Transieram celerem nebuloso flumine Navam, addita miratus veteri nova moenia Vinco, aequavit Latias ubi quondam Gallia Cannas infletaeque iacent inopes super arva catervae. 5unde iter ingrediens nemorosa per avia solum et nulla humani spectans vestigia cultus praetereo arentem sitientibus undique terris Dumnissum riguasque perenni fonte Tabernas arvaque Sauromatum nuper metata colonis: 10et tandem primis Belgarum conspicor oris Noiomagum, divi castra inclita Constantini. purior hic campis aer Phoebusque sereno Iumine purpureum reserat iam sudus Olympum. nec iam, consertis per mutua vincula ramis, 15quaeritur exclusum viridi caligine caelum:
- 1For the date and occasion of this poem, see Introduction.
- 2Vincum, or Bingium (Bingen), lies at the confluence of the Nava (Nahe) and the Rhine. Ammianus records its fortification by Julian in 359 a.d. (xviii. ii. 4).
- 3In the revolt of Civilis, the Treveri under Julius Tutor were crushed at Bingen by Sextilius Felix in 71 a.d. (Tac. Hist. iv. 70).
- 4Probably Densen, near Kirchberg.
- 6It was the custom in the later Empire to settle conquered barbarians in waste Roman territory: the Panegyric on Constantius Chlorus (ix. and xxi.) refers to such a settlement of Chamavi and Frisii; and Maximian populated the waste lands of the Nervii and Treveri with Letts and Franks. This was c. 293–4 a.d. Ausonius clearly refers to a later settlement.
I had crossed over swift-flowing Nava’s cloudy stream, and gazed with awe upon the ramparts lately thrown round ancient Vincum,2 where Gaul once matched the Roman rout at Cannae, and where her slaughtered hordes lay scattered over the countryside untended and unwept.3 Thence onward I began a lonely journey through pathless forest, nor did my eyes rest on any trace of human inhabitants. I passed Dumnissus,4 sweltering amid its parched fields, and Tabernae,5 watered by its unfailing spring, and the lands lately parcelled out to Sarmatian settlers.6 And at length on the very verge of Belgic territory I descry Noiomagus, the famed camp of sainted Constantine.7 Clearer the air which here invests the plains, and Phoebus, cloudless now, discloses glowing heaven with his untroubled light. No longer is the sky to seek, shut out by the green gloom of branches intertwined: but the free breath