Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

there, they had all an aromatic smell; out no trees could be seen. Bustards and ostriches, antelopes and wild asses,50 appeared to be the only inhabitants of the desert; and the fatigues of the march were alleviated by the amusements of the chace." The loose sand of the desert was frequently raised by the wind into clouds of dust: and a great number of the soldiers of Julian, with their tents, were suddenly thrown to the ground by the violence of an unexpected hurricane.

Bis Ibcrh The sandy plains of Mesopotamia were abandoned to the antelopes and wild asses of the desert; but a variety of populous towns and villages were pleasantly situated on the banks of the Euphrates, and in the islands which are occasionally formed by

[An] that river. The city of Annah, or Anatho,51 the actual residence

of an Arabian Emir, is composed of two long streets, which inclose, within a natural fortification, a small island in the midst,

.Apriij and two fruitful spots on either side of the Euphrates. The warlike inhabitants of Anatho shewed a disposition to stop the march of a Roman emperor; till they were diverted from such fatal presumption by the mild exhortations of prince Hormisd&s and the approaching terrors of the fleet and army. They implored, and experienced, the clemency of Julian, who transplanted the people to an advantageous settlement near Chalci* in Syria, and admitted Pusaeus, the governor, to an honourable rank in his service and friendship. But the impregnable for

[Anteiimi] tress of Thilutha could scorn the menace of a siege; and the emperor was obliged to content himself with an insulting promise that, when he had subdued the interior provinces of Persia, Thilutha would no longer refuse to grace the triumph of the conqueror. The inhabitants of the open towns, unable to resist and unwilling to yield, fled with precipitation ; and their houses, filled with spoil and provisions, were occupied by the soldiers of Julian, who massacred, without remorse, and without punishment, some defenceless women. During the march, the Surenas, or Persian general, and Malek Rodosaces, the renowned Emir of the tribe of Gassan,52 incessantly hovered round the army:

M Mr. Spelman, the English translator of the Anabasis (voL L p. 51), confounds the antelope with the roe-buck, and the wild ass with the zebra,

61 See Voyages de Tavernier, part i. 1. iii. p. 316, and more especially Viaggi d Pietro della Valle, torn. i. let xvii. p. 671, &c. He was ignorant of the old name and condition of Annan. Our blind travellers seldom possess any previous knowledge of the countries which they visit Shaw and Tournefort deserve an honourable exception.

n Famosi nominis latro, says Ammianus; an high encomium for an Arab. The tribe of Gassan had settled on the edge of Syria, and reigned some time in Damascus, under a dynasty of thirty-one kings, or emirs, from the time of Pompq every straggler was intercepted; every detachment was attacked; and the valiant Hormisdas escaped with some difficulty from their hands. But the Barbarians were finally repulsed; the country became every day less favourable to the operations of cavalry; and, when the Romans arrived at Mace-Iap**1) practa, they perceived the ruins of the wall which had been constructed by the ancient kings of Assyria to secure their dominions from the incursions of the Medes. These preliminaries of the expedition of Julian appear to have employed about fifteen days; and we may compute near three hundred miles from the fortress of Circesium to the wall of Macepracta.63

The fertile province of Assyria,64 which stretched beyond the Ducrtption Tigris as far as the mountains of Media,65 extended about four A"yiU hundred miles from the ancient wall of Macepracta to the territory of Basra, where the united streams of the Euphrates and Tigris discharge themselves into the Persian Gulf.*6 The whole country might have claimed the peculiar name of Mesopotamia; as the two rivers which are never more distant than fifty, approach, between Bagdad and Babylon, within twentyfive, miles of each other. A multitude of artificial canals, dug without much labour in a soft and yielding soil, connected the rivers, and intersected the plain of Assyria. The uses of these artificial canals were various and important. They served to discharge the superfluous waters from one river into the other, at the season of their respective inundations. Subdividing

to that of the Khalif Omar. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 360. Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabic*, p. 75-78. The name of Rodosaces does not appear in the list. [The identification of Ammian's Assanitarum with the tribe of Gassan has been questioned.]

HSee Ammianus (xxiv. 1, a), Libanius (Orat. Parental, a no, in, p. 334), Zosimus (1. iii. p. 164-168).

"The description of Assyria is furnished by Herodotus (1. L c. 192, &c), who sometimes writes for children, and sometimes for philosophers; by Strabo (L xvi. p. 1070-1082), and by Ammianus (1. xxiii. c. 6). The most useful of the modern travellers are Tavernier (part i. 1. ii. p. 226-258), Otter (torn. ii. p. 35-69, and 189-224). and Niebuhr (torn. ii. p. 172-288). Yet I much regret that the Irak Arabi of Abulfeda has not been translated. [A translation by Reiske appeared in Busching's Magazin for modern Hist, and Geogr. (iv. 121 sqq., v. 299 sqq.) in Gibbon's lifetime. ]

"Ammianus remarks that the primitive Assyria, which comprehended Ninus (Nineveh) and Arbcla, had assumed the more recent and peculiar appellation of Adiabene: and he seems to fix Teredon, Vologesia, and Apollonia, as the extreme cities of the actual province of Assyria.

MThe two rivers unite at Apamea, or Corna (one hundred miles from the Persian Gulf), into the broad stream of the Pasitigris, or Shat-ul-Arab. The Euphrates formerly reached the sea by a separate channel, which was obstructed and diverted by the citizens of Orchoe, about twenty miles to the south-cast of modern Basra (d'Anville, in the Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, torn. xxx. p. 170-191). [The lower courses of the Tigris and Euphrates underwent considerable changes since the middle ages; see App. 34.]

themselves into smaller and smaller branches, they refreshed the dry lands, and supplied the deficiency of rain. They facilitated the intercourse of peace and commerce; and, as the dams could be speedily broke down, they armed the despair of the Assyrians with the means of opposing a sudden deluge to the progress of an invading army. To the soil and climate of Assyria nature had denied some of her choicest gifts, the vine, the olive, and the fig-tree; ^'6, but the food which supports the life of man, and particularly wheat and barley, were produced with inexhaustible fertility; and the husbandman who committed his seed to the earth was frequently rewarded with an increase of two, or even of three, hundred. The face of the country was interspersed with groves of innumerable palm-trees ; 57 and the diligent natives celebrated, either in verse or prose, the three hundred and sixty uses to which the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the juice, and the fruit, were skilfully applied. Several manufactures, especially those of leather and linen, employed the industry of a numerous people, and afforded valuable materials for foreign trade; which appears, however, to have been conducted by the hands of strangers. Babylon had been converted into a royal park; but near the ruins of the ancient capital new cities had successively arisen, and the populousness of the country was displayed in the multitude of towns and villages, which were built of bricks, dried in the sun, and strongly cemented with bitumen, the natural and peculiar production of the Babylonian soil. While the successors of Cyrus reigned over Asia, the province of Assyria alone maintained, during a third part of the year, the luxurious plenty of the table and household of the Great King. Four considerable villages were assigned for the subsistence of his Indian dogs; eight hundred stallions and sixteen thousand mares were constantly kept at the expense of the country, for the royal stables; and, as the daily tribute, which was paid to the satrap, amounted to one English bushel of silver, we may compute the annual revenue of Assyria at more than twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling.58

Mil' Milman has pointed out that this is not so at the present day.]

57 The learned Kffimpfer, as a botanist, an antiquary, and a traveller, has exhausted (Amcenitat. Exoticae, FascicuL iv. p. 660-764) the whole subject of palmtrees.

58 Assyria yielded to the Persian satrap an ariaha of silver each day. The wellknown proportion of weights and measures (see Bishop Hooper's elaborate Inquiry), the specific gravity of water and silver, and the value of that metal, will afford, after a short process, the annual revenue which I have stated. Yet the Great King received no more than 1000 Euboic, or Tyrian, talents (252,000/.) from

The fields of Assyria were devoted by Julian to the calamities invuion »< of war; and the philosopher retaliated on a guiltless people the is so, acts of rapine and cruelty which had been committed by their T haughty master in the Roman provinces. The trembling Assyrians summoned the rivers to their assistance; and completed, with their own hands, the ruin of their country. The roads were rendered impracticable; a flood of waters was poured into the camp; and during several days the troops of Julian were obliged to contend with the most discouraging hardships. But every obstacle was surmounted by the perseverance of the legionaries, who were inured to toil as well as to danger, and who felt themselves animated by the spirit of their leader. The damage was gradually repaired; the [M»rl waters were restored to their proper channels; whole groves of palm-trees were cut down and placed along the broken parts of the road; and the army passed over the broad and deeper canals on bridges of floating rafts, which were supported by the help of bladders. Two cities of Assyria presumed to resist the arms of a Roman emperor: and they both paid the severe penalty of their rashness. At the distance of fifty miles from the royal residence of Ctesiphon, Perisabor, or Anbar,69 held the second si.«. ot rank in the province; a city, large, populous, and well fortified, surrounded with a double wall, almost encompassed by a branch of the Euphrates, and defended by the valour of a numerous garrison. The exhortations of Hormisdas were repulsed with contempt; and the ears of the Persian prince were wounded by a just reproach that, unmindful of his royal birth, he conducted an army of strangers against his king and country. The Assyrians maintained their loyalty by a skilful, as well as vigorous, defence; [M»r] till, the lucky stroke of a battering-ram having opened a large breach by shattering one of the angles of the wall, they hastily retired into the fortifications of the interior citadel. The soldiers of Julian rushed impetuously into the town, and, after the full gratification of every military appetite, Perisabor was reduced to ashes; and the engines which assaulted the citadel were planted on the ruins of the smoking houses. The contest was continued by an incessant and mutual discharge of missile weapons; and

Assyria. The comparison of two passages in Herodotus (L i. c. 19a, 1. iii. c. 89-96) reveals an important difference between the gross, and the net, revenue of Persia; the sums paid by the province, and the gold or silver deposited in the royal treasure. The monarch might annually save three millions six hundred thousand pounds, of the seventeen or eighteen millions raised upon the people.

w[The foundation of this place (Anbar—"Angapn, 'A^ofia » Peroz—Shapur) is noticed in the chronicle of Tabari (Nbldeke, p. 67). Al-Anbar means "the granaries," and is to be sought in the ruins of Sifeyra (ace. to Mr. Le Strange).] VOL. II. 32

the superiority which the Romans might derive from the mechanical powers of their balistte and catapultse was counterbalanced by the advantage of the ground on the side of the besieged. But as soon as an Helepolis had been constructed, which could engage on equal terms with the loftiest ramparts, the tremendous aspect of a moving turret, that would leave no hope of resistance or of mercy, terrified the defenders of the citadel into an humble submission; and the place was surrendered only two days after Julian first appeared under the walls of Perisabor. Two thousand five hundred persons of both sexes, the feeble remnant of a flourishing people, were permitted to retire: the plentiful magazines of corn, of arms, and of splendid furniture were partly distributed among the troops, and partly reserved for the public service : the useless stores were destroyed by fire or thrown into the stream of the Euphrates; and the fate of Amida was revenged by the total ruin of Perisabor. ofM»ofa. The city, or rather fortress, of Maogamalcha, which was

(Muur defended by sixteen large towers, a deep ditch, and two strong and solid walls of brick and bitumen, appears to have been constructed at the distance of eleven miles, as the safeguard of the capital of Persia. The emperor, apprehensive of leaving such an important fortress in his rear, immediately formed the siege (M«y) of Maogamalcha; and the Roman army was distributed, for that

purpose, into three divisions. Victor, at the head of the cavalry, and of a detachment of heavy-armed foot, was ordered to clear the country as far as the banks of the Tigris and the suburbs of Ctesiphon. The conduct of the attack was assumed by Julian himself, who seemed to place his whole dependence in the military engines which he erected against the walls ;,while he secretly contrived a more efficacious method of introducing his troops into the heart of the city. Under the direction of Nevitta and Dagalaiphus, the trenches were opened at a considerable distance, and gradually prolonged as far as the edge of the ditch. The ditch was speedily filled with earth; and, by the incessant labour of the troops, a mine was carried under the foundations of the walls, and sustained, at sufficient intervals, by props of timber. Three chosen cohorts, advancing in a single file, silently explored the dark and dangerous passage; till their intrepid leader whispered back the intelligence that he was ready to issue from his confinement into the streets of the hostile city. Julian checked their ardour that he might ensure their success; and immediately diverted the attention of the garrison, by the tumult and clamour of a general assault. The

« ForrigeFortsett »