Embassy to Attila:

Priscus of Panium

 (The chief threat to the empire in the first half of the century came from the Huns. Whether this oriental people can be identified with the Hiong Nu who attacked the empire of China in the second and first centuries B.C. is a much disputed and still unsettled problem. In any case they first seem to have attracted Roman attention in the last quarter of the fourth century, when the historian Ammianus records that "they are faithless in truces" and that "they burn with an infinite greed for gold."

P.fr.10 The following myth shows the impression they first made on the Romans.) Their cruel tribe, as Priscus the historian relates, settled on the further bank of the swamp of Maeotis. They were skilled in hunting but in no other task except this. After they had grown into a nation they disturbed the peace of the neighboring races by thefts and plundering.

While the hunters of this tribe were as usual seeking game on the far bank of Lake Maeotis, they saw a deer appear unexpectedly before them and enter the swamp, leading them on as a guide of the way, now advancing and now standing still. The hunters followed it on foot and crossed the Maeotic swamp, which they had thought was as impassable as the sea. When the unknown Scythian land appeared, the deer disappeared. The spirits, I believe, from whom they derive their descent did this through envy of the Scythians. The Huns, who had been completely ignorant that any other world existed beyond the Maeotic swamp, were filled with admiration of the Scythian country, and, since they were quick of mind, believed that the passage, familiar to no previous age, had been shown to them by the gods. They returned to their own people, told them what had happened, praised Scythia, and persuaded them to fo1low along the way which the deer, as their guide, had shown them. They hastened to Scythia, sacrificing to Victory the Scythians they fe1l in with on their entrance; the remainder they conquered and subdued. Soon they crossed the huge swamp and like some tempest of nations overwhelmed the Alipzuri, the Alcidzuri, the Itimari, the Tuncassi, and the Boisci who bordered on the shore of Scythia.

They subdued the Alans also, wearing out by constant warfare a race which was equal to them in war but unlike them in civilization, mode of life, and appearance. Those men, whom they perhaps in no wise surpassed in war, they put to fight by the terror of their looks, inspiring them with no little horror by their awful aspect and by their horribly swarthy appearance. They have a sort of shapeless lump, if I may say so, not a face, and pinholes rather than eyes. Their wild appearance gives evidence of the hardihood of their spirits, for they are cruel even to their children on the first day they are born. They cut the cheeks of the males with a sword so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they are compelled to learn to endure a wound. They grow old without beards, and the youths are without good looks, because a face furrowed by a sword spoils by its scars the natural grace of a beard. Somewhat short in stature, they are trained to quick bodily movement and are very alert in horsemanship and ready with bow and arrow; they have broad shoulders, thickset necks, and are always erect and proud. These men, in short, live in the form of humans but with the savagery of beasts.

By 375, we know, they had incorporated into their loose federation the Alans and a majority of the Ostrogoths and were in alliance with the Visigoths in an abortive attack on Constantinople after the battle of Adrianople in 378. It was undoubtedly the pressure of the Hunnish expansion westward which led Valens to admit the Visigoths into the empire in 375 and which drove the other German tribes across the Rhine in 405-6. Theodosius the Great seems to have made some arrangement with the tribe, possibly, settling them in Pannonia. But that they were never really subdued is seen by the behavior of Uldin (or Uldes), one of their kings, in 395. When proposals of peace were made to him "he replied by pointing to the sun and saying that he could easily, if he so desired, subdue every part of the earth." While he was uttering this sort of threat and ordering as large a tribute as he pleased and saying that on this condition peace could be established or the war continued, part of his army was induced to desert and the remainder conquered. The Huns for some years were alternately enemies or allies of the Roman empires. This same Uldin in 400-401 was an ally of the Eastern Empire against Gaļnas and later was serving with Stilicho against Radagaisus in 406.


O.fr .18 The historian Olympiodoms in the first section of his history discusses Donatus and the Huns and the excellent archery of their kings and says that he himself, the historian, went on an embassy to them and to Donatus. Tragically, he tells of his journey by sea and its danger, and how Donatus, deceived by an oath, was wickedly strangled, how Chalaton the foremost of the kings was inflamed with wrath at the murder, and how he was soothed and pacified again by regal gifts. Donatus and Charaton were only senior kings, in no way the equals of the great Attila, and the episode here recorded probably took place in 412—13 while Jovinus was still emperor in Gaul.

Aetius in 423-24 enlisted Huns in support of the usurper Joannes, and a grant of land in Pannonia was made or at least confirmed. At the same time treaties were made with the Eastern Empire probably involving payments of subsidies to the Huns.


P.fr.1 In 432 or 433 a Hunnish ruler—cal1ed by Roman and Greek historians Roas, Rugila, or Roua, king of the Huns—intending to go to war with the Amilzouri, Itimari, Tonosours, Boiskoi, and other races dwelling on the Danube and who had taken refuge in a Roman alliance, sent Eslas, a man accustomed to attend to the difference between him and the Romans, to threaten to break the existing truce if they should not surrender all those who had taken refuge among them. When the Romans were planning to send an embassy to the Huns, Plinthas and Dionysius wished to go on it—Plinthas being a Scythian and Dionysius a Thracian by race—both men being leaders of armies and having attained the consulship among the Romans. Plinthas had been consul in 419 and was at this time the most influential man at court. Dionysius had been consul in 429. Since he thought that Eslas would reach Roua before the embassy about to be sent out, Plinthas dispatched Sengilach, probably an Alan or a Hun judging from his name, a fellow of his personal suite, to persuade Roua to enter into negotiations with him and not with any other Romans.

Roua having died and the kingdom of the Huns having devolved on Attila (and Bleda) the Roman senate decided that Plinthas should make his embassy to them. When this decree had been ratified for him by the emperor, Plinthas wished to have Epigenes also accompany him on the embassy, since he was a man with the greatest reputation for wisdom and had the position of quaestor. Approval being gained for this both set out on their embassy and reached Margus in 435. This is a city of the Moesians in Illyria, lying on the Danube River opposite the fort of Constantia which is situated on the opposite bank, where the royal tents of the Scythians are also gathered. They held a meeting outside the city mounted on their horses, for it does not seem proper to the barbarians to confer dismounted, and so the Roman ambassadors, mindful of their own dignity, followed the same practice as the Scythians in order not to find themselves on foot in discussion with mounted men. [It was agreed that in the future the Romans should not receive] those who fled from Scythia and also that those who had already fled along with the Roman prisoners who had escaped to their own lands without ransom should be surrendered unless for each fugitive eight gold pieces (solidi) should be given to those who had captured him in war. It was further agreed that the Romans should make an alliance with no barbarian tribe which was waging war against the Huns that there should be markets with equal rights and safe for both Romans and Huns, that the treaty should be, maintained and continue, and that 700 lbs. of gold be paid over each year by the Romans to the Scythian rulers. (Earlier 350 lbs. had been the payment.)

On these terms the Romans and Huns made a treaty and swore to each other by their own native oaths and returned each to his own country. Those who had fled to the Romans were handed back to the barbarians. Among them were the children Mama and Atakam, scions of the royal house. Those who received them crucified them in Carsum, a Thracian fortress, thus exacting the penalty of their flight. Attila, Bleda, and their court having established peace with the Romans marched through the tribes in Scythia subduing them and undertook a war against the Sorosgi. Who these were is unknown.

(Attila, who comes on the stage of history so suddenly in this way, was the son of a man whose name is variously recorded (Mundiuch, Mondzuccus, Mauzuchus, Munsuchus; Mundicius, Beneducus, or Moundiouchus). This man's brothers were Roua, Octar, and Oebarsius; Bleda was Attila's brother, probably his older brother. The two ruled jointly till 444 or 445, when Attila murdered Bleda.) "He was a man born to shake the races of the world, a terror to all lands, who in some way or other frightened everyone by the dread report noised abroad about him, for he was haughty in his carriage, casting his eyes about him on all sides so that the proud man's power was to be seen in the very movements of his body. A lover of war, he was personally restrained in action, most impressive in counsel, gracious to suppliants, and generous to those to whom he had once given his trust. He was short of stature with a broad chest, massive head, and small eyes. His beard was thin and sprinkled with grey, his nose flat, and his complexion swarthy, showing thus the signs of his origins."


P.fr.1a Sometime in the next few years Valips, who formerly roused the Rubi against the Romans of the East, seizing the city of Novidunum which lies on the bank of the river, laid hands on certain of the citizens and, having gathered an the money in the city, prepared, with those who chose to revolt with him, to lay waste the lands of the Thracians and Illyrians. When the force sent by the emperor was about to overcome him and he was besieged he warded off the besiegers from the circuit walls as long as he and those with him could hold out. When they grew tired of their labor through constantly fighting the Roman host, they placed the children of the prisoners on the battlements and so checked the onset of the opposing javelins. The soldiers, loving their Roman children, neither threw against them on the walls nor hurled their javelins. And so after a while the siege was lifted for him on terms.

(These Rubi were probably the Rugi who later under Odovacar were to playa decisive role in Italy. They were possibly a complex of tribes of which the Saraguri, Onoguri, Ulmerguri, and even those tribes mentioned in Priscus' fragments 1 and l0--the Alipzuri, Alcidzuri, and Amilzouri and others of similar name—may be branches. There is no reason to believe that at this time the Rugi were part of Attila's empire but rather, it has been plausibly suggested, that they had settled inside the empire as allies under their chieftain Valips. Tacitus says that the Rugi originally came from northern Germany, and if they can be identified here they must, like the two branches of the Goths, have hit the eastern frontiers before moving westward again inside the empire. After Attila's death they were living in Bizye and Arcadiopolis—modern Vize and Lüleburaz in European Turkey.

For eight years after his accession to power Attila was in occupied in building his empire in the northern lands, in reducing the Ostrogoths and Gepids to positions of subservience or alliance, and in attacking the Persian Empire. But in 441 a great attack was made on the Eastern Empire.)


P.fr.2 When the Scythians at the time of the assembly at the market, arranged for under the Treaty of Margus, attacked the Romans and killed many men who were probably merchants, the Romans sent to the Scythians, holding them to blame for the seizure of the fortress and their contempt of the peace treaty. This fortress was probably Constantia opposite Margus. They answered that they had not started the trouble but had done these things in self-defense, for the bishop of Margus coming to their land and searching thoroughly for the chests of their kings had despoiled the graves of their buried treasures. And they said that if the Romans should not give up this man and also surrender the fugitives according to their pledges (for there were very many among the Romans) they would declare war. The Romans averred that this excuse was not valid, but the barbarians, trusting in their own words, utterly despised any trial of the disputed matters and turned to war. They crossed the Danube and laid waste many cities and forts on the river. Among these they took Viminacium, which was a city of the Moesians in Illyria. While this was going on, some were arguing that the bishop of Margus should be given up so that the danger of war, for the sake of one man, might not be brought on the Romans as a whole. But this man, suspecting that he would be surrendered, without the knowledge of those in the city, came to the enemy and promised that he would hand over the city to them if the Scythian kings made any reasonable proposal. They said that they would treat him well in every way if he should bring his promise to fulfillment. When they had given their right hands and oaths for the things promised, he returned to the Roman land with a great host of barbarians, and, having laid this force as an ambush on the opposite bank, he roused it during the night according to the agreement and put the city into the hands of its enemies. Margus having been ravaged in this way, the possessions of the barbarians were increased to an even greater extent.


P.fr.lb (One episode of this attack has come down to us.) The Scythians were besieging Naissus. This is a city of the Illyrians lying on the Danube River. They say that Constantine was its founder the same man who also built the city at Byzantium named after himself. The barbarians, being on the point of capturing a city so populous and fortified besides, were advancing with every attempt. Since those in the city were not very confident about going out to battle, the barbarians bridged the river at the southern part where it flowed past the city so that a crossing would be easy for a large number of men, and they brought their engines of war to the circuit wall - first wooden beams mounted on wheels because their approach was easy. Men standing on the beams shot arrows against those defending the city from the battlements, and other men grabbing another projecting beam shoved the wheels ahead on foot. Thus, they drove the engines ahead wherever it was necessary so that it was possible to shoot successfully through the windows made in the screens. In order that the fight might be free of danger for the men on the beams they were protected by willow twigs interwoven with rawhide and leather screens, a defense against other missiles and whatever fire weapons might be sent against them.

Many engines were in this way brought close to the city wall, so that those on the battlements, on account of the multitude of the missiles, retired, and the so-called rams advanced. The ram is a huge machine. A beam with a metal head is suspended by loose chains from timbers inclined toward each other, and there are screens like those just mentioned for the sake of the safety of those working it. With small ropes from a projecting horn at the back, men forcibly draw it backward from the place which is to receive the blow and then let it go, so that with a swing it crushes every part of the wall which comes in its way. From the walls the defenders hurled down stones by the wagon load which had been collected when the engines had been brought up to the circuit wall, and they smashed some along with the men themselves, but they did not hold out against the vast number of engines. Then the enemy brought up scaling ladders. And so in some places the wall was toppled by the rams, and elsewhere men on the battlements were overpowered by the multitude of siege engines. The city was captured when the barbarians entered where the circuit wall had been broken by the hammering of the ram and also when by means of the ladders they scaled the part of the wall not yet fallen.


P.fr.3 After this attack a one year's truce was arranged, but a further attack was launched in 443. In the reign of Theodosius the Younger, Attila, the king of the Huns, having collected his own army, sent letters to the emperor concerning the fugitives and the tribute, advising that all those who under the excuse of this war had not been surrendered should be sent to him, as quickly as possible, and that ambassadors should come to hold discussions concerning the arrangements of the tribute owing him. He added that if they should delay or should proceed to war he would not willingly hold back his Scythian horde. When the emperor had read these messages he and his court answered that they would by no means surrender those who had fled to them, that they would submit to war and would send ambassadors to cut off the tribute. When the sentiments of the Romans were announced to Attila he angrily ravaged the Roman territory—seizing certain fortresses and making an attack on Ratialia, a very large and populous city.


P.fr.4 In the same year Theodosius sent Senator, a man of consular rank, on an embassy to Attila. Though he had the name of ambassador, he was not confident of reaching the Huns on foot and so sailed to the Black Sea and the city of Odessus, where Theodolus, sent out as general, was stationed.


P.fr.5 Attila seems to have been impressed by Senator, but further fighting apparently occurred, necessitating a second embassy in the same year. After the fight in the Chersonese further treaties were made by the Romans with the Huns through Anatolius as ambassador. (This man had been consul in 440 and at this time was master of soldiers in the East. Later, he was recalled to be made master of soldiers praesentalis when Zeno went to the East and as such, as we shall see, made a second embassy to Attila.) The Huns made peace on condition that the fugitives should be given back to the Huns and that 6000 lbs. of gold should be paid to them in place of the former contributions; each year a tribute of 2100 lbs. of gold to them was agreed on; for each Roman prisoner of war who escaped and crossed over to his own land without ransom there was to be paid twelve gold pieces or if those who received him back did not pay the fugitive was to be returned; and the Romans were to receive no barbarian who fled to them. The Romans feigned that they voluntarily made these agreements, but actually it was by necessity and by the exceeding great fear which constrained their rulers. In spite of the fact that the whole injunction was harsh, they had to be satisfied to make peace in eager haste. They sent the contribution of the tributes, which was very heavy, although their resources and the imperial treasures had been exhausted—not for necessities but because of disgusting spectacles, unrestrained ambitions and pleasures, and dissolute feasts such as no one of healthy mind, not even in prosperous times, should indulge in except those taking small thought for arms. The result was that they submitted to payment of tribute not only to the Scythians but also to the other barbarians dwelling near the Roman territory.

For the tributes and moneys which it was necessary to send to the Huns the emperor compelled everyone to join in paying a war tax, both those who paid taxes in kind and those relieved for a time from any very heavy land tax either by the decision of the judges or by the liberalities of the emperors. Those registered in the senate paid, as the war tax, sums of gold specified in proportion to their proper rank, and for many their good fortune brought a change in life. For they paid under torture what those assigned to do this by the emperor assessed them. And men who were formerly well-to-do displayed their wives’ ornaments and their furniture in the marketplace. After the war this calamity came on the Romans, and many either starved themselves to death or hanged themselves. Then, after Scottas, a prominent Hunnish noble and brother of Onegesius, arrived on this business the treasuries were drained on the spur of the moment and the gold and fugitives were sent off.

(Though it has been estimated that between 443 and 450 the Huns were paid £1,000,000 (1923) or 22,000 pounds of gold, it is certain that this picture of extreme hardship is vastly exaggerated and only the evidence of partisanship of the landed classes.) The Romans killed the majority of those who refused compliance with their surrender. Among them were members of the Scythian royal family who had refused to serve under Attila and had come to the Romans. Adding to these orders of his, Attila commanded the Asimuntians to hand back whatever prisoners they happened to have whether Romans or barbarians. Asemus is a strong fortress not very far from Illyricum and adjacent to the Thracian boundary, whose native inhabitants inflicted many terrible deeds on the enemy, not only warding them from the walls but even undertaking battles outside the ditch. They fought against a boundless multitude and generals who had the greatest reputation among the Scythians. The Huns, being at a loss, retired slowly from the fortress. Then the Asimuntians rushed out and, being further from their homes than usual, since spies had told them that the enemy were going away with the Roman plunder, fell on them by surprise. Though fewer than the Huns opposing them but excelling them in bravery and strength, they made the Hunnish spoils their own. Thus the Asimuntians in this war killed many Scythians, freed many Romans, and received those who had run away from their enemies.

Attila said that he would not lead back his army or ratify the peace treaty unless the Romans who had escaped to these people should be surrendered, or else ransoms paid for them, and the barbarian prisoners led off by the Asimuntians be given up. It was not possible for Anatolius the ambassador to oppose him nor for Theodolus, the commander of the military forces in Thrace. Even when they put forward reasonable arguments they did not persuade the barbarian since, on the one hand, he was very self-confident and was readily hasting to arms, and, on the other hand, they themselves were cowering on account of past events. They sent letters to the Asimuntians ordering them either to give up the Roman prisoners who had fled to them or for each to pay over twelve pieces of gold, and to dismiss the Hun prisoners. The Asimuntians, acknowledging the letters to them, said that they had set at liberty those Romans who had fled to them, that they had killed all the Scythian prisoners they had, but that they had two under arrest because, after the siege had been going on for a time, the enemy had sprung out of ambush and seized some of the children who were grazing cattle before the fortress. If the Huns did not surrender these boys, they said, neither would they themselves give up their captives according to the laws of war. When those who had gone to the Asimuntians had announced these things, it seemed best to the king of the Scythians and to the Roman commanders to search out the children who the Asimuntians said had been seized. When none was found the barbarian prisoners of the Asimuntians were given up, the Scythians having sworn that they did not have the children. The Asimuntians also swore that the Romans who had fled to them had been sent away free. They swore this even though there were Romans among them; they did not think they had sworn a false oath since it was for the safety of men of their own race.


P.fr.6 (Between 443 and 447 there was an unstable peace with the Huns.) When the peace was made Attila again sent ambassadors to the Eastern Romans demanding the fugitives. And they, receiving these envoys and flattering them with very many gifts, sent them back again, saying that they had no fugitives. And again he sent other men. When they had transacted their business a third embassy arrived and after it a fourth, for the barbarian, seeing clearly the Romans' liberality, which they exercised through caution lest the peace treaties be broken, wished to benefit his retinue. And so he sent them to the Romans, forming new excuses and finding new pretexts. They gave ear to every order and obeyed the command of their master in whatever he ordered. They were not only wary of undertaking war on him, but they also feared the Parthians who were, it chanced, making preparations for war, the Vandals who were troubling the sea coasts, the Isaurians who had set out on banditry, the Saracens who were overrunning the eastern part of their empire, and the united Ethiopian races. Being humbled, they danced attendance on Attila and strove to meet the other races with military power, mustering their forces and appointing generals. (Nothing could more clearly show the sad state of Rome's power under Theodosius than this list of serious dangers. There had been a brief outbreak of hostilities with Persia (miscalled Parthia) in 444 followed by a one year's peace, and though the Persians were in these years themselves engaged with the Huns the danger from the great eastern empire of Persia was always present, even if war did not actually break out. The Vandals on the sea were only temporarily pacified by a treaty made by the Eastern Empire with Gaiseric in 442, and the Isaurians of Cilicia—from time immemorial given to piracy when there was no strong Mediterranean naval power to stop them—now seem to be operating also on land and remained a thorn in the empire's flesh even when, as later under Zeno, they were useful as military bulwarks of the empire. We know little of the Saracen or Ethiopian raids except that peace was made with both these peoples in 451.


P.fr.3a At about this time the court at Constantinople came under the sinister influence of Chrysaphius Zstommas. Before this a most attractive man had held great power at court. He was Cyrus, a pagan, a poet and a friend of the Empress Eudocia and sole consul in 441.) Cyrus was put forward in Constantinople as praetorian prefect and prefect of the city. He used to go out as praetorian prefect in the carriage of the prefects and return sitting in the carriage of the city prefect, for he controlled the two offices as many as four times, because he was completely incorruptible. He also contrived to kindle evening lights in the workshops as well as at night. The factions in the Hippodrome cried out to him all day, "Constantine founded, Cyrus restored." The emperor was angry at him because they shouted these things, and, having confiscated his property, relieved him of his post, made him a priest, and sent him as bishop to Smyrna in Asia (or according to other authorities, to Kotyaium in Phrygia, modem Kutahya. Cyrus' downfall occurred in 442 or 443, and he was succeeded by Chrysaphius who soon "controlled everything, plundering the possessions of all and being hated by all."


P.fr.7 He brought the empire into considerable danger when after a new attack in 447, a Roman ambassador, Anatolius, had conducted negotiations with Attila early in 448 by which fugitives from the Huns were to be restored and some land ceded to them, and then somewhat later in the same year when) Edeco came again as ambassador—a Scythian who had performed outstanding deeds in the war—along with Orestes, who though he was of the Roman race dwelt in the land of Pannonia by the Saus River, a country subject to the barbarian by the treaty of Aėtius, the general of the Western Romans. (Orestes became the father of Romulus Augustulus, last emperor of the West; and the father of Odovacar, the first barbarian king of Italy, was called Edico. While there is no proof that the Edeco here and Odovacar's father were the same man, "there is a touch of dramatic completeness in the working out of the squabble for precedence between Edeco and Orestes in the persons of their sons . . .which, until the theory can be actually proved to be untrue, will always commend it to the artistic instincts of the historian." – T. Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, 2:517)

This Edeco, coming to the court, handed over the letters from Attila in which he held the Romans to blame in the matter of the fugitives. In retaliation Attila threatened to resort to arms if the Romans did not surrender them to him and if they did not refrain from plowing the land captured in the war. He asserted that the length of this tract was downstream on the Danube from the land of the Pannonians as far as Novae in Thrace, a distance of 300 miles, that the breadth was five days' march, and that the market town was not to be in Illyria on the bank of the Danube River as formerly, but at Naissus, which, after it had been laid waste by him, he set as the frontier of the lands of the Scythians and Romans, it being five days' journey distant from the Danube River for an unencumbered man. He gave orders that envoys should come to him to discuss controversial points—not just ordinary individuals but the most outstanding of those with consular rank. If they hesitated to send these men he said he would come down to Sardica to receive them. When these letters had been read to the emperor, Edeco left with Bigilas, who had interpreted word for word whatever resolutions of Attila the barbarian had uttered.

When he had come to other quarters to hold a conference with Chrysaphius, the chamberlain of the emperor and a man of very great power, he marveled at the splendor of the royal rooms. When the barbarian's conversation with Chrysaphius began, Bigilas the interpreter said that Edeco was praising the palace and admiring the wealth among them. Chrysaphius said that Edeco might also be the lord of a golden-roofed house and of such wealth if he would disregard Scythian matters and take up Roman ways. The other answered that it was not right for the servant of another master to do this without his lord's permission. Then the eunuch enquired whether admission to Attila's presence was easy for him and whether he had any authority among the Scythians. In reply Edeco said that he was an intimate friend of Attila and that he was entrusted with his bodyguard along with men chosen for this duty. On specified days, he said, each of them in turn guarded Attila with arms. The eunuch then said that if he received oaths he would make him very important and advantageous proposals, but that leisure was essential for this. He would attain this by coming to dinner with him without Orestes and his other fellow envoys.

Edeco undertook to do this and came to a feast at the eunuch's residence. They gave their right hands and oaths to each other through the interpreter Bigilas, the eunuch promising that he would speak with a view not to Edeco's harm but to his very great advantage, and Edeco promising that he would not tell the proposals to be made to him, even if he did not aim at their goal. Then the eunuch said to Edeco that, if, having crossed into Scythia, he should slay Attila and come back to the Romans, he would have a happy life and great wealth. Edeco promised and said that he needed money for the deed, not a great deal, but fifty pounds of gold to be given to the force under his command so that they might perfectly co-operate with him in the attack. When the eunuch promised to give the gold forthwith, the barbarian said that he should be sent to tell Attila about the embassy and that Bigilas should be dispatched with him to receive the answer from Attila about the fugitives. Through Bigilas, he said, he would disclose in what way his gold might be sent, for Attila would question him closely, like the other ambassadors, as to who had given him gifts and how much money he had received from the Romans, and it would not be possible to hide the money on account of those journeying with him.

It seemed to the eunuch that he spoke with sense, and accepting the advice of the barbarian he sent him away after dinner and took the plan to the emperor. The latter summoned Martialus, the master of offices, and told him of the agreements with the barbarian. Of necessity he had confidence in the opinion of this officer, for the master is privy to all the emperor's plans, since under him the messengers, interpreters, and soldiers of the imperial bodyguard are organized. It seemed best to those who made these plans concerning the proposals to send out not Bigilas alone but also Maximinus as ambassador to Attila.

(This man had been the assessor of Ardaburius in settling the Persian treaty of 422, and under Marcian was to be made grand chamberlain and thus one of the four chief ministers of state. Gibbon calls him "the wise and eloquent Maximin," and he certainly seems to have been one of the abler soldiers and diplomats of his day.)


P.fr .8 When Chrysaphius, the eunuch, had counseled Edeco to kill Attila, it seemed best to the Emperor Theodosius and the master of offices, Martialus, who were making plans concerning the proposals, to send out not only Bigilas but also Maximinus as ambassador to Attila. They ordered Bigilas to do whatever Edeco thought best under the guise of undertaking the duty of interpreter, and Maximinus, who knew nothing of the things planned by them, to hand over the emperor's letters. It had been written for the sake of the men undertaking the embassy that Bigilas was the interpreter and that Maximinus was of higher position than Bigilas, a man of illustrious lineage and a councilor to the emperor in the most important matters. Further, it was stated that it was not right for a man who was breaking the truce to cross into the territory of the Romans. The emperor added, "I have sent you seventeen fugitives in addition to those already given, since there are no others." These were the words in the letters. He ordered Maximinus to speak to Attila face to face so that the latter need not ask ambassadors of higher rank to cross over to him; for this had not been done in the case of his ancestors or in the case of other rulers of Scythia, but rather any chance soldier had made an embassy as a messenger. And for setting in order the matters in dispute it seemed best that he should send Onegesius to the Romans, for, since Sardica had been destroyed, it was not possible for him (that is, Attila) to proceed to that town with a man of consular rank.

Maximinus, by his entreaties, persuaded me to set out on this embassy with him. So then, along with the barbarians we took to the road and reached Sardica, a thirteen days' journey from Constantinople for a man traveling light. Halting there we thought it well to invite Edeco and the barbarians traveling with him to dinner. Thereupon, the inhabitants gave us sheep and cattle, which we slaughtered and so prepared a meal. During the course of the party as the barbarians praised Attila and we the emperor, Bigilas said that it was not fitting to compare a god and a man, meaning Attila by the man and Theodosius by the god. Then the Huns were irritated, and growing hot, little by little became angry. But we turned the talk to other matters, and with friendly overtures they themselves calmed down their spirit; after dinner, as we separated, Maximinus flattered Edeco and Orestes with gifts of silken garments and Indian gems.

While awaiting the departure of Edeco, Orestes said to Maximinus that he was wise and most noble in that he had not given offense like those at the imperial court. For they, he said, having invited Edeco to a feast without himself, had honored him with gifts. This speech was meaningless to us since he knew nothing of what has been revealed above, and he went away having made no answer to us though we repeatedly asked how and when he had been overlooked and Edeco honored. On the next day as we were advancing we told Bigilas what Orestes had said to us. He said that Orestes ought not to be angry that he had not had the same treatment as Edeco, for he was a servant and secretary of Attila but Edeco was a man foremost in military matters and, since he was of the Hunnish race, far superior to Orestes. Saying this and having conversed in private with Edeco, he later on reported to us, either speaking the truth or dissembling, that he had told him what had been said and with difficulty had soothed him as he had become very angry on account of it.

Arriving at Naissus we found the city destitute of men, since it had been razed by the enemy. In the Christian hostels were found people afflicted by disease. Halting in an open place a short distance from the river—for every place on the bank was full of the bones of those slain in war—we came the next day to Agintheus, the commander of the forces in Illyria, not far from Naissus, to announce the commands of the emperor and to receive the fugitives. He had to hand over five of the seventeen about whom it had been written to Attila. We conversed with him and arranged that he should hand over to the Huns the five fugitives whom he sent with us, after having treated them kindly.

Having passed the night we made a journey from the frontiers at Naissus toward the Danube River and entered a certain thickly shaded place where the path had many turns and twists and windings. Here, when the day dawned, the rising sun was seen in front of us, though we had been under the impression we had been traveling toward the west, with the result that those ignorant of the topography of the country cried out, supposing that surely the sun was going in the opposite direction and was thus portending strange and unusual events. Owing to the unevenness of the place that part of the road turned toward the east.

After this difficult ground we found ourselves on a wooded plain. Barbarian ferrymen received us, and in single-log boats which they themselves build, cutting and hollowing out the trees, they ferried us across the Danube River. They had not made these preparations for our sake, but had just ferried across a barbarian band which had met us on the road, because Attila was desirous of crossing to Roman territory as if to a hunt. But the royal Scythian really had the intention of doing this as a preparation for war, on the pretext that all the fugitives had not been given up.

Having crossed the Danube and proceeded with the barbarians about seventy stades, roughly eight miles, we were forced to wait in a certain place in order that Edeco and his suite might go to Attila as heralds of our arrival. The barbarians who had acted as our guides remained with us, and in the late afternoon when we were taking our dinner the clatter of horses was heard coming toward us. Then two Scythians appeared and ordered us to set out to Attila. First we asked them to come to dinner and they, dismounting from their horses, were treated well, and then next day they guided us on our way. About the ninth hour of the day, that is, at three p.m., we came to the tents of Attila—it turned out that he had many of them—but when we wished to pitch our tents on a certain hill, the barbarians who met us prevented us, because the tent of Attila was on low ground. We lodged where it seemed best to the Scythians; and Edeco and Orestes and Scottas and other picked men from among the Huns came and asked us what we were seeking to gain by making an embassy.

We were amazed at the unexpected enquiry and looked at one another, but they continued to importune us for an answer. We replied that the emperor had given us orders to talk with Attila and with no others, but Scottas, becoming angry, answered that this was the order of their own leader for they would not have come to us with meddling interference on their own.

We answered that this law had never been laid down for ambassadors--namely that, neither having met nor come into the presence of those to whom they had been sent, they should negotiate through others the things for which they were making the embassy. Moreover, we said, the Scythians were not ignorant of this since they made frequent embassies to the emperor; it was right that we get equal treatment, and we would not otherwise tell the business of our embassy.

So they broke off and went to Attila and again returned without Edeco. They told us everything for which we had come as envoys and ordered us to depart as quickly as possible unless we had anything else to say. We were still more at a loss at these words, for it was not easy to see how matters resolved by the emperor in secret had become well known.

We considered that there was no advantage for our embassy in answering unless we had access to Attila himself. So we said, "The enquiry of your leader is whether we come as ambassadors to treat of the matters mentioned by the Scythians or on other business, but by no means did we come to discuss this with other men." And they ordered us to depart forthwith.

As we were making preparations for the journey Bigilas found fault with us on account of our answer, saying it was better to be caught in a lie than to return without success. "If," said he, "I had conversed with Attila I should easily have persuaded him to put aside his disagreements with the Romans, since I became his friend on the embassy with Anatolius." He said this and that Edeco was well disposed toward him. With this argument of the embassy and of matters which had to be spoken of in any case, he tried to gain, either truly or falsely, his chance to make plans for what they had resolved against Attila and for bringing the gold which Edeco had said was necessary to distribute among the appointed men. But without his knowledge he was betrayed, for Edeco had either given a false promise or had become afraid that Orestes would tell Attila what he had said to us in Sardica after the banquet. In that case he feared that he would be held at fault for having conversed with the emperor and the eunuch without Orestes, and so he revealed to Attila the plot against him and the amount of gold to be sent out. And he also announced the purpose of our embassy.

Our baggage had already been packed on the beasts of burden, and, having no choice, we were trying to begin our journey during the night when other barbarians came and said that Attila bade us wait on account of the hour. At the very place from which we had just set out some men arrived bringing us an ox and river fish from Attila, and so we dined and then turned to sleep.

When day came we thought the barbarian might make some mild and soothing statement, but he sent the same men again and ordered us to leave unless we had something else to say besides the things they already knew. We made no answer and prepared for the journey, although Bigilas argued obstinately that we should say that there were other things to tell them. When I saw that Maximinus was in great dejection, I took Rusticius, who knew the language of the barbarians thoroughly and who had come with us to Scythia, not for the sake of the embassy but on business with Constantius (the western emperor). He was an Italian whom Aėtius, the general of the Western Romans, had sent to Attila as his secretary. I took Rusticius to Scottas, for Onegesius was not there at the time. Addressing him through Rusticius as interpreter I said that he would receive many gifts from Maximinus if he should make preparations for him to gain entrance to Attila. Maximinus' embassy would be profitable, I said, not only to the Romans and Huns but also to Onegesius, who the emperor desired should come to him to compose the disputes for the two nations, and who would thus obtain very great gifts. Since Onegesius was not present, I said it was necessary for him to help us—or rather his brother--in this noble enterprise. I said that I had learned that Attila trusted him also, but that the reports about him would not seem true if we should not know his power from personal experience. In answer he said that we should no longer be in doubt about his either speaking or acting on equal terms with his brother before Attila. Then he mounted his horse straightway and rode to the tent of Attila.

I returned to Maximinus, who, with Bigilas, was troubled and at a loss in the present circumstances. I told what I had said to Scottas and what I had heard from him and declared that it was necessary to prepare gifts for the barbarian and to consider what we should say to him. Both men jumped up, for they had been lying on the grass. They praised the deed and called back those who had already set out with the beasts of burden. Then they considered how to address Attila and how to present him with both the emperor's gifts and the things which Maximinus had brought for him.

While we were thus engaged Attila summoned us through Scottas, and so we came to his tent, which was guarded by a band of barbarians around it. When we made our entrance we found Attila sitting on a wooden seat. As we stood a little apart from the throne, Maximinus went forward, greeted the barbarian, and gave him the letters from the emperor, saying that the emperor prayed that he and his followers were safe and sound.

He answered that for himself the Romans would have whatever they wished. Straightway, he turned his words against Bigilas, calling him a shameless beast and asked why he desired to come to him when be knew the terms made by him and Anatolius for peace, adding that he had said that no ambassadors ought to come to him before all the fugitives had been surrendered to the barbarians.

Bigilas said that there was not a single refugee of the Scythian race among the Romans, for all of them bad been surrendered. Attila became even angrier and, railing at him violently, said with a shout that he would have impaled him and given him to the birds for food if he bad not thought it an outrage to the law of embassies to exact this punishment from him for his effrontery and recklessness of speech. He said there were among the Romans many refugees of his race whose names, written down on a piece of paper, he ordered his secretaries to read out. When they had gone through all of them, he ordered Bigilas to depart without more ado. He sent Eslas with him to tell the Romans to send back to him all the barbarians who had fled to them from the time of Carpileon, who as the son of Aėtius, the general of the Romans of the West, had been a hostage at his court. He would not allow his own servants to go to war against him, even though they were unable to help those who turned over to them the protection of their native land, for, said he, what city or what fortress he set out to capture would be saved by these refugees? When Bigilas and Eslas had announced his resolutions concerning the fugitives he ordered them to return and say whether the Romans were willing to surrender them or whether they were going to undertake war on their behalf.

He also ordered, first of all, that Maximinus should remain so that through him he could answer the emperor concerning the things written about, and he accepted the gifts. Having presented them and returned to our tent we discussed privately each of the things that had been said. Bigilas expressed surprise that though Attila had seemed mild and gentle to him when he had made the former embassy now he railed at him harshly. I said I was afraid that certain of the barbarians who had feasted with us at Sardica had made Attila hostile by informing him that he had called the emperor of the Romans a god but Attila a man. Maximinus accepted this explanation as likely, since, indeed, he was not an accomplice in the conspiracy which the eunuch had devised against the barbarian. But Bigilas was in doubt and seemed to me to be at a loss for Attila's motive in assailing him. He did not think, as he told us afterward, that the events at Sardica nor the details of the plot had been told to Attila, since no one else from the throng, on account of the fear prevailing over all, would dare to come into conversation with him, and Edeco would hold his peace on account of his oaths and the uncertainty of the business, lest he, as a participant of such plans, should be considered to have been in favor of them and should suffer the death penalty.

While we were in such great doubt, Edeco came and took Bigilas outside our gathering, pretending to be in earnest about the plot. He gave orders for the gold to be brought for those who would be involved with him in this business and left. When I enquired closely what Edeco had told him he tried to deceive me—himself being deceived—and hiding the true reason said that Edeco had reported that Attila was angry with him on account of the fugitives, for it was necessary that he receive all or that ambassadors of the highest rank come to him.

As we were discussing these matters some of Attila's retinue came and told both Bigilas and ourselves not to buy any Roman prisoner or barbarian slave or horses or anything else except things necessary for food until the disputes between the Romans and Huns had been resolved.

The barbarian did this cunningly, so that Bigilas would be easily caught in the business directed against himself—he would be at a loss for a reason for bringing the gold—and also in order that we might wait for Onegesius to receive the emperor's gifts which we wished to give, he used the pretence of an answer to be given to the embassy.

It happened that Onegesius with the elder of Attila's sons had been sent to the nation of Akatiri. This is a Hunnish nation which submitted to Attila for the following reason. The nation had many rulers according to the tribes and clans, and the Emperor Theodosius sent gifts to them so that, with his moral support, they might renounce their alliance with Attila and join an alliance with the Romans. But the man who brought the gifts had not given them out to the various kings according to the rank of each. The result was that Kouridachus, the elder in office, received the gifts second, and so, being overlooked and deprived of his proper honors, he had called Attila in against his fellow kings. Without delay Attila had sent a force and, having destroyed some and subdued others, he summoned Kouridachus to share the prizes of victory. But he, suspecting a plot, said, "It is difficult for a man to come into the presence of a god; for if it is not possible to look directly at the disc of the sun how might anyone look at the greatest of the gods without suffering?" So Kouridachus stayed in his own territories and saved his dominion when all the rest of the nation of the Akatiri submitted to Attila. Wishing to appoint his elder son king of this nation Attila sent Onegesius for this purpose. Wherefore, as has been said, he compelled us to wait while Bigilas and Eslas crossed to Roman territory on the pretext of the fugitives, but in truth so that Bigilas might bring the gold for Edeco.

When Bigilas had set out, we waited one day after his departure for home and on the next proceeded with Attila to the northern parts of the country. We advanced with the barbarian for a time and then turned along a different road, the Scythians who were guiding us having ordered us to do this, while Attila was to proceed to a certain village where he wished to marry the daughter of Escam. He had many wives but he was taking this woman also according to the Scythian custom. From here we proceeded along a level road lying in a plain and crossed navigable rivers, of which the greatest after the Danube, were the Drecon, so called, the Tigas, and the Tiphesas. We were carried across these in boats made of a single piece of wood, such as those dwelling along the rivers use. We crossed the other rivers on rafts which the barbarians carry on wagons for use in the marshy places.

At the villages food was supplied to us generously, millet instead of wheat and mead—as it is called in the native tongue—instead of wine. The attendants following us were also supplied with millet and a drink made of barley was provided; the barbarians call this "kamon." Having completed a long journey, late in the afternoon we camped by a certain lake which had fresh water and whence the inhabitants of the nearby village drew their water. A wind and a storm arose on a sudden, accompanied by thunder and frequent lightning flashes and a heavy downpour of rain, and not only overturned our tent but also rolled all our gear into the water of the lake. Terrified by the tumult which ruled the air and by what had happened, we left the place and were separated from one another as, in the dark and the rain, each of us took whatever road he thought would be easy for himself. When we came to the huts of the village—for we returned to it, all by different routes—we met in the same place and searched, shouting for the things we needed. The Scythians leapt out at the tumult and lit the reeds which they used for fire, and, having made a light, they asked why we raised such an outcry. The barbarians with us answered that we had been thrown into confusion by the storm, and so they summoned us to their own huts and, burning a great many reeds, furnished us shelter.

A woman rules in the village—she had been one of Bleda's wives—and she sent us provisions and good-looking women to comfort us. This is a Scythian compliment, but we, when the eatables had been laid out, showed them kindness but refused intercourse with them. We remained in the huts until daylight and then turned to search for our baggage. We found it all, some in the place where we had chanced to halt, some on the bank of the lake, and some in the water itself. We spent that day in the village drying out all our things, for the storm had stopped and the sun was shining. Having taken care of our horses and the other baggage animals we went to the princess and greeted her and repaid her with gifts, three silver drinking bowls, red skins, pepper from India, fruit of the palm, and other sweetmeats, gifts esteemed by the barbarians because they do not often come to them. And we thanked her for the kindness of her hospitality.

Having completed a journey of seven days we waited in a certain village, our Scythian guides having ordered us to do so, because Attila was going to follow the same road and it behooved us to proceed behind him. There we met some of the Western Romans, themselves also on an embassy to Attila. Among them was Romulus, a man honored with the rank of count, and Plomotus who governed the province of Noricum, and Romanus, the commander of a military corps with the rank of duke. With them was Constantius whom Aėtius had sent to Attila as his secretary, and Tatulus, the father of Orestes who was with Edeco, these men making the journey not on account of ambassadorial duties but out of friendship for the others—Constantius on account of his former acquaintance with these men in the Italies and Tatulus on account of his kinship. His son Orestes had married the daughter of Romulus, who was from Batavio—a city in Noricum.

They were making this embassy in order to pacify Attila who desired that Silvanus, the manager of the bank of Armius at Rome, be surrendered to him because he had received some golden bowls from Constantius. This Constantius hailed from the western Galatians or Gauls, and had himself also been sent to Attila and Bleda as a secretary just as the Constantius after him. At the time when Sirmium in Pannonia was being besieged by the Scythians he received the bowls from the bishop of the city on condition that he ransom him if the city should happen to be captured and he survive, or else, if he should be killed, to rescue those of the citizens who were being led off as prisoners. But Constantius, after the enslaving of the city, took small account of his agreements and, coming to Rome on some business, obtained gold from Silvanus, giving him the bowls on condition that within a stated time he either repay the money lent at interest and receive back the sureties or that Silvanus use them for whatever he wished. But then Attila and Bleda, holding Constantius in suspicion of treachery, crucified him.

After a time, when the affair of the bowls was revealed to Attila, he desired that Silvanus be surrendered to him as a thief of his possessions. Therefore, the envoys had been sent from Aėtius and the emperor of the Western Romans to say that Silvanus, since he was the creditor of Constantius, had the bowls as sureties and had not received them as stolen goods and that he had given them in exchange for money to priests and not to ordinary people: for it is not right for men to use for their own purposes drinking cups dedicated to God. If, therefore, Attila would not desist for this just reason or out of reverence for divinity from demanding the bowls, they said that they would send gold in place of them but that they declined to send Silvanus, for they would not give up a man who had done no wrong. This was the reason for their embassy, and they were following Attila closely so that the barbarian might answer them and send them away.

Having come on the same journey, therefore, we waited for him to advance ahead and then with all the crowd followed closely. We crossed certain rivers and came to a very large village in which the dwelling of Attila was said to be more notable than those elsewhere. It had been fitted together with highly polished timbers and boards and encircled with a wooden palisade, conceived not for safety but for beauty. Next to the king's dwelling that of Onegesius was outstanding, and it also had a circuit of timbers but was not embellished with towers in the same way as Attila's. Not far from the enclosure there was a large bath which Onegesius, who had power second only to Attila among the Scythians, had built, fetching the stones from the land of Pannonia. There is neither stone nor tree among the barbarians living in those parts, but they use imported wood. The builder of the bath, taken as a captive from Sirmium, thought that he would receive his freedom as pay for his ingenious work. But he was disappointed and fell into a greater distress of slavery among the Scythians, for Onegesius appointed him bath man, and he had to wait on him and his household when they washed.

Maidens came to meet Attila as he entered this village, advancing before him in rows under fine white linen cloths stretched out to such a length that under each cloth, which was held up by the hands of women along either side, seven or even more girls walked. There were many such formations of women under the linen cloths, and they sang Scythian songs. When he came near the house of Onegesius (for the road to the palace led past it), the wife of Onegesius came out with a host of servants, some bearing dainties and others wine, and (this is the greatest honor among the Scythians) greeted him and asked him to partake of the food which she brought for him with friendly hospitality. To gratify the wife of his intimate friend, he ate sitting on his horse, the barbarians accompanying him having raised the silver platter up to him. Having also tasted the wine proffered to him he went on to the palace, which was higher than the other houses and situated on a high place.

We remained in the house of Onegesius, since he himself bade us, for he had returned with the son of Attila. We had dinner there, his wife and the outstanding members of his family receiving us; he himself after his return went at once into conference with Attila to tell him the results of the business for which he had been sent and about the accident which had befallen Attila's son (for the latter had slipped and broken his right hand), and so he did not have leisure to dine with us. After dinner we left the house of Onegesius and pitched our tents near the house of Attila so that Maximinus, when he had to go to Attila or else go into conference with other men of his court, might be separated by no great distance from them.

We spent the night in the place we had taken up our quarters, and when day dawned Maximinus sent me to Onegesius to present the gifts which he was giving and those the emperor had sent and to ascertain where and when he wished to confer with him. When I arrived with the servants carrying these gifts, I waited patiently, the doors being still closed, until someone should come out and disclose our arrival.

While I was waiting and strolling about in front of the stockade of the house a man in Scythian dress whom I , thought to be a native approached me. But he greeted me in the Hellenic language, saying, "Hail" (chaire), and I marveled that a Scythian was speaking Hellenic. Being a mixture of peoples, in addition to their own barbaric tongue those who have dealings with the Romans cultivate the tongue of the Huns or Goths or even Latins, but it is not easy for any of them to speak in the

Hellenic language, except those led as captives from Thrace and the seacoast of Illyricum. When come upon, these are easily recognized from their ragged clothes and the squalor of their heads as men who have met with ill fortune. But this man was like a well-dressed Scythian living in luxury and had his hair clipped all around.

Having greeted him in turn I asked who he was and from where he had come into this barbaric land and taken up a Scythian life. He in turn asked why I was so eager to know this. I answered that the reason for my curiosity was his Hellenic speech. Then laughing, he said that he was a Greek by race and that he had gone for trade to Viminacium, the city of Moesia on the Danube River, and had lived in it for a long time and had married a very rich woman. But when the city came under the barbarians he had been stripped of his prosperity, and on account of the wealth belonging to him had been assigned to Onegesius in the distribution of the spoils—for the elite of the Scythians, after Attila, took the captives selected from among the well-to-do because they sold for the most money. He had fought bravely in the later battles with the Romans and the nation of the Akatiri, and, having given his barbarian master, according to the law of the Scythians, what he had gained for himself in the war, he had obtained his freedom. He had married a barbarian woman and had children; he was a partaker of the table of Onegesius and led a better life at present than he had formerly.

Among the Scythians, said he, men are accustomed to live at ease after a war, each enjoying what he has, causing very little or no trouble and not being troubled. Among the Romans, however, men are easily destroyed in war, in the first place because they put their hopes of safety in others, since on account of their tyrants all men are not allowed to use arms. For those who do use them, the cowardice of their generals, who cannot support the conduct of war, is more perilous. In peace, moreover, experiences are more grievous than the evils of the wars, on account of the very heavy taxes and the wrongs suffered at the hands of wicked men, since the laws are not imposed on all. If the transgressor of the law be of the monied class, it is not likely that he pays the penalty of his wrongdoing; if he should be poor and ignorant of how to handle the business, he endures the penalty according to the law—if he does not depart life before his trial. For the course of these cases is long protracted, and a great deal of money is expended on them. Probably the most grievous suffering of all is to obtain the rights of the law for pay. No one will even grant a court to a wronged man unless he lays aside some money for the judge and his attendants.

In answer to him, as he was putting forward this and many other arguments, I mildly said that he should also hear the arguments on my side. Then I said that the founders of the Roman constitution were wise and noble men, with the result that affairs are not carried on haphazardly. They appointed some to be guardians of the laws and others to pay attention to arms and to practice military exercises; they were set to no other task than to be prepared for battle and to go to war in confidence, as to a familiar exercise, fear having been eradicated beforehand through training. Others engaged in farming and the care of the land were appointed to support both themselves and those fighting on their behalf by collecting the military provisions tax. And others they assigned to take thought for those who had been wronged—men to support the claim of those unable, on account of a deficiency in their nature, to plead their own rights, and judges to uphold the intention of the law. Nor was there any lack of thought for those who came before the judges—among these men were some to see to it that he who obtained the decision of the judges should get his claim and that the one convicted of wrongdoing should not be compelled to pay more than the decision of the judges willed. If those who had these matters under their care did not exist, the reason for another case would arise from the same cause, the winner of the case either proceeding against his enemy too harshly, or the one with the adverse decision persisting in his illegal contention. There was, furthermore, a fixed sum of money for such men, payable by those contesting the case, like that paid by the farmers to the soldiers. Is it not right, I said, to support him who comes to your aid and repay his kindness? Just so is the provisioning of his horse a benefit to the horseman, the care of his cattle to the shepherd, of his dogs to the hunter, and of other creatures to men who have them for their own protection and assistance. When men pay the price of going to justice and lose the case, let them attribute this misfortune to their own injustice and not to anything else.

As for the time spent on cases being too long, should it occur, it is due to the concern for justice, so that the judges might not fail in exactitude by acting in an offhand manner. It is better that by considering they end a case late than that by hurrying they not only wrong mankind but also offend God, the founder of justice. The laws are imposed on everyone—even the emperor obeys them—and it is not true (as was part of his charge) that the well-to-do assault the poor with impunity, unless indeed someone escapes punishment by eluding detection. This escape is not for the rich alone, but any poor man might also discover it. For though they are offenders they would not suffer punishment because of a lack of evidence; and this happens among all peoples, not only among the Romans. For the freedom he had obtained, I told the man he had to acknowledge thanks to fortune and not to the master who had led him out to war. Indeed, through inexperience he might have perished at the hands of the enemy or, fleeing, been punished by his owner. The Romans are wont to treat even their servants better. They show the attitude of fathers or teachers to them, so that restrained from vulgar habits they pursue what has been thought good for them, and their masters chastise them for their sins as they do their own children. It is unlawful to inflict death on them as it is for the Scythians. There are also many ways of conferring freedom, which they give freely, not only when they are still alive but also when they die, having arranged their estates as they wish. And whatever a man plans for his possessions on his death is legally binding.

My interlocutor wept and said that the laws were excellent and the constitution of the Romans fair, but that the rulers were ruining it by not taking thought for it like their predecessors. While we were discussing these things someone from inside arrived and opened the doors of the enclosure. I ran forward and asked what Onegesius was doing, for I desired to announce something to him from the ambassador who had come from the Romans. He answered that I should meet him if I waited a little, for he was about to go out.

Indeed, not much time passed until I saw him coming out. Going up to him I said that the Roman ambassador greeted him and that I had come with gifts from him and that I also had the gold sent from the emperor. I asked when and where he wished to hold a discussion with Maximinus, as the latter was anxious to have a meeting. He ordered his attendants to accept the gold and the gifts and told me to report to Maximinus that he would come to him at once. I returned and announced that Onegesius was at hand. And straightway he came to the tent.

Addressing Maximinus, he gave thanks both to him and to the emperor and asked what Maximinus wished to say that he had summoned him. The Roman answered that the time had come when Onegesius would have greater honor among men if he went to the emperor and, with his intelligence, put the disputes in order and established concord between Romans and Huns. He said there would be advantage not only for both nations, but he would also obtain many benefits for his own household, since he and his children would be forever the friends of the emperor and his race.

Onegesius said, "And what actions would be gratifying to the emperor, or how may the disputes be settled for him?" Maximinus answered that, having crossed into Roman territory, he would earn the emperor's gratitude and would settle the disputes by thoroughly examining their causes and removing them according to the terms of the peace. The other said that he would tell the emperor and his ministers the things which Attila desired. "Or do the Romans think," he said, "that they will move me by entreaty to such an extent that I will betray my master, neglect my upbringing among the Scythians and my wives and my children, and think slavery under Attila no better than wealth among the Romans?" He added that it would be more advantageous for him, by remaining in his own country, to appease the spirit of his master respecting his causes to be angry at the Romans than, by going to them, to subject himself to blame for having done things other than seemed best to Attila.

Saying this he departed, first commanding that I confer with him on the matters we wished to ask of him, since continuous visiting was not fitting for Maximinus—a man acting in an official capacity.

The next day I approached the enclosure of Attila with gifts for his wife. Her name was Kreka, and by her Attila had three sons, the elder being ruler of the Akatiri and of the other peoples dwelling along the Black Sea in Scythia. Inside the enclosure were many houses, some of carved planks beautifully fitted together, and others of clean beams smoothly planed straight; they were laid on timbers which formed circles. Beginning at the ground level the circles rose to a moderate height. Here dwelt the wife of Attila. I gained entrance through the barbarians at the door and came upon her lying on a soft spread. The floor was covered with mats of felted wool. A number of servants were waiting on her in a circle, and maidservants, sitting on the floor in front of her, were embroidering with color fine linens to be placed as ornament over their barbarian clothes. Approaching, I greeted her and presented our gifts and then went out. I walked to the other house in which Attila happened to be staying and waited for Onegesius to come out, as he had left his own house and was within. Standing among the throng, for I was hindered by no one — being known to the guards of Attila and those who accompanied him — I saw a crowd advancing and a tumult and a stir arising around the place, since Attila was about to come out. He came from his house walking with a haughty strut, looking around here and there. When he had come out he stood in front of his house with Onegesius, and many who had disputes with one another came and received his judgment. Then he returned into the house and received barbarian ambassadors who had come to him.

Romulus, Promotus, and Romanus, who had come from Italy to Attila as ambassadors on the matter of the golden cups, approached while I was waiting for Onegesius. With them were Rusticius, who was in Constantius' retinue, and Constantiolus, a man of the Pannonian territory governed by Attila. They came to talk and asked whether we had been dismissed or whether we were being forced to remain. I said that I was still waiting before the enclosures in order to learn this from Onegesius. When I asked, in turn, whether Attila had made a mild and gentle reply concerning their embassy, they said that he had not changed his mind, but was going to declare war unless Silvanus or the drinking cups were sent to him.

We were amazed at the barbarian for his unreasonableness, and Romulus, an ambassador experienced in many affairs, took up the discourse and said that his very great fortune and the power derived from good luck exalted him so that he could not endure just proposals unless he thought they came from himself. By no one who had ever yet ruled over Scythia, or indeed any other land, had such great things been achieved in such a short time, since he ruled even the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to all Scythia, held the Romans also to the payment of tribute. He is aiming, he said, at greater achievements beyond his present ones and desires to go against the Persians to expand his territory to even greater size.

When one of us asked what route he could take against the Persians, Romulus said that the land of the Medes was separated by no great distance from Scythia and that the Huns were not ignorant of this route. Long ago they had come upon it when famine was overwhelming their country, and the Romans had not opposed them on account of the war they were engaged in at that time. Basich and Kursich, men who later had come to Rome to make an alliance, being of the Scythian royal family and rulers of a vast horde, had advanced into the territory of the Medes. Those who went across say that they traversed a desert country, crossed a certain swamp which Romulus thought was the Maeotis, spent fifteen days crossing over some mountains, and so descended into Media. A Persian host came on them as they were plundering and overrunning the land, and, being on higher ground than they, filled the air with missiles so that, encompassed by danger, the Huns had to beat a retreat and retire across the mountains. They took little plunder, for the greatest part was seized by the Medes. Being watchful for the pursuit of the enemy they took another road, and, having marched <text corrupt here>. . . days from the flame which rises from the stone under the sea they arrived home. Thus, they know the land of the Medes is not far from Scythia. Attila, if he wished to go there, would not have much trouble, nor would he have a long journey, and so would subdue the Medes, Parthians, and Persians and force them to submit to the payment of tribute, for he had a military force which no nation could resist.

When we prayed that he would go against the Persians and turn the war against them instead of us, Constantiolus said that he feared that once having subdued the Persians with ease Attila would return as a tyrant instead of a friend to us. At present we brought him gold for the sake of his rank, but if he overwhelmed the Parthians, Medes, and Persians, he would no longer endure the rule of Romans independent of himself, but considering them his servants would openly impose harsh and intolerable injunctions on them. The rank which Constantiolus mentioned was general of the Romans, master of soldiers, the favor of which title Attila received from the emperor as a pretext for concealing the tribute. Thus, the contributions were sent to him under the pretence of military provisions supplied to generals. Therefore, he said, after the Medes, Parthians, and Persians were conquered he would shake off the name by which the Romans wished to call him and the rank with which they thought they had honored him and would force them to address him as emperor instead of general. Even now, when angry he was used to say that his servants were the generals of that ruler (the emperor) and that he himself had leaders of worth equal to the emperors of the Romans. There would be, in short, an increase in his present power, and God had revealed this in bringing to light the sword of Ares. This was a sacred object honored among the Scythian kings, since it was dedicated to the overseer of wars. It had been hidden in ancient times and then discovered through the agency of an ox.


P.fr.10 When a herdsman noticed one of his herd limping and found no reason for such a wound, being disturbed, he followed the tracks of blood. At length he came upon a sword which the heifer had heedlessly trodden on while grazing the grass. He dug it up and bore it directly to Attila. He rejoiced at this gift and thought — since he was a man of high spirit — that he had been appointed chieftain of the whole world and that through the sword of Mars supremacy in war had been granted to him.


P.fr .8 ctd. Just as each of us desired to say something about the present situation, Onegesius came out and we went to him to learn about the affairs we were engaged in. Having spoken first to some barbarians he ordered me to ask Maximinus what man of consular rank the Romans were sending as ambassador to Attila. When I came to the tent I told what had been said to me and deliberated with Maximinus as to what I ought to say regarding the matters about which the barbarian sought information from us. I returned to Onegesius and said that the Romans wished him to come to them to talk about the disputes, and, if they should fail to obtain this, the emperor would send out whomever he wished as ambassador. Immediately, he ordered me to fetch Maximinus, and when he came he led him into Attila's presence. When Maximinus came out a little later he said that the barbarian wished either Nomus the consul of 445 or Anatolius or Senator to be sent as ambassador and would not receive any other except the men named. When Maximinus had answered that by naming men for an embassy he must needs render them suspect to the emperor, Attila had said that if they did not choose to do what he wished the disputes would be settled by arms.

When we returned to our tent the father of Orestes, Tatulus, came and said, "Attila invites you both to a banquet and this will start about the ninth hour of the day." We waited for the right time and when those of us who had been invited to the feast and the ambassadors of the Western Romans had arrived, we stood on the threshold before Attila. The cupbearers gave us a cup, according to local custom, so that we might pray before sitting down. When this was done and we had tasted the cup we went to the seats in which we were to sit while dining.

All the chairs were ranged along the walls of the house on either side. In the middle sat Attila on a couch, another couch being set behind him, and back of this steps led up to his bed, which was covered with white linens and colored embroideries for ornament, just as the Hellenes and Romans prepare for those who marry. The position of those dining on the right of Attila is considered most honorable, and second the position on the left, where we happened to be and where Berichus, a Goth but still a noble among the Scythians, sat above us. Onegesius sat on a chair at the right of the king's couch, and opposite Onegesius two of Attila's sons sat on a chair. The eldest son sat on his couch, not near him but at the end, looking at the ground out of respect for his father.

When all were arranged in order a cupbearer approached and offered Attila an ivy-wood cup of wine. He took it and saluted the first in rank, and the one honored by the greeting stood up. It was not right for him to sit down until the king had either tasted the wine or drunk it up and had given the cup back to the cupbearer. All those present honored him in the same way as he remained seated, taking the cups and, after a salutation, tasting them. Each guest had his own cupbearer who had to come forward in order when Attila's cupbearer retired. After the second man had been honored and the others in order, Attila greeted us also with the same ritual according to the order of the seats. When everyone had been honored by this salutation the cupbearers went out, and tables for three or four or more men were set up next to that of Attila. From these each was able to partake of the things placed on his plate without leaving the original arrangement of chairs. Attila's servant was the first to enter, bearing a platter full of meat, and then the servants who waited on the rest placed bread and viands on the tables. While sumptuous food had been prepared—served on silver plates—for the other barbarians and for us; for Attila there was nothing but meat on a wooden trencher. He showed himself temperate in all other ways too, for gold and silver goblets were offered to the men at the feast, but his mug was of wood. His dress too was plain, having care for nothing other than to be clean, nor was the sword by his side, nor the clasps of his barbarian boots, nor the bridle of his horse, like those of other Scythians, adorned with gold or gems or anything of high price.

When the food placed on the first platters had been consumed we all stood up and no one went back to his seat until each, in the previous order, had drunk the goblet of wine which was presented to him, with a prayer that Attila should be healthy. When he had been honored in this way we sat down, and a second plate with edibles was placed on each table. After all had partaken of this and had stood up in the same way and again drunk wine we sat down.

As evening came on, pine torches were lit up, and two barbarians, advancing in front of Attila, sang songs which they had composed, chanting his victories and his virtues in war. Those at the feast looked at the men; some took delight in the verses, some, reminded of wars, were excited in their souls, and others, whose bodies were weakened by time and whose spirits were compelled to rest, gave way to tears. After the songs a certain crazed Scythian came forward, who forced everyone to burst out laughing by uttering monstrous and unintelligible words and nothing at all sane. After him Zercon the Moor entered.


P.fr.l1 This man, a Scythian so called, was a Moor by race. On account of the deformity of his body, the lisp of his voice, and his appearance he was an object of laughter. He was somewhat short, hump-shouldered, with distorted feet, and a nose indicated only by the nostrils, because of its exceeding flatness. He was presented to Aspar, son of Ardaburius, during the time he spent in Libya and was captured when the barbarians invaded Thrace and was brought to the Scythian kings. Attila could not endure the sight of him, but Bleda was exceedingly pleased with him, not only when he uttered comical words but also when he walked about in silence and moved his body clumsily. He was with him when he feasted and when he was on a campaign, wearing, on these expeditions, armor aimed at causing merriment. Bleda held him in high esteem and, when he ran away along with other Roman captives, he neglected the others completely but ordered him to be sought for with all diligence. When he saw him caught and brought back to him in chains, he laughed and, having slackened his anger, asked the reason for his flight and why he considered the life of the Romans better than that among them. Zercon answered that his flight was a crime, but that he had reason for his crime, namely that no wife had been given to him. Bleda, being reduced to further laughter, gave him from among the well-born women a wife who had been one of the attendants on the queen but who, on account of some misdemeanor, was no longer in her service. So he passed all his time in Bleda's company. After the latter's death Attila gave Zercon as a gift to Aėtius, the general of the Western Romans, who sent him back to Aspar.


P.fr .8 ctd. Edeco had persuaded him to come to Attila to recover through his influence the wife he had received in marriage in the country of the barbarians, since he was favored by Bleda. He had left her in Scythia when he was sent as a gift from Attila to Aetius. But he was disappointed in his hope, for Attila was angry because he had returned to his country. At the time of the banquet, he came forward, and by his appearance, his dress, his voice, and the words he confusedly uttered (for he mixed the tongue of the Huns and the Goths with that of the Latins), he softened everyone except Attila and caused unquenchable laughter to arise.

But Attila remained unmoved and his expression unaltered, nor in speech nor action did he reveal that he had any laughter in him, except when his youngest son (Ernach was the boy's name) came in and stood before him. He pinched the lad's cheeks and looked on him with serene eyes. I was surprised that he should take small account of his other sons but give his attention to this one, until a barbarian sitting beside me who knew the Latin language, warning me to repeat nothing of what he was about to tell me, said that the seers had prophesied to Attila that his race would fail but would be restored by this son. Since they were dragging out the night in the feast, we retired, not wishing to continue with the drinking any longer.

When the day came we went to Onegesius and said that we ought to be dismissed, so as not to waste time to no purpose. He said that Attila also desired to send us away. After a short time he took council with the picked men on Attila’s resolutions and drew up the letters to be handed to the emperor—his secretaries and Rusticius being present. This man, sprung from the land of Upper Moesia, had been captured in war and, on account of his skill in speech, was employed in drawing up letters for the barbarian.

When he came out of the meeting we pleaded with him for the liberation of the wife of Syllus and her children, who had been sold into slavery in the capture of Ratiaria. He did not oppose their liberation but wished to sell them for a great deal of money. We entreated him to pity them for their misfortune and consider their former happiness, and he went to Attila and dismissed the woman for 500 pieces of gold and sent the boys as a gift to the emperor.

In the meantime, Kreka, the wife of Attila, invited us to dine at the house of Adamis, who had charge of her affairs. We went with certain of the picked men of the nation and met with a friendly welcome. They greeted us with gracious words and food. With Scythian liberality each of those present stood up and gave us a full cup and then, having embraced and kissed the one who was drinking, received it back. After the dinner we went to our tent and turned in to sleep.

On the next day Attila again summoned us to a banquet, and, as previously, we came before him and feasted. It turned out that sitting beside him on the couch was not the eldest of his sons, but Oebarsius, who was his uncle on his father's side. Throughout the banquet he showed us kindness in his speech and ordered us to tell the emperor to give Constantius, who had been sent to him from Aėtius as secretary, the wife he had promised him. Constantius had come to the Emperor Theodosius with the ambassadors from Attila and had said that he would arrange for a long peace between the Romans and Huns if the emperor would give him a wealthy wife. The emperor had agreed and had said he would give him the daughter of Saturninus, a man honored for his wealth and family. But Athenaļs or Eudocia (for she was called by both names) had destroyed Saturninus, and Zeno did not agree that his promise should be fulfilled. He was a man of consular rank and had a great force of Isaurians under his command with which he had been appointed to guard Constantinople at the time of the war. Then, when he was in command of the military forces in the East, he carried the girl off from her castle and betrothed her to a certain Rufus, one of his attendants. When this girl was taken from him, Constantius besought the barbarian not to overlook the insult to him, but asked that either this girl or another be given him as wife, bringing her dowry with her. On the occasion of the feast, therefore, the barbarian ordered Maximinus to say to the emperor that Constantius ought not to be cheated of the expectations raised by the emperor, for it did not befit an emperor to lie. Attila gave these commands since Constantius promised to give him money if a woman of wealth among the Romans was betrothed to him.

We retired from the banquet after nightfall, and three days passed before we were dismissed, honored with suitable gifts. Attila sent Berichus, a man of the elite and the ruler of many villages in Scythia who had sat above us at the banquet, on an embassy to the emperor for various reasons, but especially that as an ambassador he might receive gifts from the Romans. As we were on our journey and encamped at a certain village, a Scythian was caught who had crossed from Roman territory into the land of the barbarians in order to spy. Attila ordered him to be impaled. On the next day, as we were proceeding through other villages, two men who were slaves of the Scythians were brought in, their hands bound behind them, because they had destroyed their masters during the war. They crucified them, putting the heads of both on two beams with horns.

As long as we were traversing Scythia Berichus accompanied us on the journey and seemed mild and friendly, but when we crossed the Danube he adopted the attitude of an enemy toward us, for some previous reason or other learned from his servants. He took back the horse which he had earlier presented to Maximinus—Attila had ordered all the elite of his court to show friendship to Maximinus with gifts, and each, including Berichus, had sent a horse to him. Taking a few of these, Maximinus sent back the rest, being eager to show discretion in his moderation. Berichus took back his horse, and did not continue to travel or eat with us. It came to this pass even though there was a pact of friendship for us in the land of the barbarians. Thence we held our way through Philippopolis to Adrianopolis. Stopping there, we came into conversation with Berichus and blamed him for his silence toward us, because he was angry at people who had done him no wrong. When we had paid court to him and had invited him to dinner we set out again. We met Bigilas on the road, packing up for his return to Scythia; we related Attila's answer to our embassy and continued our return journey.

When we came to Constantinople we thought Berichus had been turned from his anger, but he had not shed his savage nature. He again withdrew in disagreement, charging Maximinus with having said—when he had crossed into Scythia—that the generals Areobindus and Aspar had no inf1uence with the emperor and that he held their powers in contempt, since he had proof of their barbaric inconstancy.

When Bigilas had marched to where Attila happened to be staying, the barbarians surrounded and held him, having been prepared for this, and took the money which he was bringing to Edeco. When they led him before Attila he asked him why he was bringing so much gold. He answered that it was for provisioning himself and those accompanying him, so that through lack of supplies or scarcity of horses or baggage animals expended on the long journey he might not stray from his zeal for the embassy. It was also supplied to purchase fugitives, for many in Roman territory had begged him to liberate their kinsmen.

Then Attila spoke: "No longer, you worthless beast, will you escape justice by deception. Nor will there be any excuse sufficient for you to avoid punishment. Your supply of ready money is greater than necessary for your provisioning, or for the horses and baggage animals to be bought by you, or for the freeing of prisoners, a thing, furthermore, which I forbade Maximinus to do when he came to me." Saying this, he ordered the Roman's son--for he had followed Bigilas for the first time into the land of the barbarians--to be struck down with a sword unless Bigilas should first say why and for what purpose he was bringing the money.

When he beheld his son under threat of death he took to tears and lamentations and called aloud on justice to turn the sword against himself and not against a youth who had done no wrong. With no hesitation he told of the plans made by himself, Edeco, the eunuch, and the emperor, and begged unceasingly to be put to death and his son set free. When Attila knew from the things told by Edeco that he was telling no lies, he ordered him to be put in chains and vowed not to free him until having sent his son back he should bring another fifty pounds of gold to him as his ransom. The one was bound and the other departed for Roman territory, and Attila sent Orestes and Eslas to Constantinople.


P.fr .9 (It is worth including here a later summary of this famous journey, since it adds one or two new details.) Having crossed rivers mighty indeed—namely the Tisia, Tibisia, and Dricca—we came to the place where long ago Vidigoia, the bravest of the Goths, perished by the treachery of the Sarmatians. (This man, also called Vidicula and Indigoia, was one of the subjects of early Gothic lays, and judging by the mention of the Sarmatian-Gothic war he probably died in 331-32 or 334, when the two tribes were fighting during Constantine's reign. The term Sarmatians here indicates a Teutonic people who later included the Vandals, dwelling to the north of the Goths and usually allied to Rome.) Not far from there we reached the village where king Attila was staying, a village, I say, like a very large city, in which we found wooden walls made with smooth planks, their jointure imitating solidity to such an extent that the union of the boards could scarcely be seen by close scrutiny. You might see there dining rooms extended to a liberal circumference and porticoes laid out in all splendor. The area of the courtyard was bounded by a huge circuit wall so that its very size might show it to be the royal palace. This was the house of Attila, the king who held the whole barbarian world, and he preferred this dwelling to the cities captured by him.


P.fr.12 When Bigilas was caught plotting against Attila, Attila seized him and the hundred pounds of gold sent from the eunuch Chrysaphius, and forthwith dispatched Orestes and Eslas to Constantinople. He ordered Orestes to hang around his neck the bag in which Bigilas had put the gold to be given to Edeco, and so to come before the emperor. Having shown it to him and to the eunuch he was to ask whether they recognized it. Then Eslas was to speak from memory saying, "Theodosius is the son of a nobly born father; Attila also is of noble birth, having succeeded his father Mundiuch, and he has preserved his high descent. Theodosius, since he has undertaken the payment of tribute to him, has cast out his own nobility and is his slave. Therefore, he does not act with justice toward his superior—one whom fortune has shown to be his master—because he has secretly made an attack like a miserable houseslave. And Attila will not free of blame those who have sinned against him unless Theodosius should hand over the eunuch for punishment."

So the men came to Constantinople with these instructions. It happened that Chrysaphius was also sought by Zeno, possibly because he was angry at the confiscation of Rufus' wife's property, in which move he saw the hand of the powerful chamberlain. Maximinus had, indeed, announced that Attila had said the emperor ought to fulfill his promise and give Constantius his wife, who should not have been betrothed to another man contrary to the emperor's wish. Attila argued that either the man who had dared to give her away ought to be punished, or else the emperor's affairs were in such a state that he did not even control his own house servants. Against these, if he wished, Attila said he was ready to make an alliance. Theodosius was vexed at heart and confiscated the property of the girl.


P.fr.13 Being sought by both Attila and Zeno, Chrysaphius was in sore distress. Since all men united in bearing him good will and holding him in high regard, it seemed best to send Anatolius and Nomus on an embassy to Attila. Anatolius was the commander of the troops about the emperor (master of soldiers praesentalis) and was the one who had fixed the terms of the peace with him in early 448; Nomus had held the position of master of offices and was reckoned, with Anatolius, among the patricians who surpass all others in rank. Nomus was sent with Anatolius not only because of the greatness of his fortune, but also because he was well disposed to Chrysaphius and would prevail over the barbarian by his liberality, for when he was anxious to settle the matter at hand there was no sparing of money on his part. These men were sent to divert Attila from his anger, to persuade him to keep the peace according to the contract, and to say that a wife would be betrothed to Constantius in no way inferior to the daughter of Saturninus either in birth or wealth. She had not wished this marriage but had married another man according to the law, since among the Romans it was not right to betroth a woman to a man against her will. The eunuch also sent gold to the barbarian so that he was mollified and diverted from his wrath.


P.fr.14 Anatolius and Nomus and their train having crossed the Danube advanced into Scythia as far as the River Drecon, so-ca1led. Attila, through respect for these men, held a meeting with them there so that they might not be afflicted by the journey. At first he argued arrogantly, but overcome by the magnitude of the gifts and appeased by soft words, he swore to keep the peace according to the agreements, to retire from the land of the Romans bordering on the Danube, and even to refrain from pressing the business of the fugitives before the emperor, if the Romans would not again receive any others who escaped from him. He dismissed Bigilas after receiving fifty pounds of gold, which his son had brought to him when he came to Scythia with the ambassadors. He also dismissed very many prisoners without ransom since he was well-disposed toward Anatolius and Nomus. He presented them with horses and skins of wild animals, with which the Scythian kings adorn themselves, and sent them away with Constantius so that the emperor might fulfill his promise to him. When the ambassadors had returned and had related everything said and done, a woman was betrothed to Constantius. She had been the wife of Armatius, the son of Plinthas, who had been a Roman general and had held consular rank. Armatius had gone to Libya at the time of the fight against the Ausorians, and had attained success, but had become sick and ended his life. The emperor persuaded the wife of this man, distinguished for her birth and wealth, to marry Constantius. When the differences with Attila were thus resolved, Theodosius began to fear lest Zeno, who had not been appeased in his demands for Chrysaphius, should seize the sovereignty for himself.


J.A.fr.199 (1) Theodosius the Younger was angry at Zeno, for he was afraid that sometime he also might engage in a revolution, and he thought that he was in danger of a cowardly attack. This man profoundly disturbed him. Though he readily forgave all other sins, he was bitter and unalterable not only against those who plotted revolution but even against those thought worthy of the imperial power, and he proceeded to put them out of the way. In addition to the persons mentioned he also overthrew Baudon and Daniel for having engaged in a revolution. With the same purpose, therefore, in his eagerness to punish Zeno he held to his earlier plan of opposing him, and so Maximinus crossed to Isauropolis and seized the districts there beforehand, and he sent a force by sea to the east to subdue Zeno. He did not hesitate to do what seemed best to him, but when a greater object of fear agitated him he delayed his preparations.


(2) (In June 450 a messenger arrived at Constantinople from the West) announcing that Attila was involved with the royal family at Rome, since Honoria, the daughter of Placidia and sister of Valentinian III, the ruler of the West, had summoned him to her help. Honoria, though of the royal line and herself possessing the symbols of authority, was caught going secretly to bed with a certain Eugenius, who had the management of her affairs. He was put to death for this crime, and she was deprived of her royal position and betrothed to Herculanus, a man of consular rank and of such good character that it was not expected that he would aspire to royalty or revolution. She brought her affairs to disastrous and terrible trouble by sending Hyacinthus, a eunuch, to Attila so that for money, he might avenge her marriage. In addition to this she also sent a ring pledging herself to the barbarian, who made ready to go against the Western Empire. He wanted to capture Aėtius first, for he thought he would not otherwise attain his ends unless he put him out of the way. When Theodosius learned of these things, he sent to Valentinian to surrender Honoria to Attila. Valentinian arrested Hyacinthus and examined the whole matter thoroughly; after inflicting many bodily tortures on him, he ordered that he be beheaded. Valentinian granted his sister Honoria to his mother as a boon, since she persistently asked for her. And so Honoria was freed from her danger at this time.

(Only a few weeks after this last craven surrender to the Hun, on July 28, 450, Theodosius died and was succeeded by the stronger Marcian. One of his first acts was the execution of Chrysaphius, and almost at once Attila was made aware that a stronger policy toward him would be taken by Constantinople, a policy made practicable by Attila's turning his attention toward the West.)


P.fr .15 When it was announced to Attila that Marcian had come to the Roman throne in the East after the death of Theodosius, the Hun told him what had happened in the matter of Honoria. And he sent men to the ruler of the Western Romans to argue that Honoria, whom he had pledged to himself in marriage, should in no way be ill-treated, for he would avenge her if she did not receive the scepter of sovereignty. He sent also to the Eastern Romans concerning the appointed tribute, but his ambassadors returned from both missions with nothing accomplished. The Romans of the West answered that Honoria could not come to him in marriage having been given to another man and that the royal power did not belong to her, since the control of the Roman Empire belonged to males not to females. And the Romans of the East said that they would not submit to paying the tribute which Theodosius had arranged: to one who was peaceful they would give gifts, but against one threatening war they would let loose arms and men inferior in no way to his power.

Attila was of two minds and at a loss which he should attack first, but finally it seemed better to him to enter on the greater war and to march against the West, since his fight there would be not only against the Italians but also against the Goths and Franks—against the Italians so as to seize Honoria along with her money, and against the Goths in order to earn the gratitude of Gaiseric, the Vandal king.


P.fr.16 Attila's excuse for his war against the Franks was the death of their king and the disagreement of his children over the rule, the elder, who decided to bring Attila in as his ally, and the younger, Aėtius. I saw this boy when he was at Rome on an embassy, a lad without down on his cheeks as yet and with fair hair so long that it poured down around his shoulders. Aėtius had made him his adopted son, along with the emperor given him very many gifts, and sent him away in friendship and alliance. For these reasons Attila was making his expedition, and again he sent certain men of his court to Italy that the Romans might surrender Honoria. He said, she had been joined to him in marriage, and as proof he dispatched the ring sent by her in order that it might be shown. He also said that Valentinian should withdraw from half of the empire in his favor, since Honoria had received its control from her father and had been deprived of it by the greed of her brother. When the Western Romans held their former opinion and paid no attention to his proposal, he devoted himself eagerly to preparation for war and collected the whole force of his fighting men.

(Not without reason the ensuing campaign bas been called one of the decisive events of European history, even though its details and the exact location of the culminating battle, like the defeat of Varus in the Teutoberg Forest, cannot be surely determined. It must be borne in mind that Attila posed a threat to much more than the Roman government; he was a danger to Roman civilization and to the Christian religion. However independent politically the various Germanic tribes who had settled in Gaul might consider themselves at this time, most of them were not only Christian but fully conscious of the merits of Roman material, spiritual, and cultural civilization. It is not surprising, therefore, that quite apart from more personal reasons for hostility to the Hun the various Germanic chieftains of the West readily allied themselves with Rome and placed themselves under the command of the great Roman general Aėtius. Though this remarkable man had in the preceding few years been leader of the Roman forces against the Franks, Burgundians, and Visigoths, he now found most of these tribes and others too his eager if temporary allies.)

(Attila with his vast host of Mongols and subject Germans invaded central Gaul, where his cavalry could operate better and the chances for plunder were enormous. Some towns fell to him, but his army was not trained or eager for siege warfare and many withstood the passing storm, though compelled to see their countryside ravaged. For weeks, while mutual suspicions delayed the formation of the great Christian alliance, nothing could withstand these attacks, but in the end Theodoric with his Visigoths joined Aėtius and the other allies, and Attila could be opposed. The two armies met, probably near Troyes, in the Mauriac or Catalaunian Plain, whence Attila had retired from the siege of Orleans. As Gibbon says, "The nations from the Volga to the Atlantic were assembled.")

(In the engagement which followed, our sources say that 162,000 or 300,000 lives were lost—numbers which, however exaggerated, indicate a very heavy slaughter on both sides. At first the Roman center was pierced and the full weight of the Huns directed against the Visigoths on the right wing. Their king, the noble Theodoric, was fatally wounded and his troops disorganized, when the battle was restored by a flank charge of Visigothic cavalry under Thorismund. The Huns, forced to retire in disorder to the circle of their wagons, were expecting annihilation as night fell, but their enemies had also suffered severely. Furthermore, Thorismund, the new Visigothic king, fearing for his throne, retired and the great alliance broke up. Nevertheless, Attila had been so severely mauled in the battle that after several days delay in camp he retreated beyond the Rhine, cautiously followed by the remaining allies, and so "confessed the last victory which was achieved in the name of the Western empire.")

(This defeat in Gaul seems in no way to have seriously weakened Attila's formidable power or his violent spirit. In the next year, 452, he attacked Italy itself and laid siege to the rich and strong city of Aquileia on the northern Adriatic coast. After three months of arduous siege, during which his army suffered severely from shortages of provisions, the town was finally captured and so completely sacked and destroyed that even its ruins could scarcely be discovered a hundred years later. Other towns were treated similarly or surrendered, most notable among the latter being the great city of Milan. The court fled from Ravenna to Rome and Aėtius, without his allies, did not dare to join battle.)


P.fr.17 Though Attila's mind had been bent on going to Rome, his attendants, as the historian Priscus relates, deterred him, not because they were kindly disposed to the city—to which they were hostile—but holding up the example of Alaric, at one time king of the Visigoths. They were afraid for the good fortune of their own king, because Alaric had not long survived the capture of Rome, but had at once departed from humanity. While Attila's mind wavered in doubt between going or not and he was hesitating, turning the matter over in his mind, an embassy came from Rome seeking peace. Even Pope Leo himself came to him in the Ambuleian district of the Veneti where the Mincius River is crossed at the well-traveled ford. Attila soon laid aside his violent temper and returned whence he had come from beyond the Danube with the promise of peace. But he proclaimed above all, and with threats, that he would inflict heavier penalties on Italy unless Honoria, the sister of the Emperor Valentinian and daughter of Placidia Augusta, should be sent to him along with the share of the royal wealth due her. In his decision to retire, however, he was motivated much more by famine in Italy than by the entreaties or bribes of the embassy.


P.fr.19 After his return to the north he engaged in another abortive attack on Gaul and was again repulsed by Thorismund, the Visigothic king, but at the same time he was again threatening the Eastern Empire. After Attila had reduced Italy to slavery and had returned to his own territories, he notified those ruling the Eastern Romans that he would wage war and enslave their land because the tribute fixed by Theodosius had not been sent.


P.fr.18 When Attila demanded the tribute arranged by Theodosius and threatened war, the Romans answered that they were sending ambassadors to him, and Apollonius was dispatched. His brother had married the sister of Saturninus, the girl whom Theodosius desired to marry to Constantius but whom Zeno had given in marriage to Rufus. But the emperor had departed from among mankind, and so Apollonius, who had been among the friends of Zeno and had attained the rank of general, was sent on the embassy to Attila.

He crossed the Danube, but did not gain admittance to the barbarian, who was angry that the tribute had not been brought, which he said had been arranged for him by nobler and more kingly men. He did not receive the man sent as ambassador and scorned the one who had sent him. Apollonius on this occasion is revealed to have performed the deed of a brave man. When Attila did not suffer his embassy to approach nor wish to converse with him and when he ordered him to send him whatever gifts he had brought from the emperor and threatened his death if he did not give them, he said, "It is not meet for the Scythians to demand anything, either gifts or spoils, which they cannot take." Thus, he made it clear that the gifts would be given if they received him as an ambassador and would be as spoils only if they killed him and carried them off. And so he retired having accomplished nothing.


P.fr.23 (But the great Hun had not long to live. In 453, a few weeks or months later), at the time of his death, as the historian Priscus reports, Attila took in marriage a very beautiful girl, Ildico by name—after numerous other wives according to the custom of his race. Worn out by excessive merriment at his wedding and sodden with sleep and wine he lay on his back. In this position a hemorrhage which ordinarily would have flowed from his nose, since it was hindered from its accustomed channels, poured down his throat in deadly passage and killed him. So drunkenness put a shameful end to a king famed in war.

(According to more romantic rumors current in Roman circles he was stabbed with a knife by a woman.) But late on the following day, the royal attendants, suspecting some misfortune, after loud shouts broke down the doors. They found Attila dead from a flow of blood, unwounded, and the girl with downcast look weeping beneath her veil. Then, as is the custom of that race, they cut off part of their hair and disfigured their faces horribly with deep wounds so that the distinguished warrior might be bewailed, not with feminine lamentations and tears, but with manly blood. Concerning this event, it happened miraculously to Marcian, emperor of the East, who was disturbed about his fierce enemy, that a divinity standing near him in his dreams showed the bow of Attila broken that very night, as if the Huns owed much to this weapon. Priscus, the historian, says he accepts this on true evidence. Attila was considered fearsome to such a degree by the empires that supernatural signs showed his death to rulers by way of a boon. We shall not omit to say a little about the many ways in which his corpse was honored by his race.

In the middle of a plain in a silk tent his body was laid out and solemnly displayed to inspire awe. The most select horsemen of the whole Hunnish race rode around him where he had been placed, in the fashion of the circus races, uttering his funeral song as follows: "Chief of the Huns, King Attila, born of Mundiuch his father, lord of the mightiest races, who alone, with power unknown before his time, held the Scythian and German realms and even terrified both empires of the Roman world, captured their cities, and, placated by their prayers, took yearly tribute from them to save the rest from being plundered. When he had done all these things through the kindness of fortune, neither by an enemy's wound nor a friend's treachery but with his nation secure, amid his pleasures, and in happiness and without sense of pain he fell. Who then would consider this a death which no one thinks should be avenged?" After he had been mourned with such lamentations they celebrated a "Strava," as they call it, over his tomb with great revelry, coupling opposite extremes of feeling in turn among themselves. They expressed funereal grief mixed with joy and then secretly by night they buried the body in the ground. They bound his coffins the first with gold, the second with silver, and the third with the strength of iron, showing by such a device that these suited a most mighty king—iron, because with it he subdued nations, gold and silver because he received the honors of both empires. They added arms of enemies gained in battles, fittings costly in the gleam of their various precious stones and ornaments of every kind and sort whereby royal state is upheld. In order that human curiosity might be kept away from such great riches, they slaughtered those appointed to the task—a grim payment for their work—and so sudden death covered the buriers and the buried.

(Thus, Attila became a legend to terrify the fancy and haunt the folklore of succeeding ages. In the Niebelungenlied Ildico became Kiemhilde and Attila Etzel. His genius alone had held the loose fabric of his empire together, and at his death dissensions almost at once tore it apart. The subject allies, especially the Gepids and Ostrogoths, broke free, and in the battle of Nedao in 454 the quarreling sons of Attila were decisively defeated, and Ellac, the elder, killed. This battle ended for all time the monolithic Hunnish empire, and though various Hunnish tribes are heard of periodically they no longer offered any serious threats to the Romans.)