The Late Imperial soldier-historian Ammianus Marcellinus is one of the most important authorities on Roman history, describing in detail the second half of the 4th century AD in his work "Res Gestae", for which he was a contemporary. Born at Antioch in Syria, Ammianus was of Greek background (He calls himself a "soldier and a Greek", but also identified as a Roman), but wrote his histories in Latin in which he was also fluent. He set himself to continue the works of the Roman historian Tacitus from the Principate, covering Rome's history from the reign of Nerva in 96 AD to the death of Valens in 378 AD. Sadly, only his books covering the period from 353-378 AD have survived. As mentioned above Ammianus was a soldier himself, serving for much of his career in the Roman East in the reign of emperor Constantius II where during the 4th century AD the Romans were often fighting the neighboring Sassanid Persian Empire. He also served in Gaul, and then again in the East under Julian and his successor Jovian at least. Ammianus was also a pagan. As he was an experienced soldier himself, Ammianus is a valuable authority on Late Roman military history, and he covers plenty of other events as well with his usual clear style. However like any ancient historian Ammianus does have his vices. He was strongly biased against the emperor Constantius II against whom Julian rebelled, whom Ammianus admired, and pictured the emperor as always losing in foreign wars and winning just civil conflicts while doing nothing worthwhile. In fact, Constantius was held in high esteem by contemporaries and, as Ammianus himself admits, by the soldiers he commanded, winning many battles and campaigns against not only his Roman but his foreign enemies. Another notable issue with Ammianus is that, by his own admission, he only chose to mention events he considered important, and as a result many battles or other events go unmentioned in his narrative.
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