« ForrigeFortsett »
the sight of silkworms 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 favoured 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 Turks, that their reign might be long and prosperous, and that a strict alliance, without envy or deceit, might for ever 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; abed of pure and massy old was raised on four peacocks of the same metal; and efore the entrance of the tent, dishes, basins, and statues, of
solid silver, and admirable art, were ostentatiously piled in wagons, the monuments of valour 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 clamours 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). Tou 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 labours, 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.*
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 Toman 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 honour of bis 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 were deluded and inflamed by the fanaticism of Mazdak,f who asserted the community of women,J and the equality of mankind, whilst he appropri
* 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.
+ See D'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient, p. 568. 929), Hyde (de Religions 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, 1. 1, c . 34). J 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. 1. 1, c. 5). [Mazdak was either one of those visionary enthusiasts who believe that mankind can be rendered at once virtuous and happy, or an artful impostor, who, under this pretence, concealed the most nefarious designs. The latter appears to have been most probably his character. He took for his fundamental principle a truth which cannot be con
ated 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,* 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 favour of his third and most favoured 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 qusstor Proclus: a difficulty was started, whether the adoption should be performed as a civil or military rite ; t the treaty was abruptly dissolved; and the sense of this indignity sank deep into the mind of Chosroes, who had already advanced to the Tigris on his road to Constantinople. His
troverted, that the passions of man for wealth and women have been the sources of all the hatred, discord, and wars, which have produced the misery of the world; and from this he deduced his false and pernicious conclusions, that no remedy was to be found for these evils but in a community of goods and unrestricted sexual intercourse. Nushirvan, on the other hand, seeing the necessity for checking the licentious disorders, created by these doctrines, sought to repress them, not by "temperate chastisement," but by violence alone. Mazdak and his followers, as well as all Manichseans, who were confounded with them, were indiscriminately slaughtered; and the unoffending offspring of those promiscuous embraces, which the delusion had authorized, were given as slaves to the more sensible, who had not been seduced by the specious sophistry. The cruelties of the Persian monarch, on this and other occasions, made him hated by his subjects; and though obsequious flatterers and time-serving writers styled him "the Just," his people were disposed to think " the Blood-stained" a
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 fartor adhuc nares occupat. (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 71.) + Procopius, Persic. 1 . 1, 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: oil yp&nnaatv oi I3ap/3apot rove iralSac irotovvrat, d\\' Oitxcjv OKtvy. Whether any mode of adoption was practised in Persia, I much doubt .
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 ; * and the Justice of Nushirvan is celebrated as the theme of immortal praise by the nations of the East.
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: ho was instantly commanded to repair to the iron tripod,
* 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 Malalas (tom.ii,211). Cabades, or Kobad, aftera 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,