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

Part 5 out of 15

[Footnote !: This is a strange misrepresentation - he died of a
dysentery; nor does it appear that it was immediately after this
scene. Antonina proposed to raise him to the generalship of the
army. Procop. Anecd. p. 14. The sudden change from the
abstemious diet of a monk to the luxury of the court is a much
more probable cause of his death. - M.]

[Footnote !!: The expression of Procopius does not appear to me
to mean this kind of torture. Ibid. - M.]

In the succeeding campaign, Belisarius was again sent
against the Persians: he saved the East, but he offended
Theodora, and perhaps the emperor himself. The malady of
Justinian had countenanced the rumor of his death; and the Roman
general, on the supposition of that probable event spoke the free
language of a citizen and a soldier. His colleague Buzes, who
concurred in the same sentiments, lost his rank, his liberty, and
his health, by the persecution of the empress: but the disgrace
of Belisarius was alleviated by the dignity of his own character,
and the influence of his wife, who might wish to humble, but
could not desire to ruin, the partner of her fortunes. Even his
removal was colored by the assurance, that the sinking state of
Italy would be retrieved by the single presence of its conqueror.

But no sooner had he returned, alone and defenceless, than a
hostile commission was sent to the East, to seize his treasures
and criminate his actions; the guards and veterans, who followed
his private banner, were distributed among the chiefs of the
army, and even the eunuchs presumed to cast lots for the
partition of his martial domestics. When he passed with a small
and sordid retinue through the streets of Constantinople, his
forlorn appearance excited the amazement and compassion of the
people. Justinian and Theodora received him with cold
ingratitude; the servile crowd, with insolence and contempt; and
in the evening he retired with trembling steps to his deserted
palace. An indisposition, feigned or real, had confined Antonina
to her apartment; and she walked disdainfully silent in the
adjacent portico, while Belisarius threw himself on his bed, and
expected, in an agony of grief and terror, the death which he had
so often braved under the walls of Rome. Long after sunset a
messenger was announced from the empress: he opened, with anxious
curiosity, the letter which contained the sentence of his fate.
"You cannot be ignorant how much you have deserved my
displeasure. I am not insensible of the services of Antonina. To
her merits and intercession I have granted your life, and permit
you to retain a part of your treasures, which might be justly
forfeited to the state. Let your gratitude, where it is due, be
displayed, not in words, but in your future behavior." I know not
how to believe or to relate the transports with which the hero is
said to have received this ignominious pardon. He fell prostrate
before his wife, he kissed the feet of his savior, and he
devoutly promised to live the grateful and submissive slave of
Antonina. A fine of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds
sterling was levied on the fortunes of Belisarius; and with the
office of count, or master of the royal stables, he accepted the
conduct of the Italian war. At his departure from
Constantinople, his friends, and even the public, were persuaded
that as soon as he regained his freedom, he would renounce his
dissimulation, and that his wife, Theodora, and perhaps the
emperor himself, would be sacrificed to the just revenge of a
virtuous rebel. Their hopes were deceived; and the unconquerable
patience and loyalty of Belisarius appear either below or above
the character of a man. ^117

[Footnote 117: The continuator of the Chronicle of Marcellinus
gives, in a few decent words, the substance of the Anecdotes:
Belisarius de Oriente evocatus, in offensam periculumque
incurrens grave, et invidiae subeacens rursus remittitur in
Italiam, (p. 54.)]

Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.

Part I.

State Of The Barbaric World. - Establishment Of The Lombards
On the Danube. - Tribes And Inroads Of The Sclavonians. - Origin,
Empire, And Embassies Of The Turks. - The Flight Of The Avars. -
Chosroes I, Or Nushirvan, King Of Persia. - His Prosperous Reign
And Wars With The Romans. - The Colchian Or Lazic War. - The

Our estimate of personal merit, is relative to the common
faculties of mankind. The aspiring efforts of genius, or virtue,
either in active or speculative life, are measured, not so much
by their real elevation, as by the height to which they ascend
above the level of their age and country; and the same stature,
which in a people of giants would pass unnoticed, must appear
conspicuous in a race of pygmies. Leonidas, and his three
hundred companions, devoted their lives at Thermopylae; but the
education of the infant, the boy, and the man, had prepared, and
almost insured, this memorable sacrifice; and each Spartan would
approve, rather than admire, an act of duty, of which himself and
eight thousand of his fellow-citizens were equally capable. ^1
The great Pompey might inscribe on his trophies, that he had
defeated in battle two millions of enemies, and reduced fifteen
hundred cities from the Lake Maeotis to the Red Sea: ^2 but the
fortune of Rome flew before his eagles; the nations were
oppressed by their own fears, and the invincible legions which he
commanded, had been formed by the habits of conquest and the
discipline of ages. In this view, the character of Belisarius
may be deservedly placed above the heroes of the ancient
republics. His imperfections flowed from the contagion of the
times; his virtues were his own, the free gift of nature or
reflection; he raised himself without a master or a rival; and so
inadequate were the arms committed to his hand, that his sole
advantage was derived from the pride and presumption of his
adversaries. Under his command, the subjects of Justinian often
deserved to be called Romans: but the unwarlike appellation of
Greeks was imposed as a term of reproach by the haughty Goths;
who affected to blush, that they must dispute the kingdom of
Italy with a nation of tragedians pantomimes, and pirates. ^3 The
climate of Asia has indeed been found less congenial than that of
Europe to military spirit: those populous countries were
enervated by luxury, despotism, and superstition; and the monks
were more expensive and more numerous than the soldiers of the
East. The regular force of the empire had once amounted to six
hundred and forty- five thousand men: it was reduced, in the time
of Justinian, to one hundred and fifty thousand; and this number,
large as it may seem, was thinly scattered over the sea and land;
in Spain and Italy, in Africa and Egypt, on the banks of the
Danube, the coast of the Euxine, and the frontiers of Persia.
The citizen was exhausted, yet the soldier was unpaid; his
poverty was mischievously soothed by the privilege of rapine and
indolence; and the tardy payments were detained and intercepted
by the fraud of those agents who usurp, without courage or
danger, the emoluments of war. Public and private distress
recruited the armies of the state; but in the field, and still
more in the presence of the enemy, their numbers were always
defective. The want of national spirit was supplied by the
precarious faith and disorderly service of Barbarian mercenaries.

Even military honor, which has often survived the loss of virtue
and freedom, was almost totally extinct. The generals, who were
multiplied beyond the example of former times, labored only to
prevent the success, or to sully the reputation of their
colleagues; and they had been taught by experience, that if merit
sometimes provoked the jealousy, error, or even guilt, would
obtain the indulgence, of a gracious emperor. ^4 In such an age,
the triumphs of Belisarius, and afterwards of Narses, shine with
incomparable lustre; but they are encompassed with the darkest
shades of disgrace and calamity. While the lieutenant of
Justinian subdued the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals, the
emperor, ^5 timid, though ambitious, balanced the forces of the
Barbarians, fomented their divisions by flattery and falsehood,
and invited by his patience and liberality the repetition of
injuries. ^6 The keys of Carthage, Rome, and Ravenna, were
presented to their conqueror, while Antioch was destroyed by the
Persians, and Justinian trembled for the safety of

[Footnote 1: It will be a pleasure, not a task, to read
Herodotus, (l. vii. c. 104, 134, p. 550, 615.) The conversation
of Xerxes and Demaratus at Thermopylae is one of the most
interesting and moral scenes in history. It was the torture of
the royal Spartan to behold, with anguish and remorse, the virtue
of his country.]

[Footnote 2: See this proud inscription in Pliny, (Hist. Natur.
vii. 27.) Few men have more exquisitely tasted of glory and
disgrace; nor could Juvenal (Satir. x.) produce a more striking
example of the vicissitudes of fortune, and the vanity of human

[Footnote 3: This last epithet of Procopius is too nobly
translated by pirates; naval thieves is the proper word;
strippers of garments, either for injury or insult, (Demosthenes
contra Conon Reiske, Orator, Graec. tom. ii. p. 1264.)]

[Footnote 4: See the third and fourth books of the Gothic War:
the writer of the Anecdotes cannot aggravate these abuses.]

[Footnote 5: Agathias, l. v. p. 157, 158. He confines this
weakness of the emperor and the empire to the old age of
Justinian; but alas! he was never young.]

[Footnote 6: This mischievous policy, which Procopius (Anecdot.
c. 19) imputes to the emperor, is revealed in his epistle to a
Scythian prince, who was capable of understanding it.]

Even the Gothic victories of Belisarius were prejudicial to
the state, since they abolished the important barrier of the
Upper Danube, which had been so faithfully guarded by Theodoric
and his daughter. For the defence of Italy, the Goths evacuated
Pannonia and Noricum, which they left in a peaceful and
flourishing condition: the sovereignty was claimed by the emperor
of the Romans; the actual possession was abandoned to the
boldness of the first invader. On the opposite banks of the
Danube, the plains of Upper Hungary and the Transylvanian hills
were possessed, since the death of Attila, by the tribes of the
Gepidae, who respected the Gothic arms, and despised, not indeed
the gold of the Romans, but the secret motive of their annual
subsidies. The vacant fortifications of the river were instantly
occupied by these Barbarians; their standards were planted on the
walls of Sirmium and Belgrade; and the ironical tone of their
apology aggravated this insult on the majesty of the empire. "So
extensive, O Caesar, are your dominions, so numerous are your
cities, that you are continually seeking for nations to whom,
either in peace or in war, you may relinquish these useless
possessions. The Gepidae are your brave and faithful allies; and
if they have anticipated your gifts, they have shown a just
confidence in your bounty." Their presumption was excused by the
mode of revenge which Justinian embraced. Instead of asserting
the rights of a sovereign for the protection of his subjects, the
emperor invited a strange people to invade and possess the Roman
provinces between the Danube and the Alps and the ambition of the
Gepidae was checked by the rising power and fame of the Lombards.
^7 This corrupt appellation has been diffused in the thirteenth
century by the merchants and bankers, the Italian posterity of
these savage warriors: but the original name of Langobards is
expressive only of the peculiar length and fashion of their
beards. I am not disposed either to question or to justify their
Scandinavian origin; ^8 nor to pursue the migrations of the
Lombards through unknown regions and marvellous adventures.
About the time of Augustus and Trajan, a ray of historic light
breaks on the darkness of their antiquities, and they are
discovered, for the first time, between the Elbe and the Oder.
Fierce, beyond the example of the Germans, they delighted to
propagate the tremendous belief, that their heads were formed
like the heads of dogs, and that they drank the blood of their
enemies, whom they vanquished in battle. The smallness of their
numbers was recruited by the adoption of their bravest slaves;
and alone, amidst their powerful neighbors, they defended by arms
their high-spirited independence. In the tempests of the north,
which overwhelmed so many names and nations, this little bark of
the Lombards still floated on the surface: they gradually
descended towards the south and the Danube, and, at the end of
four hundred years, they again appear with their ancient valor
and renown. Their manners were not less ferocious. The
assassination of a royal guest was executed in the presence, and
by the command, of the king's daughter, who had been provoked by
some words of insult, and disappointed by his diminutive stature;
and a tribute, the price of blood, was imposed on the Lombards,
by his brother the king of the Heruli. Adversity revived a sense
of moderation and justice, and the insolence of conquest was
chastised by the signal defeat and irreparable dispersion of the
Heruli, who were seated in the southern provinces of Poland. ^9
The victories of the Lombards recommended them to the friendship
of the emperors; and at the solicitations of Justinian, they
passed the Danube, to reduce, according to their treaty, the
cities of Noricum and the fortresses of Pannonia. But the spirit
of rapine soon tempted them beyond these ample limits; they
wandered along the coast of the Hadriatic as far as Dyrrachium,
and presumed, with familiar rudeness to enter the towns and
houses of their Roman allies, and to seize the captives who had
escaped from their audacious hands. These acts of hostility, the
sallies, as it might be pretended, of some loose adventurers,
were disowned by the nation, and excused by the emperor; but the
arms of the Lombards were more seriously engaged by a contest of
thirty years, which was terminated only by the extirpation of the
Gepidae. The hostile nations often pleaded their cause before
the throne of Constantinople; and the crafty Justinian, to whom
the Barbarians were almost equally odious, pronounced a partial
and ambiguous sentence, and dexterously protracted the war by
slow and ineffectual succors. Their strength was formidable,
since the Lombards, who sent into the field several myriads of
soldiers, still claimed, as the weaker side, the protection of
the Romans. Their spirit was intrepid; yet such is the
uncertainty of courage, that the two armies were suddenly struck
with a panic; they fled from each other, and the rival kings
remained with their guards in the midst of an empty plain. A
short truce was obtained; but their mutual resentment again
kindled; and the remembrance of their shame rendered the next
encounter more desperate and bloody Forty thousand of the
Barbarians perished in the decisive battle, which broke the power
of the Gepidae, transferred the fears and wishes of Justinian,
and first displayed the character of Alboin, the youthful prince
of the Lombards, and the future conqueror of Italy. ^10

[Footnote 7: Gens Germana feritate ferocior, says Velleius
Paterculus of the Lombards, (ii. 106.) Langobardos paucitas
nobilitat. Plurimis ac valentissimis nationibus cincti non per
obsequium, sed praeliis et perilitando, tuti sunt, (Tacit. de
Moribus German. c. 40.) See likewise Strabo, (l. viii. p. 446.)
The best geographers place them beyond the Elbe, in the bishopric
of Magdeburgh and the middle march of Brandenburgh; and their
situation will agree with the patriotic remark of the count de
Hertzberg, that most of the Barbarian conquerors issued from the
same countries which still produce the armies of Prussia.

Note: See Malte Brun, vol. i. p 402. - M]

[Footnote 8: The Scandinavian origin of the Goths and Lombards,
as stated by Paul Warnefrid, surnamed the deacon, is attacked by
Cluverius, (Germania, Antiq. l. iii. c. 26, p. 102, &c.,) a
native of Prussia, and defended by Grotius, (Prolegom. ad Hist.
Goth. p. 28, &c.,) the Swedish Ambassador.]
[Footnote 9: Two facts in the narrative of Paul Diaconus (l. i.
c. 20) are expressive of national manners: 1. Dum ad tabulam
luderet - while he played at draughts. 2. Camporum viridantia
lina. The cultivation of flax supposes property, commerce,
agriculture, and manufactures]

[Footnote 10: I have used, without undertaking to reconcile, the
facts in Procopius, (Goth. l. ii. c. 14, l. iii. c. 33, 34, l.
iv. c. 18, 25,) Paul Diaconus, (de Gestis Langobard, l. i. c. 1 -
23, in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. i. p. 405 -
419,) and Jornandes, (de Success. Regnorum, p. 242.) The patient
reader may draw some light from Mascou (Hist. of the Germans, and
Annotat. xxiii.) and De Buat, (Hist. des Peuples, &c., tom. ix.
x. xi.)]

The wild people who dwelt or wandered in the plains of
Russia, Lithuania, and Poland, might be reduced, in the age of
Justinian, under the two great families of the Bulgarians ^11 and
the Sclavonians. According to the Greek writers, the former, who
touched the Euxine and the Lake Maeotis, derived from the Huns
their name or descent; and it is needless to renew the simple and
well-known picture of Tartar manners. They were bold and
dexterous archers, who drank the milk, and feasted on the flesh,
of their fleet and indefatigable horses; whose flocks and herds
followed, or rather guided, the motions of their roving camps; to
whose inroads no country was remote or impervious, and who were
practised in flight, though incapable of fear. The nation was
divided into two powerful and hostile tribes, who pursued each
other with fraternal hatred. They eagerly disputed the
friendship, or rather the gifts, of the emperor; and the
distinctions which nature had fixed between the faithful dog and
the rapacious wolf was applied by an ambassador who received only
verbal instructions from the mouth of his illiterate prince. ^12
The Bulgarians, of whatsoever species, were equally attracted by
Roman wealth: they assumed a vague dominion over the Sclavonian
name, and their rapid marches could only be stopped by the Baltic
Sea, or the extreme cold and poverty of the north. But the same
race of Sclavonians appears to have maintained, in every age, the
possession of the same countries. Their numerous tribes, however
distant or adverse, used one common language, (it was harsh and
irregular,) and where known by the resemblance of their form,
which deviated from the swarthy Tartar, and approached without
attaining the lofty stature and fair complexion of the German.
Four thousand six hundred villages ^13 were scattered over the
provinces of Russia and Poland, and their huts were hastily built
of rough timber, in a country deficient both in stone and iron.
Erected, or rather concealed, in the depth of forests, on the
banks of rivers, or the edges of morasses, we may not perhaps,
without flattery, compare them to the architecture of the beaver;
which they resembled in a double issue, to the land and water,
for the escape of the savage inhabitant, an animal less cleanly,
less diligent, and less social, than that marvellous quadruped.
The fertility of the soil, rather than the labor of the natives,
supplied the rustic plenty of the Sclavonians. Their sheep and
horned cattle were large and numerous, and the fields which they
sowed with millet or panic ^14 afforded, in place of bread, a
coarse and less nutritive food. The incessant rapine of their
neighbors compelled them to bury this treasure in the earth; but
on the appearance of a stranger, it was freely imparted by a
people, whose unfavorable character is qualified by the epithets
of chaste, patient, and hospitable. As their supreme god, they
adored an invisible master of the thunder. The rivers and the
nymphs obtained their subordinate honors, and the popular worship
was expressed in vows and sacrifice. The Sclavonians disdained
to obey a despot, a prince, or even a magistrate; but their
experience was too narrow, their passions too headstrong, to
compose a system of equal law or general defence. Some voluntary
respect was yielded to age and valor; but each tribe or village
existed as a separate republic, and all must be persuaded where
none could be compelled. They fought on foot, almost naked, and
except an unwieldy shield, without any defensive armor; their
weapons of offence were a bow, a quiver of small poisoned arrows,
and a long rope, which they dexterously threw from a distance,
and entangled their enemy in a running noose. In the field, the
Sclavonian infantry was dangerous by their speed, agility, and
hardiness: they swam, they dived, they remained under water,
drawing their breath through a hollow cane; and a river or lake
was often the scene of their unsuspected ambuscade. But these
were the achievements of spies or stragglers; the military art
was unknown to the Sclavonians; their name was obscure, and their
conquests were inglorious. ^15
[Footnote 11: I adopt the appellation of Bulgarians from
Ennodius, (in Panegyr. Theodorici, Opp. Sirmond, tom. i. p.
1598, 1599,) Jornandes, (de Rebus Geticis, c. 5, p. 194, et de
Regn. Successione, p. 242,) Theophanes, (p. 185,) and the
Chronicles of Cassiodorus and Marcellinus. The name of Huns is
too vague; the tribes of the Cutturgurians and Utturgurians are
too minute and too harsh.

Note: The Bulgarians are first mentioned among the writers
of the West in the Panegyric on Theodoric by Ennodius, Bishop of
Pavia. Though they perhaps took part in the conquests of the
Huns, they did not advance to the Danube till after the
dismemberment of that monarchy on the death of Attila. But the
Bulgarians are mentioned much earlier by the Armenian writers.
Above 600 years before Christ, a tribe of Bulgarians, driven from
their native possessions beyond the Caspian, occupied a part of
Armenia, north of the Araxes. They were of the Finnish race;
part of the nation, in the fifth century, moved westward, and
reached the modern Bulgaria; part remained along the Volga, which
is called Etel, Etil, or Athil, in all the Tartar languages, but
from the Bulgarians, the Volga. The power of the eastern
Bulgarians was broken by Batou, son of Tchingiz Khan; that of the
western will appear in the course of the history. From St.
Martin, vol. vii p. 141. Malte-Brun, on the contrary, conceives
that the Bulgarians took their name from the river. According to
the Byzantine historians they were a branch of the Ougres,
(Thunmann, Hist. of the People to the East of Europe,) but they
have more resemblance to the Turks. Their first country, Great
Bulgaria, was washed by the Volga. Some remains of their capital
are still shown near Kasan. They afterwards dwelt in Kuban, and
finally on the Danube, where they subdued (about the year 500)
the Slavo-Servians established on the Lower Danube. Conquered in
their turn by the Avars, they freed themselves from that yoke in
635; their empire then comprised the Cutturgurians, the remains
of the Huns established on the Palus Maeotis. The Danubian
Bulgaria, a dismemberment of this vast state, was long formidable
to the Byzantine empire. Malte-Brun, Prec. de Geog Univ. vol. i.
p. 419. - M.

According to Shafarik, the Danubian Bulgaria was peopled by
a Slavo Bulgarian race. The Slavish population was conquered by
the Bulgarian (of Uralian and Finnish descent,) and incorporated
with them. This mingled race are the Bulgarians bordering on the
Byzantine empire. Shafarik, ii 152, et seq. - M. 1845]

[Footnote 12: Procopius, (Goth. l. iv. c. 19.) His verbal message
(he owns him self an illiterate Barbarian) is delivered as an
epistle. The style is savage, figurative, and original.]

[Footnote 13: This sum is the result of a particular list, in a
curious Ms. fragment of the year 550, found in the library of
Milan. The obscure geography of the times provokes and exercises
the patience of the count de Buat, (tom. xi. p. 69 - 189.) The
French minister often loses himself in a wilderness which
requires a Saxon and Polish guide.]

[Footnote 14: Panicum, milium. See Columella, l. ii. c. 9, p.
430, edit. Gesner. Plin. Hist. Natur. xviii. 24, 25. The
Samaritans made a pap of millet, mingled with mare's milk or
blood. In the wealth of modern husbandry, our millet feeds
poultry, and not heroes. See the dictionaries of Bomare and

[Footnote 15: For the name and nation, the situation and manners,
of the Sclavonians, see the original evidence of the vith
century, in Procopius, (Goth. l. ii. c. 26, l. iii. c. 14,) and
the emperor Mauritius or Maurice (Stratagemat. l. ii. c. 5, apud
Mascon Annotat. xxxi.) The stratagems of Maurice have been
printed only, as I understand, at the end of Scheffer's edition
of Arrian's Tactics, at Upsal, 1664, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. l.
iv. c. 8, tom. iii. p. 278,) a scarce, and hitherto, to me, an
inaccessible book.]
I have marked the faint and general outline of the
Sclavonians and Bulgarians, without attempting to define their
intermediate boundaries, which were not accurately known or
respected by the Barbarians themselves. Their importance was
measured by their vicinity to the empire; and the level country
of Moldavia and Wallachia was occupied by the Antes, ^16 a
Sclavonian tribe, which swelled the titles of Justinian with an
epithet of conquest. ^17 Against the Antes he erected the
fortifications of the Lower Danube; and labored to secure the
alliance of a people seated in the direct channel of northern
inundation, an interval of two hundred miles between the
mountains of Transylvania and the Euxine Sea. But the Antes
wanted power and inclination to stem the fury of the torrent; and
the light-armed Sclavonians, from a hundred tribes, pursued with
almost equal speed the footsteps of the Bulgarian horse. The
payment of one piece of gold for each soldier procured a safe and
easy retreat through the country of the Gepidae, who commanded
the passage of the Upper Danube. ^18 The hopes or fears of the
Barbarians; their intense union or discord; the accident of a
frozen or shallow stream; the prospect of harvest or vintage; the
prosperity or distress of the Romans; were the causes which
produced the uniform repetition of annual visits, ^19 tedious in
the narrative, and destructive in the event. The same year, and
possibly the same month, in which Ravenna surrendered, was marked
by an invasion of the Huns or Bulgarians, so dreadful, that it
almost effaced the memory of their past inroads. They spread
from the suburbs of Constantinople to the Ionian Gulf, destroyed
thirty-two cities or castles, erased Potidaea, which Athens had
built, and Philip had besieged, and repassed the Danube, dragging
at their horses' heels one hundred and twenty thousand of the
subjects of Justinian. In a subsequent inroad they pierced the
wall of the Thracian Chersonesus, extirpated the habitations and
the inhabitants, boldly traversed the Hellespont, and returned to
their companions, laden with the spoils of Asia. Another party,
which seemed a multitude in the eyes of the Romans, penetrated,
without opposition, from the Straits of Thermopylae to the
Isthmus of Corinth; and the last ruin of Greece has appeared an
object too minute for the attention of history. The works which
the emperor raised for the protection, but at the expense of his
subjects, served only to disclose the weakness of some neglected
part; and the walls, which by flattery had been deemed
impregnable, were either deserted by the garrison, or scaled by
the Barbarians. Three thousand Sclavonians, who insolently
divided themselves into two bands, discovered the weakness and
misery of a triumphant reign. They passed the Danube and the
Hebrus, vanquished the Roman generals who dared to oppose their
progress, and plundered, with impunity, the cities of Illyricum
and Thrace, each of which had arms and numbers to overwhelm their
contemptible assailants. Whatever praise the boldness of the
Sclavonians may deserve, it is sullied by the wanton and
deliberate cruelty which they are accused of exercising on their
prisoners. Without distinction of rank, or age, or sex, the
captives were impaled or flayed alive, or suspended between four
posts, and beaten with clubs till they expired, or enclosed in
some spacious building, and left to perish in the flames with the
spoil and cattle which might impede the march of these savage
victors. ^20 Perhaps a more impartial narrative would reduce the
number, and qualify the nature, of these horrid acts; and they
might sometimes be excused by the cruel laws of retaliation. In
the siege of Topirus, ^21 whose obstinate defence had enraged the
Sclavonians, they massacred fifteen thousand males; but they
spared the women and children; the most valuable captives were
always reserved for labor or ransom; the servitude was not
rigorous, and the terms of their deliverance were speedy and
moderate. But the subject, or the historian of Justinian,
exhaled his just indignation in the language of complaint and
reproach; and Procopius has confidently affirmed, that in a reign
of thirty-two years, each annual inroad of the Barbarians
consumed two hundred thousand of the inhabitants of the Roman
empire. The entire population of Turkish Europe, which nearly
corresponds with the provinces of Justinian, would perhaps be
incapable of supplying six millions of persons, the result of
this incredible estimate. ^22

[Footnote 16: Antes corum fortissimi .... Taysis qui rapidus et
vorticosus in Histri fluenta furens devolvitur, (Jornandes, c. 5,
p. 194, edit. Murator. Procopius, Goth. l. iii. c. 14, et de
Edific. l iv. c. 7.) Yet the same Procopius mentions the Goths
and Huns as neighbors to the Danube, (de Edific. l. v. c. 1.)]

[Footnote 17: The national title of Anticus, in the laws and
inscriptions of Justinian, was adopted by his successors, and is
justified by the pious Ludewig (in Vit. Justinian. p. 515.) It
had strangely puzzled the civilians of the middle age.]

[Footnote 18: Procopius, Goth. l. iv. c. 25.]

[Footnote 19: An inroad of the Huns is connected, by Procopius,
with a comet perhaps that of 531, (Persic. l. ii. c. 4.) Agathias
(l. v. p. 154, 155) borrows from his predecessors some early

[Footnote 20: The cruelties of the Sclavonians are related or
magnified by Procopius, (Goth. l. iii. c. 29, 38.) For their mild
and liberal behavior to their prisoners, we may appeal to the
authority, somewhat more recent of the emperor Maurice,
(Stratagem. l. ii. c. 5.)]

[Footnote 21: Topirus was situate near Philippi in Thrace, or
Macedonia, opposite to the Isle of Thasos, twelve days' journey
from Constantinople (Cellarius, tom. i. p. 676, 846.)]

[Footnote 22: According to the malevolent testimony of the
Anecdotes, (c. 18,) these inroads had reduced the provinces south
of the Danube to the state of a Scythian wilderness.]

In the midst of these obscure calamities, Europe felt the
shock of revolution, which first revealed to the world the name
and nation of the Turks. ^* Like Romulus, the founder ^! of that
martial people was suckled by a she-wolf, who afterwards made him
the father of a numerous progeny; and the representation of that
animal in the banners of the Turks preserved the memory, or
rather suggested the idea, of a fable, which was invented,
without any mutual intercourse, by the shepherds of Latium and
those of Scythia. At the equal distance of two thousand miles
from the Caspian, the Icy, the Chinese, and the Bengal Seas, a
ridge of mountains is conspicuous, the centre, and perhaps the
summit, of Asia; which, in the language of different nations, has
been styled Imaus, and Caf, ^23 and Altai, and the Golden
Mountains, ^!! and the Girdle of the Earth. The sides of the
hills were productive of minerals; and the iron forges, ^24 for
the purpose of war, were exercised by the Turks, the most
despised portion of the slaves of the great khan of the Geougen.
But their servitude could only last till a leader, bold and
eloquent, should arise to persuade his countrymen that the same
arms which they forged for their masters, might become, in their
own hands, the instruments of freedom and victory. They sallied
from the mountains; ^25 a sceptre was the reward of his advice;
and the annual ceremony, in which a piece of iron was heated in
the fire, and a smith's hammer ^* was successively handled by the
prince and his nobles, recorded for ages the humble profession
and rational pride of the Turkish nation. Bertezena, ^!!! their
first leader, signalized their valor and his own in successful
combats against the neighboring tribes; but when he presumed to
ask in marriage the daughter of the great khan, the insolent
demand of a slave and a mechanic was contemptuously rejected.
The disgrace was expiated by a more noble alliance with a
princess of China; and the decisive battle which almost
extirpated the nation of the Geougen, established in Tartary the
new and more powerful empire of the Turks. ^* They reigned over
the north; but they confessed the vanity of conquest, by their
faithful attachment to the mountain of their fathers. The royal
encampment seldom lost sight of Mount Altai, from whence the
River Irtish descends to water the rich pastures of the Calmucks,
^26 which nourish the largest sheep and oxen in the world. The
soil is fruitful, and the climate mild and temperate: the happy
region was ignorant of earthquake and pestilence; the emperor's
throne was turned towards the East, and a golden wolf on the top
of a spear seemed to guard the entrance of his tent. One of the
successors of Bertezena was tempted by the luxury and
superstition of China; but his design of building cities and
temples was defeated by the simple wisdom of a Barbarian
counsellor. "The Turks," he said, "are not equal in number to
one hundredth part of the inhabitants of China. If we balance
their power, and elude their armies, it is because we wander
without any fixed habitations in the exercise of war and hunting.

Are we strong? we advance and conquer: are we feeble? we retire
and are concealed. Should the Turks confine themselves within
the walls of cities, the loss of a battle would be the
destruction of their empire. The bonzes preach only patience,
humility, and the renunciation of the world. Such, O king! is
not the religion of heroes." They entertained, with less
reluctance, the doctrines of Zoroaster; but the greatest part of
the nation acquiesced, without inquiry, in the opinions, or
rather in the practice, of their ancestors. The honors of
sacrifice were reserved for the supreme deity; they acknowledged,
in rude hymns, their obligations to the air, the fire, the water,
and the earth; and their priests derived some profit from the art
of divination. Their unwritten laws were rigorous and impartial:
theft was punished with a tenfold restitution; adultery, treason,
and murder, with death; and no chastisement could be inflicted
too severe for the rare and inexpiable guilt of cowardice. As the
subject nations marched under the standard of the Turks, their
cavalry, both men and horses, were proudly computed by millions;
one of their effective armies consisted of four hundred thousand
soldiers, and in less than fifty years they were connected in
peace and war with the Romans, the Persians, and the Chinese. In
their northern limits, some vestige may be discovered of the form
and situation of Kamptchatka, of a people of hunters and
fishermen, whose sledges were drawn by dogs, and whose
habitations were buried in the earth. The Turks were ignorant of
astronomy; but the observation taken by some learned Chinese,
with a gnomon of eight feet, fixes the royal camp in the latitude
of forty-nine degrees, and marks their extreme progress within
three, or at least ten degrees, of the polar circle. ^27 Among
their southern conquests the most splendid was that of the
Nephthalites, or white Huns, a polite and warlike people, who
possessed the commercial cities of Bochara and Samarcand, who had
vanquished the Persian monarch, and carried their victorious arms
along the banks, and perhaps to the mouth, of the Indus. On the
side of the West, the Turkish cavalry advanced to the Lake
Maeotis. They passed that lake on the ice. The khan who dwelt
at the foot of Mount Altai issued his commands for the siege of
Bosphorus, ^28 a city the voluntary subject of Rome, and whose
princes had formerly been the friends of Athens. ^29 To the east,
the Turks invaded China, as often as the vigor of the government
was relaxed: and I am taught to read in the history of the times,
that they mowed down their patient enemies like hemp or grass;
and that the mandarins applauded the wisdom of an emperor who
repulsed these Barbarians with golden lances. This extent of
savage empire compelled the Turkish monarch to establish three
subordinate princes of his own blood, who soon forgot their
gratitude and allegiance. The conquerors were enervated by
luxury, which is always fatal except to an industrious people;
the policy of China solicited the vanquished nations to resume
their independence and the power of the Turks was limited to a
period of two hundred years. The revival of their name and
dominion in the southern countries of Asia are the events of a
later age; and the dynasties, which succeeded to their native
realms, may sleep in oblivion; since their history bears no
relation to the decline and fall of the Roman empire. ^30

[Footnote *: It must be remembered that the name of Turks is
extended to a whole family of the Asiatic races, and not confined
to the Assena, or Turks of the Altai. - M.]

[Footnote !: Assena (the wolf) was the name of this chief.
Klaproth, Tabl. Hist. de l'Asie p. 114. - M.]

[Footnote 23: From Caf to Caf; which a more rational geography
would interpret, from Imaus, perhaps, to Mount Atlas. According
to the religious philosophy of the Mahometans, the basis of Mount
Caf is an emerald, whose reflection produces the azure of the
sky. The mountain is endowed with a sensitive action in its
roots or nerves; and their vibration, at the command of God, is
the cause of earthquakes. (D'Herbelot, p. 230, 231.)]
[Footnote !!: Altai, i. e. Altun Tagh, the Golden Mountain. Von
Hammer Osman Geschichte, vol. i. p. 2. - M.]

[Footnote 24: The Siberian iron is the best and most plentiful in
the world; and in the southern parts, above sixty mines are now
worked by the industry of the Russians, (Strahlenberg, Hist. of
Siberia, p. 342, 387. Voyage en Siberie, par l'Abbe Chappe
d'Auteroche, p. 603 - 608, edit in 12mo. Amsterdam. 1770.) The
Turks offered iron for sale; yet the Roman ambassadors, with
strange obstinacy, persisted in believing that it was all a
trick, and that their country produced none, (Menander in
Excerpt. Leg. p. 152.)]
[Footnote 25: Of Irgana-kon, (Abulghazi Khan, Hist. Genealogique
des Tatars, P ii. c. 5, p. 71 - 77, c. 15, p. 155.) The tradition
of the Moguls, of the 450 years which they passed in the
mountains, agrees with the Chinese periods of the history of the
Huns and Turks, (De Guignes, tom. i. part ii. p. 376,) and the
twenty generations, from their restoration to Zingis.]
[Footnote *: The Mongol Temugin is also, though erroneously,
explained by Rubruquis, a smith. Schmidt, p 876. - M.]

[Footnote !!!: There appears the same confusion here. Bertezena
(Berte-Scheno) is claimed as the founder of the Mongol race. The
name means the gray (blauliche) wolf. In fact, the same
tradition of the origin from a wolf seems common to the Mongols
and the Turks. The Mongol Berte-Scheno, of the very curious
Mongol History, published and translated by M. Schmidt of
Petersburg, is brought from Thibet. M. Schmidt considers this
tradition of the Thibetane descent of the royal race of the
Mongols to be much earlier than their conversion to Lamaism, yet
it seems very suspicious. See Klaproth, Tabl. de l'Asie, p. 159.

The Turkish Bertezena is called Thou-men by Klaproth, p. 115. In
552, Thou-men took the title of Kha-Khan, and was called Il Khan.
- M.]

[Footnote *: Great Bucharia is called Turkistan: see Hammer, 2.
It includes all the last steppes at the foot of the Altai. The
name is the same with that of the Turan of Persian poetic legend.
- M.]

[Footnote 26: The country of the Turks, now of the Calmucks, is
well described in the Genealogical History, p. 521 - 562. The
curious notes of the French translator are enlarged and digested
in the second volume of the English version.]

[Footnote 27: Visdelou, p. 141, 151. The fact, though it
strictly belongs to a subordinate and successive tribe, may be
introduced here.]
[Footnote 28: Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 12, l. ii. c. 3.
Peyssonel, Observations sur les Peuples Barbares, p. 99, 100,
defines the distance between Caffa and the old Bosphorus at xvi.
long Tartar leagues.]
[Footnote 29: See, in a Memoire of M. de Boze, (Mem. de
l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. vi. p. 549 - 565,) the ancient
kings and medals of the Cimmerian Bosphorus; and the gratitude of
Athens, in the Oration of Demosthenes against Leptines, (in
Reiske, Orator. Graec. tom. i. p. 466, 187.)]

[Footnote 30: For the origin and revolutions of the first Turkish
empire, the Chinese details are borrowed from De Guignes (Hist.
des Huns, tom. P. ii. p. 367 - 462) and Visdelou, (Supplement a
la Bibliotheque Orient. d'Herbelot, p. 82 - 114.) The Greek or
Roman hints are gathered in Menander (p. 108 - 164) and
Theophylact Simocatta, (l. vii. c. 7, 8.)]

Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.

Part II.

In the rapid career of conquest, the Turks attacked and
subdued the nation of the Ogors or Varchonites ^* on the banks of
the River Til, which derived the epithet of Black from its dark
water or gloomy forests. ^31 The khan of the Ogors was slain with
three hundred thousand of his subjects, and their bodies were
scattered over the space of four days' journey: their surviving
countrymen acknowledged the strength and mercy of the Turks; and
a small portion, about twenty thousand warriors, preferred exile
to servitude. They followed the well-known road of the Volga,
cherished the error of the nations who confounded them with the
Avars, and spread the terror of that false though famous
appellation, which had not, however, saved its lawful proprietors
from the yoke of the Turks. ^32 After a long and victorious
march, the new Avars arrived at the foot of Mount Caucasus, in
the country of the Alani ^33 and Circassians, where they first
heard of the splendor and weakness of the Roman empire. They
humbly requested their confederate, the prince of the Alani, to
lead them to this source of riches; and their ambassador, with
the permission of the governor of Lazica, was transported by the
Euxine Sea to Constantinople. The whole city was poured forth to
behold with curiosity and terror the aspect of a strange people:
their long hair, which hung in tresses down their backs, was
gracefully bound with ribbons, but the rest of their habit
appeared to imitate the fashion of the Huns. When they were
admitted to the audience of Justinian, Candish, the first of the
ambassadors, addressed the Roman emperor in these terms: "You see
before you, O mighty prince, the representatives of the strongest
and most populous of nations, the invincible, the irresistible
Avars. We are willing to devote ourselves to your service: we
are able to vanquish and destroy all the enemies who now disturb
your repose. But we expect, as the price of our alliance, as the
reward of our valor, precious gifts, annual subsidies, and
fruitful possessions." At the time of this embassy, Justinian had
reigned above thirty, he had lived above seventy-five years: his
mind, as well as his body, was feeble and languid; and the
conqueror of Africa and Italy, careless of the permanent interest
of his people, aspired only to end his days in the bosom even of
inglorious peace. In a studied oration, he imparted to the senate
his resolution to dissemble the insult, and to purchase the
friendship of the Avars; and the whole senate, like the mandarins
of China, applauded the incomparable wisdom and foresight of
their sovereign. The instruments of luxury were immediately
prepared to captivate the Barbarians; silken garments, soft and
splendid beds, and chains and collars incrusted with gold. The
ambassadors, content with such liberal reception, departed from
Constantinople, and Valentin, one of the emperor's guards, was
sent with a similar character to their camp at the foot of Mount
Caucasus. As their destruction or their success must be alike
advantageous to the empire, he persuaded them to invade the
enemies of Rome; and they were easily tempted, by gifts and
promises, to gratify their ruling inclinations. These fugitives,
who fled before the Turkish arms, passed the Tanais and
Borysthenes, and boldly advanced into the heart of Poland and
Germany, violating the law of nations, and abusing the rights of
victory. Before ten years had elapsed, their camps were seated
on the Danube and the Elbe, many Bulgarian and Sclavonian names
were obliterated from the earth, and the remainder of their
tribes are found, as tributaries and vassals, under the standard
of the Avars. The chagan, the peculiar title of their king,
still affected to cultivate the friendship of the emperor; and
Justinian entertained some thoughts of fixing them in Pannonia,
to balance the prevailing power of the Lombards. But the virtue
or treachery of an Avar betrayed the secret enmity and ambitious
designs of their countrymen; and they loudly complained of the
timid, though jealous policy, of detaining their ambassadors, and
denying the arms which they had been allowed to purchase in the
capital of the empire. ^34

[Footnote *: The Ogors or Varchonites, from Var. a river,
(obviously connected with the name Avar,) must not be confounded
with the Uigours, the eastern Turks, (v. Hammer, Osmanische
Geschichte, vol. i. p. 3,) who speak a language the parent of the
more modern Turkish dialects. Compare Klaproth, page 121. They
are the ancestors of the Usbeck Turks. These Ogors were of the
same Finnish race with the Huns; and the 20,000 families which
fled towards the west, after the Turkish invasion, were of the
same race with those which remained to the east of the Volga, the
true Avars of Theophy fact. - M.]
[Footnote 31: The River Til, or Tula, according to the geography
of De Guignes, (tom. i. part ii. p. lviii. and 352,) is a small,
though grateful, stream of the desert, that falls into the Orhon,
Selinga, &c. See Bell, Journey from Petersburg to Pekin, (vol.
ii. p. 124;) yet his own description of the Keat, down which he
sailed into the Oby, represents the name and attributes of the
black river, (p. 139.)

Note: M. Klaproth, (Tableaux Historiques de l'Asie, p. 274)
supposes this river to be an eastern affluent of the Volga, the
Kama, which, from the color of its waters, might be called black.

M. Abel Remusat (Recherchea sur les Langues Tartares, vol. i. p.
320) and M. St. Martin (vol. ix. p. 373 consider it the Volga,
which is called Atel or Etel by all the Turkish tribes. It is
called Attilas by Menander, and Ettilia by the monk Ruysbreek
(1253.) See Klaproth, Tabl. Hist. p. 247. This geography is much
more clear and simple than that adopted by Gibbon from De
Guignes, or suggested from Bell. - M.]
[Footnote 32: Theophylact, l. vii. c. 7, 8. And yet his true
Avars are invisible even to the eyes of M. de Guignes; and what
can be more illustrious than the false? The right of the
fugitive Ogors to that national appellation is confessed by the
Turks themselves, (Menander, p. 108.)]
[Footnote 33: The Alani are still found in the Genealogical
History of the Tartars, (p. 617,) and in D'Anville's maps. They
opposed the march of the generals of Zingis round the Caspian
Sea, and were overthrown in a great battle, (Hist. de Gengiscan,
l. iv. c. 9, p. 447.)]

[Footnote 34: The embassies and first conquests of the Avars may
be read in Menander, (Excerpt. Legat. p. 99, 100, 101, 154, 155,)
Theophanes, (p. 196,) the Historia Miscella, (l. xvi. p. 109,)
and Gregory of Tours, (L iv. c. 23, 29, in the Historians of
France, tom. ii. p. 214, 217.)]

Perhaps the apparent change in the dispositions of the
emperors may be ascribed to the embassy which was received from
the conquerors of the Avars. ^35 The immense distance which
eluded their arms could not extinguish their resentment: the
Turkish ambassadors pursued the footsteps of the vanquished to
the Jaik, the Volga, Mount Caucasus, the Euxine and
Constantinople, and at length appeared before the successor of
Constantine, to request that he would not espouse the cause of
rebels and fugitives. Even commerce had some share in this
remarkable negotiation: and the Sogdoites, who were now the
tributaries of the Turks, embraced the fair occasion of opening,
by the north of the Caspian, a new road for the importation of
Chinese silk into the Roman empire. The Persian, who preferred
the navigation of Ceylon, had stopped the caravans of Bochara and
Samarcand: their silk was contemptuously burnt: some Turkish
ambassadors died in Persia, with a suspicion of poison; and the
great khan permitted his faithful vassal Maniach, the prince of
the Sogdoites, to propose, at the Byzantine court, a treaty of
alliance against their common enemies. Their splendid apparel
and rich presents, the fruit of Oriental luxury, distinguished
Maniach and his colleagues from the rude savages of the North:
their letters, in the Scythian character and language, announced
a people who had attained the rudiments of science: ^36 they
enumerated the conquests, they offered the friendship and
military aid of the Turks; and their sincerity was attested by
direful imprecations (if they were guilty of falsehood) against
their own head, and the head of Disabul their master. The Greek
prince entertained with hospitable regard the ambassadors of a
remote and powerful monarch: the sight of silk-worms and looms
disappointed the hopes of the Sogdoites; the emperor renounced,
or seemed to renounce, the fugitive Avars, but he accepted the
alliance of the Turks; and the ratification of the treaty was
carried by a Roman minister to the foot of Mount Altai. Under
the successors of Justinian, the friendship of the two nations
was cultivated by frequent and cordial intercourse; the most
favored vassals were permitted to imitate the example of the
great khan, and one hundred and six Turks, who, on various
occasions, had visited Constantinople, departed at the same time
for their native country. The duration and length of the journey
from the Byzantine court to Mount Altai are not specified: it
might have been difficult to mark a road through the nameless
deserts, the mountains, rivers, and morasses of Tartary; but a
curious account has been preserved of the reception of the Roman
ambassadors at the royal camp. After they had been purified with
fire and incense, according to a rite still practised under the
sons of Zingis, ^* they were introduced to the presence of
Disabul. In a valley of the Golden Mountain, they found the
great khan in his tent, seated in a chair with wheels, to which a
horse might be occasionally harnessed. As soon as they had
delivered their presents, which were received by the proper
officers, they exposed, in a florid oration, the wishes of the
Roman emperor, that victory might attend the arms of the Turks,
that their reign might be long and prosperous, and that a strict
alliance, without envy or deceit, might forever be maintained
between the two most powerful nations of the earth. The answer
of Disabul corresponded with these friendly professions, and the
ambassadors were seated by his side, at a banquet which lasted
the greatest part of the day: the tent was surrounded with silk
hangings, and a Tartar liquor was served on the table, which
possessed at least the intoxicating qualities of wine. The
entertainment of the succeeding day was more sumptuous; the silk
hangings of the second tent were embroidered in various figures;
and the royal seat, the cups, and the vases, were of gold. A
third pavilion was supported by columns of gilt wood; a bed of
pure and massy gold was raised on four peacocks of the same
metal: and before the entrance of the tent, dishes, basins, and
statues of solid silver, and admirable art, were ostentatiously
piled in wagons, the monuments of valor rather than of industry.
When Disabul led his armies against the frontiers of Persia, his
Roman allies followed many days the march of the Turkish camp,
nor were they dismissed till they had enjoyed their precedency
over the envoy of the great king, whose loud and intemperate
clamors interrupted the silence of the royal banquet. The power
and ambition of Chosroes cemented the union of the Turks and
Romans, who touched his dominions on either side: but those
distant nations, regardless of each other, consulted the dictates
of interest, without recollecting the obligations of oaths and
treaties. While the successor of Disabul celebrated his father's
obsequies, he was saluted by the ambassadors of the emperor
Tiberius, who proposed an invasion of Persia, and sustained, with
firmness, the angry and perhaps the just reproaches of that
haughty Barbarian. "You see my ten fingers," said the great
khan, and he applied them to his mouth. "You Romans speak with as
many tongues, but they are tongues of deceit and perjury. To me
you hold one language, to my subjects another; and the nations
are successively deluded by your perfidious eloquence. You
precipitate your allies into war and danger, you enjoy their
labors, and you neglect your benefactors. Hasten your return,
inform your master that a Turk is incapable of uttering or
forgiving falsehood, and that he shall speedily meet the
punishment which he deserves. While he solicits my friendship
with flattering and hollow words, he is sunk to a confederate of
my fugitive Varchonites. If I condescend to march against those
contemptible slaves, they will tremble at the sound of our whips;
they will be trampled, like a nest of ants, under the feet of my
innumerable cavalry. I am not ignorant of the road which they
have followed to invade your empire; nor can I be deceived by the
vain pretence, that Mount Caucasus is the impregnable barrier of
the Romans. I know the course of the Niester, the Danube, and
the Hebrus; the most warlike nations have yielded to the arms of
the Turks; and from the rising to the setting sun, the earth is
my inheritance." Notwithstanding this menace, a sense of mutual
advantage soon renewed the alliance of the Turks and Romans: but
the pride of the great khan survived his resentment; and when he
announced an important conquest to his friend the emperor
Maurice, he styled himself the master of the seven races, and the
lord of the seven climates of the world. ^37
[Footnote 35: Theophanes, (Chron. p. 204,) and the Hist.
Miscella, (l. xvi. p. 110,) as understood by De Guignes, tom. i.
part ii. p. 354,) appear to speak of a Turkish embassy to
Justinian himself; but that of Maniach, in the fourth year of his
successor Justin, is positively the first that reached
Constantinople, (Menander p. 108.)]

[Footnote 36: The Russians have found characters, rude
hieroglyphics, on the Irtish and Yenisei, on medals, tombs,
idols, rocks, obelisks, &c., (Strahlenberg, Hist. of Siberia, p.
324, 346, 406, 429.) Dr. Hyde (de Religione Veterum Persarum, p.
521, &c.) has given two alphabets of Thibet and of the Eygours.
I have long harbored a suspicion, that all the Scythian, and
some, perhaps much, of the Indian science, was derived from the
Greeks of Bactriana.

Note: Modern discoveries give no confirmation to this
suspicion. The character of Indian science, as well as of their
literature and mythology, indicates an original source. Grecian
art may have occasionally found its way into India. One or two
of the sculptures in Col. Tod's account of the Jain temples, if
correct, show a finer outline, and purer sense of beauty, than
appears native to India, where the monstrous always predominated
over simple nature. - M.]

[Footnote *: This rite is so curious, that I have subjoined the
description of it: -

When these (the exorcisers, the Shamans) approached
Zemarchus, they took all our baggage and placed it in the centre.

Then, kindling a fire with branches of frankincense, lowly
murmuring certain barbarous words in the Scythian language,
beating on a kind of bell (a gong) and a drum, they passed over
the baggage the leaves of the frankincense, crackling with the
fire, and at the same time themselves becoming frantic, and
violently leaping about, seemed to exorcise the evil spirits.
Having thus as they thought, averted all evil, they led Zemarchus
himself through the fire. Menander, in Niebuhr's Bryant. Hist.
p. 381. Compare Carpini's Travels. The princes of the race of
Zingis Khan condescended to receive the ambassadors of the king
of France, at the end of the 13th century without their
submitting to this humiliating rite. See Correspondence published
by Abel Remusat, Nouv. Mem. de l'Acad des Inscrip. vol. vii. On
the embassy of Zemarchus, compare Klaproth, Tableaux de l'Asie p.
116. - M.]

[Footnote 37: All the details of these Turkish and Roman
embassies, so curious in the history of human manners, are drawn
from the extracts of Menander, (p. 106 - 110, 151 - 154, 161 -
164,) in which we often regret the want of order and connection.]

Disputes have often arisen between the sovereigns of Asia
for the title of king of the world; while the contest has proved
that it could not belong to either of the competitors. The
kingdom of the Turks was bounded by the Oxus or Gihon; and Touran
was separated by that great river from the rival monarchy of
Iran, or Persia, which in a smaller compass contained perhaps a
larger measure of power and population. The Persians, who
alternately invaded and repulsed the Turks and the Romans, were
still ruled by the house of Sassan, which ascended the throne
three hundred years before the accession of Justinian. His
contemporary, Cabades, or Kobad, had been successful in war
against the emperor Anastasius; but the reign of that prince was
distracted by civil and religious troubles. A prisoner in the
hands of his subjects, an exile among the enemies of Persia, he
recovered his liberty by prostituting the honor of his wife, and
regained his kingdom with the dangerous and mercenary aid of the
Barbarians, who had slain his father. His nobles were suspicious
that Kobad never forgave the authors of his expulsion, or even
those of his restoration. The people was deluded and inflamed by
the fanaticism of Mazdak, ^38 who asserted the community of
women, ^39 and the equality of mankind, whilst he appropriated
the richest lands and most beautiful females to the use of his
sectaries. The view of these disorders, which had been fomented
by his laws and example, ^40 imbittered the declining age of the
Persian monarch; and his fears were increased by the
consciousness of his design to reverse the natural and customary
order of succession, in favor of his third and most favored son,
so famous under the names of Chosroes and Nushirvan. To render
the youth more illustrious in the eyes of the nations, Kobad was
desirous that he should be adopted by the emperor Justin: ^* the
hope of peace inclined the Byzantine court to accept this
singular proposal; and Chosroes might have acquired a specious
claim to the inheritance of his Roman parent. But the future
mischief was diverted by the advice of the quaestor Proclus: a
difficulty was started, whether the adoption should be performed
as a civil or military rite; ^41 the treaty was abruptly
dissolved; and the sense of this indignity sunk deep into the
mind of Chosroes, who had already advanced to the Tigris on his
road to Constantinople. His father did not long survive the
disappointment of his wishes: the testament of their deceased
sovereign was read in the assembly of the nobles; and a powerful
faction, prepared for the event, and regardless of the priority
of age, exalted Chosroes to the throne of Persia. He filled that
throne during a prosperous period of forty-eight years; ^42 and
the Justice of Nushirvan is celebrated as the theme of immortal
praise by the nations of the East.
[Footnote 38: See D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 568, 929;)
Hyde, (de Religione Vet. Persarum, c. 21, p. 290, 291;) Pocock,
(Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 70, 71;) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p.
176;) Texeira, (in Stevens, Hist. of Persia, l. i. c. 34.)

Note: Mazdak was an Archimagus, born, according to Mirkhond,
(translated by De Sacy, p. 353, and Malcolm, vol. i. p. 104,) at
Istakhar or Persepolis, according to an inedited and anonymous
history, (the Modjmal- alte-warikh in the Royal Library at Paris,
quoted by St. Martin, vol. vii. p. 322) at Wischapour in
Chorasan: his father's name was Bamdadam. He announces himself
as a reformer of Zoroastrianism, and carried the doctrine of the
two principles to a much grater height. He preached the absolute
indifference of human action, perfect equality of rank, community
of property and of women, marriages between the nearest kindred;
he interdicted the use of animal food, proscribed the killing of
animals for food, enforced a vegetable diet. See St. Martin,
vol. vii. p. 322. Malcolm, vol. i. p. 104. Mirkhond translated
by De Sacy. It is remarkable that the doctrine of Mazdak spread
into the West. Two inscriptions found in Cyrene, in 1823, and
explained by M. Gesenius, and by M. Hamaker of Leyden, prove
clearly that his doctrines had been eagerly embraced by the
remains of the ancient Gnostics; and Mazdak was enrolled with
Thoth, Saturn, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Epicurus, John, and Christ,
as the teachers of true Gnostic wisdom. See St. Martin, vol.
vii. p. 338. Gesenius de Inscriptione Phoenicio-Graeca in
Cyrenaica nuper reperta, Halle, 1825. Hamaker, Lettre a M. Raoul
Rochette, Leyden, 1825. - M.]
[Footnote 39: The fame of the new law for the community of women
was soon propagated in Syria (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii.
p. 402) and Greece, (Procop. Persic. l. i. c. 5.)]

[Footnote 40: He offered his own wife and sister to the prophet;
but the prayers of Nushirvan saved his mother, and the indignant
monarch never forgave the humiliation to which his filial piety
had stooped: pedes tuos deosculatus (said he to Mazdak,) cujus
foetor adhuc nares occupat, (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arab. p.

[Footnote *: St. Martin questions this adoption: he urges its
improbability; and supposes that Procopius, perverting some
popular traditions, or the remembrance of some fruitless
negotiations which took place at that time, has mistaken, for a
treaty of adoption some treaty of guaranty or protection for the
purpose of insuring the crown, after the death of Kobad, to his
favorite son Chosroes, vol. viii. p. 32. Yet the Greek
historians seem unanimous as to the proposal: the Persians might
be expected to maintain silence on such a subject. - M.]

[Footnote 41: Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 11. Was not Proclus
over-wise? Was not the danger imaginary? - The excuse, at least,
was injurious to a nation not ignorant of letters. Whether any
mode of adoption was practised in Persia, I much doubt.]

[Footnote 42: From Procopius and Agathias, Pagi (tom. ii. p. 543,
626) has proved that Chosroes Nushirvan ascended the throne in
the fifth year of Justinian, (A.D. 531, April 1. - A.D. 532,
April 1.) But the true chronology, which harmonizes with the
Greeks and Orientals, is ascertained by John Malala, (tom. ii.
211.) Cabades, or Kobad, after a reign of forty-three years and
two months, sickened the 8th, and died the 13th of September,
A.D. 531, aged eighty-two years. According to the annals of
Eutychius, Nushirvan reigned forty seven years and six months;
and his death must consequently be placed in March, A.D. 579.]

But the justice of kings is understood by themselves, and
even by their subjects, with an ample indulgence for the
gratification of passion and interest. The virtue of Chosroes
was that of a conqueror, who, in the measures of peace and war,
is excited by ambition, and restrained by prudence; who confounds
the greatness with the happiness of a nation, and calmly devotes
the lives of thousands to the fame, or even the amusement, of a
single man. In his domestic administration, the just Nushirvan
would merit in our feelings the appellation of a tyrant. His two
elder brothers had been deprived of their fair expectations of
the diadem: their future life, between the supreme rank and the
condition of subjects, was anxious to themselves and formidable
to their master: fear as well as revenge might tempt them to
rebel: the slightest evidence of a conspiracy satisfied the
author of their wrongs; and the repose of Chosroes was secured by
the death of these unhappy princes, with their families and
adherents. One guiltless youth was saved and dismissed by the
compassion of a veteran general; and this act of humanity, which
was revealed by his son, overbalanced the merit of reducing
twelve nations to the obedience of Persia. The zeal and prudence
of Mebodes had fixed the diadem on the head of Chosroes himself;
but he delayed to attend the royal summons, till he had performed
the duties of a military review: he was instantly commanded to
repair to the iron tripod, which stood before the gate of the
palace, ^43 where it was death to relieve or approach the victim;
and Mebodes languished several days before his sentence was
pronounced, by the inflexible pride and calm ingratitude of the
son of Kobad. But the people, more especially in the East, is
disposed to forgive, and even to applaud, the cruelty which
strikes at the loftiest heads; at the slaves of ambition, whose
voluntary choice has exposed them to live in the smiles, and to
perish by the frown, of a capricious monarch. In the execution
of the laws which he had no temptation to violate; in the
punishment of crimes which attacked his own dignity, as well as
the happiness of individuals; Nushirvan, or Chosroes, deserved
the appellation of just. His government was firm, rigorous, and
impartial. It was the first labor of his reign to abolish the
dangerous theory of common or equal possessions: the lands and
women which the sectaries of Mazdak has usurped were restored to
their lawful owners; and the temperate ^* chastisement of the
fanatics or impostors confirmed the domestic rights of society.
Instead of listening with blind confidence to a favorite
minister, he established four viziers over the four great
provinces of his empire, Assyria, Media, Persia, and Bactriana.
In the choice of judges, praefects, and counsellors, he strove to
remove the mask which is always worn in the presence of kings: he
wished to substitute the natural order of talents for the
accidental distinctions of birth and fortune; he professed, in
specious language, his intention to prefer those men who carried
the poor in their bosoms, and to banish corruption from the seat
of justice, as dogs were excluded from the temples of the Magi.
The code of laws of the first Artaxerxes was revived and
published as the rule of the magistrates; but the assurance of
speedy punishment was the best security of their virtue. Their
behavior was inspected by a thousand eyes, their words were
overheard by a thousand ears, the secret or public agents of the
throne; and the provinces, from the Indian to the Arabian
confines, were enlightened by the frequent visits of a sovereign,
who affected to emulate his celestial brother in his rapid and
salutary career. Education and agriculture he viewed as the two
objects most deserving of his care. In every city of Persia
orphans, and the children of the poor, were maintained and
instructed at the public expense; the daughters were given in
marriage to the richest citizens of their own rank, and the sons,
according to their different talents, were employed in mechanic
trades, or promoted to more honorable service. The deserted
villages were relieved by his bounty; to the peasants and farmers
who were found incapable of cultivating their lands, he
distributed cattle, seed, and the instruments of husbandry; and
the rare and inestimable treasure of fresh water was
parsimoniously managed, and skilfully dispersed over the arid
territory of Persia. ^44 The prosperity of that kingdom was the
effect and evidence of his virtues; his vices are those of
Oriental despotism; but in the long competition between Chosroes
and Justinian, the advantage both of merit and fortune is almost
always on the side of the Barbarian. ^45
[Footnote 43: Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 23. Brisson, de Regn.
Pers. p. 494. The gate of the palace of Ispahan is, or was, the
fatal scene of disgrace or death, (Chardin, Voyage en Perse, tom.
iv. p. 312, 313.)]

[Footnote *: This is a strange term. Nushirvan employed a
stratagem similar to that of Jehu, 2 Kings, x. 18 - 28, to
separate the followers of Mazdak from the rest of his subjects,
and with a body of his troops cut them all in pieces. The Greek
writers concur with the Persian in this representation of
Nushirvan's temperate conduct. Theophanes, p. 146. Mirkhond. p.
362. Eutychius, Ann. vol. ii. p. 179. Abulfeda, in an unedited
part, consulted by St. Martin as well as in a passage formerly
cited. Le Beau vol. viii. p. 38. Malcolm vol l p. 109. - M.]

[Footnote 44: In Persia, the prince of the waters is an officer
of state. The number of wells and subterraneous channels is much
diminished, and with it the fertility of the soil: 400 wells have
been recently lost near Tauris, and 42,000 were once reckoned in
the province of Khorasan (Chardin, tom. iii. p. 99, 100.
Tavernier, tom. i. p. 416.)]

[Footnote 45: The character and government of Nushirvan is
represented some times in the words of D'Herbelot, (Bibliot.
Orient. p. 680, &c., from Khondemir,) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii.
p. 179, 180, - very rich,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast. vii. p. 94,
95, - very poor,) Tarikh Schikard, (p. 144 - 150,) Texeira, (in
Stevens, l. i. c. 35,) Asseman, (Bibliot Orient. tom. iii. p. 404
- 410,) and the Abbe Fourmont, (Hist. de l'Acad. des
Inscriptions, tom. vii. p. 325 - 334,) who has translated a
spurious or genuine testament of Nushirvan.]

To the praise of justice Nushirvan united the reputation of
knowledge; and the seven Greek philosophers, who visited his
court, were invited and deceived by the strange assurance, that a
disciple of Plato was seated on the Persian throne. Did they
expect, that a prince, strenuously exercised in the toils of war
and government, should agitate, with dexterity like their own,
the abstruse and profound questions which amused the leisure of
the schools of Athens? Could they hope that the precepts of
philosophy should direct the life, and control the passions, of a
despot, whose infancy had been taught to consider his absolute
and fluctuating will as the only rule of moral obligation? ^46
The studies of Chosroes were ostentatious and superficial: but
his example awakened the curiosity of an ingenious people, and
the light of science was diffused over the dominions of Persia.
^47 At Gondi Sapor, in the neighborhood of the royal city of
Susa, an academy of physic was founded, which insensibly became a
liberal school of poetry, philosophy, and rhetoric. ^48 The
annals of the monarchy ^49 were composed; and while recent and
authentic history might afford some useful lessons both to the
prince and people, the darkness of the first ages was embellished
by the giants, the dragons, and the fabulous heroes of Oriental
romance. ^50 Every learned or confident stranger was enriched by
the bounty, and flattered by the conversation, of the monarch: he
nobly rewarded a Greek physician, ^51 by the deliverance of three
thousand, captives; and the sophists, who contended for his
favor, were exasperated by the wealth and insolence of Uranius,
their more successful rival. Nushirvan believed, or at least
respected, the religion of the Magi; and some traces of
persecution may be discovered in his reign. ^52 Yet he allowed
himself freely to compare the tenets of the various sects; and
the theological disputes, in which he frequently presided,
diminished the authority of the priest, and enlightened the minds
of the people. At his command, the most celebrated writers of
Greece and India were translated into the Persian language; a
smooth and elegant idiom, recommended by Mahomet to the use of
paradise; though it is branded with the epithets of savage and
unmusical, by the ignorance and presumption of Agathias. ^53 Yet
the Greek historian might reasonably wonder that it should be
found possible to execute an entire version of Plato and
Aristotle in a foreign dialect, which had not been framed to
express the spirit of freedom and the subtilties of philosophic
disquisition. And, if the reason of the Stagyrite might be
equally dark, or equally intelligible in every tongue, the
dramatic art and verbal argumentation of the disciple of
Socrates, ^54 appear to be indissolubly mingled with the grace
and perfection of his Attic style. In the search of universal
knowledge, Nushirvan was informed, that the moral and political
fables of Pilpay, an ancient Brachman, were preserved with
jealous reverence among the treasures of the kings of India. The
physician Perozes was secretly despatched to the banks of the
Ganges, with instructions to procure, at any price, the
communication of this valuable work. His dexterity obtained a
transcript, his learned diligence accomplished the translation;
and the fables of Pilpay ^55 were read and admired in the
assembly of Nushirvan and his nobles. The Indian original, and
the Persian copy, have long since disappeared; but this venerable
monument has been saved by the curiosity of the Arabian caliphs,
revived in the modern Persic, the Turkish, the Syriac, the
Hebrew, and the Greek idioms, and transfused through successive
versions into the modern languages of Europe. In their present
form, the peculiar character, the manners and religion of the
Hindoos, are completely obliterated; and the intrinsic merit of
the fables of Pilpay is far inferior to the concise elegance of
Phaedrus, and the native graces of La Fontaine. Fifteen moral and
political sentences are illustrated in a series of apologues: but
the composition is intricate, the narrative prolix, and the
precept obvious and barren. Yet the Brachman may assume the
merit of inventing a pleasing fiction, which adorns the nakedness
of truth, and alleviates, perhaps, to a royal ear, the harshness
of instruction. With a similar design, to admonish kings that
they are strong only in the strength of their subjects, the same
Indians invented the game of chess, which was likewise introduced
into Persia under the reign of Nushirvan. ^56
[Footnote 46: A thousand years before his birth, the judges of
Persia had given a solemn opinion, (Herodot. l. iii. c. 31, p.
210, edit. Wesseling.) Nor had this constitutional maxim been
neglected as a useless and barren theory.]
[Footnote 47: On the literary state of Persia, the Greek
versions, philosophers, sophists, the learning or ignorance of
Chosroes, Agathias (l. ii. c. 66 - 71) displays much information
and strong prejudices.]
[Footnote 48: Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. DCCXLV. vi.
[Footnote 49: The Shah Nameh, or Book of Kings, is perhaps the
original record of history which was translated into Greek by the
interpreter Sergius, (Agathias, l. v. p. 141,) preserved after
the Mahometan conquest, and versified in the year 994, by the
national poet Ferdoussi. See D'Anquetil (Mem. de l'Academie,
tom. xxxi. p. 379) and Sir William Jones, (Hist. of Nadir Shah,
p. 161.)]

[Footnote 50: In the fifth century, the name of Restom, or
Rostam, a hero who equalled the strength of twelve elephants, was
familiar to the Armenians, (Moses Chorenensis, Hist. Armen. l.
ii. c. 7, p. 96, edit. Whiston.) In the beginning of the seventh,
the Persian Romance of Rostam and Isfendiar was applauded at
Mecca, (Sale's Koran, c. xxxi. p. 335.) Yet this exposition of
ludicrum novae historiae is not given by Maracci, (Refutat.
Alcoran. p. 544 - 548.)]

[Footnote 51: Procop. (Goth. l. iv. c. 10.) Kobad had a favorite
Greek physician, Stephen of Edessa, (Persic. l. ii. c. 26.) The
practice was ancient; and Herodotus relates the adventures of
Democedes of Crotona, (l. iii p. 125 - 137.]

[Footnote 52: See Pagi, tom. ii. p. 626. In one of the treaties
an honorable article was inserted for the toleration and burial
of the Catholics, (Menander, in Excerpt. Legat. p. 142.)
Nushizad, a son of Nushirvan, was a Christian, a rebel, and - a
martyr? (D'Herbelot, p. 681.)]
[Footnote 53: On the Persian language, and its three dialects,
consult D'Anquetil (p. 339 - 343) and Jones, (p. 153 - 185:) is
the character which Agathias (l. ii. p. 66) ascribes to an idiom
renowned in the East for poetical softness.]

[Footnote 54: Agathias specifies the Gorgias, Phaedon,
Parmenides, and Timaeus. Renaudot (Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec.
tom. xii. p. 246 - 261) does not mention this Barbaric version of

[Footnote 55: Of these fables, I have seen three copies in three
different languages: 1. In Greek, translated by Simeon Seth (A.D.
1100) from the Arabic, and published by Starck at Berlin in 1697,
in 12mo. 2. In Latin, a version from the Greek Sapientia
Indorum, inserted by Pere Poussin at the end of his edition of
Pachymer, (p. 547 - 620, edit. Roman.) 3. In French, from the
Turkish, dedicated, in 1540, to Sultan Soliman Contes et Fables
Indiennes de Bidpai et de Lokman, par Mm. Galland et Cardonne,
Paris, 1778, 3 vols. in 12mo. Mr. Warton (History of English
Poetry, vol. i. p. 129 - 131) takes a larger scope.

Note: The oldest Indian collection extant is the
Pancha-tantra, (the five collections,) analyzed by Mr. Wilson in
the Transactions of the Royal Asiat. Soc. It was translated into
Persian by Barsuyah, the physician of Nushirvan, under the name
of the Fables of Bidpai, (Vidyapriya, the Friend of Knowledge,
or, as the Oriental writers understand it, the Friend of
Medicine.) It was translated into Arabic by Abdolla Ibn Mokaffa,
under the name of Kalila and Dimnah. From the Arabic it passed
into the European languages. Compare Wilson, in Trans. As. Soc.
i. 52. dohlen, das alte Indien, ii. p. 386. Silvestre de Sacy,
Memoire sur Kalila vs Dimnah. - M.]

[Footnote 56: See the Historia Shahiludii of Dr. Hyde, (Syntagm.
Dissertat. tom. ii. p. 61 - 69.)]

Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.

Part III.

The son of Kobad found his kingdom involved in a war with
the successor of Constantine; and the anxiety of his domestic
situation inclined him to grant the suspension of arms, which
Justinian was impatient to purchase. Chosroes saw the Roman
ambassadors at his feet. He accepted eleven thousand pounds of
gold, as the price of an endless or indefinite peace: ^57 some
mutual exchanges were regulated; the Persian assumed the guard of
the gates of Caucasus, and the demolition of Dara was suspended,
on condition that it should never be made the residence of the
general of the East. This interval of repose had been solicited,
and was diligently improved, by the ambition of the emperor: his
African conquests were the first fruits of the Persian treaty;
and the avarice of Chosroes was soothed by a large portion of the
spoils of Carthage, which his ambassadors required in a tone of
pleasantry and under the color of friendship. ^58 But the
trophies of Belisarius disturbed the slumbers of the great king;
and he heard with astonishment, envy, and fear, that Sicily,
Italy, and Rome itself, had been reduced, in three rapid
campaigns, to the obedience of Justinian. Unpractised in the art
of violating treaties, he secretly excited his bold and subtle
vassal Almondar. That prince of the Saracens, who resided at
Hira, ^59 had not been included in the general peace, and still
waged an obscure war against his rival Arethas, the chief of the
tribe of Gassan, and confederate of the empire. The subject of
their dispute was an extensive sheep-walk in the desert to the
south of Palmyra. An immemorial tribute for the license of
pasture appeared to attest the rights of Almondar, while the
Gassanite appealed to the Latin name of strata, a paved road, as
an unquestionable evidence of the sovereignty and labors of the
Romans. ^60 The two monarchs supported the cause of their
respective vassals; and the Persian Arab, without expecting the
event of a slow and doubtful arbitration, enriched his flying
camp with the spoil and captives of Syria. Instead of repelling
the arms, Justinian attempted to seduce the fidelity of Almondar,
while he called from the extremities of the earth the nations of
Aethiopia and Scythia to invade the dominions of his rival. But
the aid of such allies was distant and precarious, and the
discovery of this hostile correspondence justified the complaints
of the Goths and Armenians, who implored, almost at the same
time, the protection of Chosroes. The descendants of Arsaces,
who were still numerous in Armenia, had been provoked to assert
the last relics of national freedom and hereditary rank; and the
ambassadors of Vitiges had secretly traversed the empire to
expose the instant, and almost inevitable, danger of the kingdom
of Italy. Their representations were uniform, weighty, and
effectual. "We stand before your throne, the advocates of your
interest as well as of our own. The ambitious and faithless
Justinian aspires to be the sole master of the world. Since the
endless peace, which betrayed the common freedom of mankind, that
prince, your ally in words, your enemy in actions, has alike
insulted his friends and foes, and has filled the earth with
blood and confusion. Has he not violated the privileges of
Armenia, the independence of Colchos, and the wild liberty of the
Tzanian mountains? Has he not usurped, with equal avidity, the
city of Bosphorus on the frozen Maeotis, and the vale of
palm-trees on the shores of the Red Sea? The Moors, the Vandals,
the Goths, have been successively oppressed, and each nation has
calmly remained the spectator of their neighbor's ruin. Embrace,
O king! the favorable moment; the East is left without defence,
while the armies of Justinian and his renowned general are
detained in the distant regions of the West. If you hesitate or
delay, Belisarius and his victorious troops will soon return from
the Tyber to the Tigris, and Persia may enjoy the wretched
consolation of being the last devoured." ^61 By such arguments,
Chosroes was easily persuaded to imitate the example which he
condemned: but the Persian, ambitious of military fame, disdained
the inactive warfare of a rival, who issued his sanguinary
commands from the secure station of the Byzantine palace.
[Footnote 57: The endless peace (Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 21)
was concluded or ratified in the vith year, and iiid consulship,
of Justinian, (A.D. 533, between January 1 and April 1. Pagi,
tom. ii. p. 550.) Marcellinus, in his Chronicle, uses the style
of Medes and Persians.]

[Footnote 58: Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 26.]

[Footnote 59: Almondar, king of Hira, was deposed by Kobad, and
restored by Nushirvan. His mother, from her beauty, was surnamed
Celestial Water, an appellation which became hereditary, and was
extended for a more noble cause (liberality in famine) to the
Arab princes of Syria, (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 69, 70.)]

[Footnote 60: Procopius, Persic. l. ii. c. 1. We are ignorant of
the origin and object of this strata, a paved road of ten days'
journey from Auranitis to Babylonia. (See a Latin note in
Delisle's Map Imp. Orient.) Wesseling and D'Anville are silent.]

[Footnote 61: I have blended, in a short speech, the two orations
of the Arsacides of Armenia and the Gothic ambassadors.
Procopius, in his public history, feels, and makes us feel, that
Justinian was the true author of the war, (Persic. l. ii. c. 2,

Whatever might be the provocations of Chosroes, he abused
the confidence of treaties; and the just reproaches of
dissimulation and falsehood could only be concealed by the lustre
of his victories. ^62 The Persian army, which had been assembled
in the plains of Babylon, prudently declined the strong cities of
Mesopotamia, and followed the western bank of the Euphrates, till
the small, though populous, town of Dura ^* presumed to arrest
the progress of the great king. The gates of Dura, by treachery
and surprise, were burst open; and as soon as Chosroes had
stained his cimeter with the blood of the inhabitants, he
dismissed the ambassador of Justinian to inform his master in
what place he had left the enemy of the Romans. The conqueror
still affected the praise of humanity and justice; and as he
beheld a noble matron with her infant rudely dragged along the
ground, he sighed, he wept, and implored the divine justice to
punish the author of these calamities. Yet the herd of twelve
thousand captives was ransomed for two hundred pounds of gold;
the neighboring bishop of Sergiopolis pledged his faith for the
payment: and in the subsequent year the unfeeling avarice of
Chosroes exacted the penalty of an obligation which it was
generous to contract and impossible to discharge. He advanced
into the heart of Syria: but a feeble enemy, who vanished at his
approach, disappointed him of the honor of victory; and as he
could not hope to establish his dominion, the Persian king
displayed in this inroad the mean and rapacious vices of a
robber. Hierapolis, Berrhaea or Aleppo, Apamea and Chalcis, were
successively besieged: they redeemed their safety by a ransom of
gold or silver, proportioned to their respective strength and
opulence; and their new master enforced, without observing, the
terms of capitulation. Educated in the religion of the Magi, he
exercised, without remorse, the lucrative trade of sacrilege;
and, after stripping of its gold and gems a piece of the true
cross, he generously restored the naked relic to the devotion of
the Christians of Apamea. No more than fourteen years had
elapsed since Antioch was ruined by an earthquake; ^! but the
queen of the East, the new Theopolis, had been raised from the
ground by the liberality of Justinian; and the increasing
greatness of the buildings and the people already erased the
memory of this recent disaster. On one side, the city was
defended by the mountain, on the other by the River Orontes; but
the most accessible part was commanded by a superior eminence:
the proper remedies were rejected, from the despicable fear of
discovering its weakness to the enemy; and Germanus, the
emperor's nephew, refused to trust his person and dignity within
the walls of a besieged city. The people of Antioch had
inherited the vain and satirical genius of their ancestors: they
were elated by a sudden reenforcement of six thousand soldiers;
they disdained the offers of an easy capitulation and their
intemperate clamors insulted from the ramparts the majesty of the
great king. Under his eye the Persian myriads mounted with
scaling-ladders to the assault; the Roman mercenaries fled
through the opposite gate of Daphne; and the generous assistance
of the youth of Antioch served only to aggravate the miseries of
their country. As Chosroes, attended by the ambassadors of
Justinian, was descending from the mountain, he affected, in a
plaintive voice, to deplore the obstinacy and ruin of that
unhappy people; but the slaughter still raged with unrelenting
fury; and the city, at the command of a Barbarian, was delivered
to the flames. The cathedral of Antioch was indeed preserved by
the avarice, not the piety, of the conqueror: a more honorable
exemption was granted to the church of St. Julian, and the
quarter of the town where the ambassadors resided; some distant
streets were saved by the shifting of the wind, and the walls
still subsisted to protect, and soon to betray, their new
inhabitants. Fanaticism had defaced the ornaments of Daphne, but
Chosroes breathed a purer air amidst her groves and fountains;
and some idolaters in his train might sacrifice with impunity to
the nymphs of that elegant retreat. Eighteen miles below
Antioch, the River Orontes falls into the Mediterranean. The
haughty Persian visited the term of his conquests; and, after
bathing alone in the sea, he offered a solemn sacrifice of
thanksgiving to the sun, or rather to the Creator of the sun,
whom the Magi adored. If this act of superstition offended the
prejudices of the Syrians, they were pleased by the courteous and
even eager attention with which he assisted at the games of the
circus; and as Chosroes had heard that the blue faction was
espoused by the emperor, his peremptory command secured the
victory of the green charioteer. From the discipline of his camp
the people derived more solid consolation; and they interceded in
vain for the life of a soldier who had too faithfully copied the
rapine of the just Nushirvan. At length, fatigued, though
unsatiated, with the spoil of Syria, ^* he slowly moved to the
Euphrates, formed a temporary bridge in the neighborhood of
Barbalissus, and defined the space of three days for the entire
passage of his numerous host. After his return, he founded, at
the distance of one day's journey from the palace of Ctesiphon, a
new city, which perpetuated the joint names of Chosroes and of
Antioch. The Syrian captives recognized the form and situation
of their native abodes: baths and a stately circus were
constructed for their use; and a colony of musicians and
charioteers revived in Assyria the pleasures of a Greek capital.
By the munificence of the royal founder, a liberal allowance was
assigned to these fortunate exiles; and they enjoyed the singular
privilege of bestowing freedom on the slaves whom they
acknowledged as their kinsmen. Palestine, and the holy wealth of
Jerusalem, were the next objects that attracted the ambition, or
rather the avarice, of Chosroes. Constantinople, and the palace
of the Caesars, no longer appeared impregnable or remote; and his
aspiring fancy already covered Asia Minor with the troops, and
the Black Sea with the navies, of Persia.

[Footnote 62: The invasion of Syria, the ruin of Antioch, &c.,
are related in a full and regular series by Procopius, (Persic.
l. ii. c. 5 - 14.) Small collateral aid can be drawn from the
Orientals: yet not they, but D'Herbelot himself, (p. 680,) should
blush when he blames them for making Justinian and Nushirvan
contemporaries. On the geography of the seat of war, D'Anville
(l'Euphrate et le Tigre) is sufficient and satisfactory.]

[Footnote *: It is Sura in Procopius. Is it a misprint in
Gibbon? - M.]
[Footnote !: Joannes Lydus attributes the easy capture of Antioch
to the want of fortifications which had not been restored since
the earthquake, l. iii. c. 54. p. 246. - M.]

[Footnote *: Lydus asserts that he carried away all the statues,
pictures, and marbles which adorned the city, l. iii. c. 54, p.
246. - M.]
These hopes might have been realized, if the conqueror of
Italy had not been seasonably recalled to the defence of the
East. ^63 While Chosroes pursued his ambitious designs on the
coast of the Euxine, Belisarius, at the head of an army without
pay or discipline, encamped beyond the Euphrates, within six
miles of Nisibis. He meditated, by a skilful operation, to draw
the Persians from their impregnable citadel, and improving his
advantage in the field, either to intercept their retreat, or
perhaps to enter the gates with the flying Barbarians. He
advanced one day's journey on the territories of Persia, reduced
the fortress of Sisaurane, and sent the governor, with eight
hundred chosen horsemen, to serve the emperor in his Italian
wars. He detached Arethas and his Arabs, supported by twelve
hundred Romans, to pass the Tigris, and to ravage the harvests of
Assyria, a fruitful province, long exempt from the calamities of
war. But the plans of Belisarius were disconcerted by the
untractable spirit of Arethas, who neither returned to the camp,
nor sent any intelligence of his motions. The Roman general was
fixed in anxious expectation to the same spot; the time of action
elapsed, the ardent sun of Mesopotamia inflamed with fevors the
blood of his European soldiers; and the stationary troops and
officers of Syria affected to tremble for the safety of their
defenceless cities. Yet this diversion had already succeeded in
forcing Chosroes to return with loss and precipitation; and if
the skill of Belisarius had been seconded by discipline and
valor, his success might have satisfied the sanguine wishes of
the public, who required at his hands the conquest of Ctesiphon,
and the deliverance of the captives of Antioch. At the end of
the campaign, he was recalled to Constantinople by an ungrateful
court, but the dangers of the ensuing spring restored his
confidence and command; and the hero, almost alone, was
despatched, with the speed of post-horses, to repel, by his name
and presence, the invasion of Syria. He found the Roman
generals, among whom was a nephew of Justinian, imprisoned by
their fears in the fortifications of Hierapolis. But instead of
listening to their timid counsels, Belisarius commanded them to
follow him to Europus, where he had resolved to collect his
forces, and to execute whatever God should inspire him to achieve
against the enemy. His firm attitude on the banks of the
Euphrates restrained Chosroes from advancing towards Palestine;
and he received with art and dignity the ambassadors, or rather
spies, of the Persian monarch. The plain between Hierapolis and
the river was covered with the squadrons of cavalry, six thousand
hunters, tall and robust, who pursued their game without the
apprehension of an enemy. On the opposite bank the ambassadors
descried a thousand Armenian horse, who appeared to guard the
passage of the Euphrates. The tent of Belisarius was of the
coarsest linen, the simple equipage of a warrior who disdained
the luxury of the East. Around his tent, the nations who marched
under his standard were arranged with skilful confusion. The
Thracians and Illyrians were posted in the front, the Heruli and
Goths in the centre; the prospect was closed by the Moors and
Vandals, and their loose array seemed to multiply their numbers.
Their dress was light and active; one soldier carried a whip,
another a sword, a third a bow, a fourth, perhaps, a battle axe,
and the whole picture exhibited the intrepidity of the troops and
the vigilance of the general. Chosroes was deluded by the
address, and awed by the genius, of the lieutenant of Justinian.
Conscious of the merit, and ignorant of the force, of his
antagonist, he dreaded a decisive battle in a distant country,
from whence not a Persian might return to relate the melancholy
tale. The great king hastened to repass the Euphrates; and
Belisarius pressed his retreat, by affecting to oppose a measure
so salutary to the empire, and which could scarcely have been
prevented by an army of a hundred thousand men. Envy might
suggest to ignorance and pride, that the public enemy had been
suffered to escape: but the African and Gothic triumphs are less
glorious than this safe and bloodless victory, in which neither
fortune, nor the valor of the soldiers, can subtract any part of
the general's renown. The second removal of Belisarius from the
Persian to the Italian war revealed the extent of his personal
merit, which had corrected or supplied the want of discipline and
courage. Fifteen generals, without concert or skill, led through
the mountains of Armenia an army of thirty thousand Romans,
inattentive to their signals, their ranks, and their ensigns.
Four thousand Persians, intrenched in the camp of Dubis,
vanquished, almost without a combat, this disorderly multitude;
their useless arms were scattered along the road, and their
horses sunk under the fatigue of their rapid flight. But the
Arabs of the Roman party prevailed over their brethren; the
Armenians returned to their allegiance; the cities of Dara and
Edessa resisted a sudden assault and a regular siege, and the
calamities of war were suspended by those of pestilence. A tacit
or formal agreement between the two sovereigns protected the
tranquillity of the Eastern frontier; and the arms of Chosroes
were confined to the Colchian or Lazic war, which has been too
minutely described by the historians of the times. ^64
[Footnote 63: In the public history of Procopius, (Persic. l. ii.
c. 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28;) and, with some slight
exceptions, we may reasonably shut our ears against the
malevolent whisper of the Anecdotes, (c. 2, 3, with the Notes, as
usual, of Alemannus.)]

[Footnote 64: The Lazic war, the contest of Rome and Persia on
the Phasis, is tediously spun through many a page of Procopius
(Persic. l. ii. c. 15, 17, 28, 29, 30.) Gothic. l. iv. c. 7 - 16)
and Agathias, (l. ii. iii. and iv. p. 55 - 132, 141.)]

The extreme length of the Euxine Sea ^65 from Constantinople
to the mouth of the Phasis, may be computed as a voyage of nine
days, and a measure of seven hundred miles. From the Iberian
Caucasus, the most lofty and craggy mountains of Asia, that river
descends with such oblique vehemence, that in a short space it is
traversed by one hundred and twenty bridges. Nor does the stream
become placid and navigable, till it reaches the town of
Sarapana, five days' journey from the Cyrus, which flows from the
same hills, but in a contrary direction to the Caspian Lake. The
proximity of these rivers has suggested the practice, or at least
the idea, of wafting the precious merchandise of India down the
Oxus, over the Caspian, up the Cyrus, and with the current of the
Phasis into the Euxine and Mediterranean Seas. As it
successively collects the streams of the plain of Colchos, the
Phasis moves with diminished speed, though accumulated weight.
At the mouth it is sixty fathom deep, and half a league broad,
but a small woody island is interposed in the midst of the
channel; the water, so soon as it has deposited an earthy or
metallic sediment, floats on the surface of the waves, and is no
longer susceptible of corruption. In a course of one hundred
miles, forty of which are navigable for large vessels, the Phasis
divides the celebrated region of Colchos, ^66 or Mingrelia, ^67
which, on three sides, is fortified by the Iberian and Armenian
mountains, and whose maritime coast extends about two hundred
miles from the neighborhood of Trebizond to Dioscurias and the
confines of Circassia. Both the soil and climate are relaxed by
excessive moisture: twenty-eight rivers, besides the Phasis and
his dependent streams, convey their waters to the sea; and the
hollowness of the ground appears to indicate the subterraneous
channels between the Euxine and the Caspian. In the fields where
wheat or barley is sown, the earth is too soft to sustain the
action of the plough; but the gom, a small grain, not unlike the
millet or coriander seed, supplies the ordinary food of the
people; and the use of bread is confined to the prince and his
nobles. Yet the vintage is more plentiful than the harvest; and
the bulk of the stems, as well as the quality of the wine,
display the unassisted powers of nature. The same powers
continually tend to overshadow the face of the country with thick
forests; the timber of the hills, and the flax of the plains,
contribute to the abundance of naval stores; the wild and tame
animals, the horse, the ox, and the hog, are remarkably prolific,
and the name of the pheasant is expressive of his native
habitation on the banks of the Phasis. The gold mines to the
south of Trebizond, which are still worked with sufficient
profit, were a subject of national dispute between Justinian and
Chosroes; and it is not unreasonable to believe, that a vein of
precious metal may be equally diffused through the circle of the
hills, although these secret treasures are neglected by the
laziness, or concealed by the prudence, of the Mingrelians. The
waters, impregnated with particles of gold, are carefully
strained through sheep-skins or fleeces; but this expedient, the
groundwork perhaps of a marvellous fable, affords a faint image
of the wealth extracted from a virgin earth by the power and
industry of ancient kings. Their silver palaces and golden
chambers surpass our belief; but the fame of their riches is said
to have excited the enterprising avarice of the Argonauts. ^68
Tradition has affirmed, with some color of reason, that Egypt
planted on the Phasis a learned and polite colony, ^69 which
manufactured linen, built navies, and invented geographical maps.
The ingenuity of the moderns has peopled, with flourishing cities
and nations, the isthmus between the Euxine and the Caspian; ^70
and a lively writer, observing the resemblance of climate, and,
in his apprehension, of trade, has not hesitated to pronounce
Colchos the Holland of antiquity. ^71
[Footnote 65: The Periplus, or circumnavigation of the Euxine
Sea, was described in Latin by Sallust, and in Greek by Arrian:
I. The former work, which no longer exists, has been restored by
the singular diligence of M. de Brosses, first president of the
parliament of Dijon, (Hist. de la Republique Romaine, tom. ii. l.
iii. p. 199 - 298,) who ventures to assume the character of the
Roman historian. His description of the Euxine is ingeniously
formed of all the fragments of the original, and of all the
Greeks and Latins whom Sallust might copy, or by whom he might be
copied; and the merit of the execution atones for the whimsical
design. 2. The Periplus of Arrian is addressed to the emperor
Hadrian, (in Geograph. Minor. Hudson, tom. i.,) and contains
whatever the governor of Pontus had seen from Trebizond to
Dioscurias; whatever he had heard from Dioscurias to the Danube;
and whatever he knew from the Danube to Trebizond.]

[Footnote 66: Besides the many occasional hints from the poets,
historians &c., of antiquity, we may consult the geographical
descriptions of Colchos, by Strabo (l. xi. p. 760 - 765) and
Pliny, (Hist. Natur. vi. 5, 19, &c.)]
[Footnote 67: I shall quote, and have used, three modern
descriptions of Mingrelia and the adjacent countries. 1. Of the
Pere Archangeli Lamberti, (Relations de Thevenot, part i. p. 31 -
52, with a map,) who has all the knowledge and prejudices of a
missionary. 2. Of Chardia, (Voyages en Perse, tom. i. p. 54, 68
- 168.) His observations are judicious and his own adventures in
the country are still more instructive than his observations. 3.
Of Peyssonel, (Observations sur les Peuples Barbares, p. 49, 50,
51, 58 62, 64, 65, 71, &c., and a more recent treatise, Sur le
Commerce de la Mer Noire, tom. ii. p. 1 - 53.) He had long
resided at Caffa, as consul of France; and his erudition is less
valuable than his experience.]

[Footnote 68: Pliny, Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. 15. The gold and
silver mines of Colchos attracted the Argonauts, (Strab. l. i. p.
77.) The sagacious Chardin could find no gold in mines, rivers,
or elsewhere. Yet a Mingrelian lost his hand and foot for
showing some specimens at Constantinople of native gold]
[Footnote 69: Herodot. l. ii. c. 104, 105, p. 150, 151. Diodor.
Sicul. l. i. p. 33, edit. Wesseling. Dionys. Perieget. 689, and
Eustath. ad loc. Schohast ad Apollonium Argonaut. l. iv. 282 -

[Footnote 70: Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, l. xxi. c. 6.
L'Isthme ... couvero de villes et nations qui ne sont plus.]

[Footnote 71: Bougainville, Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xxvi. p. 33, on the African voyage of Hanno
and the commerce of antiquity.]
But the riches of Colchos shine only through the darkness of
conjecture or tradition; and its genuine history presents a
uniform scene of rudeness and poverty. If one hundred and thirty
languages were spoken in the market of Dioscurias, ^72 they were
the imperfect idioms of so many savage tribes or families,
sequestered from each other in the valleys of Mount Caucasus; and
their separation, which diminished the importance, must have
multiplied the number, of their rustic capitals. In the present
state of Mingrelia, a village is an assemblage of huts within a
wooden fence; the fortresses are seated in the depths of forests;
the princely town of Cyta, or Cotatis, consists of two hundred
houses, and a stone edifice appertains only to the magnificence
of kings. Twelve ships from Constantinople, and about sixty
barks, laden with the fruits of industry, annually cast anchor on
the coast; and the list of Colchian exports is much increased,
since the natives had only slaves and hides to offer in exchange
for the corn and salt which they purchased from the subjects of
Justinian. Not a vestige can be found of the art, the knowledge,
or the navigation, of the ancient Colchians: few Greeks desired
or dared to pursue the footsteps of the Argonauts; and even the
marks of an Egyptian colony are lost on a nearer approach. The
rite of circumcision is practised only by the Mahometans of the
Euxine; and the curled hair and swarthy complexion of Africa no
longer disfigure the most perfect of the human race. It is in
the adjacent climates of Georgia, Mingrelia, and Circassia, that
nature has placed, at least to our eyes, the model of beauty in
the shape of the limbs, the color of the skin, the symmetry of
the features, and the expression of the countenance. ^73
According to the destination of the two sexes, the men seemed
formed for action, the women for love; and the perpetual supply
of females from Mount Caucasus has purified the blood, and
improved the breed, of the southern nations of Asia. The proper
district of Mingrelia, a portion only of the ancient Colchos, has
long sustained an exportation of twelve thousand slaves. The
number of prisoners or criminals would be inadequate to the
annual demand; but the common people are in a state of servitude
to their lords; the exercise of fraud or rapine is unpunished in
a lawless community; and the market is continually replenished by
the abuse of civil and paternal authority. Such a trade, ^74
which reduces the human species to the level of cattle, may tend
to encourage marriage and population, since the multitude of
children enriches their sordid and inhuman parent. But this
source of impure wealth must inevitably poison the national
manners, obliterate the sense of honor and virtue, and almost
extinguish the instincts of nature: the Christians of Georgia and
Mingrelia are the most dissolute of mankind; and their children,
who, in a tender age, are sold into foreign slavery, have already
learned to imitate the rapine of the father and the prostitution
of the mother. Yet, amidst the rudest ignorance, the untaught
natives discover a singular dexterity both of mind and hand; and
although the want of union and discipline exposes them to their
more powerful neighbors, a bold and intrepid spirit has animated
the Colchians of every age. In the host of Xerxes, they served
on foot; and their arms were a dagger or a javelin, a wooden
casque, and a buckler of raw hides. But in their own country the
use of cavalry has more generally prevailed: the meanest of the
peasants disdained to walk; the martial nobles are possessed,
perhaps, of two hundred horses; and above five thousand are
numbered in the train of the prince of Mingrelia. The Colchian
government has been always a pure and hereditary kingdom; and the
authority of the sovereign is only restrained by the turbulence
of his subjects. Whenever they were obedient, he could lead a
numerous army into the field; but some faith is requisite to
believe, that the single tribe of the Suanians as composed of two
hundred thousand soldiers, or that the population of Mingrelia
now amounts to four millions of inhabitants. ^75
[Footnote 72: A Greek historian, Timosthenes, had affirmed, in
eam ccc. nationes dissimilibus linguis descendere; and the modest
Pliny is content to add, et postea a nostris cxxx. interpretibus
negotia ibi gesta, (vi. 5) But the words nunc deserta cover a
multitude of past fictions.]
[Footnote 73: Buffon (Hist. Nat. tom. iii. p. 433 - 437) collects
the unanimous suffrage of naturalists and travellers. If, in the
time of Herodotus, they were, (and he had observed them with
care,) this precious fact is an example of the influence of
climate on a foreign colony.]
[Footnote 74: The Mingrelian ambassador arrived at Constantinople
with two hundred persons; but he ate (sold) them day by day, till
his retinue was diminished to a secretary and two valets,
(Tavernier, tom. i. p. 365.) To purchase his mistress, a
Mingrelian gentleman sold twelve priests and his wife to the
Turks, (Chardin, tom. i. p. 66.)]

[Footnote 75: Strabo, l. xi. p. 765. Lamberti, Relation de la
Mingrelie. Yet we must avoid the contrary extreme of Chardin, who
allows no more than 20,000 inhabitants to supply an annual
exportation of 12,000 slaves; an absurdity unworthy of that
judicious traveller.]

Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.

Part III.

It was the boast of the Colchians, that their ancestors had
checked the victories of Sesostris; and the defeat of the
Egyptian is less incredible than his successful progress as far
as the foot of Mount Caucasus. They sunk without any memorable
effort, under the arms of Cyrus; followed in distant wars the
standard of the great king, and presented him every fifth year
with one hundred boys, and as many virgins, the fairest produce
of the land. ^76 Yet he accepted this gift like the gold and
ebony of India, the frankincense of the Arabs, or the negroes and
ivory of Aethiopia: the Colchians were not subject to the
dominion of a satrap, and they continued to enjoy the name as
well as substance of national independence. ^77 After the fall of
the Persian empire, Mithridates, king of Pontus, added Colchos to
the wide circle of his dominions on the Euxine; and when the
natives presumed to request that his son might reign over them,
he bound the ambitious youth in chains of gold, and delegated a
servant in his place. In pursuit of Mithridates, the Romans
advanced to the banks of the Phasis, and their galleys ascended
the river till they reached the camp of Pompey and his legions.
^78 But the senate, and afterwards the emperors, disdained to
reduce that distant and useless conquest into the form of a
province. The family of a Greek rhetorician was permitted to
reign in Colchos and the adjacent kingdoms from the time of Mark
Antony to that of Nero; and after the race of Polemo ^79 was
extinct, the eastern Pontus, which preserved his name, extended
no farther than the neighborhood of Trebizond. Beyond these
limits the fortifications of Hyssus, of Apsarus, of the Phasis,
of Dioscurias or Sebastopolis, and of Pityus, were guarded by
sufficient detachments of horse and foot; and six princes of
Colchos received their diadems from the lieutenants of Caesar.
One of these lieutenants, the eloquent and philosophic Arrian,
surveyed, and has described, the Euxine coast, under the reign of
Hadrian. The garrison which he reviewed at the mouth of the
Phasis consisted of four hundred chosen legionaries; the brick
walls and towers, the double ditch, and the military engines on
the rampart, rendered this place inaccessible to the Barbarians:
but the new suburbs which had been built by the merchants and
veterans, required, in the opinion of Arrian, some external
defence. ^80 As the strength of the empire was gradually
impaired, the Romans stationed on the Phasis were neither
withdrawn nor expelled; and the tribe of the Lazi, ^81 whose
posterity speak a foreign dialect, and inhabit the sea coast of
Trebizond, imposed their name and dominion on the ancient kingdom
of Colchos. Their independence was soon invaded by a formidable
neighbor, who had acquired, by arms and treaties, the sovereignty
of Iberia. The dependent king of Lazica received his sceptre at
the hands of the Persian monarch, and the successors of
Constantine acquiesced in this injurious claim, which was proudly
urged as a right of immemorial prescription. In the beginning of
the sixth century, their influence was restored by the
introduction of Christianity, which the Mingrelians still profess
with becoming zeal, without understanding the doctrines, or
observing the precepts, of their religion. After the decease of
his father, Zathus was exalted to the regal dignity by the favor
of the great king; but the pious youth abhorred the ceremonies of
the Magi, and sought, in the palace of Constantinople, an
orthodox baptism, a noble wife, and the alliance of the emperor
Justin. The king of Lazica was solemnly invested with the
diadem, and his cloak and tunic of white silk, with a gold
border, displayed, in rich embroidery, the figure of his new
patron; who soothed the jealousy of the Persian court, and
excused the revolt of Colchos, by the venerable names of
hospitality and religion. The common interest of both empires
imposed on the Colchians the duty of guarding the passes of Mount
Caucasus, where a wall of sixty miles is now defended by the
monthly service of the musketeers of Mingrelia. ^82

[Footnote 76: Herodot. l. iii. c. 97. See, in l. vii. c. 79,
their arms and service in the expedition of Xerxes against

[Footnote 77: Xenophon, who had encountered the Colchians in his
retreat, (Anabasis, l. iv. p. 320, 343, 348, edit. Hutchinson;
and Foster's Dissertation, p. liii. - lviii., in Spelman's
English version, vol. ii.,) styled them. Before the conquest of
Mithridates, they are named by Appian, (de Bell. Mithridatico, c.
15, tom. i. p. 661, of the last and best edition, by John
Schweighaeuser. Lipsae, 1785 8 vols. largo octavo.)]
[Footnote 78: The conquest of Colchos by Mithridates and Pompey
is marked by Appian (de Bell. Mithridat.) and Plutarch, (in Vit.
[Footnote 79: We may trace the rise and fall of the family of
Polemo, in Strabo, (l. xi. p. 755, l. xii. p. 867,) Dion Cassius,
or Xiphilin, (p. 588, 593, 601, 719, 754, 915, 946, edit.
Reimar,) Suetonius, (in Neron. c. 18, in Vespasian, c. 8,)
Eutropius, (vii. 14,) Josephus, (Antiq. Judaic. l. xx. c. 7, p.
970, edit. Havercamp,) and Eusebius, (Chron. with Scaliger,
Animadvers. p. 196.)]

[Footnote 80: In the time of Procopius, there were no Roman forts
on the Phasis. Pityus and Sebastopolis were evacuated on the
rumor of the Persians, (Goth. l. iv. c. 4;) but the latter was
afterwards restored by Justinian, (de Edif. l. iv. c. 7.)]

[Footnote 81: In the time of Pliny, Arrian, and Ptolemy, the Lazi
were a particular tribe on the northern skirts of Colchos,
(Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii. p. 222.) In the age of
Justinian, they spread, or at least reigned, over the whole
country. At present, they have migrated along the coast towards
Trebizond, and compose a rude sea-faring people, with a peculiar
language, (Chardin, p. 149. Peyssonel p. 64.)]


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