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of nature or education was wounded by the impious practice of exposing the dead bodies of their parents, on the summit of a lofty tower, to the crows and vultures of the air.” Conscious of the increasing hatred, which retarded the execution of his great designs, the just Nushirvan had secretly given orders to assassinate the king of the Lazi, to transplant the H.P. into some distant land, and to fix a faithful and warike colony on the banks of the Phasis. The watchful jealousy of the Colchians foresaw and averted the approaching ruin. Their repentance was accepted at Constantinople by the prudence, rather than the clemency, of Justinian; and he commanded Dagisteus, with seven thousand Romans, and one thousand of the Zani,” to expel the Persians from the coast of the Euxine. The siege of Petra, which the IRoman general, with the aid of the Lazl, immediately undertook, is one of the most remarkable actions of the age. The city was seated on a craggy rock, which hung over the sea, and communicated by a steep and narrow path with the land. Since the approach was difficult, the attack might be deemed impossible: the Persian conqueror had strengthened the fortifications of Justinian; and the places least inaccessible were covered b additional bulwarks. In this important fortress, the vigilance of Chosroes had deposited a magazine of offensive and defensive arms, sufficient for five times the number, not onl of the garrison, but of the besiegers themselves. The o: of flour and salt provisions was adequate to the consumption of five years; the want of wine was supplied by vinegar, and of grain from whence a strong liquor was extracted; and a triple aqueduct eluded the diligence, and even the suspicions, of the enemy. . But the firmest defence of Petra was placed in the valor of fifteen hundred Persians, who resisted the assaults of the Romans, whilst, in a softer vein of earth, a mine was secretly perforated. The wali, supported by slender and temporary props, hung tottering in the air; but Dagisteus delayed the attack till he had secured a specific recompense; and the town was relieved before the return of his messenger from Constantinople. The Persian garrison was reduced to four hundred men, of whom no more than fifty were exempt from sickness or wounds; yet such had been their inflexible perseverance, that they concealed their losses from the enemy, by enduring, without a murmur, the sight and putrefying stench of the dead bodies of their eleven hundred companions. After their deliverance, the breaches were hastily stopped with sand-bags; the mine was replenished with earth; a new wall was erected on a frame of substantial timber; and a fresh garrison of three thousand men was stationed at Petra to sustain the labors of a second siege. The operations, both of the attack and defence, were conducted with skilful obstinacy; and each party derived useful lessons from the experience of their past faults. A battering-ram was invented, of light construction and powerful effect; it was transported and worked by the hands of forty soldiers; and as the stones were loosened by its repeated strokes, they were torn with long iron hooks from the wall. From those walls, a shower of darts was incessantly poured on the heads of the assailants; but they were most dangerously annoyed by a fiery composition of sulphur and bitumen, which in Colchos might with some propriety be named the oil of Medea. Of six thousand Romans who mounted the scaling-ladders, their general Bessas was the first, a gallant veteran of seventy years of age : the courage of their leader, his fall, and extreme danger, animated the irresistible effort of his troops; and their prevailing numbers oppressed the strength, without subduing the spirit, of the Persian garrison. The fate of these valiant men deserves to be more distinctly noticed. Seven hundred had perished in the siege, two thousand three hundred survived to defend the breach. One thousand and seventy were destroyed with fire and sword in the last assault; and if seven hundred and thirty were made prisoners, only eighteen among them were found without the marks of honorabie wounds. The remaining five hundred escaped into the citadel, which they maintained without any hopes of relief, rejecting the fairest terms of capitulation and service, till they were lost in the flames, They died in obedience to the commands of their prince; and such examples of loyalty and valor might excite their countrymen to deeds of equal despair and more prosperous event. The instant demolition of the works of Petra confessed the astonishment and apprehension of the conqueror.
85 see Herodotus (l. i. c. 140, p. 69), who speaks with diffidence. Larcher (tom. i. pp. 399-401. Notes sur Herodote), Procopius (Persie, l. i. e. 11), and Agathias (i.ii. pp. 61, 62). This practice, agreeable to the Zenolayesta (Hyde, de Relig. Pers. c. 34, pp. 414-421), demonstrates that the burial of the Persian kings (Xenophon, Cyrópaed. 1. viii. p. 658), to Yap Tootov wakaptorspov Too To Yo Moxonvat; is a Greek fiction, and that their tombs could be no more than cenotaphs.
* These seem the same people called Suanians, p. 328.-M.
A Spartan would have praised and pitied the virtue of these heroic slaves; but the tedious warfare and alternate success of the Roman and Persian arms cannot detain the attention of posterity at the foot of Mount Caucasus. The advantages obtained by the troops of Justinian were more frequent and splendid; but the forces of the great king were continually supplied, till they amounted to eight elephants and seventy thousand men, including twelve thousand Scythian allies, and above three thousand Dilemites, who descended by their free choice from the hills of Hyrcania, and were equally formidable in close or in distant combat. The siege of Archaeopolis, a name imposed or corrupted by the Greeks, was raised with some loss and precipitation; but the Persians occupied the passes of Iberia: Colchos was enslaved by their forts and garrisons; they devoured the scanty sustenance of the people; and the prince of the Lazi fled into the mountains. In the Roman camp, faith and discipline were unknown; and the independent leaders, who were invested with equal power, disputed with each other the prečminence of vice and corruption. The Persians followed, without a murmur, the commands of a single chief, who implicitly obeyed the instructions of their supreme lord. Their general was distinguished among the heroes of the East by his wisdom in council, and his valor in the field. The advanced age of Mermeroes, and the lameness of both his feet, could not diminish the activity of his mind, or even of his body; and, whilst he was carried in a litter in the front of battle, he inspired terror to the enemy, and a just confidence to the troops, who, under his banners, were always successful. After his death, the command devolved to Nacoragan, a proud satrap, who, in a conference with the Imperial chiefs, had presumed to declare that he disposed of victory as absolutely as of the ring on his finger. Such presumption was the natural cause and forerunner of a shameful defeat. The Romans had been gradually repulsed to the edge of the sea-shore; and their last camp, on the ruins of the Grecian colony of Phasis, was defended on all sides by strong intrenchments, the river, the Euxine, and a fleet of galleys. Despair united their counsels and invigorated their arms: they withstood the assault of the Persians ; and the flight of Nacoragan preceded or followed the slaughter of ten thousand of his bra. vest soldiers. He escaped from the Romans to fall into the hands of an unforgiving master, who severely chastised the error of his own choice: the unfortunate general was flayed alive, and his skin, stuffed into the human form was ex, posed on a mountain ; a dreadful warning to those who might hereafter be intrusted with the fame and fortune of Persia.” Yet the prudence of Chosroes insensibly relinquished the prosecution of the Colchian war, in the just persuasion, that it is impossible to reduce, or, at least, to hold a distant country against the wishes and efforts of its inhabitants. The fidelity of Gubazes sustained the most rigorous trials. He patiently endured the hardships of a savage life, and rejected, with disdain, the specious temptations of the Persian court.” The king of the Lazi had been educated in the Christian religion; his mother was the daughter of a senator; during his youth, he had served ten years a silentiary of the Byzantine palace,” and the arrears of an unpaid salary were a motive of attachment as well as of complaint. But the long continuance of his sufferings extorted from him a naked representation of the truth; and truth was an unpardonable libel on the lieutenants of Justinian, who, amidst the delays of a ruinous war, had spared his enemies and trampled on his allies. Their malicious information persuaded the emperor that his faithless vassal already meditated a second defection: an order was surprised to send him prisoner to Constantinople; a treacherous clause was inserted, that he might be lawfully killed in case of resistance; and Gubazes, without arms, or suspicion of danger, was stabbed in the security of a friendly interview. In the first moments of rage and despair, the Colchians would have sacrificed their country and religion to the gratification of revenge. But the authority and eloquence of the wiser few obtained a salutary pause: the victory of the Phasis restored the terror of the Roman arms, and the emperor was solicitous to absolve his own name from the imputation of so foul a murder. A judge of senatorial rank was commissioned to inquire into the conduct and death of the king of the Lazi. He ascended a stately tribunal, encompassed by the ministers of justice and pun86 The punishment of flaying alive could not be introduced into Persia b Sapor (Brisson, de Regn. Pers.I. ii. p. 578), nor could it be copied from the foolŽsh tale of Marsyas, the Phrygian piper, most foolishly quoted as a precedent by Agathias (l. iv. pp. 132, 133). 8. In the palace of Constantinople there were thirty silentiaries, who were styled hastati, ante fores cubiculi, ris a tyms étriotarat, an honorable title which ishment; in the presence of both nations, this extraordinary cause was pleaded, according to the forms of civil jurisprudence, and some satisfaction was granted to an injured people, by the sentence and execution of the meaner criminals.” In peace, the king of Persia continually sought the pretences of a rupture; but no sooner had he taken up arms, than he expressed his desire of a safe and honorable treaty. I)uring the fiercest hostilities, the two monarchs entertained a deceitful negotiation; and such was the superiority of Chosroes, that whilst he treated the Roman ministers with insolence and contempt, he obtained the most unprecedentcd honors for his own ambassadors at the Imperial court. The successor of Cyrus assumed the majesty of the Eastern sun, and graciously permitted his younger brother Justinian to reign over the West, with the pale and reflected splendor of the moon. This gigantic style was supported by the pomp and eloquence of Isdigune, one of the royal chamberlains. His wife and daughters, with a train of eunuchs and camels, attended the march of the ambassador: two satraps with golden diadems were numbered among his followers: he was guarded by five hundred horse, the most valiant of the Persians; and the Roman governor of Dara wisely refused to admit more than twenty of this martial and hostile caravan. When Isdigune had saluted the emperor, and delivered his presents, he passed ten months at Constantinople without discussing any serious affairs. Instead of being confined to his palace, and receiving food and water from the hands of his keepers, the Persian ambassador, without spies or guards, was allowed to visit the capital; and the freedom of conversation and trade enjoyed by his domes- . tics, offended the prejudices of an age which rigorously practised the law of nations, without confidence or courtesy.” By an unexampled indulgence, his interpreter, a
conferred the rank, without imposing the duties, of a senator (Cod. Theodos. l. vi. tit. 23. Gothofred. Comment. tom. ii. p. 129).
* According to Agathias, the death of Gubazes preceded the defeat of Nacoragan. The triai took place after the battle.—M.
88 On these judicial orations, Agathias (l. iii. pp. 81–89, l. iv. pp. 108–119) lav isles eighteen or twenty pages of false and florid rhetoric. His ignorance or earelessness overlooks the strongest argument against the king of Lazica—his former revolt.*
89 o represents the practice of the Gothic court of Ravenna (Goth. l. i. c. 7); and foreign ambassadors have been treated with the same jealousy and rigor in Turkey (Busbequius, epist. iii. pp. 149, 242, &c.), Russia (Voyage D'Olearius), and China (Narrative of M. de Lange, in Bell's Travels, vol. ii. pp. 189311).
* The Orations in the third book of Agathias are not judicial, nor delivered before the Roman tribunal : it is a deliberative debate o; the Colchians on the $opediency of adhering to the Roman, or embracing the Persian, allis, &llC6.-M1.