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A.D. 303. SIEGES OF PERISABOR AND MAOGAMALCHA. 197
having opened a large breach by shattering one of the angles of the wall, they hastily retired into the fortifications of the interior citadel. The soldiers of Julian rushed impetuously into the town, and, after the full gratification of every military appetite, Perisabor was reduced to ashes; and the engines which assaulted the citadel were planted on the ruins of the smoking houses. The contest was continued by an incessant and mutual discharge of missile weapons; and the superiority which the Romans might derive from the mechanical powers of their balistae and catapultae was counterbalanced by the advantage of the ground on the side of the besieged. But as soon as an Helepolis had been constructed, which could engage on equal terms with the loftiest ramparts, the tremendous aspect of a moving turret, that would leave no hope of resistance or of mercy, terrified the defenders of the citadel into an humble submission; and the place was surrendered only two days after Julian first appeared under the walls of Perisabor. Two thousand five hundred persons, of both sexes, the feeble remnant of a flourishing people, were permitted to retire: the plentiful magazines of corn, of arms, and of splendid furniture, were partly distributed among the troops and partly reserved for the public service; the useless stores were destroyed by fire or thrown into the stream of the Euphrates; and the fate of Amida was revenged by the total ruin of Perisabor.
The city, or rather fortress, of Maogamalcha, which was defended by sixteen large towers, a deep ditch, and two strong and of Mnoga. solid walls of brick and bitumen, appears to have been malchaconstructed at the distance of eleven miles, as the safeguard of the capital of Persia. The emperor, apprehensive of leaving such an important fortress in his rear, immediately formed the siege of Maogamalcha; and the Roman army was distributed for that purpose into three divisions. Victor, at the head of the cavalry and of a detachment of heavy-armed foot, was ordered to clear the country as far as the banks of the Tigris and the suburbs of Ctesiphon. The conduct of the attack was assumed by Julian himself, who seemed to place his whole dependence in the military engines which he erected against the walls; while he secretly contrived a more efficacious method of introducing his troops into the heart of the city. Under the direction of Nevitta and Dagalaiphus, the trenches were opened at a considerable distance, and gradually prolonged as far as the edge of the ditch. The ditch was speedily filled with earth; and, by the incessant labour of the troops, a mine was carried under the foundations of the walls, and sustained at sufficient intervals by props of timber. Three chosen cohorts, advancing in a single file, silently explored the dark and dangerous passage; till their intrepid leader whispered back the intelligence that he was ready to issue from his confinement into the streets of the hostile city. Julian checked their ardour, that he might ensure their success; and immediately diverted the attention of the garrison by the tumult and clamour of a general assault. The Persians, who from their walls contemptuously beheld the progress of an impotent attack, celebrated with songs of triumph the glory of Sapor; and ventured to assure the emperor that he might ascend the starry mansion of Ormusd before he could hope to take the impregnable city of Maogamalcha. The city was already taken. History has recorded the name of a private soldier, the first who ascended from the mine into a deserted tower. The passage was widened by his companions, who pressed forwards with impatient valour. Fifteen hundred enemies were already in the midst of the city. The astonished garrison abandoned the walls, and their only hope of safety; the gates were instantly burst open; and the revenge of the soldier, unless it were suspended by lust or avarice, was satiated by an undistinguishing massacre. The governor, who had yielded on a promise of mercy, was burnt alive, a few days afterwards, on a charge of having uttered some disrespectful words against the honour of Prince Hormisdas." The fortifications were razed to the ground; and not a vestige was left that the city of Maogamalcha had ever existed. The neighbourhood of the capital of Persia was adorned with three stately palaces, laboriously enriched with every production that could gratify the luxury and pride of an Eastern monarch. The pleasant situation of the gardens along the banks of the Tigris was improved, according to the Persian taste, by the symmetry of flowers, fountains, and shady walks: and spacious parks were enclosed for the reception of the bears, lions, and wild boars, which were maintained at a considerable expense for the pleasure of the royal chace. The park-walls were broken down, the savage game was abandoned to the darts of the soldiers, and the palaces of Sapor were reduced to ashes, by the command of the Roman emperor. Julian, on this occasion, showed himself ignorant or careless of the laws of civility, which the prudence and refinement of polished ages have established between hostile princes. Yet these wanton ravages need not excite in our breasts any vehement emotions of pity or resentment. A simple, naked statue, finished by the hand of a Grecian artist, is of more genuine value than all these rude and costly monuments of barbaric labour: and, if we are more deeply
* And as guilty of a double treachery, charge, though he may have rejected it as
having first engaged to surrender the city, improbable. Compare Zosimus, iii. 23.
and afterwards valiantly defended it. Gib- —M. bon, perhaps, should have noticed this
A.D. 363. PERSONAL BEHAVIOUR OF JULIAN. 199
affected by the ruin of a palace than by the conflagration of a cottage, our humanity must have formed a very erroneous estimate of the miseries of human life.57
Julian was an object of terror and hatred to the Persians; and the painters of that nation represented the invader of their country under the emblem of a furious lion, who vomited behaviour from his mouth a consuming fire.58 To his friends and soldiers the philosophic hero appeared in a more amiable light; and his virtues were never more conspicuously displayed than in the last and most active period of his life. He practised, without effort, and almost without merit, the habitual qualities of temperance and sobriety. According to the dictates of that artificial wisdom which assumes an absolute dominion over the mind and body, he sternly refused himself the indulgence of the most natural appetites.59 In the warm climate of Assyria, which solicited a luxurious people to the gratification of every sensual desire,60 a youthful conqueror preserved his chastity pure and inviolate: nor was Julian ever tempted, even by a motive of curiosity, to visit his female captives of exquisite beauty,61 who, instead of resisting his power, would have disputed with each other the honour of his embraces. With the same firmness that he resisted the allurements of love, he sustained the hardships of war. When the Romans marched through the flat and flooded country, their sovereign, on foot, at the head of his legions, shared their fatigues and animated their diligence. In every useful labour the hand of Julian was prompt and strenuous; and the Imperial purple was wet and dirty, as the coarse garment of the meanest soldier. The two sieges allowed him some remarkable' opportunities of signalizing his personal valour, which, in the improved state of the military art, can seldom be exerted by a prudent general. The emperor stood before the citadel of Perisabor, insensible of his extreme danger, and encouraged his troops to burst open the gates of iron, till he was almost overwhelmed under a cloud of missile weapons and huge stones that were directed against his person. A3 he examined the exterior fortifications of Maogamalcha, two Persians, devoting themselves fur their country, suddenly rushed upon him with drawn scimitars: the emperor dexterously received their blows on his uplifted shield; and, with a steady and well-aimed thrust, laid one of his adversaries dead at his feet. The esteem of a prince who possesses the virtues which he approves, is the noblest recomper.ee of a deserving subject; and the authority which Julian derived from his personal merit enabled him to revive and enforce the rigour of ancient discipline. He punished with death, or ignominy, the misbehaviour of three troops of horse, who, in a skirmish with the Surenas, had lost their honour and one of their standards: and he distinguished with ob»idionalS2 crowns the valour of the foremost soldiers who had ascended into the city of Maogamalcha. After the siege of Perisabor the firmness of the emperor was exercised by the insolent avarice of the army, who loudly complained that their services were rewarded by a trifling donative of one hundred pieces of silver. His just indignation was expressed in the grave and manly language of a Roman. "Riches are the object of your desires; those riches are in the hands "of the Persians; and the spoils of this fruitful country are proposed "as the prize of your valour and discipline. Believe me," added Julian, "the Roman republic, which formerly possessed such immense "treasures, is now reduced to want and wretchedness; since our "princes have been persuaded, by weak and interested ministers, to "purchase with gold the tranquillity of the barbarians. The revenue "is exhausted; the cities are ruined; the provinces are dispeopled. "For myself, the only inheritance that I have received from my "royal ancestors is a soul incapable of fear; and as long as I am "convinced that every real advantage is seated in the mind, I shall "not blush to acknowledge an honourable poverty, which in the days "of ancient virtue was considered as the glory of Fabricius. That "glory, and that virtue, may be your own, if you will listen to the "voice of Heaven and of your leader. But if you will rashly persist, "if you are determined to renew the shameful and mischievous "examples of old seditions, proceed. As it becomes an emperor "wlio has filled the first rank among men, I am prepared to die "standing, and to despise a precarious life which every hour may "depend on an accidental fever. If I have been found unworthy of "the command, there are now among you (I speak it with pride and
47 The operations of the Assyrian war are circumstantially related by Ammianus (xxiv. 2, 3, 4, 5), Libanius (Orat. Parent, c. 112-123, p. 335-347), Zosimus (1. iii. [c. 18] p. 168-180), and Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. iv. p. 113, 144). The military criticisms of the saint are devoutly copied by Tillemont, his faithful slave.
58 Libanius de ulcisceuda Juliani nece, c. 13, p. 162 [in Fabric. Bibl. Once. vol. vii.]
M The famous examples of Cyrus, Alexander, and Scipio, were acts of justice. Julian's chastity was voluntary, and, in his opinion, meritorious.
60 Sallust (ap. Vet. Scholiast. Juvenal. Satir. i. 104) observes, that nihil corruptius moribus. The matrons and virgins of Babylon freely mingled with the men in licentious banquets: and as they felt the intoxication of wine and love, they gradually, and almost completely, threw aside the incumbrance of dress; ad ultimum ima corporum velamenta projiciunt. Q. Curtius, v. 1.
"Ex virginibus autem, qua speciosa; sunt captoe, ut in Persido, ubi feminarum pulchritudo excellit, nee contrectare aliquant voluit nee videre. Ammian. xxiv. 4. The native race of Persians is small and ugly; but it has been improved by the perpetual mixture of Circassian blood (Herodot. 1. iii. c. 97. Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, torn. iii. p. 420).
"* Olwiiliiiniililiim coroniu dorniti. Ammian. xxiv. 4. Kither Julian or his hist.orinn wnrr' unskilful luifi'piaricH. He should have given mural crowne. The nlaiilinnnt wwe the reward of a general who had delivered a besieged city (Aulug (h-lllim, Noot. Attic, v. 0).
A.D. 363. HE TRANSPORTS HIS FLEET TO THE TIGRIS. 201
"pleasure), there are many chiefs whose merit and experience arc "equal to the conduct of the most important war. Such has been "the temper of my reign, that I can retire, without regret and with"out apprehension, to the obscurity of a private station." 63 The modest resolution of Julian was answered by the unanimous applause and cheerful obedience of the Romans, who declared their confidence of victory while they fought under the banners of their heroic prince. Their courage was kindled by his frequent and familiar asseverations (for such wishes were the oaths of Julian), "So may I reduce the "Persians under the yoke 1" "Thus may I restore the strength "and splendour of the republic!" The love of fame was the ardent passion of his soul: but it was not before he trampled on the ruins of Maogamalcha that he allowed himself to say, "We have now pro"vided some materials for the sophist of Antioch." 6t
The successful valour of Julian had triumphed over all the obstacles that opposed his march to the gates of Ctesiphon. But the
, . * pi • i *» -ri • Ne transports
reduction, or even the siege, ot the capital ot Persia was ni» uv?t still at a distance: nor can the military conduct of the Kuphmtrs to emperor be clearly apprehended without a knowledge of the country which was the theatre of his bold and skilful operations.65 Twenty miles to the south of Bagdad, and on the eastern bank of the Tigris, the curiosity of travellers has observed some ruins of the palaces of Ctesiphon, which in the time of Julian was a great and populous city. The name and glory of the adjacent Seleucia were for ever extinguished; and the only remaining quarter of that Greek colony had resumed, with the Assyrian language and manners, the primitive appellation of Coche. Coche was situate on the western side of the Tigris; but it was naturally considered as a suburb of Ctesiphon, with which we may suppose it to have been connected by a permanent bridge of boats. The united parts contributed to form the common epithet of Al Modain, The Cities, which the Orientals have bestowed on the winter residence of the Sassanides; and the whole circumference of the Persian capital was strongly fortified by the waters of the river, by lofty walls, and by impracticable morasses. Near the ruins of Seleucia the camp of Julian was fixed, and secured by a ditch and rampart against the sallies of the numerous and enter
63 I give this speech as original and genuine. Ammianus might hear, could transcribe, and was incapable of inventing, it. I have used some slight freedoms, and conclude with the most forcible sentence.
M Ammian. xxiv. 3. Libanius, Orat. Parent, c. 122, p. 346.
•* M. d'Anville (Mem. de 1'Academic des Inscriptions, torn, xxviii. p. 240-2o9) has ascertained the true position and distance of Babylon, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Bagdad, &c. The Roman traveller, Pietro della Valle (torn. i. lett. xvii. p. 650-780), seems to be the most intelligent spectator of that famous province. He is a gentleman and a scholar, but intolerably vain and prolix.