The history of Herodian, a Greeke authour

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Introductory notes

Herodian of Antioch's history of the Roman empire, written in Greek, is a record of half a century of scandal, intrigue and corruption. It covers the years from 180 to 238, from the death of Marcus Aurelius to the accession of Gordian III. Translated into Latin by the Italian humanist Angelo Poliziano in 1487, it was first rendered into English by Nicholas Smyth and published by William Copeland around 1550. The selections used here highlight some of the frequent instances of dearth and pestilence after the end of the pax Romana.

The History of He-
rodian, a Greeke Authour,
treating of the Romayne Em-
perors, after Marcus, transla-
ted oute of Greeke into Latin,
by Angelus Politianus, and
out of Latin into Englyshe, by
Nicholas Smyth. Whereunto
are annexed, the Argumentes
of every Booke, at the begyn-
nyng thereof, with Annota-
cions for the better un-
derstandynge of the
same Histo-

Cum gratia & privilegio regali ad imprimendum solum
WILLIAM Coplande.

PUBLISHED BY Wyllyam Coplande

1. The fyrste booke of historie of Herodian.


[...] When as therefore, they hadde broughte the ymage in shyppe unto the verye mouthe of Tiberys, whyche the Romaynes then used in steade of a haven, sodeynly with a certayne dyvine power, the shyppe stoke faste, neyther coulde it be removed wyth anye strengthe of the people drawynge at it, untyll a Vestall vyrgin came thyther. The same beynge sclaundered, that she had deflowred her virginitye, (whiche oughte evermore to be inviolatlye preserved) fearynge condempnaeion, instantlye intreated the people, that they woulde commytte the judgemente of her, unto the Pesynuncian Goddesse. That ones obtayned, she bounde the maste of the shyppe wyth her gyrdell, mooste humbly desyringe, that yf the Goddes knewe her an uncorrupte virgyn, she woulde commaunde the shyppe to come forwardes. And when she hadde so sayde, she drewe the gyrdell in her hande, and the shyppe beganne to folowe. So dyd the Romaynes togither wonder at the manyfest divinitie of the God heade, and the innocencie of the virgyne. But this much have I hytherunto treated of the Pesynuncian Goddes, peradventure sumewhat more tedyouslye then it behoved, but yet lyke to brynge no unprofytable knowledge unto them that are not throughlye skylfull in all the Romayne affayres. Nowe Commodus (havyng escaped the treason of Maternus, dyd wyth a greater Garde strengthen hym selfe, and came verye sealdome abrode, consumed mooste parte of the tyme in the Suburbes, or in hys Principall Manours farre from the Cyte, and utterlye abstayned from syttynge in judgemente, and all Imperyall actes. The pestilence.At the same time, a wonderfull plage vexed all Italie: but it was mooste furiouse in the cytye of Rome, as in a place replenysshed wyth people, and receavynge straungers from all partes of the worlde. Whereby there happened a mervaylouse grete morreyne of menne and beastes.

Then [Page x]Commodus departed unto Laurentum, (for so had some conninge Physicians counseyled hym) because it was a more coulde Regyon, and shadowed wyth many woodes of Laurell, of whome also the Countrey hathe hys name.The remedye against the pestilence. For they sayde that the savoure of the Laurelles, and the plesauntnesse of the shadowes, dyd greatlye prevayle to the avoydynge of the contagion of the ayre: And therefore in the Cyte selfe, by the Phisycians advysementes, manye stopped theyr eares and noses wyth swete oyntementes, and used dayly delectable vapors and perfumes, that the pores of the senses shoulde not admytte into them anye pestyferouse smell, and if they receyved anye, that the perfumes with a greater strengthe shoulde vanquysshe the same. But neverthelesse the sycknes encreased, destroyeng every where bothe men and cattell. Yea there dyd also a grete famyne vexe and oppresse the Cyte, by this occasion. There was a certayne Phrygyan named Cleander, of that sorte of menne that are soulde openlye by Cryers: The same beynge put to servyce in the Emperours house, encreased gretelye in favoure wyth Commodus, and was enhaunsed unto so hyghe dignytie, that he alone obtayned the custodye of the Emperours parson, the charge of hys Chamber, and the governaunce of hys Garde. Rychesse and pryde dyd besydes sturre hym to hope of Thempyre. Wherefore havynge gathered togyther a grete somme of money, he boughte a wonderfull quantytie of wheate, and the same he hadde costely shutte up, trustynge that he shoulde wynne the hartes of the people and the armye, if that he releved wyth large gyftes, those that before were in greate penurye of necessarye foode. He had also buylded a verye large schole for exercyses, and many common bathes, that he myght by that meanes allure the people unto him. But the Romaynes were offended wyth hym before, imputynge all the cause of thys dearthe unto hym onely.


And detesting him, as man unsaciable of rychesse, thei fyrst assembled by embushmentes unto the Theaters, and afterwarde (Commodus beyng in the Suburbes) sodeynly they came all thither, wyth huge clamors, demaunding Cleander unto death, and when the hole suburbes were fylled with noyse and tumulte, & Commodus him selfe was at his accustomed pleasures in an upper chamber, ignoraunt of all that was donne, (Cleander perdy had so provided) sodenly beyonde all mens expectacion: the Emperours horsemen armed brasse furthe with violence by the commaundemente of Cleander, driving downe and wounding every man they met. The people beyng on foote, & without weapon, were not able to sustayne the brunte of the horsemen: Wherefore with hasty fleynge they retyred into the Cyte, where many of them were destroyed, not onely those whome the horsemen slewe wyth weapon, but also they whome the horses had wyth theyr feate troden downe, & thei that fought eyther in the prese of the fotemen, or elles amonge the horses. The horsemen so pursuyng them without any impedimente unto the gates of the Cytye, destroyed a grete parte of the people. But they that remayned within, knowing the calamytie of theyr frendes without, shutte theyr doores and gatte up into the roofes, and toppes of their houses, and threwe downe uppon the horsemen bothe stones and tyles: Therby was the fortune sodenly chaunged, when no horseman durste at that presente stryve, all the people fyghting safely from above against them. Wherfore many of them beynge wounded when they coulde no lenger endure, turned their backes and fled: many of them were also slayne throughe the contynuall and thicke fallyng of weapons, and many striken from theyr horses, whiche founderid amongs the stones that were throwen downe. Yea, and the footemen whyche had stations within the cyte, came to rescue the people againste the horsemen, whome they utterly detestyd.

And althoughe this were a Cyvyle batayle, yet durste no man for feare of Cleanders power declare it unto Commodus, untyll his eldest Syster named [Page xi] Fadilla unto hym (for the approchynge unto his presence was ease for hys Syster) wyth her heare loose fel down on her knees, defourmed wyth a mournyng garmente, and sayde. Truely (O Prynce) whyles ye lye here in peace, ye are in extreame peryll. And we that are of your bloude are almooste undone. The people of Rome are destroied. The most parte of your armye is consumed. And those thynges we thoughte not to suffre of ye Barbariens, the same doth our own housholde servauntes unto us. And they upon whom you have bestowed mooste bountyfull benefytes, the same are youre moost extreame enemyes. Cleander hath armed the people and Souldyours against you, amonges whome he is of some abhorred, and of some entyerely beloved. Yet are they both in armes, do commyt murdre wythin themselves, and fyll Rome with Cyvyle bloude. But upon oure neckes wyll the myserye of bothe companyes lyghte, excepte you do deliver unto death wyth all haste, a moste pernycyous & wycked Servaunte, whych hath bene aucthour of so gret a calamitye unto them already, and entendeth shortly to be so unto us. Whyles she thus sayde, she rente her clothes, and manye that were presente, havynge taken courage of the womans woordes, dyd put Commodus in feare also. He beyng amased, and dreadyng the daunger, not as Immynente, but presente, commaunded Cleander to be called hastely unto hym, not knowynge anye certayntye, but yet suspectynge that somewhat was tolde the emperoure. The punyshment of Cleander.And as he came before hym, the emperoure commaunded hym too be apprehended, and too have hys head strycken of: Cleander. And beynge set upon a Speare too be caryed aboute. Knowynge that he shoulde shewe untoo the people a pleasaunte and desyred syghte. Thus was thys myschyefe appeased, and the fyghte on eyther syde asswaged. For the Souldyours (when they sawe him dead, for whom they fought) feared the indygnacyon of the Emperour, whom they perceived too be deluded, and that nothing was done by hys commaundement. [...]

2. The thyrde booke of historie of Herodian.


But all thiese our bountefull benefites, hath Albinus moste shamefully recompensed, contempnynge oure prowesse, forgetting his allegiaunce, and coveytynge with perill, the hole rule, wherof he myght have bene partaker without batayle, or contencion. He feareth not ye Goddes by whom he hath so often sworne. Neither dothe he consyder, or favoure your laborious travayles, whyche you have wyth so greate renowne and glorye for our sake sustayned. And assuredly, him selfe wanted not the profites of our successes: Yea hadde he observed his fidelitee, the gretest porcion had ben his. And as a man, yf he be authour of myschiefe, shall be accompted unryghteous, so if he revenge nat the injurye receyved, he shalbe esteamed a cowarde. When we made warre agaynste Niger, we had not so juste and lawfull causes of anger, bycause we hated him, not, as a berever, and robber of them pyre, for the same hanging in the myddes, and then wavering in controversye, eyther of us affected, and drewe unto him selfe with equall enclosure. But Albinus, neglecting hys loyalty, allegiaunce, and other, after he hath obtained by our large liberalitee, the honours whiche are onelye given to our lawfull children, had rather become our noysome enemy, them our frendely familiar. Wherefore, as we bewtifyed hym with our manyfolde benefytes of honour, and glory, even so, let us nowe wyth force, and strength, convince, and daunte, hys trayterous, and feable harte. As for tharmy of that small Ilande, is not able to sustayne or abyde the brunte of your might.

For seynge ye have youre selfes almoste alone, by your owne valyaunt prowesse, subdued the hole orient, who wold doute, but at this present thrugh the joyneng of so great power (for here is welnye the hole Romayne armie) you would not overthrow and put to flyghte so small a number, who hathe served under a man beyng neyther sober, nor valiaunte Capitaine? for who is I praye you ignoraunte of his [Page xxxvi]voluptuouse lyfe, more agreable to Heardes of Swine, then to Legions of Soul [...]iors. Let us therfore valiauntly set forward against h [...]m, wt the stoutenes we have accustomed, affienge ou [...] selves in the Goddes, (so wickedly by him contempned) as principall guides of oure voyage, and myndefull of the victorious signes by us heretofore erected, the whiche he hath also utterly despised. When Severus had this moch spoken, incontinently thole armie prono [...]ed Albynus their commune enemy: And having re [...]ived Severus wt joyful acclamacions, & shewed by [...]eyr shoutes their good willes towardes him, thei en [...]med ye man wt an inestimable hope added to his ente [...]ryse. Wherefore, after he had liberally destributed amonges the Souldiors grete giftes, he led them al forwa [...]es against Albinus: havinge sent also a crewe of men [...]rifle & rase Bizantium, which was yet shut after the [...]ceipt of Nigers Souldiours. Bizantium clene destroyedThe which Citie bein [...] at length by famyne conquered, & defaced, the Theater, [...]he hote bathes, & al other goodly buildenges therof v [...]erly destroied, & it selfe reduced into ye forme of a vil [...]ge, was given unto the Perinthians,Perinthians. as Antioche wa [...] [...]nto the Laodicians. Then he exacted grete somes of [...]oney, to repayre the Cityes, which the Nigrian Sou [...]iors had batered & despoiled. Hym selfe continued hi [...] [...]orney wtoute intermission, not gretly regarding ye hol [...] [...]aies, or any painefull labor.

For he was equally pa [...]ent of colde & heate, travailing often times bare-headed, [...]er ye highe & craggy mountaines, in the bytter & sha [...]e winter, when the snow fell continually out of ye skie. Wherby he stirred his Souldiors, as with his own [...]ample, unto alacrite of minde, and sufferaunce of labor [...]use travailes. For thei were not constrained to abide [...]ose paines thrugh ani feare, or straite law, & commau [...]ement, but rather thrugh a certaine emulacion, & ex [...]ple of their Prince. He sent certayne also before to [...]ke the streites of the Alpes, and to defende the entr [...], and passages into Italie. Now when Albinus h [...]rde, that Severus made no delaye in the mater, but [...] as even at hand (being before, as it were in a dreame, a [...]d passynge the tyme in ydle[Page] pleasures, he was now stryken wyth a mervaylouse and sodeyne feare.

Neverthelesse he furthewith launched out of Britaine unto the coste of Fraunce, right over aneanste it, where on the shore he pytched hys campe, and sente letters unto the Rulers of the nexte nacions, desyring them to sende hym money, and victualles, for the ayde, and sustenaunce of his armye.

Thei that obeyed his commaundemente, or requeste, dyd moste unhappely provyde for them selfes, beynge after the battayle put to deathe wyth dyverse terryble tormentes. And those whyche set at noughte hys rule and power (although thei did the same more happely, then prudently) yet escaped they without harme or domage, when as the chaunce and fortune of thynges dyscerned bothe theyr counselles. When the Severian power was entered into Fraunce, the skyrmyshes were lyght and volant at the fyrste, untyll at length, the grete conflict was geven at Lions, a great and riche Citye.The batayle betwene Severus & Alban{us} The Englishmen valiante warriors For Albynus remayninge hym selfe within the Citye, sente furthe his Souldiours to the bataile. And when ye two armies joyned hande to hande, the batayle endured a longe space with equall strength on eyther syde, so that the fortune of the victorye depended doubtfull. For the Britons were nothyng inferiour to the Illirians, eyther in stowtenes of stomake, or gredines of slaughter.

Thus in the fyrste onset, the frontes of two moste valiaunte armyes; did to neyther syde enclyne, or ones recule. Yea (as manye Authours of the same tyme (who wrote it nat for any perciall [...]avoure, but accordynge to the truthe have lefte in memorye,) the whynge of Albynus Armye was the better, and of more strenghte, againste the bande that Severus ledde: so that he fledde, and fell from hys horse, and throwenge awaye hys cote armure, hydde hym selfe. But whyle the Brit [...]ns pursued, rejoysynge even as perfecte Conquerours, sodeynlye, appeared Letus one of Severus Capitaynes, wyth a freshe Crewe of men: who was reproved and yll spoken of by the Souldyours, as though he hadde of purpose hovered, for to see the chaunce [Page xxxvii]of the batayle, protracted the tyme, and detained them from settynge forewarde, that he myghte therebye have raught the Romayne Empyre to hym selfe. For he moved not a foote towardes the fyelde, before he was certyfyed of Severus overthrowe. Whiche suspycyon , the happe afterwardes ratyfyed. For after al thynges were [...]et in ordre, and Severus was at heartes ease, althoughe he benefycyally rewarded all hys other Capitaynes with great and riche giftes, yet beyng myndefull of Letus [...]es loyaltie, and Treason, he put hym (as was expedyente) to deathe. But these thynges were done afterwardes. Then (as we before rehearsed) at Letus arryvall, the Severians recovered perfyte hope, and Severus hym selfe was put upon hys horse, and gyrte wyth a robe of purple. And seyng the Albynians (who thoughte them selves vyctoryous vanquysshers) scattered abrode oute of ordre, thys fresshe bande of men sodenlie set upon them. And fynallye (after a lytle ressystence) compelled them to turne theyr backes and flee away, whome beynge overthrowen and dysper [...]led, the Severians pursued, and entred into the Citye. The number of them that were on eyther parte slayne, is dyverselye lefte in memorye, as it pleased the wryters of that age. Oute of hand than was the Cyt [...]e of Lyons ransaked, burnt, and destroied, and the head of Albinus stryken of, and broughte to Severus. Thus were two notable victoryes obtained, in ye East & North. So that there is nothynge, that a man may compare, unto the contencyons and factes of Severus: yf he consyder, eyther the multytude of men, the r [...]ysing up of nacions, the numbre of batayles, or elles the lengthe, and spedy celeryte of journeyes. In dede, the affayres of Cesar agaynste Pompeius, (eyther of them havynge to his assistence the Romayne Souldyours) were great, and mervailous: so were those of Au [...]stus agaynste Anthonyus, or Pompeius sonnes [...] And so were the batayles bothe Civile, and Forrey [...]e, betwene Silla, and Marius. But a man shall n [...] easely fynde suche an other as thys: who dispatche [...] awaye three Emperours [...]

[Page lxxxviii]

3. The eyghte booke of the Historye of Herodian.

We have in the laste booke recyted, what Maximinus did, after the death of Gordian, his jornay into Italie, wyth the sedicion, and revolte, of the people, and Souldiours, within the Cytye selfe of Rome. When Maximinus was arryved in the confynes of Italye, he sente certayne Scowrers before, to espye, wether there were any stale, or enbushmentes, lying in the bottom of the Alpes, and led the Armye, into the playne, commaundynge the men of Armes, to march forward, in a square ordre, to thende that a great parte of the fyeldes, myght be covered with them. And having brought all impedimentes, and Cariage, into the myddes, him selfe folowed, with the Yeomen of his Garde, to rescue them, if they were distressed. On eyther syde, the wynges were of men of Armes, on Barbed Horses, with Mauritanian, Slyngers, Archers of the oriental Regions, and horsemen of Germanye, whome he had waged, for thencrease of his ayde. And he was accustomed, to set them in the fore fronte of the battayle, against his enemyes, because their shoulde sustayne, and receave the fyrste brunte, beyng boulde, and stronge men. And (if nede so required, he had rather, those Barbarous, & rude people, were loste, than any other of his owne Souldiours.

After thei had passed the plaines, observing theyr due order in marchinge, they came to a cytie of Italye, named of the enhabitauntes Eumona. The same is sytuate in a lowe playne, at the foote of the Alpes.

There, the Scourers reported unto Maximinus, that the Towne was voide, and forsaken of thenhabitauntes, who were all sledde, the gates of the Temples, and the houses, consumed wyth fyre, and all thynge, [Page] whiche was in the Towne, or fielde, caryed awaye, or burnte, no foode remayninge, eyther for man, or beaste.

Wherwith Maximin{us} was veri glad: for he thought, that other people, wold doo semblably, through feare of him. But contrarywyse, the Souldiours murmured, and grudged, that they should in the very begynning, be vexed wt famine. And when thei had passed over the nyghte, some of them, in the open, and commen houses, other some, in the playne fyelde, immediately after the Sonne rysing, they came unto the Alpes.

Thiese be wonderfull longe Hylles, compassynge Italie, in maner of a wal, and so high, that thei seame to pearce the cloudes, so long also, that thei environ all Italye, touching, on the lefte hande, the Tirrhenian, and on the right syde, Seas the Ionian Seas: beyng full of brode, and thicke forestes, with very narowe pathes, and unneth passable, by reason of the height of the broken Rockes, and stepenes of the highe banckes: having not withstanding many narowe passages, made with laboure of hande, by the auncience Italions. Wherefore, a mervelous feare entred into the Souldyours hartes, to passe that waye: dreading, yt the hyll toppe: was already taken by their enemies, and all the straites stopped, to forbid them passage. Neither did theyr feare seame fonde, to them that behelde the nature of the place.

After thei had passed the Alpes, and were descended into their Campe, thei began to rejoyce, and banquet, together. And Maximinus then conceived a sure trust, that all hys affayres, shall have prosperous successe: seyng that the Italians, trusted not unto the difficultie of the places, wherein, themselves were wonte to lurke, and provide for their safety, and where, they might lye in wayte for their enemies, and fightynge from above, easely distresse them. When thei were entred into ye playne, ye Scourers brought word, ye Aquileia the greatest Citye of Italye, had shut their gates, and that the Pannoniam bandes, which went before, had very fiersely assayled the walles, yet not withstandyng, [Page lxxxix] theyr often attempes were all in vayne. Wherefore, beynge weried, they were constrayned to departe, a great number, of Stones, Speares, and Arowes, having hurte them, from the toppe of the walles.

Then Maximinus, being very angry with the Pannonians, as thoughe thei had not foughte valeantlye ynoughe, made haste thitherwardes: trustinge, with out any more labour, to wyn the Citie.

But Aquileya, as it is a myghty Towne, of Aquileia was abundantely enhabited of people. And as it were the Marte Towne of Italy, & the territorie of Illiria, it did from the mayne lande, ministre, to those that sayled in the Seas, plenty of all suche necessaries, as was brought thither by the Ryvers, and the lande: And from the Sea, unto the mayne lande, thinges very necessarye for the hygher Countreys, whych throughe the bytternes of wynter, were nothynge fertyll. But chyefely it mynistred wynes, wherewyth that Regyon abounded, unto the nighe Countreyes, that hadde no vyne trees at all. The whyche caused, that besydes the greate number of Cytezins, there repayred unto that Cytye, very many Straungers, and Marchauntes also. And Certes, the multitude was at this tyme muche more augmented, by the assembly of Countrey people, who havynge forsaken theyr owne small Droupes, and Vylages, dyd truste themselves, unto the greatenes of this Cytye. The olde wall, whereof, was a greate parte fallen downe.

For, whyles the Romaynes floryshed in Dominion, the Cytyes of Italye, neaded neyther wall, nor weapon, lyvynge in quyet tranquilytie, and beynge assocyated in the Rule of Thempyre with them. But nowe, necessitye compellynge them, they buylded up theyr walles agayne, wyth Towres, Bulwerckes, and Rampiers: and havynge fortyfyed their Cytye wythin furth, and shutte theyr Gates, stode all togyther, bothe daye, and nyghte uppon the walles, valeauntely dryvynge backe theyr enemyes.



That passed, he began to geve the assault, and having moved to the wall, all sortes of engyns, when no kynd of Batterie was omitted, there was almost every day cruell skyrmyshes fought. For the Souldyours environed the walles, as it were with a toyle, or nette, and fought with muche stoutnes of stomacke. And on the contrarye parte, the Aquileiens resysted verye valiauntlye: who havynge shutte the dores of their temples, and houses, dyd all together, wyth theyr wyves, and Children, upon the walles, Towers, and Batylmentes, defende theyr Cytye. Neyther was there any age, whiche refused to fyghte for their Countrey.

Maximinus then pulled downe al the Suburbes, and whatsoever buyldynge was without the Cytye, with the tymber wherof, he made all kynde of engyns, and instrumentes, wherwith he might batter the walles, or at least wyse, some part therof, whereby the armye myght enter into ye Cytye, and in spoylyng, sackyng, and defacynge, the same, leave it desolate, and voyde of habitation. For he thoughte it yt woulde be against his honour, to go unto Rome, before he had destroyed the Cytye, which fyrst resisted him in Italy.

Wherefore, he rode wyth hys Sonne, whome he had joyned unto hym in the Empyre, amonges the Souldyours, promysyng them many good morowes, and exhortynge theym, to stande lyke menne to theyr tacklynge.

But the Cytezyns of Aquileia, threw downe great stones upon them. And having fylled verye many Ladels with Brimstone, Lyme, and Pitche, as soone as the Souldyours began to scale the wals, they powred downe ye same so save, that it seamed violent showres. When ye Pitche & baggage, fell upon ye naked partes of ye souldiours bodies, thei threw fro the their briganders, & the rest of their harnesse, ye yron wexing very hoate, and their timber engyns being set on fyre. Then a man mighte see the Souldiours, throwe away their owne harnesse. Which thing, having a colour, that thei were dispoyled by the vanquisshers) was invented, rather by subtlitie of arte, then force of batayle. Whereby it [Page cii] happened, that many of the Souldiours, eyther loste theyr syghte, or elles had their faces, and other bare partes of their bodies, burned. The Aquileyens threw downe also, into their Towres, & engins of woode, many torche straves, covered wyth Rosen, and pitch, whose endes, were sharpened, with heades, lyke unto arowes: whyche beyng kindeled, and sticked faste into the Timber worke, dyd easely set all on fyre. That not-withstanding, the fyrste daies, the fortune was equall on eyther syde.

But anon after, the courage of Maximinus armye dyd aswage, and because theyr hope was frustrate, and had deceived them, thei wexed every day more pesife then other. For those, who thei before supposed, wold not abyd the brunt first of theyr force, thei nowe perceived, not onely, not to shrincke, but also, to resyste valeauntely. Contrariwyse, the stomackes of the Aquilenses, were daylye, more, and more enhaunsed. And havinge, thrugh use, obtayned, bothe the experte feate of fyghtinge, and therwithall manfull corage, thei so despysed the Souldiours, that they mocked them, with jestyng at Maximinus, when he came nighe unto the walles, and blustering oute, many opprobrious tauntes against him, and his Sone. Wherewith he being chaufed, when he could not avenge himselfe uppon hys enemyes, he put to cruel death, many of his own Capitaines: alleging, yt thei had nor like valeaunte men, and true subjectes, done their full endevour, in the assaultinge of the Citye. Wherby it came to passe, that the Souldiours be came more angry towardes hym: And his enemyes, had him in more contempt, and derision.

It chaunsed besydes, that the Aquileyens abounded with plenty of vitayle, and all other necessaries. For what so ever was expedient, to the sustenaunce of men, and horses, the same was before hande brought into the Citye.

On thother syde, the armye languished with penury of foode. And after all the trees were cut downe, and the fieldes wasted, some of the Souldiours lay in Cabbans, such as thei could for haste make, and other som in the open fieldes, subject to the heate of the Sonne, [Page] and the weatenes of the Rayne. Neyther was there anye kynde of noryshmente, broughte unto theim, for them selves, or their cattell. For all the wayes, and passages, were by the diligence of the Romaines, shut up with greate walles, and Gates. The Senate also, had sente certayne Senatours, with a companie of armed personnes, chosen oute of all Italye, to defende the Shores, and Havens, geving no man licence to sayle. So that all thinges done at Rome, were kept close, from the eares of Maximine. All the highe wayes besydes, and Bypathes, were diligently watched, that no man should passe by them. So it came to passe, that the Armye, whiche besyeged the Towne, was it selfe also enclosed rounde aboute. For thei coulde neyther take Aquileia, nor passe forward towards Rome, through wante of shyppes, and wagons, whiche were all before hande taken up by the Romaines.

The rumor also thrughe suspicion augmented, that all the Romayne people, were already in Armes, and that Italy, with all the Illyrian, and Barbarous nacions, whiche enhabyte the Easte, and Southe Contreys, had wyth one consent, conspyred, to joyne together, against M aximinus, for the despyte, and grudge, they bare unto hym. Wherefore, the Souldiours fell into dispayre of good hope, beyng afflicted, wyth scarcetye of all thinges, and havyng no water, but such, as thei drew out of ye Ryver, which was defiled with bloode, and deade Carcases. For the Aquileyens, threwe into the Ryver, such deade bodies, as thei coulde not bury. And those whyche perished with sworde, or sicknes, in the Campe, were throwen into the Ryver lykewyse. Amonges whome, there were many, whyche died by famin, having when thei were drowned, some breath remaynynge.

Whyles the Army aboade thus sorowfull, voyde of all succoure, sodeinly, when Maximinus rested in hys Pavilion, one daye vacant from batayle, and all the Souldiours, were gone to reste theimselves, in theyr Cabans, and Tentes, the men at Armes, which had theyr Stacions, within the Citye of Rome, under [Page ciii] the Hyll Alban, and therin, their wives, & children, consulted, and agreed, to slea Maximyne: that thei might be ones exempt, from that longe, & inexplicable syege of the Cytye, and moving of warre against Italy, for the love of a Tiraunt, who was abhorred of all men.

Wherefore, taking corage unto them, about nonetyde, thei wente to his Pavilion, the yeomen of hys Garde, conspiring together with them. And there, after thei hadde pulled downe hys Images, thei slewe hym, and hys Sonne, when they came further, to speke unto the Souldiours: and with them, the lord great Maister of his house, and all his dearest frendes. And then threw their bodies furth wt despite, levyng them, to be devoured of Dogges, and Byrdes: sending onely the two Emperours heades unto Rome. This eande of lyfe, had Maximinus, with his Son, both receyvinge condigne punyshmente, of their yll ordered governaunce. At the first tidinges, of the two Prynces death, the Army stode styll, amased, & uncertayne what thei might doo. For it was not equally acceptable unto them all, especiallye not unto the Panonians, and Barbarous Thracians, who hadde delyvered the Empyre, unto Maximinus. But when they perceived that the deade coulde not be undone, they helde themselves contented althoughe unwillingly, and fayned to rejoyce with the reste. Then, layeng a syde their weapons, they went to the walles of Aquileye, lyke peaceable men, and there declaring the death of Maximyne, desyred that the Gates might be set open unto them, beyng nowe of their mortall enemyes, become their loving frendes. But the Capitaynes of Aquileia, would not permyt it, but shewed furth uppon the walles, the Images of Maximus, Albinus, and Gordian, Emperours, crowned with Garlandes of Lawrell unto the which Images, themselves fyrste making joyful acclamacions, exorted the Army also, to acknowledge, and reverence them, whome the Senate, and people of Rome, hadde chosen to be Emperours.

For, said thei, the other Gordians before passed, are [Page] amonges the Goddes. They did set furth also upon the walles, a market of all necessaries, with greate abundaunce of meate, wyne, garmentes, and all other thinges, which that riche, and florishing Cytie, could minister unto them. That thing, did mervelously abashe the Souldiours: who perceyved, that the Cytezins, had store ynoughe of vitayll, to abyde a farre longer seage. And on the other side, themselves, being afflicted with wante of foode, should rather have all perysshed, than conquered that Citie, abounding wyth all thinges expedient for mans relief. Whyles the Souldiours thus aboade under the walles, and tooke such thinges, as their necessitie required, in companye of the Citezins, their countenaunce was of peace, and frendship, a forme of siege, as yet remaining, for that the Romayne Souldiours, laye aboute the walles whiche were enclosed, and shut. In the meane while, that theise thinges were in doing at Aquileya, ye horse men, which caried the Emperours heades to Rome, making great haste, with spedy diligence, were received into every Citie, and Town, with the gates open, and the multitude of Citezins, and enhabitauntes, berynge Lawrell in their handes. And then havinge passed ye Marishes, & Lakes, whiche are betwene Altinum, & Ravenna, thei founde Maximus in Ravenna, levieng, & waging Souldiours out of the Citye, and Italy, and calling a great number of Germains unto his ayde, the which were sent him, by the common people of Germany, whom he before in his Proconsulship amonges them, had prudentely governed.

Whiles he was thus mustering his power against Maximine, ye horsemen arrived ther sodenli, bringing wt them ye Princes heades, & declared ye victory, wt the prosperouse successe of their affaires, & ye good wil, & comset, of ye people, & Army, to ye obediece of those Emperors, whom ye Senate had elected. When thiese thinges were so sodemly wt out expectacion reported, furthwt, the people ran unto the Aulters to sacrifice, every man singyng, and rejoysynge at the victory, whiche wythoute any troublesome busynes, they had obtayned.

[Page ciiii]

Then Maximus after the sacryfyce eanded, dismissed, the horsmen to Rome, to cary thither, the sayd heades, and declare the whole circumstaunce, unto the people. When they were arived at the Cytye, and havynge putte the heades upon twoo Speares, caried the same throughe ye streates, to be seane of the people, no tonge can tell, the joye, and myrth was there that daye. For there was no person, eyther yonge, or olde, but ranne unto the Temples, and Aulters.

No man abode within hys owne house, but ranne lyke madde men, shoutynge, and rejoysynge one with an other, and gatherynge theymselves together, in a circle, as thoughe some manne woulde make an Oration unto them. Albinus hym selfe offered an hundreth beastes, and all the Magistrates, rejoysed above measure, as though they had escaped ye axe, whych before henge over theyr neckes. Pursevauntes, & Postes, were sente besydes, wyth Laurell in theyr handes, to beare those newes unto all the Provinces.

This is a selection from the original text


camp, death, food, history, penury, pestilence, remedy, thief

Source text

Title: The History of He rodian, a Greeke Authour, treating of the Romayne Em perors, after Marcus, transla ted oute of Greeke into Latin, by Angelus Politianus, and out of Latin into Englyshe, by Nicholas Smyth. Whereunto are annexed, the Argumentes of every Booke, at the begyn nyng thereof, with Annota cions for the better un derstandynge of the same Histo rye.

Author: Herodian

Publisher: Wyllyam Coplande

Publication date: 1556

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 13221 Physical description: [4], xlvii, xlvii-lxxxv, lxxxv-lxxxvii, [1], lxxxviii-lxxxix, c-cvi, [17] leaves Copy from: British Library Reel position: STC / 53:02

Digital edition

Original author(s): Herodian

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Title Page
  • 2 ) Selections from The fyrste booke of the historie of Herodian. 14-15
  • 3 ) Selections from The eyghte booke of the Historye of Herodian. 41-42
  • 4 ) Selections from The thyrde booke of Thistorye of Herodian. 96-97, 100-102


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

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Genre: Britain > nonfiction prose > classical works

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