John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3 -- Book 6
IN the sixth and concluding book of John's history, he gives us a brief and affecting narrative of the wars by which the Roman empire was encompassed in his days; and as has constantly been the case in all troubled times, the good old man drew his strength and consolation from the belief that his Saviour's coming was close at hand. It was indeed close, but in a very different way from what he expected: for already the young Mahomet 1, repelled in his first inquiries by the idolatrous aspect which Christianity outwardly bore, was rising to be the instrument of God's just anger against the eastern church For the picture which John has drawn for us, especially in the fourth book, of the narrowness and bigotry, the fierce strifes, the want of self-restraint, the injustice and cruelty and utter absence of Christian charity, which characterized all parties in his days alike, makes us feel that the times were ripe for punishment. Not but that, possibly, there still remained some sparks of true faith; for it is the nature of history to record rather the external form than the inner life of the world's progress; and on its |365 surface the bad and turbulent play a more important part than the virtuous and good. For virtue is, for the most part, uneventful, and holds on its calm and peaceful course unseen, except where the wickedness of others seeks to oppress and overwhelm it. And so with the history of the church: as a general rule, it is but a history of schism and heresy, of persecution and violence, and of the attempts now of this party and now of that to tyrannize over the consciences of others. But beneath there lies the golden thread, unseen too often, yet really there, of the grace which spiritualizes and ennobles man's earthly being; and though the general effect of reading ecclesiastical history in most ages of the church's existence is quite as much wonder at the all but total absence of the gentler Christian virtues, as admiration at the zeal which has never seemed to flag: yet one cannot but feel certain that there always have been in the church Christians in deed and in truth, on whose lives the doctrines which they professed had a better influence than merely to serve them as a battle field for contention and dispute. Whatever of these there were in the sixth century, we find at all events but faint indications of them in the pages of John's history, except in his own character; and though that is disfigured by much of the fanaticism of his time, so that he considers it a Christian duty to persecute heretics and heathens, yet in most respects we can fully feel with him, and admire the moderation of his character, brought out the |366 more strongly into relief by the turbulence and intemperance of his contemporaries; and can therefore sympathise with the feelings which made him pen the introduction to this sixth book in the following terms:
[VI.1] It has not seemed to us a thing improper or alien from our purpose to attach to these ecclesiastical narratives a short account also of the wars and battles and desolation and bloodshedding which have happened in our days, for the information of those who come after us, should the world continue to exist so long. And we record them to the best of our ability, and as we have learnt and received them by inquiry: being reminded by them of the word and lifegiving doctrine of our Saviour, where He teaches us, and warns and testifies to us of the time of the end and the consummation of the world, and also of His advent, and says, 'When ye have seen all these things coming to pass, know that it has come even to the door.' [Matt.xxiv.33] And, lo we in our days see all these things happening, and all accomplished, and therefore we ought always to expect His dread advent with great power and much glory.
The narrative commences about the year A. D. 574 with the military operations of the Patrician Marcian in the east. To throw some light upon his operations it may be necessary to recapitulate some of the facts of the previous history, namely, that in A. D. 571, the greater or Persian Armenia revolted from Khosrun, upon his |367 endeavouring, in violation of the compact with Sapor, to introduce there the Magian religion; but being unable to cope with the Persian monarch singlehanded, they offered their allegiance to Rome. Their submission was accepted, and orders were sent to the Roman commanders to defend Armenia as part of the Roman dominions. At first the efforts of the Armenians were crooned with success, and a great victory, which they gained under the Mamigonean chief Vartan over the army of Khosrun, needed only to have been vigorously followed up to have insured final success. How the incapacity of a despotic court, jealous of its own officers, and more intent on petty intrigues than careful for the general good, thwarted the efforts of its generals, and both lost Armenia, and was compelled to submit to an inglorious peace, will best appear in the simple narrative of our author.
[VI.2] The illustrious Patrician Marcian, a relative of king Justin, was sent by him to command one of the Roman armies in the east; and being warmly zealous for the polity of the Christians, he assembled an army, and laid siege to Nisibis, the frontier town and bulwark of Mesopotamia, and then in possession of the Persians. And having strongly invested it, and constructed round it a palisade, he commenced, with the aid of the skilful mechanicians whom he had brought with him, to erect more scientific works, consisting of lofty towers and strong covered approaches. And the city began to be distressed, |368 and both its inhabitants and the Persian garrison despaired of their lives when they saw it so hard pressed by the Romans. And as those inside were in alarm, so those outside were making their preparations to assault the city and plunder it; but just as they were ready to storm it, a violent tempered man arrived, named Acacius Archelaus, sent for no just reason by king Justin to deprive Marcian of his command, and cut his girdle 2, and send him away from the cast. And immediately that he came he showed his orders, just at the time when Marcian and his army were fighting against Nisibis, and expecting to assault it the next day, and win the city; and all were in astonishment, and their hands were weakened. And the illustrious Marcian, who had been assiduously making his preparations, and was upon the point of capturing Nisibis, on hearing the orders, said to Acacius, 'You see how great labour we have taken for the purpose of capturing this city; and now, wait a little, and grant us a delay of two days only, and then do what you have been commanded; for the king has a right that what he orders should be done.' But he was angry with him, and insulted him, and in hot wrath laid hands upon him in the presence of all his officers, and pulled him about, and threw him down, and cut his girdle, scoffing at him, and even, as was said, he struck him on the cheek. And the |369 whole army was indignant, and their hands weakened, and execrating the wickedness which had been done before their eyes, they lowered their standard, and turned it upside down. And thereupon the whole army fled, and left the city far behind them, and loud was their grief and lamentation at what had happened to their commander; for he was a good man and a believer: and besides, at the very time when they were expecting to enter and take the city, they had shown their backs when there was no enemy who pursued them, and had become the laughter and scorn of their foes. And when the Persian army which garrisoned the city saw the breaking up and sadden retreat of the Romans, and Marcian's standard overthrown, they were astonished, and encouraged one another, and armed and pursued after them, and fell upon a body of infantry which remained behind, and defeated and slew most of them, and so returned to the city, laughing and mocking at what had happened to the Romans of their own selves. Forthwith, too, they wrote and informed their king of all these things, saying, 'Come, immediately, and let us cross over into the Roman territory; for our noble gods, the sun and fire, have made them, by the commandment of their king, fall upon one another; and they have dismissed Marcian with scorn, and have all fled and gone away from our city.'
The anger of Justin against Marcian arose from no fault of the latter, but rather from the unbusinesslike habits of the king himself, who |370 allowed the underhand dealings of the weak court of Constantinople to come to light by a carelessness as indefensible as the treachery it disclosed was base. The account of it is as follows:
[VI.3] The Tayenses, or Arabs of the north, were at that time divided into two sections, of which the one was allied with Rome, the other with the Persians. Of the former Harith was king, and was held in such general awe and terror by all the nomad tribes, that as long as he lived, no one ventured to disturb the peace. But upon his death the Arabs in alliance with Persia looked with contempt upon his sons and princes and army, and imagined that, 'lo! now at length all his encampment is delivered into our hands!' Accordingly they gathered themselves together, and pitched their camp in Harith's territories, bringing with them all their flocks, and vast herds of camels. But when Mondir, Harith's eldest son, heard of it, he was very wroth, and burnt with zeal, and taking with him his brothers and sons and nobles and all his army, he fell suddenly upon them, whereas they had expected that he would never venture to make any resistance. They were utterly defeated, therefore, and put to the sword, and their king Kabus, when he saw the fierce onset made by Mondir and his troops, and that already they had broken through and overpowered and slaughtered his hordes, turned his horse, and fled with a few companions, and succeeded in making his escape, but saved nothing of his property. And Mondir |371 entered, and took possession of Kabus' tent, and his entire encampment, and all his baggage, and his herds of camels. Several also of his relatives he made prisoners, and some of his nobles, but the rest he put to the sword. And next he crossed over the Euphrates, and pitched his camp in the territories of Kabus, and marched inland to the distance of sixty leagues, and arrived at the place where the herds and all the riches of the Persian Arabs were. There he pitched his camp for some time, and the hordes of Kabus, on seeing their master's well known tent erected so far in their land, boldly came to it, expecting to find their king there, but on entering, found themselves in Mondir's camp, and were seized and put to death, except some of note, who were kept as prisoners. And after staying there as long as he chose, he set out upon his return with much spoil, consisting of herds of horses and camels and armour and so forth. And after some time had elapsed, Kabus also collected his forces, and sent to Mondir, bidding him meet him in battle: 'for, lo!' said he, 'we are coming upon thee. For though thou didst fall upon us a thief, and imaginedst that thou de-featedst us, behold, we openly draw near to thee for battle.' But Mondir sent in reply, 'Why do ye trouble yourselves? for I am already on my way.' And not only did he consent and make preparations, but with the word effected also the deed. For he met them suddenly in the desert, when they did not expect him, and fell upon |372 them, and threw them into confusion, and slew most of them; and again they fled before him. But inasmuch as we have previously given an account of these achievements elsewhere in our history, our purpose now is to record the iniquitous plot formed against him in violation of all right feeling after these glorious victories, and so great a triumph in two successive battles. For, as Mondir imagined that his success would be acceptable and extolled by the king, he wrote to him an account of all that he had done, and his complete victory; and added a request that he would send him gold that he might hire troops; because be expected that certainly they would gather their forces once more to attack him. And when king Justin heard that he had written to him to send him gold, he was angry, and very indignant, and reviled him, and vowed vengeance against him, and secretly determined in his heart to murder him by some artifice or other.
[VI. 4] Thus then being filled with the spirit of opposition, king Justin wrote a letter to the patrician Marcian with the intention of having Mondir secretly put to death; and the letter was as follows: 'I have written to Mondir the Arab to bid him come to thee: see, directly that he comes, that thou take off his head, and write and inform me of it. To Mondir I have written in these words: Because of some matters of importance, I have written to the patrician Marcian, requesting him to confer with thee; go therefore to him immediately without delay, and consult with him |373 upon the matters in question.' But, as became subsequently known to everybody, the letters, by the providence of God, were changed, and the name of Mondir himself was inscribed upon the despatch, directing Marcian to take off Mondir's head; while, by some mistake or other, the letter intended for Mondir was directed to Marcian: and the messenger who started with the two despatches, having delivered them to the persons to whom they were severally addressed, it happened that Mondir received the despatch which gave directions to Marcian to take off his head; and Marcian, on the other hand, that which required Mondir to go to Marcian, to hold the proposed conference. When then Mondir received the despatch, and had read it, he was greatly agitated, and said, 'In return then for my labours and anxieties in behalf of the Roman territory, my reward is the loss of my head. This is my desert.' And being filled with anger, he collected all his people, and bade them provide for his safety, saying, 'If you see any one whomsoever sent unto me from the king of the Romans, if he has but a small escort, seize them, and keep them closely guarded outside your encampment: but if the escort is numerous, at once advance boldly and fall upon them, without giving the slightest credence to anything whatsoever which they shall say unto you, or permitting them to approach on any pretence into the neighbourhood of your encampment.' And thus uninterruptedly day and night the Arab hordes kept armed watch in |374 defence of their king, being ever on the look-out, and ready for battle with any one whomsoever who should come unto them from the Romans. And when the Persians, and the Arabs under the Persian rule, heard the news, and learnt that they had now nothing to fear from Mondir, and that he would not trouble himself to engage in war for the sake of the Romans, who had tried to murder him, they boldly made preparations for invading the Roman territory, and laid it waste with fire and sword as far as Antioch, and captured an immense number of prisoners, and ruined and razed and burnt large and strong towns, almost equal in size to cities, both in the territory of Antioch and elsewhere, and took the inhabitants prisoners, and utterly ruined all these countries, and returned to their land with a mighty spoil. But Mondir was full of grief and lamentation at the treachery of the Romans towards him, and at the devastation wrought by his enemies, and the wealth which they had carried away from the Roman land and therefore he gathered his people, and withdrew into the deserts. All meanwhile who heard of the wickedness which had been purposed against him, without fault on his side, were greatly displeased, and blamed it, and found fault with commands so contrary both to reason and justice. And when the king heard that this was said on all sides, and learnt moreover that Mondir had abandoned all care of the Roman territories, he sent orders to the chiefs and generals in the East, |375 commanding them to go to him, and persuade him to be reconciled to them. And when many of them sent to him proposing to visit him, the answer he returned to each one was; 'Be well assured, that any one whosoever who comes unto me from the Roman dominions, I shall resist his approach by force, so that either he shall kill me, or I will kill him. For God forbid that I should ever again entrust my life to any Roman; for, as far as it depended upon you and your king, my head is already off. For this was the fate to which I was condemned by the Romans.' And this state of things continued for two or three years, during which repeated attempts were made to prevail upon him to consent to a reconciliation; but he would not permit any one to approach him, but sent about Justin's despatch, commanding his murder, in all directions, and shewed it to every one.
The displeasure therefore which was entertained against Marcian was because Mondir had escaped and was still alive, while the secret had been revealed and become known, and the plot consequently had been unsuccessful. For all men knew what the sentence was which had been decreed against him iniquitously and wickedly, and without regard to the fear of God. But after king Mondir had given way to his indignation, and stood with his forces carefully on his guard against all the princes and armies of the Roman realm, for a period of three years, more or less, then, as being a Christian, and grieved at the miseries which had fallen upon the Roman |376 territories, and full of anger against the Persian Arabs, who had carried fire and sword, and made captives of the people as far as Antioch, and had returned to their land with an immense spoil and prisoners without number, he determined to make peace, and take up arms for the Roman state. And as he would not consent to receive the letters which were constantly sent to him from the king by the hand of many of the princes, in which Justin denied all privity to the attempt, and said that the orders to kill him were not written with his knowledge, but continued to shew his resentment, and would not admit to his presence either the bearers or the despatches themselves, but stood ready for war with all who should venture to approach near his camp: he finally determined himself to send to the patrician Justinian, the son of Germanus, who at that time was head and commander-in-chief over the armies of the Romans in the East, a message to this effect: 'Directly that I heard and learnt the plots of the Romans, and knew that I was doomed to a certain death, in return for my exertions in their behalf, I felt that henceforward it would be impossible to trust myself in the hands of any of the Roman princes for ever. But because I know thee to be a Christian, and a nobleman who fears God, if thou wilt go to the house of the blessed Mar Sergius at Resef 3, and send |377 me word, I will come to thee there, with my men armed ready for battle: and if peace meet me, and true dealing on thy part, we will converse together, and finally both of us depart in amity: but if I find any treachery, I trust that the God in Whom I believe will not relax His care of me.' When the patrician Justinian received the message, he was very glad, and sent in answer; 'Entertain no suspicions of me: for, lo! the God of the Christians is between us. Come on such a day to the holy house of Mar Sergius, and thou shalt find me there: and trouble not thy army; for I trust in God that we shall separate from one another in peace and love and concord.' And when Mondir received this answer, he proceeded thither immediately, but changed his mind respecting his escort, and took but few attendants with him; and on his arrival, the two remained alone before the shrine in which were deposited the bones of the holy Mar Sergius; and after a conversation too long to record, and they had mutually given each other their word, they departed in confidence and peace with one another, and great joy. And when the news reached king Justin and the senate, they also rejoiced greatly, that Mondir had consented to make peace: and subsequently letters of peace and reconciliation were interchanged between the two kings. And after a short time, the warlike and spirited king |378 Mondir, being full of anger at the audacity of the Persian Arabs, and desirous of tearing away and stripping them of the prey which they had taken from the Roman territory, quietly gathered his brothers, and all his relatives, and his sons, with their forces, and bade them immediately make rapid preparations, and get their arms and provisions ready, and meet all together on the second day at his tent. And on their assembling with great promptitude, he revealed to them his purpose, saying; 'Immediately, without any one separating himself or withdrawing from us, let us all fall suddenly on Hirah, the capital of Noman, in the Persian territories; for, to punish their boastfulness, and insulting violence against the Christians, God will deliver them into our hands.' Immediately therefore they set out with speed, and reached Hirah, and fell upon it suddenly, when its inhabitants were in peace and tranquillity; and they surprised them, and put to the sword and destroyed the garrison there, and overthrew and uprooted and burnt the whole town, with the exception of the churches. And Mondir pitched his tent in the middle of it, and remained there five days, and bound such Arabs as he had taken prisoners, and drove off all the booty of Hirah, and every thing which they had captured and brought away from the Roman territories, and all their herds of horses and their camels, and so returned to his land, in great triumph, and after a decisive victory. And it even more increased his glory and magnificence, that |379 he liberally gave presents to all the churches and monasteries of the orthodox, and especially to the poor. For all men extolled him, and the two neighbouring realms of Rome and Persia admired and wondered at his spirit, and the martial exploits and victories which he had achieved.
[VI.5] The discovery, therefore, of Justin's treachery against Mondir, brought about by the carelessness of the clerks at Constantinople, was the sole reason why Marcian was deprived of his command at the very moment when the capture of Nisibis seemed certain, whereby the eastern confines of the Roman territories would have been secured against the inroads of the Persians. But the retribution which fell upon the Roman realm was not confined to this check upon their onward progress; for no sooner had the Persian king heard of Martian's fall, and the breaking up of the armies before Nisibis, than he determined to take full advantage of the mismanagement of his enemies, and assembling a powerful force, arrived rapidly at that town, and found the engines and machines which Marcian had erected still standing before it. And with these he forthwith commenced the siege of Dara, having removed thither all Marcian's engines of war, and applied them to his own use, for which purpose he had brought all kinds of artificers with him. His first act was to command the stone-cutters and others to make a cutting through a hill which lay on the east of the city outside the aqueduct, in order to divert the water; and when, as was said, |380 they found the stone hard, they lit fires upon it, and cooled it when hot with vinegar, and so made it soft for working. He further set up against the city all the engines which Marcian had constructed against Nisibis, and invested it, and used every device of war for its capture during a period of six months. Among his machines were two towers, which he erected, but the Romans devised a plan for setting them on fire, and were successful, and burnt them, although all egress from the city was impossible. On the side of the besieged the generals were John, the son of Timus Esthartus, a man of great warlike ability, and Sergius, the son of Shaphnai, and others. But Sergius, as they said, was struck by an arrow and died. After a time the Persian king, not finding the siege making progress, removed his tent and pitched it on a mountain on the northern side of the city, whence he could see every thing that was done within. And there also he ordered a tower to be built on more elevated ground, opposite a great turret which rose higher than the rest, and which they called Hercules. And against this the besieged found all their efforts unavailing, while the besiegers were able to strengthen their tower, and bring it up close to the city. Sometime before this, when the king saw that his vast works had not terrified the inhabitants, he had given orders for a brick wall to be drawn all round the outer fortifications, that if they made a sally, they might be caught within it. But when he saw that all |381 his stratagems were in vain, he fell ill, as was said, and was afraid lest he should die. He, therefore, sent a messenger to the city, requesting them to appoint some one to confer with him. Now there was there at the time a famous and illustrious man, named Cometes, whose office it was to interpret between the Romans and the Persians, and him the citizens chose as their deputy And after a conference, the king said to him, ' Tell the citizens they must give us five talents as ransom for the city, and we will withdraw from it.' But he, as he acknowledged afterwards, being confident that the city was impregnable, did not tell them of the king's offer. And when the king saw that the appointed day had passed by, and that they despised him, and sent him no answer, he was the more angry, and full of great wrath; and attacked the city again, and strengthened and increased the tower which he had last built But the Romans now despised and mocked him, and said, 'He will get only shame from this as from his other attempts.' But this over-confidence led them to neglect the maintenance of a proper force upon the wall, especially as the cold was now great and intense; and they even came down from the ramparts, and went to their houses to eat and drink. But when the Persians saw that the wall was no longer guarded by the Roman soldiers, and that the tower which they had built exceeded the height of the fortifications, they set their invention to work, and fastened planks together, |382 until they reached the wall; and passing over, they occupied the whole of it on one side of the city, and then began to descend within. And when on a sudden a cry was raised, that the city was taken, as the Persian army was far more numerous than the Romans, they were panic stricken and in confusion; and all ran in crowds to the gates of the city to endeavour, if they possibly could, to escape. And when the Persians saw how numerous they were, they again were afraid, and anxious, and held back, and gave the Romans room to flee, lest they should turn and defend themselves. The Romans then ran to all the gates, and shouted for the keys, and search was made, but no keys could be found, for the generals had hidden them; and as they saw that the Persians were growing every minute more numerous, and that the whole city was already full of them, and that they were hemmed in on all sides, and flight impossible, they recovered their courage, and threw themselves upon the enemy, prepared either to live or die. And so like harvest men they began mowing and smiting one another down like ears of corn; and the battle was stern in the heart of the city, and for seven days, with the gates still closed, they slaughtered one another, till the city was full of corpses, the smell of which became so unbearable, that they were obliged to drag them away, and throw them into the river and the cisterns. And when the Persians saw that they were losing great numbers |383 of their men, and that they could not get possession of the city, and take its spoil, being terrified moreover at the Romans, they fled and mounted upon the wall, and took counsel how they might effect their purpose by fraud. They sent a message, therefore, to them, saying, 'Why thus do we slaughter and consume one another? Come, and let us mutually pledge our word, and lay aside our weapons on both sides, and make peace with one another.' And as the Roman host now despaired of their lives, and saw that they were pressed by necessity, they accepted the proposal, and both sides pledged their word, and laid aside their arms, and approached one another confidently as in peace. And as the Romans put confidence in their word, they were without fear; but upon this a strong body of Persians entered the city, and at first both sides mingled with one another in peace; but soon they began to plunder the city, and the fraud and perfidy of the Persians was made manifest. For they turned round and proved false to their word, and seized the Romans themselves, and put most of them to the sword; and the rest they threw into chains, and took them to their king, with their nobles, and women of rank, and their princes; and the king commanded them to be drowned in the river which flows by. And next he commanded that every one who had gold should bring it to him; and that all the gold and silver that was found should be collected at his tent; and in this way an immense quantity of gold |384 was gathered, more, as was said, than a hundred or even two hundred talents, and piled up before him. As we are not however acquainted with the exact sum, we do not wish to decide falsely, but prefer passing by in silence whatever we have no means of knowing accurately. The king then, when he saw all this gold, called for the chief men of the city, and said to them, 'May the great God of heaven require at your hands the blood of all the souls that have perished on your side and on mine, since I did not ask of you so much as the hundredth part of the gold which is here piled up, to be given as the ransom for your city, and then I would have gone away. For to this effect I sent to you by Cometes, and ye paid no heed to me.' And when they heard these words, they swore unto him that they had never heard the proposal. And having summoned Cometes to convict them by his testimony, he said to him, 'Did I not send this message to them by you?' He answered, 'Yes, my lord.' 'And you told them,' said he. 'No, my lord,' he replied, 'I did not tell them, for I was afraid.' Upon this, in great wrath, he sentenced him to death; but subsequently said, 'Since thou hast been employed for both kingdoms, I will not slay thee.' But he commanded that both his eyes should be put out. And thus he spoiled the city of a vast and incalculable prey, and took the people captive, and emptied it of its inhabitants, and left in it a garrison of his own, and returned to his land with an immense |385 booty of the silver and gold taken from the inhabitants, and the churches, and every where else. Its capture, and deliverance into the hands of the Assyrians 4, took place seventy-two years, more or less, after the time of its first being founded by king Anastasius.
[VI.6] Nor was Dara the only place captured and spoiled by Khosrim; for while he lay encamped before it, as he saw that no attempt was made to raise the siege, he sent a Marzban, named Adormahun, with a large body of troops, to besiege Apamea. On his march thither, Adormahun stormed numerous castles, which fell in his way, and rased and burnt them, together with several strong and well fortified towns, and at length arrived at Apamea. Now, upon a previous occasion, the Persian king, after capturing Antioch, |386 had once before laid siege to Apamea, and pressed it so hard, that finally it capitulated; and the king in person entered the walls, and was a spectator of an equestrian entertainment in the Hippodrome; and because he then destroyed none of the buildings, nor set fire to any thing, they now felt equal certainty that the Marzban on the present occasion would do them no harm. In this confidence, therefore, the princes of the city and the bishop went out to meet him, and carried him a dress of honour. And he treacherously said to them, 'Inasmuch as your city is now ours, open unto me the gates, that I may enter in and inspect it.' And they trusting to him, and not expecting that he would do them any injury, opened the gates and admitted him within the walls. But no sooner had he entered than he seized the gates, and began to lay hands on and bind men and women, and spoil the city. And they brought out the prey, and all the people of the city, and put them outside the walls, and utterly spoiled Apamea, which was full of the accumulated wealth of many years, and rich beyond most of the cities of the east; and when they had thus placed all the population, and the bishop with them, and all the booty outside the walls, they set fire to it, and burnt the whole of it from one end to the other. Having thus completed their work of destruction, they took with them their captives and the spoil both of Apamea and the other towns, and |387 returned to the king, who was still sitting before Dara. And the captives were counted in the king's presence, and their number was two hundred and ninety-two thousand; and they were divided among the troops, and taken into the Persian territories. Shortly afterwards the king captured Dara, and spoiled it, and found in it immense wealth; for being regarded by all the neighboring towns as impregnable 5, they had fled thither, carrying their valuables with them; and all this and the people he took, and carried with him into his land.
[VI.7] The next action recorded of the Persian monarch is of a most tragic character; for being intoxicated with the glory he had gained in this expedition, and his mind elated by the greatness of the booty torn from the Roman territory, he gave orders that there should be selected from the captives two thousand virgins, full-grown, and of perfect beauty. And when they had been selected according to his orders, they were brought before him; and he commanded that they should be adorned in every thing like brides, in splendid and costly garments, and gold and silver, and jewels and pearls, and sent as a present to the barbarians who dwell in the heart |388 of his territories, and who are called Turks 6, in order to please and content them, and hire their services. And when every thing had been done according to his command, and they were adorned magnificently, he appointed two Marz-bans to form their escort, with a body of troops, and supplied them with large funds for their expenses, and sent them away, with strict injunctions that they should not be hurried on their journey, but travel quietly and at their leisure, that they might not grow thin, and lose their beauty. But these virgins being in deep grief, not only because of their separation from their fathers and brothers, and other relatives, but also because of their souls, which would be lost by their removal from Christian instruction; and their bodies, which were to be delivered into the savage hands of barbarians and enemies, with tears and hitter lamentations, spake one to another in their own tongue, as being now sisters; and all with one consent prayed for death instead of life. And their great grief was known to the other Syrian captives, natives of their own country, who were with the Marzbans, and to those also who were appointed to escort them, and attend to them: for they revealed to them in secret, as being natives of their own homes, their |389 longings for death, as subsequently became known to every one, and was attested by their countrymen and compatriots. When then they had travelled to within fifty leagues of the barbarous people for whom they were intended, and learnt that they had reached the regions which were their final destination, it so happened that there came in their way a very broad and rapid river, which they found great difficulty in crossing. And as those who had charge of them had orders to give them rest, and not to hurry them, they encamped for a day upon the bank of this river. And here they all took counsel with one another, and in all there was but one and the same noble and courageous purpose, to despise death. They hastily therefore conferred with one another, and said, 'Let us all understand, that when, in company with the heathen, we have polluted ourselves with their heathen ways, and impure meats, and horseflesh, and things that have died or been strangled, and have lost our Christianity, we must still finally all die, and go to the judgment of doom. Whereas now we are all sisters, and Christians, and the daughters of Christian parents: let us not, then, separate from one another, but with one will and one soul and one mind, let us all firmly hold to one purpose, and before our bodies are defiled by the barbarians, and our souls polluted, and death finally overtake us, let us now, while our bodies are still pure, and our souls free from heathenism, in the Name, and trusting to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, offer unto Him in purity both |390 our souls and bodies, by yielding ourselves up now to death, that we may be saved from our enemies, and live for evermore. For it is but the pain of a moment which we have to endure in defence of our Christianity, and for the preservation of our purity in body and in soul.' And upon these words, they all firmly united in one purpose and secret covenant; and having pledged themselves to one another by a solemn oath, they all in a body threw themselves into the river, and were drowned, and so escaped the hands of the barbarians: nor was there any one who did not cheerfully embrace this resolution. But as their keepers closely watched them, they kept their purpose secret, and waited for an opportunity; and as they were never left alone, they said, 'If you will grant us permission, we wish to wash on the banks of this river.' And as they had received orders to endeavour to please them, they gave them leave. But they said, 'We are ashamed to wash ourselves, if you stand by us, and look on: but if you will stand at a little distance from us, we can then wash.' And so they left them, and withdrew. And when they had all strengthened and encouraged one another, and all signed themselves in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, they threw themselves suddenly by one hasty rush into the river, and were drowned. And as the keepers watched the river, they saw some of them floating and carried down the stream on the surface in a mass, and others sinking: and on hurrying to the place where they had asked |391 leave to wash, they saw not a single one of them alive. And, with bitter lamentations, they ran hither and thither, to save, if they could, hut one of them, and were not able, nor could they rescue them. And thus these weak ones becoming strong in Christ in defence of their Christianity, committed their souls into the hand of God, that they might be saved in soul and body from the impurity and savageness of the barbarians.
[VI.8] The conquest of Dara and Apamea was followed by a truce of three years' duration, ignominiously purchased by the Romans for the sum of three talents. It extended, however, to Syria only: for in Armenia the war was continued on both sides. Now the cause of this war, which was the surrender of themselves by the inhabitants of the Greater or Persian Armenia to the Romans, has already been briefly detailed by us in our previous history: we will now therefore proceed with the events which followed the revolt. The Persian king, then, being hurried away by his vanity at the successful conquest of Dara, and deceived by the pride of his heart, and assured moreover by the truce just concluded, that he had no war to fear in Syria, assembled his army, and boldly invaded Armenia, with the purpose of investing Theodosiopolis, the border town, and thence penetrating to Caesarea in Cappadocia, and thence onward to other cities: and so confident was he of success, that when Theodore the Silentiary was sent to him as ambassador, and noticed that he was upon the point of starting upon a military |392 expedition, he made him go with him; and on his requesting to be allowed to depart, he said to him in derision, 'Come with me to Armenia, and we will together enter into Theodosiopolis, and there you shall bathe and refresh yourself, and then I will let you go.' And so he brought him with him into Armenia, being perfectly persuaded that without trouble he should capture the city 7. But when the Roman armies heard these things, although greatly terrified at the name of the king, they nevertheless made preparations for meeting him in the field: and when he saw how strong they were, he was greatly disturbed; for their number, as was said, was more than a hundred and twenty thousand men. When then they met him, and drew up in order for battle, he was alarmed, and would not give it, but marched toward another city. And they also hastened thither, and threw themselves in his way, and repulsed him from thence also. And as they had now made trial of his army, their own courage grew, and they despised him. And as he saw that matters were not advancing according to his wish, he marched towards the mountains on the northern frontier towards Cappadocia, with the intention of attacking Caesarea. But when the Roman armies saw this, they also marched |393 thither, and arrived before him, and posted themselves in his way, and met him in the mountains of Cappadocia, and stopped his further progress, and would not let him pass over. And there they encamped opposite one another for several days, nor would he venture to engage with them in a general battle. And when he saw that they were more numerous and powerful than himself, and that he could not pass by them, and march upon Caesarea, he was greatly disturbed and alarmed, and began to plan how he might, if possible, effect his escape to his own land. But his Magian priests blamed him, and dissuaded him from this course, and at their instigation he wheeled round, and leaving Cappadocia, advanced to attack Sebaste; for though terrified as well as his men at the Roman armies, yet from shame of being ridiculed for not having accomplished any of his plans, he attacked and burned Sebaste with fire. But he could take neither booty nor captives, because the whole land had fled from before him. Crossing next from thence, he began to retreat towards the East, in the hope, if possible, of escaping homewards. But the Roman armies now despised him; for having tried the mettle of his troops, they had learnt to regard them with contempt, and were eager for battle. And when he saw that they had surrounded him, and were pressing upon him on all sides, he was compelled to flee in haste to the mountains, leaving behind him his camp, and all his equipage, that is, his tent, and retinue, and tent-furniture of silver and |394 gold and pearls, and all his magnificent garments of state, and fleeing away empty. And the Romans hastened, and entered his camp, and took possession of it, and slew every one whom they found there, and laid hands upon his equipage, and that of his nobles; and also upon the fire-temple in which he used to worship, and upon the horses which drew it, and were harnessed to it. And the wealth gained from spoiling the king's baggage was so great, that the Roman soldiers who had found it deserted with their gains in a body, and were never heard of nor seen afterwards. As for the Persians who had charge of it, such as managed to escape, went weeping to the king, and said, 'My lord, the Romans fell upon us, and have slain most of thy servants, and spoiled and plundered all thy camp.' And when he heard this, he answered, 'Let them alone:' and gave orders that his whole army should gather round him, and set up for him a wall of shields; and he made them stand in their ranks, and riding through on horseback, he supplicated them, pointing to his gray hair, and saying, 'My brothers, and children, have pity upon my gray hair, and advance and fight for the kingdom of the Persians, that it may not be despised and ridiculed: See, I, on horseback, will fight along with you as an ordinary trooper.' For his own princes were constantly contending with him, saying, 'Whether we live or die, Persia will get an ill name by us. For never at any time has any Persian king done what you have done, and brought |395 us here to die among these mountains.' This conversation, and the previous events, the Romans learnt subsequently from these persons themselves. The Persians consequently made their preparations, and descended on the opposite side, with the view of fleeing 8 to some city, and advanced towards Melitene: and had it not been for the envy and divisions which existed among the Roman generals, and prevented their acting in unison, they might utterly have destroyed both him and his army: for all that was necessary for this was, that they should arrange a common plan of operations, and with their several divisions surround him. As it was, the Persians advanced against Justinian the patrician, the son of Germanus; and Justinian was afraid, and fled from the encounter: and his fellow generals did not join him, nor come to his support. And when the king and his army saw this, they took courage, and were emboldened to attack and set fire to the city of Melitene.
[VI.9.] But the real object of Khosrun was chiefly to escape: and as soon, therefore, as he had destroyed Melitene, he directed his march towards the Euphrates, in the hope of making good his retreat to his own land. But upon hearing this, the Roman generals wrote to him as follows: 'The deed thou hast accomplished in invading |396 our territories, and burning a city, is not in accordance with the rank of a king----to do forsooth a piece of mischief 9, and beat a retreat. Even we, who are but the servants of a king, had we acted as thou hast done, it had been a disgrace to us: and how much more to thee, who art not merely a king, but, as thou accountest, even a king of kings. For it becomes not a king to emulate the deeds of those who come in thievish fashion to rob and run away, and set on fire and burn: rather it is a king's way, in the open light to stand up in battle mightily and boldly and royally: and should he conquer, then let him glory as a king in victory, but let him not enter like a robber, and destroy, and steal, and run away. Prepare thyself, therefore, and let us at length stand up in battle with one another in open fight, that it may be plainly known with whom both the victory and the defeat remains.' And when the king heard these things, he gave orders for battle the next day, in a plain to the east of the city, at some little distance from it. And in the morning the two sides approached one another in battle array, until but a small interval separated them: and there they stood in their ranks facing one another from morning until the sixth hour, and not a man moved from his place, the king himself being posted in the rear of his army: and so they stood looking at |397 each other, and waiting to see who would begin the fight. And those who gave me this account, with the strongest asseverations of its truth, and who were the officials appointed to act as interpreters between the Romans and the Persians, said, 'At length three of us spurred our horses, and sprang forth from the Roman ranks into the space between the two armies, and went at full speed close up to the Persian ranks, and wheeling round returned at full speed: and this we did three times, without being attacked by them, riding as fast as our horses could carry us, while both sides watched us intently, as our object was to provoke them to battle. But not a man moved from his place, or came out against us, but they stood still like a wall in their ranks.' And no message passed between either army, until finally Khosrun sent to say, 'There can now be no battle to-day: for the time has passed:' and so the two armies parted for the present. But during the night, before the day dawned, the king and his army made for the Euphrates, in the hope, by using every exertion, of crossing the river, which is six miles distant from Melitene: but the Romans were upon his track, purposing to drive him into the river, and destroy him. And in this they were successful: for their rapid march had thrown the Persians into confusion; and at the sight of the Roman army pressing close upon them, they hurried on horseback into the river, and more than half the army sank there, and were drowned. But the |398 king himself and the rest with difficulty swam over to the other side on their horses, and escaped, and marched rapidly into the Roman Armenia: and as they hastened along, he gave orders ,to set fire to all the villages which came in their way. And thus finally he reached the lofty mountains of Carkh 10, where never yet had road been: and he was compelled to make his army advance before him, and construct a road, cutting through forests, and occasionally, in order to open a path, they had to dig through rocks, and hew the stones away: and in this manner, vexed and anxious in mind, he scarce escaped from the hands of the Romans, and arrived in his dominions in great distress: and there he published an ordinance, and made a law, that the king henceforth should not go out in person to war, except against another king 11.
[VI. 10.] Success had now for some time attended the Roman arms, and their generals had gained great glory in. many important victories, and had vanquished all who were sent to oppose their progress: they had also captured and subdued the northern tribes, who previously had been subject to the Persians, and further carried their |399 devastations for many scores of leagues into the enemy's dominions, and penetrated within a hundred miles of his capital, spoiling every thing in their way, and especially carrying off the elephants, until they had filled Constantinople with these animals. The full account of their successes would exceed the limits of our history, but all Persia trembled before them. When however, in the year 880 of Alexander, (A. D. 577 12,) the Persian king withdrew to his dominions, the Romans laid all care aside, and were elated with pride, as men who had valiantly withstood the king in person. Henceforward they acted as though they had nothing to fear, and imagined that now at length they were finally delivered, and at rest from all wars and conflicts. And similarly the troops in their camps were full of over-confidence, and carelessness, and, had put off their arms, and sent their horses away to pasture, when suddenly their outposts came in, and said, 'Arise, and arm yourselves: for the Persian army is upon you, with the Marzban Tam Khosrun 13: look to yourselves.' But they ridiculed the, idea, and said, contemptuously, 'Do you think they would venture to come and find us, and show themselves |400 to us?' And they paid no attention, nor troubled themselves to get ready; so that, as my informants said, the Persian army was upon them, when they were not only not prepared for battle, but not ready even to show their faces. When then they saw them approaching in long files, firm as a wall, a panic and terror fell upon them all alike, and confusion: for they had not brought in their horses, and were occupied solely with eating and drinking and gluttony: and some were here, and some there. And as each one caught sight of the enemy, he was terror-stricken, and began to flee at full speed: and others caught the infection, and fled, because their comrades fled: and the generals, when they saw themselves left alone, and that their troops were in full flight, fled too: and he who could get his arms, and catch his horse, mounted, and rode away; and he who could not catch his horse, fled away on foot, carrying his arms at first, but when he grew tired with running, he threw them away upon the road, and fled weaponless And some even of those who were mounted, and had their arms with them, on growing tired, threw them away; or if their horse grew weary, they dismounted, and fled away on foot. As for the Persians, they followed them at their leisure, not so much pursuing after them, as jesting and ridiculing and laughing at them, because when they were a hundred and twenty thousand in number, while they themselves were not more than thirty thousand, they |401 were thus panic-stricken and fled away, though they had not been terrified nor fled from their king. And thus at last, shame and an ill name fastened upon all the Roman armies, with their commanders; for the Persians did not so much as draw sword against them, nor bend the bow, nor shoot a single arrow, but gathered up the arms and coats of mail, which they had scattered in their flight, and their breastplates, and shields, and helmets, and spears and swords, and lances and bows, and quivers full of arrows, beyond numbering. And the cause of their defeat, as all men said, was, that the Romans had made God angry: for when they entered the northern territories of the Persian realm, where the people are all Christians, and the priests went out to meet them, carrying the Gospel, and bearing crosses, they paid them not the slightest reverence: and finally, in impious sport, they even went so far as to seize hold of little children, of one and two years of age, and, taking them one by one leg, and another by the other, threw them as high up in the air as they could, and then caught them as they fell on their spears and swords, and running them through, cast them to their dogs. Nor did they confine their cruelty to children, but treated the monks also with contempt, and slew and plundered them: and still more, they dragged out of their retirement the hermits, men of great age, and highly esteemed, who had practised asceticism for many years, and hung them up, and tortured them, |402 and mutilated them with their swords, saying, 'Bring us gold and silver.' And the nuns they tortured in a similar manner, even till they died miserably from their cruelty. And as was generally said, it was because of these atrocious deeds, by which they had made God angry, that He put them to shame, and brake them before their enemies, nor could they stand up against them.
When such were the excesses allowed by the lax discipline of the Roman camp, it is no wonder if Armenia began to grow weary of its defenders, and willingly made terms again with the Persians. [VI. 11.] Our historian, therefore, after referring to his previous history for an account of the rising of Armenia, and of the journey of the Catholicus of Dovin to Constantinople, and his magnificent reception there, and that of the nobles who accompanied him, now tells us, that after the king of the Romans had undergone all these conflicts with the Persians in their defence, being unwilling to abandon those who, for the sake of Christianity, had sought refuge with him; and had further, so to say, enriched all the Armenians with gifts and magnificent presents, and granted them an immunity from taxation for three years; and when the Persian sent to him, saying, 'Give me up my slaves who have rebelled against me,' had refused to consent: after all this, when finally the Persian had recourse to artifice, and promised the Armenians in writing not to do them any evil, nor remember their |403 offence against him, they then all deserted the Roman side, and the whole country delivered itself up to him, except those princes who had taken refuge with the king at Constantinople. Omitting them, the number of those who surrendered was twenty thousand men, and the government of the Persian king was restored there as of old. Of those who stayed at Constantinople, the leading men were Vardun with his retinue, and the king of a tribe who also had come over to the Romans, and whose name was Gorgonis; and both were still treated with great honour, because they had come for refuge, and surrendered themselves to king Justin, in the fifth year of his reign, which was the year of Alexander 882 (A. D. 571). The war, however, upon their account lasted for several years afterwards.
[VI.12.] Attempts, however, were made from time to time to bring about a peace, and in the year 887 (A. D. 576) three members of the senate were sent to the borders as ambassadors, whose names were Theodore the Patrician, the son of Peter Magister 14, and John and Peter, who were both of consular rank and of the family of king Anastasius, and Zacharias, a physician of Arx Romanorum and a learned man, went with them. On the Persian side came Mabodes and others; and the place appointed for their meeting was near Dara, which the Persians occupied; and their |404 instructions were to inquire into and settle the matters in dispute between the two states, as each side accused the other of misconduct, saying, 'Ye transgressed what was fitting in such and such matters.' And especially they each threw upon the other the blame of having violated the peace, the one side saying, 'Ye were the first to break it, by crossing our borders and devastating our land;' while the other replied, 'No; it was your Arabs who first crossed and wasted our territories.' And thus they remained, coming to no conclusion, but stirring up grounds of quarrel and dispute, till they even proceeded so far as to personal altercations and insults. And in this way they spent a year and more in debate with one another, each side sending reports to their own sovereign, which, because of the illness of king Justin, the godloving Caesar Tiberius received at Constantinople, and answered; and while both sides were anxious for peace, neither would humble itself to the other, nor acknowledge its weakness; and consequently they confronted one another with the appearance of determination. For the Roman Caesar sent to the Persians, saying, 'We rejoice in peace far more than in war; and if you wish for peace, we will not hold back: but if you wish for war, we shall not prove less brave than you are, but are ready to meet you.' But the Persian supposed, that because three talents of gold had been given him as the price of peace for three years, he might now look for a talent as yearly tribute in |405 return for his consent to a treaty But when the Caesar knew this, he sent in answer, 'You are greatly mistaken if you imagine that the Roman realm will give you a single pound as the price of peace, or will purchase peace with gold at all. If, therefore, you wish that the two kingdoms should make peace with one another on equal terms, well and good; but if not, you will have war.' And when the Persian learnt that this was his decision, he was not a little alarmed, and consented that a peace on equal terms should be made without gold. And when the Caesar received this answer, he wrote back in return, 'Know for certain that the Roman realm is no paltry state, but has ever been a powerful empire, and owed subjection to no one: nor can I tell for what reason the kings my predecessors submitted to give to the Persians a yearly sum of five talents of gold. Learn, therefore, that neither to you nor to any other will the Roman realm henceforward for ever give as much as five pounds. For your ambassadors were so arrogant as to say to the barbarous tribe called Turks, "The Romans are our slaves, and as despicable slaves, pay us tribute." If, therefore, you do not abandon this payment, there can be no peace between us.' And though he had already surrendered much, yet he not merely immediately consented, but ordered the payments to be discontinued; and had copies made in writing of the conditions of peace, and sent them to the borders to the ambassadors. And when the |406 Caesar saw that he had submitted to these terms, he further sent to him, 'Give us up at once the city of Dara, and we will make peace.' And when the Persian received this message, he was greatly disturbed, and wrote, 'Dara I took by the laws of war; but you did not take the lands of our slaves the Armenians by war, and yet you retain them. Give me back Armenia, and I will give you back Dara.' But the Caesar could not bear the idea of surrendering the Armenians, because they were Christians, and had therefore given themselves up to the kingdom which represented Christendom; and therefore upon this point the ambassadors of the two powers had so violent a quarrel with one another, that they put on their arms, and were ready to meet in battle. Thus, then, they separated from one another, in mutual displeasure, and the negotiations were broken off, and both realms prepared for war. And the Persian ambassador sent for the military commanders, and gave them orders, saying, 'Go, and take measures for the safety of the marches, as we shall not make peace with the Romans.' [VI. 13] But the Persians not only took measures for their defence, but also invaded the Roman territories: for there had been present at the conferences a powerful Marzban, named Adormahun 15; and no sooner were the negotiations broken off, than being enraged at some reproaches addressed |407 by the ambassadors to himself, he collected his troops, and began to waste and burn every thing on which he could lay hands, in the districts round the strong towns of Dara, and Tela 16, and Telbesme, and Resaina, sparing neither churches nor monasteries, nor any thing throughout the land. And thus he wasted and burnt and slew as far as Tela; to the inhabitants of which town he sent, saying, 'Deliver unto us your city, lest the same fate happen to you as to the people of Dara, and ye perish. For where now are your ambassadors who were threatening us? Let them come hither, and attack us.' But the people of Tela answered, 'We cannot surrender our town to you, for we have received letters, with the intelligence that the patrician Justinian is already on his march, and has with him sixty thousand |408 Lombards: and were we now to surrender ourselves to you, he would come, and utterly exterminate us from the land.' Upon hearing this, the Persians withdrew, but not till they had burnt the great and magnificent temple of the Mother, of God, which stood outside the city; and having clone whatever other mischief they could, they retreated to Dara. And the Marzban derided the Romans, and was greatly elated at the devastation he had wrought, and the captives he had taken, and the great booty which his men had carried off.
[VI. 14.] As the Roman reverses in the East had arisen from the want of a good understanding among the generals, who carried their quarrels by letter even into the Caesar's presence, he determined to send thither an officer of his own court, whose name was Maurice, and who held the same post which he had himself possessed before he was made Caesar, being Comes excubitorum, or count, of the body-guard, for which reason he is generally known by the name of the Count Maurice. Having summoned him, therefore, he gave him orders to proceed to the East as commander-in-chief of all the forces there,with authority to govern and direct and control all the generals and tribunes of the whole army, and that no one should venture, on any pretext, to transgress his orders and the word of his mouth. And further, he gave him power to appoint and to dismiss any officer from the service at his sole discretion; and sent with him many talents to provision the troops, having |409 also just previously commissioned Gregory the prefect of the Praetorian guards----a man who had distinguished himself in all the affairs of Armenia----to proceed thither to administer and take charge of the sums of money disbursed for the army.
No sooner then had the illustrious Maurice received his orders, than he set out on his journey, and arrived first in Cappadocia; where he began to collect troops; and numerous Romans, and excubitores, and officials 17, and common soldiers had accompanied him from the capital to enlist under his standard, which was now joined by hosts of Iberian and Syrian recruits. Directly then that he had gathered an army, he marched forward and encamped between Armenia and Syria, at the town of Citharizon: and there he assembled all the generals, and conferred with them, and appointed them their posts, and gave them their orders, and encouraged them, and sent them away. And for two months he remained there, and his name spread abroad, and fear fell upon all the Persians, who saw that the Roman armies were more numerous and more powerful than themselves. Being afraid then of meeting them in open battle, they contrived a stratagem, and while their real object of attack was that part of Armenia which borders upon Persia, they sent to the inhabitants of |410 Theodosiopolis 18 the following message: 'After thirty days, be ready, and meet us in battle.' And when the Romans received this message, they sent to inform the count Maurice, who immediately gave orders that his whole force should get ready for the encounter. But the Persians, immediately that they had sent the message, the object of which was to deceive the Romans, put their stratagem into execution, and made their preparations, and gathered their forces, and crossed over into their territories, making their inroad unawares at a place near Maipherkat 19. And as soon as they had entered the Roman territory, they began to devastate and burn all the land of Sophene, and especially the churches and monasteries: and in the same way they treated the district of Amid; and on approaching the town itself, they burnt all its suburbs, up to its very walls, and destroyed every church, and the large monasteries situated there. And for three days they besieged the city; but when they saw that they could not take it by storm, and were afraid lest Maurice should come upon them with his army |411 and put them to the sword, they raised the siege, and resumed their devastations, burning and spoiling the whole land of Mesopotamia like thieves, and finally wheeling round, retreated into their own country. And thus, while the Romans were preparing for the day appointed for battle, the Persians deceived them, and, like thieves and robbers, invaded and burnt and wasted and spoiled the whole of Mesopotamia. The date of this invasion was the year of Alexander 888 (A. D. 577), being the same as that on which Maurice had travelled thither from the capital: and the time spent by them in this rapid raid, and their hurried flight back to their own land, was eighteen days.
[VI.15.] On hearing of this inroad, the Count Maurice was very indignant; and gathering his whole force, marched into Arzun 20, a fertile province of Persia, in great anger at having been mocked and made the laughingstock of the Persians. And on entering it, they wasted and overthrew all that came in their way, and took a great booty, and advanced victoriously as far as the Tigris, burning and destroying the whole country as they went. But because the inhabitants were true Christians without guile, they came out to meet the armies and generals, with the holy vessels and crosses and the gospel, asking of them a pledge for their lives, and saying, 'Have mercy |412 upon us; for we are Christians like you, and ready to serve the Christian king.' And when Maurice and the rest heard these appeals repeatedly addressed to them, they shewed them mercy, and said, 'Whoever of you wishes to live, and serve the Christian king, let him bring hither his goods, and load all that he has upon his horse, and he shall live, and we will not slay him: but if we find him here after two or three days, he shall die.' And so the great majority of the people of Arzun, whosoever had escaped from the sword, fled into the Roman territory. And when the news was carried to the king, he gave orders for them to be sent to the island of Cyprus; and they had lands allotted them among all the villages throughout Cyprus, and dwelt there. As for the Persians, who stole into the Roman territories, and made a rapid raid there, being afraid of Maurice, lest he should overtake them, after plundering and burning as much as they could for fifteen 21 days, they fled back, and retired into their own land.
Of the proceedings of Maurice in the two following years, our author has given us no account; but in A. D. 580 he made, in company with the Arab Mondir, the unsuccessful expedition against Persia, to which we have already |413 referred, and which led to Mondir being delivered into the hands of the Romans by the treachery of his patron Magnus.
The narrative of the expedition here given by John is as follows: [VI.16] 'At a subsequent time Maurice and Mondir the son of Harith king of the Arabs united their forces together, and marched into the Persian territories by the route through the desert, and penetrated into the enemy's dominions for a distance of many score leagues, as far as Armenia. But on arriving at the great bridge there, upon which they had relied for crossing over, and subduing the wealthy cities upon the opposite side, they found it cut away: for when the Persians had learnt their intentions, they had destroyed it. And as they and their armies had undergone great fatigues, especially the Romans, they came to high words with one another, but nothing could be done except to return, without having met with any success; and it was with difficulty, and only after great fatigues, that they finally arrived back in safety in the Roman dominions As both were equally irritated, they wrote angry accusations against one another to the king; for Maurice thought that Mondir had sent information of their plans to the Persians, and had thus enabled them to break down the bridge to prevent his passage----a supposition which was false. And the king, before he could reconcile Maurice and Mondir with one another, had great difficulty, and was obliged to request the mediation of many of the leading men. And |414 finally Maurice went to the king at Constantinople, but whether or not he there accused Mondir is not known for certain.
[VI. 17.] No sooner had Maurice and Mondir returned to their respective territories, and the Persians saw that their own land was free from the invading army, than their Marzban, Adormahun, with a large force, crossed over into the Roman province, and entering the districts of Tela and Resaina, destroyed and burnt whatever he had left in his former invasion. Thence he marched into the fertile district of Edessa, and ravaged the whole province of Osrhoene, passing hither and thither in full confidence without fear, as though he were dwelling in his own land. And he continued there many days, not leaving so much as a house standing wherever he inarched, and making sport of the whole Roman army, because they were not able to drive him away. Soon after, when Maurice and Mondir returned from the Persian territories, wearied with the fatigues of the journey, and he learnt that they purposed to attack him, he sent to them in derision, saying, 'Inasmuch as I have heard that you propose to fall upon me, do not trouble yourselves to come; for you are exhausted with the fatigues of your march. Rest yourselves, therefore, a little, and I will come to you.' And after wasting and spoiling and capturing and doing whatever he liked, on hearing that they intended to attack him, he took with him all his booty and his captives, and withdrew from the |415 Roman territories, and arrived in his own land without a single man attempting to drive him back of the two hundred thousand Romans who were eating at the king's expense; nor was it till he had made up his mind to retreat that they commenced their march; and when they could not overtake him, they said that he had fled too fast.
[VI.18.] In Mondir, however, the Persians found a more active enemy than in Maurice; for when the Arabs under their rule had gathered their whole force, and been joined also by a division of the Persian army, they set out, intending to fall upon Mondir, and take vengeance upon him for having invaded their territories. But the warlike Arab, on hearing of their purpose, determined to lose no time, but gathered his troops, and set out to meet them in the desert. And having learnt by his spies where and how many they were, he fell upon them suddenly, when they were not aware of his approach; and in their alarm and confusion he put some to the sword, and destroyed them, and others he took prisoners, and bound, so that but few of them escaped. And thence he marched directly upon Hirah, and pillaged and burnt it; and so returned with great booty and numerous prisoners and surpassing glory.
[VI.19] The prisoners whom the Persians had taken in Dara and Apamea, and the other cities which they had conquered, were counted in the king's presence at Nisibis, and found to be two hundred |416 and seventy-five thousand. And such of them as were not there and then divided among the troops, were shut up in Antioch, a city which Khosrun had built in his own dominions in honour of his having captured and spoiled the famous city of that name; and there he confined all those whom he had taken captive in Antioch, and in all the country round about, as well as the inhabitants of Dara and Apamea, and the places of which he had subsequently made himself master. But though confined and watched by a strong garrison, they did not desist from schemes and conspiracies, in the hope that something might be done to help them. They secretly plotted, therefore, with one of the Persians who guarded them and kept the walls, and prevailed upon him by a bribe of five hundred drachmae, which they collected among them, to let two of them down by night by a rope from that part of the wall where he was sentinel. The men selected were two pious monks, both Arabs, whose names were, of the first, Benjamin, and of the second, who was his disciple, Samuel; and their plan was, if they escaped thence in safety, at once to go to the king of the Romans, and tell him how many thousand captives were shut up in Antioch. And they all sent a message to him by their hands, saying, 'Lo, we are shut up here to the number of more than thirty thousand men; and the Persians who guard us are not more than five hundred: if, therefore, but one Roman general be sent, and show himself |417 outside the walls, we will slay the Persians, and break out of the city, and return in safety to the Roman territories.' And when this message had been intrusted in secret to the blessed Benjamin by the captives, the Persian who had received the bribe let him and his companion down by night from the wall with cords, and they fled away, and arrived safely in the Roman dominions. And he delivered his message first to the Roman generals, and they sent him on with letters to the king. And on his arrival at the capital, he came unto me; and having delivered his message to the Magister, he went and informed the king Tiberius. But he paid it no attention, and acted as though he thought it was not true; and so the deliverance of all these oppressed captives was deferred and nothing done.
[VI.20.] There may perhaps be nothing improper, though we are writing of a Magian and an enemy, in giving an account of the life and death of Khosrun, king of Persia. As the facts then themselves prove, he was a prudent and wise man, and all his lifetime he assiduously devoted himself to the perusal of philosophical works. And, as was said, he took pains to collect the religious books of all creeds, and read and studied them, that he might learn which were true and wise, and which were foolish and full of absurdities and empty fables. And after the perusal and study of them all, he praised the books of the Christians above all others, and said, 'These are true and wise above those of |418 any other religion' And on this account he the more constantly studied and read them, and believed their words: nor did he ever show himself an enemy of the Christians, and though incited by the Magians against them, he was not often prevailed upon to consent to their being persecuted. Moreover, on one occasion the Catholicus of the Nestorians, who was constantly at his court, accused before him the few orthodox bishops to be found in Persia: for the bishops generally throughout the whole country are Nestorians, and but few orthodox are found there. As then the Catholicus had brought serious charges against them, the king commanded them to assemble in his presence, and hold a discussion upon their faith, that he too might know and examine, in his own person, what was said, both on the one side and the other, and decide, after hearing their arguments, which were most in accordance with reason. And when the orthodox had arrived, he commanded that both sides should assemble, and enter into his presence: and on doing so, they were placed on opposite sides before him, the chief of the orthodox being a certain holy bishop, named Achudemes. And the king commanded them to argue and debate with one another as to their faith, upon which the Catholicus and his side began, while the orthodox waited until he had concluded his discourse, to which they then replied, and disproved all his reasonings, and refuted him, having the king himself for judge. |419 As however the arguments brought forward upon the two sides were lengthy, and not easy to write down, we must omit them. The king Khosrun, however, approved and praised what had been spoken by the orthodox, and said to the Catholicus, 'These men know what they say, and can establish and prove their words, and their arguments seem to me to be very true: but yours are confused and indistinct, and have no solid foundation; nor do ye yourselves seem able to prove your words; nor, in fact, do they seem to me to have any certainty and truth, like those spoken on the other side. And from this I perceive that you have accused them before me without just and fitting cause; and now that I have myself seen and heard them, I command that ye never again offend against them, nor do them wrong.' And when he had uttered this command, all the orthodox fell down, and made obeisance to him, and thanked him, saying, c Lord, they persecute us, and fall upon us, and spoil us, and uproot our churches and monasteries, and do not permit us to offer up in them our prayers and supplications unto God, that He would establish and watch over your life, and the welfare of your kingdom.' Upon which he comforted them, and bade them go and build their churches and monasteries: 'for no one,' said he, 'henceforth shall be permitted to injure you.' And thus having worshipped him, and prayed for him, they returned to their homes with great joy: and henceforward all the |420 orthodox in the Persian dominions dwelt there in great confidence and fearlessness, so as even to venture, after having received this commandment, upon doing a great act, which was no less than the setting up of a Catholicus of their own, by the hands of the blessed lord Jacob, the bishop of the orthodox, a thing which had never been done before in the Persian dominions: but from that time even until this day there has continued to be a Catholicus of the believers in Persia 22.
[VI. 21.] It appears also that the war between Persia and the Romans was a cause of great grief to him, and that he would readily have submitted to much for the purpose of reestablishing peace. And in testifying to this, let not men imagine that our purpose in giving this short history is to write a panegyric upon a Magian, though he was one in whom Samson's riddle came true, 'That out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the bitter came forth sweetness.' For what other epithet than bitter can we apply to a man who was wandering in heathen error? Still, our purpose in recording his history is simply to throw light upon the events which we have detailed above. When then the peace upon the |421 marches was broken, he showed that he was vexed and grieved thereby; and even, as was said, when he was marching against Dara, the parchments on which were inscribed the terms of the peace, which had been made between the two empires, were carried before him, tied up and suspended towards heaven: while he himself said, 'Thou, O great God, Who knowest all things, behold, I pray, that I neither have wished, nor now wish, for this devastation and shedding of human blood, which is taking place between the two kingdoms.' And he gave further proof of his desire for peace, when his end was nigh, by his readiness to make concessions. For he had imagined that he should receive a talent of gold for every year of the peace, as had been the case in the three years which had just elapsed. But when the ambassadors of the Romans and Persians met upon the borders to treat and confer about terms, the victorious Tiberius, as we have mentioned above, being then Caesar in the lifetime of Justin, and all the Persians afraid of him, behaved himself manfully, and stood up, saying, 'The Roman realm is no abject state, nor in subjection to the kingdom of the Persians, nor will we give you a single talent in order that there may be peace. And if peace be not made on equal terms, I will never make peace with you at all for ever.' And this not a little alarmed the Persian king, and he assembled his Magians together, and said unto them, 'We learn that the Caesar of the Romans is a |422 young and warlike man; and I, as ye see, have grown old, and can no longer bear the fatigue of wars. Let us therefore make peace with the Romans, for we cannot overcome them.' And so they conferred together, and sent the following answer: 'That ye may not imagine that I look to gold alone, and prefer gold to peace, lo! now let us make peace on equal terms for both kingdoms, and put an end to the devastation at present going on; nor do I ask for any thing.' But no sooner had he assented to this, than the victorious Caesar Tiberius threw upon him a second slight, saying, 'Do not imagine that of the gold which up to this time you have received from the Roman territories, you will ever receive again to the extent of a single drachm: for the Roman realm is not so weak as to pay tribute to the Persians.' To this the Persian sent in answer, 'The yearly subsidy of gold was settled by the kings who preceded you, nor had you any thing to do with the arrangement: but know, that peace is far dearer to me than any thing whatsoever, and therefore I remit these talents also, and let us make peace.' And when the Caesar saw that the Persian gave way, and consented to these things, he sent him a further message, saying, 'If you will not give up Dara to us, we will not make peace with you.' And at this the Persians were irritated, and the peace broken off, and they separated at the marches in so hot a quarrel, as even to put on their arms in readiness for combat with one |423 another. And immediately the work of devastation was resumed in both states. And just then at that very time Khosrun the king died, in the year 890, (A. D. 579,) and was succeeded by his son, after a reign, as they reckon, of forty-eight years.
[VI.22.] The name of the new king was Hormuzd, and his character was very different from that of his father. For as the reports of him show, and facts themselves prove, he was a ferocious and savage youth, and but slightly endowed with understanding. At the commencement of his reign, being proud and deficient in sense, he was so haughty and arrogant, as not even to send to the king of the Romans the usual symbols of his having succeeded to the throne, according to the custom of kings. For when Tiberius was appointed Caesar, although the two realms were at feud and war, he did not depart from the established usage of sending the customary marks of respect; but one of his first acts after ascending the throne was to despatch presents to Khosrun as the symbol of his having commenced his reign, just as Khosrun, when he came to the throne, had done to king Justinian, whose reign began three years before his own. But this man, in his senselessness, haughtily said, 'Why should I send gifts of honour to my slaves?' And accordingly he did not send them. Nor was this his only act of the kind. For certain Roman ambassadors had been sent to his father with presents and royal letters, but on their arrival at |424 Antioch, had learnt that Khosrun was dead, and that his son reigned in his stead. But when our peace-loving sovereigns heard of it, they commanded the ambassadors to continue their journey, and carry the presents to the new king. But though he had given them permission in a haughty manner to enter his realm, nevertheless he received them with insult, and illtreated them, and threw them into prison, where he left them for a long time to languish in misery, till they were ready to perish and their lives be consumed. But at length, on the advice of the Magians, he let them go; but even then he would not permit them to travel by the direct road, but sent persons with them, with orders to take them over lofty and precipitous mountains, in the expectation that they would be worn out by the difficulties of the way, and die: so that they even said to the escort, 'If you wish to kill us, why do you not openly slay us at once, instead of bringing us here to die of fatigue among these mountains?' But the aid of God was with them, and brought them back in safety: and they related, both to the king and men generally, these proofs of the Persian's ferocity and want of sense.
Our historian has on several occasions referred to a barbarous tribe, called Turks, who dwelt in the heart of the king of Persia's dominions; and now he informs us, that they also were indirectly the occasion of the war breaking out between the Romans and Persians. [VI.23] For the first cause, he says, why the peace was broken was, that the |425 Persarmenians surrendered themselves and their country to Rome: but there was a second cause, which greatly embittered the enmity, namely, that the king of the Romans had sent ambassadors to the barbarous tribes, who live in the interior of the Persian dominions, and whom they call Turchios: nor were there wanting minor causes of quarrel as well. As regards, however, the Turks, Justin had sent them an embassy in the seventh year of his reign, at the head of which was a prince named Zemarchus: and never before had a Roman embassy been sent to these numerous and powerful tribes.
When, then, after journeying for a year, the ambassadors arrived in their dominions, he tells us, that one of the kings of these tribes (for they have eight other chiefs who dwell farther inland) on learning that an embassy had been sent unto them by the Romans, forthwith was alarmed and terrified, and began to lament and weep bitterly. And especially when he gave them audience, and saw them standing before him, he gave way for a long time to his grief, nor did any one venture to speak to him. Some then of those in the ambassadors' suite went on to say, that when we saw him weeping thus bitterly, and that no one of his nobles ventured to speak unto him, we fell upon our faces before him, and told the interpreters to say, 'We would know of thee, O king, why, upon seeing us, who have been sent unto thee by thy brother, the king of the Romans, thou weepest thus?' And he, on hearing our |426 question, wept yet more bitterly for a long time, and did not speak a single word in answer for the space of two hours. And then his sobbings' being somewhat stilled, he said unto us,' That you may know the cause of my present lamentation and tears, lo! I tell you, that for ages and from generations we have received this tradition, that whenever we should see ambassadors from the Romans enter these lands, we were to know for certain that the whole world was passing away, and being dissolved, and that all its kingdoms were coming to an end, and that forthwith in these times all mankind would destroy one another. And when therefore I saw you, and remembered these things, I lamented and wept.' After this, a long conference followed, and they spread out a splendid present of gold and silver and pearls, and magnificent state-dresses, and offered it unto him: and on seeing it, he was astonished, and accepted it; and picking out those articles which were most magnificent and beautiful, he said, 'These are indeed the gifts of a great king.' Now by chance it so happened that there were present at that time at his court ambassadors of the Persians, and the king asked the Roman legates, 'Tell me, is it true what the Persians say, that the king of the Romans, is their slave, and pays yearly tribute as a slave?' And when Zemarchus heard this, he replied, 'They speak falsely: for many Roman kings have invaded their lands, and devastated them, and taken their people captive: and when Trajan, |427 a Roman king, invaded them, he so overthrew and vanquished them, that to this very day they tremble and shake before the statue of himself which he set up in their land; nor will any one of them venture, even to this day, to pass before it on horseback. But let them be summoned, and we will convict them in person of falsehood, nor will they be able to deny it.' Accordingly the king gave the command, and on their arrival, he said to them, 'Did ye not tell me that the king of the Romans is your slave, and lo! as these men inform me, to this very day ye do homage to, and tremble at, the image merely of a king of the Romans, which he set up in your land: and how, then, can they be your slaves, when ye tremble at the image of their king, and do it homage? Is this true?' They say to him, 'Yes, my lord, it is true, that there is a statue of him in our land.' And upon their acknowledging this, he said, 'Why then did ye speak to me falsely, and deceive me?' And he swore, that, 'Were it not that I should then be as bad as you, I would take off your heads.' And he dismissed them in anger. Upon their return to their king, they informed him, that Roman ambassadors had visited the Turks while they were there, and had questioned them respecting the image of Trajan; 'And as we,' said they, 'could not deny what they affirmed, he was angry with us, and sent us away in wrath.' And the Persian, on hearing this, was greatly moved and enraged, and commanded that Trajan's statue should be |428 overturned; and he was embittered in his enmity by this occurrence, for he imagined that the Romans were stirring up these tribes against him, especially as the king of the Turks had greatly honoured their ambassadors. Such, then, were the facts which occurred, according to the relation of the ambassadors, of which we have given a brief abstract. For on their return, after an absence of two years, they detailed much besides that was extraordinary and wonderful of the great populousness of these tribes, and the astonishing character of the regions they inhabit, and of their military institutions, and the uprightness of their morals.
[VI. 24.] While the Romans were waging war in the east with the Persians, in the west they were suffering almost greater miseries from the inroads of an abominable people, who, from their long hair, are called Avars. Their first appearance in the Roman territories was in the days of king Justinian, who received their ambassadors with great honour, and made them rich presents of gold and silver and dresses and girdles and saddles ornamented with gold; and sent also similar presents by their hands to their chiefs. And not only were they astonished at his bountifulness, but also quickly sent other ambassadors, whom he treated with equal munificence. And often on various pretexts they sent embassies, and he gave presents to them all, and sent them away loaded with gifts, imagining that by their means he should subdue all his enemies. And |429 this continued until the murmuring against him grew general on the part both of the senate and the people; for they said, 'He is stripping the whole kingdom, and giving it to barbarians.' And when Justinian departed from this world, and Justin, his sister's son, reigned in his stead, a troop of them had just come, to be loaded as usual with presents, and go their way. And after a few days they had an audience with Justin, and said to him, 'Give us as he used to give us who is dead; and send us away to our king.' But Justin, having been one of those who were vexed and grumbled at the amount which these barbarians received, and carried out of the kingdom, answered them, 'Never again shall ye be loaded at the expense of this kingdom, and go your way without doing us any service: for from me ye shall receive nothing.' And when the Avars began to threaten, he grew angry, and said, 'Do you dead dogs dare to threaten the Roman realm? Learn that I will shave off those locks of yours, and then cut off your heads.' And at his command they were seized and hurried on board some boats, and turned out of the city, and taken across the strait, and imprisoned in Chalcedon. And as their number was fully three hundred men, a force was posted there to guard them, together with some of the royal bodyguard. And at the end of six months he loosed them and sent them away, with threats, that should he ever set eyes upon any of them again, either at the capital or in any part of his |430 dominions, their lives should answer for it. And thus they were terrified at him, and kept quiet, and did not shew themselves for a long time: but finally, they sent ambassadors to him to ask for friendship and make submission, and to say, that whatever he commanded them, they would do. And accordingly all his days they continued to be his friends. And as they were a powerful people, and rapidly grew in wealth and importance by the conquest and plunder of many of the northern tribes, they finally carried their arms so far as to fall upon another powerful people, called the Gepidae, who dwelt upon the banks of the great river, the Danube; and them they conquered, and took possession of their territories, and dwelt there, and spread themselves in the rich lands which they had occupied far and wide. Still professing to be friends, they sent ambassadors to Justin, and cunningly asked him, in the name of their king, to send artificers and masons to build him a palace and a bath. And on their arrival there, they built him a palace and a bath; and as soon as both buildings were completed, they requested to be sent away to their homes: but now at length he shewed his treachery, and revealed the guile that was in his heart, and seized them, and drew his sword, saying, 'Unless you build a bridge by your art over the Danube, that we may pass over whenever we wish, there shall not one of you live, for I will immediately cut off your heads.' And when he pressed them, they said to him, 'Who could possibly build a |431 bridge over a river as wide as a sea? And even if we could do so, it would be injurious to the Roman state, and the king would put us to death. Whether therefore we die, or whether we live, we cannot do what you ask.' But upon this answer, he had two of them immediately beheaded: and the rest, terrified at the sight of their execution, promised that if he would give orders for as many large timber-trees as possible to be brought, they would make a bridge to save their lives. And upon this, a numerous body, of men were sent out to cut down the tallest and largest trees: and urged on by the fear of being slain by the sword, they planned and executed a very strong bridge.
And when king Justin had reigned thirteen years, he departed from this world, and the victorious Tiberius, who had for four years been associated with him in the government as Caesar, succeeded him as sole emperor. And as this bridge was the cause of no little annoyance both to himself and the whole state, he endeavoured in the third year after the death of Justin, by all the means in his power, to cut it away, and at the time was not able: for they occupied it, and fixed their habitations there, and further demanded of him the surrender of the city of Sir-mium, on this bank of the river, for them to settle in; and threatened, that in case of refusal, they would commence a war with him, and devastate the Roman territories. But he would not submit to abandon to them so important a city: |432 and thereupon they began to assemble, and watch for an opportunity of stirring up a war. And they also made another bridge, as was said, a thing unheard of before, but which they contrived to erect, as being bent upon mischief. [VI. 25.] That same year, being the third after the death of king Justin, was famous also for the invasion of an accursed people, called Slavonians, who overran the whole of Greece, and the country of the Thessalonians, and all Thrace, and captured the cities, and took numerous forts, and devastated and burnt, and reduced the people to slavery, and made themselves masters of the whole country, and settled in it by main force, and dwelt in it as though it had been their own without fear. And four years have now elapsed, and still, because the king is engaged in the war with the Persians, and has sent all his forces to the East, they live at their ease in the land, and dwell in it, and spread themselves far and wide as far as God permits them, and ravage and burn and take captive. And to such an extent do they carry their ravages, that they have even ridden up to the outer wall of the city, and driven away all the king's herds of horses, many thousands in number, and whatever else they could find. And even to this day, being the year 895 (A. D. 584), they still encamp and dwell there, and live in peace in the Roman territories, free from anxiety and fear, and lead captive and slay and burn: and they have grown rich in gold and silver, and herds of horses, and arms, and have learnt to |433 fight better than the Romans, though at first they were but rude savages, who did not venture to shew themselves outside the woods and the coverts of the trees; and as for arms, they did not even know what they were, with the exception of two or three javelins or darts.
[VI.26] But to return to the war between the Romans and Persians in the East. After hostilities had been carried on for some time, proposals of peace were made, and a conference held, at which the chief speakers, besides others, were the bishops of Nisibis and Resaina; and also Zacharias the Sophist, of the town of Arx Romanorum. There was, however, a certain, Marzban of the Persians, who, being blinded and carried away by pride, and confident in his troops, and vain and boastful of his courage, advised the king not to give way to the Romans, nor make peace with them; 'For I,' said he, 'will immediately enter their territories, and exterminate them all, and conquer all their dominions, and will winter at Antioch.' And the king, being elated by these promises, and equally full of pride, broke off the conferences. The Marzban, therefore, whose name was Tam Khosrun,----the same who had so ignominiously put the Romans to the rout on a previous occasion,----collected his troops, and marched upon Tela Mauzalat, though there were many generals high in command, and chief officers, assembled there. And on his arrival, he surrounded the city; but the Roman commanders went out to meet him, and especially a bold and |434 courageous captain, named Constantine. Now it so happened, that the day before he had laid hands upon a scout, and examined him closely as to Tam Khosrun's dress, and the part of the army in which he would probably be found. And when he had learnt every particular, he posted himself on one of the wings; and having caught sight of the Marzban in the centre of the Persian army, he charged so vigorously at him, that he penetrated into the enemy's ranks, and making straight for Tam Khosrun, smote him with his lance, and unseated him, and threw him from his horse: and turning his lance, he smote him again, and pierced him through. But he was himself now surrounded by the Persians, and slain: and so Constantine fell, who was not only a brave man, but a Christian also, and a believer. But when the Persians saw that Tam Khosrun, on whom they relied more than on the king himself, was slain, in spite of his boasts that he would forthwith take the city by storm, and lodge there; and, further, became aware that they were hemmed in on all sides by their enemies, they turned their backs, and were hotly pursued by the Romans and Arabs, who slew and unhorsed many of them, to the number, as was said, of several thousands: but as we do not know the certainty, nor how to distinguish the truth from the false rumours which fly abroad, we have not recorded the exact numbers told us. It is certain, however, that many of them fell, and three other princes were said to have been slain, and all |435 their pride was brought to shame. After this defeat, they first halted at the river Bethvashi, and encamped there three months, waiting for an opportunity of renewing the contest: hut finding themselves unable to stand up against the Romans, they retreated into their own land in disgrace, without having accomplished their purposes. The date of this battle 23 was June, 892; (A. D. 581.)
The next chapter repeats almost word for word what has been previously recorded respecting Maurice; but as a few new particulars are added, it may be worth while giving it entire. He tells us, then, that [VI.27.] as the Roman generals, after the death of the commander-in-chief, Justinian 24 the patrician, the son of Germanus, would not act in concert, the merciful king Tiberius sent Maurice to take the supreme command. For as Maurice, like himself, had been a notary, and his personal friend in earlier days, now that he was king, he promoted him, and gave him first of all the office of Comes excubitorum, or count of the bodyguard: and next sent him as commander-in-chief over all the generals and high officers of Rome in the East, with power to arrange all military matters, and to enlist and dismiss from the service, and act entirely at his own discretion. On starting for his post, |436 armed with such high powers, a considerable number of men followed him, many of whom belonged to the excubitores, while others were members of the palace-guard. And on arriving at Cappadocia, to which country he belonged, being a native of Arabissus, he selected there a large number of young men, and enlisted them under his banner as Romans: he obtained also many recruits from the province of Henzit 25, in Armenia, upon his arrival there from Syria. And first he pitched his camp near the city of Citharizon, and the whole Persian land was terrified at the first rumours of him: and the Marzban, who kept the Persian Armenia, being alarmed at what was said of him, and wishing to find some excuse for getting away from his front, sent to the officers in garrison, in Theodosiopolis, the following artful message: 'How long are we to sit still and watch one another? At the expiration of thirty days, let us prepare for battle, and fight, and know who is the conqueror, and who the conquered.' And when they had received this message, the officers sent word to the count Maurice: and he gave orders that they should send in answer, 'We will be ready.' The Romans then relied upon this message, but the Marzban and his troops got away in the night, and crossed over into the Roman dominions, opposite Maipherkat, and began to pillage and burn and slay and take captive, throughout the whole district of Sophene and Amid. And |437 they penetrated as far as Amid, and surrounded it, and besieged it for three days. But when they saw that they could not take the city by storm, they demanded that gold should be given them as ransom for the city, and that they might not burn the suburbs. But the people of Amid did not believe them, but considered that whether they received the money or not, they would most certainly burn them: and thereupon they were angry, and burnt all the churches, and the monasteries, great and small, and every thing outside the walls, and overran the country wherever they could; and for fifteen days continued to pillage and lead the inhabitants captive, and then returned to their land with haste, amidst the general panic of the Romans. The count Maurice meanwhile, when he heard of their inroad, was indignant, and put himself at the head of his forces, and entered Syria in pursuit of them, but could not overtake them. And thence the Roman troops, in heat and anger, entered the province of Arzun, and ravaged and burnt and wasted and led captive throughout every district there, and carried the spoil into the Roman territories, as we have mentioned before. And at the king's command the captives were sent to the island of Cyprus, and divided among the cities and villages: and there they dwell unto this day.
[VI.28] At the time when the main body of the Roman troops, under the command of two generals, |438 named John and Curis 26, was engaged in the endeavour to protect the Greater Armenia from the Persians, and a large Persian force lay in front of them, no less than fifty thousand men withdrew themselves, and stood aloof, being angry and full of complaint, and saying, 'Unless we receive our pay in full, and the divisions to which we are each one attached are made known to us, so as for us to be assured of our posts, not one of us will go out to war, nor will we fight with anybody.' And when news of this was carried to the king Tiberius, immediately without delay he sent thither a curator of the royal palace of Hormisdas, named Domtzolus 27, and gave him a large sum of gold to divide among them, and told him to appease and satisfy them: and thereupon they made themselves ready for war. Just then it happened that the Persian Marzbaris sent a message to the Roman generals, saying, 'Why do we thus sit opposite one another, and watch one another like women? Let us come forth into the plain, and fight with one another.' Upon the receipt of this message, Curis, the Roman general, being a prudent man, and trained under Narses, with whom he had made many campaigns in the Roman territories, sent in reply, 'We are not able to fight now, |439 because our whole force is not here at present; but if you will come to us, we will do our best to meet you, according as our God shall grant us the power.' And when the Magian people had received this answer, they set out with great confidence, without being on their guard, or feeling fear of the Romans. And that same day Curis quietly prepared only his own division, which consisted of about twenty thousand men, and at night, just before daybreak, he set out, when they in their camp were resting and sleeping without care, and fell upon them, 'like fire that is left in the wood, and as the flame which burneth the mountains 28:' and struck them with terror and panic, and put them to the sword, or made them prisoners, except a few who escaped. Among the prisoners were a Marzban, and his son. He further spoiled their camp, and returned in great triumph, bringing with him their arms and horses.
[VI.29] After the death of Khosrun, his son and sue- cessor, Hormuzd, in accordance with the old custom of the Persian kings, of slaying all the brothers of the reigning monarch, put some of his brethren to death, and blinded the eyes of the rest. There was one, however, whom, as they said, his father had wished to reign in his stead, but the senate rejected him, and refused to accept his nomination: and, as was affirmed, king Khosrun himself supplied him with money |440 for his journey, and sent him away during his lifetime, saying to him, ' Go, my son, while I am still alive, lest you die.' And on his flight, various rumours concerning him were spread abroad, and he was supposed and reported by his countrymen to be now in one place and now in another: and this gave the opportunity to a crafty impostor among the Persians, whose youth made the personification probable, to allege and bring forward proofs, sufficient to induce people to believe that he was the son of Khosrun who had fled. He came therefore to the Roman generals in Persarmenia, and said, that he wished to make an agreement with them: 'for if the king of the Romans will acknowledge me.' said he, 'and assign me a force, I will subdue all the armies and dominions of the Persians, and will bring my brother Hormuzd, who has usurped my kingdom, and deliver him up bound to your king.' And when the generals of the Romans had fully examined into what he affirmed, and he had brought many to testify to his being the son of Khosrun, who had fled from his brother, being persuaded of its truth, they wrote an account of him to king Tiberius, detailing the investigation which they had made, and that they had found men who knew him, and bore witness to his really being the son of Khosrun, and further mentioning his destitute condition. And when the victorious king had received their report, and believed it, on the evidence reported to him by the generals, he immediately sent ambassadors, |441 with large sums of gold and silver,' and many dresses of honour, and horses, and numerous mules, to do him all respect, and convey him: and he gave orders that he was to he brought to the capital, and be escorted through all the Roman dominions, by the judges or sheriffs of the several districts. And this was done, and with great pomp and magnificent honours he traversed the provinces like a king; and Tiberius further sent, as he drew near, other especial marks of respect. When he arrived however at Chalcedon, and was ready to cross over to the capital, he was commanded to wait there, as the king purposed himself closely to examine his claims. For at that time a Spatharius of the king of Persia, who had come down to make peace with him, was at his court, and he knew the son of Khosrun, as also did the ambassadors whom he had brought with him: and the king, therefore, commanded them to cross over, and examine him, that he might see whether they also knew him, and could prove whether he was false or not, that so he might be sure of not being cajoled. But on crossing over and seeing him, they did not recognise him: and the Spatharius, who was himself a Persian, interrogated him at great length, and he could not prove that his claim was true. Now he was sitting upon a lofty throne, as a king, and the Spatharius went up to him, and seized him by the hair, and lifted him up, and threw him on the ground, saying, 'Do you, an impostor, who are guilty of death, |442 sit upon a lofty throne, while the princes of the realm stand before you?' And he further smote him on the head: and thus he brought his falsehood to light; nor could he make any defence, or prove the truth of his claim The king, therefore, gave orders that he should have a place appointed for him to remain in, but did not punish him as his falsehood deserved; he even assigned him a sum for his maintenance, and that of those who were with him, but he would not admit him into his presence. It is said that the expenses incurred in his behalf amounted to more than three talents. Finally, he became a Christian.
[VI. 30] From the east our historian now returns to the west, and details some particulars of the capture of Sirmium, which he describes as the inevitable consequence of the Avars having now obtained two bridges over the Danube. For gathering in great numbers, and occupying the country round, with threats of war and devastation against the Roman territories, they sent to king Tiberius, saying, 'If you would have us for friends, give us Sirmium for us to inhabit with your consent: for if not, we will take it without your consent, and be your enemies.' But the king put them off with words and various promises, as he was altogether unwilling to give the city up to them; and meanwhile he sent secretly an embassy to the Lombards, and other tribes, in the hope of hiring them, and bringing them upon the Avars in the rear. And when they pressed |443 their request upon him, he determined, in order not to let them know his plans, to send unto them Narses, the great Spatharius of the kingdom, to confer with them, and waste time. He supplied him, therefore, liberally with gold, besides what Narses took of his own, and gave him secret orders not to travel rapidly on his journey thither; and should the Lombards come, he was to put himself at their head, and fall upon them, and, if possible, utterly destroy them: while to them he sent this message, 'Lo, we have appointed the illustrious Narses, our Spatharius, to come and confer with you, and conclude with you a peace.'
[VI.31] The illustrious Narses accordingly started from the capital with great pomp, taking with him a considerable army, and a large sum in gold, and dresses of various materials. To carry them, he loaded several ships with articles of every kind, and set out upon his voyage over the dangerous sea of Pontus; but one of the vessels, on which was embarked most of the gold and his valuables, with one of his chief officers, and a number of eunuchs placed on board to keep watch over her freight, foundered the very first day of her voyage; and on learning this, which was not till after he had landed at the mouth of the Danube, he was so greatly vexed, that he fell into a serious illness, and after suffering for a considerable time in bitter mortification, his end overtook him, and he died painfully, and all his plans came to nothing, without his |444 accomplishing any part of them whatsoever. And much trouble subsequently was occasioned in the endeavour to recover his property.
[VI. 32.] In consequence of Narses' death, Sirmium had to he yielded up to the barbarians. For as the Lombards, on whom Tiberius depended for making a diversion in its favour, did not appear, he was compelled to send to the Avars another ambassador in the person of the prefect of the praetorian guards, named Callistrus. And on his arrival he made over to them the city, considering that it was a more prudent course than for it to be captured by war and violence; for it had already endured for two years the extremity of famine, and after eating their cattle and beasts of burden, they had finally been compelled to feed upon cats and other such things, and had suffered privations no less bitter than those which the Scripture describes as having happened at Samaria. People speak also of the compassion shown by the barbarians to the inhabitants, on seeing the pitiable condition to which they were reduced by famine, and which well deserves the admiration of Christians, whose conduct too frequently it condemns; because they do not show kindness to their fellow-servants, nor pity those of their own flesh. For when, upon entering the city, they saw the mortal misery of the people, they had compassion upon them, and gave them bread to eat and wine to drink. But when, after the emptiness of hunger, endured for a period so protracted as |445 two years, they seized upon the food and ate it greedily, many immediately fell down suddenly dead. Finally, the survivors had to depart from the city, and the barbarians took possession of it, and dwelt there.
[VI.33.] About a year, however, after the barbarians had occupied this Christian city, a fire broke out, ----from what cause God alone knows,----and suddenly it was brought to ruin, and became the prey of the flames; and as the barbarians neither knew how to prevent its progress, nor extinguish it, they all fled without being able to save any of their property, and abandoned it, and it was burnt, and utterly ruined. And many other occurrences in its history would be interesting to relate, but because of the length of our narrative, we have been compelled to omit them.
[VI.34] For what we have attempted has been nothing more than briefly to record some special incidents in the wars which have been successively carried on, and into the exact truth of which we have carefully examined; and thus we have described the attack of the illustrious patrician Marcian upon the town of Nisibis, and the events which followed. And next, we have shown how Khosrun, at the head of his armies, crossed over into the Roman territories, and took Dara and Apamsea by siege, and various other towns. Next came the arrival of the illustrious Maurice in the east with great pomp; and we described the fear which fell upon the whole Magian people, |446 and how, in the hope of deceiving him, they crossed over by stealth into the Roman territories in the neighbourhood of Maipherkat, and rapidly carried fire and sword for fifteen days throughout every part of Sophene, and as far as Amid; and when they saw that they could not take the city by storm, in barbarous fury they set fire to and burnt all its suburbs, and the churches, and monasteries, and every thing else situated there. And carrying with them their spoil, they hastily returned to their own land. We next related how count Maurice, on learning these things, was greatly enraged, and pursued them, but could not overtake them, and proceeded with haste into the land of Arzun, and burnt and destroyed and took captive and carried away such of the inhabitants as he did not kill, and brought them into the Roman territories, and that finally they were sent to the island of Cyprus. He also stormed several fortresses there, one of which, named Pum, he occupied, and placed in it a Roman garrison: but the fort opposite, the name of which is Klimar, is still held by the Persians, who paid Maurice a sum for its ransom; and the two garrisons dwell in face of one another, but they have come to an agreement, and mutually give and take without fear.
[VI. 35.] There was also another fort which count Maurice took measures for building upon a lofty and strong mountain, named Shemkoroth, whence the fort also took its name; and he put a |447 garrison into it, and supplies of provisions, and took measures for its safety in every thing. This fort then of Shemkoroth is situated in the Roman dominions; and the building of it was intrusted to an architect to whom Maurice had sent orders for its erection while he was himself in Persia.
[VI.36] There was also another fort, named Ocba, on the river Chalat in Persia, the history of which is as follows: On the bank of this river, on the borders opposite Maipherkat, is a precipitous hill, which for many years the perverse race of the Magians had been anxious to seize upon as a site for a fortress; but as there is a compact between the Romans and the Persians, extending to a certain number of miles from the border, neither the one nor the other had the right to build there; and therefore the Romans resisted them, and would not suffer them to erect any works upon it. For the building of the fort was often begun, and as often prevented. But once upon a time, as we have related before, the Persians found an opportunity, and built a fort there, and garrisoned it. But after some years had elapsed, the Roman armies attacked it, and under the command of a general named Aulus, they invested it on all sides, and commenced a blockade. And in process of time the garrison was reduced to such extremities of hunger and thirst, that their lives were all but exhausted; and on seeing that they could hold out no longer, they requested that their lives might be assured them, and that they should neither be seized nor made captives, nor |448 taken into the Roman dominions; and upon these terms they said that they were willing to yield up the fort, and withdraw. And the generals accepted the terms, and gave them the required promise, upon which they opened the gates, and came down; but upon meeting with water, and drinking of it, so many of them suddenly fell down dead, that but few finally returned to their country. Upon the surrender of the fortress, the general and his army ascended to it, and rased it to the ground, leaving not one stone upon another, but utterly destroying it, and casting the materials down from the mountain top. Before its capture, other generals and a large force had been collected, and they were posted some here and some there, in various places, and took the watch in turn. The capture of Ocba took place in the year 894 (A.D. 583).
Of the remaining thirteen chapters of the book but a fragment exists, and it contains little more than is told us in the headings, all of which are still extant. From them we learn that an embassy was sent to Maurice, now emperor of the Romans, to sue for peace; and that he in return sent an ambassador to the Persian court, which was followed by a second embassy to Constantinople. The fortieth chapter contained a statement of the mutual losses sustained by the two states of Rome and Persia during the ruinous wars occasioned by the weak policy of Justin: and this was succeeded by an account of the rise |449 and subsequent decline of the kingdom of the Roman Arabs, occasioned possibly to some extent by the defection of several of their leading princes to the Persians. Next, there was the capture of some famous Marzbans, who were sent as prisoners of war to the capital. The forty-fourth chapter detailed the history of another war, waged probably with the Persians in the third year (of Maurice), and of the victory which God gave the Romans. The next three treated of the 'base, barbarian, long-haired people,' called Avars, who invaded Thrace, captured many cities, and numerous forts, and carried terror and alarm to the very walls of Constantinople, at a time, when, says our historian, we ourselves were there. The forty-eighth chapter gave an account of the manner in which the land was taken possession of, and wasted by the Slavonians: and the forty-ninth, and last, recorded the destruction of the city of Anchialus, and described the warm baths there.
It seems plain that these chapters were penned one by one as the events themselves occurred, and probably they were brought to an abrupt conclusion by the death of the good old man who wrote them. Little did he foresee that the prudent and victorious Maurice, together with his sons, and among them that Theodosius, whose birth in the purple, after so long a series of childless sovereigns, he had so rejoiced in, would perish by the hand of the executioner: and that |450 the daughter of Tiberius, the one emperor whose name no stain or spot defiles, would be dragged, with her children, amidst the apathy of the populace, to the same cruel fate. Scarcely too could he have foreseen, that before many years had elapsed the Avars would lay siege to the capital itself; while across the strait, the hosts of another Khosrun encamped within the walls of Chalcedon, and, fresh from the conquests of Syria and Asia, would insult the city which still called itself by the proud name of Eastern Rome. And behind there was a yet darker hour: for the two empires, which had so long struggled for the mastery of the world, were about to fall before a kingdom and a creed which were but just struggling into existence.
With the victorious Khosrun the throne of Cyrus perished, and Arab Chalifs reigned upon the Tigris and Euphrates: while Heraclius had to yield to the partisans of the same conquering faith the provinces which his heroic vigour had wrested from the Persian arms. But these dark scenes of history our author did not live to behold: he had suffered under the cruelties of the weakest of the effeminate despots who held sway at Constantinople: he had had the happiness of living for four years under the government of the best: and Maurice, though with colder affections, endeavoured to tread in his steps. His last days were calm and tranquil: his last hopes pictured perhaps a new era of prosperity for his country, |451 and of peace for the church: but his own history shews that the times were ripe for punishment. The salt had lost its savour: and nothing remained hut for it to he cast unto the dunghill, and trodden under foot of men.
[Footnotes have been numbered and moved to the end]
1. a Mahomet, who was born circa AD 570, was seventeen or eighteen years of age at our author's death.
2. b This is the usual phrase for depriving an officer of his command, especially when it is intended to disgrace him.
3. c Rezeph, Jer xxxvii. 12, the 9Rh&safa of Ptolemaeus, is about a day's journey from the well-known town of Thapsacus on the Euphrates. As Sergius and Bacchus were the patron saints of the Syrians, churches and monasteries were too frequently dedicated to them for it to be surprising that no other mention of this monastery occurs in history.
4. d The Persians, I imagine, are here called Assyrians, not because that country belonged to them, but in a biblical sense, as the type of the enemies of God's people. The capture of Dara was the greatest misfortune which for many yeais had befallen the Romans, and the news of it spread universal consternation throughout Constantinople, but it led to the one redeeming action of Justin's life; for as it was now evident, even to himself, that abler hands than his own must guide the vessel of the state, he consented to appoint Tiberius as Caesar. The fall of Dara occurred in A. D. 566, and the account given by Theoph. Sim. iii. xi. agrees with our author. He says, [Greek].
5. e Literally, 'as Beth Merda, which cannot be taken,' a name given in I Macc. i. 35. ii 45, to the acropolis at Jerusalem, and translated in our version, 'a stronghold.' The Arabs also gave the same name to the citadel of Duma, which they regarded as impregnable.
6. f In the MS. the scribe has accidentally omitted their name, but from a comparison with the twenty-third chapter of this book, it is plain that after [Syriac] (p 360, 1, 17. ed. Cureton.) we ought to read [Syriac], Turkis.
7. g An answer of Theodore, preserved by Menander, p 160, is worth preserving. One day Khosrun boastfully asked him, if he imagined that a town like Theodosiopolis could resist the arms of the conqueror of Dara. But Theodore replied, 'Any town is impregnable which God guards '
8. h Instead of [Syriac], 'that they might flee to some city,' the right reading possibly is [Syriac], that they might destroy some city,' their object being to recover their honour before retreating homewards
9. i I imagine [Syriac] to be klasmata: the sense therefore may be, 'to act piecemeal,' 'on a petty, nibbling scale,' like one breaking off small fragments.
10. k The reading probably ought to be [Syriac], as the mountains of Kardaikh must be meant, Khosrun's route being through the Lesser Armenia, and, as Theophylact tells us, Arzanene. The difficulties of these mountains we already know from Xenophon's account of the passage of them by the ten thousand.
11. l Theophylact, iii. 14, also mentions this law, and is ridiculed by Gibbon for giving credit to it, but apparently without reason.
12. m Menander puts this event in the autumn of 576.
13. n This is the Tagchosdro mentioned by Menander, Maii Script. Vet. Nov. Col. ii. 364, where we learn that he met with a mortal wound from some unknown hand: upon which Menander frigidly remarks, that there was nothing very wonderful in this, 'for chance rules such things.'
14. o The Magister, or, more fully, Magister officiorum, was one of the chief dignitaries in the emperor's household.
15. p In Theophylact his name often appears as [Greek], Adormanes
16. q Tela, or Tela Mauzalat, otherwise called Constantina, in honour of the emperor Constantine, who rebuilt it in A. D. 350, was situated about fifty-five miles due east of Edessa. Of Telbesme little is known: Asseman mentions a defeat of the Romans there in A. D 503, and in B. O. ii 111 commemorates the building of a monastery on a mountain at Telbesme by Athanasius, bishop of Maipheracta; to which he again refers in p 228, and adds, that it was one of five Mesopotamian towns in which John, bishop of Marde, erected magnificent churches of stone and lime. Resaina, otherwise called Callirhoe, and Theodosiopolis, lay about seventy miles to the south-east of Edessa, and was one of the most considerable cities of Mesopotamia it had its name from Theodosius the Great, who restored it in A D. 381, but it was not till A D. 506 that Anastasius followed his policy of protecting Mesopotamia by powerful fortifications, and built Dara, which for half a century was the bulwark of the Roman empire in those regions, and called, after its founder, Anastasiopolis.
17. r John of Ephesus especially mentions the scribones, whose duties have been explained above.
18. s That is, Resaina.
19. t This place, better known as Martyropolis and Tagrit, was on a ford of the Euphrates in Sophene; to Syriac scholars it has the additional interest that most of the MSS. brought from the Nitrian deserts were collected in its neighbourhood, and bear its name on the fly-leaves. At Amid our author was himself born, and naturally therefore he took great interest in this region, and probably had more than ordinarily good means of information as to every thing that befell it.
20. u In Greek it is called Arzanene, cf. Theoph iii 15, who gives a short account of this invasion.
21. x There is a slight discrepancy in the numbers, as in the previous chapter John informs us that they consumed eighteen days in their inroad. In the twenty-seventh chapter, however, he again fixes the period at fifteen days, and also in the thirty-fourth.
22. y The first Catholicus, or Maphrian, was the very Achudemes mentioned above, as the chief speaker at the discussion with the Nestorians. His consecration took place A. D. 559, and sixteen years afterwards he was beheaded by Khosrun for baptizing a boy of the royal race: cf. Ass. B. O. ii. 441. 448: Le Quien, Or. Christ, ii. 1533.
23. z A short account of it is given by Theoph. Sim l iii c 18
24. a The MS reads Constantine, but there can be no doubt that Justinian is intended.
25. b Called by Cluverius, Anzitene.
26. c This is probably the Kours spoken of by Theophylact.
27. d I have no doubt that Domnizolus is meant, who is mentioned in the Chron. Alex. p. 870, as Curator of the Palace of Hormisdas about this time.
28. e Psalm lxxxiii. 14, according to the Peschito version
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2002. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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