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winch stood before the gate of the palace,* where it -was death to relieve or approach the victim; and Mebodes languished several days before his sentence vras pronounced, by the inflexible pride and calm ingratitude of the son of Kobad. But the people, more especially in the East, is
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 labour of his reign to abolish the dangerous theory of common or equal possessions: the lands and women which the sectaries of Mazdak had 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 favourite minister, he established four viziers over the four great provinces of his empire, Assyria, Media, Persia, and Bactriana. In the choice of judges, prefects, 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 behaviour 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. Educa
* Procopius, Persic. 1. 1, o. 23. Brisson de Regn. Pera. 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.)
even to applaud, the cruelty which
tion 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 honourable 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.* The prosperity of that kingdom was the effect and the evidence of his virtues: his vices are those of Oriental despotism; but ia the long competition between Chosroes and Justinian, the advantage both of merit and fortune is almost always on the side of the barbarian. f
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 ? J The
* 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: four hundred wells have been recently lost near Tauris, and forty-two thousand were once reckoned in the province of Khorasan. (Chardin, tom, iii, p. 99, 100. Tavernier, tom, i, p. 416.) + The character and government of
Nushirvan is represented sometimes in the words of D'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 680, &c. from Khondemir), Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii, p. 179, 180—very rich), Abulpharagius (Dynast. 7, p. 94, 95— very poor), Tarikh Schikard (p. 144—150), Texeira (in Stevens, 1 . 1, c. 35), Asseman (Bibliot . Orient, tom. iii, p. 404—410), and the Abbs' Fourmont (Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vii, p. 325—334), who has translated a spurious or genuine testament of Nushirvan. J A thousand years before his birth, the judges of Persia had given VOL. IT. 2 H
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.* At Gondi Sapor, in the neighbourhood of the royal city of Susa, an academy of physic was founded, which insensibly became a liberal school of poetry, philosophy, and rhetoric.f The annals of the monarchy J 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,
a solemn opinion — Tui BaffiXtvovri TJipaiiav iKiivat rro&av To av BouXtrrai. (Herodot . 1 . 3, c . 31, p. 210, edit. Wesseling.) Nor hed this constitutional maxim been neglected as a useless and barren theory. * On the literary state of Persia, the Greek
versions, philosophers, sophists, the learning or ignorance of Chosroes, Agathias (1 . 2, c. 66—71) displays much information and strong prejudices. [The value of Nushirvan's studies, and the influence of his example, are to be estimated rather by his nation's subsequent progress, than by any statements even of contemporary historians. Let Persia's share in the improvement of the world index the scale. The excesses of Mazdak and his disciples had most probably filled Nushirvan with an aversion for learning, except of the lightest kind, or such as the Sadder sanctioned; and to this may be attributed the cold reception given to the fugitive philosophers of Athens. The Persians and the Goths had one common origin; but the two tribes diverged while language and intellect were yet young, and they had very different courses of training. The latter, in the wild freedom of mountain and forest, slowly developed solid principles; the former, in the forcing atmosphere of a southern latitude, precociously matured more showy, but less enduring powers. Something of a spirit kindred I to the Gothic, may be perceived in the primseval efforts of Persia; but it soon evaporated. The religious tendencies which Zoroaster had called forth, were perverted by the Magi into means of establishing their own dominion on the crushed energies of a people. Like all wealth-holding and ambitious priesthoods, they, too, inculcated the absolutism of civil sway. Pressed down by both, Persia sank to the lowest depth of mental humiliation. Poets and romancers might indulge at will their light fancies, but serious thought and truthadvancing inquiry, were forbidden. A calm, sedate, virtue-nurturing religion, is the best of social aids; but fanaticism and dogmatic ambition are alike, in all times and all faiths, the uncompromising foes of human progress.—Ed.] + Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv,
p. 745—747. X The Shah Nameh, or Book of Kings, is
perhaps the original record of history which was translated into Greek by the interpreter Sergius (Agathias, 1. 5, p. 141), preserved after the Mahometan conquest, and versified in the year 994, by the national poet Ferdoussi. See D'Anquetil (Mdm. de l'Acade'mie, tom, xxxi, p. 379) and Sir William Jones (Hist, of Nadir Shah, p. 161.)
and the fabulous heroes of Oriental romance.* Every learned or confident stranger was enriched by the bounty, and flattered by the conversation, of the monarch: he nobly rewarded a Greek physieian,f by the deliverance of three thousand captives; and the Sophists, who contended for his favour, 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. J 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 by the epithets of savage and unmusical, by the ignorance and presumption of Agathias.§ 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 subtleties 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,^ appear to be indissolubly
* In the fifth century, the name of Eestom or Rostam, a hero who equalled the strength of twelve elephants, was familiar to the Armenians. (Moses Choronensis, Hist. Armen. 1 . 2, o. 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. 31, p. 335.) Yet this exposition of ludicrum novse historise, is not given by Maracci. (Refutat. Alcoran. p. 544—548.) + Procop. Goth. 1. 4, c. 10.
Kobad had a favourite Greek physician, Stephen of Edessa. (Persic. 1 . 2, c. 26.) The practice was ancient; and Herodotus relates the adventures of Democedes of Crotona (1. 3, c. 125—137).
J See Pagi, tom, ii, p. 626. In one of the treaties an honourable 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.)
§ On the Persian language, and its three dialects, consult D'Anquetil (p. 339—343) and Jones (p. 153—185): dyp/p rivi yXwrry Kal dyuouaoraTy, is the character which Agathias (1. 2, p. 66) ascribes to an idiom renowned in the east for poetical softness.
H Agathias specifies the Gorgias, Phcedon, Parmenides, and Timseus.
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 dispatched 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 * 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 olitical sentences are illustrated in a series of apologues: ut 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.f
Renaudot (Fabricius, Bibliot. Grsec. tom, xii, p. 246—261) does not mention this barbaric version of Aristotle.
* Of these fables, I have seen three copies in three different languages :—1. In Greek, translated by Simeon Seth (ad. 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. Gontes et Fables Indiennes de Pidpai et de Lokman, par ME Galland et Cardonne, Paris, 1778, three vols. in 12mo. Mr. Wharton (History of English Poetry, vol. i, p. 129—131) takes a larger scope. [More correct information on this subject will be found in ch. 46.—Ed.] + See the Historia Shahiludii of Dr. Hyde,
Syntagm. Dissertat. tom. ii, p. 61—69.)