« PreviousContinue »
CHAP. XXI.-Loss AND RECOVERY OF ROME. In the next place he records the return of Belisarius to Byzantium, and how he brought thither Vitiges, together with the spoils of Rome; also the seizure of the sovereignty of Rome by Totila, and how the city again fell under the dominion of a Goth; how Belisarius, having twice 'entered Italy, again recovered the city, and how, on the breaking out of the Median war, he was recalled to Byzantium by the emperor.
CHAP. XXII.-CONVERSION OF THE ABASGI. PROCOPIUS also records, that the Abasgi, having become more civilized, embraced the Christian doctrine about the same time, and that Justinian sent to them one of the eụnuchs of the palace, their countryman, by name Euphratas, with an interdict, that henceforward no one in that nation should undergo emasculation in violation of nature; for from among them the imperial chamberlains were principally appointed, whom usage styles eunuchs. At this time, Justinian, having erected among the Abasgi a temple in honour of the Mother of God, appointed ,priests for them; by which means they were accurately instructed in the Christian doctrine.
CHAP. XXIII.-CONVERSION OF THE PEOPLE ON THE TANAIS.
EARTHQUAKES. The same author narrates, that the people on the Tanais (the natives give the name of Tanais to the channel extending from the Palus Mæotis to the Euxine Sea) urged Justinian to send a bishop to them ; which request he granted, and gladly sent them a priest. The same writer describes, with great ability, the irruptions of the Goths of the Mæotis into the Roman territory in the time of Justinian, and the violent earthquakes which took place in Greece ; how Bootia, Achaia, and the neighbourhood of the Crissæan bay suffered shocks; how innumerable towns and cities were levelled, and chasms were formed, many of which closed again, while others
CHAP. XXIV.-ACHIEVEMENTS AND PIETY OF NARSES. PROCOPIUS also describes the expedition of Narses, who was sent by Justinian into Italy; how he overthrew Totila and afterwards Teia ; and how Rome was taken for the fifth time. Those about the person of Narses affirm that he used to propitiate the Deity with prayers and other acts of piety, paying due honour also to the Virgin and mother of God, so that she distinctly announced to him the proper season for action; and that Narses never engaged until he had received the signal from her. He recounts also other distinguished exploits of Narses in the overthrow of Buselinus and Syndualdus, and the acquisition of nearly the whole country as far as the ocean. These transactions have been recounted by Agathias the Rhetorician, but his history has not reached our hands.
CHAP. XXV.-INVASION OF THE PERSIANS.
The same Procopius has also written the following account. When Chosroes had learned what had occurred in Africa and Italy favourable to the Roman dominion, he was moved to excessive jealousy, and advanced certain charges against the Roman government, that terms had been violated and the existing peace broken. In the first place, Justinian sent ambassadors to Chosroes to induce him not to break the peace which was intended to be perpetual, nor to trespass on the existing conditions; proposing that the points in dispute should be discussed and settled in an amicable manner. But Chosroes, maddened by the ferment of jealousy, would not listen to any proposals, and invaded the Roman territory with a large army, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Justinian. The historian also writes, that Chosroes captured and destroyed Sura, a city on the banks of the Euphrates, after having professed to make terms, but dealing with it in defiance of all justice, by paying no regard to the conditions, and becoming master of it rather by stratagem than by open war.
He also 1 So Valesius renders the word ékeidev, and probably he is correct; others understand it to mean, "from heaven.” But in either case it amounts to the same thing practically.
narrates the burning of Beræa, and then the advance upon Antioch ; at which time Ephraemius was bishop of the city, but had abandoned it on the failure of all his plans." This person is said to have rescued the church and its precincts, by arraying it with the sacred offerings, in order that they might serve as a ransom for it. The historian also feelingly describes the capture of Antioch by Chosroes, and its promiscuous devastation by fire and sword: his visit to the neighbouring city of Seleucia, and to the suburb Daphne, and his advance towards Apamea, during the episcopate of Thomas, a man most powerful in word and deed. He had the prudence to yield to Chosroes in becoming a spectator of the horseraces in the hippodrome, though an act of irregularity ; employing every means to court and pacify the conqueror. Chosroes also asked him whether he was desirous to see him in his own city: and it is said that he frankly replied that it was no pleasure to see him in his neighbourhood : at which answer Chosroes was struck with wonder, justly admiring the truthfulness of the man.
CHAP. XXVI.-DISPLAY OF THE WOOD OF THE CROSS AT
Now that I have arrived at this point of my narrative, I will relate a prodigy, which occurred at Apamea, and is worthy of a place in the present history.
When the sons of the Apameans were informed that Antioch had been burnt, they besought the before-mentioned Thomas to bring forth and display the saving and life-giving wood of the cross,” in deviation from established rule; that they might behold and kiss for the last time the sole salvation of man, and obtain a provision for the passage to another life, in having the precious cross as their means of transport to the better lot. In performance of which request, Thomas brings forth life-giving wood, announcing stated days for its display,
Procopius says that Ephræmius the bishop was falsely accused of having a design to deliver up Antioch to the Persians; and that, soon after, he fled into Cilicia, being afraid of the irruption of the Persians. Concerning the ornaments given by Ephræmius to the church of the Antiochians Procopius is silent.
? Compare Socrat. Eccl. Hist. i. 17.
that all the neighbouring people might have an opportunity to assemble and enjoy the salvation thence proceeding.
Accordingly, my parents visited it together with the rest, accompanied by myself, at that time a school-boy. When, therefore, we requested permission to adore and kiss the precious cross, Thomas, lifting up both his hands, displayed the wood which blotted out the ancient curse, making an entire circuit of the sanctuary, as was customary on the ordinary days of adoration. As Thomas moved from place to place, there followed him a large body of fire, blazing but not consuming; so that the whole spot where he stood to display the precious cross seemed to be in flames; and this took place not once or twice, but often, as the priest was making the circuit of the place, and the assembled people were entreating him that it might be done. This circumstance foreshowed the preservation which was granted to the Apameans. Accordingly, a representation of it was suspended on the roof of the sanctuary, explaining it by its delineation to those who were uninformed : 2 which was preserved until the irruption of Adaarmanes and the Persians, when it was burnt together with the holy church in the conflagration of the entire city. Such were these events. But Chosroes, in his retreat, acted in direct violation of conditions—for even on this occasion terms had been made-in a manner suited to his restless and inconstant disposition, but utterly unbecoming a rational man, much more a king professing a regard for treaties.
CHAP. XXVII.-SIEGE OF EDESSA BY CHOSROES. The same Procopius narrates what the ancients had recorded concerning Edessa and Abgarus, and how Christ wrote a
1 See Life of Evagrius prefixed to this history.
2 It has been doubted whether ypao here signifies a picture and image of that flame which had followed the wood of the cross; or a writing. Musculus took it for a writing or inscription; as did also Christophorson, who renders it thus: "For which reason an image was set up in the roof of the sanctuary, which by an inscription cut upon its base, might show this miracle to those who were ignorant of it.” But a base is not a term properly used with respect to a painted picture, but relates to a statue only. Valesius thinks that the image, or representation of this miracle, was painted on the arched roof of the church, where perhaps some verses were inscribed, which might record this miracle. Vales.
1 etter to him. He then relates how Chosroes made a fresh movement to lay siege to the city, thinking to falsify the assertion prevalent among the faithful, that Edessa would never fall into the power of an enemy: which assertion, however, is not contained in what was written to Abgarus by Christ our God; as the studious may gather from the history of Eusebius Pamphili, who cites the epistle verbatim. Such, however, is the averment and belief of the faithful; which was then realized, faith bringing about the accomplishment of the prediction. For after Chosroes had made many assaults on the city, had raised a mound of sufficient size to overtop the walls of the town, and had devised innumerable expedients beside, he raised the siege and retreated. I will, however, detail the particulars. Chosroes ordered his troops to collect a great quantity of wood for the siege from whatever timber fell in their way; and when this had been done before the order could well be issued, arranging it in a circular form, he threw a mound inside with its face advancing against the city. In this way elevating it gradually with the timber and earth, and pushing it forward towards the town, he raised it to a height sufficient to overtop the wall, so that the besiegers could hurl their missiles from vantage ground against the defenders. When the besiegers saw the mound approaching the walls like a moving mountain, and the enemy in expectation of stepping into the town at day-break, they devised to run a mine under the mound—which the Latins term “aggestus”. and by that means apply fire, so that the combustion of the timber might cause the downfal of the mound. The mine was completed; but they failed in attempting to fire the wood, because the fire, having no exit whence it could obtain a supply of air, was unable to take hold of it. In this state of utter perplexity, they bring the divinely wrought image, which the hands of men did not form, but Christ our God sent to Abgarus on his desiring to see Him. Accordingly, having introduced this holy image into the mine, and washed it over
This passage of Evagrius is cited in the seventh æcumenical synod, p. 613. Further, concerning this image not made with hands, which Christ is said to have sent to Abgarus, it is to be noted that no mention is made of it either by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, or by Procopius in his siege of the city Edessa. For these authors relate, that a letter only was sent by Christ to Abgarus, by the apostle Thaddæus. See Euseb. Eccl. Hist. b. i. ch. 13.