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phic temper, which, under the pressure of such calamities, could enjoy more real happiness, than was the ordinary lot of wealth and prosperity. The story of Maria, the daughter of the magnificent Eudaemon, is singular and interesting. In the sack of Carthage, she was purchased from the Vandals by some merchants of Syria, who afterward sold her as a slave in their native country. A female attendant, transported in the same ship, and sold in the same family, still continued to respect a mistress whom fortune had reduced to the common level of servitude; and the daughter of Eudaemon received from her grateful affection the domestic services, which she had once required from her obedience. This remarkable behaviour divulged the real condition of Maria, who, in the absence of the bishop Cyrrhus, was redeemed from slavery by the generosity of some soldiers of the garrison. The liberality of Theodoret provided for her decent maintenance; and she passed ten months among the deaconesses of the church; till she was unexpectedly informed, that her father, who had escaped from the ruin of Carthage, exercised an honourable office in one of the western provinces. Her filial impatience was seconded by the pious bishop: Theodoret, in a letter still extant, recommends Maria to the bishop of .(Egae, a maritime city of Cilicia, which was frequented, during the annual fair, by the vessels of the west; most earnestly requesting, that his colleague would use the maiden with a tenderness suitable to hei birth; and that he would intrust her to the care of such faithful merchants, as would esteem it a sufficient gain, if they restored a daughter, lost beyond all human hope, to the arms of her afflicted parent.
Among' the insipid leg-ends of ecclesiastical
Fable of , . ° \ , . °. ...
the Seven history, I am tempted to distinguish the memo
Sleepers. ra|j]e fao]e of the SEVEN SLEEPERS;" whose
"The choice of fabulous circumstances is of small importance; yet I have confined myself to the narrative which was translated from theSyriac by the care of Gregory of Tours, (de Gloria MartyrQm, lib. 1. c. 95. in Max. Bibliotheca Patrum, tum. 11. p.
imaginary date corresponds with the reign of the younger Theodosius, and the conquest of Africa by the Vandals." When the emperor Decius persecuted the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain; where they were doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should be firmly secured with a pile of huge stones. They immediately fell into a deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged, without injuring the powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years. At the end of that time, the slaves of Adolius, to whom the inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones, to supply materials for some rustic edifice: the light of the sun darted into the cavern, and the Seven Sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber, as they thought, of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of hunger; and resolved .that Jamblichus, one of their number, should secretly return to the city, to purchase bread for the use of his companions. The youth (if we may still employ that appellation) could no longer recognise the once familiar aspect of his native country; and his surprise was increased by the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly erected over the principal gate of Ephesus. His singular dress, and obsolete language, confounded the baker, to whom he offered an ancient medal of Decius as the current coin of the empire; and Jamblichus, on the suspicion of a secret treasure, was dragged before the judge. Their mutual inquiries produced the amazing discovery, that two centuries were almost elapsed since Jatnblichus and his friends had escaped from the rage of a Pagan tyrant. The bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the magistrates, the people, and, as it is said, the emperor Theodosius himself, hastened to visit the cavern of the Seven Sleepers; who bestowed their benediction, related their story, and at the same instant peaceably expired. The origin of this marvellous fable cannot be ascribed to the pious fraud and credulity of the modern Greeks, since the authentic tradition may be traced within half a century of the supposed miracle. James of Sarug, a Syrian bishop, who was born only two years after the death of the younger Theodosius, has devoted one of his two hundred and thirty homilies to the praise of the young men of Ephesus.y Their legend, before the end of the sixth century, was translated from the Syriac into the Latin language, by the care of Gregory of Tours. The hostile communions of the east preserve their memory with equal reverence: and their names are honourably inscribed in the Roman, the Habyssinian, and the Russian calendar." Nor has their reputation been confined to the Christian world. This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced, as a divine revelation, into the Koran." The story of the Seven Sleepers has been adopted and adorned, by the nations, from Bengal to
856.) to the Greek aces of their martyrdom, (apnd Photium, p. 1400,14O1.) and to the Annals of the Patriarch Eutychius. (tom. 1. p. 391. 531, 532. 535. Vers. Pocock.)
1 Two Syriac writers, as they are quoted by Assemanni, (Bibliot. Oriental. tom. 1. p. 336. 533.) place the resurrection of the Seven Sleepers in the years 736 (A. D. 425), or 748 (A. D. 437), of the era of the Seleucides. Their Or<?ek acts, which Photiuihad read, assign the date of the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Theodosius, which may coincide either with A. D. 439, or 446. The period which had elapsed •ince the persecution of Decius is easily ascertained; and nothing less than the ignorance of Mahomet, or the legendanes, could suppose an interval of three or four hundred years.
VOL. IV. R
'James, one of the orthodox fathers of the Syrian church, was born A. D. 45*~ he began to compose his sermons, A. D. 474: he was made bishop of Batnt, in the district of Sarug, and province of Mesopotamia, A. D. 519, and died A. D. 5tt. (Assemanni, tom. I. p. 288, 289.) For the homily tie. Puirii Ephetims, see p. 333— 339. though I could wish that Assemanni had translated the text of James of Sarug, instead of answering the objections of Haronius.
1 See the Ada Sanctorum of the Bollandists. (Mensis Julii, tom. 6. p. S75—397.) This immMisu calendar of saints, in one hundred and twenty-six years, (1614—1770.) and in fifty volumes in folio, has advanced no farther than the 7th day of October. The suppression of the Jesuits has most probably checked an undertaking, which, through the medium of fable and superstition, communicates much historical and philosophical instruction.
» See Maracci Alcoran. Sura 18. tom. 2. p. 420—427. and tom. 1. part 4. p. 103. With such an ample privilege, Mahomet .has not shewn much taste or ingenuity. He has invented the dog (Al Rakim) of the Seven Sleepers; the respect of the son. who altered his course twice a day, that he might shine into the cavern; and the care of God himself, who preserved their bodies from putrefaction, by taming them to th« right and l«ft.
Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion;'' and some vestiges of a similar tradition have been discovered in the remote extremities of Scandinavia." This easy and universal belief, so expressive of the sense of mankind, may be ascribed to the genuine merit of the fable itself. We imperceptibly advance from youth to age, without observing the gradual, but incessant change of human affairs; and even in our larger experience of history, the imagination is accustomed, by a perpetual series of causes and effects, to unite the most distant re volutions. But if the interval between two memorable eras could be instantly annihilated: if it were possible, after a momentary slumber of two hundred years, to display the new world to the eyes of a spectator, who still retained a lively and recent impression of the old, his surprise and his reflections would furnish the pleasing subject of a philosophical romance. The scene could not be more advantageously placed, than in the two centuries which elapsed between the reigns of Decius and of Theodosius the Younger. During this period, the seat of government had been transported from Rome to a new city on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus; and the abuse of military spirit had been suppressed, by an artificial system of tame and ceremonious servitude. The throne of the persecuting Decius was filled by a succession of Christian and orthodox princes, who had extirpated the fabulous gods of antiquity: and the public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic church, on the altars of Diana and Hercules.' The union of the Roman empire was dissolved: its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the north, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.
b See d'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientate, p. 139, and Renaudbt, Hist. Patriarch. Alexandra, p. 39, 40.
e Paul, the deacon of Aquileia, (de Gestis Langobardorum, lib. 1. c. 4, p. 745, 746; edit. Grot.) who lived towards the end of the eighth century, has placed in a cavern under a rock, on the shore of the ocean, the Seven Sleepers of the north, who&e long repose was respected by the barbarians. Their dress declared them to be Romans; and the deacon conjectures, that they were reserved by Providence ai the future apostles of those unbelieving countries.
The character, conquests, and court of Attila, king of the Huns. — Death of Theodosius the Younger. — Elevation of Marcian to the empire of the east.
The Huns ^HE western world was oppressed by the Goths A.d. sre and Vandals, who fled before the Huns; but the achievements of the Huns themselves were not adequate to their power and prosperity. Their victorious hordes had spread from the Volga to the Danube; but the public force was exhausted by the discord of independent chieftains; their valour was idly consumed in obscure and predatory excursions; and they often degraded their national dignity, by condescending, for the hopes of spoil, to enlist under the banners of their fugitive enemies. In the reign of AtTila,* the Huns again became the terror of the world; and I shall now describe the character and actions of that formidable barbarian; who alternately insulted and invaded the east and the west, and urged the rapid downfal of the Roman empire.
Their esta- In the tide of emigration, which impetuously in'mode'm rolled from the confines of China to those of Hungary. Germany, the most powerful and populous
1 The authentic materials for the history of Attila may be found in Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 34 — 50. p. 660— 688. edit. Grot.) and Priscus. (Excerpta da Legationibus, p. 33 — 76. Paris, 1648.) I have not seen the lives of Attila, composed by Juvencus Civlius Calanus Dalmatinus, in the twelfth century, or by Nicholas Olahus, archbishop of Gran, in the sixteenth. See Mascou's History of the Germans, 9. 28. and Maffei Osservazioni Litterarie, tom. 1. p. 88, 89. Whatever the modem Hungarians have added must be fabulous; and they do not seem to have excelled in the art of fiction. They suppose, that when Attila invaded Gaul and Italy, married innumerable wives, &c. he was one hundred and twenty years of age. Thwrocz Chum- p. 1. c. 22. in Script. Hungar. tom. 1. p. 76.