Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Bive rigor. Hie seditions of Alexandria had often affected the tranquillity and subsistence of Rome itsel f. Since the usurpation of Firmus, the province of Upper Egypt, incessantly relapsing into rebellion, had embraced the alliance of the savages of /Ethiopia. The number of the Blemmyes, scattered between the Island of Meroe and the Red Sea, was very inconsiderable, their disposition was unwarlike, their weapons rude and inoffensive.46 Yet in the public disorders, these barbarians, whom antiquity, shocked with the deformity of their figure, had almost excluded from the human species, presumed to rank themselves among the enemies of Rome.4' Such had been the unworthy allies of the Egyptians ; and while the attention of the state was engaged in more serious wars, their vexatious inroads might again harass the repose of the province. With a view of opposing to the Blemmyes a suitable adversary, Diocletian persuaded the Nobatae, or people of Nubia, to remove from their ancient habitations in the deserts of Libya, and resigned to them an extensive but unprofitable territory above Syene and the cataracts of the Nile, with the stipulation, that they should ever respect and guard the frontier of the empire. The treaty long subsisted; and till the establishment of Christianity introduced stricter notions of religious worship, it was annually ratified by a solemn sacrifice in the Isle of Elephantine, in which the Romans, as well as the barbarians, adored the same visible or invisible powers of the universe.48

At the same time that Diocletian chastised the past crimes ol the Egyptians, he provided for their future safety and happiness by many wise regulations, which were confirmed and enforced under the succeeding reigns.49 One very remarka

48 Strabo, 1.1 xvii. p. 1, 172. Pomponius Mela, 1. i. c. 4. Hi s words are curious: "Intra, si credere libct, vix homines magisquo demifcri; -lEgipanes, et Hkmmyes, et Satyri."

47 Ausus sese inscrere fortunae et provacare arma Romana.

48 See Procopius do Boll. Persic. 1. i. c. 19.*

49 lie fixed the public allowance of corn, for the people of Alexandria. at two millions of medimni; about four hundred thousand quarter. Chron. Paschal. p. 276. Procop. Hist. Arcan. e. 26.

• Compare, on the epoch of the final extirpation of the rites of Paganism from the Isle of Philae, (Elephantine,) which subsisted till the edict of Theodosius, in the sixth century, a dissertation of M. Letronne, on certain Greek inscriptions. The dissertation contains some very interesting observations on the conduct and policy of Diocletian in Egypt. Materpour l'Hist. du Christianisme en Egypte, Nubie, et Abyssinie, Paris, 1832. ble edst which he published, instead of being condemned as the effect of jealous tyranny, deserves to be applauded as an act of prudence and humanity. He caused a diligent inquiry to be made "for all the ancient books which treated of the admirable art of making gold and silver, and without pity-, committed them to the flames; apprehensive, as we arc assured, lest the opulence of the Egyptians should inspire them with confidence to rebel against the empire."50 But if Diocletian-had been convinced of the reality of that valuable art, far from extinguishing the memory, he would have converted the operation of it to the benefit of the public revenue. It is much more likely, that his good sense discovered to him the folly of such magnificent pretensions, and that he was desirous of preserving the reason and fortunes of his subjects from the mischievous pursuit. It may be remarked, that these ancient books, so liberally ascribed to Pythagoras, to Solomon, or to Hermes, were the pious frauds or more recent adepts. The Greeks were inattentive either to the use or to the abuse of chemistry. In that immense register, where Pliny has deposited the discoveries, the arts, and the errors of mankind, there is not the least mention of the transmutation of metals; and the persecution of Diocle'.ian is the first authentic event in the history of alchemy. The conquest of Egypt by the Arabs diffused that vain science over the globe. Congenial to the avarice of the human heart, it was studied in China as in Europe, with equal eagerness, and with equal success. The darkness of the middle ages insured a favorable reception to every tale of wonder, and the revival of learning gave new vigor to hope, and suggested more specious arts of deception. Philosophy, with the aid of experience, has at length banished the study of alchemy; and the present age, however desirous of riches, is content to seek them by the humbler means of commerce and industry.51

The reduction of Egypt was immediately followed by the Persian war. It was reserved for the reign of Diocletian to vanquish that powerful nation, and to extort a confession from

M John Antioch. in Exccrp. Valerian. p. 834. Suidas in Diocletian.

*1 See a short history and confutation of Alchemy, in the woiki of that philosophical compiler, La Motho le Vaycr, torn i. p. 32 1.tic successors of Artaxerxes, of the superior majesty of the Roman empire.

We have observed, under the reign of Valerian, that Armenia was subdued by the perfidy and the arms of the Persians, and that, after the assassination of Chosroes, his son Tiridates, the infant heir of the monarchy, was saved by the fidelity of. his friends, and educated under the protection of the emperors. Tiridates derived from his exile such advantages as he could never have obtained on the throne of Armenia; the early knowledge of adversity, of mankind, and of the Roman discipline. He signalized his youth by deeds of valor, and displayed a matchless dexterity, as well as strength, in every martial exercise, and even in the less honorable contests of the Olympian games.59 Those qualities were more nobly exerted in the defence of his benefactor Licinius.53 That officer, in the sedition which occasioned the death of Probus, was exposed to the most imminent danger, and the enraged soldiers were forcing their way into his tent, when they were checked by the single arm of the Armenian prince. The gratitude of Tiridates contributed soon afterwards to his restoration. Licinius was in every station the friend and companion of Galerius, and the merit of Galerius, long before he was

by Diocletian. In the third year of that emperor's reign Tiridates was invested with the kingdom of Armenia. The justice of the measure was not less evident than its expediency. It was time to rescue from the usurpation of the Persian monarch an important territory, which since the reign of Nero, had been always granted under the protection of the empire to a younger branch of the house of Arsaces.54

When Tiridates appeared on the frontiers of Armenia, ho was received with an unfeigned transport of joy and loyalty.

See the education and strength of Tiridates in the Armenian history of Moses of Chorene, 1. ii. c. 76. He could seize two wild bulls by the horns, and break them off with his hands.

63 If we give credit to the younger Victor, who supposes that in the year 323 Licinius'was only sixty years of age, ho could scarcely be the same person as the patron of Tiridates; but we know from much better authority, (Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiast. 1. x. c. 8,) that Licinius was at that time in the last poriod of old age: sixteen yean before, he is represented with gray hairs, and as the contemporary of Galenas. Seo Lact&nt. c. 32. Licinius was probably born about the year 250

s* See the sixty-secend and sixty-third books of Dion Cassius,

[graphic]

known and esteemed During twenty-s.x years. the country had experienced the rea. and imaginary hardships of a foreign yoke. The Persian monarchs adorned their new conquest with magnificent buildings; but those monuments had been erected at the expense of the people, and were abhorred as badges of slavery. The apprehension of a revolt had inspired the most rigorous precautions: oppression had been aggravated by insult, and the consciousness of the public hatred had been productive of every measure that could render it still more implacable. We have already remarked the intolerant spirit of the Magian religion. The statues of the deified kings of Armenia, and the sacred images of the sun and moon, were broke in pieces by the zeal of the conqueror; and the perpetual fire of Ormuzd was kindled and preserved upon an altar erected on the summit of Mount Bagavan.55 It was natural, that a people exasperated by so many injuries, should arm with zeal in the cause of their independence, their religion, and their hereditary sovereign. The torrent bore down every obstacle, and the Persian garrisons retreated before its fury. The nobles of Armenia flew to the standard of Tiridates, all alleging their past merit, ofiV ing their future service, and soliciting from the new king those honors and rewards from which they had been excluded with disdain under the foreign government.56 The command of the army was bestowed on Artavasdes, whose father had saved the infancy of Tiridates, and whose family had been massacred for that generous action. The brother of Artavasdes obtained the government of a province. One of the first military dignities was conferred on the satrap Otas, a man of singular temperance and fortitude, who presented to the king his sister57 and a considerable treasure, both of which, in a sequestered fortress, Otas had preserved from violation. Among the Armenian nobles appeared an ally, whose fortunes

** Moses of Chorene. Mist. Armen. 1 . ii. c. 74. The statues had been erected by Valarsaces, who reigned in Armenia about 130 years before Christ, and was the first king of the family of Arsaces, (see Moses, Hist. Armen. 1 . ii. 2, 3.) The deification of tho Arsacides is mentioned by Justin, (xli. 5,) and by Ammi inus Marcellinus, (xxxiii. 6.)

M The Armenian nobility was numerous and powerful. Moses mentions many families which wore distinguished under the reign Df Valarsaces, (I. ii. 7,) and which still subsisted in his own time, about the middle of the fifth century. See the preface of hil Editors.

"She was named Chosroiduchta, and had not the as patulum >ik» are too remarkable to pass unnoticed. His name was Mamgo,t his origin was Scythian, and the horde which acknowledged his authority had encamped a very few years before on the skirts of the Chinese empire,58 which at that time extended aa fur as the neighborhood of Sogdiana.59 Having incurred the displeasure of his master, Mamgo, with his followers, retired to the banks of the Oxus, and implored the protection of Sapor. The emperor of China claimed the fugitive, and alleged the rights of sovereignty. The Persian monarch pleaded the laws of hospitality, and with some difficulty avoided a war, by the promise that he would banish Mamgo to the uttermost parts of the West, a punishment, as he described it, not less dreadful than death itself. Armenia was

other women. (Ilist Armen. 1. ii. c. 79.) I do not understand the

expression.*

M In the Armenian History, (1. ii. 78.) as well as in the Geography, (p. 3i,7.) China is called Zenia, or Zenastan. It is characterized by the production of silk. by the opulence of the natives, and by their love of peace, above all the other nations of the earth.}

49 Vou-ti, the first emperor of the seventh dynasty, who then reigned in China, had political transactions with Fergana, a province of Sogdiana- anil is said to hare received a Roman embassy, (Histoire dca Huns. torn. i. p. 88.) In those ages the Chinese kept a garrison at Kashgar, and one of their generals, about the time of Trajan, marched as far as the Caspian Sea. With regard to the intercourse between China and the western countries, a curious memoir of M. do Guignei may be consulted, in the Academic des Inscriptions, torn. xxii. p. 855.§

» Os patulum signifies merely a large and widely#)pening mouth. Ovid (Metam. xv. 613) says, speaking of the monster who attacked Hippolytus, patulo partem maris evomit ore. Probably a wide mouth was a common defect among the Armenian women G.

1 Mamgo (according to M. St. Martin, note to Le Beau, It. 218) belonged to the imperial race of Hon, who had filled the throne of China for four hundred years. Dethroned by the usurping race of Wei, Mamgo found a hospitable reception in Persia in the reign of Ardcschir. The emperor of China having demanded the surrender of the fugitive and his partisans, Supor, then king, threatened with war both by Kume and China, counselled Mamgo to retire into Armenia. "I have expelled him from my dominions, (he answered the Chinese ambassador;) I have banished him to the extremity of the earth, where the sun sets; 1 have dismissed him to certain death." Compare Me'm. sur l'Armenie, ii. 25.-— M.

J See St. Martin, Mthn. sur l'Armenie, i. 804.

) The Chinese Annals mention, under the ninth year of Van-hi, whicL corresponds with the year 166 J. C, an embassy which arrived from Ta-thsin, (mil was sent by a prince called An-thun, who can be no other than Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who then ruled over the Romans. St. Martin, Mem ■ur l'Armenie, ii. 80. See also Klaprotb, Tableaux Hlstoriques de l'Asie '•- 69. The embassy came by Jv-nrn, Tonquin. —M.

Vol. i. 36

« ForrigeFortsett »