History of the Wars/Book II
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Book II: The Persian War (pt. 2)
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Not long after this Chosroes, upon learning that Belisarius had begun to win Italy also for the Emperor Justinian, was no longer able to restrain his thoughts but he wished to discover pretexts, in order that he might break the treaty on some grounds which would seem plausible. And he conferred with Alamoundaras concerning this matter and commanded him to provide causes for war. So Alamoundaras brought against Arethas, the charge that he, Arethas, was doing him violence in a matter of boundary lines, and he entered into conflict with him in time of peace, and began to overrun the land of the Romans on this pretext. And he declared that, as for him, he was not breaking the treaty between the Persians and Romans, for neither one of them had included him in it. And this was true. For no mention of Saracens was ever made in treaties, on the ground that they were included under the names of Persians and Romans. Now this country which at that time was claimed by both tribes of Saracens is called Strata, and extends to the south of the city of Palmyra; nowhere does it produce a single tree or any of the useful growth of corn-lands, for it is burned exceedingly dry by the sun, but from of old it has been devoted to the pasturage of some few flocks. Now Arethas maintained that the place belonged to the Romans, proving his assertion by the name which has long been applied to it by all (for Strata signifies "a paved road" in the Latin tongue), and he also adduced the testimonies of men of the oldest times. Alamoundaras, however, was by no means inclined to quarrel concerning the name, but he claimed that tribute had been given him from of old for the pasturage there by the owners of the flocks. The Emperor Justinian therefore entrusted the settlement of the disputed points to Strategius; a patrician and administrator of the royal treasures, and besides a man of wisdom and of good ancestry, and with him Summus, who had commanded the troops in Palestine. This Summus was the brother of Julian, who not long before had served as envoy to the Aethiopians and Homeritae. And the one of them, Summus, insisted that the Romans ought not to surrender the country, but Strategius begged of the emperor that he should not do the Persians the favour of providing them with pretexts for the war which they already desired, for the sake of a small bit of land and one of absolutely no account, but altogether unproductive and unsuitable for crops. The Emperor Justinian, therefore, took the matter under consideration, and a long time was spent in the settlement of the question.
But Chosroes, the King of the Persians, claimed that the treaty had been broken by Justinian, who had lately displayed great opposition to his house, in that he had attempted in time of peace to attach Alamoundaras to himself. For, as he said, Summus, who had recently gone to the Saracen ostensibly to arrange matters, had hoodwinked him by promises of large sums of money on condition that he should join the Romans, and he brought forward a letter which, he alleged, the Emperor Justinian had written to Alamoundaras concerning these things. He also declared that he had sent a letter to some of the Huns, in which he urged them to invade the land of the Persians and to do extensive damage to the country thereabout. This letter he asserted to have been put into his hands by the Huns themselves who had come before him. So then Chosroes, with these charges against the Romans, was purposing to break off the treaty. But as to whether he was speaking the truth in these matters, I am not able to say.
At this point Vittigis, the leader of the Goths, already worsted in the war, sent two envoys to him to persuade him to march against the Romans; but the men whom he sent were not Goths, in order that the real character of the embassy might not be at once obvious and so make negotiations useless, but Ligurian priests who were attracted to this enterprise by rich gifts of money. One of these men, who seemed to be the more worthy, undertook the embassy assuming the pretended name of bishop which did not belong to him at all, while the other followed as his attendant. And when in the course of the journey they came to the land of Thrace, they attached to themselves a man from there to be an interpreter of the Syriac and the Greek tongues, and without being detected by any of the Romans, they reached the land of Persia. For inasmuch as they were at peace, they were not keeping a strict guard over that region. And coming before Chosroes they spoke as follows: "It is true, O King, that all other envoys undertake their task for the sake of advantages to themselves as a rule, but we have been sent by Vittigis, the king of the Goths and the Italians, in order to speak in behalf of thy kingdom; and consider that he is now present before thee speaking these words. If anyone should say, O King, putting all in a word, that thou hast given up thy kingdom and all men everywhere to Justinian, he would be speaking correctly. For since he is by nature a meddler and a lover of those things which in no way belong to him, and is not able to abide by the settled order of things, he has conceived the desire of seizing upon the whole earth, and has become eager to acquire for himself each and every state. Accordingly (since he was neither able alone to assail the Persians, nor with the Persians opposing him to proceed against the others), he decided to deceive thee with the pretence of peace, and by forcing the others to subjection to acquire mighty forces against thy state. Therefore, after having already destroyed the kingdom of the Vandals and subjugated the Moors, while the Goths because of their friendship stood aside for him, he has come against us bringing vast sums of money and many men. Now it is evident that, if he is able also to crush the Goths utterly, he will with us and those already enslaved march against the Persians, neither considering the name of friendship nor blushing before any of his sworn promises. While, therefore, some hope of safety is still left thee, do not do us any further wrong nor suffer it thyself, but see in our misfortunes what will a little later befall the Persians; and consider that the Romans could never be well-disposed to thy kingdom, and that when they become more powerful, they will not hesitate at all to display their enmity toward the Persians. Use, therefore, this good chance while the time fits, lest thou seek for it after it has ceased. For when once the time of opportunity has passed, it is not its nature to return again. And it is better by anticipating to be in security, than by delaying beyond the opportune time to suffer the most miserable fate possible at the hands of the enemy."
When Chosroes heard this, it seemed to him that Vittigis advised well, and he was still more eager to break off the treaty. For, moved as he was by envy toward the Emperor Justinian, he neglected completely to consider that the words were spoken to him by men who were bitter enemies of Justinian. But because he wished the thing he willingly consented to be persuaded. And he did the very same thing a little later in the case of the addresses of the Armenians and of the Lazi, which will be spoken of directly. And yet they were bringing as charges against Justinian the very things which would naturally be encomiums for a worthy monarch, namely that he was exerting himself to make his realm larger and much more splendid. For these accusations one might make also against Cyrus, the King of the Persians, and Alexander, the Macedonian. But justice is never accustomed to dwell together with envy. For these reasons, then, Chosroes was purposing to break off the treaty.
At this same time another event also occurred; it was as follows. That Symeon who had given Pharangium into the hands of the Romans persuaded the Emperor Justinian, while the war was still at its height, to present him with certain villages of Armenia. And becoming master of these places, he was plotted against and murdered by those who had formerly possessed them. After this crime had been committed, the perpetrators of the murder fled into the land of Persia. They were two brothers, sons of Perozes. And when the Emperor heard this, he gave over the villages to Amazaspes, the nephew of Symeon, and appointed him ruler over the Armenians. This Amazaspes, as time went on, was denounced to the Emperor Justinian by one of his friends, Acacius by name, on the ground that he was abusing the Armenians and wished to give over to the Persians Theodosiopolis and certain other fortresses. After telling this, Acacius, by the emperor's will, slew Amazaspes treacherously, and himself secured the command over the Armenians by the gift of the emperor. And being base by nature, he gained the opportunity of displaying his inward character, and he proved to be the most cruel of all men toward his subjects. For he plundered their property without excuse and ordained that they should pay an unheard-of tax of four centenaria. But the Armenians, unable to bear him any longer, conspired together and slew Acacius and fled for refuge to Pharangium.
Therefore the emperor sent Sittas against them from Byzantium. For Sittas had been delaying there since the time when the treaty was made with the Persians. So he came to Armenia, but at first he entered upon the war reluctantly and exerted himself to calm the people and to restore the population to their former habitations, promising to persuade the emperor to remit to them the payment of the new tax. But since the emperor kept assailing him with frequent reproaches for his hesitation, led on by the slanders of Adolius, the son of Acacius, Sittas at last made his preparations for the conflict. First of all he attempted by means of promises of many good things to win over some of the Armenians by persuasion and to attach them to his cause, in order that the task of overpowering the others might be attended with less difficulty and toil. And the tribe called the Aspetiani, great in power and in numbers, was willing to join him. And they went to Sittas and begged him to give them pledges in writing that, if they abandoned their kinsmen in the battle and came to the Roman army, they should remain entirely free from harm, retaining their own possessions. Now Sittas was delighted and wrote to them in tablets, giving them pledges just as they desired of him; he then sealed the writing and sent it to them. Then, confident that by their help he would be victorious in the war without fighting, he went with his whole army to a place called Oenochalakon, where the Armenians had their camp. But by some chance those who carried the tablets went by another road and did not succeed at all in meeting the Aspetiani. Moreover a portion of the Roman army happened upon some few of them, and not knowing the agreement which had been made, treated them as enemies. And Sittas himself caught some of their women and children in a cave and slew them, either because he did not understand what had happened or because he was angry with the Aspetiani for not joining him as had been agreed.
But they, being now possessed with anger, arrayed themselves for battle with all the rest. But since both armies were on exceedingly difficult ground where precipices abounded, they did not fight in one place, but scattered about among the ridges and ravines. So it happened that some few of the Armenians and Sittas with not many of his followers came close upon each other, with only a ravine lying between them. Both parties were horsemen. Then Sittas with a few men following him crossed the ravine and advanced against the enemy; the Armenians, after withdrawing to the rear, stopped, and Sittas pursued no further but remained where he was. Suddenly someone from the Roman army, an Erulian by birth, who had been pursuing the enemy, returning impetuously from them came up to Sittas and his men. Now as it happened Sittas had planted his spear in the ground; and the Erulian's horse fell upon this with a great rush and shattered it. And the general was exceedingly annoyed by this, and one of the Armenians, seeing him, recognized him and declared to all the others that it was Sittas. For it happened that he had no helmet on his head. Thus it did not escape the enemy that he had come there with only a few men. Sittas, then, upon hearing the Armenian say this, since his spear, as has been said, lay broken in two on the ground, drew his sword and attempted immediately to recross the ravine. But the enemy advanced upon him with great eagerness, and a soldier overtaking him in the ravine struck him a glancing blow with his sword on the top of his head; and he took off the whole scalp, but the steel did not injure the bone at all. And Sittas continued to press forward still more than before, but Artabanes, son of John of the Arsacidae, fell upon him from behind and with a thrust of his spear killed him. Thus Sittas was removed from the world after no notable fashion, in a manner unworthy of his valour and his continual achievements against the enemy, a man who was extremely handsome in appearance and a capable warrior, and a general second to none of his contemporaries. But some say that Sittas did not die at the hand of Artabanes, but that Solomon, a very insignificant man among the Armenians, destroyed him.
After the death of Sittas the emperor commanded Bouzes to go against the Armenians; and he, upon drawing near, sent to them promising to effect a reconciliation between the emperor and all the Armenians, and asking that some of their notables should come to confer with him on these matters. Now the Armenians as a whole were unable to trust Bouzes nor were they willing to receive his proposals. But there was a certain man of the Arsacidae who was especially friendly with him, John by name, the father of Artabanes, and this man, trusting in Bouzes as his friend came to him with his son-in-law, Bassaces, and a few others; but when these men had reached the spot where they were to meet Bouzes on the following day, and had made their bivouac there, they perceived that they had come into a place surrounded by the Roman army. Bassaces, the son-in-law, therefore earnestly entreated John to fly. And since he was not able to persuade him, he left him there alone, and in company with all the others eluded the Romans, and went back again by the same road. And Bouzes found John alone and slew him; and since after this the Armenians had no hope of ever reaching an agreement with the Romans, and since they were unable to prevail over the emperor in war, they came before the Persian king led by Bassaces, an energetic man. And the leading men among them came at that time into the presence of Chosroes and spoke as follows: "Many of us, O Master, are Arsacidae, descendants of that Arsaces who was not unrelated to the Parthian kings when the Persian realm lay under the hand of the Parthians, and who proved himself an illustrious king, inferior to none of his time. Now we have come to thee, and all of us have become slaves and fugitives, not, however, of our own will, but under most hard constraint, as it might seem by reason of the Roman power, but in truth, O King, by reason of thy decision,--if, indeed, he who gives the strength to those who wish to do injustice should himself justly bear also the blame of their misdeeds. Now we shall begin our account from a little distance back in order that you may be able to follow the whole course of events. Arsaces, the last king of our ancestors, abdicated his throne willingly in favour of Theodosius, the Roman Emperor, on condition that all who should belong to his family through all time should live unhampered in every respect, and in particular should in no case be subject to taxation. And we have preserved the agreement, until you, the Persians, made this much-vaunted treaty, which, as we think, one would not err in calling a sort of common destruction. For from that time, disregarding friend and foe, he who is in name thy friend, O King, but in fact thy enemy, has turned everything in the world upside down and wrought complete confusion. And this thou thyself shalt know at no distant time, as soon as he is able to subdue completely the people of the West. For what thing which was before forbidden has he not done? or what thing which was well established has he not disturbed? Did he not ordain for us the payment of a tax which did not exist before, and has he not enslaved our neighbours, the Tzani, who were autonomous, and has he not set over the king of the wretched Lazi a Roman magistrate?--an act neither in keeping with the natural order of things nor very easy to explain in words. Has he not sent generals to the men of Bosporus, the subjects of the Huns, and attached to himself the city which in no way belongs to him, and has he not made a defensive alliance with the Aethiopian kingdoms, of which the Romans had never even heard? More than this he has made the Homeritae his possession and the Red Sea, and he is adding the Palm Groves to the Roman dominion. We omit to speak of the fate of the Libyans and of the Italians. The whole earth is not large enough for the man; it is too small a thing for him to conquer all the world together. But he is even looking about the heavens and is searching the retreats beyond the ocean, wishing to gain for himself some other world. Why, therefore, O King, dost thou still delay? Why dost thou respect that most accursed peace, in order forsooth that he may make thee the last morsel of all? If it is thy wish to learn what kind of a man Justinian would shew himself toward those who yield to him, the example is to be sought near at hand from ourselves and from the wretched Lazi; and if thou wishest to see how he is accustomed to treat those who are unknown to him and who have done him not the least wrong, consider the Vandals and the Goths and the Moors. But the chief thing has not yet been spoken. Has he not made efforts in time of peace to win over by deception thy slave, Alamoundaras, O most mighty King, and to detach him from thy kingdom, and has he not striven recently to attach to himself the Huns who are utterly unknown to him, in order to make trouble for thee? And yet an act more strange than this has not been performed in all time. For since he perceived, as I think, that the overthrow of the western world would speedily be accomplished, he has already taken in hand to assail you of the East, since the Persian power alone has been left for him to grapple with. The peace, therefore, as far as concerns him, has already been broken for thee, and he himself has set an end to the endless peace. For they break the peace, not who may be first in arms, but they who may be caught plotting against their neighbours in time of peace. For the crime has been committed by him who attempts it, even though success be lacking. Now as for the course which the war will follow, this is surely clear to everyone. For it is not those who furnish causes for war, but those who defend themselves against those who furnish them, who are accustomed always to conquer their enemies. Nay more, the contest will not be evenly matched for us even in point of strength. For, as it happens, the majority of the Roman soldiers are at the end of the world, and as for the two generals who were the best they had, we come here having slain the one, Sittas, and Belisarius will never again be seen by Justinian. For disregarding his master, he has remained in the West, holding the power of Italy himself. So that when thou goest against the enemy, no one at all will confront thee, and thou wilt have us leading the army with good will, as is natural, and with a thorough knowledge of the country." When Chosroes heard this he was pleased, and calling together all who were of noble blood among the Persians, he disclosed to all of them what Vittigis had written and what the Armenians had said, and laid before them the question as to what should be done. Then many opinions were expressed inclining to either side, but finally it was decided that they must open hostilities against the Romans at the beginning of spring. [539 A.D.] For it was the late autumn season, in the thirteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian. The Romans, however, did not suspect this, nor did they think that the Persians would ever break the so-called endless peace, although they heard that Chosroes blamed their emperor for his successes in the West, and that he preferred against him the charges which I have lately mentioned.
[539 A.D.] At that time also the comet appeared, at first about as long as a tall man, but later much larger. And the end of it was toward the west and its beginning toward the east, and it followed behind the sun itself. For the sun was in Capricorn and it was in Sagittarius. And some called it "the swordfish" because it was of goodly length and very sharp at the point, and others called it "the bearded star"; it was seen for more than forty days. Now those who were wise in these matters disagreed utterly with each other, and one announced that one thing, another that another thing was indicated by this star; but I only write what took place and I leave to each one to judge by the outcome as he wishes. Straightway a mighty Hunnic army crossing the Danube River fell as a scourge upon all Europe, a thing which had happened many times before, but which had never brought such a multitude of woes nor such dreadful ones to the people of that land. For from the Ionian Gulf these barbarians plundered everything in order as far as the suburbs of Byzantium. And they captured thirty-two fortresses in Illyricum, and they carried by storm the city of Cassandria (which the ancients called Potidaea, as far as we know), never having fought against walls before. And taking with them the money and leading away one hundred and twenty thousand captives, they all retired homeward without encountering any opposition. In later times too they often came there and brought upon the Romans irreparable calamity. This same people also assailed the wall of the Chersonesus, where they overpowered those who were defending themselves from the wall, and approaching through the surf of the sea, scaled the fortifications on the so-called Black Gulf; thus they got within the long wall, and falling unexpectedly upon the Romans in the Chersonesus they slew many of them and made prisoners of almost all the survivors. Some few of them also crossed the strait between Sestus and Abydus, and after plundering the Asiatic country, they returned again to the Chersonesus, and with the rest of the army and all the booty betook themselves to their homes. In another invasion they plundered Illyricum and Thessaly and attempted to storm the wall at Thermopylae; and since the guards on the walls defended them most valiantly, they sought out the ways around and unexpectedly found the path which leads up the mountain which rises there. In this way they destroyed almost all the Greeks except the Peloponnesians, and then withdrew. And the Persians not long afterwards broke off the treaty and wrought such harm to the Romans of the East as I shall set forth immediately.
Belisarius, after humbling Vittigis, the king of the Goths and Italians, brought him alive to Byzantium. And I shall now proceed to tell how the army of the Persians invaded the land of the Romans. When the Emperor Justinian perceived that Chosroes was eager for war, he wished to offer him some counsel and to dissuade him from the undertaking. Now it happened that a certain man had come to Byzantium from the city of Daras, Anastasius by name, well known for his sagacity; he it was who had broken the tyranny which had been established recently in Daras. Justinian therefore wrote a letter and sent it by this Anastasius to Chosroes; and the message of the letter was as follows: "It is the part of men of discretion and those by whom divine things are treated with due respect, when causes of war arise, and in particular against men who are in the truest sense friends, to exert all their power to put an end to them; but it belongs to foolish men and those who most lightly bring on themselves the enmity of Heaven to devise occasions for war and insurrection which have no real existence. Now to destroy peace and enter upon war is not a difficult matter, since the nature of things is such as to make the basest activities easy for the most dishonourable men. But when they have brought about war according to their intention, to return again to peace is for men, I think, not easy. And yet thou chargest me with writing letters which were not written with any dark purpose, and thou hast now made haste to interpret these with arbitrary judgment, not in the sense in which we conceived them when we wrote them, but in a way which will be of advantage to thee in thy eagerness to carry out thy plans not without some pretext. But for us it is possible to point out that thy Alamoundaras recently overran our land and performed outrageous deeds in time of peace, to wit, the capture of towns, the seizure of property, the massacre and enslavement of such a multitude of men, concerning which it will be thy duty not to blame us, but to defend thyself. For the crimes of those who have done wrong are made manifest to their neighbours by their acts, not by their thoughts. But even with these things as they are, we have still decided to hold to peace, but we hear that thou in thy eagerness to make war upon the Romans art fabricating accusations which do not belong to us at all. Natural enough, this; for while those who are eager to preserve the present order of things repel even those charges against their friends which are most pressing, those who are not satisfied with established friendships exert themselves to provide even pretexts which do not exist. But this would not seem to be becoming even to ordinary men, much less to kings. But leaving aside these things do thou consider the number of those who will be destroyed on both sides in the course of the war, and consider well who will justly bear the blame for those things which will come to pass, and ponder upon the oaths which thou didst take when thou didst carry away the money, and consider that if, after that, thou wrongly dishonour them by some tricks or sophistries, thou wouldst not be able to pervert them; for Heaven is too mighty to be deceived by any man." When Chosroes saw this message, he neither made any immediate answer nor did he dismiss Anastasius, but he compelled him to remain there.
[540 A.D.] When the winter was already reaching its close, and the thirteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian was ending, Chosroes, son of Cabades, invaded the land of the Romans at the opening of spring with a mighty army, and openly broke the so-called endless peace. But he did not enter by the country between the rivers, but advanced with the Euphrates on his right. On the other side of the river stands the last Roman stronghold which is called Circesium, an exceedingly strong place, since the River Aborras, a large stream, has its mouth at this point and mingles with the Euphrates, and this fortress lies exactly in the angle which is made by the junction of the two rivers. And a long second wall outside the fortress cuts off the land between the two rivers, and completes the form of a triangle around Circesium. Chosroes, therefore, not wishing to make trial of so strong a fortress and not having in mind to cross the River Euphrates, but rather to go against the Syrians and Cilicians, without any hesitation led his army forward, and after advancing for what, to an unencumbered traveller, is about a three-days' journey along the bank of the Euphrates, he came upon the city of Zenobia; this place Zenobia had built in former times, and, as was natural, she gave her name to the city. Now Zenobia was the wife of Odonathus, the ruler of the Saracens of that region, who had been on terms of peace with the Romans from of old. This Odonathus rescued for the Romans the Eastern Empire when it had come under the power of the Medes; but this took place in former times. Chosroes then came near to Zenobia, but upon learning that the place was not important and observing that the land was untenanted and destitute of all good things, he feared lest any time spent by him there would be wasted on an affair of no consequence and would be a hindrance to great undertakings, and he attempted to force the place to surrender. But meeting with no success, he hastened his march forward.
After again accomplishing a journey of equal extent, he reached the city of Sura, which is on the River Euphrates, and stopped very close to it. There it happened that the horse on which Chosroes was riding neighed and stamped the ground with his foot. And the Magi considered the meaning of this incident and announced that the place would be captured. Chosroes then made camp and led his army against the fortifications to assail the wall. Now it happened that a certain Arsaces, an Armenian by birth, was commander of the soldiers in the town; and he made the soldiers mount the parapets, and fighting from there most valiantly slew many of the enemy, but was himself struck by an arrow and died. And then, since it was late in the day, the Persians retired to their camp in order to assail the wall again on the following day; but the Romans were in despair since their leader was dead, and were purposing to make themselves suppliants of Chosroes. On the following day, therefore, they sent the bishop of the city to plead for them and to beg that the town be spared; so he took with him some of his attendants, who carried fowls and wine and clean loaves, and came before Chosroes; there he threw himself on the ground, and with tears supplicated him to spare a pitiable population and a city altogether without honour in the eyes of the Romans, and one which in past times had never been of any account to the Persians, and which never would be such thereafter; and he promised that the men of Sura would give him ransom worthy of themselves and the city which they inhabited. But Chosroes was angry with the townsmen because, being the first he had met of all the Romans, they had not willingly received him into their city, but even daring to raise their arms against him had slain a large number of Persian notables. However he did not disclose his anger, but carefully concealed it behind a smooth countenance, in order that by carrying out the punishment of the inhabitants of Sura he might make himself in the eyes of the Romans a fearful person and one not to be resisted. For by acting in this way he calculated that those who would from time to time come in his way would yield to him without trouble. Accordingly with great friendliness he caused the bishop to rise, and receiving the gifts, gave the impression, in a way, that he would immediately confer with the notables of the Persians concerning the ransom of the townsmen, and would settle their request favourably. Thus he dismissed the bishop and his following without any suspicion of the plot, and he sent with him certain of the men of note among the Persians, who were to be ostensibly an escort. These men he secretly commanded to go with him as far as the wall, encouraging him and cheering him with fair hopes, so that he and all those with him should be seen by those inside rejoicing and fearing nothing. But when the guards had set the gate open and were about to receive them into the city, they were to throw a stone or block of wood between the threshold and the gate and not allow them to shut it, but should themselves for a time stand in the way of those who wished to close it; for not long afterwards the army would follow them.
After giving these directions to the men Chosroes made ready the army, and commanded them to advance upon the city on the run whenever he should give the signal. So when they came close to the fortifications, the Persians bade farewell to the bishop and remained outside, and the townsmen, seeing that the man was exceedingly happy and that he was being escorted in great honour by the enemy, forgetting all their difficulties opened the gate wide, and received the priest and his following with clapping of hands and much shouting. And when all got inside, the guards began to push the gate in order to close it, but the Persians flung down a stone, which they had provided, between it and the threshold. And the guards pushed and struggled still more, but were quite unable to get the gate back to the threshold. On the other hand they dared not open it again, since they perceived that it was held by the enemy. But some say that it was not a stone but a block of wood which the Persians threw into the gateway. When the townsmen had as yet scarcely realized the plot, Chosroes was at hand with his whole army, and the barbarians forced back and flung open the gate, which was soon carried by storm. Straightway, then, Chosroes, filled with wrath, plundered the houses and put to death great numbers of the population; all the remainder he reduced to slavery, and setting fire to the whole city razed it to the ground. Then he dismissed Anastasius, bidding him announce to the Emperor Justinian where in the world he had left Chosroes, son of Cabades.
Afterwards either through motives of humanity or of avarice, or as granting a favour to a woman whom he had taken as a captive from the city, Euphemia by name, Chosroes decided to shew some kindness to the inhabitants of Sura; for he had conceived for this woman an extraordinary love (for she was exceedingly beautiful to look upon), and had made her his wedded wife. He sent, accordingly, to Sergiopolis, a city subject to the Romans, named from Sergius, a famous saint, distant from the captured city one hundred and twenty-six stades and lying to the south of it in the so-called Barbarian Plain, and bade Candidus, the bishop of the city, purchase the captives, twelve thousand in number, for two centenaria. But the bishop, alleging that he had no money, refused absolutely to undertake the matter. Chosroes therefore requested him to set down in a document the agreement that he would give the money at a later time, and thus to purchase for a small sum such a multitude of slaves. Candidus did as directed, promising to give the money within a year, and swore the most dire oaths, specifying that he should receive the following punishment if he should not give the money at the time agreed upon, that he should pay double the amount and should himself be no longer a priest, as one who had neglected his sworn promise. And after setting down these things in writing, Candidus received all the inhabitants of Sura. And some few among them survived, but the majority, unable to support the misery which had fallen to their lot, succumbed soon afterwards. After the settlement of this affair Chosroes led his army forward.
It had happened a little before this that the emperor had divided into two parts the military command of the East, leaving the portion as far as the River Euphrates under the control of Belisarius who formerly held the command of the whole, while the portion from there as far as the Persian boundary he entrusted to Bouzes, commanding him to take charge of the whole territory of the East until Belisarius should return from Italy. Bouzes therefore at first remained at Hierapolis, keeping his whole army with him; but when he learned what had befallen Sura, he called together the first men of the Hierapolitans and spoke as follows: "Whenever men are confronted with a struggle against an assailant with whom they are evenly matched in strength, it is not at all unreasonable that they should engage in open conflict with the enemy; but for those who are by comparison much inferior to their opponents it will be more advantageous to circumvent their enemy by some kind of tricks than to array themselves openly against them and thus enter into foreseen danger. How great, now, the army of Chosroes is you are assuredly informed. And if, with this army, he wishes to capture us by siege, and if we carry on the fight from the wall, it is probable that, while our supplies will fail us, the Persians will secure all they need from our land, where there will be no one to oppose them. And if the siege is prolonged in this way, I believe too that the fortification wall will not withstand the assaults of the enemy, for in many places it is most susceptible to attack, and thus irreparable harm will come to the Romans. But if with a portion of the army we guard the wall of the city, while the rest of us occupy the heights about the city, we shall make attacks from there at times upon the camp of our antagonists, and at times upon those who are sent out for the sake of provisions, and thus compel Chosroes to abandon the siege immediately and to make his retreat within a short time; for he will not be at all able to direct his attack without fear against the fortifications, nor to provide any of the necessities for so great an army." So spoke Bouzes; and in his words he seemed to set forth the advantageous course of action, but of what was necessary he did nothing. For he chose out all that portion of the Roman army which was of marked excellence and was off. And where in the world he was neither any of the Romans in Hierapolis, nor the hostile army was able to learn. Such, then, was the course of these events.
But the Emperor Justinian, upon learning of the inroad of the Persians, immediately sent his nephew Germanus with three hundred followers in great disorder, promising that after no great time a numerous army would follow. And Germanus, upon reaching Antioch, went around the whole circuit of the wall; and the greater part of it he found secure, for along that portion of it which lies on the level ground the River Orontes flows, making it everywhere difficult of access, and the portion which is on higher ground rises upon steep hills and is quite inaccessible to the enemy; but when he attained the highest point, which the men of that place are accustomed to call Orocasias, he noticed that the wall at that point was very easy to assail. For there happens to be in that place a rock, which spreads out to a very considerable width, and rises to a height only a little less than the fortifications. He therefore commanded that they should either cut off the rock by making a deep ditch along the wall, lest anyone should essay to mount from there upon the fortifications, or that they should build upon it a great tower and connect its structure with the wall of the city. But to the architects of public buildings it seemed that neither one of these things should be done. For, as they said, the work would not be completed in a short time with the attack of the enemy so imminent, while if they began this work and did not carry it to completion, they would do nothing else than shew to the enemy at what point in the wall they should make their attack. Germanus, though disappointed in this plan, had some hope at first because he expected an army from Byzantium. But when, after considerable time had passed, no army arrived from the emperor nor was expected to arrive, he began to fear lest Chosroes, learning that the emperor's nephew was there, would consider it more important than any other thing to capture Antioch and himself, and for this reason would neglect everything else and come against the city with his whole army. The natives of Antioch also had these things in mind, and they held a council concerning them, at which it seemed most advisable to offer money to Chosroes and thus escape the present danger.
Accordingly they sent Megas, the bishop of Beroea, a man of discretion who at that time happened to be tarrying among them, to beg for mercy from Chosroes; and departing from there he came upon the Median army not far from Hierapolis. And coming into the presence of Chosroes, he entreated him earnestly to have pity upon men who had committed no offence against him and who were not able to hold out against the Persian army. For it was becoming to a king least of all men to trample upon and do violence to those who retreated before him and were quite unwilling to array themselves against him; for not one of the things which he was then doing was a kingly or honourable act, because, without affording any time for consideration to the Roman emperor, so that he might either make the peace secure as might seem well to both sovereigns, or make his preparations for war in accordance with a mutual agreement, as was to be expected, he had thus recklessly advanced in arms against the Romans, while their emperor did not as yet know what had come upon them. When Chosroes heard this, he was utterly unable by reason of his stupidity to order his mind with reason and discretion, but still more than before he was lifted up in spirit. He therefore threatened to destroy all the Syrians and Cilicians, and bidding Megas follow him, he led his army to Hierapolis. When he had come there and established his camp, since he saw that the fortifications were strong and learned that the city was well garrisoned with soldiers, he demanded money from the Hierapolitans, sending to them Paulus as interpreter. This Paulus had been reared in Roman territory and had gone to an elementary school in Antioch, and besides he was said to be by birth of Roman extraction. But in spite of everything the inhabitants were exceedingly fearful for the fortifications, which embraced a large tract of land as far as the hill which rises there, and besides they wished to preserve their land unplundered; accordingly they agreed to give two thousand pounds of silver. Then indeed Megas entreated Chosroes in behalf of all the inhabitants of the East, and would not cease his entreaty, until Chosroes promised him that he would accept ten centenaria of gold and depart from the whole Roman empire.
Thus, then, on that day Megas departed thence and went on the way to Antioch, while Chosroes after receiving the ransom was moving toward Beroea. This city lies between Antioch and Hierapolis, at a distance from both of two-days' journey for an unencumbered traveller. Now while Megas, who travelled with a small company, advanced very quickly, the Persian army was accomplishing only one half of the distance which he travelled each day. And so on the fourth day he reached Antioch, while the Persians came to the suburb of Beroea. And Chosroes immediately sent Paulus and demanded money of the Beroeans, not only as much as he had received from the Hierapolitans, but double the amount, since he saw that their wall in many places was very vulnerable. As for the Beroeans, since they could by no means place confidence in their fortifications, they gladly agreed to give all, but after giving two thousand pounds of silver, they said that they were not able to give the remainder. And since Chosroes pressed them on this account, on the following night all of them fled for refuge into the fortress which is on the acropolis together with the soldiers who had been stationed there to guard the place. And on the following day men were sent to the city by Chosroes in order to receive the money; but on coming near the fortifications they found all the gates closed, and being unable to discover any man, they reported the situation to the king. And he commanded them to set ladders against the wall and to make trial of mounting it, and they did as directed. Then since no one opposed them, they got inside the fortifications and opened the gates at their leisure, and received into the city the whole army and Chosroes himself. By this time the king was furious with anger and he fired nearly the whole city. He then mounted the acropolis and decided to storm the fortress. There indeed the Roman soldiers while valiantly defending themselves slew some of the enemy; but Chosroes was greatly favoured by fortune by reason of the folly of the besieged, who had not sought refuge in this fortress by themselves, but along with all their horses and other animals, and by this inconsiderate act they were placed at a great disadvantage and began to be in danger. For since there was only one spring there and the horses and mules and other animals drank from it when they should not have done so, it came about that the water was exhausted. Such, then, was the situation of the Beroeans.
Megas, upon reaching Antioch and announcing the terms arranged by him with Chosroes, failed utterly to persuade them to carry out this agreement. For it happened that the Emperor Justinian had sent John, the son of Rufinus, and Julian, his private secretary, as ambassadors to Chosroes. The person holding this office is styled "a secretis" by the Romans; for secrets they are accustomed to call "secreta." These men had reached Antioch and were remaining there. Now Julian, one of the ambassadors, explicitly forbade everybody to give money to the enemy, or to purchase the cities of the emperor, and besides he denounced to Germanus the chief priest Ephraemius, as being eager to deliver over the city to Chosroes. For this reason Megas returned unsuccessful. But Ephraemius, the bishop of Antioch, fearing the attack of the Persians, went into Cilicia. There too came Germanus not long afterwards, taking with him some few men but leaving the most of them in Antioch.
Megas then came in haste to Beroea, and in vexation at what had taken place, he charged Chosroes with having treated the Beroeans outrageously; for while, as it seemed, he had sent him to Antioch to arrange the treaty, he had both plundered the property of the citizens, though they had committed no wrong at all, and had compelled them to shut themselves up in that fortress, and had then set fire to the city and razed it to the ground in defiance of right. To this Chosroes replied as follows: "Verily, my friend, you yourself are responsible for these things, in having compelled us to delay here; for as it is, you have arrived, not at the appointed time, but far behind it. And as for the strange conduct of your fellow-citizens, my most excellent sir, why should one make speeches of great length? For after agreeing to give us a fixed amount of silver for their own safety, they even now do not think it necessary to fulfil the agreement, but placing such complete confidence in the strength of their position, they are disregarding us absolutely, while we are compelled to undertake the siege of a fortress, as you surely see. But for my part, I have hope that with the help of the gods I shall have vengeance upon them shortly, and execute upon the guilty the punishment for the Persians whom I have lost wrongfully before this wall." So spoke Chosroes, and Megas replied as follows: "If one should consider that as king thou art making these charges against men who are in pitiable and most dishonoured plight, he would be compelled without a word of protest to agree with what thou hast said; for authority which is unlimited is bound by its very nature to carry with it also supremacy in argument; but if one be permitted to shake off all else and to espouse the truth of the matter, thou wouldst have, O King, nothing with which justly to reproach us; but mayst thou hear all mildly. First, as for me, since the time when I was sent to declare to the men of Antioch the message which thou didst send them, seven days have passed (and what could be done more quickly than this?) and now coming into thy presence I find these things accomplished by thee against my fatherland; but these men, having already lost all that is most valuable, thereafter have only one struggle to engage in--that for life--and have come, I think, so to be masters of the situation that they can no longer be compelled to pay thee any of the money. For to pay a thing which one does not possess could not be made possible for a man by any device. From of old indeed have the names of things been well and suitably distinguished by men; and among these distinctions is this, that want of power is separated from want of consideration. For when the latter by reason of intemperance of mind proceeds to resistance, it is accustomed to be detested, as is natural, but when the former, because of the impossibility of performing a service, is driven to the same point, it deserves to be pitied. Permit, therefore, O King, that, while we receive as our portion all the direst misfortunes, we may take with us this consolation at least, that we should not seem to have been ourselves responsible for the things which have befallen us. And as for money, consider that what thou hast taken into thy possession is sufficient for thee, not weighing this by thy position, but with regard to the power of the Beroeans. But beyond this do not force us in any way, lest perchance thou shouldst seem unable to accomplish the thing to which thou hast set thy hand; for excess is always punished by meeting obstacles that cannot be overcome, and the best course is not to essay the impossible. Let this, then, be my defence for the moment in behalf of these men. But if I should be able to have converse with the sufferers, I should have something else also to say which has now escaped me." So spoke Megas, and Chosroes permitted him to go into the acropolis. And when he had gone there and learned all that had happened concerning the spring, weeping he came again before Chosroes, and lying prone on the ground insisted that no money at all was left to the Beroeans, and entreated him to grant him only the lives of the men. Moved by the tearful entreaties of the man Chosroes fulfilled his request, and binding himself by an oath, gave pledges to all on the acropolis. Then the Beroeans, after coming into such great danger, left the acropolis free from harm, and departing went each his own way. Among the soldiers some few followed them, but the majority came as willing deserters to Chosroes, putting forth as their grievance that the government owed them their pay for a long time; and with him they later went into the land of Persia.
[June 540 A.D.] Then Chosroes (since Megas said that he had by no means persuaded the inhabitants of Antioch to bring him the money) went with his whole army against them. Some of the population of Antioch thereupon departed from there with their money and fled as each one could. And all the rest likewise were purposing to do the same thing, and would have done so had not the commanders of the troops in Lebanon, Theoctistus and Molatzes, who arrived in the meantime with six thousand men, fortified them with hope and thus prevented their departure. Not long after this the Persian army also came. There they all pitched their tents and made camp fronting on the River Orontes and not very far from the stream. Chosroes then sent Paulus up beside the fortifications and demanded money from the men of Antioch, saying that for ten centenaria of gold he would depart from there, and it was obvious that he would accept even less than this for his withdrawal. And on that day their ambassadors went before Chosroes, and after speaking at length concerning the breaking of the peace and hearing much from him, they retired. But on the morrow the populace of Antioch (for they are not seriously disposed, but are always engaged in jesting and disorderly performance) heaped insults upon Chosroes from the battlements and taunted him with unseemly laughter; and when Paulus came near the fortifications and exhorted them to purchase freedom for themselves and the city for a small sum of money, they very nearly killed him with shots from their bows, and would have done so if he had not seen their purpose in time and guarded against it. On account of this Chosroes, boiling with anger, decided to storm the wall.
On the following day, accordingly, he led up all the Persians against the wall and commanded a portion of the army to make assaults at different points along the river, and he himself with the most of the men and best troops directed an attack against the height. For at this place, as has been stated by me above, the wall of fortification was most vulnerable. Thereupon the Romans, since the structure on which they were to stand when fighting was very narrow, devised the following remedy. Binding together long timbers they suspended them between the towers, and in this way they made these spaces much broader, in order that still more men might be able to ward off the assailants from there. So the Persians, pressing on most vigorously from all sides, were sending their arrows thickly everywhere, and especially along the crest of the hill. Meanwhile the Romans were fighting them back with all their strength, not soldiers alone, but also many of the most courageous youths of the populace. But it appeared that those who were attacking the wall there were engaged in a battle on even terms with their enemy. For the rock which was broad and high and, as it were, drawn up against the fortifications caused the conflict to be just as if on level ground. And if anyone of the Roman army had had the courage to get outside the fortifications with three hundred men and to anticipate the enemy in seizing this rock and to ward off the assailants from there, never, I believe, would the city have come into any danger from the enemy. For the barbarians had no point from which they could have conducted their assault, for they would be exposed to missiles from above both from the rock and from the wall; but as it was (for it was fated that Antioch be destroyed by this army of the Medes), this idea occurred to no one. So then while the Persians were fighting beyond their power, since Chosroes was present with them and urging them on with a mighty cry, giving their opponents not a moment in which to look about or guard against the missiles discharged from their bows, and while the Romans, in great numbers and with much shouting, were defending themselves still more vigorously, the ropes with which the beams had been bound together, failing to support the weight, suddenly broke asunder and the timbers together with all those who had taken their stand on them fell to the ground with a mighty crash. When this was heard by other Romans also, who were fighting from the adjoining towers, being utterly unable to comprehend what had happened, but supposing that the wall at this point had been destroyed, they beat a hasty retreat. Now many young men of the populace who in former times had been accustomed to engage in factional strife with each other in the hippodromes descended into the city from the fortification wall, but they refused to flee and remained where they were, while the soldiers with Theoctistus and Molatzes straightway leaped upon the horses which happened to be ready there and rode away to the gates, telling the others a tale to the effect that Bouzes had come with an army and they wished to receive them quickly into the city, and with them to ward off the enemy. Thereupon many of the men of Antioch and all the women with their children made a great rush toward the gates; but since they were crowded by the horses, being in very narrow quarters, they began to fall down. The soldiers, however, sparing absolutely no one of those before them, all kept riding over the fallen still more fiercely than before, and a great many were killed there, especially about the gates themselves.
But the Persians, with no one opposing them, set ladders against the wall and mounted with no difficulty. And quickly reaching the battlements, for a time they were by no means willing to descend, but they seemed like men looking about them and at a loss what to do, because, as it seems to me, they supposed that the rough ground was beset with some ambuscades of the enemy. For the land inside the fortifications which one traverses immediately upon descending from the height is an uninhabited tract extending for a great distance and there are found there rocks which rise to a very great height, and steep places. But some say that it was by the will of Chosroes that the Persians hesitated. For when he observed the difficulty of the ground and saw the soldiers fleeing, he feared lest by reason of some necessity they should turn back from their retreat and make trouble for the Persians, and thus become an obstacle, as might well happen, in the way of his capturing a city which was both ancient and of great importance and the first of all the cities which the Romans had throughout the East both in wealth and in size and in population and in beauty and in prosperity of every kind. Hence it was that, considering everything else of less account, he wished to allow the Roman soldiers freely to avail themselves of the chance for flight. For this reason too the Persians also made signs to the fugitives with their hands, urging them to flee as quickly as possible. So the soldiers of the Romans together with their commanders took a hasty departure, all of them, through the gate which leads to Daphne, the suburb of Antioch; for from this gate alone the Persians kept away while the others were seized; and of the populace some few escaped with the soldiers. Then when the Persians saw that all the Roman soldiers had gone on, they descended from the height and got into the middle of the city. There, however, many of the young men of Antioch engaged in battle with them, and at first they seemed to have the upper hand in the conflict. Some of them were in heavy armour, but the majority were unarmed and using only stones as missiles. And pushing back the enemy they raised the paean, and with shouts proclaimed the Emperor Justinian triumphant, as if they had won the victory.
At this point Chosroes, seated on the tower which is on the height, summoned the ambassadors, wishing to say something. And one of his officers, Zaberganes, thinking that he wished to have words with the ambassadors concerning a settlement, came quickly before the king and spoke as follows: "Thou dost not seem to me, O Master, to think in the same way as do the Romans concerning the safety of these men. For they both before fighting offer insults to thy kingdom, and when they are defeated dare the impossible and do the Persians irreparable harm, as if fearing lest some reason for shewing them humanity should be left in thee; but thou art wishing to pity those who do not ask to be saved, and hast shewn zeal to spare those who by no means wish it. Meanwhile these men have set an ambush in a captured city and are destroying the victors by means of snares, although all the soldiers have long since fled from them." When Chosroes heard this, he sent a large number of the best troops against them, and these not long afterwards returned and announced that nothing untoward had come to pass. For already the Persians had forced back the citizens by their numbers and turned them to flight, and a great slaughter took place there. For the Persians did not spare persons of any age and were slaying all whom they met, old and young alike. At that time they say that two women of those who were illustrious in Antioch got outside the fortifications, but perceiving that they would fall into the hands of the enemy (for they were already plainly seen going about everywhere), went running to the River Orontes, and, fearing lest the Persians should do them some insult, they covered their faces with their veils and threw themselves into the river's current and were carried out of sight. Thus the inhabitants of Antioch were visited with every form of misfortune.
Then Chosroes spoke to the ambassadors as follows: "Not far from the truth, I think, is the ancient saying that God does not give blessings unmixed, but He mingles them with troubles and then bestows them upon men. And for this reason we do not even have laughter without tears, but there is always attached to our successes some misfortune, and to our pleasures pain, not permitting anyone to enjoy in its purity such good fortune as is granted. For this city, which is of altogether preeminent importance in fact as well as in name in the land of the Romans I have indeed succeeded in capturing with the least exertion, since God has provided the victory all at once for us, as you doubtless see. But when I behold the massacre of such a multitude of men, and the victory thus drenched with blood, there arises in me no sense of the delight that should follow my achievement. And for this the wretched men of Antioch are to blame, for when the Persians were storming the wall they did not prove able to keep them back, and then when they had already triumphed and had captured the city at the first cry these men with unreasoned daring sought to die fighting against them in close combat. So while all the notables of the Persians were harassing me unceasingly with their demand that I should drag the city as with a net and destroy all the captives, I was commanding the fugitives to press on still more in their flight, in order that they might save themselves as quickly as possible. For to trample upon captives is not holy." Such high-sounding and airy words did Chosroes speak to the ambassadors, but nevertheless it did not escape them why he gave time to the Romans in their flight.
For he was the cleverest of all men at saying that which was not, and in concealing the truth, and in attributing the blame for the wrongs which he committed to those who suffered the wrong; besides he was ready to agree to everything and to pledge the agreement with an oath, and much more ready to forget completely the things lately agreed to and sworn to by him, and for the sake of money to debase his soul without reluctance to every act of pollution--a past master at feigning piety in his countenance, and absolving himself in words from the responsibility of the act. This man well displayed his own peculiar character on a certain occasion at Sura; for after he had hoodwinked the inhabitants of the city by a trick and had destroyed them in the manner which I have described, although they had previously done him no wrong at all, he saw, while the city was being captured, a comely woman and one not of lowly station being dragged by her left hand with great violence by one of the barbarians; and the child, which she had only lately weaned, she was unwilling to let go, but was dragging it with her other hand, fallen, as it was, to the ground since it was not able to keep pace with that violent running. And they say that he uttered a pretended groan, and making it appear to all who were present at that time including Anastasius the ambassador that he was all in tears, he prayed God to exact vengeance from the man who was guilty of the troubles which had come to pass. Now Justinian, the Emperor of the Romans, was the one whom he wished to have understood, though he knew well that he himself was most responsible for everything. Endowed with such a singular nature Chosroes both became King of the Persians (for ill fortune had deprived Zames of his eye, he who in point of years had first right to the kingdom, at any rate after Caoses, whom Cabades for no good reason hated), and with no difficulty he conquered those who revolted against him, and all the harm which he purposed to do the Romans he accomplished easily. For every time when Fortune wishes to make a man great, she does at the fitting times those things which she has decided upon, with no one standing against the force of her will; and she neither regards the man's station, nor purposes to prevent the occurrence of things which ought not to be, nor does she give heed that many will blaspheme against her because of these things, mocking scornfully at that which has been done by her contrary to the deserts of the man who receives her favour; nor does she take into consideration anything else at all, if only she accomplish the thing which has been decided upon by her. But as for these matters, let them be as God wishes.
Chosroes commanded the army to capture and enslave the survivors of the population of Antioch, and to plunder all the property, while he himself with the ambassadors descended from the height to the sanctuary which they call a church. There Chosroes found stores of gold and silver so great in amount that, though he took no other part of the booty except these stores, he departed possessed of enormous wealth. And he took down from there many wonderful marbles and ordered them to be deposited outside the fortifications, in order that they might convey these too to the land of Persia. When he had finished these things, he gave orders to the Persians to burn the whole city. And the ambassadors begged him to withhold his hand only from the church, for which he had carried away ransom in abundance. This he granted to the ambassadors, but gave orders to burn everything else; then, leaving there a few men who were to fire the city, he himself with all the rest retired to the camp where they had previously set up their tents.
A short time before this calamity God displayed a sign to the inhabitants of that city, by which He indicated the things which were to be. For the standards of the soldiers who had been stationed there for a long time had been standing previously toward the west, but of their own accord they turned and stood toward the east, and then returned again to their former position untouched by anyone. This the soldiers shewed to many who were near at hand and among them the manager of finances in the camp, while the standards were still trembling. This man, Tatianus by name, was an especially discreet person, a native of Mopsuestia. But even so those who saw this sign did not recognize that the mastery of the place would pass from the western to the eastern king, in order, evidently, that escape might be utterly impossible for those who were bound to suffer those things which came to pass.
But I become dizzy as I write of such a great calamity and transmit it to future times, and I am unable to understand why indeed it should be the will of God to exalt on high the fortunes of a man or of a place, and then to cast them down and destroy them for no cause which appears to us. For it is wrong to say that with Him all things are not always done with reason, though he then endured to see Antioch brought down to the ground at the hands of a most unholy man, a city whose beauty and grandeur in every respect could not even so be utterly concealed.
So, then, after the city had been destroyed, the church was left solitary, thanks to the activity and foresight of the Persians to whom this work was assigned. And there were also left about the so-called Cerataeum many houses, not because of the foresight of any man, but, since they were situated at the extremity of the city, and not connected with any other building, the fire failed entirely to reach them. The barbarians burned also the parts outside the fortifications, except the sanctuary which is dedicated to St. Julianus and the houses which stand about this sanctuary. For it happened that the ambassadors had taken up their lodgings there. As for the fortifications, the Persians left them wholly untouched.
A little later the ambassadors again came to Chosroes and spoke as follows: "If our words were not addressed to thee in thy presence, O King, we should never believe that Chosroes, the son of Cabades, had come into the land of the Romans in arms, dishonouring the oaths which have recently been sworn by thee--for such pledges are regarded as the last and most firm security of all things among men to guarantee mutual trust and truthfulness--and breaking the treaty, though hope in treaties is the only thing left to those who are living in insecurity because of the evil deeds of war. For one might say of such a state of affairs that it is nothing else than the transformation of the habits of men into those of beasts. For in a time when no treaties at all are made, there will remain certainly war without end, and war which has no end is always calculated to estrange from their proper nature those who engage in it. With what intent, moreover, didst thou write to thy brother not long ago that he himself was responsible for the breaking of the treaty? Was it not obviously with the admission that the breaking of treaties is an exceedingly great evil? If therefore he has done no wrong, thou art not acting justly now in coming against us; but if it happen that thy brother has done any such thing, yet let thy complaint have its fulfilment thus far, and go no farther, that thou mayst shew thyself superior. For he who submits to be worsted in evil things would in better things justly be victorious. And yet we know well that the Emperor Justinian has never gone contrary to the treaty, and we entreat thee not to do the Romans such harm, from which there will be no advantage to the Persians, and thou wilt gain only this, that thou wilt have wrongfully wrought deeds of irreparable harm upon those who have recently made peace with thee." So spoke the ambassadors.
And Chosroes, upon hearing this, insisted that the treaty had been broken by the Emperor Justinian; and he enumerated the causes of war which the Emperor afforded, some of them of real importance and others idle and fabricated without any reason; most of all he wished to shew that the letters written by him to Alamoundaras and the Huns were the chief cause of the war, just as I have stated above. But as for any Roman who had invaded the land of Persia, or who had made a display of warlike deeds, he was unable either to mention or to point out such a one. The ambassadors, however, referred the charges in part not to Justinian but to certain of those who had served him, while in the case of others they took exception to what he had said on the ground that the things had not taken place as stated. Finally Chosroes made the demand that the Romans give him a large sum of money, but he warned them not to hope to establish peace for all time by giving money at that moment only. For friendship, he said, which is made by men on terms of money is generally spent as fast as the money is used up. It was necessary, therefore, that the Romans should pay some definite annual sum to the Persians. "For thus," he said, "the Persians will keep the peace secure for them, guarding the Caspian Gates themselves and no longer feeling resentment at them on account of the city of Daras, in return for which the Persians themselves will be in their pay forever." "So," said the ambassadors, "the Persians desire to have the Romans subject and tributary to themselves." "No," said Chosroes, "but the Romans will have the Persians as their own soldiers for the future, dispensing to them a fixed payment for their service; for you give an annual payment of gold to some of the Huns and to the Saracens, not as tributary subjects to them, but in order that they may guard your land unplundered for all time." After Chosroes and the ambassadors had spoken thus at length with each other, they at last came to terms, agreeing that Chosroes should forthwith take from the Romans fifty centenaria, and that, receiving a tribute of five more centenaria annually for all time, he should do them no further harm, but taking with him hostages from the ambassadors to pledge the keeping of the agreement, should make his departure with the whole army to his native land, and that there ambassadors sent from the Emperor Justinian should arrange on a firm basis for the future the compact regarding the peace.
Then Chosroes went to Seleucia, a city on the sea, one hundred and thirty stades distant from Antioch; and there he neither met nor harmed a single Roman, and he bathed himself alone in the sea-water, and after sacrificing to the sun and such other divinities as he wished, and calling upon the gods many times, he went back. And when he came to the camp, he said that he had a desire to see the city of Apamea which was in the vicinity for no other reason than that of his interest in the place. And the ambassadors unwillingly granted this also, but only on condition that after seeing the city and taking away with him from there one thousand pounds of silver, he should, without inflicting any further injury, march back. But it was evident to the ambassadors and to all the others that Chosroes was setting out for Apamea with this sole purpose, that he might lay hold upon some pretext of no importance and plunder both the city and the land thereabout. Accordingly he first went up to Daphne, the suburb of Antioch, where he expressed great wonder at the grove and at the fountains of water; for both of these are very well worth seeing. And after sacrificing to the nymphs he departed, doing no further damage than burning the sanctuary of the archangel Michael together with certain other buildings, for the following reason. A Persian gentleman of high repute in the army of the Persians and well known to Chosroes, the king, while riding on horseback came in company with some others to a precipitous place near the so-called Tretum, where is a temple of the archangel Michael, the work of Evaris. This man, seeing one of the young men of Antioch on foot and alone concealing himself there, separated from the others and pursued him. Now the young man was a butcher, Aeimachus by name. When he was about to be overtaken, he turned about unexpectedly and threw a stone at his pursuer which hit him on the forehead and penetrated to the membrane by the ear. And the rider fell immediately to the ground, whereupon the youth drew out his sword and slew him. Then at his leisure he stripped him of his weapons and all his gold and whatever else he had on his person, and leaping upon his horse rode on. And whether by the favour of fortune or by his knowledge of the country, he succeeded completely in eluding the Persians and making good his escape. When Chosroes learned this, he was deeply grieved at what had happened, and commanded some of his followers to burn the sanctuary of the archangel Michael which I have mentioned above. And they, thinking that the sanctuary at Daphne was the one in question, burned it with the buildings about it, and they supposed that the commands of Chosroes had been executed. Such, then, was the course of these events.
But Chosroes with his whole army proceeded on the way to Apamea. Now there is a piece of wood one cubit in length in Apamea, a portion of the cross on which the Christ in Jerusalem once endured the punishment not unwillingly, as is generally agreed, and which in ancient times had been conveyed there secretly by a man of Syria. And the men of olden times, believing that it would be a great protection both for themselves and for the city, made for it a sort of wooden chest and deposited it there; and they adorned this chest with much gold and with precious stones and they entrusted it to three priests who were to guard it in all security; and they bring it forth every year and the whole population worship it during one day. Now at that time the people of Apamea, upon learning that the army of the Medes was coming against them, began to be in great fear. And when they heard that Chosroes was absolutely untruthful, they came to Thomas, the chief priest of the city, and begged him to shew them the wood of the cross, in order that after worshipping it for the last time they might die. And he did as they requested. Then indeed it befell that a sight surpassing both description and belief was there seen. For while the priest was carrying the wood and shewing it, above him followed a flame of fire, and the portion of the roof over him was illuminated with a great and unaccustomed light. And while the priest was moving through every part of the temple, the flame continued to advance with him, keeping constantly the place above him in the roof. So the people of Apamea, under the spell of joy at the miracle, were wondering and rejoicing and weeping, and already all felt confidence concerning their safety. And Thomas, after going about the whole temple, laid the wood of the cross in the chest and covered it, and suddenly the light had ceased. Then upon learning that the army of the enemy had come close to the city, he went in great haste to Chosroes. And when the king enquired of the priest whether it was the will of the citizens of Apamea to marshal themselves on the wall against the army of the Medes, the priest replied that no such thing had entered the minds of the men. "Therefore," said Chosroes, "receive me into the city accompanied by a few men with all the gates opened wide." And the priest said "Yes, for I have come here to invite thee to do this very thing." So the whole army pitched their tents and made camp before the fortifications.
Then Chosroes chose out two hundred of the best of the Persians and entered the city. But when he had got inside the gates, he forgot willingly enough what had been agreed upon between himself and the ambassadors, and he commanded the bishop to give not only one thousand pounds of silver nor even ten times that amount, but whatsoever treasures were stored there, being all of gold and silver and of marvellous great size. And I believe that he would not have shrunk from enslaving and plundering the whole city, unless some divine providence had manifestly prevented him; to such a degree did avarice overpower him and the desire of fame turn his mind. For he thought the enslavement of the cities a great glory for himself, considering it absolutely nothing that disregarding treaties and compacts he was performing such deeds against the Romans. This attitude of Chosroes will be revealed by what he undertook to do concerning the city of Daras during his withdrawal at this same time, when he treated his agreements with absolute disregard, and also by what he did to the citizens of Callinicus a little later in time of peace, as will be told by me in the following narrative. But God, as has been said, preserved Apamea. Now when Chosroes had seized all the treasures, and Thomas saw that he was already intoxicated with the abundance of the wealth, then bringing out the wood of the cross with the chest, he opened the chest and displaying the wood said: "O most mighty King, these alone are left me out of all the treasures. Now as for this chest (since it is adorned with gold and precious stones), we do not begrudge thy taking it and keeping it with all the rest, but this wood here, it is our salvation and precious to us, this, I beg and entreat thee, give to me." So spoke the priest. And Chosroes yielded and fulfilled the request.
Afterwards, being filled with a desire for popular applause, he commanded that the populace should go up into the hippodrome and that the charioteers should hold their accustomed contests. And he himself went up there also, eager to be a spectator of the performances. And since he had heard long before that the Emperor Justinian was extraordinarily fond of the Venetus colour, which is blue, wishing to go against him there also, he was desirous of bringing about victory for the green. So the charioteers, starting from the barriers, began the contest, and by some chance he who was clad in the blue happened to pass his rival and take the lead. And he was followed in the same tracks by the wearer of the green colour. And Chosroes, thinking that this had been done purposely, was angry, and he cried out with a threat that the Caesar had wrongfully surpassed the others, and he commanded that the horses which were running in front should be held up, in order that from then on they might contend in the rear; and when this had been done just as he commanded, then Chosroes and the green faction were accounted victorious. At that time one of the citizens of Apamea came before Chosroes and accused a Persian of entering his house and violating his maiden daughter. Upon hearing this, Chosroes, boiling with anger, commanded that the man should be brought. And when he came before him, he directed that he should be impaled in the camp. And when the people learned this, they raised a mighty shout as loud as they could, demanding that the man be saved from the king's anger. And Chosroes promised that he would release the man to them, but he secretly impaled him not long afterwards. So after these things had been thus accomplished, he departed and marched back with the whole army.
And when he came to the city of Chalcis, eighty-four stades distant from the city of Beroea, he again seemed to forget the things which had been agreed upon, and encamping not far from the fortifications he sent Paulus to threaten the inhabitants of Chalcis, saying that he would take the city by siege, unless they should purchase their safety by giving ransom, and should give up to the Persians all the soldiers who were there together with their leader. And the citizens of Chalcis were seized with great fear of both sovereigns, and they swore that, as for soldiers, there were absolutely none of them in the city, although they had hidden Adonachus, the commander of the soldiers, and others as well in some houses, in order that they might not be seen by the enemy; and with difficulty they collected two centenaria of gold, for the city they inhabited was not very prosperous, and they gave them to Chosroes as the price of their lives and thus saved both the city and themselves.
From there on Chosroes did not wish to continue the return journey by the road he had come, but to cross the River Euphrates and gather by plunder as much money as possible from Mesopotamia. He therefore constructed a bridge at the place called Obbane, which is forty stades distant from the fortress in Barbalissum; then he himself went across and gave orders to the whole army to cross as quickly as possible, adding that he would break up the bridge on the third day, and he appointed also the time of the day. And when the appointed day was come, it happened that some of the army were left who had not yet crossed, but without the least consideration for them he sent the men to break up the bridge. And those who were left behind returned to their native land as each one could.
Then a sort of ambition came over Chosroes to capture the city of Edessa. For he was led on to this by a saying of the Christians, and it kept irritating his mind, because they maintained that it could not be taken, for the following reason. There was a certain Augarus in early times, toparch of Edessa (for thus the kings of the different nations were called then). Now this Augarus was the most clever of all men of his time, and as a result of this was an especial friend of the Emperor Augustus. For, desiring to make a treaty with the Romans, he came to Rome; and when he conversed with Augustus, he so astonished him by the abundance of his wisdom that Augustus wished never more to give up his company; for he was an ardent lover of his conversation, and whenever he met him, he was quite unwilling to depart from him. A long time, therefore, was consumed by him in this visit. And one day when he was desirous of returning to his native land and was utterly unable to persuade Augustus to let him go, he devised the following plan. He first went out to hunt in the country about Rome; for it happened that he had taken considerable interest in the practice of this sport. And going about over a large tract of country, he captured alive many of the animals of that region, and he gathered up and took with him from each part of the country some earth from the land; thus he returned to Rome bringing both the earth and the animals. Then Augustus went up into the hippodrome and seated himself as was his wont, and Augarus came before him and displayed the earth and the animals, telling over from what district each portion of earth was and what animals they were. Then he gave orders to put the earth in different parts of the hippodrome, and to gather all the animals into one place and then to release them. So the attendants did as he directed. And the animals, separating from each other, went each to that portion of earth which was from the district in which it itself had been taken. And Augustus looked upon the performance carefully for a very long time, and he was wondering that nature untaught makes animals miss their native land. Then Augarus, suddenly laying hold upon his knees, said: "But as for me, O Master, what thoughts dost thou think I have, who possess a wife and children and a kingdom, small indeed, but in the land of my fathers?" And the emperor, overcome and compelled by the truth of his saying, granted not at all willingly that he should go away, and bade him ask besides whatever he wished. And when Augarus had secured this, he begged of Augustus to build him a hippodrome in the city of Edessa. And he granted also this. Thus then Augarus departed from Rome and came to Edessa. And the citizens enquired of him whether he had come bringing any good thing for them from the Emperor Augustus. And he answering said he had brought to the inhabitants of Edessa pain without loss and pleasure without gain, hinting at the fortune of the hippodrome.
At a later time when Augarus was well advanced in years, he was seized with an exceedingly violent attack of gout. And being distressed by the pains and his inability to move in consequence of them, he carried the matter to the physicians, and from the whole land he gathered all who were skilled in these matters. But later he abandoned these men (for they did not succeed in discovering any cure for the trouble), and finding himself helpless, he bewailed the fate which was upon him. But about that time Jesus, the Son of God, was in the body and moving among the men of Palestine, shewing manifestly by the fact that he never sinned at all, and also by his performing even things impossible, that he was the Son of God in very truth; for he called the dead and raised them up as if from sleep, and opened the eyes of men who had been born blind, and cleansed those whose whole bodies were covered with leprosy, and released those whose feet were maimed, and he cured all the other diseases which are called by the physicians incurable. When these things were reported to Augarus by those who travelled from Palestine to Edessa, he took courage and wrote a letter to Jesus, begging him to depart from Judaea and the senseless people there, and to spend his life with him from that time forward. When the Christ saw this message, he wrote in reply to Augarus, saying distinctly that he would not come, but promising him health in the letter. And they say that he added this also that never would the city be liable to capture by the barbarians. This final portion of the letter was entirely unknown to those who wrote the history of that time; for they did not even make mention of it anywhere; but the men of Edessa say that they found it with the letter, so that they have even caused the letter to be inscribed in this form on the gates of the city instead of any other defence. The city did in fact come under the Medes a short time afterwards, not by capture however, but in the following manner. A short time after Augarus received the letter of the Christ, he became free from suffering, and after living on in health for a long time, he came to his end. But that one of his sons who succeeded to the kingdom shewed himself the most unholy of all men, and besides committing many other wrongs against his subjects, he voluntarily went over to the Persians, fearing the vengeance which was to come from the Romans. But long after this the citizens of Edessa destroyed the barbarian guards who were dwelling with them, and gave the city into the hands of the Romans. * * * he is eager to attach it to his cause, judging by what has happened in my time, which I shall present in the appropriate place. And the thought once occurred to me that, if the Christ did not write this thing just as I have told it, still, since men have come to believe in it, He wishes to guard the city uncaptured for this reason, that He may never give them any pretext for error. As for these things, then, let them be as God wills, and so let them be told.
For this reason it seemed to Chosroes at that time a matter of moment to capture Edessa. And when he came to Batne, a small stronghold of no importance, one day's journey distant from Edessa, he bivouacked there for that night, but at early dawn he was on the march to Edessa with his whole army. But it fell out that they lost their way and wandered about, and on the following night bivouacked in the same place; and they say that this happened to them a second time also. When with difficulty Chosroes reached the neighbourhood of Edessa, they say that suppuration set in in his face and his jaw became swollen. For this reason he was quite unwilling to make an attempt on the city, but he sent Paulus and demanded money from the citizens. And they said that they had absolutely no fear concerning the city, but in order that he might not damage the country they agreed to give two centenaria of gold. And Chosroes took the money and kept the agreement.
At that time also the Emperor Justinian wrote a letter to Chosroes, promising to carry out the agreement which had been made by him and the ambassadors regarding the peace. When this message was received by Chosroes, he released the hostages and made preparations for his departure, and he wished to sell off all the captives from Antioch. And when the citizens of Edessa learned of this, they displayed an unheard-of zeal. For there was not a person who did not bring ransom for the captives and deposit it in the sanctuary according to the measure of his possessions. And there were some who even exceeded their proportionate amount in so doing. For the harlots took off all the adornment which they wore on their persons, and threw it down there, and any farmer who was in want of plate or of money, but who had an ass or a sheep, brought this to the sanctuary with great zeal. So there was collected an exceedingly great amount of gold and silver and money in other forms, but not a bit of it was given for ransom. For Bouzes happened to be present there, and he took in hand to prevent the transaction, expecting that this would bring him some great gain. Therefore Chosroes moved forward, taking with him all the captives. And the citizens of Carrhae met him holding out to him great sums of money; but he said that it did not belong to him because the most of them are not Christians but are of the old faith.
But when, likewise, the citizens of Constantina offered money, he accepted it, although he asserted that the city belonged to him from his fathers. [503 A.D.] For at the time when Cabades took Amida, he wished also to capture Edessa and Constantina. But when he came near to Edessa he enquired of the Magi whether it would be possible for him to capture the city, pointing out the place to them with his right hand. But they said that the city would not be captured by him by any device, judging by the fact that in stretching out his right hand to it he was not giving thereby the sign of capture or of any other grievous thing, but of salvation. And when Cabades heard this, he was convinced and led his army on to Constantina. And upon arriving there, he issued orders to the whole army to encamp for a siege. Now the priest of Constantina was at that time Baradotus, a just man and especially beloved of God, and his prayers for this reason were always effectual for whatever he wished; and even seeing his face one would have straightway surmised that this man was most completely acceptable to God. This Baradotus came then to Cabades bearing wine and dried figs and honey and unblemished loaves, and entreated him not to make an attempt on a city which was not of any importance and which was very much neglected by the Romans, having neither a garrison of soldiers nor any other defence, but only the inhabitants, who were pitiable folk. Thus spoke the priest; and Cabades promised that he would grant him the city freely, and he presented him with all the food-supplies which had been prepared by him for the army in anticipation of the siege, an exceedingly great quantity; and thus he departed from the land of the Romans. For this reason it was that Chosroes claimed that the city belonged to him from his fathers.
And when he reached Daras, he began a siege; but within the city the Romans and Martinus, their general (for it happened that he was there), made their preparations for resistance. Now the city is surrounded by two walls, the inner one of which is of great size and a truly wonderful thing to look upon (for each tower reaches to a height of a hundred feet, and the rest of the wall to sixty), while the outer wall is much smaller, but in other respects strong and one to be reckoned with seriously. And the space between has a breadth of not less than fifty feet; in that place the citizens of Daras are accustomed to put their cattle and other animals when an enemy assails them. At first then Chosroes made an assault on the fortifications toward the west, and forcing back his opponents by overwhelming numbers of missiles, he set fire to the gates of the small wall. However no one of the barbarians dared to get inside. Next he decided to make a tunnel secretly at the eastern side of the city. For at this point alone can the earth be dug, since the other parts of the fortifications were set upon rock by the builders. So the Persians began to dig, beginning from their trench. And since this was very deep, they were neither observed by the enemy nor did they afford them any means of discovering what was being done. So they had already gone under the foundations of the outer wall, and were about to reach the space between the two walls and soon after to pass also the great wall and take the city by force; but since it was not fated to be captured by the Persians, someone from the camp of Chosroes came alone about midday close to the fortifications, whether a man or something else greater than man, and he made it appear to those who saw him that he was collecting the weapons which the Romans had a little before discharged from the wall against the barbarians who were assailing them. And while doing this and holding his shield before him, he seemed to be bantering those who were on the parapet and taunting them with laughter. Then he told them of everything and commanded them all to be on the watch and to take all possible care for their safety. After revealing these things he was off, while the Romans with much shouting and confusion were ordering men to dig the ground between the two walls. The Persians, on the other hand, not knowing what was being done, were pushing on the work no less than before. So while the Persians were making a straight way underground to the wall of the city, the Romans by the advice of Theodoras, a man learned in the science called mechanics, were constructing their trench in a cross-wise direction and making it of sufficient depth, so that when the Persians had reached the middle point between the two circuit-walls they suddenly broke into the trench of the Romans. And the first of them the Romans killed, while those in the rear by fleeing at top speed into the camp saved themselves. For the Romans decided by no means to pursue them in the dark. So Chosroes, failing in this attempt and having no hope that he would take the city by any device thereafter, opened negotiations with the besieged, and carrying away a thousand pounds of silver he retired into the land of Persia. When this came to the knowledge of the Emperor Justinian, he was no longer willing to carry the agreement into effect, charging Chosroes with having attempted to capture the city of Daras during a truce. Such were the fortunes of the Romans during the first invasion of Chosroes; and the summer drew to its close.
Now Chosroes built a city in Assyria in a place one day's journey distant from the city of Ctesiphon, and he named it the Antioch of Chosroes and settled there all the captives from Antioch, constructing for them a bath and a hippodrome and providing that they should have free enjoyment of their other luxuries besides. For he brought with him charioteers and musicians both from Antioch and from the other Roman cities. Besides this he always provisioned these citizens of Antioch at public expense more carefully than in the fashion of captives, and he required that they be called king's subjects, so as to be subordinate to no one of the magistrates, but to the king alone. And if any one else too who was a Roman in slavery ran away and succeeded in escaping to the Antioch of Chosroes, and if he was called a kinsman by any one of those who lived there, it was no longer possible for the owner of this captive to take him away, not even if he who had enslaved the man happened to be a person of especial note among the Persians.
Thus, then, the portent which had come to the citizens of Antioch in the reign of Anastasius reached this final fulfilment for them. For at that time a violent wind suddenly fell upon the suburb of Daphne, and some of the cypresses which were there of extraordinary height were overturned from the extremities of their roots and fell to the earth--trees which the law forbade absolutely to be cut down. [526 A.D.] Accordingly, a little later, when Justinus was ruling over the Romans, the place was visited by an exceedingly violent earthquake, which shook down the whole city and straightway brought to the ground the most and the finest of the buildings, and it is said that at that time three hundred thousand of the population of Antioch perished. And finally in this capture the whole city, as has been said, was destroyed. Such, then, was the calamity which befell the men of Antioch.
And Belisarius came to Byzantium from Italy, summoned by the emperor; and after he had spent the winter in Byzantium, the emperor sent him as general against Chosroes and the Persians at the opening of spring, together with the officers who had come with him from Italy, one of whom, Valerianus, he commanded to lead the troops in Armenia. [541 A.D.] For Martinus had been sent immediately to the East, and for this reason Chosroes found him at Daras, as has been stated above. And among the Goths, Vittigis remained in Byzantium, but all the rest marched with Belisarius against Chosroes. At that time one of the envoys of Vittigis, he who was assuming the name of bishop, died in the land of Persia, and the other one remained there. And the man who followed them as interpreter withdrew to the land of the Romans, and John, who was commanding the troops in Mesopotamia, arrested him near the boundaries of Constantina, and bringing him into the city confined him in a prison; there the man in answer to his enquiries related everything which had been done. Such, then, was the course of these events. And Belisarius and his followers went in haste, since he was eager to anticipate Chosroes' making any second invasion into the land of the Romans.
But in the meantime Chosroes was leading his army against Colchis, where the Lazi were calling him in for the following reason. The Lazi at first dwelt in the land of Colchis as subjects of the Romans, but not to the extent of paying them tribute or obeying their commands in any respect, except that, whenever their king died, the Roman emperor would send emblems of the office to him who was about to succeed to the throne. And he, together with his subjects, guarded strictly the boundaries of the land in order that hostile Huns might not proceed from the Caucasus mountains, which adjoin their territory, through Lazica and invade the land of the Romans. And they kept guard without receiving money or troops from the Romans and without ever joining the Roman armies, but they were always engaged in commerce by sea with the Romans who live on the Black Sea. For they themselves have neither salt nor grain nor any other good thing, but by furnishing skins and hides and slaves they secured the supplies which they needed. But when the events came to pass in which Gourgenes, the king of the Iberians, was concerned, as has been told in the preceding narrative, Roman soldiers began to be quartered among the Lazi; and these barbarians were annoyed by the soldiers, and most of all by Peter, the general, a man who was prone to treat insolently those who came into contact with him. This Peter was a native of Arzanene, which is beyond the River Nymphius, a district subject to the Persians from of old, but while still a child he had been captured and enslaved by the Emperor Justinus at the time when Justinus, after the taking of Amida, was invading the land of the Persians with Celer's army. And since his owner showed him great kindness, he attended the school of a grammatist. And at first he became secretary to Justinus, but when, after the death of Anastasius, Justinus took over the Roman empire, Peter was made a general, and he degenerated into a slave of avarice, if anyone ever did, and shewed himself very fatuous in his treatment of all.
And later the Emperor Justinian sent different officers to Lazica, and among them John, whom they called Tzibus, a man of obscure and ignoble descent, but who had climbed to the office of general by virtue of no other thing than that he was the most accomplished villain in the world and most successful in discovering unlawful sources of revenue. This man unsettled and threw into confusion all the relations of the Romans and the Lazi. He also persuaded the Emperor Justinian to build a city on the sea in Lazica, Petra by name; and there he sat as in a citadel and plundered the property of the Lazi. For the salt, and all other cargoes which were considered necessary for the Lazi, it was no longer possible for the merchants to bring into the land of Colchis, nor could they purchase them elsewhere by sending for them, but he set up in Petra the so-called "monopoly" and himself became a retail dealer and overseer of all the handling of these things, buying everything and selling it to the Colchians, not at the customary rates, but as dearly as possible. At the same time, even apart from this, the barbarians were annoyed by the Roman army quartered upon them, a thing which had not been customary previously. Accordingly, since they were no longer able to endure these things, they decided to attach themselves to the Persians and Chosroes, and immediately they sent to them envoys who were to arrange this without the knowledge of the Romans. These men had been instructed that they should take pledges from Chosroes that he would never give up the Lazi against their will to the Romans, and that with this understanding they should bring him with the Persian army into the land.
Accordingly the envoys went to the Persians, and coming secretly before Chosroes they said: "If any people in all time have revolted from their own friends in any manner whatsoever and attached themselves wrongfully to men utterly unknown to them, and after that by the kindness of fortune have been brought back once more with greatest rejoicing to those who were formerly their own, consider, O Most mighty King, that such as these are the Lazi. For the Colchians in ancient times, as allies of the Persians, rendered them many good services and were themselves treated in like manner; and of these things there are many records in books, some of which we have, while others are preserved in thy palace up to the present time. But at a later time it came about that our ancestors, whether neglected by you or for some other reason (for we are unable to ascertain anything certain about this matter), became allies of the Romans. And now we and the king of Lazica give to the Persians both ourselves and our land to treat in any way you may desire. And we beg of you to think thus concerning us: if, on the one hand, we have suffered nothing outrageous at the hands of the Romans, but have been prompted by foolish motives in coming to you, reject this prayer of ours straightway, considering that with you likewise the Colchians will never be trustworthy (for when a friendship has been dissolved, a second friendship formed with others becomes, owing to its character, a matter of reproach); but if we have been in name friends of the Romans, but in fact their loyal slaves, and have suffered impious treatment at the hands of those who have tyrannized over us, receive us, your former allies, and acquire as slaves those whom you used to treat as friends, and shew your hatred of a cruel tyranny which has risen thus on our borders, by acting worthily of that justice which it has always been the tradition of the Persians to defend. For the man who himself does no wrong is not just, unless he is also accustomed to rescue those who are wronged by others when he has it in his power. But it is worth while to tell a few of the things which the accursed Romans have dared to do against us. In the first place they have left our king only the form of royal power, while they themselves have appropriated the actual authority, and he sits a king in the position of a servant, fearing the general who issues the orders; and they have put upon us a multitude of soldiery, not in order to guard the land against those who harass us (for not one of our neighbours except, indeed, the Romans has disturbed us), but in order that they may confine us as in a prison and make themselves masters of our possessions. And purposing to make more speedy the robbery of what we have, behold, O King, what sort of a design they have formed; the supplies which are in excess among them they compel the Lazi to buy against their will, while those things which are most useful to them among the products of Lazica these fellows demand to buy, as they put it, from us, the price being determined in both cases by the judgment of the stronger party. And thus they are robbing us of all our gold as well as of the necessities of life, using the fair name of trade, but in fact oppressing us as thoroughly as they possibly can. And there has been set over us as ruler a huckster who has made our destitution a kind of business by virtue of the authority of his office. The cause of our revolt, therefore, being of this sort, has justice on its side; but the advantage which you yourselves will gain if you receive the request of the Lazi we shall forthwith tell. To the realm of Persia you will add a most ancient kingdom, and as a result of this you will have the power of your sway extended, and it will come about that you will have a part in the sea of the Romans through our land, and after thou hast built ships in this sea, O King, it will be possible for thee with no trouble to set foot in the palace in Byzantium. For there is no obstacle between. And one might add that the plundering of the land of the Romans every year by the barbarians along the boundary will be under your control. For surely you also are acquainted with the fact that up till now the land of the Lazi has been a bulwark against the Caucasus mountains. So with justice leading the way, and advantage added thereto, we consider that not to receive our words with favour would be wholly contrary to good judgment." So spoke the envoys.
And Chosroes, delighted by their words, promised to protect the Lazi, and enquired of the envoys whether it was possible for him to enter the land of Colchis with a large army. For he said that previously he had heard many persons report that the land was exceedingly hard to traverse even for an unimpeded traveller, being extremely rugged and covered very extensively by thick forests of wide-spreading trees. But the envoys stoutly maintained to him that the way through the country would be easy for the whole Persian army, if they cut the trees and threw them into the places which were made difficult by precipices. And they promised that they themselves would be guides of the route, and would take the lead in this work for the Persians. Encouraged by this suggestion, Chosroes gathered a great army and made his preparations for the inroad, not disclosing the plan to the Persians except those alone to whom he was accustomed to communicate his secrets, and commanding the envoys to tell no one what was being done; and he pretended that he was setting out into Iberia, in order to settle matters there; for a Hunnic tribe, he kept saying in explanation, had assailed the Persian domain at that point.
At this time Belisarius had arrived in Mesopotamia and was gathering his army from every quarter, and he also kept sending men into the land of Persia to act as spies. And wishing himself to encounter the enemy there, if they should again make an incursion into the land of the Romans, he was organizing on the spot and equipping the soldiers, who were for the most part without either arms or armour, and in terror of the name of the Persians. Now the spies returned and declared that for the present there would be no invasion of the enemy; for Chosroes was occupied elsewhere with a war against the Huns. And Belisarius, upon learning this, wished to invade the land of the enemy immediately with his whole army. Arethas also came to him with a large force of Saracens, and besides the emperor wrote a letter instructing him to invade the enemy's country with all speed. He therefore called together all the officers in Daras and spoke as follows: "I know that all of you, my fellow officers, are experienced in many wars, and I have brought you together at the present time, not in order to stir up your minds against the enemy by addressing to you any reminder or exhortation (for I think that you need no speech that prompts to daring), but in order that we may deliberate together among ourselves, and choose rather the course which may seem fairest and best for the cause of the emperor. For war is wont to succeed by reason of careful planning more than by anything else. Now it is necessary that those who gather for deliberation should make their minds entirely free from modesty and from fear. For fear, by paralyzing those who have fallen into it, does not allow the reason to choose the nobler part, and modesty obscures what has been seen to be the better course and leads investigation the opposite way. If, therefore, it seems to you that any purpose has been formed either by our mighty emperor or by me concerning the present situation, let no thought of this enter your minds. For, as for him, he is altogether ignorant of what is being done, and is therefore unable to adapt his moves to opportune moments; there is therefore no fear but that in going contrary to him we shall do that which will be of advantage to his cause. And as for me, since I am human, and have come here from the West after a long interval, it is impossible that some of the necessary things should not escape me. So it behoves you, without any too modest regard for my opinion, to say outright whatever is going to be of advantage for ourselves and for the emperor. Now in the beginning, fellow officers, we came here in order to prevent the enemy from making any invasion into our land, but at the present time, since things have gone better for us than we had hoped, it is possible for us to make his land the subject of our deliberation. And now that you have been gathered together for this purpose, it is fair, I think, that you should tell without any concealment what seems to each one best and most advantageous." Thus spoke Belisarius.
And Peter and Bouzes urged him to lead the army without any hesitation against the enemy's country. And their opinion was followed immediately by the whole council. Rhecithancus, however, and Theoctistus, the commanders of the troops in Lebanon, said that, while they too had the same wish as the others concerning the invasion, they feared that if they abandoned the country of Phoenicia and Syria, Alamoundaras would plunder it at his leisure, and that the emperor would be angry with them because they had not guarded and kept unplundered the territory under their command, and for this reason they were quite unwilling to join the rest of the army in the invasion. But Belisarius said that the opinion of these two men was not in the least degree true; for it was the season of the vernal equinox, and at this season the Saracens always dedicated about two months to their god, and during this time never undertook any inroad into the land of others. Agreeing, therefore, to release both of them with their followers within sixty days, he commanded them also to follow with the rest of the army. So Belisarius was making his preparation for the invasion with great zeal.
But Chosroes and the Median army, after crossing Iberia, reached the territory of Lazica under the leadership of the envoys; there with no one to withstand them they began to cut down the trees which grow thickly over that very mountainous region, rising to a great height, and spreading out their branches remarkably, so that they made the country absolutely impassable for the army; and these they threw into the rough places, and thus rendered the road altogether easy. And when they arrived in the centre of Colchis (the place where the tales of the poets say that the adventure of Medea and Jason took place), Goubazes, the king of the Lazi, came and did obeisance to Chosroes, the son of Cabades, as Lord, putting himself together with his palace and all Lazica into his hand.
Now there is a coast city named Petra in Colchis, on the sea which is called the Euxine, which in former times had been a place of no importance, but which the Emperor Justinian had rendered strong and otherwise conspicuous by means of the circuit-wall and other buildings which he erected. When Chosroes ascertained that the Roman army was in that place with John, he sent an army and a general, Aniabedes, against them in order to capture the place at the first onset. But John, upon learning of their approach, gave orders that no one should go outside the fortifications nor allow himself to be seen from the parapet by the enemy, and he armed the whole army and stationed them in the vicinity of the gates, commanding them to keep silence and not allow the least sound of any kind to escape from them. So the Persians came close to the fortifications, and since nothing of the enemy was either seen or heard by them they thought that the Romans had abandoned the city and left it destitute of men. For this reason they closed in still more around the fortifications, so as to set up ladders immediately, since no one was defending the wall. And neither seeing nor hearing anything of the enemy, they sent to Chosroes and explained the situation. And he sent the greater part of the army, commanding them to make an attempt upon the fortifications from all sides, and he directed one of the officers to make use of the engine known as a ram around the gate, while he himself, seated on the hill which lies very close to the city, became a spectator of the operations. And straightway the Romans opened the gates all of a sudden, and unexpectedly fell upon and slew great numbers of the enemy, and especially those stationed about the ram; the rest with difficulty made their escape together with the general and were saved. And Chosroes, filled with rage, impaled Aniabedes, since he had been outgeneralled by John, a tradesman and an altogether unwarlike man. But some say that not Aniabedes, but the officer commanding the men who were working the ram was impaled. And he himself broke camp with the whole army, and coming close to the fortifications of Petra, made camp and began a siege. On the following day he went completely around the fortifications, and since he suspected that they could not support a very strong attack, he decided to storm the wall. And bringing up the whole army there, he opened the action, commanding all to shoot with their bows against the parapet. The Romans, meanwhile, in defending themselves, made use of their engines of war and all their bows. At first, then, the Persians did the Romans little harm, although they were shooting their arrows thick and fast, while at the same time they suffered severely at the hands of the Romans, since they were being shot at from an elevation. But later on (since it was fated that Petra be captured by Chosroes), John by some chance was shot in the neck and died, and as a result of this the other Romans ceased to care for anything. Then indeed the barbarians withdrew to their camp; for it was already growing dark; but on the following day they planned to assail the fortifications by an excavation, as follows.
The city of Petra is on one side inaccessible on account of the sea, and on the other on account of the sheer cliffs which rise there on every hand; indeed it is from this circumstance that the city has received the name it bears. And it has only one approach on the level ground, and that not very broad; for exceedingly high cliffs overhang it on either side. At that point those who formerly built the city provided that that portion of the wall should not be open to attack by making long walls which ran along beside either cliff and guarded the approach for a great distance. And they built two towers, one in each of these walls, not following the customary plan, but as follows. They refused to allow the space in the middle of the structure to be empty, but constructed the entire towers from the ground up to a great height of very large stones which fitted together, in order that they might never be shaken down by a ram or any other engine. Such, then, are the fortifications of Petra. But the Persians secretly made a tunnel into the earth and got under one of the two towers, and from there carried out many of the stones and in their place put wood, which a little later they burned. And the flame, rising little by little, weakened the stones, and all of a sudden shook the whole tower violently and straightway brought it down to the ground. And the Romans who were on the tower perceived what was being done in sufficient time so that they did not fall with it to the ground, but they fled and got inside the city wall. And now it was possible for the enemy to storm the wall from the level, and thus with no trouble to take the city by force. The Romans, therefore, in terror, opened negotiations with the barbarians, and receiving from Chosroes pledges concerning their lives and their property, they surrendered to him both themselves and the city. [541 A.D.] Thus Chosroes captured Petra. And finding the treasures of John, which were extremely rich, he took them himself, but besides this neither he himself nor anyone else of the Persians touched anything, and the Romans, retaining their own possessions, mingled with the Median army.
Meantime Belisarius and the Roman army, having learned nothing of what was being done there, were going in excellent order from the city of Daras toward Nisibis. And when they had reached the middle of their journey, Belisarius led the army to the right where there were abundant springs of water and level ground sufficient for all to camp upon. And there he gave orders to make a camp at about forty-two stades from the city of Nisibis. But all the others marvelled greatly that he did not wish to camp close to the fortifications, and some were quite unwilling to follow him. Belisarius therefore addressed those of the officers who were about him thus: "It was not my wish to disclose to all what I am thinking. For talk carried about through a camp cannot keep secrets, for it advances little by little until it is carried out even to the enemy. But seeing that the majority of you are allowing yourselves to act in a most disorderly manner, and that each one wishes to be himself supreme commander in the war, I shall now say among you things about which one ought to keep silence, mentioning, however, this first, that when many in an army follow independent judgments it is impossible that anything needful be done. Now I think that Chosroes, in going against other barbarians, has by no means left his own land without sufficient protection, and in particular this city which is of the first rank and is set as a defence to his whole land. In this city I know well that he has stationed soldiers in such number and of such valour as to be sufficient to stand in the way of our assaults. And the proof of this you have near at hand. For he put in command of these men the general Nabedes, who, after Chosroes himself at least, seems to be first among the Persians in glory and in every other sort of honour. This man, I believe, will both make trial of our strength and will permit of our passing by on no other condition than that he be defeated by us in battle. If, therefore, the conflict should be close by the city, the struggle will not be even for us and the Persians. For they, coming out from their stronghold against us, in case of success, should it so happen, will feel unlimited confidence in assailing us, and in case of defeat they will easily escape from our attack. For we shall only be able to pursue them a short distance, and from this no harm will come to the city, which you surely see cannot be captured by storming the wall when soldiers are defending it. But if the enemy engage with us here and we conquer them, I have great hopes, fellow officers, of capturing the city. For while our antagonists are fleeing a long way, we shall either mingle with them and rush inside the gates with them, as is probable, or we shall anticipate them and compel them to turn and escape to some other place, and thus render Nisibis without its defenders easy of capture for us."
When Belisarius had said this, all the others except Peter were convinced, and they made camp and remained with him. He, however, associating with himself John, who commanded the troops in Mesopotamia and had no small part of the army, came up to a position not far removed from the fortifications, about ten stades away, and remained quietly there. But Belisarius marshalled the men who were with him as if for combat, and sent word to Peter and his men also to hold themselves in array for battle, until he himself should give the signal; and he said that he knew well that the barbarians would attack them about midday, remembering, as they surely would, that while they themselves are accustomed to partake of food in the late afternoon, the Romans do so about midday. So Belisarius gave this warning; but Peter and his men disregarded his commands, and about midday, being distressed by the sun (for the place is exceedingly dry and hot), they stacked their arms, and with never a thought of the enemy began to go about in disorderly fashion and eat gourds which grew there. And when this was observed by Nabedes, he led the Persian army running at full speed against them. And the Romans, since they did not fail to observe that the Persians were coming out of the fortifications (for they were seen clearly because moving over a level plain), sent to Belisarius urging him to support them, and they themselves snatched up their arms, and in disorder and confusion confronted their foe. But Belisarius and his men, even before the messenger had reached them, discovered by the dust the attack of the Persians, and went to the rescue on the run. And when the Persians came up, the Romans did not withstand their onset, but were routed without any difficulty, and the Persians, following close upon them, killed fifty men, and seized and kept the standard of Peter. And they would have slain them all in this pursuit, for the Romans had no thought of resistance, if Belisarius and the army with him had not come upon them and prevented it. For as the Goths, first of all, came upon them with long spears in close array, the Persians did not await their attack but beat a hasty retreat. And the Romans together with the Goths followed them up and slew a hundred and fifty men. For the pursuit was only of short duration, and the others quickly got inside the fortifications. Then indeed all the Romans withdrew to the camp of Belisarius, and the Persians on the following day set up on a tower instead of a trophy the standard of Peter, and hanging sausages from it they taunted the enemy with laughter; however, they no longer dared to come out against them, but they guarded the city securely.
And Belisarius, seeing that Nisibis was exceedingly strong, and having no hope regarding its capture, was eager to go forward, in order that he might do the enemy some damage by a sudden inroad. Accordingly he broke camp and moved forward with the whole army. And after accomplishing a day's journey, they came upon a fortress which the Persians call Sisauranon. There were in that place besides the numerous population eight hundred horsemen, the best of the Persians, who were keeping guard under command of a man of note, Bleschames by name. And the Romans made camp close by the fortress and began a siege, but, upon making an assault upon the fortifications, they were beaten back, losing many men in the fight. For the wall happened to be extremely strong, and the barbarians defended it against their assailants with the greatest vigour. Belisarius therefore called together all the officers and spoke as follows: "Experience in many wars, fellow officers, has made it possible for us in difficult situations to foresee what will come to pass, and has made us capable of avoiding disaster by choosing the better course. You understand, therefore, how great a mistake it is for an army to proceed into a hostile land, when many strongholds and many fighting men in them have been left in the rear. Now exactly this has happened to us in the present case. For if we continue our advance, some of the enemy from this place as well as from the city of Nisibis will follow us secretly and will, in all probability, handle us roughly in places which are for them conveniently adapted for an ambuscade or some other sort of attack. And if, by any chance, a second army confronts us and opens battle, it will be necessary for us to array ourselves against both, and we should thus suffer irreparable harm at their hands. And in saying this I do not mention the fact that if we fail in the engagement, should it so happen, we shall after that have absolutely no way of return left to the land of the Romans. Let us not therefore by reason of most ill-considered haste seem to have been our own despoilers, nor by our eagerness for strife do harm to the cause of the Romans. For stupid daring leads to destruction, but discreet hesitation is well adapted always to save those who adopt such a course. Let us therefore establish ourselves here and endeavour to capture this fortress, and let Arethas with his forces be sent into the country of Assyria. For the Saracens are by nature unable to storm a wall, but the cleverest of all men at plundering. And some of the soldiers who are good fighters will join them in the invasion, so that, if no opposition presents itself to them, they may overwhelm those who fall in their way, and if any hostile force encounters them, they may be saved easily by retiring to us. And after we have captured the fortress, if God wills, then with the whole army let us cross the River Tigris, without having to fear mischief from anyone in our rear, and knowing well how matters stand with the Assyrians."
These words of Belisarius seemed to all well spoken, and he straightway put the plan into execution. Accordingly he commanded Arethas with his troops to advance into Assyria, and with them he sent twelve hundred soldiers, the most of whom were from among his own guard, putting two guardsmen in command of them, Trajan and John who was called the Glutton, both capable warriors. These men he directed to obey Arethas in everything they did, and he commanded Arethas to pillage all that lay before him and then return to the camp and report how matters stood with the Assyrians with regard to military strength. So Arethas and his men crossed the River Tigris and entered Assyria. There they found a goodly land and one which had been free from plunder for a long time, and undefended besides; and moving rapidly they pillaged many of the places there and secured a great amount of rich plunder. And at that time Belisarius captured some of the Persians and learned from them that those who were inside the fortress were altogether out of provisions. For they do not observe the custom which is followed in the cities of Daras and Nisibis, where they put away the annual food-supply in public store-houses, and now that a hostile army had fallen upon them unexpectedly they had not anticipated the event by carrying in any of the necessities of life. And since a great number of persons had taken refuge suddenly in the fortress, they were naturally hard pressed by the want of provisions. When Belisarius learned this, he sent George, a man of the greatest discretion with whom he shared his secrets, to test the men of the place, in the hope that he might be able to arrange some terms of surrender and thus take the place. And George succeeded, after addressing to them many words of exhortation and of kindly invitation, in persuading them to take pledges for their safety and to deliver themselves and the fortress to the Romans. Thus Belisarius captured Sisauranon, and the inhabitants, all of whom were Christians and of Roman origin, he released unscathed, but the Persians he sent with Bleschames to Byzantium, and razed the fortification wall of the fortress to the ground. And the emperor not long afterwards sent these Persians and Bleschames to Italy to fight against the Goths. Such, then, was the course of events which had to do with the fortress of Sisauranon.
But Arethas, fearing lest he should be despoiled of his booty by the Romans, was now unwilling to return to the camp. So he sent some of his followers ostensibly for the purpose of reconnoitring, but secretly commanding them to return as quickly as possible and announce to the army that a large hostile force was at the crossing of the river. For this reason, then, he advised Trajan and John to return by another route to the land of the Romans. So they did not come again to Belisarius, but keeping the River Euphrates on the right they finally arrived at the Theodosiopolis which is near the River Aborrhas. But Belisarius and the Roman army, hearing nothing concerning this force, were disturbed, and they were filled with fear and an intolerable and exaggerated suspicion. And since much time had been consumed by them in this siege, it came about that many of the soldiers were taken there with a troublesome fever; for the portion of Mesopotamia which is subject to the Persians is extremely dry and hot. And the Romans were not accustomed to this and especially those who came from Thrace; and since they were living their daily life in a place where the heat was excessive and in stuffy huts in the summer season, they became so ill that the third part of the army were lying half-dead. The whole army, therefore, was eager to depart from there and return as quickly as possible to their own land, and most of all the commanders of the troops in Lebanon, Rhecithancus and Theoctistus, who saw that the time which was the sacred season of the Saracens had in fact already passed. They came, indeed, frequently to Belisarius and entreated him to release them immediately, protesting that they had given over to Alamoundaras the country of Lebanon and Syria, and were sitting there for no good reason.
Belisarius therefore called together all the officers and opened a discussion. Then John, the son of Nicetas, rose first and spoke as follows: "Most excellent Belisarius, I consider that in all time there has never been a general such as you are either in fortune or in valour. And this reputation has come to prevail not alone among the Romans, but also among all barbarians. This fair name, however, you will preserve most securely, if you should be able to take us back alive to the land of the Romans; for now indeed the hopes which we may have are not bright. For I would have you look thus at the situation of this army. The Saracens and the most efficient soldiers of the army crossed the River Tigris, and one day, I know not how long since, they found themselves in such a plight that they have not even succeeded in sending a messenger to us, and Rhecithancus and Theoctistus will depart, as you see surely, believing that the army of Alamoundaras is almost at this very moment in the midst of Phoenicia, pillaging the whole country there. And among those who are left the sick are so numerous that those who will care for them and convey them to the land of the Romans are fewer in number than they are by a great deal. Under these circumstances, if it should fall out that any hostile force should come upon us, either while remaining here or while going back, not a man would be able to carry back word to the Romans in Daras of the calamity which had befallen us. For as for going forward, I consider it impossible even to be spoken of. While, therefore, some hope is still left, it will be of advantage both to make plans for the return and to put the plans into action. For when men have come into danger and especially such danger as this, it is downright folly for them to devote their thoughts not to safety, but to opposition to the enemy." So spoke John, and all the others expressed approval, and becoming disorderly, they demanded that the retreat be made with all speed. Accordingly Belisarius laid the sick in the carts and let them lead the way, while he led the army behind them. And as soon as they got into the land of the Romans, he learned everything which had been done by Arethas, but he did not succeed in inflicting any punishment upon him, for he never came into his sight again. So ended the invasion of the Romans.
And after Chosroes had taken Petra, it was announced to him that Belisarius had invaded the Persian territory, and the engagement near the city of Nisibis was reported, as also the capture of the fortress of Sisauranon, and all that the army of Arethas had done after crossing the River Tigris. Straightway, then, he established a garrison in Petra, and with the rest of the army and those of the Romans who had been captured he marched away into the land of Persia. Such, then, were the events which took place in the second invasion of Chosroes. And Belisarius went to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor, and passed the winter there.
[542 A.D.] At the opening of spring Chosroes, the son of Cabades, for the third time began an invasion into the land of the Romans with a mighty army, keeping the River Euphrates on the right. And Candidus, the priest of Sergiopolis, upon learning that the Median army had come near there, began to be afraid both for himself and for the city, since he had by no means carried out at the appointed time the agreement which he had made; accordingly he went into the camp of the enemy and entreated Chosroes not to be angry with him because of this. For as for money, he had never had any, and for this reason he had not even wished in the first place to deliver the inhabitants of Sura, and though he had supplicated the Emperor Justinian many times on their behalf, he had failed to receive any help from him. But Chosroes put him under guard, and, torturing him most cruelly, claimed the right to exact from him double the amount of money, just as had been agreed. And Candidus entreated him to send men to Sergiopolis to take all the treasures of the sanctuary there. And when Chosroes followed this suggestion, Candidus sent some of his followers with them. So the inhabitants of Sergiopolis, receiving into the city the men sent by Chosroes, gave them many of the treasures, declaring that nothing else was left them. But Chosroes said that these were by no means sufficient for him, and demanded that he should receive others still more than these. Accordingly he sent men, ostensibly to search out with all diligence the wealth of the city, but in reality to take possession of the city. But since it was fated that Sergiopolis should not be taken by the Persians, one of the Saracens, who, though a Christian, was serving under Alamoundaras, Ambrus by name, came by night along the wall of the city, and reporting to them the whole plan, bade them by no means receive the Persians into the city. Thus those who were sent by Chosroes returned to him unsuccessful, and he, boiling with anger, began to make plans to capture the city. He accordingly sent an army of six thousand, commanding them to begin a siege and to make assaults upon the fortifications. And this army came there and commenced active operations, and the citizens of Sergiopolis at first defended themselves vigorously, but later they gave up, and in terror at the danger, they were purposing to give over the city to the enemy. For, as it happened, they had not more than two hundred soldiers. But Ambrus, again coming along by the fortifications at night, said that within two days the Persians would raise the siege since their water supply had failed them absolutely. For this reason they did not by any means open negotiations with the enemy, and the barbarians, suffering with thirst, removed from there and came to Chosroes. However, Chosroes never released Candidus. For it was necessary, I suppose, that since he had disregarded his sworn agreement, he should be a priest no longer. Such, then, was the course of these events.
But when Chosroes arrived at the land of the Commagenae which they call Euphratesia, he had no desire to turn to plundering or to the capture of any stronghold, since he had previously taken everything before him as far as Syria, partly by capture and partly by exacting money, as has been set forth in the preceding narrative. And his purpose was to lead the army straight for Palestine, in order that he might plunder all their treasures and especially those in Jerusalem. For he had it from hearsay that this was an especially goodly land and peopled by wealthy inhabitants. And all the Romans, both officers and soldiers, were far from entertaining any thought of confronting the enemy or of standing in the way of their passage, but manning their strongholds as each one could, they thought it sufficient to preserve them and save themselves.
The Emperor Justinian, upon learning of the inroad of the Persians, again sent Belisarius against them. And he came with great speed to Euphratesia since he had no army with him, riding on the government post-horses, which they are accustomed to call "veredi," while Justus, the nephew of the emperor, together with Bouzes and certain others, was in Hierapolis where he had fled for refuge. And when these men heard that Belisarius was coming and was not far away, they wrote a letter to him which ran as follows: "Once more Chosroes, as you yourself doubtless know, has taken the field against the Romans, bringing a much greater army than formerly; and where he is purposing to go is not yet evident, except indeed that we hear he is very near, and that he has injured no place, but is always moving ahead. But come to us as quickly as possible, if indeed you are able to escape detection by the army of the enemy, in order that you yourself may be safe for the emperor, and that you may join us in guarding Hierapolis." Such was the message of the letter. But Belisarius, not approving the advice given, came to the place called Europum, which is on the River Euphrates. From there he sent about in all directions and began to gather his army, and there he established his camp; and the officers in Hierapolis he answered with the following words: "If, now, Chosroes is proceeding against any other peoples, and not against subjects of the Romans, this plan of yours is well considered and insures the greatest possible degree of safety; for it is great folly for those who have the opportunity of remaining quiet and being rid of trouble to enter into any unnecessary danger; but if, immediately after departing from here, this barbarian is going to fall upon some other territory of the Emperor Justinian, and that an exceptionally good one, but without any guard of soldiers, be assured that to perish valorously is better in every way than to be saved without a fight. For this would justly be called not salvation but treason. But come as quickly as possible to Europum, where, after collecting the whole army, I hope to deal with the enemy as God permits." And when the officers saw this message, they took courage, and leaving there Justus with some few men in order to guard Hierapolis, all the others with the rest of the army came to Europum.
But Chosroes, upon learning that Belisarius with the whole Roman army had encamped at Europum, decided not to continue his advance, but sent one of the royal secretaries, Abandanes by name, a man who enjoyed a great reputation for discretion, to Belisarius, in order to find out by inspection what sort of a general he might be, but ostensibly to make a protest because the Emperor Justinian had not sent the ambassadors to the Persians at all in order that they might settle the arrangements for the peace as had been agreed. When Belisarius learned this, he did as follows. He himself picked out six thousand men of goodly stature and especially fine physique, and set out to hunt at a considerable distance from the camp. Then he commanded Diogenes, the guardsman, and Adolius, the son of Acacius, to cross the river with a thousand horsemen and to move about the bank there, always making it appear to the enemy that if they wished to cross the Euphrates and proceed to their own land, they would never permit them to do so. This Adolius was an Armenian by birth, and he always served the emperor while in the palace as privy counsellor (those who enjoy this honour are called by the Romans "silentiarii"), but at that time he was commander of some Armenians. And these men did as directed.
Now when Belisarius had ascertained that the envoy was close at hand, he set up a tent of some heavy cloth, of the sort which is commonly called a "pavilion," and seated himself there as one might in a desolate place, seeking thus to indicate that he had come without any equipment. And he arranged the soldiers as follows. On either side of the tent were Thracians and Illyrians, with Goths beyond them, and next to these Eruli, and finally Vandals and Moors. And their line extended for a great distance over the plain. For they did not remain standing always in the same place, but stood apart from one another and kept walking about, looking carelessly and without the least interest upon the envoy of Chosroes. And not one of them had a cloak or any other outer garment to cover the shoulders, but they were sauntering about clad in linen tunics and trousers, and outside these their girdles. And each one had his horse-whip, but for weapons one had a sword, another an axe, another an uncovered bow. And all gave the impression that they were eager to be off on the hunt with never a thought of anything else. So Abandanes came into the presence of Belisarius and said that the king Chosroes was indignant because the agreement previously made had not been kept, in that the envoys had not been sent to him by Caesar (for thus the Persians call the emperor of the Romans), and as a result of this Chosroes had been compelled to come into the land of the Romans in arms. But Belisarius was not terrified by the thought that such a multitude of barbarians were encamped close by, nor did he experience any confusion because of the words of the man, but with a laughing, care-free countenance he made answer, saying: "This course which Chosroes has followed on the present occasion is not in keeping with the way men usually act. For other men, in case a dispute should arise between themselves and any of their neighbours, first carry on negotiations with them, and whenever they do not receive reasonable satisfaction, then finally go against them in war. But he first comes into the midst of the Romans, and then begins to offer suggestions concerning peace." With such words as these he dismissed the ambassador.
And when Abandanes came to Chosroes, he advised him to take his departure with all possible speed. For he said he had met a general who in manliness and sagacity surpassed all other men, and soldiers such as he at least had never seen, whose orderly conduct had roused in him the greatest admiration. And he added that the contest was not on an even footing as regards risk for him and for Belisarius, for there was this difference, that if he conquered, he himself would conquer the slave of Caesar, but if he by any chance were defeated, he would bring great disgrace upon his kingdom and upon the race of the Persians; and again the Romans, if conquered, could easily save themselves in strongholds and in their own land, while if the Persians should meet with any reverse, not even a messenger would escape to the land of the Persians. Chosroes was convinced by this admonition and wished to turn back to his own country, but he found himself in a very perplexing situation. For he supposed that the crossing of the river was being guarded by the enemy, and he was unable to march back by the same road, which was entirely destitute of human habitation, since the supplies which they had at the first when they invaded the land of the Romans had already entirely failed them. At last after long consideration it seemed to him most advantageous to risk a battle and get to the opposite side, and to make the journey through a land abounding in all good things. Now Belisarius knew well that not even a hundred thousand men would ever be sufficient to check the crossing of Chosroes. For the river at many places along there can be crossed in boats very easily, and even apart from this the Persian army was too strong to be excluded from the crossing by an enemy numerically insignificant. But he had at first commanded the troops of Diogenes and Adolius, together with the thousand horsemen, to move about the bank at that point in order to confuse the barbarian by a feeling of helplessness. But after frightening this same barbarian, as I have said, Belisarius feared lest there should be some obstacle in the way of his departing from the land of the Romans. For it seemed to him a most significant achievement to have driven away from there the army of Chosroes, without risking any battle against so many myriads of barbarians with soldiers who were very few in number and who were in abject terror of the Median army. For this reason he commanded Diogenes and Adolius to remain quiet.
Chosroes, accordingly, constructed a bridge with great celerity and crossed the River Euphrates suddenly with his whole army. For the Persians are able to cross all rivers without the slightest difficulty because when they are on the march they have in readiness hook-shaped irons with which they fasten together long timbers, and with the help of these they improvise a bridge on the spur of the moment wherever they may desire. And as soon as he had reached the land on the opposite side, he sent to Belisarius and said that he, for his part, had bestowed a favour upon the Romans in the withdrawal of the Median army, and that he was expecting the envoys from them, who ought to present themselves to him at no distant time. Then Belisarius also with the whole Roman army crossed the River Euphrates and immediately sent to Chosroes. And when the messengers came into his presence, they commended him highly for his withdrawal and promised that envoys would come to him promptly from the emperor, who would arrange with him that the terms which had previously been agreed upon concerning the peace should be put into effect. And they asked of him that he treat the Romans as his friends in his journey through their land. This too he agreed to carry out, if they should give him some one of their notable men as a hostage to make this compact binding, in order that they might carry out their agreement. So the envoys returned to Belisarius and reported the words of Chosroes, and he came to Edessa and chose John, the son of Basilius, the most illustrious of all the inhabitants of Edessa in birth and in wealth, and straightway sent him, much against his will, as a hostage to Chosroes. And the Romans were loud in their praises of Belisarius and he seemed to have achieved greater glory in their eyes by this affair than when he brought Gelimer or Vittigis captive to Byzantium. For in reality it was an achievement of great importance and one deserving great praise, that, at a time when all the Romans were panic-stricken with fear and were hiding themselves in their defences, and Chosroes with a mighty army had come into the midst of the Roman domain, a general with only a few men, coming in hot haste from Byzantium just at that moment, should have set his camp over against that of the Persian king, and that Chosroes unexpectedly, either through fear of fortune or of the valour of the man or even because deceived by some tricks, should no longer continue his advance, but should in reality take to flight, though pretending to be seeking peace.
But in the meantime Chosroes, disregarding the agreement, took the city of Callinicus which was entirely without defenders. For the Romans, seeing that the wall of this city was altogether unsound and easy of capture, were tearing down portions of it in turn and restoring them with new construction. Now just at that time they had torn down one section of it and had not yet built in this interval; when, therefore, they learned that the enemy were close at hand, they carried out the most precious of their treasures, and the wealthy inhabitants withdrew to other strongholds, while the rest without soldiers remained where they were. And it happened that great numbers of farmers had gathered there. These Chosroes enslaved and razed everything to the ground. A little later, upon receiving the hostage, John, he retired to his own country. And the Armenians who had submitted to Chosroes received pledges from the Romans and came with Bassaces to Byzantium. Such was the fortune of the Romans in the third invasion of Chosroes. And Belisarius came to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor, in order to be sent again to Italy, since the situation there was already full of difficulties for the Romans.
[542 A.D.] During these times there was a pestilence, by which the whole human race came near to being annihilated. Now in the case of all other scourges sent from Heaven some explanation of a cause might be given by daring men, such as the many theories propounded by those who are clever in these matters; for they love to conjure up causes which are absolutely incomprehensible to man, and to fabricate outlandish theories of natural philosophy, knowing well that they are saying nothing sound, but considering it sufficient for them, if they completely deceive by their argument some of those whom they meet and persuade them to their view. But for this calamity it is quite impossible either to express in words or to conceive in thought any explanation, except indeed to refer it to God. For it did not come in a part of the world nor upon certain men, nor did it confine itself to any season of the year, so that from such circumstances it might be possible to find subtle explanations of a cause, but it embraced the entire world, and blighted the lives of all men, though differing from one another in the most marked degree, respecting neither sex nor age. For much as men differ with regard to places in which they live, or in the law of their daily life, or in natural bent, or in active pursuits, or in whatever else man differs from man, in the case of this disease alone the difference availed naught. And it attacked some in the summer season, others in the winter, and still others at the other times of the year. Now let each one express his own judgment concerning the matter, both sophist and astrologer, but as for me, I shall proceed to tell where this disease originated and the manner in which it destroyed men.
It started from the Aegyptians who dwell in Pelusium. Then it divided and moved in one direction towards Alexandria and the rest of Aegypt, and in the other direction it came to Palestine on the borders of Aegypt; and from there it spread over the whole world, always moving forward and travelling at times favourable to it. For it seemed to move by fixed arrangement, and to tarry for a specified time in each country, casting its blight slightingly upon none, but spreading in either direction right out to the ends of the world, as if fearing lest some corner of the earth might escape it. For it left neither island nor cave nor mountain ridge which had human inhabitants; and if it had passed by any land, either not affecting the men there or touching them in indifferent fashion, still at a later time it came back; then those who dwelt round about this land, whom formerly it had afflicted most sorely, it did not touch at all, but it did not remove from the place in question until it had given up its just and proper tale of dead, so as to correspond exactly to the number destroyed at the earlier time among those who dwelt round about. And this disease always took its start from the coast, and from there went up to the interior. And in the second year it reached Byzantium in the middle of spring, where it happened that I was staying at that time. And it came as follows. Apparitions of supernatural beings in human guise of every description were seen by many persons, and those who encountered them thought that they were struck by the man they had met in this or that part of the body, as it happened, and immediately upon seeing this apparition they were seized also by the disease. Now at first those who met these creatures tried to turn them aside by uttering the holiest of names and exorcising them in other ways as well as each one could, but they accomplished absolutely nothing, for even in the sanctuaries where the most of them fled for refuge they were dying constantly. But later on they were unwilling even to give heed to their friends when they called to them, and they shut themselves up in their rooms and pretended that they did not hear, although their doors were being beaten down, fearing, obviously, that he who was calling was one of those demons. But in the case of some the pestilence did not come on in this way, but they saw a vision in a dream and seemed to suffer the very same thing at the hands of the creature who stood over them, or else to hear a voice foretelling to them that they were written down in the number of those who were to die. But with the majority it came about that they were seized by the disease without becoming aware of what was coming either through a waking vision or a dream. And they were taken in the following manner. They had a sudden fever, some when just roused from sleep, others while walking about, and others while otherwise engaged, without any regard to what they were doing. And the body shewed no change from its previous colour, nor was it hot as might be expected when attacked by a fever, nor indeed did any inflammation set in, but the fever was of such a languid sort from its commencement and up till evening that neither to the sick themselves nor to a physician who touched them would it afford any suspicion of danger. It was natural, therefore, that not one of those who had contracted the disease expected to die from it. But on the same day in some cases, in others on the following day, and in the rest not many days later, a bubonic swelling developed; and this took place not only in the particular part of the body which is called "boubon," that is, below the abdomen, but also inside the armpit, and in some cases also beside the ears, and at different points on the thighs.
Up to this point, then, everything went in about the same way with all who had taken the disease. But from then on very marked differences developed; and I am unable to say whether the cause of this diversity of symptoms was to be found in the difference in bodies, or in the fact that it followed the wish of Him who brought the disease into the world. For there ensued with some a deep coma, with others a violent delirium, and in either case they suffered the characteristic symptoms of the disease. For those who were under the spell of the coma forgot all those who were familiar to them and seemed to be sleeping constantly. And if anyone cared for them, they would eat without waking, but some also were neglected, and these would die directly through lack of sustenance. But those who were seized with delirium suffered from insomnia and were victims of a distorted imagination; for they suspected that men were coming upon them to destroy them, and they would become excited and rush off in flight, crying out at the top of their voices. And those who were attending them were in a state of constant exhaustion and had a most difficult time of it throughout. For this reason everybody pitied them no less than the sufferers, not because they were threatened by the pestilence in going near it (for neither physicians nor other persons were found to contract this malady through contact with the sick or with the dead, for many who were constantly engaged either in burying or in attending those in no way connected with them held out in the performance of this service beyond all expectation, while with many others the disease came on without warning and they died straightway); but they pitied them because of the great hardships which they were undergoing. For when the patients fell from their beds and lay rolling upon the floor, they, kept patting them back in place, and when they were struggling to rush headlong out of their houses, they would force them back by shoving and pulling against them. And when water chanced to be near, they wished to fall into it, not so much because of a desire for drink (for the most of them rushed into the sea), but the cause was to be found chiefly in the diseased state of their minds. They had also great difficulty in the matter of eating, for they could not easily take food. And many perished through lack of any man to care for them, for they were either overcome by hunger, or threw themselves down from a height. And in those cases where neither coma nor delirium came on, the bubonic swelling became mortified and the sufferer, no longer able to endure the pain, died. And one would suppose that in all cases the same thing would have been true, but since they were not at all in their senses, some were quite unable to feel the pain; for owing to the troubled condition of their minds they lost all sense of feeling.
Now some of the physicians who were at a loss because the symptoms were not understood, supposing that the disease centred in the bubonic swellings, decided to investigate the bodies of the dead. And upon opening some of the swellings, they found a strange sort of carbuncle that had grown inside them.
Death came in some cases immediately, in others after many days; and with some the body broke out with black pustules about as large as a lentil and these did not survive even one day, but all succumbed immediately. With many also a vomiting of blood ensued without visible cause and straightway brought death. Moreover I am able to declare this, that the most illustrious physicians predicted that many would die, who unexpectedly escaped entirely from suffering shortly afterwards, and that they declared that many would be saved, who were destined to be carried off almost immediately. So it was that in this disease there was no cause which came within the province of human reasoning; for in all cases the issue tended to be something unaccountable. For example, while some were helped by bathing, others were harmed in no less degree. And of those who received no care many died, but others, contrary to reason, were saved. And again, methods of treatment shewed different results with different patients. Indeed the whole matter may be stated thus, that no device was discovered by man to save himself, so that either by taking precautions he should not suffer, or that when the malady had assailed him he should get the better of it; but suffering came without warning and recovery was due to no external cause.
And in the case of women who were pregnant death could be certainly foreseen if they were taken with the disease. For some died through miscarriage, but others perished immediately at the time of birth with the infants they bore. However, they say that three women in confinement survived though their children perished, and that one woman died at the very time of child-birth but that the child was born and survived.
Now in those cases where the swelling rose to an unusual size and a discharge of pus had set in, it came about that they escaped from the disease and survived, for clearly the acute condition of the carbuncle had found relief in this direction, and this proved to be in general an indication of returning health; but in cases where the swelling preserved its former appearance there ensued those troubles which I have just mentioned. And with some of them it came about that the thigh was withered, in which case, though the swelling was there, it did not develop the least suppuration. With others who survived the tongue did not remain unaffected, and they lived on either lisping or speaking incoherently and with difficulty.
Now the disease in Byzantium ran a course of four months, and its greatest virulence lasted about three. And at first the deaths were a little more than the normal, then the mortality rose still higher, and afterwards the tale of dead reached five thousand each day, and again it even came to ten thousand and still more than that. Now in the beginning each man attended to the burial of the dead of his own house, and these they threw even into the tombs of others, either escaping detection or using violence; but afterwards confusion and disorder everywhere became complete. For slaves remained destitute of masters, and men who in former times were very prosperous were deprived of the service of their domestics who were either sick or dead, and many houses became completely destitute of human inhabitants. For this reason it came about that some of the notable men of the city because of the universal destitution remained unburied for many days.
And it fell to the lot of the emperor, as was natural, to make provision for the trouble. He therefore detailed soldiers from the palace and distributed money, commanding Theodorus to take charge of this work; this man held the position of announcer of imperial messages, always announcing to the emperor the petitions of his clients, and declaring to them in turn whatever his wish was. In the Latin tongue the Romans designate this office by the term "referendarius." So those who had not as yet fallen into complete destitution in their domestic affairs attended individually to the burial of those connected with them. But Theodorus, by giving out the emperor's money and by making further expenditures from his own purse, kept burying the bodies which were not cared for. And when it came about that all the tombs which had existed previously were filled with the dead, then they dug up all the places about the city one after the other, laid the dead there, each one as he could, and departed; but later on those who were making these trenches, no longer able to keep up with the number of the dying, mounted the towers of the fortifications in Sycae, and tearing off the roofs threw the bodies in there in complete disorder; and they piled them up just as each one happened to fall, and filled practically all the towers with corpses, and then covered them again with their roofs. As a result of this an evil stench pervaded the city and distressed the inhabitants still more, and especially whenever the wind blew fresh from that quarter.
At that time all the customary rites of burial were overlooked. For the dead were not carried out escorted by a procession in the customary manner, nor were the usual chants sung over them, but it was sufficient if one carried on his shoulders the body of one of the dead to the parts of the city which bordered on the sea and flung him down; and there the corpses would be thrown upon skiffs in a heap, to be conveyed wherever it might chance. At that time, too, those of the population who had formerly been members of the factions laid aside their mutual enmity and in common they attended to the burial rites of the dead, and they carried with their own hands the bodies of those who were no connections of theirs and buried them. Nay, more, those who in times past used to take delight in devoting themselves to pursuits both shameful and base, shook off the unrighteousness of their daily lives and practised the duties of religion with diligence, not so much because they had learned wisdom at last nor because they had become all of a sudden lovers of virtue, as it were--for when qualities have become fixed in men by nature or by the training of a long period of time, it is impossible for them to lay them aside thus lightly, except, indeed, some divine influence for good has breathed upon them--but then all, so to speak, being thoroughly terrified by the things which were happening, and supposing that they would die immediately, did, as was natural, learn respectability for a season by sheer necessity. Therefore as soon as they were rid of the disease and were saved, and already supposed that they were in security, since the curse had moved on to other peoples, then they turned sharply about and reverted once more to their baseness of heart, and now, more than before, they make a display of the inconsistency of their conduct, altogether surpassing themselves in villainy and in lawlessness of every sort. For one could insist emphatically without falsehood that this disease, whether by chance or by some providence, chose out with exactitude the worst men and let them go free. But these things were displayed to the world in later times.
During that time it seemed no easy thing to see any man in the streets of Byzantium, but all who had the good fortune to be in health were sitting in their houses, either attending the sick or mourning the dead. And if one did succeed in meeting a man going out, he was carrying one of the dead. And work of every description ceased, and all the trades were abandoned by the artisans, and all other work as well, such as each had in hand. Indeed in a city which was simply abounding in all good things starvation almost absolute was running riot. Certainly it seemed a difficult and very notable thing to have a sufficiency of bread or of anything else; so that with some of the sick it appeared that the end of life came about sooner than it should have come by reason of the lack of the necessities of life. And, to put all in a word, it was not possible to see a single man in Byzantium clad in the chlamys, and especially when the emperor became ill (for he too had a swelling of the groin), but in a city which held dominion over the whole Roman empire every man was wearing clothes befitting private station and remaining quietly at home. Such was the course of the pestilence in the Roman empire at large as well as in Byzantium. And it fell also upon the land of the Persians and visited all the other barbarians besides.
[545 A.D.] Now it happened that Chosroes had come from Assyria to a place toward the north called Adarbiganon, from which he was planning to make an invasion into the Roman domain through Persarmenia. In that place is the great sanctuary of fire, which the Persians reverence above all other gods. There the fire is guarded unquenched by the Magi, and they perform carefully a great number of sacred rites, and in particular they consult an oracle on those matters which are of the greatest importance. This is the fire which the Romans worshipped under the name of Hestia in ancient times. There someone who had been sent from Byzantium to Chosroes announced that Constantianus and Sergius would come before him directly as envoys to arrange the treaty. Now these two men were both trained speakers and exceedingly clever; Constantianus was an Illyrian by birth, and Sergius was from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. And Chosroes remained quiet expecting these men. But in the course of the journey thither Constantianus became ill and much time was consumed; in the meantime it came about that the pestilence fell upon the Persians. For this reason Nabedes, who at that time held the office of general in Persarmenia, sent the priest of the Christians in Dubios by direction of the king to Valerianus, the general in Armenia, in order to reproach the envoys for their tardiness and to urge the Romans with all zeal toward peace. And he came with his brother to Armenia, and, meeting Valerianus, declared that he himself, as a Christian, was favourably disposed toward the Romans, and that the king Chosroes always followed his advice in every matter; so that if the ambassadors would come with him to the land of Persia, there would be nothing to prevent them from arranging the peace as they wished. Thus then spoke the priest; but the brother of the priest met Valerianus secretly and said that Chosroes was in great straits: for his son had risen against him in an attempt to set up a tyranny, and he himself together with the whole Persian army had been taken with the plague; and this was the reason why he wished just now to settle the agreement with the Romans. When Valerianus heard this, he straightway dismissed the bishop, promising that the envoys would come to Chosroes at no distant time, but he himself reported the words which he had heard to the Emperor Justinian. This led the emperor immediately to send word to him and to Martinus and the other commanders to invade the enemy's territory as quickly as possible. For he knew well that no one of the enemy would stand in their way. And he commanded them to gather all in one place and so make their invasion into Persarmenia. When the commanders received these letters, all of them together with their followers began to gather into the land of Armenia.
And already Chosroes had abandoned Adarbiganon a little before through fear of the plague and was off with his whole army into Assyria, where the pestilence had not as yet become epidemic. Valerianus accordingly encamped close by Theodosiopolis with the troops under him; and with him was arrayed Narses, who had with him Armenians and some of the Eruli. And Martinus, the General of the East, together with Ildiger and Theoctistus, reached the fortress of Citharizon, and fixing his camp there, remained on the spot. This fortress is separated from Theodosiopolis by a journey of four days. There too Peter came not long afterwards together with Adolius and some other commanders. Now the troops in this region were commanded by Isaac, the brother of Narses. And Philemouth and Beros with the Eruli who were under them came into the territory of Chorzianene, not far from the camp of Martinus. And Justus, the emperor's nephew, and Peranius and John, the son of Nicetas, together with Domentiolus and John, who was called the Glutton, made camp near the place called Phison, which is close by the boundaries of Martyropolis. Thus then were encamped the Roman commanders with their troops; and the whole army amounted to thirty thousand men. Now all these troops were neither gathered into one place, nor indeed was there any general meeting for conference. But the generals sent to each other some of their followers and began to make enquiries concerning the invasion. Suddenly, however, Peter, without communicating with anyone, and without any careful consideration, invaded the hostile land with his troops. And when on the following day this was found out by Philemouth and Beros, the leaders of the Eruli, they straightway followed. And when this in turn came to the knowledge of Martinus and Valerianus and their men, they quickly joined in the invasion. And all of them a little later united with each other in the enemy's territory, with the exception of Justus and his men, who, as I have said, had encamped far away from the rest of the army, and learned later of their invasion; then, indeed, they also invaded the territory of the enemy as quickly as possible at the point where they were, but failed altogether to unite with the other commanders. As for the others, they proceeded in a body straight for Doubios, neither plundering nor damaging in any other way the land of the Persians.
Now Doubios is a land excellent in every respect, and especially blessed with a healthy climate and abundance of good water; and from Theodosiopolis it is removed a journey of eight days. In that region there are plains suitable for riding, and many very populous villages are situated in very close proximity to one another, and numerous merchants conduct their business in them. For from India and the neighbouring regions of Iberia and from practically all the nations of Persia and some of those under Roman sway they bring in merchandise and carry on their dealings with each other there. And the priest of the Christians is called "Catholicos" in the Greek tongue, because he presides alone over the whole region. Now at a distance of about one hundred and twenty stades from Doubios on the right as one travels from the land of the Romans, there is a mountain difficult of ascent and moreover precipitous, and a village crowded into very narrow space by the rough country about, Anglon by name. Thither Nabedes withdrew with his whole army as soon as he learned of the inroad of the enemy, and, confident in his strength of position, he shut himself in. Now the village lies at the extremity of the mountain, and there is a strong fortress bearing the same name as this village on the steep mountain side. So Nabedes with stones and carts blocked up the entrances into the village and thus made it still more difficult of access. And in front of it he dug a sort of trench and stationed the army there, having filled some old cabins with ambuscades of infantrymen Altogether the Persian army amounted to four thousand men.
While these things were being done in this way, the Romans reached a place one day's journey distant from Anglon, and capturing one of the enemy who was going out as a spy they enquired where in the world Nabedes was then. And he asserted that the man had retired from Anglon with the whole Median army. And when Narses heard this, he was indignant, and he heaped reproaches and abuse upon his fellow-commanders for their hesitation. And others, too, began to do the very same thing, casting insults upon one another; and from then on, giving up all thought of battle and danger, they were eager to plunder the country thereabout. The troops broke camp, accordingly, and without the guidance of generals and without observing any definite formation, they moved forward in complete confusion; for neither had they any countersign among themselves, as is customary in such perilous situations, nor were they arranged in their proper divisions. For the soldiers marched forward, mixed in with the baggage train, as if going to the ready plunder of great wealth. But when they came near to Anglon, they sent out spies who returned to them announcing the array of the enemy. And the generals were thunder-struck by the unexpectedness of it, but they considered it altogether disgraceful and unmanly to turn back with an army of such great size, and so they disposed the army in its three divisions, as well as the circumstances permitted, and advanced straight toward the enemy. Now Peter held the right wing and Valerianus the left, while Martinus and his men arrayed themselves in the centre. And when they came close to their opponents, they halted, preserving their formation, but not without disorder. The cause for this was to be found in the difficulty of the ground, which was very badly broken up, and in the fact that they were entering battle in a formation arranged on the spur of the moment. And up to this time the barbarians, who had gathered themselves into a small space, were remaining quiet, considering the strength of their antagonists, since the order had been given them by Nabedes not under any circumstances to begin the fighting, but if the enemy should assail them, to defend themselves with all their might.
And first Narses with the Eruli and those of the Romans who were under him, engaged with the enemy, and after a hard hand-to-hand struggle, he routed the Persians who were before him. And the barbarians in flight ascended on the run to the fortress, and in so doing they inflicted terrible injury upon one another in the narrow way. And then Narses urged his men forward and pressed still harder upon the enemy, and the rest of the Romans joined in the action. But all of a sudden the men who were in ambush, as has been said, came out from the cabins along the narrow alleys, and killed some of the Eruli, falling unexpectedly upon them, and they struck Narses himself a blow on the temple. And his brother Isaac carried him out from among the fighting men, mortally wounded. And he died shortly afterwards, having proved himself a brave man in this engagement. Then, as was to be expected, great confusion fell upon the Roman army, and Nabedes let out the whole Persian force upon his opponents. And the Persians, shooting into great masses of the enemy in the narrow alleys, killed a large number without difficulty, and particularly of the Eruli who had at the first fallen upon the enemy with Narses and were fighting for the most part without protection. For the Eruli have neither helmet nor corselet nor any other protective armour, except a shield and a thick jacket, which they gird about them before they enter a struggle. And indeed the Erulian slaves go into battle without even a shield, and when they prove themselves brave men in war, then their masters permit them to protect themselves in battle with shields. Such is the custom of the Eruli.
And the Romans did not withstand the enemy and all of them fled as fast as they could, never once thinking of resistance and heedless of shame or of any other worthy motive. But the Persians, suspecting that they had not turned thus to a shameless flight, but that they were making use of some ambuscades against them, pursued them as far as the rough ground extended and then turned back, not daring to fight a decisive battle on level ground, a few against many. The Romans, however, and especially all the generals, supposing that the enemy were continuing the pursuit without pause, kept fleeing still faster, wasting not a moment; and they were urging on their horses as they ran with whip and voice, and throwing their corselets and other accoutrements in haste and confusion to the ground. For they had not the courage to array themselves against the Persians if they overtook them, but they placed all hope of safety in their horses' feet, and, in short, the flight became such that scarcely any one of their horses survived, but when they stopped running, they straightway fell down and expired. And this proved a disaster for the Romans so great as to exceed anything that had ever befallen them previously. For great numbers of them perished and still more fell into the hands of the enemy. And their weapons and draught animals which were taken by the enemy amounted to such an imposing number that Persia seemed as a result of this affair to have become richer. And Adolius, while passing through a fortified place during this retreat--it was situated in Persarmenia--was struck on the head by a stone thrown by one of the inhabitants of the town, and died there. As for the forces of Justus and Peranius, they invaded the country about Taraunon, and after gathering some little plunder, immediately returned.
[544 A.D.] And in the following year, Chosroes, the son of Cabades, for the fourth time invaded the land of the Romans, leading his army towards Mesopotamia. Now this invasion was made by this Chosroes not against Justinian, the Emperor of the Romans, nor indeed against any other man, but only against the God whom the Christians reverence. For when in the first invasion he retired, after failing to capture Edessa, both he and the Magi, since they had been worsted by the God of the Christians, fell into a great dejection. Wherefore Chosroes, seeking to allay it, uttered a threat in the palace that he would make slaves of all the inhabitants of Edessa and bring them to the land of Persia, and would turn the city into a pasture for sheep. Accordingly when he had approached the city of Edessa with his whole army, he sent some of the Huns who were following him against that portion of the fortifications of the city which is above the hippodrome, with the purpose of doing no further injury than seizing the flocks which the shepherds had stationed there along the wall in great numbers: for they were confident in the strength of the place, since it was exceedingly steep, and supposed that the enemy would never dare to come so very close to the wall. So the barbarians were already laying hold of the sheep, and the shepherds were trying most valiantly to prevent them. And when a great number of Persians had come to the assistance of the Huns, the barbarians succeeded in detaching something of a flock from there, but Roman soldiers and some of the populace made a sally upon the enemy and the battle became a hand-to-hand struggle; meanwhile the flock of its own accord returned again to the shepherds. Now one of the Huns who was fighting before the others was making more trouble for the Romans than all the rest. And some rustic made a good shot and hit him on the right knee with a sling, and he immediately fell headlong from his horse to the ground, which thing heartened the Romans still more. And the battle which had begun early in the morning ended at midday, and both sides withdrew from the engagement thinking that they had the advantage. So the Romans went inside the fortifications, while the barbarians pitched their tents and made camp in a body about seven stades from the city.
Then Chosroes either saw some vision or else the thought occurred to him that if, after making two attempts, he should not be able to capture Edessa, he would thereby cover himself with much disgrace. Accordingly he decided to sell his withdrawal to the citizens of Edessa for a great sum of money. On the following day, therefore, Paulus the interpreter came along by the wall and said that some of the Roman notables should be sent to Chosroes. And they with all speed chose out four of their illustrious men and sent them. When these men reached the Median camp, they were met according to the king's order by Zaberganes, who first terrified them with many threats and then enquired of them which course was the more desirable for them, whether that leading to peace, or that leading to war. And when the envoys agreed that they would choose peace rather than the dangers of war, Zaberganes replied: "Therefore it is necessary for you to purchase this for a great sum of money." And the envoys said that they would give as much as they had provided before, when he came against them after capturing Antioch. And Zaberganes dismissed them with laughter, telling them to deliberate most carefully concerning their safety and then to come again to the Persians. And a little later Chosroes summoned them, and when they came before him, he recounted how many Roman towns he had previously enslaved and in what manner he had accomplished it; then he threatened that the inhabitants of Edessa would receive more direful treatment at the hands of the Persians, unless they should give them all the wealth which they had inside the fortifications; for only on this condition, he said, would the army depart. When the envoys heard this, they agreed that they would purchase peace from Chosroes, if only he would not prescribe impossible conditions for them: but the outcome of a conflict, they said, was plainly seen by no one at all before the struggle. For there was never a war whose outcome might be taken for granted by those who waged it. Thereupon Chosroes in anger commanded the envoys to be gone with all speed.
On the eighth day of the siege he formed the design of erecting an artificial hill against the circuit wall of the city; accordingly he cut down trees in great numbers from the adjacent districts and, without removing the leaves, laid them together in a square before the wall, at a point which no missile from the city could reach; then he heaped an immense amount of earth right upon the trees and above that threw on a great quantity of stones, not such as are suitable for building, but cut at random, and only calculated to raise the hill as quickly as possible to a great height. And he kept laying on long timbers in the midst of the earth and the stones, and made them serve to bind the structure together, in order that as it became high it should not be weak. But Peter, the Roman general (for he happened to be there with Martinus and Peranius), wishing to check the men who were engaged in this work, sent some of the Huns who were under his command against them. And they, by making a sudden attack, killed a great number; and one of the guardsmen, Argek by name, surpassed all others, for he alone killed twenty-seven. From that time on, however, the barbarians kept a careful guard, and there was no further opportunity for anyone to go out against them. But when the artisans engaged in this work, as they moved forward, came within range of missiles, then the Romans offered a most vigorous resistance from the city wall, using both their slings and their bows against them. Wherefore the barbarians devised the following plan. They provided screens of goat's hair cloth, of the kind which are called Cilician, making them of adequate thickness and height, and attached them to long pieces of wood which they always set before those who were working on the "agesta" (for thus the Romans used to call in the Latin tongue the thing which they were making). Behind this neither ignited arrows nor any other weapon could reach the workmen, but all of them were thrown back by the screens and stopped there. And then the Romans, falling into a great fear, sent the envoys to Chosroes in great trepidation, and with them Stephanus, a physician of marked learning among those of his time at any rate, who also had once cured Cabades, the son of Perozes, when ill, and had been made master of great wealth by him. He, therefore, coming into the presence of Chosroes with the others, spoke as follows: "It has been agreed by all from of old that kindness is the mark of a good king. Therefore, most mighty King, while busying thyself with murders and battles and the enslavement of cities it will perhaps be possible for thee to win the other names, but thou wilt never by any means have the reputation of being 'good.' And yet least of all cities should Edessa suffer any adversity at thy hand. For there was I born, who, without any foreknowledge of what was coming to pass, fostered thee from childhood and counselled thy father to appoint thee his successor in the kingdom, so that to thee I have proved the chief cause of the kingship of Persia, but to my fatherland of her present woes. For men, as a general thing, bring down upon their own heads the most of the misfortunes which are going to befall them. But if any remembrance of such benefaction comes to thy mind, do us no further injury, and grant me this requital, by which, O King, thou wilt escape the reputation of being most cruel." Such were the words of Stephanus. But Chosroes declared that he would not depart from there until the Romans should deliver to him Peter and Peranius, seeing that, being his hereditary slaves, they had dared to array themselves against him. And if it was not their pleasure to do this, the Romans must choose one of two alternatives, either to give the Persians five hundred centenaria of gold, or to receive into the city some of his associates who would search out all the money, both gold and silver, as much as was there, and bring it to him, allowing everything else to remain in the possession of the present owners. Such then were the words which Chosroes hurled forth, being in hopes of capturing Edessa with no trouble. And the ambassadors (since all the conditions which he had announced to them seemed impossible), in despair and great vexation, proceeded to the city. And when they had come inside the city-wall, they reported the message from Chosroes, and the whole city was filled with tumult and lamentation.
Now the artificial hill was rising to a great height and was being pushed forward with much haste. And the Romans, being at a loss what to do, again sent off the envoys to Chosroes. And when they had arrived in the enemy's camp, and said that they had come to make entreaty concerning the same things, they did not even gain a hearing of any kind from the Persians, but they were insulted and driven out from there with a great tumult, and so returned to the city. At first, then, the Romans tried to over-top the wall opposite the hill by means of another structure. But since the Persian work was already rising far above even this, they stopped their building and persuaded Martinus to make the arrangements for a settlement in whatever way he wished. He then came up close to the enemy's camp and began to converse with some of the Persian commanders. But they, completely deceiving Martinus, said that their king was desirous of peace, but that he was utterly unable to persuade the Roman Emperor to have done with his strife with Chosroes and to establish peace with him at last. And they mentioned as evidence of this the fact that Belisarius, who in power and dignity was far superior to Martinus, as even he himself would not deny, had recently persuaded the king of the Persians, when he was in the midst of Roman territory, to withdraw from there into Persia, promising that envoys from Byzantium would come to him at no distant time and establish peace securely, but that he had done none of the things agreed upon, since he had found himself unable to overcome the determination of the Emperor Justinian.
In the meantime the Romans were busying themselves as follows: They made a tunnel from the city underneath the enemy's embankment, commanding the diggers not to leave this work until they should get under the middle of the hill. By this means they were planning to burn the embankment. But as the tunnel advanced to about the middle of the hill, a sound of blows, as it were, came to the ears of those Persians who were standing above. And perceiving what was being done, they too began from above and dug on both sides of the middle, so that they might catch the Romans who were doing the damage there. But the Romans found it out and abandoned this attempt, throwing earth into the place which had been hollowed out, and then began to work on the lower part of the embankment at the end which was next to the wall, and by taking out timbers and stones and earth they made an open space just like a chamber; then they threw in there dry trunks of trees of the kind which burn most easily, and saturated them with oil of cedar and added quantities of sulphur and bitumen. So, then, they were keeping these things in readiness; and meanwhile the Persian commanders in frequent meetings with Martinus were carrying on conversations with him in the same strain as the one I have mentioned, making it appear that they would receive proposals in regard to peace. But when at last their hill had been completed, and had been raised to a great elevation, approaching the circuit-wall of the city and rising far above it in height, then they sent Martinus away, definitely refusing to arrange the treaty, and they intended from then on to devote themselves to active warfare.
Accordingly the Romans straightway set fire to the tree-trunks which had been prepared for this purpose. But when the fire had burned only a certain portion of the embankment, and had not yet been able to penetrate through the whole mass, the wood was already entirely exhausted. But they kept throwing fresh wood into the pit, not slackening their efforts for a moment. And when the fire was already active throughout the whole embankment, some smoke appeared at night rising from every part of the hill, and the Romans, who were not yet willing to let the Persians know what was being done, resorted to the following device: They filled small pots with coals and fire and threw these and also ignited arrows in great numbers to all parts of the embankment. And the Persians who were keeping guard there, began to go about in great haste and extinguish these, and they supposed that the smoke arose from them. But since the trouble increased, the barbarians rushed up to help in great numbers, and the Romans, shooting them from the wall, killed many. And Chosroes too came there about sunrise, followed by the greater part of the army, and, upon mounting the hill, he first perceived what the trouble was. For he disclosed the fact that the cause of the smoke was underneath, not in the missiles which the enemy were hurling, and he ordered the whole army to come to the rescue with all speed. And the Romans, taking courage, began to insult them, while the barbarians were at work, some throwing on earth, and others water, where the smoke appeared, hoping thus to get the better of the trouble; however, they were absolutely unable to accomplish anything. For where the earth was thrown on, the smoke, as was natural, was checked at that place, but not long afterwards it rose from another place, since the fire compelled it to force its way out wherever it could. And where the water fell most plentifully it only succeeded in making the bitumen and the sulphur much more active, and caused them to exert their full force upon the wood near by; and it constantly drove the fire forward, since the water could not penetrate inside the embankment in a quantity at all sufficient to extinguish the flame by its abundance. And in the late afternoon the smoke became so great in volume that it was visible to the inhabitants of Carrhae and to some others who dwelt far beyond them. And since a great number of Persians and of Romans had gone up on top of the embankment, a fight took place and a hand-to-hand struggle to drive each other off, and the Romans were victorious. Then even the flames rose and appeared clearly above the embankment, and the Persians abandoned this undertaking.
On the sixth day after this, at early dawn, they made an assault secretly upon a certain part of the circuit-wall with ladders, at the point which is called the Fort. And since the Romans who were keeping guard there were sleeping a quiet, peaceful sleep, as the night was drawing to its close, they silently set the ladders against the wall and were already ascending. But one of the rustics alone among the Romans happened to be awake, and he with a shout and a great noise began to rouse them all. And a hard struggle ensued in which the Persians were worsted, and they retired to their camp, leaving the ladders where they were; these the Romans drew up at their leisure. But Chosroes about midday sent a large part of the army against the so-called Great Gate in order to storm the wall. And the Romans went out and confronted them, not only soldiers, but even rustics and some of the populace, and they conquered the barbarians in battle decisively and turned them to flight. And while the Persians were still being pursued, Paulus, the interpreter, came from Chosroes, and going into the midst of the Romans, he reported that Rhecinarius had come from Byzantium to arrange the peace; and thus the two armies separated. Now it was already some days since Rhecinarius had arrived at the camp of the barbarians. But the Persians had by no means disclosed this fact to the Romans, plainly awaiting the outcome of the attempts upon the wall which they had planned, in order that, if they should be able to capture it, they might seem in no way to be violating the treaty, while if defeated, as actually happened, they might draw up the treaty at the invitation of the Romans. And when Rhecinarius had gone inside the gates, the Persians demanded that those who were to arrange the peace should come to Chosroes without any delay, but the Romans said that envoys would be sent three days later; for that just at the moment their general, Martinus, was unwell.
And Chosroes, suspecting that the reason was not a sound one, prepared for battle. And at that time he only threw a great mass of bricks upon the embankment; but two days later he came against the fortifications of the city with the whole army to storm the wall. And at every gate he stationed some of the commanders and a part of the army, encircling the whole wall in this way, and he brought up ladders and war-engines against it. And in the rear he placed all the Saracens with some of the Persians, not in order to assault the wall, but in order that, when the city was captured, they might gather in the fugitives and catch them as in a drag-net. Such, then, was the purpose of Chosroes in arranging the army in this way. And the fighting began early in the morning, and at first the Persians had the advantage. For they were in great numbers and fighting against a very small force, since the most of the Romans had not heard what was going on and were utterly unprepared. But as the conflict advanced the city became full of confusion and tumult, and the whole population, even women and little children, were going up on to the wall. Now those who were of military age together with the soldiers were repelling the enemy most vigorously, and many of the rustics made a remarkable shew of valorous deeds against the barbarians. Meanwhile the women and children, and the aged also, were gathering stones for the fighters and assisting them in other ways. Some also filled numerous basins with olive-oil, and after heating them over fire a sufficient time everywhere along the wall, they sprinkled the oil, while boiling fiercely, upon the enemy who were assailing the wall, using a sort of whisk for the purpose, and in this way harassed them still more. The Persians, therefore, soon gave up and began to throw down their arms, and coming before the king, said that they were no longer able to hold out in the struggle. But Chosroes, in a passion of anger, drove them all on with threats and urged them forward against the enemy. And the soldiers with much shouting and tumult brought up the towers and the other engines of war to the wall and set the ladders against it, in order to capture the city with one grand rush. But since the Romans were hurling great numbers of missiles and exerting all their strength to drive them off, the barbarians were turned back by force; and as Chosroes withdrew, the Romans taunted him, inviting him to come and storm the wall. Only Azarethes at the so-called Soinian Gate was still fighting with his men, at the place which they call Tripurgia. And since the Romans at this point were not a match for them, but were giving way before their assaults, already the outer wall, which they call an outwork, had been torn down by the barbarians in many places, and they were pressing most vigorously upon those who were defending themselves from the great circuit-wall; but at last Peranius with a large number of soldiers and some of the citizens went out against them and defeated them in battle and drove them off. And the assault which had begun early in the morning ended in the late afternoon, and both sides remained quiet that night, the Persians fearing for their defences and for themselves, and the Romans gathering stones and taking them to the parapets and putting everything else in complete readiness, so as to fight against the enemy on the morrow when they should attack the wall. Now on the succeeding day not one of the barbarians came against the fortifications; but on the day after that a portion of the army, urged on by Chosroes, made an assault upon the so-called Gate of Barlaus; but the Romans sallied forth and confronted them, and the Persians were decisively beaten in the engagement, and after a short time retired to the camp. And then Paulus, the interpreter of the Persians, came along by the wall and called for Martinus, in order that he might make the arrangements for the truce. Thus Martinus came to conference with the commanders of the Persians, and they concluded an agreement, by which Chosroes received five centenaria from the inhabitants of Edessa, and left them, in writing, the promise not to inflict any further injury upon the Romans; then, after setting fire to all his defences, he returned homeward with his whole army.
At about this time two generals of the Romans died, Justus, the nephew of the emperor, and Peranius, the Iberian, of whom the former succumbed to disease, while Peranius fell from his horse in hunting and suffered a fatal rupture. The emperor therefore appointed others in their places, dispatching Marcellus, his own nephew who was just arriving at the age of manhood, and Constantianus, who a little earlier had been sent as an envoy with Sergius to Chosroes. Then the Emperor Justinian sent Constantianus and Sergius a second time to Chosroes to arrange the truce. And they overtook him in Assyria, at the place where there are two towns, Seleucia and Ctesiphon, built by the Macedonians who after Alexander, the son of Philip, ruled over the Persians and the other nations there. These two towns are separated by the Tigris River only, for they have nothing else between them. There the envoys met Chosroes, and they demanded that he should give back to the Romans the country of Lazica, and establish peace with them on a thoroughly secure basis. But Chosroes said that it was not easy for them to come to terms with each other, unless they should first declare an armistice, and then should continue to go back and forth to each other without so much fear and settle their differences and make a peace which should be on a secure basis for the future. And it was necessary, he said, that in return for this continued armistice the Roman Emperor should give him money and should also send a certain physician, Tribunus by name, in order to spend some specified time with him. For it happened that this physician at a former time had rid him of a severe disease, and as a result of this he was especially beloved and greatly missed by him. When the Emperor Justinian heard this, he immediately sent both Tribunus and the money, amounting to twenty centenaria. [545 A.D.] In this way the treaty was made between the Romans and the Persians for five years, in the nineteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian.
And a little later Arethas and Alamoundaras, the rulers of the Saracens, waged a war against each other by themselves, unaided either by the Romans or the Persians. And Alamoundaras captured one of the sons of Arethas in a sudden raid while he was pasturing horses, and straightway sacrificed him to Aphrodite; and from this it was known that Arethas was not betraying the Romans to the Persians. Later they both came together in battle with their whole armies, and the forces of Arethas were overwhelmingly victorious, and turning their enemy to flight, they killed many of them. And Arethas came within a little of capturing alive two of the sons of Alamoundaras; however, he did not actually succeed. Such, then, was the course of events among the Saracens.
But it became clear that Chosroes, the Persian king, had made the truce with the Romans with treacherous intent, in order that he might find them remiss on account of the peace and inflict upon them some grave injury. For in the third year of the truce he devised the following schemes. There were in Persia two brothers, Phabrizus and Isdigousnas, both holding most important offices there and at the same time reckoned to be the basest of all the Persians, and having a great reputation for their cleverness and evil ways. Accordingly, since Chosroes had formed the purpose of capturing the city of Daras by a sudden stroke, and to move all the Colchians out of Lazica and establish in their place Persian settlers, he selected these two men to assist him in both undertakings. For it seemed to him that it would be a lucky stroke and a really important achievement to win for himself the land of Colchis and to have it in secure possession, reasoning that this would be advantageous to the Persian empire in many ways. In the first place they would have Iberia in security forever afterwards, since the Iberians would not have anyone with whom, if they revolted, they might find safety; for since the most notable men of these barbarians together with their king, Gourgenes, had looked towards revolt, as I have stated in the preceding pages, the Persians from that time on did not permit them to set up a king over themselves, nor were the Iberians single-minded subjects of the Persians, but there was much suspicion and distrust between them. And it was evident that the Iberians were most thoroughly dissatisfied and that they would attempt a revolution shortly if they could only seize upon some favourable opportunity. Furthermore, the Persian empire would be forever free from plunder by the Huns who lived next to Lazica, and he would send them against the Roman domains more easily and readily, whenever he should so desire. For he considered that, as regards the barbarians dwelling in the Caucasus, Lazica was nothing else than a bulwark against them. But most of all he hoped that the subjugation of Lazica would afford this advantage to the Persians, that starting from there they might overrun with no trouble both by land and by sea the countries along the Euxine Sea, as it is called, and thus win over the Cappadocians and the Galatians and Bithynians who adjoin them, and capture Byzantium by a sudden assault with no one opposing them. For these reasons, then, Chosroes was anxious to gain possession of Lazica, but in the Lazi he had not the least confidence. For since the time when the Romans had withdrawn from Lazica, the common people of the country naturally found the Persian rule burdensome. For the Persians are beyond all other men singular in their ways, and they are excessively rigid as regards the routine of daily life. And their laws are difficult of access for all men, and their requirements quite unbearable. But in comparison with the Lazi the difference of their thinking and living shews itself in an altogether exceptional degree, since the Lazi are Christians of the most thorough-going kind, while all the Persian views regarding religion are the exact opposite of theirs. And apart from this, salt is produced nowhere in Lazica, nor indeed does grain grow there nor the vine nor any other good thing. But from the Romans along the coast everything is brought in to them by ship, and even so they do not pay gold to the traders, but hides and slaves and whatever else happens to be found there in great abundance; and when they were excluded from this trade, they were, as was to be expected, in a state of constant vexation. When, therefore, Chosroes perceived this, he was eager to anticipate with certainty any move on their part to revolt against him. And upon considering the matter, it seemed to him to be the most advantageous course to put Goubazes, the king of the Lazi, out of the way as quickly as possible, and to move the Lazi in a body out of the country, and then to colonize this land with Persians and certain other nations.
When Chosroes had matured these plans, he sent Isdigousnas to Byzantium, ostensibly to act as an envoy, and he picked out five hundred of the most valorous of the Persians and sent them with him, directing them to get inside the city of Daras, and to take their lodgings in many different houses, and at night to set these all on fire, and, while all the Romans were occupied with this fire, as was natural, to open the gates immediately, and receive the rest of the Persian army into the city. For word had been sent previously to the commander of the city of Nisibis to conceal a large force of soldiers near by and hold them in readiness. For in this way Chosroes thought that they would destroy all the Romans with no trouble, and seizing the city of Daras, would hold it securely. But someone who knew well what was being arranged, a Roman who had come to the Persians as a deserter a little earlier, told everything to George, who was staying there at the time; now this was the same man whom I mentioned in the preceding pages as having persuaded the Persians who were besieged in the fortress of Sisauranon to surrender themselves to the Romans. George therefore met this ambassador at the boundary line between Roman and Persian soil and said that this thing he was doing was not after the fashion of an embassy, and that never had so numerous a body of Persians stopped for the night in a city of the Romans. For he ought, he said, to have left behind all the rest in the town of Ammodios, and must himself enter the city of Daras with some few men. Now Isdigousnas was indignant and appeared to take it ill, because he had been insulted wrongfully, in spite of the fact that he was dispatched on an embassy to the Roman emperor. But George, paying no heed to him in his fury, saved the city for the Romans. For he received Isdigousnas into the city with only twenty men.
So having failed in this attempt, the barbarian came to Byzantium as if on an embassy, bringing with him his wife and two daughters (for this was his pretext for the crowd which had been gathered about him); but when he came before the emperor, he was unable to say anything great or small about any serious matter, although he wasted no less than ten months in Roman territory. However, he gave the emperor the gifts from Chosroes, as is customary, and a letter, in which Chosroes requested the Emperor Justinian to send word whether he was enjoying the best possible health. Nevertheless the Emperor Justinian received this Isdigousnas with more friendliness and treated him with greater honour than any of the other ambassadors of whom we know. So true was this that, whenever he entertained him, he caused Braducius, who followed him as interpreter, to recline with him on the couch, a thing which had never before happened in all time. For no one ever saw an interpreter become a table-companion of even one of the more humble officials, not to speak of a king. But he both received and dismissed this man in a style more splendid than that which befits an ambassador, although he had undertaken the embassy for no serious business, as I have said. For if anyone should count up the money expended and the gifts which Isdigousnas carried with him when he went away, he will find them amounting to more than ten centenaria of gold. So the plot against the city of Daras ended in this way for Chosroes.
His first move against Lazica was as follows. He sent into the country a great amount of lumber suitable for the construction of ships, explaining to no one what his purpose was in so doing, but ostensibly he was sending it in order to set up engines of war on the fortifications of Petra. Next he chose out three hundred able warriors of the Persians, and sent them there under command of Phabrizus, whom I have lately mentioned, ordering him to make away with Goubazes as secretly as possible; as for the rest, he himself would take care. Now when this lumber had been conveyed to Lazica, it happened that it was struck suddenly by lightning and reduced to ashes. And Phabrizus, upon arriving in Lazica with the three hundred, began to contrive so that he might carry out the orders received by him from Chosroes regarding Goubazes. Now it happened that one of the men of note among the Colchians, Pharsanses by name, had quarrelled with Goubazes and in consequence had become exceedingly hostile to him, and now he did not dare at all to go into the presence of the king. When this was learned by Phabrizus, he summoned Pharsanses and in a conference with him disclosed the whole project, and enquired of the man in what way he ought to go about the execution of the deed. And it seemed best to them after deliberating together that Phabrizus should go into the city of Petra, and should summon Goubazes there, in order to announce to him what the king had decided concerning the interests of the Lazi. But Pharsanses secretly revealed to Goubazes what was being prepared. He, accordingly, did not come to Phabrizus at all, but began openly to plan a revolt. Then Phabrizus commanded the other Persians to attend as carefully as they could to the guarding of Petra, and to make everything as secure as possible against a siege, and he himself with the three hundred returned homeward without having accomplished his purpose. And Goubazes reported to the Emperor Justinian the condition in which they were, and begged him to grant forgiveness for what the Lazi had done in the past, and to come to their defence with all his strength, since they desired to be rid of the Median rule. For if left by themselves the Colchians would not be able to repel the power of the Persians.
[549 A.D.] When the Emperor Justinian heard this, he was overjoyed, and sent seven thousand men under the leadership of Dagisthaeus and a thousand Tzani to the assistance of the Lazi. And when this force reached the land of Colchis, they encamped together with Goubazes and the Lazi about the fortifications of Petra and commenced a siege. But since the Persians who were there made a most stalwart defence from the wall, it came about that much time was spent in the siege; for the Persians had put away an ample store of victuals in the town. And Chosroes, being greatly disturbed by these things, dispatched a great army of horse and foot against the besiegers, putting Mermeroes in command of them. And when Goubazes learned of this, he considered the matter together with Dagisthaeus and acted in the manner which I shall presently set forth.
The river Boas rises close to the territory of the Tzani among the Armenians who dwell around Pharangium. And at first its course inclines to the right for a great distance, and its stream is small and can be forded by anyone with no trouble as far as the place where the territory of the Iberians lies on the right, and the end of the Caucasus lies directly opposite. In that place many nations have their homes, and among them the Alani and Abasgi, who are Christians and friends of the Romans from of old; also the Zechi, and after them the Huns who bear the name Sabeiri. But when this river reaches the point which marks the termination of the Caucasus and of Iberia as well, there other waters also are added to it and it becomes much larger and from there flows on bearing the name of Phasis instead of Boas; and it becomes a navigable stream as far as the so-called Euxine Sea into which it empties; and on either side of it lies Lazica. Now on the right of the stream particularly the whole country for a great distance is populated by the people of Lazica as far as the boundary of Iberia. For all the villages of the Lazi are here beyond the river, and towns have been built there from of old, among which are Archaeopolis, a very strong place, and Sebastopolis, and the fortress of Pitius, and Scanda and Sarapanis over against the boundary of Iberia. Moreover there are two cities of the greatest importance in that region, Rhodopolis and Mocheresis. But on the left of the river, while the country belongs to Lazica as far as one day's journey for an unencumbered traveller, the land is without human habitation. Adjoining this land is the home of the Romans who are called Pontic. Now it was in the territory of Lazica, in the part which was altogether uninhabited, that the Emperor Justinian founded the city of Petra in my own time. This was the place where John, surnamed Tzibus, established the monopoly, as I have told in the previous narrative, and gave cause to the Lazi to revolt. And as one leaves the city of Petra going southward, the Roman territory commences immediately, and there are populous towns there, and one which bears the name of Rhizaeum, also Athens and certain others as far as Trapezus. Now when the Lazi brought in Chosroes, they crossed the River Boas and came to Petra keeping the Phasis on the right, because, as they said, they would thus provide against being compelled to spend much time and trouble in ferrying the men across the River Phasis, but in reality they did not wish to display their own homes to the Persians. And yet Lazica is everywhere difficult to traverse both to the right and to the left of the River Phasis. For there are on both sides of the river exceedingly high and jagged mountains, and as a result the passes are narrow and very long. (The Romans call the roads through such passes "clisurae" when they put their own word into a Greek form.) But since at that time Lazica happened to be unguarded, the Persians had reached Petra very easily with the Lazi who were their guides.
But on this occasion Goubazes, upon learning of the advance of the Persians, directed Dagisthaeus to send some men to guard with all their strength the pass which is below the River Phasis, and he bade him not on any account to abandon the siege until they should be able to capture Petra and the Persians in it. He himself meanwhile with the whole Colchian army came to the frontier of Lazica, in order to devote all his strength to guarding the pass there. Now it happened that long before he had persuaded the Alani and Sabeiri to form an alliance with him, and they had agreed for three centenaria not merely to assist the Lazi in guarding the land from plunder, but also to render Iberia so destitute of men that not even the Persians would be able to come in from there in the future. And Goubazes had promised that the emperor would give them this money. So he reported the agreement to the Emperor Justinian and besought him to send this money for the barbarians and afford the Lazi some consolation in their great distress. He also stated that the treasury owed him his salary for ten years, for though he was assigned a post among the privy counsellors in the palace, he had received no payment from it since the time when Chosroes came into the land of Colchis. And the Emperor Justinian intended to fulfil this request, but some business came up to occupy his attention and he did not send the money at the proper time. So Goubazes was thus engaged.
But Dagisthaeus, being a rather young man and by no means competent to carry on a war against Persia, did not handle the situation properly. For while he ought to have sent certainly the greater part of the army to the pass, and perhaps should have assisted in person in this enterprise, he sent only one hundred men, just as if he were managing a matter of secondary importance. He himself, moreover, though besieging Petra with the whole army, accomplished nothing, although the enemy were few. For while they had been at the beginning not less than fifteen hundred, they had been shot at by Romans and Lazi in their fighting at the wall for a long time, and had made a display of valour such as no others known to us have made, so that many were falling constantly and they were reduced to an exceedingly small number. So while the Persians, plunged in despair and at a loss what to do, were remaining quiet, the Romans made a trench along the wall for a short space, and the circuit-wall at this point fell immediately. But it happened that inside this space there was a building which did not stand back at all from the circuit-wall, and this reached to the whole length of the fallen portion; thus, taking the place of the wall for the besieged, it rendered them secure none the less. But this was not sufficient greatly to disturb the Romans. For knowing well that by doing the same thing elsewhere they would capture the city with the greatest ease, they became still more hopeful than before. For this reason Dagisthaeus sent word to the emperor of what had come to pass, and proposed that prizes of victory should be in readiness for him, indicating what rewards the emperor should bestow upon himself and his brother; for he would capture Petra after no great time. So the Romans and the Tzani made a most vigorous assault upon the wall, but the Persians unexpectedly withstood them, although only a very few were left. And since the Romans were accomplishing nothing by assaulting the wall, they again turned to digging. And they went so far in this work that the foundations of the circuit-wall were no longer on solid ground, but stood for the most part over empty space, and, in the nature of things, would fall almost immediately. And if Dagisthaeus had been willing immediately to apply fire to the foundations, I think that the city would have been captured by them straightway; but, as it was, he was awaiting encouragement from the emperor, and so, always hesitating and wasting time, he remained inactive. Such, then, was the course of events in the Roman camp.
But Mermeroes, after passing the Iberian frontier with the whole Median army, was moving forward with the River Phasis on his right. For he was quite unwilling to go through the country of Lazica, lest any obstacle should confront him there. For he was eager to save the city of Petra and the Persians in it, even though a portion of the circuit-wall had fallen down suddenly. For it had been hanging in the air, as I have said; and volunteers from the Roman army to the number of fifty got inside the city, and raised the shout proclaiming the Emperor Justinian triumphant. These men were led by a young man of Armenian birth, John by name, the son of Thomas whom they used to call by the surname Gouzes. This Thomas had built many of the strongholds about Lazica at the direction of the emperor, and he commanded the soldiers there, seeming to the emperor an intelligent person. Now John, when the Persians joined battle with his men, was wounded and straightway withdrew to the camp with his followers, since no one else of the Roman army came to support him. Meanwhile the Persian Mirranes who commanded the garrison in Petra, fearing for the city, directed all the Persians to keep guard with the greatest diligence, and he himself went to Dagisthaeus, and addressed him with fawning speeches and deceptive words, agreeing readily to surrender the city not long afterwards. In this way he succeeded in deceiving him so that the Roman army did not immediately enter the city.
Now when the army of Mermeroes came to the pass, the Roman garrison, numbering one hundred men, confronted them there and offered a stalwart resistance, and they held in check their opponents who were attempting the entrance. But the Persians by no means withdrew, but those who fell were constantly replaced by others, and they kept advancing, trying with all their strength to force their way in. Among the Persians more than a thousand perished, but at last the Romans were worn out with killing, and, being forced back by the throng, they withdrew, and running up to the heights of the mountain there were saved. Dagisthaeus, upon learning this, straightway abandoned the siege without giving any commands to the army, and proceeded to the River Phasis; and all the Romans followed him, leaving their possessions behind in the camp. And when the Persians observed what was being done, they opened their gates and came forth, and approached the tents of the enemy in order to capture the camp. But the Tzani, who had not followed after Dagisthaeus, as it happened, rushed out to defend the camp, and they routed the enemy without difficulty and killed many. So the Persians fled inside their fortifications, and the Tzani, after plundering the Roman camp proceeded straight for Rhizaeum. And from there they came to Athens and betook themselves to their homes through the territory of the Trapezuntines.
And Mermeroes and the Median army came there on the ninth day after the withdrawal of Dagisthaeus; and in the city they found left of the Persian garrison three hundred and fifty men wounded and unfit for fighting, and only one hundred and fifty men unhurt; for all the rest had perished. Now the survivors had in no case thrown the bodies of the fallen outside the fortifications, but though stifled by the evil stench, they held out in a manner beyond belief, in order that they might not afford the enemy any encouragement for the prosecution of the siege, by letting them know that most of their number had perished. And Mermeroes remarked by way of a taunt that the Roman state was worthy of tears and lamentation, because they had come to such a state of weakness that they had been unable by any device to capture one hundred and fifty Persians without a wall. And he was eager to build up the portions of the circuit-wall which had fallen down; but since at the moment he had neither lime nor any of the other necessary materials for the building ready at hand, he devised the following plan. Filling with sand the linen bags in which the Persians had carried their provisions into the land of Colchis, he laid them in the place of the stones, and the bags thus arranged took the place of the wall. And choosing out three thousand of his able fighting men, he left them there, depositing with them victuals for no great length of time, and commanding them to attend to the building of the fortifications; then he himself with all the rest of the army turned back and marched away.
But since, if he went from there by the same road, no means of provisioning his army was available, since he had left everything in Petra which had been brought in by the army from Iberia, he planned to go by another route through the mountains, where he learned that the country was inhabited, in order that by foraging there he might be able to live off the land. In the course of this journey one of the notables among the Lazi, Phoubelis by name, laid an ambush for the Persians while camping for the night, bringing with him Dagisthaeus with two thousand of the Romans; and these men, making a sudden attack, killed some of the Persians who were grazing their horses, and after securing the horses as plunder they shortly withdrew. Thus, then, Mermeroes with the Median army departed from there.
But Goubazes, upon learning what had befallen the Romans both at Petra and at the pass, did not even so become frightened, nor did he give up the guarding of the pass where he was, considering that their hope centred in that place. For he understood that, even if the Persians had been able by forcing back the Romans on the left of the River Phasis to cross over the pass and get into Petra, they could thereby inflict no injury upon the land of the Lazi, since they were utterly unable to cross the Phasis, in particular because no ships were at their disposal. For in depth this river is not inferior to the deepest rivers, and it spreads out to a great width. Moreover it has such a strong current that when it empties into the sea, it goes on as a separate stream for a very great distance, without mingling at all with the sea-water. Indeed, those who navigate in those parts are able to draw up drinking water in the midst of the sea. Moreover, the Lazi have erected fortresses all along the right bank of the river, in order that, even when the enemy are ferried across in boats, they may not be able to disembark on the land.
The Emperor Justinian at this time sent to the nation of the Sabeiri the money which had been agreed upon, and he rewarded Goubazes and the Lazi with additional sums of money. And it happened that long before this time he had sent another considerable army also to Lazica, which had not yet arrived there. The commander of this army was Rhecithancus, from Thrace, a man of discretion and a capable warrior. Such then was the course of these events.
Now when Mermeroes got into the mountains, as I have said, he was anxious to fill Petra with provisions from there. For he did not by any means think that the victuals which they had brought in with them would suffice for the garrison there, amounting to three thousand men. But since the supplies they found along the way barely sufficed for the provisioning of that army, which numbered no less than thirty thousand, and since on this account they were able to send nothing at all of consequence to Petra, upon consideration he found it better for them that the greater part of the army should depart from the land of Colchis, and that some few should remain there, who were to convey to the garrison in Petra the most of the provisions which they might find, while using the rest to maintain themselves comfortably. He therefore selected five thousand men and left them there, appointing as commanders over them Phabrizus and three others. For it seemed to him unnecessary to leave more men there, since there was no enemy at all. And he himself with the rest of the army came into Persarmenia and remained quietly in the country around Doubios.
Now the five thousand, upon coming nearer to the frontier of Lazica, encamped in a body beside the Phasis River, and from there they went about in small bands and plundered the neighbouring country. Now when Goubazes perceived this, he sent word to Dagisthaeus to hasten there to his assistance: for it would be possible for them to do the enemy some great harm. And he did as directed, moving forward with the whole Roman army with the River Phasis on the left, until he came to the place where the Lazi where encamped on the opposite bank of the river. Now it happened that the Phasis could be forded at this point, a fact which neither the Romans nor the Persians suspected in the least because of their lack of familiarity with these regions; but the Lazi knew it well, and they made the crossing suddenly and joined the Roman army. And the Persians chose out a thousand men of repute among them and sent them forth, that no one might advance against the camp to harm it. And two of this force, who had gone out ahead of their fellows to reconnoitre, fell unexpectedly into the hands of the enemy and informed them of the whole situation. The Romans, therefore, and the Lazi fell suddenly upon the thousand men, and not one of them succeeded in escaping, but the most of them were slain, while some also were captured; and through these the men of Goubazes and Dagisthaeus succeeded in learning the numbers of the Median army and the length of the journey to them and the condition in which they then were. They therefore broke camp and marched against them with their whole army, calculating so that they would fall upon them well on in the night; their own force amounted to fourteen thousand men. Now the Persians, having no thought of an enemy in their minds, were enjoying a long sleep; for they supposed that the river was impassable, and that the thousand men, with no one to oppose them, were making a long march somewhere. But the Romans and Lazi at early dawn unexpectedly fell upon them, and they found some still buried in slumber and others just roused from sleep and lying defenceless upon their beds. Not one of them, therefore, thought of resistance, and the majority were caught and killed, while some also were captured by the enemy, among whom happened to be one of the commanders; only a few escaped in the darkness and were saved. And the Romans and Lazi captured the camp and all the standards, and they also secured many weapons and a great deal of money as plunder, besides great numbers of horses and mules. And pursuing them for a very great distance they came well into Iberia. There they happened upon certain others of the Persians also and slew a great number. Thus the Persians departed from Lazica; and the Romans and Lazi found there all the supplies, including great quantities of flour, which the barbarians had brought in from Iberia, in order to transport them to Petra, and they burned them all. And they left a large number of Lazi in the pass, so that it might no longer be possible for the Persians to carry in supplies to Petra, and they returned with all the plunder and the captives. [549 A.D.] And the fourth year of the truce between the Romans and Persians came to an end, being the twenty-third year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian.
And John the Cappadocian one year before this came to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor. For at that time the Empress Theodora had reached the term of her life. However, he was quite unable to recover any of his former dignities, but he continued to hold the priestly honour against his will; and yet the vision had often come to the man that he would arrive at royalty. For the divine power is accustomed to tempt those whose minds are not solidly grounded by nature, by holding before their vision, on great and lofty hopes, that which is counted splendid among men. At any rate the marvel-mongers were always predicting to this John many such imaginary things, and especially that he was bound to be clothed in the garment of Augustus. Now there was a certain priest in Byzantium, Augustus by name, who guarded the treasures of the temple of Sophia. So when John had been shorn and declared worthy of the priestly dignity by force, inasmuch as he had no garment becoming a priest, he had been compelled by those who were in charge of this business to put on the cloak and the tunic of this Augustus who was near by, and in this, I suppose, his prophecy reached its fulfilment.
That is, the Saracens subject to the Romans and those subject to the Persians.
Cf. Book I. xxii. 4.
The Huns placed a part of their force in the rear of the defenders of the pass, which lies between the sea and the mountains, sending them around by the same path, probably, as that used by Xerxes when he destroyed Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans; see _Herod_. vii. 216-218.
"Secretary of secrets."
Cf. Book I. xxii. 4.
Cf. Book II. i. 13; iii. 47.
Cf. Book I. xxii. 4.
Cf. Book II. xxi. 30-32.
This term was applied to the "Blue Faction" in Byzantium and elsewhere.
Cf. Book I. xxii. 4.
Nine MS. lines are missing at this point.
Cf. Book II. x. 24.
Cf. Book I. xii. 4 ff.
Cf. Book I. viii. 21-22.
Cf. chap. v. 31.
The official dress.
Cf. section 9 above.
Cf. Book II. xii. 31-34.
Latin _agger_, "mound."
Cf. Book I. xii. 5 ff.
Book II. xix. 23.
Procopius seems to have confused two separate and distinct rivers.
Cf. Book II. xv. 11.
Latin _clausura_, "a narrow shut-in road."