Text #1906

Dio Cassius. Roman History. Vol. 3
[DioCass. 40.18. Translated by Earnest Cary. Harvard University Press. 1914. (9 Vols.) p. 431]


One portent had to do with the so called “eagle” of the army. It is a small shrine and in it perches a golden eagle. It is found in all the enrolled legions, and it is never moved from the winter-quarters unless the whole army takes the field; 2 one man carries it on a long shaft, which ends in a sharp spike so that it can be set firmly in the ground. Now one of these eagles was unwilling to join him in his passage of the Euphrates at that time, but stuck fast in the earth as if rooted there, until many took their places around it and pulled it out by force, so that it accompanied them quite reluctantly. 3 But one of the large flags, that resemble sails, with purple letters upon them to distinguish the army and its commander-in chief, was overturned and fell from the bridge into the river. This happened in the midst of a violent wind. 4 Then Crassus had the others of equal length cut down, so they might be shorter and hence steadier to carry; but he only increased the prodigies. For at the very time of crossing the river so great a fog enveloped the soldiers that they fell over one another and could see nothing of the enemy’s country until they set foot upon it; 5 and the sacrifices both for crossing and for landing proved most unfavourable. Meanwhile a great wind burst upon them, bolts of lightning fell, and the bridge collapsed before they had all passed over. The occurrences were such that any one, even the most indifferent and uninstructed, would interpret them to mean that they would fare badly and not return; hence there was great fear and dejection in the army.

Please view our Legal Notice before you make use of this Database.

See also our Credits page for info on data we are building upon.