Ammianus was born into a rich family in Antioch ( Syria) in about AD 325. As a young man he joined the Roman Army and took part in several campaigns in Gaul and Germany. In AD 378 he moved to Rome where he began to write books on Roman history. Unfortunately, only the books dealing with the Roman Empire between AD 353 and AD 378 have survived. His work contains very few factual inaccuracies and is a genuine attempt to write objective history. Ammianus was a pagan who was a strong advocate of religious toleration. He died in about AD 395.

Primary Sources

(1) Ammianus, Book of Deeds (c. AD 385)

Slowly marched the lines of elephants, frightful with their wrinkled bodies and loaded with armed men, a hideous spectacle, dreadful beyond every form of horror.

(2) Ammianus, Book of Deeds (c. AD 385)

They (the Goths) all have compact, strong limbs and thick necks and are so monstrously ugly and misshapen that one might take them for two-legged beasts... They dress in linen cloth or in the skins of field-mice sewn together... when they have once put their necks into a faded tunic, it is not taken off or changed until it has been reduced to rags and fallen from them bit by bit. They cover their heads with round caps and protect their hairy legs with goat skins... They are not at all adapted to battles on foot, but they are almost glued to their horses, which are hardy, it is true, but ugly.