Cassius Dio
Roman History

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Epitome of Book LXXI

Marcus Antoninus, the philosopher, upon obtaining the throne at the death of Antoninus, his adoptive father, had immediately taken to share his power Lucius Verus, the son of Lucius Commodus. For he was frail in body himself and devoted the greater part of his time to letters. Indeed it is reported that even when he was emperor he showed no shame or hesitation about resorting to a teacher, but became a pupil of Sextus, the Boeotian philosopher, and did not hesitate to attend the lectures of Hermogenes on rhetoric; but he was most inclined to the doctrines of the Stoic school. Lucius, on the other hand, was a vigorous man of younger years and better suited for military enterprises. Therefore Marcus made him his son-in-law by marrying him to his daughter Lucilla and sent him to conduct the war against the Parthians.

Vologaesus, it seems, had begun the war by hemming in on all sides the Roman legion under Severianus that was stationed at Elegeia, a place in Armenia, and then shooting down and destroying the whole force, leaders and all; and he was now advancing, powerful and formidable, against the cities of Syria. Lucius, accordingly, went to Antioch and collected a large body of troops; then, keeping the best of the leaders under his personal command, he took up his own headquarters in the city, where he made all the dispositions and assembled the supplies for the war, while he entrusted the armies to Cassius. The latter made a noble stand against the attack of Vologaesus, and finally, when the king was deserted by his allies and began to retire, he pursued him as far as Seleucia and Ctesiphon, destroying Seleucia by fire and razing to the ground the palace of Vologaesus at Ctesiphon. In returning, he lost a great many of his soldiers through famine and disease, yet he got back to Syria with the survivors. Lucius gloried in these exploits and took great pride in them, yet his extreme good fortune did him no good; for he is said to have engaged in a plot later against his father-in-law Marcus and to have perished by poison before he could carry out any of his plans.

Martius Verus sent out Thucydides to conduct Sohaemus into Armenia, and this general, thanks to the terror inspired by his arms and to the natural good judgment that he showed in every situation, kept pressing vigorously forward. Now Martius had the ability not only to overpower his antagonists by force of arms, to anticipate them by swiftness, or to outwit them by strategy, which is the true strength of a general, but also to persuade them by plausible promises, to conciliate them by generous gifts, and to tempt them by bright hopes. There was a quality of charm about all that he said or did, a charm that soothed the vexation and anger of everyone while raising their hopes even more. He knew the proper time for flattery and presents and entertainment at table. And since in addition to these talents he showed perseverance in his undertakings and energy combined with swiftness against his foes, he made it plain to the barbarians that his friendship was more worth striving for than his enmity. So when he arrived in the New City, which was held by a garrison of Romans placed there by Priscus, and found them attempting a mutiny, have took pains both by word and by deed to bring them to a better temper; and he made this place the foremost city of Armenia.

Rivers are bridged by the Romans with the greatest ease, since the soldiers are always practising bridge-building, which is carried on like any other warlike exercise, on the Ister, the Rhine, and the Euphrates. Now the method of procedure — which probably is not familiar to everybody — is as follows. The ships by means of which the river is to be bridged are flat-bottomed, and these are anchored a little way up-stream from the spot where the bridge is to be constructed. Then, when the signal is given, they first let one ship drift down-stream close to the bank that they are holding; and when it has come opposite to the spot that is to be bridged, they throw into the stream a wicker-basket filled with stones and fastened by a cable, which serves as an anchor. Made fast in this way, the ship remains in position near the bank, and by means of planks and bridge-work, which the vessel carries in large quantity, a floor is at once laid to the landing-place. Then they send down another ship at a little distance from the first, and another one beyond that, until they have extended the bridge to the opposite bank. The ship that is nearest the enemy's bank carries towers upon it and a gate and archers and catapults.

As many missiles were being hurled at the men engaged in bridging, Cassius ordered missiles and catapults to be discharged. And when the first ranks of the barbarians fell, the rest gave way.

End of Etext Cassius Dio Roman History  Epitome of Book LXXI Return to www.BrainFly.Net