The Fragmentary History of Priscus: Attila, the Huns and the Roman Empire, AD 430–476
Attila, king of the Huns, is a name universally known even 1,500 years after his death. His meteoric rise and legendary career of conquest left a trail of destroyed cities across the Roman Empire. At its height, his vast domain commanded more territory than the Romans themselves, and those he threatened with attack sent desperate embassies loaded with rich tributes to purchase a tenuous peace. Yet as quickly he appeared, Attila and his empire vanished with startling rapidity. His two decades of terror, however, had left an indelible mark upon the pages of European history.
Priscus was a late Roman historian who had the ill luck to be born during a time when Roman political and military fortunes had reached a nadir. An eye-witness to many of the events he records, Priscus's history is a sequence of intrigues, assassinations, betrayals, military disasters, barbarian incursions, enslaved Romans and sacked cities. Perhaps because of its gloomy subject matter, the History of Priscus was not preserved in its entirety. What remains of the work consists of scattered fragments culled from a variety of later sources. Yet, from these fragments emerge the most detailed and insightful first-hand account of the decline of the Roman Empire, and nearly all of the information about Attila’s life and exploits that has come down to us from antiquity.
Translated by classics scholar Professor John Given of East Carolina University, this new translation of the Fragmentary History of Priscus arranges the fragments in chronological order, complete with intervening historical commentary to preserve the narrative flow. It represents the first translation of this important historical source that is easily approachable for both students and general readers.
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The Fragmentary History of Priscus 1 Ancient Testimonia 3 The Arrival of the Huns 5 Two Young Emperors 19 Negotiating with Attila 35 Attila in t...