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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WHEN he had completed his preparations for war, Theodosius declared his younger son Honorius emperor, and leaving him to reign at Constantinople conjointly with Arcadius, who had previously been appointed emperor, he departed for the West at the head of his troops. His army consisted not only of Roman soldiers, but of bands of barbarians from the banks of the Danube. It is said that on his arrival at Constantinople, he went to the church which he had erected at Hebdoma in honour of John the Baptist, and in his name prayed that success might attend the Roman arms, and besought the Baptist himself to aid him. After offering up these prayers he proceeded towards Italy, and crossed the Alps. On descending from the heights of these mountains, he perceived a plain before him, covered with infantry and cavalry, and became at the same time aware that some of the enemy’s troops were lying in ambush behind him, among the recesses of the mountains. The advance guard of his army attacked the infantry stationed in the plain, and a desperate and very doubtful conflict ensued. At this juncture, the troops in ambuscade appeared on the point of attacking the army behind, and seeing that all chances of escape would thus be cut off, and that his position was one of imminent peril, and beyond the intervention of human aid, the emperor prostrated himself on the ground, and besought with tears the assistance of God. His request was instantly granted, for the officers of the troops stationed in ambush sent to offer him their services as his allies, provided that he would assign them honourable posts in his army. As he had neither paper nor ink within reach, he took up some tablets, and wrote on them the high appointments he would confer upon them, provided that they would fulfil their promise to him. Under these conditions, they ranged themselves under the imperial standard. Even after this reinforcement, the issue of the combat still remained uncertain, when a wind of unheard-of violence suddenly arose, and blew right in the face of the enemy. Their darts were blown back upon themselves, and their bucklers were wrenched from them and rolled in the dust. Standing thus exposed in a defenceless condition to the weapons of the Romans, many of them perished, while the few who attempted to effect an escape were soon captured. Eugenius threw himself at the feet of the emperor, and implored him to spare his life; but while in the act of offering up these entreaties, a soldier struck off his head. Arbogastes fled after the battle, and fell by his own hands It is said that while the battle was being fought, a demoniac presented himself in the temple of Hebdoma where the emperor had engaged in prayer, and insulted John the Baptist, taunting him with having had his head cut off, and shouted the following words: “You conquer me, and lay snares for my army.” The persons who happened to be on the spot, and who were waiting impatiently to learn the issue of the war, wrote an account of this extraordinary circumstance on the day that it occurred, and afterwards ascertained that it was the same day as that on which the battle had been fought. Such is the history of these transactions.








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