Jerome on Naval Warfare

Those who fight in naval combat turn their rudders, draw out their oars, and prepare their iron grapples and hooks beforehand in port. They arrange the soldiers on the decks and get them used to standing with smooth footing even on a slippery surface. They do this so that what they have learned in a practice fight they do not fear in a real battle. So it is with me.

Qui navali praelio dimicaturi sunt, ante in portu et in tranquillo mari flectunt gubernacula, remos trahunt, ferreas manus, et uncos praeparant, dispositumque per tabulata militem, pendente gradu, et labente vestigio stare firmiter assuescunt, ut quod in simulacro pugnae didicerint, in vero certamine non pertimiscant. Ita et ego.

—Jerome, Vita Malchi monachi captivi 1

Julian Bribes(?) His Soldiers

I ask you to lay off being angry for a little bit. You’ll get what you’re asking for without sedition or your passion for revolution. Since the sweetness of your homeland holds you back, and since you’re afraid of unusual and foreign places, go back at once to your homes. You’ll see nothing–because it displeases you–past the Alps. I will clear this up with the emperor to his satisfaction, as he is capable of reason and quite prudent.

Cesset ira quaeso paulisper: absque dissensione vel rerum adpetitu novarum impetrabitur facile quod postulatis. Quoniam dulcedo vos patriae retinet, et insueta peregrinaque metuitis loca, redite iam nunc ad sedes nihil visuri, quia displicet, transalpinum. hocque apud Augustum capacem rationis et prudentissimum ego conpetenti satisfactione purgabo.

—Ammianus Marcellinus, Res gestae 20.4.16

In context, Julian is giving the soldiers exactly what he wants, but I can’t help but detect a touch of sarcasm or guilt-tripping here…

Sulpicius Severus on Military Hardship

But when the emperors ordered that the sons of veterans be enrolled in the military, he was captured and put in chains after his father informed against him (his father looked askance at his blessed activities), and he was tangled up in military oaths and remained content with only a single servant as his companion.

sed cum edictum esset a regibus, ut veteranorum filii ad militiam scriberentur, prodente patre, qui felicibus eius actibus invidebat, cum esset annorum quindecim, captus et catenatus sacramentis militaribus implicatus est, uno tantum servo comite contentus.

—Sulpicius Severus, Vita Sancti Martini 2.5

Cassius Dio on a Saturnalian Moment

At the same time, Aulus Plautius, a very notable senator, went to campaign in Britain, as a certain Bericus pulled out of the island on account of a rebellion and persuaded Claudius to send him some forces. So Plautius took command of his army, but marched with difficulty out of Gaul, as they were displeased about going to war beyond the known world. They did not obey him until Narcissus, who had been sent by Claudius, got up onto Plautius’ platform wanting to give some speech. Then they were so greatly aggrieved by this that they did not let him say anything, and shouted together in a babble that famous saying “Io! Saturnalia!”, since in the Kronia, slaves take on the appearance of masters and celebrate the festival, and right away they became obedient to Plautius.

κατὰ δὲ τὸν αὐτὸν τοῦτον χρόνον Αὖλος Πλαύτιος βουλευτὴς λογιμώτατος ἐς τὴν Βρεττανίαν ἐστράτευσε· Βέρικος γάρ τις ἐκπεσὼν ἐκ τῆς νήσου κατὰ στάσιν ἔπεισε τὸν Κλαύδιον δύναμιν ἐς αὐτὴν πέμψαι. Καὶ οὕτως ὁ Πλαύτιος στρατηγήσας τὸ μὲν στράτευμα χαλεπῶς ἐκ τῆς Γαλατίας ἐξήγαγεν· ὡς γὰρ ἔξω τῆς οἰκουμένης στρατεύσοντες ἠγανάκτουν, καὶ οὐ πρότερόν γε αὐτῷ ἐπείσθησαν πρὶν τὸν Νάρκισσον ὑπὸ τοῦ Κλαυδίου πεμφθέντα ἀναβῆναί τε ἐπὶ τὸ τοῦ Πλαυτίου βῆμα καὶ δημηγορῆσαί τι ἐθελῆσαι τότε γὰρ πολλῷ που μᾶλλον ἐπ’αὐτῷ ἀχθεσθέντες οὔτε τι ἐκείνῳ εἰπεῖν ἐπέτρεψαν, συμβοήσαντες ἐξαίφνης τοῦτο δὴ τὸ θρυλούμενον « ἰὼ σατουρνάλια, » ἐπειδήπερ ἐν τοῖς Κρονίοις οἱ δοῦλοι τὸ τῶν δεσποτῶν σχῆμα μεταλαμβάνοντες ἑορτάζουσι, καὶ τῷ Πλαυτίῳ εὐθὺς ἑκούσιοι συνέσποντο.

—Cassius Dio, Historia romana 60.19.3

The Natural Philosophy of Archery

Quintus Claudius, in the nineteenth of his Annals, was describing a town being assaulted by Metellus and the attacks down from the walls by the townsfolk, and wrote, “The archers on both sides, along with the slingers, shot very powerfully and with great enthusiasm; but when you fire an arrow or a stone downwards versus upwards, there is a difference. It is not possible to fire either one accurately in a downward direction, yet it is much better to fire either one upwards. This is why fewer of Metellus’ soldiers were wounded, and what is most important, they easily repelled the enemy from the wings.”

I asked Antonius Julianus, the rhetorician, why it happened in the way that Quadrigarius had said, that shots are closer and more direct if you fire off either a stone or an arrow from below rather than above, since a shot is sharper and easier from a high point to a lower one than from a low point to a high one. Then Julianus, after the line of questioning was praised, said, “What he said about an arrow and a stone could be said about almost every projectile weapon. Now, it is more easy to throw, as you have just said, if you throw downwards—and if you want to throw more so than strike. But when the direction and movement need to be measured and moderated, then, if you are throwing downwards, that moderation and measurement is ruined by the very downward movement of what is thrown and the weight of the falling projectile. But if you are firing upward, and line up your hand and your eye to strike something higher up, then the projectile that you have thrown will go right where the motion you gave it carries it.

Quintus Claudius in undevicesimo annali, cum oppidum a Metello proconsule oppugnari, contra ab oppidanis desuper e muris propugnari describeret, ita scripsit: “Sagittarius cum funditore utrimque summo studio spargunt fortissime. Sed sagittam atque lapidem deorsum an sursum mittas, hoc interest: nam neutrum potest deorsum versum recte mitti, sed sursum utrumque optime. Quare milites Metelli sauciabantur multo minus et, quod maxime opus erat, a pinnis hostis defendebant facillime.”

Percontabar ego Antonium Iulianum rhetorem, cur hoc ita usu veniret, quod Quadrigarius dixisset, ut contigui magis directioresque ictus fiant, si vel lapidem vel sagittam sursum versus iacias quam deorsum, cum proclivior faciliorque iactus sit ex supernis in infima quam ex infimis in superna. Tum Iulianus comprobato genere quaestionis: “quod de sagitta” inquit “et lapide dixit, hoc de omni fere missili telo dici potest. Facilior autem iactus est, sicuti dixisti, si desuper iacias, si quid iacere tantum velis, non ferire. Sed cum modus et impetus iactus temperandus derigendusque est, tum, si in prona iacias, moderatio atque ratio mittentis praecipitantia ipsa et pondere cadentis teli corrumpitur. At si in editiora mittas et ad percutiendum superne aliquid manum et oculos conlinies, quo motus a te datus tulerit, eo telum ibit, quod ieceris.”

—Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 9.1.1–6

Iphicrates on Vigilance

Iphicrates, the Athenian general, was holding Corinth with a garrison, and on the approach of their enemies, he himself was keeping watch. A guard was sleeping, so he pierced him through with a spear; some rebuked this act as though it were cruel, but he said, “As I found him, so I left him.”

Iphicrates, dux Atheniensium, cum praesidio Corinthum teneret et sub adventum hostium ipse vigilias circumiret, vigilem, quem dormientem invenerat, transfixit cuspide; quod factum quibusdam tamquam saevum increpantibus “qualem inveni”, inquit, “talem reliqui.”

—Frontinus, Strategemata 3.12.2

Constantine II Dies

Not long after this, Constantine the younger, who was the brother of Emperor Constantius and was named after their father, invaded the territory of his younger brother Constans and engaged with his soldiers. He was killed by them in the consulship of Akindynos and Proklos [340 C.E.].

Μετ΄ οὐ πολὺ δὲ ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως Κωνσταντίου ἀδελφὸς ὃς ἦν ὁμώνυμος τῷ πατρὶ͵ ὁ νέος Κωνσταντῖνος͵ ἐπιὼν τοῖς μέρεσι τοῦ νέου ἀδελφοῦ Κώνσταντος͵ συμβαλών τε τοῖς στρατιώταις αὐτοῦ͵ ἀναιρεῖται ὑπ΄ αὐτῶν ἐν ὑπατείᾳ Ἀκινδύνου καὶ Πρόκλου.

—Socrates Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica 2.5

Interesting to specify the soldiers in particular; Constantine died in a minor action outside Aquileia, not a pitched battle between armies, and his body was thrown into the nearby Alsa River.