Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

Part 11 out of 15

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Sirmium was prolonged above three years: the walls were still
untouched; but famine was enclosed within the walls, till a
merciful capitulation allowed the escape of the naked and hungry
inhabitants. Singidunum, at the distance of fifty miles,
experienced a more cruel fate: the buildings were razed, and the
vanquished people was condemned to servitude and exile. Yet the
ruins of Sirmium are no longer visible; the advantageous
situation of Singidunum soon attracted a new colony of
Sclavonians, and the conflux of the Save and Danube is still
guarded by the fortifications of Belgrade, or the White City, so
often and so obstinately disputed by the Christian and Turkish
arms. ^28 From Belgrade to the walls of Constantinople a line may
be measured of six hundred miles: that line was marked with
flames and with blood; the horses of the Avars were alternately
bathed in the Euxine and the Adriatic; and the Roman pontiff,
alarmed by the approach of a more savage enemy, ^29 was reduced
to cherish the Lombards, as the protectors of Italy. The despair
of a captive, whom his country refused to ransom, disclosed to
the Avars the invention and practice of military engines. ^30 But
in the first attempts they were rudely framed, and awkwardly
managed; and the resistance of Diocletianopolis and Beraea, of
Philippopolis and Adrianople, soon exhausted the skill and
patience of the besiegers. The warfare of Baian was that of a
Tartar; yet his mind was susceptible of a humane and generous
sentiment: he spared Anchialus, whose salutary waters had
restored the health of the best beloved of his wives; and the
Romans confessed, that their starving army was fed and dismissed
by the liberality of a foe. His empire extended over Hungary,
Poland, and Prussia, from the mouth of the Danube to that of the
Oder; ^31 and his new subjects were divided and transplanted by
the jealous policy of the conqueror. ^32 The eastern regions of
Germany, which had been left vacant by the emigration of the
Vandals, were replenished with Sclavonian colonists; the same
tribes are discovered in the neighborhood of the Adriatic and of
the Baltic, and with the name of Baian himself, the Illyrian
cities of Neyss and Lissa are again found in the heart of
Silesia. In the disposition both of his troops and provinces the
chagan exposed the vassals, whose lives he disregarded, ^33 to
the first assault; and the swords of the enemy were blunted
before they encountered the native valor of the Avars.

[Footnote 23: A general idea of the pride and power of the chagan
may be taken from Menander (Excerpt. Legat. p. 118, &c.) and
Theophylact, (l. i. c. 3, l. vii. c. 15,) whose eight books are
much more honorable to the Avar than to the Roman prince. The
predecessors of Baian had tasted the liberality of Rome, and he
survived the reign of Maurice, (Buat, Hist. des Peuples Barbares,
tom. xi. p. 545.) The chagan who invaded Italy, A.D. 611,
(Muratori, Annali, tom. v. p. 305,) was then invenili aetate
florentem, (Paul Warnefrid, de Gest. Langobard. l v c 38,) the
son, perhaps, or the grandson, of Baian.]
[Footnote 24: Theophylact, l. i. c. 5, 6.]

[Footnote 25: Even in the field, the chagan delighted in the use
of these aromatics. He solicited, as a gift, and received.
Theophylact, l. vii. c. 13. The Europeans of the ruder ages
consumed more spices in their meat and drink than is compatible
with the delicacy of a modern palate. Vie Privee des Francois,
tom. ii. p. 162, 163.]

[Footnote 26: Theophylact, l. vi. c. 6, l. vii. c. 15. The Greek
historian confesses the truth and justice of his reproach]

[Footnote 27: Menander (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 126 - 132, 174,
175) describes the perjury of Baian and the surrender of Sirmium.

We have lost his account of the siege, which is commended by
Theophylact, l. i. c. 3.
Note: Compare throughout Schlozer Nordische Geschichte, p.
362 - 373 - M.]
[Footnote 28: See D'Anville, in the Memoires de l'Acad. des
Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 412 - 443. The Sclavonic name of
Belgrade is mentioned in the xth century by Constantine
Porphyrogenitus: the Latin appellation of Alba Croeca is used by
the Franks in the beginning of the ixth, (p. 414.)]
[Footnote 29: Baron. Annal. Eccles. A. B. 600, No. 1. Paul
Warnefrid (l. iv. c. 38) relates their irruption into Friuli, and
(c. 39) the captivity of his ancestors, about A.D. 632. The
Sclavi traversed the Adriatic cum multitudine navium, and made a
descent in the territory of Sipontum, (c. 47.)]
[Footnote 30: Even the helepolis, or movable turret.
Theophylact, l. ii. 16, 17.]

[Footnote 31: The arms and alliances of the chagan reached to the
neighborhood of a western sea, fifteen months' journey from
Constantinople. The emperor Maurice conversed with some itinerant
harpers from that remote country, and only seems to have mistaken
a trade for a nation Theophylact, l. vi. c. 2.]
[Footnote 32: This is one of the most probable and luminous
conjectures of the learned count de Buat, (Hist. des Peuples
Barbares, tom. xi. p. 546 - 568.) The Tzechi and Serbi are found
together near Mount Caucasus, in Illyricum, and on the lower
Elbe. Even the wildest traditions of the Bohemians, &c., afford
some color to his hypothesis.]

[Footnote 33: See Fredegarius, in the Historians of France, tom.
ii. p. 432. Baian did not conceal his proud insensibility.]

The Persian alliance restored the troops of the East to the
defence of Europe: and Maurice, who had supported ten years the
insolence of the chagan, declared his resolution to march in
person against the Barbarians. In the space of two centuries,
none of the successors of Theodosius had appeared in the field:
their lives were supinely spent in the palace of Constantinople;
and the Greeks could no longer understand, that the name of
emperor, in its primitive sense, denoted the chief of the armies
of the republic. The martial ardor of Maurice was opposed by the
grave flattery of the senate, the timid superstition of the
patriarch, and the tears of the empress Constantina; and they all
conjured him to devolve on some meaner general the fatigues and
perils of a Scythian campaign. Deaf to their advice and
entreaty, the emperor boldly advanced ^34 seven miles from the
capital; the sacred ensign of the cross was displayed in the
front; and Maurice reviewed, with conscious pride, the arms and
numbers of the veterans who had fought and conquered beyond the
Tigris. Anchialus was the last term of his progress by sea and
land; he solicited, without success, a miraculous answer to his
nocturnal prayers; his mind was confounded by the death of a
favorite horse, the encounter of a wild boar, a storm of wind and
rain, and the birth of a monstrous child; and he forgot that the
best of omens is to unsheathe our sword in the defence of our
country. ^35 Under the pretence of receiving the ambassadors of
Persia, the emperor returned to Constantinople, exchanged the
thoughts of war for those of devotion, and disappointed the
public hope by his absence and the choice of his lieutenants.
The blind partiality of fraternal love might excuse the promotion
of his brother Peter, who fled with equal disgrace from the
Barbarians, from his own soldiers and from the inhabitants of a
Roman city. That city, if we may credit the resemblance of name
and character, was the famous Azimuntium, ^36 which had alone
repelled the tempest of Attila. The example of her warlike youth
was propagated to succeeding generations; and they obtained, from
the first or the second Justin, an honorable privilege, that
their valor should be always reserved for the defence of their
native country. The brother of Maurice attempted to violate this
privilege, and to mingle a patriot band with the mercenaries of
his camp; they retired to the church, he was not awed by the
sanctity of the place; the people rose in their cause, the gates
were shut, the ramparts were manned; and the cowardice of Peter
was found equal to his arrogance and injustice. The military
fame of Commentiolus ^37 is the object of satire or comedy rather
than of serious history, since he was even deficient in the vile
and vulgar qualification of personal courage. His solemn
councils, strange evolutions, and secret orders, always supplied
an apology for flight or delay. If he marched against the enemy,
the pleasant valleys of Mount Haemus opposed an insuperable
barrier; but in his retreat, he explored, with fearless
curiosity, the most difficult and obsolete paths, which had
almost escaped the memory of the oldest native. The only blood
which he lost was drawn, in a real or affected malady, by the
lancet of a surgeon; and his health, which felt with exquisite
sensibility the approach of the Barbarians, was uniformly
restored by the repose and safety of the winter season. A prince
who could promote and support this unworthy favorite must derive
no glory from the accidental merit of his colleague Priscus. ^38
In five successive battles, which seem to have been conducted
with skill and resolution, seventeen thousand two hundred
Barbarians were made prisoners: near sixty thousand, with four
sons of the chagan, were slain: the Roman general surprised a
peaceful district of the Gepidae, who slept under the protection
of the Avars; and his last trophies were erected on the banks of
the Danube and the Teyss. Since the death of Trajan the arms of
the empire had not penetrated so deeply into the old Dacia: yet
the success of Priscus was transient and barren; and he was soon
recalled by the apprehension that Baian, with dauntless spirit
and recruited forces, was preparing to avenge his defeat under
the walls of Constantinople. ^39

[Footnote 34: See the march and return of Maurice, in
Theophylact, l. v. c. 16 l. vi. c. 1, 2, 3. If he were a writer
of taste or genius, we might suspect him of an elegant irony: but
Theophylact is surely harmless.]
[Footnote 35: Iliad, xii. 243. This noble verse, which unites the
spirit of a hero with the reason of a sage, may prove that Homer
was in every light superior to his age and country.]

[Footnote 36: Theophylact, l. vii. c. 3. On the evidence of this
fact, which had not occurred to my memory, the candid reader will
correct and excuse a note in Chapter XXXIV., note 86 of this
History, which hastens the decay of Asimus, or Azimuntium;
another century of patriotism and valor is cheaply purchased by
such a confession.]

[Footnote 37: See the shameful conduct of Commentiolus, in
Theophylact, l. ii. c. 10 - 15, l. vii. c. 13, 14, l. viii. c. 2,

[Footnote 38: See the exploits of Priscus, l. viii. c. 23.]
[Footnote 39: The general detail of the war against the Avars may
be traced in the first, second, sixth, seventh, and eighth books
of the history of the emperor Maurice, by Theophylact Simocatta.
As he wrote in the reign of Heraclius, he had no temptation to
flatter; but his want of judgment renders him diffuse in trifles,
and concise in the most interesting facts.]
The theory of war was not more familiar to the camps of
Caesar and Trajan, than to those of Justinian and Maurice. ^40
The iron of Tuscany or Pontus still received the keenest temper
from the skill of the Byzantine workmen. The magazines were
plentifully stored with every species of offensive and defensive
arms. In the construction and use of ships, engines, and
fortifications, the Barbarians admired the superior ingenuity of
a people whom they had so often vanquished in the field. The
science of tactics, the order, evolutions, and stratagems of
antiquity, was transcribed and studied in the books of the Greeks
and Romans. But the solitude or degeneracy of the provinces
could no longer supply a race of men to handle those weapons, to
guard those walls, to navigate those ships, and to reduce the
theory of war into bold and successful practice. The genius of
Belisarius and Narses had been formed without a master, and
expired without a disciple Neither honor, nor patriotism, nor
generous superstition, could animate the lifeless bodies of
slaves and strangers, who had succeeded to the honors of the
legions: it was in the camp alone that the emperor should have
exercised a despotic command; it was only in the camps that his
authority was disobeyed and insulted: he appeased and inflamed
with gold the licentiousness of the troops; but their vices were
inherent, their victories were accidental, and their costly
maintenance exhausted the substance of a state which they were
unable to defend. After a long and pernicious indulgence, the
cure of this inveterate evil was undertaken by Maurice; but the
rash attempt, which drew destruction on his own head, tended only
to aggravate the disease. A reformer should be exempt from the
suspicion of interest, and he must possess the confidence and
esteem of those whom he proposes to reclaim. The troops of
Maurice might listen to the voice of a victorious leader; they
disdained the admonitions of statesmen and sophists; and, when
they received an edict which deducted from their pay the price of
their arms and clothing, they execrated the avarice of a prince
insensible of the dangers and fatigues from which he had escaped.

The camps both of Asia and Europe were agitated with frequent and
furious seditions; ^41 the enraged soldiers of Edessa pursued
with reproaches, with threats, with wounds, their trembling
generals; they overturned the statues of the emperor, cast stones
against the miraculous image of Christ, and either rejected the
yoke of all civil and military laws, or instituted a dangerous
model of voluntary subordination. The monarch, always distant
and often deceived, was incapable of yielding or persisting,
according to the exigence of the moment. But the fear of a
general revolt induced him too readily to accept any act of
valor, or any expression of loyalty, as an atonement for the
popular offence; the new reform was abolished as hastily as it
had been announced, and the troops, instead of punishment and
restraint, were agreeably surprised by a gracious proclamation of
immunities and rewards. But the soldiers accepted without
gratitude the tardy and reluctant gifts of the emperor: their
insolence was elated by the discovery of his weakness and their
own strength; and their mutual hatred was inflamed beyond the
desire of forgiveness or the hope of reconciliation. The
historians of the times adopt the vulgar suspicion, that Maurice
conspired to destroy the troops whom he had labored to reform;
the misconduct and favor of Commentiolus are imputed to this
malevolent design; and every age must condemn the inhumanity of
avarice ^42 of a prince, who, by the trifling ransom of six
thousand pieces of gold, might have prevented the massacre of
twelve thousand prisoners in the hands of the chagan. In the
just fervor of indignation, an order was signified to the army of
the Danube, that they should spare the magazines of the province,
and establish their winter quarters in the hostile country of the
Avars. The measure of their grievances was full: they pronounced
Maurice unworthy to reign, expelled or slaughtered his faithful
adherents, and, under the command of Phocas, a simple centurion,
returned by hasty marches to the neighborhood of Constantinople.
After a long series of legal succession, the military disorders
of the third century were again revived; yet such was the novelty
of the enterprise, that the insurgents were awed by their own
rashness. They hesitated to invest their favorite with the
vacant purple; and, while they rejected all treaty with Maurice
himself, they held a friendly correspondence with his son
Theodosius, and with Germanus, the father-in-law of the royal
youth. So obscure had been the former condition of Phocas, that
the emperor was ignorant of the name and character of his rival;
but as soon as he learned, that the centurion, though bold in
sedition, was timid in the face of danger, "Alas!" cried the
desponding prince, "if he is a coward, he will surely be a

[Footnote 40: Maurice himself composed xii books on the military
art, which are still extant, and have been published (Upsal,
1664) by John Schaeffer, at the end of the Tactics of Arrian,
(Fabricius, Bibliot Graeca, l. iv. c. 8, tom. iii. p. 278,) who
promises to speak more fully of his work in its proper place.]

[Footnote 41: See the mutinies under the reign of Maurice, in
Theophylact l iii c. 1 - 4, .vi. c. 7, 8, 10, l. vii. c. 1 l.
viii. c. 6, &c.]
[Footnote 42: Theophylact and Theophanes seem ignorant of the
conspiracy and avarice of Maurice. These charges, so unfavorable
to the memory of that emperor, are first mentioned by the author
of the Paschal Chronicle, (p. 379, 280;) from whence Zonaras
(tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 77, 78) has transcribed them. Cedrenus (p.
399) has followed another computation of the ransom.]
Yet if Constantinople had been firm and faithful, the
murderer might have spent his fury against the walls; and the
rebel army would have been gradually consumed or reconciled by
the prudence of the emperor. In the games of the Circus, which
he repeated with unusual pomp, Maurice disguised, with smiles of
confidence, the anxiety of his heart, condescended to solicit the
applause of the factions, and flattered their pride by accepting
from their respective tribunes a list of nine hundred blues and
fifteen hundred greens, whom he affected to esteem as the solid
pillars of his throne Their treacherous or languid support
betrayed his weakness and hastened his fall: the green faction
were the secret accomplices of the rebels, and the blues
recommended lenity and moderation in a contest with their Roman
brethren The rigid and parsimonious virtues of Maurice had long
since alienated the hearts of his subjects: as he walked barefoot
in a religious procession, he was rudely assaulted with stones,
and his guards were compelled to present their iron maces in the
defence of his person. A fanatic monk ran through the streets
with a drawn sword, denouncing against him the wrath and the
sentence of God; and a vile plebeian, who represented his
countenance and apparel, was seated on an ass, and pursued by the
imprecations of the multitude. ^43 The emperor suspected the
popularity of Germanus with the soldiers and citizens: he feared,
he threatened, but he delayed to strike; the patrician fled to
the sanctuary of the church; the people rose in his defence, the
walls were deserted by the guards, and the lawless city was
abandoned to the flames and rapine of a nocturnal tumult. In a
small bark, the unfortunate Maurice, with his wife and nine
children, escaped to the Asiatic shore; but the violence of the
wind compelled him to land at the church of St. Autonomus, ^44
near Chalcedon, from whence he despatched Theodosius, he eldest
son, to implore the gratitude and friendship of the Persian
monarch. For himself, he refused to fly: his body was tortured
with sciatic pains, ^45 his mind was enfeebled by superstition;
he patiently awaited the event of the revolution, and addressed a
fervent and public prayer to the Almighty, that the punishment of
his sins might be inflicted in this world rather than in a future
life. After the abdication of Maurice, the two factions disputed
the choice of an emperor; but the favorite of the blues was
rejected by the jealousy of their antagonists, and Germanus
himself was hurried along by the crowds who rushed to the palace
of Hebdomon, seven miles from the city, to adore the majesty of
Phocas the centurion. A modest wish of resigning the purple to
the rank and merit of Germanus was opposed by his resolution,
more obstinate and equally sincere; the senate and clergy obeyed
his summons; and, as soon as the patriarch was assured of his
orthodox belief, he consecrated the successful usurper in the
church of St. John the Baptist. On the third day, amidst the
acclamations of a thoughtless people, Phocas made his public
entry in a chariot drawn by four white horses: the revolt of the
troops was rewarded by a lavish donative; and the new sovereign,
after visiting the palace, beheld from his throne the games of
the hippodrome. In a dispute of precedency between the two
factions, his partial judgment inclined in favor of the greens.
"Remember that Maurice is still alive," resounded from the
opposite side; and the indiscreet clamor of the blues admonished
and stimulated the cruelty of the tyrant. The ministers of death
were despatched to Chalcedon: they dragged the emperor from his
sanctuary; and the five sons of Maurice were successively
murdered before the eyes of their agonizing parent. At each
stroke, which he felt in his heart, he found strength to rehearse
a pious ejaculation: "Thou art just, O Lord! and thy judgments
are righteous." And such, in the last moments, was his rigid
attachment to truth and justice, that he revealed to the soldiers
the pious falsehood of a nurse who presented her own child in the
place of a royal infant. ^46 The tragic scene was finally closed
by the execution of the emperor himself, in the twentieth year of
his reign, and the sixty-third of his age. The bodies of the
father and his five sons were cast into the sea; their heads were
exposed at Constantinople to the insults or pity of the
multitude; and it was not till some signs of putrefaction had
appeared, that Phocas connived at the private burial of these
venerable remains. In that grave, the faults and errors of
Maurice were kindly interred. His fate alone was remembered; and
at the end of twenty years, in the recital of the history of
Theophylact, the mournful tale was interrupted by the tears of
the audience. ^47

[Footnote 43: In their clamors against Maurice, the people of
Constantinople branded him with the name of Marcionite or
Marcionist; a heresy (says Theophylact, l. viii. c. 9). Did they
only cast out a vague reproach - or had the emperor really
listened to some obscure teacher of those ancient Gnostics?]

[Footnote 44: The church of St. Autonomous (whom I have not the
honor to know) was 150 stadia from Constantinople, (Theophylact,
l. viii. c. 9.) The port of Eutropius, where Maurice and his
children were murdered, is described by Gyllius (de Bosphoro
Thracio, l. iii. c. xi.) as one of the two harbors of Chalcedon.]

[Footnote 45: The inhabitants of Constantinople were generally
subject; and Theophylact insinuates, (l. viii. c. 9,) that if it
were consistent with the rules of history, he could assign the
medical cause. Yet such a digression would not have been more
impertinent than his inquiry (l. vii. c. 16, 17) into the annual
inundations of the Nile, and all the opinions of the Greek
philosophers on that subject.]

[Footnote 46: From this generous attempt, Corneille has deduced
the intricate web of his tragedy of Heraclius, which requires
more than one representation to be clearly understood, (Corneille
de Voltaire, tom. v. p. 300;) and which, after an interval of
some years, is said to have puzzled the author himself,
(Anecdotes Dramatiques, tom. i. p. 422.)]

[Footnote 47: The revolt of Phocas and death of Maurice are told
by Theophylact Simocatta, (l. viii. c. 7 - 12,) the Paschal
Chronicle, (p. 379, 380,) Theophanes, (Chronograph. p. 238 -
244,) Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 77 - 80,) and Cedrenus, (p.
399 - 404.)]

Such tears must have flowed in secret, and such compassion
would have been criminal, under the reign of Phocas, who was
peaceably acknowledged in the provinces of the East and West.
The images of the emperor and his wife Leontia were exposed in
the Lateran to the veneration of the clergy and senate of Rome,
and afterwards deposited in the palace of the Caesars, between
those of Constantine and Theodosius. As a subject and a
Christian, it was the duty of Gregory to acquiesce in the
established government; but the joyful applause with which he
salutes the fortune of the assassin, has sullied, with indelible
disgrace, the character of the saint. The successor of the
apostles might have inculcated with decent firmness the guilt of
blood, and the necessity of repentance; he is content to
celebrate the deliverance of the people and the fall of the
oppressor; to rejoice that the piety and benignity of Phocas have
been raised by Providence to the Imperial throne; to pray that
his hands may be strengthened against all his enemies; and to
express a wish, perhaps a prophecy, that, after a long and
triumphant reign, he may be transferred from a temporal to an
everlasting kingdom. ^48 I have already traced the steps of a
revolution so pleasing, in Gregory's opinion, both to heaven and
earth; and Phocas does not appear less hateful in the exercise
than in the acquisition of power The pencil of an impartial
historian has delineated the portrait of a monster: ^49 his
diminutive and deformed person, the closeness of his shaggy
eyebrows, his red hair, his beardless chin, and his cheek
disfigured and discolored by a formidable scar. Ignorant of
letters, of laws, and even of arms, he indulged in the supreme
rank a more ample privilege of lust and drunkenness; and his
brutal pleasures were either injurious to his subjects or
disgraceful to himself. Without assuming the office of a prince,
he renounced the profession of a soldier; and the reign of Phocas
afflicted Europe with ignominious peace, and Asia with desolating
war. His savage temper was inflamed by passion, hardened by
fear, and exasperated by resistance of reproach. The flight of
Theodosius to the Persian court had been intercepted by a rapid
pursuit, or a deceitful message: he was beheaded at Nice, and the
last hours of the young prince were soothed by the comforts of
religion and the consciousness of innocence. Yet his phantom
disturbed the repose of the usurper: a whisper was circulated
through the East, that the son of Maurice was still alive: the
people expected their avenger, and the widow and daughters of the
late emperor would have adopted as their son and brother the
vilest of mankind. In the massacre of the Imperial family, ^50
the mercy, or rather the discretion, of Phocas had spared these
unhappy females, and they were decently confined to a private
house. But the spirit of the empress Constantina, still mindful
of her father, her husband, and her sons, aspired to freedom and
revenge. At the dead of night, she escaped to the sanctuary of
St. Sophia; but her tears, and the gold of her associate
Germanus, were insufficient to provoke an insurrection. Her life
was forfeited to revenge, and even to justice: but the patriarch
obtained and pledged an oath for her safety: a monastery was
allotted for her prison, and the widow of Maurice accepted and
abused the lenity of his assassin. The discovery or the
suspicion of a second conspiracy, dissolved the engagements, and
rekindled the fury, of Phocas. A matron who commanded the respect
and pity of mankind, the daughter, wife, and mother of emperors,
was tortured like the vilest malefactor, to force a confession of
her designs and associates; and the empress Constantina, with her
three innocent daughters, was beheaded at Chalcedon, on the same
ground which had been stained with the blood of her husband and
five sons. After such an example, it would be superfluous to
enumerate the names and sufferings of meaner victims. Their
condemnation was seldom preceded by the forms of trial, and their
punishment was embittered by the refinements of cruelty: their
eyes were pierced, their tongues were torn from the root, the
hands and feet were amputated; some expired under the lash,
others in the flames; others again were transfixed with arrows;
and a simple speedy death was mercy which they could rarely
obtain. The hippodrome, the sacred asylum of the pleasures and
the liberty of the Romans, was polluted with heads and limbs, and
mangled bodies; and the companions of Phocas were the most
sensible, that neither his favor, nor their services, could
protect them from a tyrant, the worthy rival of the Caligulas and
Domitians of the first age of the empire. ^51

[Footnote 48: Gregor. l. xi. epist. 38, indict. vi. Benignitatem
vestrae pietatis ad Imperiale fastigium pervenisse gaudemus.
Laetentur coeli et exultet terra, et de vestris benignis actibus
universae republicae populus nunc usque vehementer afflictus
hilarescat, &c. This base flattery, the topic of Protestant
invective, is justly censured by the philosopher Bayle,
(Dictionnaire Critique, Gregoire I. Not. H. tom. ii. p. 597 598.)
Cardinal Baronius justifies the pope at the expense of the fallen
[Footnote 49: The images of Phocas were destroyed; but even the
malice of his enemies would suffer one copy of such a portrait or
caricature (Cedrenus, p. 404) to escape the flames.]

[Footnote 50: The family of Maurice is represented by Ducange,
(Familiae By zantinae, p. 106, 107, 108;) his eldest son
Theodosius had been crowned emperor, when he was no more than
four years and a half old, and he is always joined with his
father in the salutations of Gregory. With the Christian
daughters, Anastasia and Theocteste, I am surprised to find the
Pagan name of Cleopatra.]

[Footnote 51: Some of the cruelties of Phocas are marked by
Theophylact, l. viii. c. 13, 14, 15. George of Pisidia, the poet
of Heraclius, styles him (Bell. Avaricum, p. 46, Rome, 1777).
The latter epithet is just - but the corrupter of life was easily

Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.

Part III.

A daughter of Phocas, his only child, was given in marriage
to the patrician Crispus, ^52 and the royal images of the bride
and bridegroom were indiscreetly placed in the circus, by the
side of the emperor. The father must desire that his posterity
should inherit the fruit of his crimes, but the monarch was
offended by this premature and popular association: the tribunes
of the green faction, who accused the officious error of their
sculptors, were condemned to instant death: their lives were
granted to the prayers of the people; but Crispus might
reasonably doubt, whether a jealous usurper could forget and
pardon his involuntary competition. The green faction was
alienated by the ingratitude of Phocas and the loss of their
privileges; every province of the empire was ripe for rebellion;
and Heraclius, exarch of Africa, persisted above two years in
refusing all tribute and obedience to the centurion who disgraced
the throne of Constantinople. By the secret emissaries of
Crispus and the senate, the independent exarch was solicited to
save and to govern his country; but his ambition was chilled by
age, and he resigned the dangerous enterprise to his son
Heraclius, and to Nicetas, the son of Gregory, his friend and
lieutenant. The powers of Africa were armed by the two
adventurous youths; they agreed that the one should navigate the
fleet from Carthage to Constantinople, that the other should lead
an army through Egypt and Asia, and that the Imperial purple
should be the reward of diligence and success. A faint rumor of
their undertaking was conveyed to the ears of Phocas, and the
wife and mother of the younger Heraclius were secured as the
hostages of his faith: but the treacherous heart of Crispus
extenuated the distant peril, the means of defence were neglected
or delayed, and the tyrant supinely slept till the African navy
cast anchor in the Hellespont. Their standard was joined at
Abidus by the fugitives and exiles who thirsted for revenge; the
ships of Heraclius, whose lofty masts were adorned with the holy
symbols of religion, ^53 steered their triumphant course through
the Propontis; and Phocas beheld from the windows of the palace
his approaching and inevitable fate. The green faction was
tempted, by gifts and promises, to oppose a feeble and fruitless
resistance to the landing of the Africans: but the people, and
even the guards, were determined by the well-timed defection of
Crispus; and they tyrant was seized by a private enemy, who
boldly invaded the solitude of the palace. Stripped of the
diadem and purple, clothed in a vile habit, and loaded with
chains, he was transported in a small boat to the Imperial galley
of Heraclius, who reproached him with the crimes of his
abominable reign. "Wilt thou govern better?" were the last words
of the despair of Phocas. After suffering each variety of insult
and torture, his head was severed from his body, the mangled
trunk was cast into the flames, and the same treatment was
inflicted on the statues of the vain usurper, and the seditious
banner of the green faction. The voice of the clergy, the
senate, and the people, invited Heraclius to ascend the throne
which he had purified from guilt and ignominy; after some
graceful hesitation, he yielded to their entreaties. His
coronation was accompanied by that of his wife Eudoxia; and their
posterity, till the fourth generation, continued to reign over
the empire of the East. The voyage of Heraclius had been easy
and prosperous; the tedious march of Nicetas was not accomplished
before the decision of the contest: but he submitted without a
murmur to the fortune of his friend, and his laudable intentions
were rewarded with an equestrian statue, and a daughter of the
emperor. It was more difficult to trust the fidelity of Crispus,
whose recent services were recompensed by the command of the
Cappadocian army. His arrogance soon provoked, and seemed to
excuse, the ingratitude of his new sovereign. In the presence of
the senate, the son-in-law of Phocas was condemned to embrace the
monastic life; and the sentence was justified by the weighty
observation of Heraclius, that the man who had betrayed his
father could never be faithful to his friend. ^54
[Footnote 52: In the writers, and in the copies of those writers,
there is such hesitation between the names of Priscus and
Crispus, (Ducange, Fam Byzant. p. 111,) that I have been tempted
to identify the son-in-law of Phocas with the hero five times
victorious over the Avars.]

[Footnote 53: According to Theophanes. Cedrenus adds, which
Heraclius bore as a banner in the first Persian expedition. See
George Pisid. Acroas L 140. The manufacture seems to have
flourished; but Foggini, the Roman editor, (p. 26,) is at a loss
to determine whether this picture was an original or a copy.]
[Footnote 54: See the tyranny of Phocas and the elevation of
Heraclius, in Chron. Paschal. p. 380 - 383. Theophanes, p. 242 -
250. Nicephorus, p. 3 - 7. Cedrenus, p. 404 - 407. Zonaras,
tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 80 - 82.]
Even after his death the republic was afflicted by the
crimes of Phocas, which armed with a pious cause the most
formidable of her enemies. According to the friendly and equal
forms of the Byzantine and Persian courts, he announced his
exaltation to the throne; and his ambassador Lilius, who had
presented him with the heads of Maurice and his sons, was the
best qualified to describe the circumstances of the tragic scene.
^55 However it might be varnished by fiction or sophistry,
Chosroes turned with horror from the assassin, imprisoned the
pretended envoy, disclaimed the usurper, and declared himself the
avenger of his father and benefactor. The sentiments of grief
and resentment, which humanity would feel, and honor would
dictate, promoted on this occasion the interest of the Persian
king; and his interest was powerfully magnified by the national
and religious prejudices of the Magi and satraps. In a strain of
artful adulation, which assumed the language of freedom, they
presumed to censure the excess of his gratitude and friendship
for the Greeks; a nation with whom it was dangerous to conclude
either peace or alliance; whose superstition was devoid of truth
and justice, and who must be incapable of any virtue, since they
could perpetrate the most atrocious of crimes, the impious murder
of their sovereign. ^56 For the crime of an ambitious centurion,
the nation which he oppressed was chastised with the calamities
of war; and the same calamities, at the end of twenty years, were
retaliated and redoubled on the heads of the Persians. ^57 The
general who had restored Chosroes to the throne still commanded
in the East; and the name of Narses was the formidable sound with
which the Assyrian mothers were accustomed to terrify their
infants. It is not improbable, that a native subject of Persia
should encourage his master and his friend to deliver and possess
the provinces of Asia. It is still more probable, that Chosroes
should animate his troops by the assurance that the sword which
they dreaded the most would remain in its scabbard, or be drawn
in their favor. The hero could not depend on the faith of a
tyrant; and the tyrant was conscious how little he deserved the
obedience of a hero. Narses was removed from his military
command; he reared an independent standard at Hierapolis, in
Syria: he was betrayed by fallacious promises, and burnt alive in
the market-place of Constantinople. Deprived of the only chief
whom they could fear or esteem, the bands which he had led to
victory were twice broken by the cavalry, trampled by the
elephants, and pierced by the arrows of the Barbarians; and a
great number of the captives were beheaded on the field of battle
by the sentence of the victor, who might justly condemn these
seditious mercenaries as the authors or accomplices of the death
of Maurice. Under the reign of Phocas, the fortifications of
Merdin, Dara, Amida, and Edessa, were successively besieged,
reduced, and destroyed, by the Persian monarch: he passed the
Euphrates, occupied the Syrian cities, Hierapolis, Chalcis, and
Berrhaea or Aleppo, and soon encompassed the walls of Antioch
with his irresistible arms. The rapid tide of success discloses
the decay of the empire, the incapacity of Phocas, and the
disaffection of his subjects; and Chosroes provided a decent
apology for their submission or revolt, by an impostor, who
attended his camp as the son of Maurice ^58 and the lawful heir
of the monarchy.

[Footnote 55: Theophylact, l. viii. c. 15. The life of Maurice
was composed about the year 628 (l. viii. c. 13) by Theophylact
Simocatta, ex-praefect, a native of Egypt. Photius, who gives an
ample extract of the work, (cod. lxv. p. 81 - 100,) gently
reproves the affectation and allegory of the style. His preface
is a dialogue between Philosophy and History; they seat
themselves under a plane-tree, and the latter touches her lyre.]

[Footnote 56: Christianis nec pactum esse, nec fidem nec foedus
.... . quod si ulla illis fides fuisset, regem suum non
occidissent. Eutych. Annales tom. ii. p. 211, vers. Pocock.]

[Footnote 57: We must now, for some ages, take our leave of
contemporary historians, and descend, if it be a descent, from
the affectation of rhetoric to the rude simplicity of chronicles
and abridgments. Those of Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 244 - 279)
and Nicephorus (p. 3 - 16) supply a regular, but imperfect,
series of the Persian war; and for any additional facts I quote
my special authorities. Theophanes, a courtier who became a
monk, was born A.D. 748; Nicephorus patriarch of Constantinople,
who died A.D. 829, was somewhat younger: they both suffered in
the cause of images Hankius, de Scriptoribus Byzantinis, p. 200 -

[Footnote 58: The Persian historians have been themselves
deceived: but Theophanes (p. 244) accuses Chosroes of the fraud
and falsehood; and Eutychius believes (Annal. tom. ii. p. 212)
that the son of Maurice, who was saved from the assassins, lived
and died a monk on Mount Sinai.]

The first intelligence from the East which Heraclius
received, ^59 was that of the loss of Antioch; but the aged
metropolis, so often overturned by earthquakes, and pillaged by
the enemy, could supply but a small and languid stream of
treasure and blood. The Persians were equally successful, and
more fortunate, in the sack of Caesarea, the capital of
Cappadocia; and as they advanced beyond the ramparts of the
frontier, the boundary of ancient war, they found a less
obstinate resistance and a more plentiful harvest. The pleasant
vale of Damascus has been adorned in every age with a royal city:
her obscure felicity has hitherto escaped the historian of the
Roman empire: but Chosroes reposed his troops in the paradise of
Damascus before he ascended the hills of Libanus, or invaded the
cities of the Phoenician coast. The conquest of Jerusalem, ^60
which had been meditated by Nushirvan, was achieved by the zeal
and avarice of his grandson; the ruin of the proudest monument of
Christianity was vehemently urged by the intolerant spirit of the
Magi; and he could enlist for this holy warfare with an army of
six-and- twenty thousand Jews, whose furious bigotry might
compensate, in some degree, for the want of valor and discipline.
^* After the reduction of Galilee, and the region beyond the
Jordan, whose resistance appears to have delayed the fate of the
capital, Jerusalem itself was taken by assault. The sepulchre of
Christ, and the stately churches of Helena and Constantine, were
consumed, or at least damaged, by the flames; the devout
offerings of three hundred years were rifled in one sacrilegious
day; the Patriarch Zachariah, and the true cross, were
transported into Persia; and the massacre of ninety thousand
Christians is imputed to the Jews and Arabs, who swelled the
disorder of the Persian march. The fugitives of Palestine were
entertained at Alexandria by the charity of John the Archbishop,
who is distinguished among a crowd of saints by the epithet of
almsgiver: ^61 and the revenues of the church, with a treasure of
three hundred thousand pounds, were restored to the true
proprietors, the poor of every country and every denomination.
But Egypt itself, the only province which had been exempt, since
the time of Diocletian, from foreign and domestic war, was again
subdued by the successors of Cyrus. Pelusium, the key of that
impervious country, was surprised by the cavalry of the Persians:
they passed, with impunity, the innumerable channels of the
Delta, and explored the long valley of the Nile, from the
pyramids of Memphis to the confines of Aethiopia. Alexandria
might have been relieved by a naval force, but the archbishop and
the praefect embarked for Cyprus; and Chosroes entered the second
city of the empire, which still preserved a wealthy remnant of
industry and commerce. His western trophy was erected, not on
the walls of Carthage, ^62 but in the neighborhood of Tripoli;
the Greek colonies of Cyrene were finally extirpated; and the
conqueror, treading in the footsteps of Alexander, returned in
triumph through the sands of the Libyan desert. In the same
campaign, another army advanced from the Euphrates to the
Thracian Bosphorus; Chalcedon surrendered after a long siege, and
a Persian camp was maintained above ten years in the presence of
Constantinople. The sea-coast of Pontus, the city of Ancyra, and
the Isle of Rhodes, are enumerated among the last conquests of
the great king; and if Chosroes had possessed any maritime power,
his boundless ambition would have spread slavery and desolation
over the provinces of Europe.

[Footnote 59: Eutychius dates all the losses of the empire under
the reign of Phocas; an error which saves the honor of Heraclius,
whom he brings not from Carthage, but Salonica, with a fleet
laden with vegetables for the relief of Constantinople, (Annal.
tom. ii. p. 223, 224.) The other Christians of the East,
Barhebraeus, (apud Asseman, Bibliothec. Oriental. tom. iii. p.
412, 413,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 13 - 16,) Abulpharagius,
(Dynast. p. 98, 99,) are more sincere and accurate. The years of
the Persian war are disposed in the chronology of Pagi.]

[Footnote 60: On the conquest of Jerusalem, an event so
interesting to the church, see the Annals of Eutychius, (tom. ii.
p. 212 - 223,) and the lamentations of the monk Antiochus, (apud
Baronium, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 614, No. 16 - 26,) whose one
hundred and twenty-nine homilies are still extant, if what no one
reads may be said to be extant.]

[Footnote *: See Hist. of Jews, vol. iii. p. 240. - M.]

[Footnote 61: The life of this worthy saint is composed by
Leontius, a contemporary bishop; and I find in Baronius (Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 610, No. 10, &c.) and Fleury (tom. viii. p. 235 -
242) sufficient extracts of this edifying work.)]

[Footnote 62: The error of Baronius, and many others who have
carried the arms of Chosroes to Carthage instead of Chalcedon, is
founded on the near resemblance of the Greek words, in the text
of Theophanes, &c., which have been sometimes confounded by
transcribers, and sometimes by critics.]
From the long-disputed banks of the Tigris and Euphrates,
the reign of the grandson of Nushirvan was suddenly extended to
the Hellespont and the Nile, the ancient limits of the Persian
monarchy. But the provinces, which had been fashioned by the
habits of six hundred years to the virtues and vices of the Roman
government, supported with reluctance the yoke of the Barbarians.
The idea of a republic was kept alive by the institutions, or at
least by the writings, of the Greeks and Romans, and the subjects
of Heraclius had been educated to pronounce the words of liberty
and law. But it has always been the pride and policy of Oriental
princes to display the titles and attributes of their
omnipotence; to upbraid a nation of slaves with their true name
and abject condition, and to enforce, by cruel and insolent
threats, the rigor of their absolute commands. The Christians of
the East were scandalized by the worship of fire, and the impious
doctrine of the two principles: the Magi were not less intolerant
than the bishops; and the martyrdom of some native Persians, who
had deserted the religion of Zoroaster, ^63 was conceived to be
the prelude of a fierce and general persecution. By the
oppressive laws of Justinian, the adversaries of the church were
made the enemies of the state; the alliance of the Jews,
Nestorians, and Jacobites, had contributed to the success of
Chosroes, and his partial favor to the sectaries provoked the
hatred and fears of the Catholic clergy. Conscious of their fear
and hatred, the Persian conqueror governed his new subjects with
an iron sceptre; and, as if he suspected the stability of his
dominion, he exhausted their wealth by exorbitant tributes and
licentious rapine despoiled or demolished the temples of the
East; and transported to his hereditary realms the gold, the
silver, the precious marbles, the arts, and the artists of the
Asiatic cities. In the obscure picture of the calamities of the
empire, ^64 it is not easy to discern the figure of Chosroes
himself, to separate his actions from those of his lieutenants,
or to ascertain his personal merit in the general blaze of glory
and magnificence. He enjoyed with ostentation the fruits of
victory, and frequently retired from the hardships of war to the
luxury of the palace. But in the space of twenty-four years, he
was deterred by superstition or resentment from approaching the
gates of Ctesiphon: and his favorite residence of Artemita, or
Dastagerd, was situate beyond the Tigris, about sixty miles to
the north of the capital. ^65 The adjacent pastures were covered
with flocks and herds: the paradise or park was replenished with
pheasants, peacocks, ostriches, roebucks, and wild boars, and the
noble game of lions and tigers was sometimes turned loose for the
bolder pleasures of the chase. Nine hundred and sixty elephants
were maintained for the use or splendor of the great king: his
tents and baggage were carried into the field by twelve thousand
great camels and eight thousand of a smaller size; ^66 and the
royal stables were filled with six thousand mules and horses,
among whom the names of Shebdiz and Barid are renowned for their
speed or beauty. ^* Six thousand guards successively mounted
before the palace gate; the service of the interior apartments
was performed by twelve thousand slaves, and in the number of
three thousand virgins, the fairest of Asia, some happy concubine
might console her master for the age or the indifference of Sira.

The various treasures of gold, silver, gems, silks, and
aromatics, were deposited in a hundred subterraneous vaults and
the chamber Badaverd denoted the accidental gift of the winds
which had wafted the spoils of Heraclius into one of the Syrian
harbors of his rival. The vice of flattery, and perhaps of
fiction, is not ashamed to compute the thirty thousand rich
hangings that adorned the walls; the forty thousand columns of
silver, or more probably of marble, and plated wood, that
supported the roof; and the thousand globes of gold suspended in
the dome, to imitate the motions of the planets and the
constellations of the zodiac. ^67 While the Persian monarch
contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an
epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to
acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the
invitation, and tore the epistle. "It is thus," exclaimed the
Arabian prophet, "that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the
supplications of Chosroes." ^68 ^! Placed on the verge of the two
great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the
progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the
Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years
should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the
Romans. ^69

[Footnote 63: The genuine acts of St. Anastasius are published in
those of the with general council, from whence Baronius (Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 614, 626, 627) and Butler (Lives of the Saints, vol.
i. p. 242 - 248) have taken their accounts. The holy martyr
deserted from the Persian to the Roman army, became a monk at
Jerusalem, and insulted the worship of the Magi, which was then
established at Caesarea in Palestine.]

[Footnote 64: Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 99. Elmacin, Hist.
Saracen. p. 14.]
[Footnote 65: D'Anville, Mem. de l'Academie des Inscriptions,
tom. xxxii. p. 568 - 571.]

[Footnote 66: The difference between the two races consists in
one or two humps; the dromedary has only one; the size of the
proper camel is larger; the country he comes from, Turkistan or
Bactriana; the dromedary is confined to Arabia and Africa.
Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. p. 211, &c. Aristot. Hist.
Animal. tom. i. l. ii. c. 1, tom. ii. p. 185.]

[Footnote *: The ruins of these scenes of Khoosroo's magnificence
have been visited by Sir R. K. Porter. At the ruins of Tokht i
Bostan, he saw a gorgeous picture of a hunt, singularly
illustrative of this passage. Travels, vol. ii. p. 204. Kisra
Shirene, which he afterwards examined, appears to have been the
palace of Dastagerd. Vol. ii. p. 173 - 175. - M.]
[Footnote 67: Theophanes, Chronograph. p. 268. D'Herbelot,
Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 997. The Greeks describe the decay,
the Persians the splendor, of Dastagerd; but the former speak
from the modest witness of the eye, the latter from the vague
report of the ear.]

[Footnote 68: The historians of Mahomet, Abulfeda (in Vit.
Mohammed, p. 92, 93) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p.
247,) date this embassy in the viith year of the Hegira, which
commences A.D. 628, May 11. Their chronology is erroneous, since
Chosroes died in the month of February of the same year, (Pagi,
Critica, tom. ii. p. 779.) The count de Boulainvilliers (Vie de
Mahomed, p. 327, 328) places this embassy about A.D. 615, soon
after the conquest of Palestine. Yet Mahomet would scarcely have
ventured so soon on so bold a step.]

[Footnote !: Khoosroo Purveez was encamped on the banks of the
Karasoo River when he received the letter of Mahomed. He tore
the letter and threw it into the Karasoo. For this action, the
moderate author of the Zeenut-ul- Tuarikh calls him a wretch, and
rejoices in all his subsequent misfortunes. These impressions
still exist. I remarked to a Persian, when encamped near the
Karasoo, in 1800, that the banks were very high, which must make
it difficult to apply its waters to irrigation. "It once
fertilized the whole country," said the zealous Mahomedan, "but
its channel sunk with honor from its banks, when that madman,
Khoosroo, threw our holy Prophet's letter into its stream; which
has ever since been accursed and useless. Malcolm's Persia, vol.
i. p. 126 - M.]

[Footnote 69: See the xxxth chapter of the Koran, entitled the
Greeks. Our honest and learned translator, Sale, (p. 330, 331,)
fairly states this conjecture, guess, wager, of Mahomet; but
Boulainvilliers, (p. 329 - 344,) with wicked intentions, labors
to establish this evident prophecy of a future event, which must,
in his opinion, embarrass the Christian polemics.]
At the time when this prediction is said to have been
delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its
accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius
announced the approaching dissolution of the empire. If the
motives of Chosroes had been pure and honorable, he must have
ended the quarrel with the death of Phocas, and he would have
embraced, as his best ally, the fortunate African who had so
generously avenged the injuries of his benefactor Maurice. The
prosecution of the war revealed the true character of the
Barbarian; and the suppliant embassies of Heraclius to beseech
his clemency, that he would spare the innocent, accept a tribute,
and give peace to the world, were rejected with contemptuous
silence or insolent menace. Syria, Egypt, and the provinces of
Asia, were subdued by the Persian arms, while Europe, from the
confines of Istria to the long wall of Thrace, was oppressed by
the Avars, unsatiated with the blood and rapine of the Italian
war. They had coolly massacred their male captives in the sacred
field of Pannonia; the women and children were reduced to
servitude, and the noblest virgins were abandoned to the
promiscuous lust of the Barbarians. The amorous matron who opened
the gates of Friuli passed a short night in the arms of her royal
lover; the next evening, Romilda was condemned to the embraces of
twelve Avars, and the third day the Lombard princess was impaled
in the sight of the camp, while the chagan observed with a cruel
smile, that such a husband was the fit recompense of her lewdness
and perfidy. ^70 By these implacable enemies, Heraclius, on
either side, was insulted and besieged: and the Roman empire was
reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of
Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from Tyre to
Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. After the loss of Egypt, the
capital was afflicted by famine and pestilence; and the emperor,
incapable of resistance, and hopeless of relief, had resolved to
transfer his person and government to the more secure residence
of Carthage. His ships were already laden with the treasures of
the palace; but his flight was arrested by the patriarch, who
armed the powers of religion in the defence of his country; led
Heraclius to the altar of St. Sophia, and extorted a solemn oath,
that he would live and die with the people whom God had intrusted
to his care. The chagan was encamped in the plains of Thrace;
but he dissembled his perfidious designs, and solicited an
interview with the emperor near the town of Heraclea. Their
reconciliation was celebrated with equestrian games; the senate
and people, in their gayest apparel, resorted to the festival of
peace; and the Avars beheld, with envy and desire, the spectacle
of Roman luxury. On a sudden the hippodrome was encompassed by
the Scythian cavalry, who had pressed their secret and nocturnal
march: the tremendous sound of the chagan's whip gave the signal
of the assault, and Heraclius, wrapping his diadem round his arm,
was saved with extreme hazard, by the fleetness of his horse. So
rapid was the pursuit, that the Avars almost entered the golden
gate of Constantinople with the flying crowds: ^71 but the
plunder of the suburbs rewarded their treason, and they
transported beyond the Danube two hundred and seventy thousand
captives. On the shore of Chalcedon, the emperor held a safer
conference with a more honorable foe, who, before Heraclius
descended from his galley, saluted with reverence and pity the
majesty of the purple. The friendly offer of Sain, the Persian
general, to conduct an embassy to the presence of the great king,
was accepted with the warmest gratitude, and the prayer for
pardon and peace was humbly presented by the Praetorian praefect,
the praefect of the city, and one of the first ecclesiastics of
the patriarchal church. ^72 But the lieutenant of Chosroes had
fatally mistaken the intentions of his master. "It was not an
embassy," said the tyrant of Asia, "it was the person of
Heraclius, bound in chains, that he should have brought to the
foot of my throne. I will never give peace to the emperor of
Rome, till he had abjured his crucified God, and embraced the
worship of the sun." Sain was flayed alive, according to the
inhuman practice of his country; and the separate and rigorous
confinement of the ambassadors violated the law of nations, and
the faith of an express stipulation. Yet the experience of six
years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the
conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute or
ransom of the Roman empire; a thousand talents of gold, a
thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand
horses, and a thousand virgins. Heraclius subscribed these
ignominious terms; but the time and space which he obtained to
collect such treasures from the poverty of the East, was
industriously employed in the preparations of a bold and
desperate attack.
[Footnote 70: Paul Warnefrid, de Gestis Langobardorum, l. iv. c.
38, 42. Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 305, &c.]

[Footnote 71: The Paschal Chronicle, which sometimes introduces
fragments of history into a barren list of names and dates, gives
the best account of the treason of the Avars, p. 389, 390. The
number of captives is added by Nicephorus.]

[Footnote 72: Some original pieces, such as the speech or letter
of the Roman ambassadors, (p. 386 - 388,) likewise constitute the
merit of the Paschal Chronicle, which was composed, perhaps at
Alexandria, under the reign of Heraclius.]

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius
is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first
and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the
slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and
impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid
mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness
of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar
of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously
retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous
campaigns. It was the duty of the Byzantine historians to have
revealed the causes of his slumber and vigilance. At this
distance we can only conjecture, that he was endowed with more
personal courage than political resolution; that he was detained
by the charms, and perhaps the arts, of his niece Martina, with
whom, after the death of Eudocia, he contracted an incestuous
marriage; ^73 and that he yielded to the base advice of the
counsellors, who urged, as a fundamental law, that the life of
the emperor should never be exposed in the field. ^74 Perhaps he
was awakened by the last insolent demand of the Persian
conqueror; but at the moment when Heraclius assumed the spirit of
a hero, the only hopes of the Romans were drawn from the
vicissitudes of fortune, which might threaten the proud
prosperity of Chosroes, and must be favorable to those who had
attained the lowest period of depression. ^75 To provide for the
expenses of war, was the first care of the emperor; and for the
purpose of collecting the tribute, he was allowed to solicit the
benevolence of the eastern provinces. But the revenue no longer
flowed in the usual channels; the credit of an arbitrary prince
is annihilated by his power; and the courage of Heraclius was
first displayed in daring to borrow the consecrated wealth of
churches, under the solemn vow of restoring, with usury, whatever
he had been compelled to employ in the service of religion and
the empire. The clergy themselves appear to have sympathized
with the public distress; and the discreet patriarch of
Alexandria, without admitting the precedent of sacrilege,
assisted his sovereign by the miraculous or seasonable revelation
of a secret treasure. ^76 Of the soldiers who had conspired with
Phocas, only two were found to have survived the stroke of time
and of the Barbarians; ^77 the loss, even of these seditious
veterans, was imperfectly supplied by the new levies of
Heraclius, and the gold of the sanctuary united, in the same
camp, the names, and arms, and languages of the East and West.
He would have been content with the neutrality of the Avars; and
his friendly entreaty, that the chagan would act, not as the
enemy, but as the guardian, of the empire, was accompanied with a
more persuasive donative of two hundred thousand pieces of gold.
Two days after the festival of Easter, the emperor, exchanging
his purple for the simple garb of a penitent and warrior, ^78
gave the signal of his departure. To the faith of the people
Heraclius recommended his children; the civil and military powers
were vested in the most deserving hands, and the discretion of
the patriarch and senate was authorized to save or surrender the
city, if they should be oppressed in his absence by the superior
forces of the enemy.
[Footnote 73: Nicephorus, (p. 10, 11,) is happy to observe, that
of two sons, its incestuous fruit, the elder was marked by
Providence with a stiff neck, the younger with the loss of

[Footnote 74: George of Pisidia, (Acroas. i. 112 - 125, p. 5,)
who states the opinions, acquits the pusillanimous counsellors of
any sinister views. Would he have excused the proud and
contemptuous admonition of Crispus?]
[Footnote 75: George Pisid. Acroas. i. 51, &c. p: 4.

The Orientals are not less fond of remarking this strange
vicissitude; and I remember some story of Khosrou Parviz, not
very unlike the ring of Polycrates of Samos.]

[Footnote 76: Baronius gravely relates this discovery, or rather
transmutation, of barrels, not of honey, but of gold, (Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 620, No. 3, &c.) Yet the loan was arbitrary, since
it was collected by soldiers, who were ordered to leave the
patriarch of Alexandria no more than one hundred pounds of gold.
Nicephorus, (p. 11,) two hundred years afterwards, speaks with
ill humor of this contribution, which the church of
Constantinople might still feel.]

[Footnote 77: Theophylact Symocatta, l. viii. c. 12. This
circumstance need not excite our surprise. The muster-roll of a
regiment, even in time of peace, is renewed in less than twenty
or twenty-five years.]
[Footnote 78: He changed his purple for black, buckskins, and
dyed them red in the blood of the Persians, (Georg. Pisid.
Acroas. iii. 118, 121, 122 See the notes of Foggini, p. 35.)]

The neighboring heights of Chalcedon were covered with tents
and arms: but if the new levies of Heraclius had been rashly led
to the attack, the victory of the Persians in the sight of
Constantinople might have been the last day of the Roman empire.
As imprudent would it have been to advance into the provinces of
Asia, leaving their innumerable cavalry to intercept his convoys,
and continually to hang on the lassitude and disorder of his
rear. But the Greeks were still masters of the sea; a fleet of
galleys, transports, and store-ships, was assembled in the
harbor; the Barbarians consented to embark; a steady wind carried
them through the Hellespont the western and southern coast of
Asia Minor lay on their left hand; the spirit of their chief was
first displayed in a storm, and even the eunuchs of his train
were excited to suffer and to work by the example of their
master. He landed his troops on the confines of Syria and
Cilicia, in the Gulf of Scanderoon, where the coast suddenly
turns to the south; ^79 and his discernment was expressed in the
choice of this important post. ^80 From all sides, the scattered
garrisons of the maritime cities and the mountains might repair
with speed and safety to his Imperial standard. The natural
fortifications of Cilicia protected, and even concealed, the camp
of Heraclius, which was pitched near Issus, on the same ground
where Alexander had vanquished the host of Darius. The angle
which the emperor occupied was deeply indented into a vast
semicircle of the Asiatic, Armenian, and Syrian provinces; and to
whatsoever point of the circumference he should direct his
attack, it was easy for him to dissemble his own motions, and to
prevent those of the enemy. In the camp of Issus, the Roman
general reformed the sloth and disorder of the veterans, and
educated the new recruits in the knowledge and practice of
military virtue. Unfolding the miraculous image of Christ, he
urged them to revenge the holy altars which had been profaned by
the worshippers of fire; addressing them by the endearing
appellations of sons and brethren, he deplored the public and
private wrongs of the republic. The subjects of a monarch were
persuaded that they fought in the cause of freedom; and a similar
enthusiasm was communicated to the foreign mercenaries, who must
have viewed with equal indifference the interest of Rome and of
Persia. Heraclius himself, with the skill and patience of a
centurion, inculcated the lessons of the school of tactics, and
the soldiers were assiduously trained in the use of their
weapons, and the exercises and evolutions of the field. The
cavalry and infantry in light or heavy armor were divided into
two parties; the trumpets were fixed in the centre, and their
signals directed the march, the charge, the retreat or pursuit;
the direct or oblique order, the deep or extended phalanx; to
represent in fictitious combat the operations of genuine war.
Whatever hardships the emperor imposed on the troops, he
inflicted with equal severity on himself; their labor, their
diet, their sleep, were measured by the inflexible rules of
discipline; and, without despising the enemy, they were taught to
repose an implicit confidence in their own valor and the wisdom
of their leader. Cilicia was soon encompassed with the Persian
arms; but their cavalry hesitated to enter the defiles of Mount
Taurus, till they were circumvented by the evolutions of
Heraclius, who insensibly gained their rear, whilst he appeared
to present his front in order of battle. By a false motion,
which seemed to threaten Armenia, he drew them, against their
wishes, to a general action. They were tempted by the artful
disorder of his camp; but when they advanced to combat, the
ground, the sun, and the expectation of both armies, were
unpropitious to the Barbarians; the Romans successfully repeated
their tactics in a field of battle, ^81 and the event of the day
declared to the world, that the Persians were not invincible, and
that a hero was invested with the purple. Strong in victory and
fame, Heraclius boldly ascended the heights of Mount Taurus,
directed his march through the plains of Cappadocia, and
established his troops, for the winter season, in safe and
plentiful quarters on the banks of the River Halys. ^82 His soul
was superior to the vanity of entertaining Constantinople with an
imperfect triumph; but the presence of the emperor was
indispensably required to soothe the restless and rapacious
spirit of the Avars.

[Footnote 79: George of Pisidia, (Acroas. ii. 10, p. 8) has fixed
this important point of the Syrian and Cilician gates. They are
elegantly described by Xenophon, who marched through them a
thousand years before. A narrow pass of three stadia between
steep, high rocks, and the Mediterranean, was closed at each end
by strong gates, impregnable to the land, accessible by sea,
(Anabasis, l. i. p. 35, 36, with Hutchinson's Geographical
Dissertation, p. vi.) The gates were thirty-five parasangs, or
leagues, from Tarsus, (Anabasis, l. i. p. 33, 34,) and eight or
ten from Antioch. Compare Itinerar. Wesseling, p. 580, 581.
Schultens, Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit. Saladin. p. 9. Voyage
en Turquie et en Perse, par M. Otter, tom. i. p. 78, 79.]
[Footnote 80: Heraclius might write to a friend in the modest
words of Cicero: Castra habuimus ea ipsa quae contra Darium
habuerat apud Issum Alexander, imperator haud paulo melior quam
aut tu aut ego." Ad Atticum, v. 20. Issus, a rich and
flourishing city in the time of Xenophon, was ruined by the
prosperity of Alexandria or Scanderoon, on the other side of the
[Footnote 81: Foggini (Annotat. p. 31) suspects that the Persians
were deceived by the of Aelian, (Tactic. c. 48,) an intricate
spiral motion of the army. He observes (p. 28) that the military
descriptions of George of Pisidia are transcribed in the Tactics
of the emperor Leo.]

[Footnote 82: George of Pisidia, an eye-witness, (Acroas. ii.
122, &c.,) described in three acroaseis, or cantos, the first
expedition of Heraclius. The poem has been lately (1777)
published at Rome; but such vague and declamatory praise is far
from corresponding with the sanguine hopes of Pagi, D'Anville,

Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise
has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the
deliverance of the empire ^83 He permitted the Persians to
oppress for a while the provinces, and to insult with impunity
the capital of the East; while the Roman emperor explored his
perilous way through the Black Sea, ^84 and the mountains of
Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, ^85 and recalled
the armies of the great king to the defence of their bleeding
country. With a select band of five thousand soldiers, Heraclius
sailed from Constantinople to Trebizond; assembled his forces
which had wintered in the Pontic regions; and, from the mouth of
the Phasis to the Caspian Sea, encouraged his subjects and allies
to march with the successor of Constantine under the faithful and
victorious banner of the cross. When the legions of Lucullus and
Pompey first passed the Euphrates, they blushed at their easy
victory over the natives of Armenia. But the long experience of
war had hardened the minds and bodies of that effeminate peeple;
their zeal and bravery were approved in the service of a
declining empire; they abhorred and feared the usurpation of the
house of Sassan, and the memory of persecution envenomed their
pious hatred of the enemies of Christ. The limits of Armenia, as
it had been ceded to the emperor Maurice, extended as far as the
Araxes: the river submitted to the indignity of a bridge, ^86 and
Heraclius, in the footsteps of Mark Antony, advanced towards the
city of Tauris or Gandzaca, ^87 the ancient and modern capital of
one of the provinces of Media. At the head of forty thousand
men, Chosroes himself had returned from some distant expedition
to oppose the progress of the Roman arms; but he retreated on the
approach of Heraclius, declining the generous alternative of
peace or of battle. Instead of half a million of inhabitants,
which have been ascribed to Tauris under the reign of the Sophys,
the city contained no more than three thousand houses; but the
value of the royal treasures was enhanced by a tradition, that
they were the spoils of Croesus, which had been transported by
Cyrus from the citadel of Sardes. The rapid conquests of
Heraclius were suspended only by the winter season; a motive of
prudence, or superstition, ^88 determined his retreat into the
province of Albania, along the shores of the Caspian; and his
tents were most probably pitched in the plains of Mogan, ^89 the
favorite encampment of Oriental princes. In the course of this
successful inroad, he signalized the zeal and revenge of a
Christian emperor: at his command, the soldiers extinguished the
fire, and destroyed the temples, of the Magi; the statues of
Chosroes, who aspired to divine honors, were abandoned to the
flames; and the ruins of Thebarma or Ormia, ^90 which had given
birth to Zoroaster himself, made some atonement for the injuries
of the holy sepulchre. A purer spirit of religion was shown in
the relief and deliverance of fifty thousand captives. Heraclius
was rewarded by their tears and grateful acclamations; but this
wise measure, which spread the fame of his benevolence, diffused
the murmurs of the Persians against the pride and obstinacy of
their own sovereign.
[Footnote 83: Theophanes (p. 256) carries Heraclius swiftly into
Armenia. Nicephorus, (p. 11,) though he confounds the two
expeditions, defines the province of Lazica. Eutychius (Annal.
tom. ii. p. 231) has given the 5000 men, with the more probable
station of Trebizond.]

[Footnote 84: From Constantinople to Trebizond, with a fair wind,
four or five days; from thence to Erzerom, five; to Erivan,
twelve; to Taurus, ten; in all, thirty-two. Such is the
Itinerary of Tavernier, (Voyages, tom. i. p. 12 - 56,) who was
perfectly conversant with the roads of Asia. Tournefort, who
travelled with a pacha, spent ten or twelve days between
Trebizond and Erzerom, (Voyage du Levant, tom. iii. lettre
xviii.;) and Chardin (Voyages, tom. i. p. 249 - 254) gives the
more correct distance of fifty-three parasangs, each of 5000
paces, (what paces?) between Erivan and Tauris.]
[Footnote 85: The expedition of Heraclius into Persia is finely
illustrated by M. D'Anville, (Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 559 - 573.) He discovers the
situation of Gandzaca, Thebarma, Dastagerd, &c., with admirable
skill and learning; but the obscure campaign of 624 he passes
over in silence.]

[Footnote 86: Et pontem indignatus Araxes. - Virgil, Aeneid,
viii. 728. The River Araxes is noisy, rapid, vehement, and, with
the melting of the snows, irresistible: the strongest and most
massy bridges are swept away by the current; and its indignation
is attested by the ruins of many arches near the old town of
Zulfa. Voyages de Chardin, tom. i. p. 252.]

[Footnote 87: Chardin, tom. i. p. 255 - 259. With the Orientals,
(D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 834,) he ascribes the
foundation of Tauris, or Tebris, to Zobeide, the wife of the
famous Khalif Haroun Alrashid; but it appears to have been more
ancient; and the names of Gandzaca, Gazaca, Gaza, are expressive
of the royal treasure. The number of 550,000 inhabitants is
reduced by Chardin from 1,100,000, the popular estimate.]

[Footnote 88: He opened the gospel, and applied or interpreted
the first casual passage to the name and situation of Albania.
Theophanes, p. 258.]
[Footnote 89: The heath of Mogan, between the Cyrus and the
Araxes, is sixty parasangs in length and twenty in breadth,
(Olearius, p. 1023, 1024,) abounding in waters and fruitful
pastures, (Hist. de Nadir Shah, translated by Mr. Jones from a
Persian Ms., part ii. p. 2, 3.) See the encampments of Timur,
(Hist. par Sherefeddin Ali, l. v. c. 37, l. vi. c. 13,) and the
coronation of Nadir Shah, (Hist. Persanne, p. 3 - 13 and the
English Life by Mr. Jones, p. 64, 65.)]

[Footnote 90: Thebarma and Ormia, near the Lake Spauta, are
proved to be the same city by D'Anville, (Memoires de l'Academie,
tom. xxviii. p. 564, 565.) It is honored as the birthplace of
Zoroaster, according to the Persians, (Schultens, Index Geograph.
p. 48;) and their tradition is fortified by M. Perron d'Anquetil,
(Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscript. tom. xxxi. p. 375,) with some
texts from his, or their, Zendavesta.

Note: D'Anville (Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscript. tom. xxxii.
p. 560) labored to prove the identity of these two cities; but
according to M. St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 97, not with perfect
success. Ourmiah. called Ariema in the ancient Pehlvi books, is
considered, both by the followers of Zoroaster and by the
Mahometans, as his birthplace. It is situated in the southern
part of Aderbidjan. - M.]

Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.

Part IV.

Amidst the glories of the succeeding campaign, Heraclius is
almost lost to our eyes, and to those of the Byzantine
historians. ^91 From the spacious and fruitful plains of Albania,
the emperor appears to follow the chain of Hyrcanian Mountains,
to descend into the province of Media or Irak, and to carry his
victorious arms as far as the royal cities of Casbin and Ispahan,
which had never been approached by a Roman conqueror. Alarmed by
the danger of his kingdom, the powers of Chosroes were already
recalled from the Nile and the Bosphorus, and three formidable
armies surrounded, in a distant and hostile land, the camp of the
emperor. The Colchian allies prepared to desert his standard;
and the fears of the bravest veterans were expressed, rather than
concealed, by their desponding silence. "Be not terrified," said
the intrepid Heraclius, "by the multitude of your foes. With the
aid of Heaven, one Roman may triumph over a thousand Barbarians.
But if we devote our lives for the salvation of our brethren, we
shall obtain the crown of martyrdom, and our immortal reward will
be liberally paid by God and posterity." These magnanimous
sentiments were supported by the vigor of his actions. He
repelled the threefold attack of the Persians, improved the
divisions of their chiefs, and, by a well-concerted train of
marches, retreats, and successful actions, finally chased them
from the field into the fortified cities of Media and Assyria.
In the severity of the winter season, Sarbaraza deemed himself
secure in the walls of Salban: he was surprised by the activity
of Heraclius, who divided his troops, and performed a laborious
march in the silence of the night. The flat roofs of the houses
were defended with useless valor against the darts and torches of
the Romans: the satraps and nobles of Persia, with their wives
and children, and the flower of their martial youth, were either
slain or made prisoners. The general escaped by a precipitate
flight, but his golden armor was the prize of the conqueror; and
the soldiers of Heraclius enjoyed the wealth and repose which
they had so nobly deserved. On the return of spring, the emperor
traversed in seven days the mountains of Curdistan, and passed
without resistance the rapid stream of the Tigris. Oppressed by
the weight of their spoils and captives, the Roman army halted
under the walls of Amida; and Heraclius informed the senate of
Constantinople of his safety and success, which they had already
felt by the retreat of the besiegers. The bridges of the
Euphrates were destroyed by the Persians; but as soon as the
emperor had discovered a ford, they hastily retired to defend the
banks of the Sarus, ^92 in Cilicia. That river, an impetuous
torrent, was about three hundred feet broad; the bridge was
fortified with strong turrets; and the banks were lined with
Barbarian archers. After a bloody conflict, which continued till
the evening, the Romans prevailed in the assault; and a Persian
of gigantic size was slain and thrown into the Sarus by the hand
of the emperor himself. The enemies were dispersed and dismayed;
Heraclius pursued his march to Sebaste in Cappadocia; and at the
expiration of three years, the same coast of the Euxine applauded
his return from a long and victorious expedition. ^93

[Footnote 91: I cannot find, and (what is much more,) M.
D'Anville does not attempt to seek, the Salban, Tarantum,
territory of the Huns, &c., mentioned by Theophanes, (p. 260 -
262.) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 231, 232,) an insufficient
author, names Asphahan; and Casbin is most probably the city of
Sapor. Ispahan is twenty-four days' journey from Tauris, and
Casbin half way between, them (Voyages de Tavernier, tom. i. p.
63 - 82.)]
[Footnote 92: At ten parasangs from Tarsus, the army of the
younger Cyrus passed the Sarus, three plethra in breadth: the
Pyramus, a stadium in breadth, ran five parasangs farther to the
east, (Xenophon, Anabas. l. i. p 33, 34.)
Note: Now the Sihan. - M.]

[Footnote 93: George of Pisidia (Bell. Abaricum, 246 - 265, p.
49) celebrates with truth the persevering courage of the three
campaigns against the Persians.]

Instead of skirmishing on the frontier, the two monarchs who
disputed the empire of the East aimed their desperate strokes at
the heart of their rival. The military force of Persia was wasted
by the marches and combats of twenty years, and many of the
veterans, who had survived the perils of the sword and the
climate, were still detained in the fortresses of Egypt and
Syria. But the revenge and ambition of Chosroes exhausted his
kingdom; and the new levies of subjects, strangers, and slaves,
were divided into three formidable bodies. ^94 The first army of
fifty thousand men, illustrious by the ornament and title of the
golden spears, was destined to march against Heraclius; the
second was stationed to prevent his junction with the troops of
his brother Theodorus; and the third was commanded to besiege
Constantinople, and to second the operations of the chagan, with
whom the Persian king had ratified a treaty of alliance and
partition. Sarbar, the general of the third army, penetrated
through the provinces of Asia to the well-known camp of
Chalcedon, and amused himself with the destruction of the sacred
and profane buildings of the Asiatic suburbs, while he
impatiently waited the arrival of his Scythian friends on the
opposite side of the Bosphorus. On the twenty-ninth of June,
thirty thousand Barbarians, the vanguard of the Avars, forced the
long wall, and drove into the capital a promiscuous crowd of
peasants, citizens, and soldiers. Fourscore thousand ^95 of his
native subjects, and of the vassal tribes of Gepidae, Russians,
Bulgarians, and Sclavonians, advanced under the standard of the
chagan; a month was spent in marches and negotiations, but the
whole city was invested on the thirty-first of July, from the
suburbs of Pera and Galata to the Blachernae and seven towers;
and the inhabitants descried with terror the flaming signals of
the European and Asiatic shores. In the mean while, the
magistrates of Constantinople repeatedly strove to purchase the
retreat of the chagan; but their deputies were rejected and
insulted; and he suffered the patricians to stand before his
throne, while the Persian envoys, in silk robes, were seated by
his side. "You see," said the haughty Barbarian, "the proofs of
my perfect union with the great king; and his lieutenant is ready
to send into my camp a select band of three thousand warriors.
Presume no longer to tempt your master with a partial and
inadequate ransom your wealth and your city are the only presents
worthy of my acceptance. For yourselves, I shall permit you to
depart, each with an under-garment and a shirt; and, at my
entreaty, my friend Sarbar will not refuse a passage through his
lines. Your absent prince, even now a captive or a fugitive, has
left Constantinople to its fate; nor can you escape the arms of
the Avars and Persians, unless you could soar into the air like
birds, unless like fishes you could dive into the waves." ^96
During ten successive days, the capital was assaulted by the
Avars, who had made some progress in the science of attack; they
advanced to sap or batter the wall, under the cover of the
impenetrable tortoise; their engines discharged a perpetual
volley of stones and darts; and twelve lofty towers of wood
exalted the combatants to the height of the neighboring ramparts.

But the senate and people were animated by the spirit of
Heraclius, who had detached to their relief a body of twelve
thousand cuirassiers; the powers of fire and mechanics were used
with superior art and success in the defence of Constantinople;
and the galleys, with two and three ranks of oars, commanded the
Bosphorus, and rendered the Persians the idle spectators of the
defeat of their allies. The Avars were repulsed; a fleet of
Sclavonian canoes was destroyed in the harbor; the vassals of the
chagan threatened to desert, his provisions were exhausted, and
after burning his engines, he gave the signal of a slow and
formidable retreat. The devotion of the Romans ascribed this
signal deliverance to the Virgin Mary; but the mother of Christ
would surely have condemned their inhuman murder of the Persian
envoys, who were entitled to the rights of humanity, if they were
not protected by the laws of nations. ^97
[Footnote 94: Petavius (Annotationes ad Nicephorum, p. 62, 63,
64) discriminates the names and actions of five Persian generals
who were successively sent against Heraclius.]

[Footnote 95: This number of eight myriads is specified by George
of Pisidia, (Bell. Abar. 219.) The poet (50 - 88) clearly
indicates that the old chagan lived till the reign of Heraclius,
and that his son and successor was born of a foreign mother. Yet
Foggini (Annotat. p. 57) has given another interpretation to this

[Footnote 96: A bird, a frog, a mouse, and five arrows, had been
the present of the Scythian king to Darius, (Herodot. l. iv. c.
131, 132.) Substituez une lettre a ces signes (says Rousseau,
with much good taste) plus elle sera menacante moins elle
effrayera; ce ne sera qu'une fanfarronade dont Darius n'eut fait
que rire, (Emile, tom. iii. p. 146.) Yet I much question whether
the senate and people of Constantinople laughed at this message
of the chagan.]

[Footnote 97: The Paschal Chronicle (p. 392 - 397) gives a minute
and authentic narrative of the siege and deliverance of
Constantinople Theophanes (p. 264) adds some circumstances; and a
faint light may be obtained from the smoke of George of Pisidia,
who has composed a poem (de Bello Abarico, p. 45 - 54) to
commemorate this auspicious event.]

After the division of his army, Heraclius prudently retired
to the banks of the Phasis, from whence he maintained a defensive
war against the fifty thousand gold spears of Persia. His
anxiety was relieved by the deliverance of Constantinople; his
hopes were confirmed by a victory of his brother Theodorus; and
to the hostile league of Chosroes with the Avars, the Roman
emperor opposed the useful and honorable alliance of the Turks.
At his liberal invitation, the horde of Chozars ^98 transported
their tents from the plains of the Volga to the mountains of
Georgia; Heraclius received them in the neighborhood of Teflis,
and the khan with his nobles dismounted from their horses, if we
may credit the Greeks, and fell prostrate on the ground, to adore
the purple of the Caesars. Such voluntary homage and important
aid were entitled to the warmest acknowledgments; and the
emperor, taking off his own diadem, placed it on the head of the
Turkish prince, whom he saluted with a tender embrace and the
appellation of son. After a sumptuous banquet, he presented
Ziebel with the plate and ornaments, the gold, the gems, and the
silk, which had been used at the Imperial table, and, with his
own hand, distributed rich jewels and ear-rings to his new
allies. In a secret interview, he produced the portrait of his
daughter Eudocia, ^99 condescended to flatter the Barbarian with
the promise of a fair and august bride; obtained an immediate
succor of forty thousand horse, and negotiated a strong diversion
of the Turkish arms on the side of the Oxus. ^100 The Persians,
in their turn, retreated with precipitation; in the camp of
Edessa, Heraclius reviewed an army of seventy thousand Romans and
strangers; and some months were successfully employed in the
recovery of the cities of Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, whose
fortifications had been imperfectly restored. Sarbar still
maintained the important station of Chalcedon; but the jealousy
of Chosroes, or the artifice of Heraclius, soon alienated the
mind of that powerful satrap from the service of his king and
country. A messenger was intercepted with a real or fictitious
mandate to the cadarigan, or second in command, directing him to
send, without delay, to the throne, the head of a guilty or
unfortunate general. The despatches were transmitted to Sarbar
himself; and as soon as he read the sentence of his own death, he
dexterously inserted the names of four hundred officers,
assembled a military council, and asked the cadarigan whether he
was prepared to execute the commands of their tyrant. The
Persians unanimously declared, that Chosroes had forfeited the
sceptre; a separate treaty was concluded with the government of
Constantinople; and if some considerations of honor or policy
restrained Sarbar from joining the standard of Heraclius, the
emperor was assured that he might prosecute, without
interruption, his designs of victory and peace.

[Footnote 98: The power of the Chozars prevailed in the viith,
viiith, and ixth centuries. They were known to the Greeks, the
Arabs, and under the name of Kosa, to the Chinese themselves. De
Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. part ii. p. 507 - 509.

Note: Moses of Chorene speaks of an invasion of Armenia by
the Khazars in the second century, l. ii. c. 62. M. St. Martin
suspects them to be the same with the Hunnish nation of the
Acatires or Agazzires. They are called by the Greek historians
Eastern Turks; like the Madjars and other Hunnish or Finnish
tribes, they had probably received some admixture from the
genuine Turkish races. Ibn. Hankal (Oriental Geography) says
that their language was like the Bulgarian, and considers them a
people of Finnish or Hunnish race. Klaproth, Tabl. Hist. p. 268
- 273. Abel Remusat, Rech. sur les Langues Tartares, tom. i. p.
315, 316. St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 115. - M]

[Footnote 99: Epiphania, or Eudocia, the only daughter of
Heraclius and his first wife Eudocia, was born at Constantinople
on the 7th of July, A.D. 611, baptized the 15th of August, and
crowned (in the oratory of St. Stephen in the palace) the 4th of
October of the same year. At this time she was about fifteen.
Eudocia was afterwards sent to her Turkish husband, but the news
of his death stopped her journey, and prevented the consummation,
(Ducange, Familiae Byzantin. p. 118.)]

[Footnote 100: Elmcain (Hist. Saracen. p. 13 - 16) gives some
curious and probable facts; but his numbers are rather too high -
300,000 Romans assembled at Edessa - 500,000 Persians killed at
Nineveh. The abatement of a cipher is scarcely enough to restore
his sanity]

Deprived of his firmest support, and doubtful of the
fidelity of his subjects, the greatness of Chosroes was still
conspicuous in its ruins. The number of five hundred thousand
may be interpreted as an Oriental metaphor, to describe the men
and arms, the horses and elephants, that covered Media and
Assyria against the invasion of Heraclius. Yet the Romans boldly
advanced from the Araxes to the Tigris, and the timid prudence of
Rhazates was content to follow them by forced marches through a
desolate country, till he received a peremptory mandate to risk
the fate of Persia in a decisive battle. Eastward of the Tigris,
at the end of the bridge of Mosul, the great Nineveh had formerly
been erected: ^101 the city, and even the ruins of the city, had
long since disappeared; ^102 the vacant space afforded a spacious
field for the operations of the two armies. But these operations
are neglected by the Byzantine historians, and, like the authors
of epic poetry and romance, they ascribe the victory, not to the
military conduct, but to the personal valor, of their favorite
hero. On this memorable day, Heraclius, on his horse Phallas,
surpassed the bravest of his warriors: his lip was pierced with a
spear; the steed was wounded in the thigh; but he carried his
master safe and victorious through the triple phalanx of the
Barbarians. In the heat of the action, three valiant chiefs were
successively slain by the sword and lance of the emperor: among
these was Rhazates himself; he fell like a soldier, but the sight
of his head scattered grief and despair through the fainting
ranks of the Persians. His armor of pure and massy gold, the
shield of one hundred and twenty plates, the sword and belt, the
saddle and cuirass, adorned the triumph of Heraclius; and if he
had not been faithful to Christ and his mother, the champion of
Rome might have offered the fourth opime spoils to the Jupiter of
the Capitol. ^103 In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely
fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight
standards, besides those which might be broken or torn, were
taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut
in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the
night on the field. They acknowledged, that on this occasion it
was less difficult to kill than to discomfit the soldiers of
Chosroes; amidst the bodies of their friends, no more than two
bow-shot from the enemy the remnant of the Persian cavalry stood
firm till the seventh hour of the night; about the eighth hour
they retired to their unrifled camp, collected their baggage, and
dispersed on all sides, from the want of orders rather than of
resolution. The diligence of Heraclius was not less admirable in
the use of victory; by a march of forty-eight miles in
four-and-twenty hours, his vanguard occupied the bridges of the
great and the lesser Zab; and the cities and palaces of Assyria
were open for the first time to the Romans. By a just gradation
of magnificent scenes, they penetrated to the royal seat of
Dastagerd, ^* and, though much of the treasure had been removed,
and much had been expended, the remaining wealth appears to have
exceeded their hopes, and even to have satiated their avarice.
Whatever could not be easily transported, they consumed with
fire, that Chosroes might feel the anguish of those wounds which
he had so often inflicted on the provinces of the empire: and
justice might allow the excuse, if the desolation had been
confined to the works of regal luxury, if national hatred,
military license, and religious zeal, had not wasted with equal
rage the habitations and the temples of the guiltless subject.
The recovery of three hundred Roman standards, and the
deliverance of the numerous captives of Edessa and Alexandria,
reflect a purer glory on the arms of Heraclius. From the palace
of Dastagerd, he pursued his march within a few miles of Modain
or Ctesiphon, till he was stopped, on the banks of the Arba, by
the difficulty of the passage, the rigor of the season, and
perhaps the fame of an impregnable capital. The return of the
emperor is marked by the modern name of the city of Sherhzour: he
fortunately passed Mount Zara, before the snow, which fell
incessantly thirty-four days; and the citizens of Gandzca, or
Tauris, were compelled to entertain the soldiers and their horses
with a hospitable reception. ^104

[Footnote 101: Ctesias (apud Didor. Sicul. tom. i. l. ii. p. 115,
edit. Wesseling) assigns 480 stadia (perhaps only 32 miles) for
the circumference of Nineveh. Jonas talks of three days'
journey: the 120,000 persons described by the prophet as
incapable of discerning their right hand from their left, may
afford about 700,000 persons of all ages for the inhabitants of
that ancient capital, (Goguet, Origines des Loix, &c., tom. iii.
part i. p. 92, 93,) which ceased to exist 600 years before
Christ. The western suburb still subsisted, and is mentioned
under the name of Mosul in the first age of the Arabian khalifs.]

[Footnote 102: Niebuhr (Voyage en Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 286)
passed over Nineveh without perceiving it. He mistook for a
ridge of hills the old rampart of brick or earth. It is said to
have been 100 feet high, flanked with 1500 towers, each of the
height of 200 feet.]

[Footnote 103: Rex regia arma fero (says Romulus, in the first
consecration) .... bina postea (continues Livy, i. 10) inter tot
bella, opima parta sunt spolia, adeo rara ejus fortuna decoris.
If Varro (apud Pomp Festum, p. 306, edit. Dacier) could justify
his liberality in granting the opime spoils even to a common
soldier who had slain the king or general of the enemy, the honor
would have been much more cheap and common]

[Footnote *: Macdonald Kinneir places Dastagerd at Kasr e Shirin,
the palace of Sira on the banks of the Diala between Holwan and
Kanabee. Kinnets Geograph. Mem. p. 306. - M.]

[Footnote 104: In describing this last expedition of Heraclius,
the facts, the places, and the dates of Theophanes (p. 265 - 271)
are so accurate and authentic, that he must have followed the
original letters of the emperor, of which the Paschal Chronicle
has preserved (p. 398 - 402) a very curious specimen.]

When the ambition of Chosroes was reduced to the defence of
his hereditary kingdom, the love of glory, or even the sense of
shame, should have urged him to meet his rival in the field. In
the battle of Nineveh, his courage might have taught the Persians
to vanquish, or he might have fallen with honor by the lance of a
Roman emperor. The successor of Cyrus chose rather, at a secure
distance, to expect the event, to assemble the relics of the
defeat, and to retire, by measured steps, before the march of
Heraclius, till he beheld with a sigh the once loved mansions of
Dastagerd. Both his friends and enemies were persuaded, that it
was the intention of Chosroes to bury himself under the ruins of
the city and palace: and as both might have been equally adverse
to his flight, the monarch of Asia, with Sira, ^* and three
concubines, escaped through a hole in the wall nine days before
the arrival of the Romans. The slow and stately procession in
which he showed himself to the prostrate crowd, was changed to a
rapid and secret journey; and the first evening he lodged in the
cottage of a peasant, whose humble door would scarcely give
admittance to the great king. ^105 His superstition was subdued
by fear: on the third day, he entered with joy the fortifications
of Ctesiphon; yet he still doubted of his safety till he had
opposed the River Tigris to the pursuit of the Romans. The
discovery of his flight agitated with terror and tumult the
palace, the city, and the camp of Dastagerd: the satraps
hesitated whether they had most to fear from their sovereign or
the enemy; and the females of the harem were astonished and
pleased by the sight of mankind, till the jealous husband of
three thousand wives again confined them to a more distant
castle. At his command, the army of Dastagerd retreated to a new
camp: the front was covered by the Arba, and a line of two
hundred elephants; the troops of the more distant provinces
successively arrived, and the vilest domestics of the king and
satraps were enrolled for the last defence of the throne. It was
still in the power of Chosroes to obtain a reasonable peace; and
he was repeatedly pressed by the messengers of Heraclius to spare
the blood of his subjects, and to relieve a humane conqueror from
the painful duty of carrying fire and sword through the fairest
countries of Asia. But the pride of the Persian had not yet sunk
to the level of his fortune; he derived a momentary confidence
from the retreat of the emperor; he wept with impotent rage over
the ruins of his Assyrian palaces, and disregarded too long the
rising murmurs of the nation, who complained that their lives and
fortunes were sacrificed to the obstinacy of an old man. That
unhappy old man was himself tortured with the sharpest pains both
of mind and body; and, in the consciousness of his approaching
end, he resolved to fix the tiara on the head of Merdaza, the
most favored of his sons. But the will of Chosroes was no longer
revered, and Siroes, ^* who gloried in the rank and merit of his
mother Sira, had conspired with the malecontents to assert and
anticipate the rights of primogeniture. ^106 Twenty-two satraps
(they styled themselves patriots) were tempted by the wealth and
honors of a new reign: to the soldiers, the heir of Chosroes
promised an increase of pay; to the Christians, the free exercise
of their religion; to the captives, liberty and rewards; and to
the nation, instant peace and the reduction of taxes. It was
determined by the conspirators, that Siroes, with the ensigns of
royalty, should appear in the camp; and if the enterprise should
fail, his escape was contrived to the Imperial court. But the new
monarch was saluted with unanimous acclamations; the flight of
Chosroes (yet where could he have fled?) was rudely arrested,
eighteen sons were massacred ^* before his face, and he was
thrown into a dungeon, where he expired on the fifth day. The
Greeks and modern Persians minutely describe how Chosroes was
insulted, and famished, and tortured, by the command of an
inhuman son, who so far surpassed the example of his father: but
at the time of his death, what tongue would relate the story of
the parricide? what eye could penetrate into the tower of
darkness? According to the faith and mercy of his Christian
enemies, he sunk without hope into a still deeper abyss; ^107 and
it will not be denied, that tyrants of every age and sect are the
best entitled to such infernal abodes. The glory of the house of
Sassan ended with the life of Chosroes: his unnatural son enjoyed
only eight months the fruit of his crimes: and in the space of
four years, the regal title was assumed by nine candidates, who
disputed, with the sword or dagger, the fragments of an exhausted
monarchy. Every province, and each city of Persia, was the scene
of independence, of discord, and of blood; and the state of
anarchy prevailed about eight years longer, ^!! till the factions
were silenced and united under the common yoke of the Arabian
caliphs. ^108

[Footnote *: The Schirin of Persian poetry. The love of Chosru
and Schirin rivals in Persian romance that of Joseph with Zuleika
the wife of Potiphar, of Solomon with the queen of Sheba, and
that of Mejnoun and Leila. The number of Persian poems on the
subject may be seen in M. von Hammer's preface to his poem of
Schirin. - M]

[Footnote 105: The words of Theophanes are remarkable. Young
princes who discover a propensity to war should repeatedly
transcribe and translate such salutary texts.]

[Footnote *: His name was Kabad (as appears from an official
letter in the Paschal Chronicle, p. 402.) St. Martin considers
the name Siroes, Schirquieh of Schirwey, derived from the word
schir, royal. St. Martin, xi. 153. - M.]
[Footnote 106: The authentic narrative of the fall of Chosroes is
contained in the letter of Heraclius (Chron. Paschal. p. 398) and
the history of Theophanes, (p. 271.)]

[Footnote *: According to Le Beau, this massacre was perpetrated
at Mahuza in Babylonia, not in the presence of Chosroes. The
Syrian historian, Thomas of Maraga, gives Chosroes twenty-four
sons; Mirkhond, (translated by De Sacy,) fifteen; the inedited
Modjmel-alte-warikh, agreeing with Gibbon, eighteen, with their
names. Le Beau and St. Martin, xi. 146. - M.]

[Footnote 107: On the first rumor of the death of Chosroes, an
Heracliad in two cantos was instantly published at Constantinople
by George of Pisidia, (p. 97 - 105.) A priest and a poet might
very properly exult in the damnation of the public enemy but such
mean revenge is unworthy of a king and a conqueror; and I am
sorry to find so much black superstition in the letter of
Heraclius: he almost applauds the parricide of Siroes as an act
of piety and justice.
Note: The Mahometans show no more charity towards the memory
of Chosroes or Khoosroo Purveez. All his reverses are ascribed
to the just indignation of God, upon a monarch who had dared,
with impious and accursed hands, to tear the letter of the Holy
Prophet Mahomed. Compare note, p. 231. - M.]
[Footnote !!: Yet Gibbon himself places the flight and death of
Yesdegird Ill., the last king of Persia, in 651. The famous era
of Yesdegird dates from his accession, June 16 632. - M.]

[Footnote 108: The best Oriental accounts of this last period of
the Sassanian kings are found in Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p.
251 - 256,) who dissembles the parricide of Siroes, D'Herbelot
(Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 789,) and Assemanni, (Bibliothec.
Oriental. tom. iii. p. 415 - 420.)]
As soon as the mountains became passable, the emperor
received the welcome news of the success of the conspiracy, the
death of Chosroes, and the elevation of his eldest son to the
throne of Persia. The authors of the revolution, eager to
display their merits in the court or camp of Tauris, preceded the
ambassadors of Siroes, who delivered the letters of their master
to his brother the emperor of the Romans. ^109 In the language of
the usurpers of every age, he imputes his own crimes to the
Deity, and, without degrading his equal majesty, he offers to
reconcile the long discord of the two nations, by a treaty of
peace and alliance more durable than brass or iron. The
conditions of the treaty were easily defined and faithfully
executed. In the recovery of the standards and prisoners which
had fallen into the hands of the Persians, the emperor imitated
the example of Augustus: their care of the national dignity was
celebrated by the poets of the times, but the decay of genius may
be measured by the distance between Horace and George of Pisidia:
the subjects and brethren of Heraclius were redeemed from
persecution, slavery, and exile; but, instead of the Roman
eagles, the true wood of the holy cross was restored to the
importunate demands of the successor of Constantine. The victor
was not ambitious of enlarging the weakness of the empire; the
son of Chosroes abandoned without regret the conquests of his
father; the Persians who evacuated the cities of Syria and Egypt
were honorably conducted to the frontier, and a war which had
wounded the vitals of the two monarchies, produced no change in
their external and relative situation. The return of Heraclius
from Tauris to Constantinople was a perpetual triumph; and after
the exploits of six glorious campaigns, he peaceably enjoyed the
Sabbath of his toils. After a long impatience, the senate, the
clergy, and the people, went forth to meet their hero, with tears
and acclamations, with olive branches and innumerable lamps; he
entered the capital in a chariot drawn by four elephants; and as
soon as the emperor could disengage himself from the tumult of
public joy, he tasted more genuine satisfaction in the embraces
of his mother and his son. ^110
[Footnote 109: The letter of Siroes in the Paschal Chronicle (p.
402) unfortunately ends before he proceeds to business. The
treaty appears in its execution in the histories of Theophanes
and Nicephorus.

Note: M. Mai. Script. Vet. Nova Collectio, vol. i. P. 2, p.
223, has added some lines, but no clear sense can be made out of
the fragment. - M.]
[Footnote 110: The burden of Corneille's song,

"Montrez Heraclius au peuple qui l'attend,"

is much better suited to the present occasion. See his triumph
in Theophanes (p. 272, 273) and Nicephorus, (p. 15, 16.) The life
of the mother and tenderness of the son are attested by George of
Pisidia, (Bell. Abar. 255, &c., p. 49.) The metaphor of the
Sabbath is used somewhat profanely by these Byzantine

The succeeding year was illustrated by a triumph of a very
different kind, the restitution of the true cross to the holy
sepulchre. Heraclius performed in person the pilgrimage of
Jerusalem, the identity of the relic was verified by the discreet
patriarch, ^111 and this august ceremony has been commemorated by
the annual festival of the exaltation of the cross. Before the
emperor presumed to tread the consecrated ground, he was
instructed to strip himself of the diadem and purple, the pomp
and vanity of the world: but in the judgment of his clergy, the
persecution of the Jews was more easily reconciled with the
precepts of the gospel. ^* He again ascended his throne to
receive the congratulations of the ambassadors of France and
India: and the fame of Moses, Alexander, and Hercules, ^112 was
eclipsed in the popular estimation, by the superior merit and
glory of the great Heraclius. Yet the deliverer of the East was
indigent and feeble. Of the Persian spoils, the most valuable
portion had been expended in the war, distributed to the
soldiers, or buried, by an unlucky tempest, in the waves of the
Euxine. The conscience of the emperor was oppressed by the
obligation of restoring the wealth of the clergy, which he had
borrowed for their own defence: a perpetual fund was required to
satisfy these inexorable creditors; the provinces, already wasted
by the arms and avarice of the Persians, were compelled to a
second payment of the same taxes; and the arrears of a simple
citizen, the treasurer of Damascus, were commuted to a fine of
one hundred thousand pieces of gold. The loss of two hundred
thousand soldiers ^113 who had fallen by the sword, was of less
fatal importance than the decay of arts, agriculture, and
population, in this long and destructive war: and although a
victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius,
the unnatural effort appears to have exhausted rather than
exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at
Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of
Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some
troops who advanced to its relief; an ordinary and trifling
occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution.
These robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valor
had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his
reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he
had rescued from the Persians.

[Footnote 111: See Baronius, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 628, No. 1 -
4,) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 240 - 248,) Nicephorus, (Brev.
p. 15.) The seals of the case had never been broken; and this
preservation of the cross is ascribed (under God) to the devotion
of Queen Sira.]

[Footnote *: If the clergy imposed upon the kneeling and penitent
emperor the persecution of the Jews, it must be acknowledge that
provocation was not wanting; for how many of them had been
eye-witnesses of, perhaps sufferers in, the horrible atrocities
committed on the capture of the city! Yet we have no authentic
account of great severities exercised by Heraclius. The law of
Hadrian was reenacted, which prohibited the Jews from approaching
within three miles of the city - a law, which, in the present
exasperated state of the Christians, might be a measure of
security of mercy, rather than of oppression. Milman, Hist. of
the Jews, iii. 242. - M.]

[Footnote 112: George of Pisidia, Acroas. iii. de Expedit. contra
Persas, 415, &c., and Heracleid. Acroas. i. 65 - 138. I neglect
the meaner parallels of Daniel, Timotheus, &c.; Chosroes and the
chagan were of course compared to Belshazzar, Pharaoh, the old
serpent, &c.]

[Footnote 13: Suidas (in Excerpt. Hist. Byzant. p. 46) gives this
number; but either the Persian must be read for the Isaurian war,
or this passage does not belong to the emperor Heraclius.]

Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.

Part I.

Theological History Of The Doctrine Of The Incarnation. -
The Human And Divine Nature Of Christ. - Enmity Of The Patriarchs
Of Alexandria And Constantinople. - St. Cyril And Nestorius. -
Third General Council Of Ephesus. - Heresy Of Eutyches. - Fourth
General Council Of Chalcedon. - Civil And Ecclesiastical Discord.
- Intolerance Of Justinian. - The Three Chapters. - The
Monothelite Controversy. - State Of The Oriental Sects: - I. The
Nestorians. - II. The Jacobites. - III. The Maronites. - IV.
The Armenians. - V. The Copts And Abyssinians.

After the extinction of paganism, the Christians in peace
and piety might have enjoyed their solitary triumph. But the
principle of discord was alive in their bosom, and they were more
solicitous to explore the nature, than to practice the laws, of
their founder. I have already observed, that the disputes of the
Trinity were succeeded by those of the Incarnation; alike
scandalous to the church, alike pernicious to the state, still
more minute in their origin, still more durable in their effects.

It is my design to comprise in the present chapter a religious
war of two hundred and fifty years, to represent the
ecclesiastical and political schism of the Oriental sects, and to
introduce their clamorous or sanguinary contests, by a modest
inquiry into the doctrines of the primitive church. ^1

[Footnote 1: By what means shall I authenticate this previous
inquiry, which I have studied to circumscribe and compress? - If
I persist in supporting each fact or reflection by its proper and
special evidence, every line would demand a string of
testimonies, and every note would swell to a critical
dissertation. But the numberless passages of antiquity which I
have seen with my own eyes, are compiled, digested and
illustrated by Petavius and Le Clerc, by Beausobre and Mosheim.
I shall be content to fortify my narrative by the names and
characters of these respectable guides; and in the contemplation
of a minute or remote object, I am not ashamed to borrow the aid
of the strongest glasses: 1. The Dogmata Theologica of Petavius
are a work of incredible labor and compass; the volumes which
relate solely to the Incarnation (two folios, vth and vith, of
837 pages) are divided into xvi. books - the first of history,
the remainder of controversy and doctrine. The Jesuit's learning
is copious and correct; his Latinity is pure, his method clear,
his argument profound and well connected; but he is the slave of
the fathers, the scourge of heretics, and the enemy of truth and
candor, as often as they are inimical to the Catholic cause. 2.
The Arminian Le Clerc, who has composed in a quarto volume
(Amsterdam, 1716) the ecclesiastical history of the two first
centuries, was free both in his temper and situation; his sense
is clear, but his thoughts are narrow; he reduces the reason or
folly of ages to the standard of his private judgment, and his
impartiality is sometimes quickened, and sometimes tainted by his
opposition to the fathers. See the heretics (Cerinthians, lxxx.
Ebionites, ciii. Carpocratians, cxx. Valentiniins, cxxi.
Basilidians, cxxiii. Marcionites, cxli., &c.) under their proper
dates. 3. The Histoire Critique du Manicheisme (Amsterdam, 1734,
1739, in two vols. in 4to., with a posthumous dissertation sur
les Nazarenes, Lausanne, 1745) of M. de Beausobre is a treasure
of ancient philosophy and theology. The learned historian spins
with incomparable art the systematic thread of opinion, and
transforms himself by turns into the person of a saint, a sage,
or a heretic. Yet his refinement is sometimes excessive; he
betrays an amiable partiality in favor of the weaker side, and,
while he guards against calumny, he does not allow sufficient
scope for superstition and fanaticism. A copious table of
contents will direct the reader to any point that he wishes to
examine. 4. Less profound than Petavius, less independent than
Le Clerc, less ingenious than Beausobre, the historian Mosheim is

Book of the day: