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24 SIEGE 01" PALMYRA. Chap. XI.
the caravans which conveyed to the nations of Europe a considerable part of the rich commodities of India. Palmyra insensibly increased into an opulent and independent city, and, connecting the Roman and the Parthian monarchies by the mutual benefits of commerce, was suffered to observe an humble neutrality, till at length, after the victories of Trajan, the little republic sunk into the bosom of Rome, and flourished more than one hundred and fifty years in the subordinate though honourable rank of a colony. It was during that peaceful period, if we may judge from a few remaining inscriptions, that the wealthy Palmyrenians constructed those temples, palaces, and porticos of Grecian architecture, whose ruins, scattered over an extent of several miles, have deserved the curiosity of our travellers. The elevation of Odenathus and Zenobia appeared to reflect new splendour on their country, and Palmyra, for a while, stood forth the rival of Rome: but the competition was fatal, and ages of prosperity were sacrificed to a moment of glory.69
In his march over the sandy desert between Emesa and Palmyra, it is be- the emperor Aurelian was perpetually harassed by the Aureiian, Arabs; nor could he always defend his army, and especially his baggage, from those flying troops of active and daring robbers, who watched the moment of surprise, and eluded the slow pursuit of the legions. The siege of Palmyra was an object far more difficult and important, and the emperor, who, with incessant vigour, pressed the attacks in person, was himself wounded with a dart. "The "Roman people," says Aurelian, in an original letter, "speak with "contempt of the war which I am waging against a woman. They "are ignorant both of the character and of the power of Zenobia. "It is impossible to enumerate her warlike preparations, of stones, of "arrows, and of every species of missile weapons. Every part of the "walls is provided with two or three balistce, and artificial fires are "thrown from her military engines. The fear of punishment has "armed her with a desperate courage. Yet still I trust in the pro"tecting deities of Rome, who have hitherto been favourable to all "my undertakings." 70 Doubtful, however, of the protection of the gods, and of the event of the siege, Aurelian judged it more prudent to offer terms of an advantageous capitulation; to the queen, a splendid retreat; to the citizens, their ancient privileges. His proposals were obstinately rejected, and the refusal was accompanied with insult.
w Some English travellers from Aleppo discovered the ruins of Palmyra about the end of the last century. Our curiosity has since been gratified in a more splendid manner by Messieurs Wood and Dawkius. For the history of Palmyra we may consult the masterly dissertation of Dr. Halley in the Philosophical Transactions: Lowthorp's Abridgment, vol. iii. p. 518.
70 Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 218. [Aurol. c. 2(5.]
A.D. 273. CAPTURE OF ZENOBIA. 25
The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope that in a very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass . , the desert; and by the reasonable expectation that the master of kings of the East, and particularly the Persian monarch, and of the would arm in the defence of their most natural ally. But fortune and the perseverance of Aurelian overcame every obstacle. The death of Sapor, which happened about this time,71 distracted the councils of Persia, and the inconsiderable succours that attempted to relieve Palmyra were easily intercepted either by the arms or the liberality of the emperor. From every part of Syria a regular succession of convoys safely arrived in the camp, which was increased by the return of Probus with his victorious troops from the conquest of Egypt. It was then that Zenobia resolved to fly. She mounted the fleetest of her dromedaries,72 and had already reached the banks of the- Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's light horse, seized and brought back a captive to the feet of the emperor. Her capital
. A.d. 273
soon afterwards surrendered, and was treated with unexpected lenity. The arms, horses, and camels, with an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and precious stones, were all delivered to the conqueror, who, leaving only a garrison of six hundred archers, returned to Emesa, and employed some time in the distribution of rewards and punishments at the end of so memorable a war, which restored to the obedience of Rome those provinces that had renounced their allegiance since the captivity of Valerian.
When the Syrian queen was brought into the presence of Aurelian, he sternly asked her, How she had presumed to rise in arms Bchaviour against the emperors of Rome? The answer of Zenobia ofZcnobiawas a prudent mixture of respect and firmness. "Because I dis"dained to consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. "You alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign." 73 But as female fortitude is commonly artificial, so it is seldom steady or consistent. The courage of Zenobia deserted her in the hour of trial; she trembled at the angry clamours of the soldiers, who called aloud for her immediate execution, forgot the generous despair of Cleopatra, which she had proposed as her model, and ignominiously
71 From a very doubtful chronology I have endeavoured to extract the most probable date.
n Hist. August, p. 218. [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 28.] Zosimus, 1. i. [c. 55] p. 50. Though the camel is a heavy beast of burden, the dromedary, which is either of the same or of a kindred species, is used by the natives of Asia and Africa on all occasions which require celerity. The Arabs affirm that he will run over as much ground in one day as their fleetest horses can perform in eight or ten. See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, torn. xi. p. 222; and Shaw's Travels, p. 167.
73 Pollio in Hist. August, p. 109. [xxx. Tyranni, de Zenobia, c. 29.]
26 REBELLION AND RUIX OF I'ALMYRA. CilAP. XI.
purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her friends. It was to their counsels, which governed the weakness of her sex, that she imputed the guilt of her obstinate resistance; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance of the cruel Aurelian. The fame of Longiuus, who was included among the numerous and perhaps innocent victims of her fear, will survive that of the queen who betrayed, or the tyrant who condemned him. Genius and learning were incapable of moving a fierce unlettered soldier, but they had served to elevate and harmonise the soul of Longinus. Without uttering a complaint, he calmly followed the executioner, pitying his unhappy mistress, and bestowing comfort on his afflicted friends.7*
Returning from the conquest of the East, Aurelian had already Rebellion crossed the Streights which divide Europe from Asia, when palmyra. he was provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had massacred the governor and garrison which he had left among them, and again erected the standard of revolt. Without a moment's deliberation, he once more turned his face towards Syria. Antioch was alarmed by his rapid approach, and the helpless city of Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. We have a letter of Aurelian himself, in which he acknowledges ,s that old men, women, children, and peasants, had been involved in that dreadful execution, which should have been confined to armed rebellion; and although his principal concern seems directed to the re-establishment of a temple of the Sun, he discovers some pity for the remnant of the Palmyrenians, to whom he grants the permission of rebuilding and inhabiting their city. But it is easier to destroy than to restore. The seat of commerce, of arts, and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village. The present citizens of Palmyra, consisting of thirty or forty families, have erected their mud-cottages within the spacious court of a magnificent temple.
Another and a last labour still awaited the indefatigable Aurelian; to suppress a dangerous though obscure rebel, who, during Bupprewes the revolt of Palmyra, had arisen on the banks of the Nile, of nrmu» Firmus, the friend and ally, as he proudly styled himself, of Odenathus and Zenobia, was no more than a wealthy merchant of Egypt. In the course of his trade to India he had formed very intimate connexions with the Saracens and the Blemmycs, whose situation, on either coast of the Red Sea, gave them an easy introduction into the Upper Egypt. The Egyptians he inflamed with the hope of freedom, and, at the head of their furious multitude,
"Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 219. [Aurel. c. 30.] Zosimue, 1. i. [c. 56, p.49]p. 51. ""ist. August, p. 219. [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 31.]
A.d. 274. TRIUMPH OF AURELIAN. 27
broke into the city of Alexandria, where he assumed the Imperial purple, coined money, published edicts, and raised an army, which, as he vainly boasted, he was capable of maintaining from the sole profits of his paper trade. Such troops were a feeble defence against the approach of Aurelian; and it seems almost unnecessary to relate that Firmus was routed, taken, tortured, and put to death.76 Aurelian might now congratulate the senate, the people, and himself, that, in little more than three years, he had restored universal peace and order to the Roman world.
Since the foundation of Rome no general had more nobly deserved a triumph than Aurelian; nor was a triumph ever cele- A.i>.J74brated with superior pride and magnificence.77 The pomp Aurelian. was opened by twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and above two hundred of the most curious animals from every climate of the North, the East, and the South. They were followed by sixteen hundred gladiators, devoted to the cruel amusement of the amphitheatre. The wealth of Asia, the arms and ensigns of so many conquered nations, and the magnificent plate and wardrobe of the Syrian queen, were disposed in exact symmetry or artful disorder. The ambassadors of the most remote parts of the earth, of ^Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, Bactriana, India, and China, all remarkable by their rich or singular dresses, displayed the fame and power of the Roman emperor, who exposed likewise to the public view the presents that he had received, and particularly a great number of crowns of gold, the offerings of grateful cities. The victories of Aurelian were attested by the long train of captives who reluctantly attended his triumph—Goths, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls, Syrians, and Egyptians. Each people was distinguished by its peculiar inscription, and the title of Amazons was bestowed on ten martial heroines of the Gothic nation who had been taken in arms.79 But every eye, disregarding the crowd of captives, was fixed on the emperor Tetricus
76 See Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 220, 242. [Aurel. c. 32; Firmus, c. 2.] As an instance of luxury, it is observed that he had glass windows. He was remarkable for his strength and appetite, his courage and dexterity. From the letter of Aurelian we may justly infer that Firmus was the last of the rebels, and consequently that Tetricus was already suppressed.
77 See the triumph of Aurelian, described by Vopiscus. He relates the particulars with his usual minuteness; and on this occasion they happen to be interesting. Hist. August, p. 220. [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 33, seq."]
78 Among barbarous nations women have often combated by the side of their husbands. But it is almost impossible that a society of Amazons should ever have existed either in the old or new world."
* Klaproth's theory on the origin of the females may have endeavoured, for a
such traditions is at least recommended time, to maintain their independence in
by its ingenuity. The males of a tribe their camp or village till their children
having gone out on a marauding expedi- grew up. Travels, ch. xxx. Eng. trans,
tion, and having been cut off to a man, —M.
28 TREATMENT OF TETRICUS AND ZEXOBlA. CllAP. XI.
and the queen of the East. The former, as well as his son, whom he had created Augustus, was dressed in Gallic trowsers,79 a saffron tunic, and a robe of purple. The beauteous figure of Zenobia was confined by fetters of gold; a slave supported the gold chain which encircled her neck, and she almost fainted under the intolerable weight of jewels. She preceded on foot the magnificent chariot in which she once hoped to enter the gates of Rome. It was followed by two other chariots, still more sumptuous, of Odenathus and of the Persian monarch. The triumphal car of Aurelian (it had formerly been used by a Gothic king) was drawn, on this memorable occasion, either by four stags or by four elephants/0 The most illustrious of the senate, the people, and the army closed the solemn procession. Unfeigned joy, wonder, and gratitude swelled the acclamations of the multitude; but the satisfaction of the senate was clouded by the appearance of Tetricus; nor could they suppress a rising murmur that the haughty emperor should thus expose to public ignominy the person of a Roman and a magistrate.81
But, however in the treatment of his unfortunate rivals Aurelian iiis treat- might indulge his pride, he behaved towards them with a Tetricus and generous clemency which was seldom exercised by the Zeuobia. ancient conquerors. Princes who, without success, had defended their throne or freedom, were frequently strangled in prison as soon as the triumphal pomp ascended the Capitol. These usurpers, whom their defeat had convicted of the crime of treason, were permitted to spend their lives in affluence and honourable repose. The emperor presented Zenobia with an elegant villa at Tibur or Tivoli, about twenty mile3 from the capital; the Syrian queen insensibly sunk into a Roman matron, her daughters married into noble families, and her race was not yet extinct in the fifth century.82 Tetricus and his son were reinstated in their rank and fortunes. They erected on the Caelian hill a magnificent palace, and, as soon as it was finished,
70 The use of bracea, breeches, or trowsers, was still considered in Italy as a Gallic and barbarian fashion. The Romans, however, had made great advances towards it. To encircle the legs and thighs with fascia, or bands, was understood, in the time of Poinpey and Horace, to be a proof of ill health or effeminacy. In the age of Trajan the custom was confined to the rich and luxurious It gradually was adopted by the meanest of the people. See a very curious note of Casaubon, ad Sueton. in August, c. 82.
*° Most probably the former; the latter, seen on the medals of Aurelian, only denote (according to the learned Cardinal Norris) an oriental victory.
61 The expression of Calpurnius (Eclog. i. .r>0), Nullos ducet captiea triumphos, as applied to Home, contaius a very manifest allusion and censure.*
83 Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 199. [xxx. Tyranni, Zenobia, c. 29.] Hieronym.'in Chron. Prosper in Chron. Baronius supposes that Zenobius, bishop of Florence in the time of St. Ambrose, was of her family.
"Although Gibbon quotes Calptirnius his date is quite uncertain. Smith's Diet, as a contemporary (soo below, note 93), of Biogr. vol. i. p. 582.—S.