Page images

with water, they sprinkled some upon the timber; and the Divine power forthwith being present to the faith of those who had so done, the result was accomplished which had previously been impossible: for the timber immediately caught the flame, and being in an instant reduced to cinders, communicated with that above, and the fire spread in all directions. When the besieged saw the smoke rising, they adopted the following contrivance. Having filled small jars with sulphur, tow, and other combustibles, they threw them upon


aggestus; and these, sending forth smoke as the fire was increased by the force of their flight, prevented that which was rising from the mound from being observed ; so that all who were not in the secret, supposed that the smoke proceeded solely from the jars. On the third day the flames were seen issuing from the earth, and then the Persians on the mound became aware of their unfortunate situation. But Chosroes, as if in opposition to the power of heaven, endeavoured to extinguish the pile, by turning all the water-courses which were outside

it. The fire, however, receiving the water as if it had been oil or sulphur, or some other combustible, continually increased, until it had completely levelled the entire mound and reduced the aggestus to ashes. Then Chosroes, in utter despair, impressed by the circumstances with a sense of his disgraceful folly in having entertained an idea of prevailing over the God whom we worship, retreated ingloriously into his own territories.

the city upon

CHAP. XXVIII.- MIRACLE AT SERGIOPOLIS. What occurred at Sergiopolis through the proceedings of Chosroes shall also be described, as being a notable event and worthy of perpetual remembrance. Chosroes advanced against this city too, eager for its capture; and on his proceeding to assault the walls, negociations took place with a view to spare the city: and it was agreed that the sacred treasures should be a ransom for the place, among which was also a cross presented by Justinian and Theodora.? When

i Concerning this golden cross which Chosroes had taken out of the church of the Sergiopolites for the price of its redemption, Theophylact speaks in the fifth book of his history, chap. 13. Where also Chosroes, (grandchild, or nephew, to this Chosroes here mentioned by Evagrius,) ex

they had been duly conveyed, Chosroes asked the priest and the Persians who had been sent with him, whether there was not anything besides. Upon this one of them, being persons unaccustomed to speak the truth, told Chosroes that there were some other treasures concealed by the townsmen, who were but few. In fact, there had been left behind not any treasure of gold or silver, but one of more valuable material, and irrevocably devoted to God, namely, the holy relics of the victorious martyr Sergius, lying in a coffin of the oblong sort, plated over with silver. Chosroes, influenced by these persons, advanced his whole army against the city; when suddenly there appeared along the circuit of the walls, in defence of the place, innumerable shields ; on seeing which the persons sent by Chosroes returned, describing, with wonder, the number and fashion of the arms. And when, on further inquiry, he learned that very few persons remained in the city, and these consisted of aged people and children, from the absence of the flower of the population, he perceived that the prodigy proceeded from the martyr, and, influenced by fear and wonder at the faith of the Christians, he withdrew into his own country. They also say that in his latter days he partook in the holy regeneration.

CHAP. XXIX.-PESTILENCE. I WILL also describe the circumstances of the pestilence which commenced at that period, and has now prevailed and extended over the whole world for fifty-two years; a circumstance such as has never before been recorded. Two years after the capture of Antioch by the Persians, a pestilence broke out, in some respects similar to that described by Thucydides, in others widely different. It took its rise from Æthiopia, as is now reported, and made a circuit of the whole world in succession, leaving, as I suppose, no part of the hupressly attests that that cross in honour of the martyr Sergius had been sent by the emperor Justinian to Sergiopolis, and was placed in the church of St. Sergius. Vales.

Evagrius means that it was a thing unheard of, that a plague should invade the earth for the space of fifty-two years. Indeed, no plague is recorded to have raged so long. This pestilence is said to have begun in the year after Basilius's consulate, that is, A. D. 543. Vales.

> See Thucyd. book ii. chap. 47–53.



man race unvisited by the disease. Some cities were so severely afflicted as to be altogether depopulated, though in other places the visitation was less violent. It neither commenced according to any fixed period, nor was the time of its cessation uniform ; but it seized upon some places at the commencement of winter, others in the course of the spring, others during the summer, and in some cases, when the autumn was advanced. In some instances, having infected a part of a city, it left the remainder untouched ; and frequently in an uninfected city one might remark a few households excessively wasted ; and in several places, while one or two households utterly perished, the rest of the city remained unvisited : but, as we have learned from careful observation, the uninfected households alone suffered the succeeding year.

But the most singular circumstance of all was this ; that if it happened that inhabitants of an infected city were living in a place which the calamity had not visited, these alone were seized with the disorder. This visitation also befell cities and other places in many instances according to the periods called Indictions; and the disease occurred, with the almost utter destruction of human beings, in the second year of each indiction. Thus it happened in my own case—for I deem it fitting, in due adaptation of circumstances, to insert also in this history matters relating to myself—that at the commencement of this calamity I was seized with what are termed buboes, while still a school-boy, and lost by its recurrence at different times several of my children, my wife, and many

of as well as of my domestic and country servants; the several indictions making, as it were, a distribution of my

misfortunes.? Thus, not quite two years before my writing this, being now in the fifty-eighth year of my age, on its fourth visit to Antioch, at the expiration of the fourth indiction from its com

Evagrius probably means that on the second year of each indiction that plague raged more sorely than it was wont to do at other times.

See Life of Evagrius prefixed to this history. 3 From this place the date of Evagrius's birth may easily be found out. For he has said in the beginning of this chapter, that when he wrote these things, it was the fifty-second year of that plague ; and that he was in the fifty-eighth year of his age; it necessarily follows, that he was born six years before the beginning of this plague. The plague itself began on the year after Basilius's consulate, that is, two years after the destruction of Antioch, as Evagrius has said above. Evagrius therefore was bom A. D. 536, or 537. Vales.

my kin,


mencement, I lost a daughter and her son, besides those who had died previously. The plague was a complication of diseases : for, in some cases, commencing in the head, and rendering the eyes bloody and the face swollen, it descended into the throat, and then destroyed the patient. In others, there was a flux of the bowels : in others buboes were formed, followed by violent fever; and the sufferers died at the end of two or three days, equally in possession, with the healthy, of their mental and bodily powers. Others died in a state of delirium, and some by the breaking out of carbuncles. Cases occurred where persons, who had been attacked once and twice and had recovered, died by a subsequent seizure.

The ways in which the disease was communicated were various and unaccountable ; for some perished by merely living with the infected, others by only touching them, others by having entered their chamber, others by frequenting public places. Some, having fled from the infected cities, escaped themselves, but imparted the disease to the healthy. Some were altogether free from contagion, though they had associated with many who were afflicted, and had touched many not only in their sickness but also when dead. Some, too, who were desirous of death, on account of the utter loss of their children and friends, and with this view placed themselves as much as possible in contact with the diseased, were nevertheless not infected; as if the pestilence struggled against their purpose. This calamity has prevailed, as I have already said, to the present time, for two and fifty years, exceeding all that have preceded it. For Philostratus expresses wonder that the pestilence, which happened in his time, lasted for

The sequel is uncertain, since its course will be guided by the good pleasure of God, who knows both the causes of things, and their tendencies. I shall now return to the point from which I digressed, and relate the remainder of Justinian's history.

fifteen years.

CHAP. XXX.-AVARICE OF JUSTINIAN. JUSTINIAN was insatiable in the acquisition of wealth, and so excessively covetous of the property of others, that he sold for money the whole body of his subjects to those who were intrusted with offices or who were collectors of tributes, and to whatever persons were disposed to entrap others by groundless charges. He stripped of their entire property innumerable wealthy persons, under colour of the emptiest pretexts. If even a prostitute, marking out an individual as a victim, raised a charge of criminal intercourse against him, all law was at once rendered vain, and by making Justinian her associate in dishonest gain, she transferred to herself the whole wealth of the accused person. At the same time he was liberal in expenditure ; so far as to raise in every quarter many sacred and magnificent temples, and other religious edifices devoted to the care of infants and aged persons of either sex, and of such as were afflicted with various diseases. He also appropriated considerable revenues for carrying out these objects ; and performed many such actions as are pious and acceptable to God, provided that those who perform them do so from their own means, and the offering of their deeds be pure.


AT CONSTANTINOPLE. He also raised at Constantinople many sacred buildings of elaborate beauty, in honour of God and the saints, and erected a vast and incomparable work, such as has never been before recorded, namely, the largest edifice of the church, a noble and surpassing structure, beyond the power of words to describe. Nevertheless I will endeavour to the best of my ability to detail the plan of the sacred precinct. The nave of the sanctuary is a dome, supported by four arches, and raised to so great a height that the sight of persons surveying it from below can scarcely reach the vertex of the hemisphere, and no one from above, however daring, ventures to bend over and look down to the floor. The arches are raised clear from the pavement to the roof ;2 but within those on the right and left are ranged columns of Thessalian stone, which, together with other corresponding pillars, support galleries, so as to allow those who 1 See above, b. ii. ch. 2, note.

By this we are probably to understand that the arches were open, and upheld by no columns.

3 These Hyperoa, galleries or upper rooms, were designed for the women, that being therein placed apart by themselves, they might behold the solemn performances of the Divine service.


« PreviousContinue »