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tresses of Mesopotamia.1 In Armenia, the renowned Tiridates had long enjoyed the peace and glory which he deserved by his valour and fidelity to the cause of Rome. The firm alliance which he maintained with Constantine, was productive of spiritual as well as of temporal benefits; by the conversion of Tiridates, the character of a saint was applied to that of a hero, the Christian faith was preached and established from the Euphrates to the shores of the Caspian, and Armenia was attached to the empire by the double ties of policy and of religion. But as many of the Armenian nobles still refused to abandon the plurality of their gods and of their wives, the public tranquillity was disturbed by a discontented faction, which insulted the feeble age of their sovereign, and impatiently expected the hour of his death. He died at length after a reign of fixty-six years, and the fortune of the Armenian monarchy expired with Tiridates. His lawful heir was driven into exile; the Christian priests were either murdered or expelled from their churches; the barbarous tribes of Albania were solicited to descend from their mountains; and two of the most powerful governors, usurping the ensigns or the powers of royalty, implored the assistance of Sapor, and opened the gates of their cities to the Persian garrisons. The Christian party, under the guidance of the archbishop of Artaxata, the immediate successor of St. Gregory the illuminator, had recourse to the piety of Constantius. After the troubles had continued about three years, Antiochus, one of the officers of the household, executed with success the imperial commission of restoring Chosroes the son of Tiridates, to the throne of his fathers, of distributing honours and rewards among the faithful servants of the house of Arsaces, and of proclaiming a general amnesty, which was accepted by the greater part of the rebellious satraps. But the Romans derived more honour than advantage from this revolution. Char.
. i Julian. Orat. 1. p. 20.
roes was a prince of a puny stature, and a pusillanimous spirit. Unequal to the fatigues of war, averse to the society of mankind, he withdrew from his capital to a retired palace, which he built on the banks of the river Eleutherus, and in the centre of a shady grove; where he consumed his vacant hours in the rural sports of hunting and hawking. To secure this inglorious ease, he submitted to the conditions of peace which Sapor condescended to impose; the payment of an annual tribute, and the restitution of the fertile province of Atropatene, which the courage of Tiridates, and the victorious arms of Galerius, had annexed to the Armenian monarchy"" The Per- During the long period of the reign of Cor A?i>r337. stantius, the provinces of the east were afflicted —sec. by the calamities of the Persian war. The irregular incursions of the light troops alternately spread terror and devastation beyond the Tigris, and beyond the Euphrates, from the gates of Ctesiphon to those of Antioch; and this active service was performed by the Arabs of the desert, who were divided in their interest and affections; some of their independent chiefs being enlisted in the party of Sapor, whilst others had engaged their doubtful fidelity to the emperor." The more grave and important operations of the war were conducted with equal vigour; and the armies of Rome and Persia encountered each other in nine bloody fields, in two of which Constantius himself commanded in person.0 The event of the day was most commonly adverse to the Shig?ra, Romans, but in the battle of Singara, their impru'dent valour had almost achieved a signal and decisive victory. The stationary troops of Singara retired on the approach of Sapor, who passed the Tigris over three bridges, and occupied near the village of Hilleh an advantageous camp, which, by the labour of his numerous pioneers, he surrounded in one day with a deep ditch, and a lofty rampart. His formidable host, when it was drawn out in order of battle, covered the banks of the river, the adjacent heights, and the whole extent of a plain of above twelve miles, which separated the two armies. Both were alike impatient to engage; but the barbarians, after a slight resistance, fled in disorder; unable to resist, or desirous to weary, the strength of the heavy legions, who, fainting with heat and thirst, pursued them across the plain, and cut in pieces a line of cavalry, clothed in complete armour, which had been posted before the gates of the camp to protect their retreat. Constantius, who was hurried along in the pursuit, attempted, without effect, to restrain the ardour of his troops, by representing to them the dangers of the approaching night, and the certainty of completing their success with the return of day. As they depended much more on their own valour, than on the experience or the abilities of their chief, they silenced by their clamours his timid remonstrances; and rushing with fury to the charge, filled up the ditch, broke down the rampart, and dispersed themselves through the tents to recruit their exhausted strength, and to enjoy the" rich harvest of their labours. But the prudent Sapor had watched the moment of victory. His army, of which the greater part, securely posted on the heights, had been spectators of the
"Julian. Orat. 1. p. SO, 21. Moses of Chorene. lib. 2. c. 89. lib. 3. c. 1—9. p. 826—'J 10. The perfect agreement between the vague hints of the contemporary orator, and the circumstantial narrative of the national historian, gives light to the former and weight to the latter. For the credit of Moses it may be likewise observed, that the name of Antiochus is found a very few years before in a civil office of inferior dignity. See Godefroy, Cod. Theod. tom. 6. p. 350.
"Ammianus (14. 4.) gives a lively description of the wandering and predatory life of the Saracens, who stretched from the confines of Assyria to the cataracts of the Nile. It appears, from the adventures of Malchus, which Jerome has related in so entertaining a manner, that the high road between Bene and Edessa was infested by these robbers. See Hieronym. tom. 1. p. 256.
0 We shall take from Eutropius the general idea of the war. (10.10.) A Persis fiiim multa et gravia perpessus, 6»pe captis oppidis, obsessis urbibus, caesis exert minis, nullumque ei contra Saporera prosperum praelium fait, nisi quod apud Singaram, &c. This honest account is confirmed by the hints of Ammianus, Rufus, and Jerome. The two first orations of Julian, and the third oration of
Libanius, exhibit a more flattering picture; but the recantation of both those orators, after the death of Constantius, while it restores us to the possession of the truth, degrades their own character, and that of the emperor. The commentary of Spa nIn-ill] on the first oration of Julian is profusely learned. See likewise the judicious observations of Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, torn. 4. p. 656.
action, advanced in silence, and under the shadow of the night; and his Persian archers, guided by the illumination of the camp, poured a shower of arrows on the disarmed and licentious crowd. The sincerity of historyp declares that the Romans were vanquished with a dreadful slaughter, and that the flying remnant of the legions was exposed to the most intolerable hardships. Even the tenderness of panegyric, confessing that the glory of the emperor was sullied by the disobedience of his soldiers, chooses to draw a veil over the circumstances of this melancholy retreat. Yet one of those venal orators, so jealous of the fame of Constantius, relates with amazing coolness an act of such incredible cruelty, as, in the judgment of posterity, must imprint a far deeper stain on the honour of the imperial name. The son of Sapor, the heir of his crown, had been made a captive in the Persian camp. The unhappy youth, who might have excited the compassion of the most savage enemy, was scourged, tortured, and publicly executed by the inhuman Romans.q
Siege of Whatever advantages might attend the arms NUibis. of gapor in the field, though nine repeated victories diffused among the nations the fame of his valour and conduct, he could not hope to succeed in the execution of his designs, while the fortified towns of Mesopotamia, and, above all, the strong and ancient city of Nisibis, remained in the possession of the Romans. In the space of twelve years, Nisibis, which, since the time of Lucullus, had been deservedly esteemed the bulwark of the east, sustained three memorable sieges against the power of Sapor; and the disappointed monarch, after A D.338. urgmg his attacks above sixty, eighty, and a hunSM. Mo. (}red days, was thrice repulsed with loss and ignominy/ This large and populous city was situate about two days' journey from the Tigris, in the midst of a pleasant and fertile plain at the foot of mount Masius. A treble enclosure of brick walls was defended by a deep ditch;' and the intrepid assistance of count Lucilianus, and his garrison, was seconded by the desperate courage of the people. The citizens of Nisibis were animated by the exhortations of their bishop,1 inured to arms by the presence of danger, and convinced of the intentions of Sapor to plant a Persian colony in their room, and to lead them away into distant and barbarous captivity. The event of the two former sieges elated their confidence and exasperated the haughty spirit of the great king, who advanced a third time towards Nisibis, at the head of the united forces of Persia and India. The ordinary machines invented to batter or undermine the walls, were rendered ineffectual by the superior skill of the Romans; and many days had vainly elapsed, when Sapor embraced a resolution, worthy of an eastern monarch, who believed that the elements themselves were subject to his power. At the stated season of the melting of the snows in Armenia, the river Mygdonius, which divides the plain and city of Nisibis, forms, like the Nile," an inundation over the adjacent country. By the labour of the Persians, the course of the river was stopped below the town, and the waters were confined on every side by solid mounds of earth. On this artificial lake, a fleet of
p Acemma'nocturna concertatione pugnatum est, nostrorum copiis ingenti strage confoseis. Ammian. 18. 5. See likewise Eutropius, 10. 10. and S. Rufus, c. 27.
i Libanius, Orat. 3. p. 133. with Julian. Orat. 1. p. 24. -and Spanheim's Commentary, p. 179.
'See Julian. Orat. 1. p. 27. Orat. 2. p. 62, &c. with the Commentary of Spanhelm, (p. 188—202.) who illustrates the circumstances, and ascertains the time, of the three sieges of Nisibis. Their dates are likewise examined by Tillemont. (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. 4. p. 668. 671. 674.) Something is added from Zosimus, lib. 3. p. 151. and the Alexandrine Chronicle, p. 290.
• Sallust Fragment. M. edit. Brasses, and Plutarch in Lucull. torn. 3. p. 184. Nii-ibis is now reduced to one hundred and fifty houses; the marshy lands produce rice, and the fertile meadows, as far as Mosul and the Tigris, are covered with the ruins of towns and villages. See Niebuhr, Voyages, tom. 2. p. 300—309.
1 The miracles which Theodoret (lib. 2.c. M.) ascribes to Si. James, bishop of Edessa, were at least performed in a worthy cause, the defence of his country. He appeared on the walls under the figure of the Roman emperor, and sent an army of gnats to sting the trunks of the elephants, and to discomfit the host of the new Sennacherib.
"Julian. Orat . 1. p. '27. Though Niebuhr (tom. 2. p. S07.) allows a very considerable swell to the Mygdonius, over which he saw a bridge of two arches, it ii difficult, however, to understand this parallel of a trifUng rivulet with a mighty river. There are many circumstances obscure, and almost unintelligible'. in the description of those stupendous water-works.