The Life of Probus


Historia Augusta


1

1

It is true — as Sallustius Crispus and the historians Marcus Cato and Gellius have put into their writings as a sort of maxim — that all the virtues of all men are as great as they have been made to appear by the genius of those who related their deeds.

2

Hence it was that Alexander the Great of Macedonia, as he stood at the tomb of Achilles, said with a mighty groan, "Happy are you, young man, in that you found such a herald of your virtues," making allusion to Homer, who made Achilles outstanding in the pursuit of virtue in proportion as he himself was outstanding in genius.

3

"But to what does all this apply," you may perhaps be inquiring, my dear Celsinus. It means that Probus, an emperor whose rule restored to perfect safety the east, the west, the south, and the north, indeed all parts of the world, is now, by reason of a lack of writers, almost unknown to us.

4

Perished — shame be upon us! — has the story of a man so great and such as is not to be found either in the Punic Wars or in the Gallic terror, not in the commotions of Pontus or the wiles of the Spaniard.

5

But I will not permit myself — I who at first sought out Aurelian alone, relating the story of his life to the best of my powers, and have since written of Tacitus and Florian also — to fail to rise to the deeds of Probus, purposing, should the length of my life suffice, to tell of all who remain as far as Maximian and Diocletian.

6

No fluency or elegance of style can I promise, but only the record of their deeds, which I will not suffer to die.


2

1

I have used, moreover — not to deceive in any respect your friendly interest which I hold most dear — chiefly the books from the Ulpian Library (in my time in the Baths of Diocletian) and likewise from the House of Tiberius, and I have used also the registers of the clerks of the Porphyry Portico and the transactions of the senate and of the people;

2

and since in collecting the deeds of so great a man I have received most aid from the journal of Turdulus Gallicanus, a most honourable and upright man, I ought not to leave unmentioned the kindness of this aged friend.

3

Who, pray, would know of Gnaeus Pompey, resplendent in the three triumphs that he won by his war against the pirates, his war against Sertorius, and his war against Mithradates, and exalted by the grandeur of his many achievements, had not Marcus Tullius and Titus Livius brought him into their works?

4

And as for Publius Scipio Africanus, or rather all the Scipios, whether called Lucius or Nasica, would they not lie hidden in darkness, had not historians, both famous and obscure, arisen to grace their deeds?

5

It would, indeed, be too long to enumerate all the cases which might be brought up by way of example of this sort of thing, even if I were silent.

6

I do but wish to call to witness that I have also written on a theme which anyone, if he so desire, may narrate more worthily in loftier utterance.

7

As for me, indeed, it has been my purpose, in relating the lives and times of the emperors, to imitate, not a Sallust, or a Livy, or a Tacitus, or a Trogus, or any other of the most eloquent writers, but rather Marius Maximus, Suetonius Tranquillus, Fabius Marcellinus, Gargilius Martialis, Julius Capitolinus, Aelius Lampridius, and the others who have handed down to memory these and other such details not so much with eloquence as with truthfulness.

8

For I am now an investigator — I cannot deny it — incited thereto by you, who, though you know much already, are desirous of learning much more besides.

9

And now, lest I speak at too great length concerning all that has to do with my plan, I will hasten on to an emperor great and illustrious, the like of whom our history has never known.


3

1

Probus was a native of Pannonia, of the city of Sirmium, his mother was of nobler birth than his father, his private fortune was modest, and his kindred unimportant. Both as commoner and as emperor he stood forth illustrious, famed for his virtues.

2

His father, so some have said in their writings, was a man named Maximus, who, after commanding in the ranks with honour and winning a tribuneship, died in Egypt, leaving a wife, a son, and a daughter.

3

Many aver that Probus was a relative of Claudius, that most excellent and venerated prince, but this, because it has been stated by only one of the Greek writers, we shall leave undiscussed.

4

This one thing I will say, however, which I remember reading in the journal, namely, that Probus was buried by a sister named Claudia.

5

As a youth Probus became so famed for his bodily strength that by approval of Valerian he received a tribuneship almost before his beard was grown.

6

There is still in existence a letter written by Valerian to Gallienus, in which he praises Probus, then still a youth, and holds him up for all to imitate.

7

From this it is clear that no man has ever in his maturity attained to the sum of the virtues except one who, trained in the nobler nursery of the virtues, had as a boy given some sign of distinction.


4

1

Valerian's letter:

"From Valerian the father to Gallienus the son, an Augustus to an Augustus. Following out the opinion which I have always held concerning Probus from his early youth, as well as that held by all good men, who say that he is a man worthy of his name, I have appointed him to a tribuneship, assigning six cohorts of Saracens and entrusting to him, besides, the Gallic irregulars along with that company of Persians which Artabassis the Syrian delivered over to us.

2

Now I beg of you, my dearest son, to hold this young man, whom I wish all the lads to imitate, in the high honour that his virtues and his services call for in view of what is owed him by reason of the brilliance of his mind."

3

Another letter about him, written to the prefect of the guard with an order for rations:

"From Valerian Augustus to Mulvius Gallicanus, prefect of the guard. You may perhaps wonder why it is that contrary to the ruling of the Deified Hadrian I have appointed as tribune a beardless youth. You will not, however, wonder much if you consider Probus;

4

he is a young man of probity indeed. For never, when I consider him myself, does aught suggest itself to me but his name, which, were it not his name already, he might well receive as a surname.

5

Therefore, since his fortune is but a modest one, that his rank may be enhanced by an additional remuneration, you will order him to be supplied with two red tunics, two Gallic cloaks provided with clasps, two under-tunics with bands of embroidery, a silver platter, polished to reflect the light, to weigh ten pounds, one hundred aurei of Antoninus, one thousand silver pieces of Aurelian, and ten thousand copper coins of Philip;

6

likewise for his daily rations, . . . pounds of beef, six pounds of pork, ten pounds of goat's meat, one fowl every second day, one pint of oil every second day, ten pints of old wine every day, and a sufficient quantity of bacon, biscuit, cheap wine, salt, greens, and firewood.

7

You will order, furthermore, that quarters be assigned to him as they are to the tribunes of the legions."


5

1

The foregoing details are attested by the letters. Now as to what I have been able to gather from the journal: Whereas during the Sarmatian war, while holding the rank of tribune, he had crossed the Danube and performed many brave exploits, he was formally presented in an assembly with four spears without points, two rampart-crowns, one civic crown, four white banners, two golden arm-bands, one golden collar, one sacrificial saucer weighing five pounds.

2

At this same time, indeed, he delivered out of the hands of the Quadi Valerius Flaccinus, a young man of noble birth and a kinsman of Valerian's, and it was for this reason that Valerian presented him with the civic crown.

3

The words of Valerian spoken before the assembly were: "Receive these rewards, Probus, from the commonwealth, receive this civic crown from a kinsman."

4

At this time, too, he added the Third Legion to his command, with a testimonial as follows.

5

The letter concerning the Third Legion:

"Your exploits, my dear Probus, are causing me to appear too tardy in assigning you larger forces, and yet I will assign them with haste.

6

So take under your faithful care the Third Legion, the Fortunate, which as yet I have not entrusted to any save one well advanced in years; it was entrusted to me, moreover, at an age when he who entrusted it, along with congratulations, beheld my grey hairs.

7

In your case, however, I shall not wait for age, for your virtues are now illustrious and your character is strong.

8

I have given command to supply you with three sets of garments, I have ordered you double rations, and I have assigned you a standard-bearer."


6

1

It would be a lengthy task, were I to enumerate all the exploits of so great a man, which he performed as a commoner under Valerian, under Gallienus, under Aurelian, and under Claudius, how many times he scaled a wall, tore down a rampart, slew the enemy in a hand-to‑hand fight, won the gifts of emperors, and by his valour restored the commonwealth to its ancient condition.

2

Gallienus' letter, addressed to the tribunes, shows what manner of man was Probus:

"From Gallienus Augustus to the tribunes of the armies in Illyricum. Even if the destined fate of the Persian war has taken away my father, I have still my kinsman Aurelius Probus, through whose efforts I may be free from care. Had he been present, never would that pretender, whose name even should not be mentioned, have dared to usurp the imperial power.

3

Wherefore, it is my wish that all of you should obey the counsels of one who has been approved by the judgement both of my father and of the senate."

4

It may seem perhaps that the judgement of Gallienus, so weak an emperor, is not worth much, but at least it cannot be denied that no one, not even a weakling, entrusts himself to the protection of a man unless he believes that his virtues will profit him.

5

But be it so! Let Gallienus' letter be set aside. What will you say to the judgement of Aurelian? For he handed over to Probus the soldiers of the Tenth Legion, the bravest of his army, with whom he himself had done mighty deeds, giving him the following testimonial:

6

From Aurelian Augustus to Probus, greetings. In order that you may know how much I think of you, take the command of my Tenth Legion, which Claudius entrusted to me. For these are soldiers who know as commanders none but those destined to be emperors — an assurance, as it were, of favourable fortune."

7

From this it was seen that Aurelian had in mind, in case anything serious befell him, which he well knew was to be such, was to make Probus emperor.


7

1

Now the judgement of Claudius concerning Probus and that of Tacitus also it would be too long to include; but it is reported that Tacitus said in the senate, when offered the imperial power, that Probus should be chosen as emperor. But the senate's decree itself I have not been able to find.

2

Tacitus himself, moreover, sent to Probus his first letter as emperor in the following vein:

3

From Tacitus Augustus to Probus. I, it is true, have been made emperor by the senate in conformity with the wishes of our sagacious army. You, however, must know that it is on your shoulders that the burden of the commonwealth has now been laid more heavily. What sort of man and how great you are we all have learned, and the senate also knows. And so aid us in our need and, as is your custom, look upon the commonwealth as a part of your own household.

4

We have voted to you the command of the entire East, we have granted you five-fold rations, we have doubled your military insignia, we have appointed you consul for the coming year as colleague to ourselves; for by reason of your virtues, the palm-embroidered tunic from the Capitolium awaits you."

5

Some relate that Probus regarded it as an omen of imperial power that Tacitus should have written, "The palm-embroidered tunic from the Capitolium awaits you," but as a matter of fact this expression was always used in writing to every consul.


8

1

The soldiers' love for Probus was always unbounded. Never, indeed, did he permit any of them to commit a wrong. Moreover, he often prevented Aurelian from some act of great cruelty.

2

He visited each maniple and inspected its clothing and boots, and whenever there was plunder he divided it so as to keep naught for himself but weapons and armour.

3

Once, indeed, when a horse was found among the booty taken from the Alani or some other nation — for this is uncertain — which, though not handsome or especially large, was reputed, according to the talk of the captives, to be able to run one hundred miles in a day and to continue for eight or ten days, all supposed that Probus would keep such a beast for himself. But first he remarked, "This horse is better suited to a soldier who flees than to one who fights,"

4

and then he ordered the men of the put their names into an urn, that the one drawn by lots should receive the horse.

5

Then, since there were in the army four other soldiers named Probus, it so chanced that the name of Probus appeared on the lot that first came forth, though the general's name had not been put into the urn.

6

And when the four soldiers strove with one another, each maintaining that the lot was his, he ordered the urn to be shaken a second time. But a second time, too, the name of Probus came forth; and when it was done for the third and the fourth time, on the fourth time also there leaped forth the name of Probus.

7

Then the entire army set apart that horse for Probus their general, and even those very soldiers whose names had come forth from the urn desired it thus.


9

1

He also fought with great bravery against the Marmaridae in Africa and defeated them too, and from Libya he passed over to Carthage and saved it from rebels.

2

And he fought a single combat in Africa against a certain Aradio and overcame him, and because he had seen that he was a valiant and resolute man, he honoured him with a mighty tomb, still standing on a mound of earth two hundred feet high piled up by the soldiers, whom he never allowed to be idle.

3

There are still to be seen in many cities in Egypt public works of his, which he caused to be built by the soldiers. On the Nile, moreover, he did so much that his sole efforts added greatly to the tithes of grain.

4

He constructed bridges and temples, porticos and basilicas, all by the labour of the soldiers, he opened up many river-mouths, and drained many marshes, and put in their place grain-fields and farms.

5

He fought also against the Palmyrenes who held Egypt for the party of Odaenathus and Cleopatra, fighting at first with success, but later so recklessly that he nearly was captured; later, however, when his forces were strengthened, he brought Egypt and the greater part of the Orient under the sway of Aurelian.


10

1

And so, resplendent by reason of these many great virtues, when Tacitus had been removed by the decree of Fate and Florian was seizing the rule, he was created emperor by all the troops of the East.

2

Nor is the story of how he got the imperial power an idle or tiresome tale.

3

When the news came to the armies, the soldiers' first thought was how to forestall the armies of Italy, that the senate might not a second time appoint a prince.

4

But when discussion arose among them as to who should be chosen and the tribunes addressed them by maniples on their parade-ground, saying that they must look for a prince who would be brave and revered, modest and gentle and a man of probity, and this was repeated, as is wont to be done, throughout many groups, all on all sides, as though by divine command, shouted out, "Probus Augustus, may the gods keep you!"

5

Then they ran together, a tribunal of turf was erected, and Probus was saluted as emperor, being even decked with a purple robe, which they took from a temple-statue; from there he was led to the palace, against his will and protesting and saying again and again, "It is not to your own interest, soldiers, with me you will not fare well, for I cannot court your favour."

6

His first letter, addressed to Capito, prefect of the guard, was as follows: "I have never desired the imperial power and I have accepted it against my will. I may not refuse an office which is most distasteful to me.

7

I must play the part which the soldiers have assigned me. I beg of you, Capito, as you hope to enjoy with me the state in safety, to supply the soldiers everywhere with grain and provisions and all necessities. I assure you that in so far as it lies in me, I will have no other prefect if you administer all things well."

8

And so, when it was well known that Probus was emperor, the soldiers killed Florian, who had seized the imperial power as though an inheritance, for they knew well that no one could rule more worthily than Probus.

9

Accordingly, without any effort of his, the rule of the whole world was conferred upon him by the voice of both army and senate.


11

1

Now, since we have mentioned the senate, it should be made known what he himself wrote to the senate and likewise what reply that most noble body wrote back to him:

2

The first message of Probus to the senate:

"Rightly and duly did you act, Conscript Fathers, in the last year that has passed, when your clemency gave to the world a prince, and one, indeed, from among yourselves, you who are the princes of the world, as you have ever been in the past and shall continue to be in the days of your descendants.

3

And I would that Florian also had been content to wait for this and had not claimed the imperial power as though an inheritance, or even that your majesty had made him or some other man your prince.

4

But now, since he has seized the imperial power, we have been offered the name of Augustus by the army, while he has even been punished by the wiser soldiers because he usurped it. I beg you, therefore, to judge concerning my merits, for I am ready to do whatsoever your clemency shall command."

5

Likewise the decree of the senate:

On the third day before the Nones of February, in the Temple of Concord, Aelius Scorpianus, the consul, said during his speech: "Conscript Fathers, you have listened to the letter of Aurelius Valerius Probus; now what is your pleasure concerning it?"

6

Thereupon they shouted out: "Probus Augustus, may the god keep you! Long since worthy, brave and just, a good leader, a good commander, an example in warfare, an example in command. May the gods keep you!

7

Deliverer of the commonwealth, may you be happy in your rule, master in warfare, may you be happy in your rule! May the gods guard you and yours!

8

Even before this the senate chose you. In years inferior to Tacitus, in all else superior. For having accepted the imperial power we give you our thanks. Protect us, protect the commonwealth. Rightly do we entrust to your keeping those whom you formerly saved.

9

You are Francicus, you are Gothicus, you are Sarmaticus, you are Parthicus, you are all things. In former years, too, you were ever worthy of command, worthy of triumphs. Happily may you live, happily rule!"


12

1

Thereupon Manlius Statianus, whose right it then was to give his opinion first, spoke as follows: "All thanks to the immortal gods, Conscript Fathers, and above the others to Jupiter the Best, for they have given us such an emperor as we always desired.

2

If we consider the matter rightly we need seek no Aurelian, no Alexander, no Antonines, no Trajan, no Claudius. All their qualities are found in this one prince, knowledge of warfare, a merciful spirit, a revered life, a pattern for conducting the commonwealth, and the assurance of every virtue.

3

For what part of the world is there which he has not learned to know by conquering it? Witness the Marmaridae, conquered on African soil, witness the Franks, overthrown amid pathless marshes, witness the Germans and the Alamanni, driven far back from the banks of the Rhine.

4

But why need I now speak of Sarmatians, of Goths, of Parthians and Persians, and all the expanse of Pontus? In all places the signs of Probus' valour abound.

5

It were too long to relate how many kings of mighty nations he drove into flight, how many commanders he slew with his own hand, how many arms he captured unaided while still a commoner.

6

What thanks former emperors gave him their letters attest, now placed in the public memorials. Ye Gods, how many times he has been presented with military gifts! What praise he has won from the soldiers! As a youth he received a tribuneship, not long after his youth the command of legions.

7

O Jupiter, Best and Greatest, thou, Juno our Queen, thou, Minerva, patroness of the virtues, thou, Concord of the world and thou, Victory of Rome, do ye all grant this to the senate and the people of Rome, grant this to our soldiers, grant this to our allies and to foreign nations: may he rule even as he has served!

8

Therefore, Conscript Fathers, in accordance with the harmonious wish of us all I vote him the name of emperor, the name of Caesar, the name of Augustus; and I add thereto the proconsular command, the revered title of Father of his Country, the chief pontificate, the right of three proposals in the senate, and the tribunician power." Thereupon they shouted out, "So say we all of us, all of us."

13

1

On receiving this decree of the senate, then, Probus in a second message granted the fathers the right to decide on appeals from the highest judges, to appoint the proconsuls, to name the proconsuls' legates, to confer on the governors the rights of a praetor, and to sanction by special decree of the senate all the laws that Probus enacted.

2

Immediately thereafter he punished in various ways all the slayers of Aurelian who still survived, but he used therein more mildness and leniency than the army at first and Tacitus later had shown.

3

Next he punished those also who had formed a plot against Tacitus, but the comrades of Florian he spared, because they seemed to have followed no mere pretender but the brother of their prince.

4

He then received the submission of all the armies of Europe, who had made Florian emperor and then had killed him.

5

This done, he set out with a huge army for the provinces of Gaul, which since the death of Postumus had all been in turmoil, and after the murder of Aurelian had been seized by the Germans.

6

There, moreover, he fought battles so great and successful that he took back from the barbarians sixty most famous communes of Gaul, besides all the booty, by which the Germans, even apart from the actual wealth, were puffed up with glory.

7

And whereas they were wandering at large on our bank, or rather through all the country of Gaul, Probus, after slaying about four hundred thousand who had seized upon Roman soil, drove all the rest back beyond the river Neckar and the district of Alba,

8

getting from them as much barbarian booty as they themselves had seized from the Romans. Opposite the Roman cities, moreover, he built camps on barbarian soil and in these he stationed troops.


14

1

He also provided farms and store-houses, homes and rations of grain for all beyond the Rhine, for those only, that is, whom he placed in the garrisons there. All the while the heads of barbarians were brought in to him daily, now at the price of an aureus apiece,

2

and he never ceased fighting until nine princes of different tribes came before him and prostrated themselves at his feet.

3

From these he demanded, first hostages, which they gave him at once, then grain, and last of all their cows and their sheep.

4

It is said, moreover, that he sharply ordered them not to use swords, since now they might count on protection from Rome in case they must be defended against any foe.

5

It appeared, however, that this could not be accomplished, unless the Roman frontier were advanced and the whole of Germany turned into a province.

6

Nevertheless, with the princes' consent, he punished severely those who did not faithfully give back the booty.

7

He took, besides, sixteen thousand recruits, all of whom he scattered through the various provinces, incorporating bodies of fifty or sixty in the detachments or among the soldiers along the frontier; for he said that the aid that Romans received from barbarian auxiliaries must be felt but not seen.


15

1

And so, the affairs in Gaul being settled, he sent to the senate the following letter: "I give thanks, Conscript Fathers, to the immortal gods that they have confirmed your judgment of me.

2

For all of Germany, throughout its whole extent, has now been subdued, and nine princes of different tribes have lain suppliant and prostrate at my feet, or, I should say, at yours. Now all the barbarians plough for you, plant for you, and serve against the more distant tribes.

3

Therefore do you, in accord with your custom, decree thanksgivings. For four hundred thousand of our foes have been slain, sixteen thousand armed men are at our disposal, seventy most famous cities have been rescued from the enemy's possession, and all the Gallic provinces have been made entirely free.

4

The crowns of gold which all the communes of Gaul have bestowed upon me I have dedicated to your clemency, Conscript Fathers. Do you, with your own hands, now consecrate them to Jupiter Best and Greatest and to the other immortal gods and goddesses.

5

All booty has been regained, other booty too has been captured, greater, indeed, than that which was previously taken.

6

The barbarians' oxen now plough the farms of Gaul, the Germans' yoked cattle, now captive, submit their necks to our husbandmen, the flocks of divers tribes are fed for the nourishing of our troops, their herds of horses are now bred for the use of our cavalry, and the grain of the barbarians fills our granaries. Why say more? We have left them solely their soil, and all their goods we now possess.

7

It had been our wish, Conscript Fathers, to appoint a new governor for Germany, but this we have postponed for the completer fulfilment of our prayers. This indeed we believe will come to pass when divine providence shall more richly have prospered our armies."


16

1

After this he set out for Illyricum, but before going thither he left Raetia in so peaceful a state that there remained therein not even any suspicion of fear.

2

In Illyricum he so crushed the Sarmatians and other tribes that almost without any war at all he got back all they had ravaged.

3

He then directed his march through Thrace, and received in either surrender or friendship all the tribes of the Getae, frightened by the repute of his deeds and brought to submission by the power of his ancient fame.

4

This done, he set out for the East, and while on his march he captured and killed a most powerful brigand, named Palfuerius, and so set free the whole of Isauria and restored the laws of Rome to the tribes and the cities.

5

By fear or favour he entered the places held by the barbarians living among the Isaurians, and when he had gone through them all he remarked: "It is easier far to keep brigands out of these places than to expel them."

6

And so all those places which were difficult of access he gave to his veterans as their own private holdings, attaching thereto the condition that their children, that is, the males only, should be sent to the army at the age of eighteen, in order that they never might learn to be brigands.


17

1

Having finally established peace in all parts of Pamphylia and the other provinces adjacent to Isauria, he turned his course to the East.

2

He also subdued the Blemmyae, and the captives taken from them he sent back to Rome and thereby created a wondrous impression upon the amazed Roman people.

3

Besides this, he rescued from servitude to the barbarians the cities of Coptos and Ptolemais and restored them to Roman laws.

4

By this he achieved such fame that the Parthians sent envoys to him, confessing their fear and suing for peace, but these he received with much arrogance and then sent back to their homes in greater fear than before.

5

The letter, moreover, which he wrote to Narseus, rejecting the gifts which the king had sent, is said to have been as follows: "I marvel that you have sent so few of the riches all of which will shortly be ours. For the time being, keep all those things in which you take such pleasure. If ever we wish to have them, we know how we ought to get them."

6

On the receipt of this letter Narseus was greatly frightened, the more so because he had learned that Coptos and Ptolemais had been set free from the Blemmyae, who had previously held them, and that they, who had once been the terror of nations, had been put to the sword.


18

1

Having made peace, then, with the Persians, he returned to Thrace, and here he settled one hundred thousand Bastarnae on Roman soil, all of whom remained loyal.

2

But when he had likewise brought over many from other tribes, that is, Gepedes, Greuthungi and Vandals, they all broke faith, and when Probus was busied with wars against the pretenders they roved over well nigh the entire world on foot or in ships and did no little damage to the glory of Rome.

3

He crushed them, however, at divers times and by various victories, and only a few returned to their homes, enjoying glory because they had made their escape from the hands of Probus. Such were Probus' exploits among the barbarians.

4

He also had to cope with revolts of pretenders, and they were serious indeed. For Saturninus, who had seized the rule of the East, he overcame only by battles of various kinds and by his well-known valour. But when Saturninus was crushed, such quiet prevailed in the East that, as the common saying is, not even a rebel mouse was heard.

5

Then Proculus and Bonosus seized the rule at Agrippina in Gaul, and proceeded to claim all of Britain and Spain and the provinces, also, of Farther Gaul, but these men he defeated with the aid of barbarians.

6

But in order that you may not ask for more information now about either Saturninus, or Proculus, or Bonosus, I will put them all in a special book, relating a little concerning them, as seems fitting, or rather, as need demands.

7

One fact, indeed, must be known, namely, that all the Germans, when Proculus asked for their aid, preferred to serve Probus rather than rule with Bonosus and Proculus.

8

Hence he granted permission to all the Gauls and the Spaniards and Britons to cultivate vineyards and make wines, and he himself planted chosen vines on Mount Alma near Sirmium in Illyricum, after having had the ground dug up by the hands of the soldiers.


19

1

He also gave the Romans their pleasures, and noted ones, too, and he bestowed largesses also.

2

He celebrated a triumph over the Germans and the Blemmyae, and caused companies from all nations, each of them containing up to fifty men, to be led before his triumphal procession. He gave in the Circus a most magnificent wild-beast hunt, at which all things were to be the spoils of the people.

3

Now the manner of this spectacle was as follows: great trees, torn up with the roots by the soldiers, were set up on a platform of beams of wide extent, on which earth was then thrown, and in this way the whole Circus, planted to look like a forest, seemed, thanks to this new verdure, to be putting forth leaves.

4

Then through all the entrances were brought in one thousand ostriches, one thousand stags and one thousand wild-boars, then deer, ibexes, wild sheep, and other grass-eating beasts, as many as could be reared or captured. The populace was then let in, and each man seized what he wished.

5

Another day he brought out in the Amphitheatre at a single performance one hundred maned lions, which woke the thunder with their roaring.

6

All of these were slaughtered as they came out of the doors of their dens, and being killed in this way they afforded no great spectacle. For there was none of that rush on the part of the beasts which takes place when they are let loose from cages. Besides, many, unwilling to charge, were despatched with arrows.

7

Then he brought out one hundred leopards from Libya, then one hundred from Syria, then one hundred lionesses and at the same time three hundred bears; all of which beasts, it is clear, made a spectacle more vast than enjoyable.

8

He presented, besides, three hundred pairs of gladiators, among whom fought many of the Blemmyae, who had been led in his triumph, besides many Germans and Sarmatians also and even some Isaurian brigands.


20

1

These spectacles finished, he made ready the war with Persia, but while on the march through Illyricum he was treacherously killed by his soldiers.

2

The causes of his murder were these: first of all, he never permitted a soldier to be idle, for he built many works by means of their labour, saying that a soldier should eat no bread that was not earned.

3

To this he added another remark, hard for them, should it ever come true, but beneficial to the commonwealth, namely, that soon there would be no need of such soldiers.

4

What had he in his mind when he made this remark? Had he not put down all barbarian nations under his feet and made the whole universe Roman?

5

"Soon," he said, "we shall have no need of soldiers." What else is this than saying: "Soon there will not be a Roman soldier? Everywhere the commonwealth will reign and will rule all in safety.

6

The entire world will forge no arms and will furnish no rations, the ox will be kept for the plough and the horse be bred for peace, there will be no wars and no captivity, in all places peace will reign, in all places the laws of Rome, and in all places our judges."


21

1

But in my love for a most excellent emperor I am proceeding further than a prosaic style requires. Wherefore, I will add only that which, most of all, hastened on for this great man his destined doom.

2

When he had come to Sirmium, desiring to enrich and enlarge his native place, he set many thousand soldiers together to draining a certain marsh, planning a great canal with outlets flowing into the Save, and thus draining a region for the use of the people of Sirmium.

3

At this the soldiers rebelled, and pursuing him as he fled to an iron-clad tower, which he himself had reared to a very great height to serve as a look-out, they slew him there in the fifth year of his reign.

4

Afterwards, however, all the soldiers together built him a mighty tomb on a lofty mound, with an inscription carved on marble as follows: "Here lies Probus, the Emperor, a man of probity indeed, the conqueror of all barbarian nations, the conqueror, too, of pretenders."


22

1

As for myself, when I compare Probus as a ruler with other emperors, in whatever way almost all Roman leaders have stood out as courageous, as merciful, as wise, or as admirable, I perceive that he was the equal of any, or indeed, if no insane jealousy stands in the way, better than all.

2

For during his five years' rule he waged so many wars through the whole of earth's circle, all of them, too, unaided, that we can only marvel how he faced all the battles.

3

He did many deeds with his own hand and trained most illustrious generals. For from his training came Carus, Diocletian, Constantius, Asclepiodotus, Hannibalianus, Leonides, Cecropius, Pisonianus, Herennianus, Gaudiosus, Ursinianus, and all the others whom our fathers admired and from whom many good princes arose.

4

Let him now, who will, compare the twenty years of Trajan or Hadrian, let him compare the years of the Antonines, nearly equal in number. For why should I mention Augustus, the years of whose reign all but exceeded the life of a man? Of the evil princes, moreover, I will keep silent. That most famous remark of Probus itself reveals what he hoped to have brought about, for he said that soon there would be no need of soldiers.


23

1

He, truly conscious of his powers, stood in fear of neither barbarian nor pretender.

2

What great bliss would then have shone forth, if under his rule there had ceased to be soldiers! No rations would now be furnished by any provincial, no pay for the troops taken out of the public largesses, the commonwealth of Rome would keep its treasures forever, no payments would be made by the prince, no tax required of the holder of land; it was in very truth a golden age that he promised.

3

There would be no camps, nowhere should we have to hear the blast of the trumpet, nowhere fashion arms. That throng of fighting-men, which now harries the commonwealth with civil wars, would be at the plough, would be busy with study, or learning the arts, or sailing the seas. Add to this, too, that none would be slain in war.

4

O ye gracious gods, what mighty offence in your eyes has the Roman commonwealth committed, that ye should have taken from it so noble a prince?

5

Now away with those who make ready soldiers for civil strife, who arm the hands of brothers to slay their brothers, who call on sons to wound their fathers, and who deny to Probus the divinity which our emperors have wisely deemed should be immortalised by likenesses, honoured by temples, and celebrated by spectacles in the circus!


24

1

The descendants of Probus, moved either by hate or by fear of jealousy, fled from the region of Rome, and established their household gods in Italy near Verona and the Lakes Benacus and Larius and in all that district.

2

I cannot indeed leave unmentioned that when a portrait of Probus in the region of Verona was struck by lightning in such a fashion that the colour of its bordered toga was altered, the soothsayers responded that future generations of his family would rise to such distinction in the senate that they all would hold the highest posts.

3

As yet, however, we have seen none, and moreover it would seem that the "future generations" are unlimited in time and not a definite number.

4

The senate mourned greatly at the death of Probus, and likewise the people also. But when they were told that Carus was emperor, a good man, to be sure, but far removed from the virtues of Probus, remembering his son Carinus, who had always lived a most evil life, both the senate and the people shuddered.

5

For while each one feared a sterner prince, they dreaded still more a wicked successor.

6

This is all we have learned of Probus, or rather all we have deemed worthy of mention.

7

Now in another book, and that a short one, we will tell of Firmus and Saturninus, Bonosus and Proculus.

8

For it has not seemed suitable to combine a four-span of pretenders with a righteous prince. Then next, if the length of our life suffice, we will proceed to hand down to memory Carus and his sons.