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Herodian's Roman History


Marcus Aurelius. Equestrian statue on the Capitol, Rome. Photo Marco Prins.
Herodian (late second, first half third century): Greek historian, author of a History of the Roman Empire since the Death of Marcus Aurelius (table of contents) in which he describes the reign of Commodus (180-192), the Year of the Five Emperors (193), the age of the Severan dynasty (211-235), and the Year of the Six Emperors (238).

The translation was made by Edward C. Echols (Herodian of Antioch's History of the Roman Empire, 1961 Berkeley and Los Angeles) and was put online for the first time by Roger Pearse (Tertullian.Org). The version offered on these pages is hyperlinked and contains notes by Jona Lendering.
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Maximinus Thrax. Bust at the Capitoline Museums. Photo Jona Lendering.
Maximinus Thrax (Musei Capitolini)

8.2: Siege of Aquileia

[March 238] When no opposition was offered, they crossed the Alps without hindrance; coming down to level country, they grew bolder and sang songs of thanksgiving. As the Italians had not taken advantage of the rough terrain to hide and protect themselves, Maximinus expected everything to turn out successfully for him without the slightest difficulty. The Italians had not launched treacherous attacks from ambush or fought from the heights, taking advantage of the superior position.

While the army was in the plain, the scouts reported that Aquileia, the largest city in that part of Italy, had closed its gates and that the Pannonian legions which had been sent ahead had launched a vigorous attack upon the walls of this city. In spite of frequent assaults, they were completely unsuccessful. Finally, showered with stones, spears, and a rain of arrows, the Pannonians gave up and withdrew. Enraged at the Pannonian generals for fighting too feebly, Maximinus hurried to the city with his army, expecting to capture it with no difficulty.

Before these events occurred, Aquileia was already a huge city, with a large permanent population. Situated on the sea and with all the provinces of Illyricum behind it, Aquileia served as a port of entry for Italy. The city thus made it possible for goods transported from the interior by land or by the rivers to be traded to the merchant mariners and also for the necessities brought by sea to the mainland, goods not produced there because of the cold climate, to be sent to the upland areas. Since the inland people farm a region that produces much wine, they export this in quantity to those who do not cultivate grapes.

A huge number of people lived permanently in Aquileia, not only the native residents but also foreigners and merchants. At this time the city was even more crowded than usual; all the people from the surrounding area had left the small towns and villages and sought refuge there. They put their hope of safety in the city's great size and its defensive wall; this ancient wall, however, had for the most part collapsed. Under Roman rule the cities of Italy no longer had need of walls or arms; they had substituted permanent peace for war and had also gained a participating share in the Roman government.

Now, however, necessity forced the Aquileians to repair the wall, rebuild the fallen sections, and erect towers and battlements. After fortifying the city with a rampart as quickly as possible, they closed the gates and remained together on the wall day and night, beating off their assailants. Two senators named [Rutilius Pudens] Crispinus and [Tullius] Meniphilus, former consuls, were appointed generals.

These two had seen to everything with careful attention. With great foresight they had brought into the city supplies of every kind in quantities sufficient to enable it to withstand a long siege. An ample supply of water was available from the many wells in the city, and, a river flowing at the foot of the city wall provided both a defensive moat and an abundance of water.[the river Natiso]



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Online 2007
Revision: 25 July 2007
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