours and throughout all Africa six provinces were made: Africa herself, where Carthage is, is proconsular, Numidia is consular, Byzacium is consular, Tripolis and the two Mauritanias (i.e. Sitifensis and Caesariensis) are under praesides.

5.1. The Spaniards we first helped against the Africans through Scipio. We acquired the Lusitanians when they made war again in Spain, thanks to Decimus Brutus, and we reached as far as the sea of Ocean at Cadiz. Afterwards Sylla was sent against the restless Spaniards and defeated them. 2. The Celtiberians in Spain often restarted hostilities, but the younger Scipio was sent and they were subdued with the sack of Numantia. Almost all the Spains, as a result of the war with Sertorius, were taken under jurisdiction through Metellus and Pompeius. Afterwards, his command having been prorogued for five years, they were tamed by Pompeius. At the last, also the Cantabrians and Astures, who were relying on the mountains for resistance, were destroyed by Octavian Caesar Augustus. 3. And throughout all the Spains there are now six provinces: Tarraconensis, Carthaginensis, Lusitania, Gallaecia, Baetica; across the strait too there is a province of the Spains on African soil, which is called Tingitana Mauritania. Of these Baetica and Lusitania are consular, the rest are under praesides.

6.1. With the Gauls the Roman people had the gravest wars. The Gauls even used to occupy that part of Italy, in which Milan is now, as far as the river Rubicon; they were confident in their strength to such an extent that they made for Rome herself in war; after the slaughter of Roman armies they entered the walls of the city; they besieged the Capitolium, to whose citadel six hundred most noble senators had fled; these ransomed themselves from the siege with a thousand pounds of gold. Afterwards as the Gauls returned in victory, Camillus, who was in exile, defeated them with a host he had raised in the countryside; he took back the gold and the statues which the Gauls had captured. 2. With the Gauls many consuls, praetors and dictators engaged with various results. Marius expelled the Gauls from Italy, and having surmounted the Alps he fought successfully against them. With ten legions, which had three thousand Italian soldiers each, Gaius Caesar over nine years subdued the Gauls from the Alps up to the Rhine, engaged with the barbarians across the Rhine, crossed into Britain, in the tenth year made the Gauls and the Britains tributary. 3. There are in Gaul, Aquitaine, and the Britains eighteen provinces: the Maritime Alps, the province of Vienne, Narbonensis, Novempopulana, the two Aquitaines, the Graian Alps, Maxima Sequanorum, two Germanies, two Belgiums, two Ludgunenses; in Britain, Maxima Caesariensis, Flavia Caesariensis, first Britain, second Britain.

7.1. We attacked Illyricum gradually from the sea-coast. The consul Laevinus first entered the Adriatic and Ionian Sea and took the cities on the shore. Crete was made a province by the proconsul Metellus, who was called Creticus. 2. When the Greeks fled into our protection we reached Achaia. The Athenians sought our help against Philip, king of the Macedonians. Achaia was long free under our friendships; at the last, when the emissaries of the Romans had been violated at Corinth, through the proconsul Lucius Mummius Corinth was captured and all Achaia was taken. The Epirotes, who at one time had even presumed with King Pyrrhus to cross to Italy, were vanquished and the Thessalians, together with the regions of the Achivi and Macedonians joined us. 3. Macedonia three times took up arms again, under Philip, under Perses, under Pseudophilip. Flamininus defeated Philip, Paulus Perses, Metellus Pseudophilip, and by their triumphs Macedonia was annexed to the Roman people. 4. The Illyrians, who helped the Macedonians, we conquered on the same occasion through the praetor Lucius Anicius, and accepted their surrender together with Gentius their king. The proconsul Curio subdued the Dardanians and Moesiaci, and became the first Roman commander to reach as far as the Danube. 5. Under Julius Octavianus Caesar Augustus a path was made across the Julian Alps. When all the Alpine peoples were conquered, the provinces of the Noricums joined. When Batho king of the Pannonians had been subdued, the Pannonias came under our sway. When the Amantini had been laid low between the Savus and Dravus, the Savian region and the country of the Second Pannonians were taken.

8.1. The Marcomanni and the Quadi were driven from the country of Valeria, between the Danube and the Dravus, and a boundary between the Romans and barbarians was set up, running from Augsburg through Noricum, the Pannonias and Moesia. 2. Trajan conquered the Dacians under King Decebalus and made Dacia across the Danube on the land of Barbaria a province, which had a circumference of ten thousand miles, but it was lost under the emperor Gallienus, and through Aurelian, the Romans were removed thence and two Dacias were created in the regions of Moesia and Dardania. 3. Illyricus [n.4] has 18 provinces: two of the Noricums, two of the Pannonias, Valeria, Savia, Dalmatia, Moesia, two of the Dacias, Dardania, and in the Macedonian diocese there are seven provinces: Macedonia, Thessaly, Achaia, two Epiruses, Praevalis, Crete.

9.1. On the occasion of the Macedonian war, the crossing was made into the Thraces. The Thracians were the most savage of all races. In the regions of the Thracians the Scordisci also lived, equal in cruelty and cunning. Many things of a fabulous nature are said about the savagery of the aforementioned, that they sometimes appeased their gods with sacrifices of captives, that they were wont to drink human blood in skulls. Often through them the Roman army was cut down. 2. Marcus Didius stopped the wandering Tracians, Marcus Drusus kept them within their own borders, Minucius laid them waste in the ice of the river Hebrus. Through the proconsul Appius Claudius those who inhabited Rhodopa were vanquished. The Roman fleet previously took the coastal cities of Europe. 3. Marcus Lucullus was the first to enter into conflict with the Bessi in the Thraces. He conquered Thrace herself, the heartland of the race; he subdued the Haemimontani; Eumolpias (now called Philippopolis) and Uscumada (recently named Hadrianople) he reduced to our sway; he captured Cabyle; he occupied the cities situated on the Black Sea: Apollonia, Calathus, Parthenopolis, Tomi, Hister. Reaching as far as the Danube he showed Roman arms to the Scythians. 4. So for the republic’s jurisdiction six provinces of the Thraces were acquired: Thrace, Haemimontus, Moesia inferior, Scythia, Rhodopa, Europa. In Europa the second citadel of the Roman world is now established, Constantinople.

10.1. Now I shall unfold the areas of the dawn, and the whole East and the provinces set beneath the neighbouring sun, and which begetters laid the way for your rule, so that the enthusiasm which your clemency has for increasing the same may be spurred on all the more. 2. Asia became known to the Romans through the alliance of King Attalus, and we possess it by hereditary right, left to us in Attalus’ will. But so that the Roman people should have nothing which was not achieved through might, it was defended by our arms from Antiochus, the great king of the Syrians. On the same occasion, Lydia too, ancient home of kingdoms, Caria, Hellespont and the Phrygias came within the power of the Roman people under joint jurisdiction. 3. With the Rhodians and peoples of the islands, at first most hostile, we contended; afterwards we found the same people most faithful helpers. So Rhodes and the islands first were free, afterwards arrived at the habit of obedience at the clement invitation of the Romans and under Vespasian the province of the Islands was created.

11.1. Pamphylia, Lycia and Pisidia were taken by Servilius acting as proconsul in the war against the pirates. 2. Bithynia we obtained from the will of the deceased King Nicomedes. 3. Gallograecia, that is Galatia (indeed the Galatians come from the Gauls, as the name echoes), we invaded for having brought help to Antiochus against the Romans. Mummius acting as proconsul pursued the Galatians and as they fled partly on to Mount Olympus, partly on to Mount Magaba (now called Modiacus), he pushed them down from the heights on to the plains, and having defeated them brought them into a perpetual peace. Afterwards the tetrarch Deiotarus held Galatia with our consent. At the last, under Octavian Caesar Augustus Galatia was brought into the form of a province and Lollius first governed it as a pro-praetor. 4. The Cappadocians first sought our alliance under King Ariathes and afterwards Ariobarzanes king of the Cappadocians was expelled by Mithradates and restored with Roman arms. The Cappadocians were always among our helpers and so honoured Roman greatness that in honour of Augustus Caesar Mazaca, the greatest city of Cappadocia, was named Caesarea. Finally under the emperor Claudius Caesar, when Archaelaus king of the Cappadocians had come to Rome and after lengthy detention there died, Cappadocia moved to the form of a province. 5. Pontus took the condition of province through Pompeius, when the Pontic king, Mithridates, had been defeated. Paphlagonia was held by King Pylaemenes, a friend of the Roman people. Often driven from it, he was restored to kingship by us, and when he died the status of province was imposed on the Paphlagonians.

12.1. How Roman possession spread beyond the ridges of Mount Taurus will be shown, keeping to the geographical rather than chronological order which follows. Antiochus, most powerful king of Syria, brought fearsome war on the Roman people. He had three hundred thousand armed men; he even drew up his column with scythed chariots and elephants; he was vanquished by the consul Scipio, brother of Scipio Africanus, in Asia at Magnesia, and when peace was agreed he was allowed to reign within Taurus. His sons kept the kingdom, under the clientship of the Roman people; and when they died we took power in the provinces of the Syrias. 2. The Cilicians and Isaurians, who had allied themselves with pirates and marine brigands, were subdued by Servilius who had been sent as proconsul for the war on brigands; he first established a road over Mount Taurus. And he triumphed over the Cilicians and Isaurians and was surnamed Isauricus.

13.1. Cyprus, well-known for her wealth, attracted the Roman people in their poverty into occupying her. A federate king ruled her, but so great was the treasury’s penury and so mighty the rumours of Cypriot wealth that a law was passed and Cyprus ordered to be confiscated. When this news was reported the Cypriot king took poison, so he would lose his life before his riches. Cato transported the wealth of Cyprus to Rome in boats. So we obtained sway over that island more greedily than justly. 2. Cyrene with the other cities of Libya Pentapolis we received by the generosity of the elder Ptolemy. We acquired Libya from the final wishes of King Appion. 3. All Egypt had been governed by friendly kings, but when Cleopatra was vanquished along with Antonius, it took the form of a province, in the times of Octavian Caesar Augustus; and it was Cornelius Gallus who first governed as a Roman judge among the Alexandrians.

14.1. It was through the area of the Armenias that Roman arms were first sent across the Taurus under Lucius Lucullus. The Phylarchs of the Saracens surrendered beaten in Osrhoene. In Mesopotamia, Nisibis was captured by the same Lucullus. 2. Afterwards, through Pompeius, the same places were taken by arms. The Syrias and Phoenice were captured in war from Tigranes, king of the Armenians. The Arabs and Jews were defeated in Palestine. 3. At the last, under the principate of Trajan the diadem was taken from the king of greater Armenia, and through Trajan Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria and Arabia were made provinces and the Eastern frontier was established beyond the bank of the Tigris. But Hadrian who succeeded Trajan, envious of Trajan’s glory, voluntarily returned Armenia, Mesopotamia and Assyria and desired the Euphrates to stand midway between the Persians and Romans. 4. But later under the two Antonines, Marcus and Verus, and Severus Pertinax and other Roman princes, who fought against the Parthians with various outcomes, Mesopotamia was four times lost, four times recovered, 5. and in the times of Diocletian, the Romans had been defeated in the first engagement, but in the second battle King Narseus was overcome, his wife and daughters captured and guarded with the utmost protection of their honour; when peace was made, Mesopotamia was restored and the frontier redrawn beyond the bank of the Tigris, so that we acquired sway over five peoples established beyond the Tigris. This treaty agreement was kept and endured up to the time of the late emperor Constantius.

15.1. I know now, famous prince, where your attention is heading. You are asking, of course, how often the arms of Babylonia and the Romans have clashed, and with what changed of fortune the pilum and the arrow have been matched. I’ll briefly count out the results of the wars. You will find that, from their trickery, the enemy have rejoiced in a few cases, but you will approve the fact that by their true virtue the Romans have always ended up the winners. 2. It was first Lucius Sylla as proconsul, that Arsaces king of the Parthians sent an embassy which asked and obtained the friendships of the Roman people. Lucius Lucullus pursued Mithridates, stripped of the kingship of Pontus, to Armenia. The Armenian king, Tigranes, who had seven thousand clibanarii and one hundred and twenty thousand archers, was vanquished by Lucullus with eighteen thousand Romans. 3. He stormed Tigranocerta, the greatest city of Armenia. He took Madena, a wealthy region of Armenia; he descended via Melitene to Mesopotamia; he captured Nisibis alongwith the king’s brother. When he was ready to march on the Persians, his successor replaced him.

16.1. Gnaeus Pompeius, known for good fortune, was sent to the Mithridatic war, and, attacking Mithridates in lesser Armenia in a night battle, defeated him, and, with two and forty thousand of the enemy slain, he took his camp. Mithridates fled with his wife and two companions to the Bosphorus: there despairing of his situation he drank poison and when the strength of the poison had little effect, got a soldier of his to run him through with his sword. 2. Pompeius pursued Mithridates’ helper Tigranes king of Armenia: the man gave himself up to him at Artaxata, offering up his diadem. Mesopotamia, the Syrias and a certain part of Phoenice were taken from him; and he was allowed to reign within greater Armenia. 3. The same Pompeius set up Aristarchus as king of the Bosphorians and Colchians; he fought with the Albani; to Orhodes king of the Albani he granted peace after thrice defeating him; he received the surrender of Hiberia together with King Artaces; he vanquished the Saracens and Arabs; Judaea having been captured, he took Jerusalem; he struck a treaty with the Persians. On his way back, at Antioch, he sanctified the wood of Daphne with an additional grove, delighted by the loveliness of the place and the abundance of the waters.

17.1. The consul Marcus Crassus was sent against the Parthians when they started war again. Crassus, when a legation was sent from the Persians and a request made for peace, said he would give his answer at Ctesiphon. At Zeugma he crossed the Euphrates and guided by a certain defector Mazarus he descended to an unknown and deserted part of the plains. There, with columns of archers flying around him on all sides under Silates and Surena the royal Prefects, the army was surrounded and overwhelmed by the mass of weapons. 2. Crassus himself, though he could almost have been taken alive when enticed to a parley, had escaped as the tribunes fought back, and trying to flee was killed. His head, cut off together with his right hand, was brought to the king, and treated as an object of scorn, to the extent that liquified gold was poured into his jaws. This was done so that, since burning with desire for plunder he’d refused to grant the king peace when asked, the flame of gold might burn his remains too when dead. 3. Lucius Cassius, Crassus’ quaestor, a vigorous man, collected the remains of his scattered army. He fought three times most impressively against the Persians as they broke into Syria and laid them waste, throwing them back over the Euphrates.

18.1. Led by Labienus, who had been a member of the Pompeian faction and had fled to the Persians from defeat, the Parthians broke into Syria and occupied the whole province. Publius Ventidius Bassus, meeting the Persians who had invaded Syria under Labienus’ leadership at Mount Capros, put them to flight with only a few men, killed Labienus, chased the Persians and laid them low to the point of annihilation. In this battle he killed Pacorus, the king’s son, on the same day that Crassus had been killed, lest ever the death of a Roman leader should be left unavenged. Ventidius was the first to triumph over the Persians. 2. Marcus Antonius entered Media (now called Madena) and brought war on the Parthians, and in the first battles vanquished them. But afterwards, with two legions lost, when he was pressed by hunger, sickness and storms, he scarcely got the army back through Armenia with the Persians on his heels; he was at moments struck with such terror that he begged to be killed by his sword-bearer, so as not to come alive into the power of the foe.

19.1. Under Octavian Caesar Augustus, Armenia plotted with the Parthians. Claudius Caesar, the grandson of Augustus, was sent with an army to the East. And when, in proportion to the greatness of the Roman name, he had easily suppressed everything, and the Armenians (who were stronger then) together with the Persians had surrendered to him, and following Pompeius’ practice Claudius Caesar was setting magistrates over the aforementioned peoples, a certain Donnes, whom Arsaces had set over the Persians, pretending a betrayal, offered him a book allegedly containing a list of treasuries. 2. While the Roman general read it carefully, he attacked Claudius with a knife and wounded him. The attacker was run through by the soldiers. Claudius returned to Syria because of the wound, and died. To make good such a daring crime the Persians then first gave hostages to Octavian Caesar Augustus and brought back the standards stolen under Crassus. Having pacified the tribes of the East, Augustus Caesar was also the first to receive an embassy from the Indians.

20.1. Nero, the most shameful emperor endured by the Roman state, lost Armenia. At that time two Roman legions were sent under the yoke by the Persians and shamed their oaths, to the extreme disgrace of the Roman army. 2. Trajan, who after Augustus flexed the muscles of the Roman republic, took back Armenia from the Parthians, and, having taken the diadem of greater Armenia, he suppressed the kingship. He gave the Albani a king; he received the Hiberi, Bosphoriani and Colchians within the protection of Roman sway; he occupied the lands of the Osrhoenians and Arabs; he took the Cardueni and the Marcomdi; he captured and held Anthemusium, the best region of Persis, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Babylonia. 3. He advanced as far as the borders of India, after Alexander. He created a fleet in the Red Sea. He made provinces of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, which, situated between the Tigris and Euphrates, is made fertile by channels of irrigation like Egypt. 4. It is sure that Hadrian envied Trajan’s glory. He was his successor in empire and voluntarily recalling the armies he gave up Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and wished the Euphrates to stand midway between the Romans and the Persians.

21.1. The two Antonini, Marcus and Verus (that is, the father-in-law and son-in-law), joint Augusti, were the first to hold the empire of the world with equal power. But the Antoninus who was younger of the two set out on a Parthian expedition; he performed with good fortune many great and mighty deeds against the Persians; Seleucia, a city of Assyria, he captured with four hundred thousand of the enemy; with huge glory he triumphed over the Persians together with his father-in-law. 2. Severus, African in origin, a most fierce emperor, strenuously overcame the Parthians, destroyed the Aziabeni, took over the Arabs of the interior and made Arabia a province. Surnames were won for him from his victories, for he was surnamed Aziabenicus, Parthicus, Arabicus. 3. Antoninus, surnamed Caracalla, the son of the emperor Severus was preparing an expedition against the Persians when he died a natural death at Edessa in Osrhoene, and he was buried there.

22.1. Aurelius Alexander, as though reborn by some fate for the destruction of the Persian race, took up very young the helm of the Roman Empire. He gloriously vanquished the Persians’ most noble King Xerxes. This Alexander had as master of the books the jurisconsult Ulpian. He triumphed over the Persians at Rome with a spectacular procession. 2. Under Gordian, a prince fierce from the confidence of youth, the resurgent Parthians were crushed in vast battles. And while he returned victorious over Persia, by the deceit of Philip, who was his Praetorian Prefect, he was killed. The soldiers built a mound for him at the twentieth milestone from the camp which now stands at Circesium, and they lead back his funeral procession to Rome with the greatest attentions of veneration.

23.1. It is unpleasant to recount the fortune of Valerian, an ill-omened prince. He took up the empire with Gallienus, since the army made Valerian and the senate made Gallienus emperor. In Mesopotamia fighting against the Persians Valerian was overcome by Sapor, king of the Persians, and, having been captured, grew old in shameful servitude. 2. Under Gallienus, after Mesopotamia had been invaded, the Persians had begun to lay claim on Syria, had not (shaming to report) Odenathus, a councillor of Palmyra, gathered a band of Syrian countrymen and fiercely resisted; and after several times putting the Persians to flight he not only defended our frontier, but even (astonishing to report) penetrated as far as Ctesiphon as avenger of the Roman Empire.

24.1. To the emperor Aurelian’s glory Zenobia added, the wife of Odenathus. She, you see, following her husband’s death held the empire of the East under female sway. Aurelian defeated her, supported as she was by many thousands of clibanarii and archers, at Immae, not far from Antioch, and led her captive before his chariot in his triumph at Rome. 2. The emperor Carus’ victory over the Persians seemed excessively mighty to the supreme godhead; it must be thought to have led to the resentment of heavenly indignation. For Carus entered Persia and laid it waste as if nobody was resisting; he captured Coche and Ctesiphon, the most noble cities of the Persians. When, victorious over the whole race, he pitched his camp over the Tigris, he died struck by a thunderbolt.

25.1. Under Diocletian’s principate a victory procession over the Persians was known. In the first encounter, although he had fought fiercely with a few men against a countless host, Maximianus Caesar retreated beaten and was met with such displeasure by Diocletian, that he ran before his wagon for some miles dressed in the purple. 2. And then, though he barely obtained approval to make up his army from the Dacian border-troops and again seek the outcome of Mars, in greater Armenia he himself as general with two horsemen scouted out the enemy, and suddenly surprising the enemy camp with twenty five thousand soldiers, he attacked the countless columns of Persians and slew them to the point of annihilation. 3. The Persian king, Narseus, fled; his wife and daughters were captured and guarded with great respect for their chastity. For this admirable deed, the Persians admitted that the Romans were superior not only in arms but also in morals. They gave back Mesopotamia with the regions across the Tigris. The peace that was made endured to our own memory, useful to the republic.

26.1. Constantine, master of affairs, in the last period of his life prepared an expedition against the Persians. For his glory greater from pacifying tribes throughout the whole world, and from his recent victory over the Goths, he was falling on the Persians with all his columns. 2. At his coming the kingdoms of Babylon trembled so much that a legation of Persians was running to him in supplication, they promised to do his commands, and yet for the constant outbreaks, which they tried through the East under Constantius Caesar, they did not obtain forgiveness.

27.1. Constantius fought against the Persians with mixed and more difficult outcome. Besides the light skirmishes of excubantes on the border, there were fiercer contests of Mars nine times, through his generals seven times; he himself was present twice. In fact, at the battles of Sisara, Singara and the second battle of Singara (where Constantius was present), and Sicgara (also Constantian) and when Amida was captured, the republic took a serious wound under this prince. 2. And on three occasions Nisibis was besieged by the Persians, but the enemy was affected by greater loss on his own side while he besieged. But in the battle of Narasara, where Narseus was killed, we departed the better off. 3. However, in the night battle of Elia near Singara, when Constantius was present, the outcome of all the campaigns would have been balanced, if with the ground and the night unfavourable, the emperor had been able to call back soldiers, who had been whipped to a frenzy, from fighting at an inopportune time. 4. Although they were unconquered in strength, with supplies of water against their thirst unforeseen, and evening now coming on, they attacked the camp of the Persians and having broken the defences occupied it, and with the king having been put to flight, while resting from battle they were panting to find water, with torches held before them: they were overwhelmed by a cloud of arrows, since they themselves stupidly provided lights shining through the night so that they could be aimed at more accurately.

28.1. For Julian, a prince known for good fortune against external foes, moderation was lacking against the Persians. For he moved hostile standards against the Parthians with huge array, seeing he was the ruler of the whole world; he took a fleet prepared with supplies down the Euphrates. Vigorous in his outward journey, he received in surrender or took with his hand many towns and fortresses of the Persians. 2. When he had pitched his camp opposite Ctesiphon, on the bank of the Tigris and Euphrates (here joined), and had performed games on the plain during the day, to remove the enemy’s anxiety, in the middle of the night he suddenly placed soldiers in boats and transported them to the further shore. Struggling over steep ground, where the climb would have been difficult even by day and with nobody stopping them, they filled the Persians with sudden terror and, with the columns of the whole nation turned in flight, our soldiery would have entered the open gates of Ctesiphon victorious, had not the opportunity for plunder been greater than the concern for victory. 3. Having obtained such great glory, though he was warned by his companions about the return journey, he trusted more in his own purpose, and having burnt the ships, when led on by a defector who had presented himself for the purpose of deception, he pursued a short cut into Madaena, taking the right hand route on the far side of the Tigris with his soldiers’ flank exposed: he was wandering too carelessly along the column, when he was snatched from the view of his men by the dust which was aroused, struck through the groin as far as the base of the stomach, he was wounded. From losing too much blood, when despite his wounds he had restored the ranks of his men, he breathed out his hesitating soul, having talked at length to his followers.

29.1. Jovian took over an army superior in battle but confounded by the sudden death of its lost emperor. While supplies were short and a lengthier return journey threatened, the Persians, with frequent raids now from the van now from the rear, raiding also the flanks in the middle, slowed down the movement of the column; 2. when some days had been used up, there was such reverence for the Roman name that the Persians talked about a peace first and the army, finished by hunger, was allowed to be led back, when conditions (as never happened before) costly to the Roman republic were imposed, so that Nisibis and part of Mesopotamia was handed over. To these Jovian, inexperienced in empire, acquiesced, being more desirous of kingship than of glory.

30.1. Thenceforth with how great a voice should your deeds, unconquered prince, resound! I shall prepare myself for them though unequal to the task of speaking and weighed down by age. 2. Let only that good fortune remain, granted by God’s will and allowed by that friendly deity in whom you trust and to whom are entrusted, so that to this great victory over the Goths you may add the palm of peace in Babylon.

[1] annos ac aetatem vel sim, mss] annosam aetatem Arnaud-Lindet, maybe rightly.
[2] Norici B, Noricae other mss, Norica A.-L.
[3] provincias] some mss have -am.
[4] sic.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea. It's hard enough to find a text of Festus where I am, let alone a translation. Just one point - the links to endnotes don't seem to be working properly, when I click on them I get asked to sign into Blogger. But other than that, keep up the good work!

Gavin Kelly said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I have some up with the not-very-satisfactory answer of stopping them functioning as links - the reader just has to scroll to the bottom to see what the notes say. But I'll try to work out how to do it in due course.

Edward Lacey said...

Welcome to the blogosphere! I don't intend to detract from such a useful opening post, but you may be interested to know that a 2001 translation of Festus by Thomas M. Banchich and Jennifer A. Meka is online at De Imperatoribus Romanis. However, this was based on an 1886 text; and the Breviarium is not easy reading, so having a choice of translations available can only be a good thing.

(Apologies for the multiple posts; I couldn't seem to format my links correctly.)

Clifford said...

Great blog! You deserve lots of appreciation for your interest for classical languages