« ForrigeFortsett »
at length burst on the Bosphorus of Thrace; a strait of fifteen miles, in which the rude vessels of the Russians might have been stopped and destroyed by a more skilful adversary. In their first enterprise M under the princes of Kiow, they passed without opposition, and occupied the port of Constantinople in the absence of the emperor Michael, the son of rheophilus. Through a crowd of perils, he landed at the >ahce-stairs, and immediately repaired to a church of the V it gin Mary.00 By the advice of the patriarch, her garment, a precious relic, was drawn from the sanctuary and dipped in the sea; and a seasonable tempest, which determined the retreat of the Russians, was devoutly ascribed to the mother of God." The silence of the Greeks may inspire some doubt of the truth, or at least of the importance, of the second attempt by Oleg, the guardian of the sons of Ruric.*4 A strong barrier of arms and fortifications defended the Bosphorus: they were eluded by the usual expedient of drawing the boats over the isthmus; and this simple operation is described in the national chronicles, as if the Russian fleet had sailed over dry land with a brisk and favorable gale. The leader of the third armament, Igor, the son of Ruric, had chosen a moment of weakness and decay, when the naval powers of the empire were employed against the Saracens. But if courage be not wanting, the instruments of defence are seldom deficient. Fifteen broken and decayed galleys were boldly launched against the enemy; but instead of the single tube of Greek fire usually planted on the prow, the sides and stern of each vessel were abundantly supplied with that liquid com
69 It is to be lamented, that Bayer has only given a Dissertation de Russorum prima Expeditione Constantinopolitana, (Comment. Academ. Petropol. torn. vi. p. 265—391.) After disentangling some chronological intricacies, he fixes it in the years 864 or 865, a date which might have smoothed some doubts and difficulties in the beginning of M. Leveque's history.
60 When Photius wrote his encyclic epistle on the conversion of the Russians, the miracle was not yet sufficiently ripe; he reproaches the
Daticn as Ei's C>j)othth mil fxian^aviuv tttivrat ocvripuvs Tarr6^iSfOP.
61 Leo Grammaticus, p. 463, 464. Constantini Continuator in Script, post Theophanem, p. 121, 122. Symeon Logothet. p. 445, 446. Geora Monach. p. 535, 536. Cedrenus, torn. ii. p. 551. Zonaras, torn, li. p Id I.
"See Nestor and Nicon, in Leveque's Hist, de Russie, torn. i. p. 74—80. Katona (Hist. Ducum, p. 75—79) uses his advantage to digprove this Russian victory, which would cloud the siege of Kiow hj the Hungarians.
bustible. The engineers were dexterous; the weather was propitious; many thousand Russians, who chose rather to ba drowned than burnt, leaped into the sea; and those who escaped to the Thracian shore were inhumanly slaughtered by the peasants and soldiers. Yet one third of the canoes escaped into shallow water; and the next spring Igor was again prepared to retrieve his disgrace and claim his revenge."3 After a long peace, Jaroslaus, the great grandson of Igor, resumed the same project of a naval invasion. A fleet, under the command of his son, was repulsed at the entrance of the Bosphorus by the same artificial flames. But in the rashness of pursuit, the vanguard of the Greeks was encompassed by an irresistible multitude of boats and men; their provision of fire was probably exhausted; and twenty-four galleys were either taken, sunk, or destroyed."*
Yet the threats or calamities of a Russian war were more frequently diverted by treaty than by arms. In these naval hostilities, every disadvantage was on the side of the Greeks; their savage enemy afforded no mercy: his poverty promised no spoil; his impenetrable retreat deprived the conqueror of the hopes of revenge; and the pride or weakness of empire indulged an opinion, that no honor could be gained or lost in the intercourse with Barbarians. At first their demands were high and inadmissible, three pounds of gold for each soldier or mariner of the fleet: the Russian youth adhered to the design of conquest and glory; but the counsels of moderation were recommended by the hoary sages. "Be content," they said, " with the liberal offers of Caesar; is it not far better to obtain without a combat the possession of gold, silver, silks, and all the objects of our desires? Are we sure of victory' Can we conclude a treaty with the sea? We do not tread on the land; we float on the abyss of water, and a common death hangs over our heads."f The memory of these Arc
** Leo Grammaticus, p. 506, 507. Incert. Contin. p. ?63, 264 Symeon Logothet. p. 490, 491. Georg. Monach. p. 588. 589. Cedren. torn. ii. p. 629. Zonaras, torn. ii. p. 190, 191, and Liutprand, 1. v C. 6, who -writes from the narratives of his father-in-law, then ambassador at Constantinople, and corrects the vain exaggeration of the Greeks.
M I can only appeal to Cedrenus (torn. ii. p. 758. 759) and Zonar&a, (torn. ii. p. 253, 254 ;) but they grow more weighty and credible ae they «raw near to their own times.
rt Nestor, apud Leveque, Hist, de Russie, torn. L p. 8*7.
ti< fleets that seemed to descend from the pohir circk left • deep impression of terror on the Imperial city. By the vulgar of eveiy rank, it was asserted and believed, that an equestrian statue in the square of Taurus was secretly inscribed with a prophecy, how the Russians, in the last days, should become masters of Constantinople." In our own time, a Russian armament, instead of sailing from the Borysthenes, has circumuavigated the continent of Europe; and the Turkish capital !ia3 been threatened by a squadron of strong and lofty ships of war, each of which, with its naval science and thundering artillery, could have sunk or scattered a hundred canoes, such as those of their ancestors. Perhaps the present generation may yet behold the accomplishment of the prediction, of a rare prediction, of which the style is unambiguous and the date unquestionable.
By land the Russians were less formidable than by sea; and as they fought for the most part on foot, their irregular legions must often have been broken and overthrown by the cavalry of the Scythian hordes. Yet their growing towns, however slight and imperfect, presented a shelter to the subject, and a barrier to the enemy: the monarchy of Kiow, till a fatal partition, assumed the dominion of the North; and the nations from the Volga to the Danube were subdued or repelled by the arms of Swatoslaus," the son of Igor, the son of Oleg, the son of Ruric. The vigor of his mind and body was fortified by the hardships of a military and savage life. Wrapped in a bear-skin, Swatoslaus usually slept on the ground, his head reclining on a saddle; his diet was coarse and frugal, and, like the heroes of Homer,8" his meat (it was often
'" This brazen statue, which had been Drought from Antioch, and was melted down by the Latins, was supposed to represent either Joshua or Bellerophon, an odd dilemma. See Nicetas Choniates, (p 413,414,) Codinus, (de Originibus C. P. p. 24,) and the anonymous writer de Antiquitat. C. P. (Banduri, Imp. Orient, torn. i. p. 17, 18,) who lived about the year 1100. They witness the belief of the prophecy the rest is immaterial.
67 The life of Swatoslaus, or Sviatoslaf, or Sphendosthlabus, is extracted from the Russian Chronicles by M. Levesque, (Hist, de Russia torn. i. p. 94—107.)
69 This resemblance may be clearly seen in the ninth book of th« Iliad, (205—221,) in the minute detail of the cookery of Achilles. Hy »uch a picture, a modern epic poet would disgrace his work, and disjrust his reader; but the Greek verses are harmonious—a dead Ianl .age can seldom appear low or faiuiiiur; and at the distance of tw« horse-flesh) was broiled or roasted on the coals. The exercise of war gave stability and discipline to his army; and il may be presumed, that no soldier was permitted to transcend the luxury of his chief. By an embassy from Nicephorus, the Greek emperor, he was moved to undertake the conquest of Bulgaria; and a gift of fifteen hundred pounds of gold was laid at his feet to defray the expen?e, or reward the toils, of the expedition. An army of sixty thousand men was assembled and embarked; they sailed from the Borysthenes to the Danube; their landing was effected on the Maesian shore; and, after a sharp encounter, the swords of the Russians prevailed against the arrows, of the Bulgarian horse. The vanquished king sunk into the grave; his children were made captive ; and his dominions, as far as Mount Haemus, woiv suhrluod or ravaged by the northern invaders. But instead of relinquishing his prey, and performing his engagements, the Varangian prince was more disposed to advance than to retire; and, had his ambition been crowned with success, the seat of empire in that early period might have been transferred to a more temperate and fruitful climate. Swatoslaus enjoyed and acknowledged the advantages of his new position, in which he could unite, by exchange or rapine, the various pr< ductions of the earth. By an easy navigation he might draw from Russia the native commodities of furs, wax, and hydrom<^: Hungary supplied him with a breed of horses and the spoils of the West; and Greece abounded with gold, silver, and the foreign luxuries, which his poverty had affected to disdain. The bands of Patzinacites, Chozars, and Turks, renaired to the standard of victory; and the ambassador of Nicephorus betrayed his trust, assumed the purple, and promised to sbiire with his new allies the treasures of the Eastern world From the banks of the Danube the Russian prince pursued his march as far as Adri anople; a formal summons to evacuate the Roman province was dismissed with contemot ■ ^ud Swatoslaus fiercely replied, that Constantinople might soon expect the presence of an ene my and a master. •pirit and abilities of a hero. The first victory of his lieutenants deprived the Russians of their foreign allies, twenty thousand of whom were either destroyed by the sword, or provoked to revolt, or tempted to desert. Thrace was delivered, but seventy thousand Barbarians were still in arras; and the legions that had been recalled from the new conquests of Syria, prepared, with the return of the spring, to maich under the banners of a warlike prince, who declared himself Ihe friend and avenger of the injured Bulgaria. The passes of Mount Haemus had been left unguarded; they were instantly occupied; the Roman vanguard was formed of the immortals, (a proud imitation of the Persian style;) the emperor led the main body of ten thousand five hundred foot; and the rest of his forces followed in slow and cautious array, with the baggage and military engines. The first exploit of Zimisces was the reduction of Marcianopolis, or Peristhlaba," in two days; the trumpets sounded; the walls were scaled; eight thousand five hundred Russians were put to the sword; and the sons of the Bulgarian king were rescued from an ignominious prison, and invested with a nominal diadem. After these repeated losses, Swatoslaus retired to the strong post of Drista, on the banks of the Danube, and was pursued by an enemy who alternately employed the arms of celerity and delay. The Byzantine galleys ascended the river, the legions completed a line of circumvallatinn; and the Russian prince was encompassed, assaulted, and famished, in the for
Nicephorus could no k»n«p-r expel the mischief which he had introduced; but Lis throne and wife were inherited by John Zimisces," who, m a diminutive body, possessed the
T^i/iKTKTjj is interpreted in Greek by jiovgaKigris, or fioipaxi^ns. As [ profess myself equally ignorant of these words, I may be indulged in the question in the play," Pray, which of you is the interpreter!" From the context, they seem to signify Adolexcentulua, (Lee Diacca 1. iv. MS. apud Ducange, Glossur. Grasc. p. 1570.)*
70 In the Sclavonic tongue, the name of Peristhlaba implied the great or illustrious city, ^eyiiXn Km ovaa K,i\ ~Kty.iiii.vn, says Anna Comnena, (Alexiad, 1. vii. p. 194.) From its position between Mount Hamius and the Lower Danube, it appears to fill the ground, or at least the station, of Marcianopolis. The situation of Durostolus, or Dristra, is well known and conspicuous, (Comment. Acadein. Petro pol. torn. ix. p. 415, 416. D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, torn. i. p. 807,811.)
# Cerbied. the learned Armenian, gives another derivatii o. There is city palled Tschemisch gaizag which means a bright or purple sandal, snob M women wear in the East. He was called Tschomiwh-ghigh, (for so hit name i* wrilten in Armenian, from this city, his native place.) Hase. Not* to Leo Diac. p. 454. in Niebuhr's Uyzant. Hist.— M. VOL. V. 1