« PreviousContinue »
and to deliberate among themselves respecting the course to be pursued. After a short interval they returned, and placed themselves at the disposal of the bishop. However, on his naming Philippicus to them, in order that they might themselves request him for a commander, they declared that the whole army had on this point bound themselves with fearful oaths: but the bishop, undeterred by this, without the least delay said, that he was a bishop by Divine permission, and had authority to loose and bind both upon earth and in heaven, and at the same time quoted the sacred oracle.1 On their yielding upon this point also, he propitiated the Deity with supplication and prayers,2 at the same time administering to them the communion of the immaculate body; for it happened to be the second day of the holy Passion week."3 After he had feasted them all, to the number of two thousand, upon couches hastily constructed on the turf, he returned home the following day. It was also agreed that the soldiers should assemble wherever they might choose. Gregory in consequence sends for Philippicus, who at that time was at Tarsus in Cilicia, intending to proceed immediately to the imperial city; and he also reports these proceedings to the government, communicating at the same time the prayer of the soldiery respecting Philippicus. Accordingly, they meet Philippicus at Theopolis, and employing those who had been admitted to partake in the divine regeneration, to entreat for them, they bend in supplication before him, and, on receiving a solemn promise of amnesty, they return to their duty with him. Such was the progress of these events.
CHAP. XIV.-Loss OF MARTYROPOLIS.
A CERTAIN Sittas, one of the petty officers stationed at Martyropolis, considering himself aggrieved by the command
Matt. xvi. 19.
2 These prayers and supplications may be referred, either to the reconciliation of the penitents, and to the absolution from that oath wherein the soldiers had bound themselves; or else to the solemn prayers which Gregory then celebrated before the tribunes and centurions of the Roman army, to whom also he distributed the holy communion. Vales.
3 That is, the Monday of the Great Week, or Holy Week, the Monday next before Easter.
• Decani. These were commanders of ten soldiers, answering to what is now called the head of a file. Vales.
ers in that place, betrays the city, by watching the withdrawal of the troops which occupied it, and introducing a Persian battalion under colour of being Romans. He thus obtained possession of a place which was most important to the Romans; and, retaining most of the younger females, expelled all the other inhabitants, except a few domestic slaves.
Philippicus in consequence marched thither, and beleaguered the city, without being provided with things necessary for the siege. Nevertheless, he maintained his operations with such means as he possessed, and, having run several mines, threw down one of the towers. He was unable, however, to make himself master of the place, because the Persians continued their exertions through the night, and secured the breach. When the Romans, repeatedly assaulting, were as often repulsed, for the missiles were hurled upon them from vantage ground with unerring aim, and since they were suffering greater loss than they inflicted, they at last raised the siege, and encamped at a short distance, with the sole object of preventing the Persians from reinforcing the garrison. By the order of Maurice, Gregory visits the camp, and induces them to resume the siege. They were, however, unable to accomplish anything, from their utter want of engines for sieges. In consequence, the army breaks up for winter quarters, and numerous garrisons are left in the neighbouring forts, to prevent the Persians from secretly introducing succours into the place.
In the succeeding summer, on the re-assembling of the army, and the advance of the Persians, a severely contested battle is fought before Martyropolis. Though the advantage was on the side of Philippicus, and many Persians had fallen, with the loss of one distinguished chieftain, a considerable body of the enemy made their way into the city; which was in fact their main object. Thenceforward the Romans gave up the siege in despair, as being unable to encounter this force, and they erect a rival city at the distance of seven stadia, in a stronger situation on the mountains, in order to the carrying on of counter-operations. Such were the proceedings of the army during the summer; it broke up on the approach of winter.
CHAP. XV.-CAPTURE OF OCBAS.
COMENTIOLUS, a Thracian by birth, is sent out as a successor in the command to Philippicus. He engaged the Persians with great spirit, and would have lost his life by being thrown to the ground together with his horse, had not one of the guards mounted him upon a led horse,1 and conveyed him out of the battle. In consequence, the enemy fly with precipitation, with the loss of all their commanders, and retire to Nisibis; and, fearing to return to their king, since he had threatened them with death unless they should bring off their commanders in safety, they there enter into the insurrection against Hormisdas, now that Varamus, the Persian general, had already entertained that design with his party on his return from his encounter with the Turks. In the mean time, Comentiolus, having commenced the siege of Martyropolis, leaves there the greater part of his army, and himself makes an excursion with a chosen body of troops to Ocbas, a very strong fortress, situated on a precipice on the bank opposite to Martyropolis, and commanding a view of the whole of that city. Having employed every effort in the siege, and thrown down some portion of the wall by catapults, he takes the place by storming the breach. In consequence, the Persians thenceforward despaired of keeping possession of Martyropolis.
CHAP. XVI.-MURDER OF HORMISDAS.
WHILE Such was the course of these events, the Persians despatched Hormisdas, the most unjust of all monarchs, in as far as he inflicted upon his subjects not only pecuniary exactions, but also various modes of death.
CHAP. XVII.-FLIGHT OF CHOSROES THE YOUNGER. THEY establish as his successor his son Chosroes,2 against whom Varamus advanced with his troops. Chosroes encounters
1 Generals, when they went to an engagement, were wont to lead with them several horses, that if that on which they rode were by chance killed, they might mount another.
2 Chosroes was made king of the Persians in the year of Christ 592, as Baronius writes in his Annals.
him with an inconsiderable force, and takes to flight on seeing his own men deserting him. He arrives at Circesium, having, according to his own account, vowed to the God of the Christians, that he would allow his horse to take its course wherever it should be guided by Him. He was accompanied by his wives and two newly-born children, and certain Persian nobles who voluntarily followed him. Thence he sends an embassy to the emperor Maurice; who, manifesting on this occasion too the soundest judgment, and deriving from the very circumstances an estimate of the instability and mutability of life, and the sudden fluctuations of human affairs, admits his suit, and treats him as a guest instead of an exile, and as a son instead of a fugitive, welcoming him with royal gifts, which were sent not only by the emperor himself, but, in similar style, by the empress to the consorts of Chosroes, and also by their children to the children.
CHAP. XVIII.-MISSION OF GREGORY AND DOMITIAN TO MEET
THE emperor also despatches the whole of his body-guards and the entire Roman army with their commander, with orders to attend Chosroes wherever he might choose to proceed: and by way of still greater distinction, he also sends Domitian, bishop of Melitene, his own kinsman, a man of sense and ability, most capable both in word and deed, and most efficient for the despatch of the highest transactions. He sends Gregory too: who on all points filled Chosroes with amazement, by his conversation, by his munificence, and by his suggestion of seasonable measures.
CHAP. XIX.-RESTORATION OF CHOSROES.
CHOSROES, having proceeded as far as Hierapolis, the capital of Euphratensis, immediately returned: and this was done with the consent of Maurice, who favoured the interest of his suppliant more than his own glory. He also presents Chosroes with a large sum of money, a circumstance never before recorded; and having raised a body of Persians, and supplied the cost from his own means, he sends him across the border with a combined force of Romans and Persians, after Martyro
polis had been previously surrendered, together with the traitor Sittas; whom the inhabitants stoned and impaled. Daras was also recovered on its evacuation by the Persian garrison, and Chosroes was restored to his kingdom in consequence of the utter overthrow of Varamus, in a single engagement with the Roman troops only, and his inglorious and solitary flight.
CHAP. XX.-GOLANDUCH THE MARTYR.
Ar that time there was living in our country Golanduch, a female martyr, who maintained her testimony through a course of severe sufferings when tortured by the Persian Magi, and was a worker of extraordinary miracles. Her life was written by Stephen, the former bishop of Hierapolis.
CHAP. XXI.-OFFERINGS OF CHOSROES.
CHOSROES, on his restoration to his kingdom, sends to Gregory a cross, embellished with much gold and precious stones, in honour of the victorious martyr Sergius; which cross Theodora, the wife of Justinian, had dedicated, and Chosroes had carried off, with the other treasures, as I have already related.1 He also sends another golden cross, on which was engraven the following inscription in Greek :
"This cross I, Chosroes, king of kings, son of Hormisdas, have sent. After I had been compelled to take refuge in the Roman territory by the slanderous practices and villany of the unhappy Varamus and his cavalry, and when, because the unhappy Zadespram had come to Nisibis with an army, with a view to seduce the cavalry in that quarter to revolt and raise commotion, we also had sent a body of cavalry with a commander to Charchas; at that time, by the fortune of the venerable and renowned saint, Sergius, having heard that he granted the petitions addressed to him, we vowed, in the first year of our reign, on the seventh day of January, that if our cavalry should slay or capture Zadespram, we would send to his sanctuary a golden cross, embellished with jewels for the sake of his venerable name; and on the seventh day of February they brought to us the head of Zadespram. Having, accordingly, obtained our petition, in order that each circum
1 See above, book iv. chap. 28.