Nam quid ego de ceteris civitatis illius regionibus loquar, quibus illacrimasse te ipse confessus es? vidisti enim non, ut per agros aliarum urbium, omnia fere culta aperta florentia, vias faciles, navigera flumina ipsas oppidorum portas adluentia, sed statim ab eo flexu, e quo retrorsum via ducit in Belgicam, vasta omnia, inculta squalentia muta tenebrosa, etiam militares vias ita confragosas et alternis montibus arduas atque praecipites, ut vix semiplena carpenta, interdum vacua transmittant. ex quo saepe accidit ut obsequia nostra tarda sint, cum paucarum frugum nobis difficilior sit evectio quam ceteris plurimarum. quo magis, imperator, pietati tuae gratias agimus, qui cum scires internum regionum nostrarum habitum atque adspectum tam foedum tamque asperum, tamen illo deflectere et urbem illam sola opis tuae exspectatione viventem inlustrare dignatus es. boni principis est libenter suos videre felices, sed melioris invisere etiam laborantes. di immortales! quisnam ille tum nobis illuxit dies (iam enim ad praedicanda remedia numinis tui ordine suo pervenit oratio), cum tu, quod primum nobis signum salutis fuit, portas istius urbis intrasti!—quae te habitu illo in sinum reducto et procurrentibus utrimque turribus amplexu quodam videbantur accipere.
(Panegyrici Latini 5.7)
For why should I speak about the other districts belonging to that community, over which you yourself confessed to have shed tears? For you did not see, as throughout the territory of other cities, almost everything cultivated, cleared and flowering, with easy roads and navigable rivers washing the very gates of the towns, but right from that turnoff from which the road leads back to Belgica you saw everything devastated, uncultivated, neglected, silent and gloomy, and even the military roads so rough and steep and precipitous, with such a succession of mountains, that half-full wagons, and sometimes even empty ones, may scarcely travel along them. As a result, it often happens that our obligations are discharged late, since the transport of a small harvest is more difficult for us than that of a bountiful one is for others. For this reason, we are the more disposed to give thanks to your piety, O Emperor*, who, although you knew that the internal condition and appearance of our region was so vile and so rough, nonetheless were good enough to turn aside to it, and bring light to that city which lived solely in anticipation of your help. It is the mark of a good ruler that he is happy to see his subjects prosperous, but of a better one that he visits them even when they are suffering. Immortal gods! What a day then shone upon us (for now my speech has reached in its course the celebration of your divinity’s assistance), when you entered the gates of this city**, which was the first sign of salvation for us. And the gates, drawn back in the likeness of a curve, with towers projecting on either side, seemed to receive you in a kind of embrace.
(tr. Charles E.V. Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers)