Julian, 76

Priscus: We were besieged for a month. A number of our deserters had gone over to the Germans and reported on our weakness. Encouraged by this, and excited at the thought of capturing a Roman Caesar, King Chnodomar marched on Sens. It was a difficult time and we owed our lives, finally, to Julian’s energy and intelligence. Though he could not make us cheerful or even confident, he at least kept us dutiful and modestly hopeful.

That night the call to arms was sounded. Men rushed to their posts on the battlements. The Germans could be seen less than half a mile away, illuminated by burning farmhouses. It had been the neighing of farm horses that had disturbed our after-dinner conversation. Had the Germans been quieter, they might have taken the city. Fortunately for us, every last one of them was drunk.

During the next few days, Julian’s mood changed from almost boisterous excitement to grim rage. He was positive that he had been deliberately abandoned. This suspicion was confirmed when a messenger arrived from Rheims to say that Marcellus would not come to our aid; he pleaded weakness. He also insisted that Julian had sufficient men to repulse the Germans.

Our rations were nearly gone when the Germans departed as suddenly as they had arrived. Long sieges bored them. Julian immediately sent to Vienne for supplies. He then recalled all his troops to Sens and the remainder of the winter was passed, if not in comfort, at least without fear of sudden annihilation. Julian also wrote Constantius a full account of Marcellus’s refusal to come to his aid. It was a splendid document. I know; Sallust and I helped to write it. So splendid was it, in fact, that unlike most state papers this one had an effect. Marcellus was recalled to Milan and after a short interval Julian finally got what he wanted, the command of the armies of Gaul.

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Editor’s note:

To date I have been copying and pasting the entire novel by Gore Vidal, on Sundays, until chapter XI. The idea was obviously to invite the visitor to acquire a hard copy of the novel.

Julian’s quote on this day is the last one following that custom. From now on I will only cite those passages of Julian that have made an impression on me, omitting the others.

Published in: on September 22, 2019 at 8:56 am  Comments Off on Julian, 76  
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