Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Phasis, waa defended on all sides by strong intrenchments, the river, the Euxine, and a fleet of galleys. Despair united their councils 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 bravest soldiers. He escaped from the Romana 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 exposed on a mountain: a dreadful warning to those who might hereafter be intrusted with the fame and fortune of Persia.* Tet 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 harships 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, f 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 bis 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.

* The punishment of flaying alive could not be introduced intoPersia by Sapor (Brisson, de Regn. Pers. 1. 2, p. 578), nor could it becopied from the foolish tale of Marsyas the Phrygian piper, most foolishly quoted as a precedent by Agathias (1 . 4, p. 132,133).

+ In the palace of Constantinople there were thirty sUentiaries, whoare styled hastati ante fores cubiculi, Tjjq fftyijc kirioTarat, an honourable title, which conferred the rank, without imposing the duties, of asenator. (Cod. Theodos. 1. 6, tit. 23. Gothofred. Comment, tom. u> 490 NEGOTIATIONS AND TREATIES BETWEEN [CH XLTT.

first momenta 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 Phaeis restored the terror of the Koman 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 punishment: 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 honourable treaty. During the fiercest hostilities, the two monarchs entertained a deceitful negotiation; and such was the superiority of Chosroes, that whilst he treated the Koman ministers with insolence and contempt, he obtained the most unprecedented honours 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 splendour 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

p. 129.) * On these judicial orations, Agathias (1. 3, p. 81—

89; 1. i, p. 108—119,) lavishes eighteen or twenty pages of false and florid rhetoric. His ignorance or carelessness overlooks the strongest argument against the king of Lazica—his former revolt [These transactions are arranged in the following order by Clinton (F. K. i. 802—812): A.d. 554, death of Mermeroes and assassination of Gubazes; A.d. 555, Nacoragan defeated at Phasis; A.D. 556, trial of the murderer of Gubazes; A.d. 557, Nacoragan recalled and put to death; A.D. 562, treaty of peace.—Ed.]

[merged small][ocr errors]

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 domestics offended the prejudices of an age which rigorously practised the law of nations, without confidence or courtesy.* By an unexampled indulgence, his interpreter, a servant below the notice of a Roman magistrate, was seated, at the table of Justinian, by the side of his master; and one thousand pounds of gold might be assigned for the expense of his journey and entertainment. Yet the repeated labours of Isdigune could procure only a partial and imperfect truce, which was always purchased with the treasures, and renewed at the solicitation, of the Byzantine court. Many years of fruitless desolation elapsed before Justinian and Chosroes were compelled by mutual lassitude, to consult the repose of their declining age. At a conference held on the frontier, each party, without expecting to gain credit, displayed the power, the justice, and the pacific intentions of their respective sovereigns; but necessity and interest dictated the treaty of peace, which was concluded for a term of fifty years, diligently composed in the Greek and Persian languages, and attested by the seals of twelve interpreters. The liberty of commerce and religion was fixed and defined; the allies of the emperor and the great king were included in the same benefits and obligations; and the most scrupulous precautions were provided to prevent or determine the accidental disputes that might arise on the confines of two hostile nations. After twenty years of destructive though feeble war, the limits still remained without alteration; and Chosroes was persuaded to renounce his dangerous claim to the possession or sovereignty of Colchos and its dependent states. Eich in the accumulated treasures of the East, he extorted from the Eomans an annual payment of thirty thousand pieces of gold; and the smallness of the sum revealed the disgrace of a tribute in its naked deformity.

* Procopius represents the practice of the Gothic court of Ravenna {Goth. 1. 1, c. 7); and foreign ambassadors have been treated with the same jealousy and rigour in Turkey (Busbequius, epist. 3, p. 149, 242, &c.), Russia (Voyage d'Olearius), and China (Narrative of M. de Lange, in Bell's Travels, vol. ii, p. 189—311.)

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

In a previous debate, the chariot of Sesostris, and the wheel of fortuue, were applied by one of the ministers of Justinian, who observed that the reduction of Antioch and some Syrian cities had elevated beyond measure the vain and ambitious spirit of the Barbarian. "You are mistaken," replied the modest Persian: "the king of kings, the lord of mankind, looks down with contempt on such petty acquisitions; and of the ten nations, vanquished by his invincible arms, he esteems the Romans as the least formidable."* According to the Orientals, the empire of Nushirvan extended from Ferganah in Transoxiana to Yemen or Arabia Felix. He subdued the rebels of Hyrcania, reduced the provinces of Cabul and Zablestan on the banks of the Indus, broke the power of the Euthalites, terminated by an honourable treaty the Turkish war, and admitted the daughter of the great khan into the number of his lawful wives. Victorious and respected among the princes of Asia, he gave audience, in his palace of Madain, or Ctesiphon, to the ambassadors of the world. Their gifts or tributes, arms, rich garments, gems, slaves, or aromatics, were humbly presented at the foot of his throne; and he condescended to accept from the king of India, ten quintals of the wood of aloes, a maid seven cubits in height, and a carpet softer than silk, the skin, as it was reported, of an extraordinary serpent.f

Justiman had been reproached for his alliance with the Ethiopians, as if he attempted to introduce a people of savage negroes into the system of civilized society. But the friends of the Roman empire, the Axumites, or Abyssinians, may be always distinguished from the original natives of Africa.J The hand of nature has flattened the noses of the negroes, covered their heads with shaggy wool, and tinged their skin with inherent and indelible blackness. But the olive complexion of the Abyssinians, their hair, shape, and

* The negotiations and treaties between Justinian and Chosroes are copiously explained by Procopius (Persic. 1. 2, c. 10.13. 26—28; Gothic . 1.2. o. 11.15.), Agathias (1. 4, p. 141, 142), and Menander (in Excerpt , Legat. p. 132-—147.) Consult Barbeyrac, Hist, des Anciens Traites, tom, ii, p. 154. 181—184. 193—200.

+ D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient, p. 680, 681. 294, 295.

I See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom, iii, p. 449. This Arab cast of features and complexion, which has continued three thousand four hundred years (Ludolph. Hist, et Comment. Ethiopia 1. 1, c. 4) in the colony of Abyssinia, will justify the suspicion, that race, as well as climate, must have contributed to form the negroes of the adjacent

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

features, distinctly marked them as a colony of Arabs; and this descent is confirmed by the resemblance of language and manners, the report of an ancient emigration, and the narrow interval between the shores of the Eed sea. Christianity had raised that nation above the level of African barbarism ;* their intercourse with Egypt, and the successors of Constantine,t had communicated the rudiments of the arts and sciences; their vessels traded to the isle of Ceylon, J and seven kingdoms obeyed the Negus or supreme prince of Abyssinia. The independence of the Homerites, who reigned in the rich and happy Arabia, was first violated by an ./Ethiopian conqueror; he drew his hereditary claim from the queen of 8heba,§ and his ambition was sanctified

and similar regions. * The Portuguese missionaries,

Alvarez (Ramusio, tom, i, fol. 204, rect. 274, vers.), Bermudez (Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. ii, 1. 5, c. 7, p. 1149—1188), Lobo (Relation, &c. par M. le Grand, with fifteen Dissertations, Paris, 1728), and Tellez (Relations de Thevenot, part 4), could only relate of modern Abyssinia what they had seen or invented. The erudition of Ludolphus (Hist. Ethiopica, Francofurt. 1681; Commentarius, 1691; Appendix, 1694) in twenty-five languages, could add little concerning its ancient history. Yet the fame of Caled, or Ellisthseus, the conqueror of Yemen, is celebrated in national songs and legends.

+ The negotiations of Justinian with the Axumites, or Ethiopians, are recorded by Procopius (Persic. 1. 1, c. 19, 20,) and John Malalas, <tom. ii, p. 163—165, 193—196.) The historian of Antioch quotes the original narrative of the ambassador Nonnosus, of which Photius (Bibliot. cod. 3) has preserved a curious extract.

J The trade of the Axumites to the coast of India and Africa, and the isle of Ceylon, is curiously represented by Cosmas Indicopleustes. (Topograph. Christian. 1. 2, p. 132. 138—140; I. 11, p. 338, 339.)

§ Ludolph. Hist. et Comment. ./Ethiop. 1. 2, c. 3. [The annals of Abyssinia (Bruce's Travels, 1. 47, &c.) present a different view of these events. That country, at an early period peopled by a shepherd race, called in their language Berber, whence our term barbarian, often submitted to female rulers. One of these was Solomon's visitor. The word Sheba, Saba, Azab or Azaba, denoted the South, so that the title by which she is known to us signified only the quarter whence she came. After her return to her own country, she sent her son, Menilak, to Jerusalem, to be educated by his reputed father. The young prince took back with him a Hebrew colony, by whom his people were converted to Judaism. Their habits became thenceforth more settled, and they engaged in a commerce which connected them with Arabia and India on one side, and on the other with more northern climes, to which they forwarded the merchandize of tropic regions. Their sovereigns, who were styled Nagasch or Najaschi, planted for the purposes of this trade, on the opposite shores of Yemen, a numerous colony, which, under the name of Homerites,

« ForrigeFortsett »