History of the Wars/Book I

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History of the Wars
by Procopius
Book I: The Persian War (pt. 1)
34922History of the Wars — Book I: The Persian War (pt. 1)Procopius


Procopius of Caesarea has written the history of the wars which Justinian, Emperor of the Romans, waged against the barbarians of the East and of the West, relating separately the events of each one, to the end that the long course of time may not overwhelm deeds of singular importance through lack of a record, and thus abandon them to oblivion and utterly obliterate them. The memory of these events he deemed would be a great thing and most helpful to men of the present time, and to future generations as well, in case time should ever again place men under a similar stress. For men who purpose to enter upon a war or are preparing themselves for any kind of struggle may derive some benefit from a narrative of a similar situation in history, inasmuch as this discloses the final result attained by men of an earlier day in a struggle of the same sort, and foreshadows, at least for those who are most prudent in planning, what outcome present events will probably have. Furthermore he had assurance that he was especially competent to write the history of these events, if for no other reason, because it fell to his lot, when appointed adviser to the general Belisarius, to be an eye-witness of practically all the events to be described. It was his conviction that while cleverness is appropriate to rhetoric, and inventiveness to poetry, truth alone is appropriate to history. In accordance with this principle he has not concealed the failures of even his most intimate acquaintances, but has written down with complete accuracy everything which befell those concerned, whether it happened to be done well or ill by them.

It will be evident that no more important or mightier deeds are to be found in history than those which have been enacted in these wars,- provided one wishes to base his judgement on the truth. For in them more remarkable feats have been performed than in any other wars with which we are acquainted; unless, indeed, any reader of this narrative should give the place of honour to antiquity, and consider contemporary achievements unworthy to be counted remarkable. There are those, for example, who call the soldiers of the present day "bowmen," while to those of the most ancient times they wish to attribute such lofty terms as "hand-to-hand fighters," "shield-men," and other names of that sort; and they think that the valour of those times has by no means survived to the present, - an opinion which is at once careless and wholly remote from actual experience of these matters. For the thought has never occurred to them that, as regards the Homeric bowmen who had the misfortune to be ridiculed by this term[1] derived from their art, they were neither carried by horse nor protected by spear or shield[2]. In fact there was no protection at all for their bodies; they entered battle on foot, and were compelled to conceal themselves, either singling out the shield of some comrade[3], or seeking safety behind a tombstone on a mound[4], from which position they could neither save themselves in case of rout, nor fall upon a flying foe. Least of all could they participate in a decisive struggle in the open, but they always seemed to be stealing something which belonged to the men who were engaged in the struggle. And apart from this they were so indifferent in their practice of archery that they drew the bowstring only to the breast[5], so that the missile sent forth was naturally impotent and harmless to those whom it hit[6]. Such, it is evident, was the archery of the past. But the bowmen of the present time go into battle wearing corselets and fitted out with greaves which extend up to the knee. From the right side hang their arrows, from the other the sword. And there are some who have a spear also attached to them and, at the shoulders, a sort of small shield without a grip, such as to cover the region of the face and neck. They are expert horsemen, and are able without difficulty to direct their bows to either side while riding at full speed, and to shoot an opponent whether in pursuit or in flight. They draw the bowstring along by the forehead about opposite the right ear, thereby charging the arrow with such an impetus as to kill whoever stands in the way, shield and corselet alike having no power to check its force. Still there are those who take into consideration none of these things, who reverence and worship the ancient times, and give no credit to modern improvements. But no such consideration will prevent the conclusion that most great and notable deeds have been performed in these wars. And the history of them will begin at some distance back, telling of the fortunes in war of the Romans and the Medes, their reverses and their successes.


[408 A.D.] When the Roman Emperor Arcadius was at the point of death in Byzantium, having a malechild, Theodosius, who was still unweaned, he felt grave fears not only for him but for the government as well, not knowing how he should provide wisely for both. For he perceived that, if he provided a partner in government for Theodosius, he would in fact be destroying his own son by bringing forward against him a foe clothed in the regal power; while if he set him alone over the empire, many would try to mount the throne, taking advantage, as they might be expected to do, of the helplessness of the child. These men would rise against the government, and, after destroying Theodosius, would make themselves tyrants without difficulty, since the boy had no kinsman in Byzantium to be his guardian. For Arcadius had no hope that the boy's uncle, Honorius, would succour him, inasmuch as the situation in Italy was already troublesome. And he was equally disturbed by the attitude of the Medes, fearing lest these barbarians should trample down the youthful emperor and do the Romans irreparable harm. When Arcadius was confronted with this difficult situation, though he had not shewn himself sagacious in other matters, he devised a plan which was destined to preserve without trouble both his child and his throne, either as a result of conversation with certain of the learned men, such as are usually found in numbers among the advisers of a sovereign, or from some divine inspiration which came to him. For in drawing up the writings of his will, he designated the child as his successor to the throne, but appointed as guardian over him Isdigerdes, the Persian King, enjoining upon him earnestly in his will to preserve the empire for Theodosius by all his power and foresight. So Arcadius died, having thus arranged his private affairs as well as those of the empire. But Isdigerdes, the Persian King, when he saw this writing which was duly delivered to him, being even before a sovereign whose nobility of character had won for him the greatest renown, did then display a virtue at once amazing and remarkable. For, loyally observing the behests of Arcadius, he adopted and continued without interruption a policy of profound peace with the Romans, and thus preserved the empire for Theodosius. Indeed, he straightway dispatched a letter to the Roman senate, not declining the office of guardian of the Emperor Theodosius, and threatening war against any who should attempt to enter into a conspiracy against him.

[441 A.D.] When Theodosius had grown to manhood and was in the prime of life, and Isdigerdes had been taken from the world by disease, Vararanes, the Persian King, invaded the Roman domains with a mighty army; however he did no damage, but returned to his home without accomplishing anything. This came about in the following way. Anatolius, General of the East, had, as it happened, been sent by the Emperor Theodosius as ambassador to the Persians, alone and unaccompanied; as he approached the Median army, solitary as he was, he leapt down from his horse, and advanced on foot toward Vararanes. And when Vararanes saw him, he enquired from those who were near who this man could be who was coming forward. And they replied that he was the general of the Romans. Thereupon the king was so dumbfounded by this excessive degree of respect that he himself wheeled his horse about and rode away, and the whole Persian host followed him. When he had reached his own territory, he received the envoy with great cordiality, and granted the treaty of peace on the terms which Anatolius desired of him; one condition, however, he added, that neither party should construct any new fortification in his own territory in the neighbourhood of the boundary line between the two countries. When this treaty had been executed, both sovereigns then continued to administer the affairs of their respective countries as seemed best to them.


At a later time the Persian King Perozes became involved in a war concerning boundaries with the nation of the Ephthalitae Huns, who are called White Huns, gathered an imposing army, and marched against them. The Ephthalitae are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name; however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us, for they occupy a land neither adjoining nor even very near to them; but their territory lies immediately to the north of Persia; indeed their city, called Gorgo, is located over against the Persian frontier, and is consequently the centre of frequent contests concerning boundary lines between the two peoples. For they are not nomads like the other Hunnic peoples, but for a long period have been established in a goodly land. As a result of this they have never made any incursion into the Roman territory except in company with the Median army. They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies and countenances which are not ugly. It is also true that their manner of living is unlike that of their kinsmen, nor do they live a savage life as they do; but they are ruled by one king, and since they possess a lawful constitution, they observe right and justice in their dealings both with one another and with their neighbours, in no degree less than the Romans and the Persians. Moreover, the wealthy citizens are in the habit of attaching to themselves friends to the number of twenty or more, as the case may be, and these become permanently their banquet-companions, and have a share in all their property, enjoying some kind of a common right in this matter. Then, when the man who has gathered such a company together comes to die, it is the custom that all these men be borne alive into the tomb with him.

Perozes, marching against these Ephthalitae, was accompanied by an ambassador, Eusebius by name, who, as it happened, had been sent to his court by the Emperor Zeno. Now the Ephthalitae made it appear to their enemy that they had turned to flight because they were wholly terrified by their attack, and they retired with all speed to a place which was shut in on every side by precipitous mountains, and abundantly screened by a close forest of wide-spreading trees. Now as one advanced between the mountains to a great distance, a broad way appeared in the valley, extending apparently to an indefinite distance, but at the end it had no outlet at all, but terminated in the very midst of the circle of mountains. So Perozes, with no thought at all of treachery, and forgetting that he was marching in a hostile country, continued the pursuit without the least caution. A small body of the Huns were in flight before him, while the greater part of their force, by concealing themselves in the rough country, got in the rear of the hostile army; but as yet they desired not to be seen by them, in order that they might advance well into the trap and get as far as possible in among the mountains, and thus be no longer able to turn back. When the Medes began to realize all this (for they now began to have a glimmering of their peril), though they refrained from speaking of the situation themselves through fear of Perozes, yet they earnestly entreated Eusebius to urge upon the king, who was completely ignorant of his own plight, that he should take counsel rather than make an untimely display of daring, and consider well whether there was any way of safety open to them. So he went before Perozes, but by no means revealed the calamity which was upon them; instead he began with a fable, telling how a lion once happened upon a goat bound down and bleating on a mound of no very great height, and how the lion, bent upon making a feast of the goat, rushed forward with intent to seize him, but fell into a trench exceedingly deep, in which was a circular path, narrow and endless (for it had no outlet anywhere), which indeed the owners of the goat had constructed for this very purpose, and they had placed the goat above it to be a bait for the lion. When Perozes heard this, a fear came over him lest perchance the Medes had brought harm upon themselves by their pursuit of the enemy. He therefore advanced no further, but, remaining where he was, began to consider the situation. By this time the Huns were following him without any concealment, and were guarding the entrance of the place in order that their enemy might no longer be able to withdraw to the rear. Then at last the Persians saw clearly in what straits they were, and they felt that the situation was desperate; for they had no hope that they would ever escape from the peril. Then the king of the Ephthalitae sent some of his followers to Perozes; he upbraided him at length for his senseless foolhardiness, by which he had wantonly destroyed both himself and the Persian people, but he announced that even so the Huns would grant them deliverance, if Perozes should consent to prostrate himself before him as having proved himself master, and, taking the oaths traditional among the Persians, should give pledges that they would never again take the field against the nation of the Ephthalitae. When Perozes heard this, he held a consultation with the Magi who were present and enquired of them whether he must comply with the terms dictated by the enemy. The Magi replied that, as to the oath, he should settle the matter according to his own pleasure; as for the rest, however, he should circumvent his enemy by craft. And they reminded him that it was the custom among the Persians to prostrate themselves before the rising sun each day; he should, therefore, watch the time closely and meet the leader of the Ephthalitae at dawn, and then, turning toward the rising sun, make his obeisance. In this way, they explained, he would be able in the future to escape the ignominy of the deed. Perozes accordingly gave the pledges concerning the peace, and prostrated himself before his foe exactly as the Magi had suggested, and so, with the whole Median army intact, gladly retired homeward.


Not long after this, disregarding the oath he had sworn, he was eager to avenge himself upon the Huns for the insult done him. He therefore straightway gathered together from the whole land all the Persians and their allies, and led them against the Ephthalitae; of all his sons he left behind him only one, Cabades by name, who, as it happened, was just past the age of boyhood; all the others, about thirty in number, he took with him. The Ephthalitae, upon learning of his invasion, were aggrieved at the deception they had suffered at the hands of their enemy, and bitterly reproached their king as having abandoned them to the Medes. He, with a laugh, enquired of them what in the world of theirs he had abandoned, whether their land or their arms or any other part of their possessions. They thereupon retorted that he had abandoned nothing, except, forsooth, the one opportunity on which, as it turned out, everything else depended. Now the Ephthalitae with all zeal demanded that they should go out to meet the invaders, but the king sought to restrain them at any rate for the moment. For he insisted that as yet they had received no definite information as to the invasion, for the Persians were still within their own boundaries. So, remaining where he was, he busied himself as follows. In the plain where the Persians were to make their irruption into the land of the Ephthalitae he marked off a tract of very great extent and made a deep trench of sufficient width; but in the centre he left a small portion of ground intact, enough to serve as a way for ten horses. Over the trench he placed reeds, and upon the reeds he scattered earth, thereby concealing the true surface. He then directed the forces of the Huns that, when the time came to retire inside the trench, they should draw themselves together into a narrow column and pass rather slowly across this neck of land, taking care that they should not fall into the ditch[7]. And he hung from the top of the royal banner the salt over which Perozes had once sworn the oath which he had disregarded in taking the field against the Huns. Now as long as he heard that the enemy were in their own territory, he remained at rest; but when he learned from his scouts that they had reached the city of Gorgo which lies on the extreme Persian frontier, and that departing thence they were now advancing against his army, remaining himself with the greater part of his troops inside the trench, he sent forward a small detachment with instructions to allow themselves to be seen at a distance by the enemy in the plain, and, when once they had been seen, to flee at full speed to the rear, keeping in mind his command concerning the trench as soon as they drew near to it. They did as directed, and, as they approached the trench, they drew themselves into a narrow column, and all passed over and joined the rest of the army. But the Persians, having no means of perceiving the stratagem, gave chase at full speed across a very level plain, possessed as they were by a spirit of fury against the enemy, and fell into the trench, every man of them, not alone the first but also those who followed in the rear. For since they entered into the pursuit with great fury, as I have said, they failed to notice the catastrophe which had befallen their leaders, but fell in on top of them with their horses and lances, so that, as was natural, they both destroyed them, and were themselves no less involved in ruin. Among them were Perozes and all his sons. And just as he was about to fall into this pit, they say that he realized the danger, and seized and threw from him the pearl which hung from his right ear,--a gem of wonderful whiteness and greatly prized on account of its extraordinary size--in order, no doubt, that no one might wear it after him; for it was a thing exceedingly beautiful to look upon, such as no king before him had possessed. This story, however, seems to me untrustworthy, because a man who found himself in such peril would have thought of nothing else; but I suppose that his ear was crushed in this disaster, and the pearl disappeared somewhere or other. This pearl the Roman Emperor then made every effort to buy from the Ephthalitae, but was utterly unsuccessful. For the barbarians were not able to find it although they sought it with great labour. However, they say that the Ephthalitae found it later and sold it to Cabades.

The story of this pearl, as told by the Persians, is worth recounting, for perhaps to some it may not seem altogether incredible. For they say that it was lodged in its oyster in the sea which washes the Persian coast, and that the oyster was swimming not far from the shore; both its valves were standing open and the pearl lay between them, a wonderful sight and notable, for no pearl in all history could be compared with it at all, either in size or in beauty. A shark, then, of enormous size and dreadful fierceness, fell in love with this sight and followed close upon it, leaving it neither day nor night; even when he was compelled to take thought for food, he would only look about for something eatable where he was, and when he found some bit, he would snatch it up and eat it hurriedly; then overtaking the oyster immediately, he would sate himself again with the sight he loved. At length a fisherman, they say, noticed what was passing, but in terror of the monster he recoiled from the danger; however, he reported the whole matter to the king, Perozes. Now when Perozes heard his account, they say that a great longing for the pearl came over him, and he urged on this fisherman with many flatteries and hopes of reward. Unable to resist the importunities of the monarch, he is said to have addressed Perozes as follows: "My master, precious to a man is money, more precious still is his life, but most prized of all are his children; and being naturally constrained by his love for them a man might perhaps dare anything. Now I intend to make trial of the monster, and hope to make thee master of the pearl. And if I succeed in this struggle, it is plain that henceforth I shall be ranked among those who are counted blessed. For it is not unlikely that thou, as King of Kings, wilt reward me with all good things; and for me it will be sufficient, even if it so fall out that I gain no reward, to have shewn myself a benefactor of my master. But if it must needs be that I become the prey of this monster, thy task indeed it will be, O King, to requite my children for their father's death. Thus even after my death I shall still be a wage-earner among those closest to me, and thou wilt win greater fame for thy goodness,--for in helping my children thou wilt confer a boon upon me, who shall have no power to thank thee for the benefit--because generosity is seen to be without alloy only when it is displayed towards the dead." With these words he departed. And when he came to the place where the oyster was accustomed to swim and the shark to follow, he seated himself there upon a rock, watching for an opportunity of catching the pearl alone without its admirer. As soon as it came about that the shark had happened upon something which would serve him for food, and was delaying over it, the fisherman left upon the beach those who were following him for this service, and made straight for the oyster with all his might; already he had seized it and was hastening with all speed to get out of the water, when the shark noticed him and rushed to the rescue. The fisherman saw him coming, and, when he was about to be overtaken not far from the beach, he hurled his booty with all his force upon the land, and was himself soon afterwards seized and destroyed. But the men who had been left upon the beach picked up the pearl, and, conveying it to the king, reported all that had happened. Such, then, is the story which the Persians relate, just as I have set it down, concerning this pearl. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

[484 A.D.] Thus Perozes was destroyed and the whole Persian army with him. For the few who by chance did not fall into the ditch found themselves at the mercy of the enemy. As a result of this experience a law was established among the Persians that, while marching in hostile territory, they should never engage in any pursuit, even if it should happen that the enemy had been driven back by force. Thereupon those who had not marched with Perozes and had remained in their own land chose as their king Cabades, the youngest son of Perozes, who was then the only one surviving. At that time, then, the Persians became subject and tributary to the Ephthalitae, until Cabades had established his power most securely and no longer deemed it necessary to pay the annual tribute to them. And the time these barbarians ruled over the Persians was two years.


But as time went on Cabades became more high-handed in the administration of the government, and introduced innovations into the constitution, among which was a law which he promulgated providing that Persians should have communal intercourse with their women, a measure which by no means pleased the common people. [486 A.D.] Accordingly they rose against him, removed him from the throne, and kept him in prison in chains. They then chose Blases, the brother of Perozes, to be their king, since, as has been said, no male offspring of Perozes was left, and it is not lawful among the Persians for any man by birth a common citizen to be set upon the throne, except in case the royal family be totally extinct. Blases, upon receiving the royal power, gathered together the nobles of the Persians and held a conference concerning Cabades; for it was not the wish of the majority to put the man to death. After the expression of many opinions on both sides there came forward a certain man of repute among the Persians, whose name was Gousanastades, and whose office that of "chanaranges" (which would be the Persian term for general); his official province lay on the very frontier of the Persian territory in a district which adjoins the land of the Ephthalitae. Holding up his knife, the kind with which the Persians were accustomed to trim their nails, of about the length of a man's finger, but not one-third as wide as a finger, he said: "You see this knife, how extremely small it is; nevertheless it is able at the present time to accomplish a deed, which, be assured, my dear Persians, a little later two myriads of mail-clad men could not bring to pass." This he said hinting that, if they did not put Cabades to death, he would straightway make trouble for the Persians. But they were altogether unwilling to put to death a man of the royal blood, and decided to confine him in a castle which it is their habit to call the "Prison of Oblivion." For if anyone is cast into it, the law permits no mention of him to be made thereafter, but death is the penalty for the man who speaks his name; for this reason it has received this title among the Persians. On one occasion, however, the History of the Armenians relates that the operation of the law regarding the Prison of Oblivion was suspended by the Persians in the following way.

There was once a truceless war, lasting two and thirty years, between the Persians and the Armenians, when Pacurius was king of the Persians, and of the Armenians, Arsaces, of the line of the Arsacidae. And by the long continuance of this war it came about that both sides suffered beyond measure, and especially the Armenians. But each nation was possessed by such great distrust of the other that neither of them could make overtures of peace to their opponents. In the meantime it happened that the Persians became engaged in a war with certain other barbarians who lived not far from the Armenians. Accordingly the Armenians, in their eagerness to make a display to the Persians of their goodwill and desire for peace, decided to invade the land of these barbarians, first revealing their plan to the Persians. Then they fell upon them unexpectedly and killed almost the whole population, old and young alike. Thereupon Pacurius, who was overjoyed at the deed, sent certain of his trusted friends to Arsaces, and giving him pledges of security, invited him to his presence. And when Arsaces came to him he shewed him every kindness, and treated him as a brother on an equal footing with himself. Then he bound him by the most solemn oaths, and he himself swore likewise, that in very truth the Persians and Armenians should thenceforth be friends and allies to each other; thereafter he straightway dismissed Arsaces to return to his own country.

Not long after this certain persons slandered Arsaces, saying that he was purposing to undertake some seditious enterprise. Pacurius was persuaded by these men and again summoned him, intimating that he was anxious to confer with him on general matters. And he, without any hesitation at all, came to the king, taking with him several of the most warlike among the Armenians, and among them Bassicius, who was at once his general and counsellor; for he was both brave and sagacious to a remarkable degree. Straightway, then, Pacurius heaped reproach and abuse upon both Arsaces and Bassicius, because, disregarding the sworn compact, they had so speedily turned their thoughts toward secession. They, however, denied the charge, and swore most insistently that no such thing had been considered by them. At first, therefore, Pacurius kept them under guard in disgrace, but after a time he enquired of the Magi what should be done with them. Now the Magi deemed it by no means just to condemn men who denied their guilt and had not been explicitly found guilty, but they suggested to him an artifice by which Arsaces himself might be compelled to become openly his own accuser. They bade him cover the floor of the royal tent with earth, one half from the land of Persia, and the other half from Armenia. This the king did as directed. Then the Magi, after putting the whole tent under a spell by means of some magic rites, bade the king take his walk there in company with Arsaces, reproaching him meanwhile with having violated the sworn agreement. They said, further, that they too must be present at the conversation, for in this way there would be witnesses of all that was said. Accordingly Pacurius straightway summoned Arsaces, and began to walk to and fro with him in the tent in the presence of the Magi; he enquired of the man why he had disregarded his sworn promises, and was setting about to harass the Persians and Armenians once more with grievous troubles. Now as long as the conversation took place on the ground which was covered with the earth from the land of Persia, Arsaces continued to make denial, and, pledging himself with the most fearful oaths, insisted that he was a faithful subject of Pacurius. But when, in the midst of his speaking, he came to the centre of the tent where they stepped upon Armenian earth, then, compelled by some unknown power, he suddenly changed the tone of his words to one of defiance, and from then on ceased not to threaten Pacurius and the Persians, announcing that he would have vengeance upon them for this insolence as soon as he should become his own master. These words of youthful folly he continued to utter as they walked all the way, until turning back, he came again to the earth from the Persian land. Thereupon, as if chanting a recantation, he was once more a suppliant, offering pitiable explanations to Pacurius. But when he came again to the Armenian earth, he returned to his threats. In this way he changed many times to one side and the other, and concealed none of his secrets. Then at length the Magi passed judgment against him as having violated the treaty and the oaths. Pacurius flayed Bassicius, and, making a bag of his skin, filled it with chaff and suspended it from a lofty tree. As for Arsaces, since Pacurius could by no means bring himself to kill a man of the royal blood, he confined him in the Prison of Oblivion.

After a time, when the Persians were marching against a barbarian nation, they were accompanied by an Armenian who had been especially intimate with Arsaces and had followed him when he went into the Persian land. This man proved himself a capable warrior in this campaign, as Pacurius observed, and was the chief cause of the Persian victory. For this reason Pacurius begged him to make any request he wished, assuring him that he would be refused nothing by him. The Armenian asked for nothing else than that he might for one day pay homage to Arsaces in the way he might desire. Now it annoyed the king exceedingly, that he should be compelled to set aside a law so ancient; however, in order to be wholly true to his word, he permitted that the request be granted. When the man found himself by the king's order in the Prison of Oblivion, he greeted Arsaces, and both men, embracing each other, joined their voices in a sweet lament, and, bewailing the hard fate that was upon them, were able only with difficulty to release each other from the embrace. Then, when they had sated themselves with weeping and ceased from tears, the Armenian bathed Arsaces, and completely adorned his person, neglecting nothing, and, putting on him the royal robe, caused him to recline on a bed of rushes. Then Arsaces entertained those present with a royal banquet just as was formerly his custom. During this feast many speeches were made over the cups which greatly pleased Arsaces, and many incidents occurred which delighted his heart. The drinking was prolonged until nightfall, all feeling the keenest delight in their mutual intercourse; at length they parted from each other with great reluctance, and separated thoroughly imbued with happiness. Then they tell how Arsaces said that after spending the sweetest day of his life, and enjoying the company of the man he had missed most of all, he would no longer willingly endure the miseries of life; and with these words, they say, he dispatched himself with a knife which, as it happened, he had purposely stolen at the banquet, and thus departed from among men. Such then is the story concerning this Arsaces, related in the Armenian History just as I have told it, and it was on that occasion that the law regarding the Prison of Oblivion was set aside. But I must return to the point from which I have strayed.


While Cabades was in the prison he was cared for by his wife, who went in to him constantly and carried him supplies of food. Now the keeper of the prison began to make advances to her, for she was exceedingly beautiful to look upon. And when Cabades learned this from his wife, he bade her give herself over to the man to treat as he wished. In this way the keeper of the prison came to be familiar with the woman, and he conceived for her an extraordinary love, and as a result permitted her to go in to her husband just as she wished, and to depart from there again without interference from anyone. Now there was a Persian notable, Seoses by name, a devoted friend of Cabades, who was constantly in the neighbourhood of this prison, watching his opportunity, in the hope that he might in some way be able to effect his deliverance. And he sent word to Cabades through his wife that he was keeping horses and men in readiness not far from the prison, and he indicated to him a certain spot. Then one day as night drew near Cabades persuaded his wife to give him her own garment, and, dressing herself in his clothes, to sit instead of him in the prison where he usually sat. In this way, therefore, Cabades made his escape from the prison. For although the guards who were on duty saw him, they supposed that it was the woman, and therefore decided not to hinder or otherwise annoy him. At daybreak they saw in the cell the woman in her husband's clothes, and were so completely deceived as to think that Cabades was there, and this belief prevailed during several days, until Cabades had advanced well on his way. As to the fate which befell the woman after the stratagem had come to light, and the manner in which they punished her, I am unable to speak with accuracy. For the Persian accounts do not agree with each other, and for this reason I omit the narration of them.

Cabades, in company with Seoses, completely escaped detection, and reached the Ephthalitae Huns; there the king gave him his daughter in marriage, and then, since Cabades was now his son-in-law, he put under his command a very formidable army for a campaign against the Persians. This army the Persians were quite unwilling to encounter, and they made haste to flee in every direction. And when Cabades reached the territory where Gousanastades exercised his authority, he stated to some of his friends that he would appoint as chanaranges the first man of the Persians who should on that day come into his presence and offer his services. But even as he said this, he repented his speech, for there came to his mind a law of the Persians which ordains that offices among the Persians shall not be conferred upon others than those to whom each particular honour belongs by right of birth. For he feared lest someone should come to him first who was not a kinsman of the present chanaranges, and that he would be compelled to set aside the law in order to keep his word. Even as he was considering this matter, chance brought it about that, without dishonouring the law, he could still keep his word. For the first man who came to him happened to be Adergoudounbades, a young man who was a relative of Gousanastades and an especially capable warrior. He addressed Cabades as "Lord," and was the first to do obeisance to him as king, and besought him to use him as a slave for any service whatever. [488 A.D.] So Cabades made his way into the royal palace without any trouble, and, taking Blases destitute of defenders, he put out his eyes, using the method of blinding commonly employed by the Persians against malefactors, that is, either by heating olive oil and pouring it, while boiling fiercely, into the wide-open eyes, or by heating in the fire an iron needle, and with this pricking the eyeballs. Thereafter Blases was kept in confinement, having ruled over the Persians two years. Gousanastades was put to death and Adergoudounbades was established in his place in the office of chanaranges, while Seoses was immediately proclaimed "adrastadaran salanes,"--a title designating the one set in authority over all magistrates and over the whole army. Seoses was the first and only man who held this office in Persia; for it was conferred on no one before or after that time. And the kingdom was strengthened by Cabades and guarded securely; for in shrewdness and activity he was surpassed by none.


A little later Cabades was owing the king of the Ephthalitae a sum of money which he was not able to pay him, and he therefore requested the Roman emperor Anastasius to lend him this money. Whereupon Anastasius conferred with some of his friends and enquired of them whether this should be done; and they would not permit him to make the loan. For, as they pointed out, it was inexpedient to make more secure by means of their money the friendship between their enemies and the Ephthalitae; indeed it was better for the Romans to disturb their relations as much as possible. It was for this reason, and for no just cause, that Cabades decided to make an expedition against the Romans. [502 A.D.] First he invaded the land of the Armenians, moving with such rapidity as to anticipate the news of his coming, and, after plundering the greater part of it in a rapid campaign, he unexpectedly arrived at the city of Amida, which is situated in Mesopotamia, and, although the season was winter, he invested the town. Now the citizens of Amida had no soldiers at hand, seeing that it was a time of peace and prosperity, and in other respects were utterly unprepared; nevertheless they were quite unwilling to yield to the enemy, and shewed an unexpected fortitude in holding out against dangers and hardships.

Now there was among the Syrians a certain just man, Jacobus by name, who had trained himself with exactitude in matters pertaining to religion. This man had confined himself many years before in a place called Endielon, a day's journey from Amida, in order that he might with more security devote himself to pious contemplation. The men of this place, assisting his purpose, had surrounded him with a kind of fencing, in which the stakes were not continuous, but set at intervals, so that those who approached could see and hold converse with him. And they had constructed for him a small roof over his head, sufficient to keep off the rain and snow. There this man had been sitting for a long time, never yielding either to heat or cold, and sustaining his life with certain seeds, which he was accustomed to eat, not indeed every day, but only at long intervals. Now some of the Ephthalitae who were overrunning the country thereabout saw this Jacobus and with great eagerness drew their bows with intent to shoot at him. But the hands of every one of them became motionless and utterly unable to manage the bow. When this was noised about through the army and came to the ears of Cabades, he desired to see the thing with his own eyes; and when he saw it, both he and the Persians who were with him were seized with great astonishment, and he entreated Jacobus to forgive the barbarians their crime. And he forgave them with a word, and the men were released from their distress. Cabades then bade the man ask for whatever he wished, supposing that he would ask for a great sum of money, and he also added with youthful recklessness that he would be refused nothing by him. But he requested Cabades to grant to him all the men who during that war should come to him as fugitives. This request Cabades granted, and gave him a written pledge of his personal safety. And great numbers of men, as might be expected, came flocking to him from all sides and found safety there; for the deed became widely known. Thus, then, did these things take place.

Cabades, in besieging Amida, brought against every part of the defences the engines known as rams; but the townspeople constantly broke off the heads of the rams by means of timbers thrown across them[8]. However, Cabades did not slacken his efforts until he realized that the wall could not be successfully assailed in this way. For, though he battered the wall many times, he was quite unable to break down any portion of the defence, or even to shake it; so secure had been the work of the builders who had constructed it long before. Failing in this, Cabades raised an artificial hill to threaten the city, considerably overtopping the wall; but the besieged, starting from the inside of their defences, made a tunnel extending under the hill, and from there stealthily carried out the earth, until they hollowed out a great part of the inside of the hill. However, the outside kept the form which it had at first assumed, and afforded no opportunity to anyone of discovering what was being done. Accordingly many Persians mounted it, thinking it safe, and stationed themselves on the summit with the purpose of shooting down upon the heads of those inside the fortifications. But with the great mass of men crowding upon it with a rush, the hill suddenly fell in and killed almost all of them. Cabades, then, finding no remedy for the situation, decided to raise the siege, and he issued orders to the army to retreat on the morrow. Then indeed the besieged, as though they had no thought of their danger, began laughingly from the fortifications to jeer at the barbarians. Besides this some courtesans shamelessly drew up their clothing and displayed to Cabades, who was standing close by, those parts of a woman's body which it is not proper that men should see uncovered. This was plainly seen by the Magi, and they thereupon came before the king and tried to prevent the retreat, declaring as their interpretation of what had happened that the citizens of Amida would shortly disclose to Cabades all their secret and hidden things. So the Persian army remained there.

Not many days later one of the Persians saw close by one of the towers the mouth of an old underground passage, which was insecurely concealed with some few small stones. In the night he came there alone, and, making trial of the entrance, got inside the circuit-wall; then at daybreak he reported the whole matter to Cabades. The king himself on the following night came to the spot with a few men, bringing ladders which he had made ready. And he was favoured by a piece of good fortune; for the defence of the very tower which happened to be nearest to the passage had fallen by lot to those of the Christians who are most careful in their observances, whom they call monks. These men, as chance would have it, were keeping some annual religious festival to God on that day. When night came on they all felt great weariness[9] on account of the festival, and, having sated themselves with food and drink beyond their wont, they fell into a sweet and gentle sleep, and were consequently quite unaware of what was going on. So the Persians made their way through the passage inside the fortifications, a few at a time, and, mounting the tower, they found the monks still sleeping and slew them to a man. When Cabades learned this, he brought his ladders up to the wall close by this tower. It was already day. And those of the townsmen who were keeping guard on the adjoining tower became aware of the disaster, and ran thither with all speed to give assistance. Then for a long time both sides struggled to crowd back the other, and already the townsmen were gaining the advantage, killing many of those who had mounted the wall, and throwing back the men on the ladders, and they came very near to averting the danger. But Cabades drew his sword and, terrifying the Persians constantly with it, rushed in person to the ladders and would not let them draw back, and death was the punishment for those who dared turn to leave. As a result of this the Persians by their numbers gained the upper hand and overcame their antagonists in the fight. So the city was captured by storm on the eightieth day after the beginning of the siege. [Jan. 11, 503 A.D.] There followed a great massacre of the townspeople, until one of the citizens--an old man and a priest--approached Cabades as he was riding into the city, and said that it was not a kingly act to slaughter captives. Then Cabades, still moved with passion, replied: "But why did you decide to fight against me?" And the old man answered quickly: "Because God willed to give Amida into thy hand not so much because of our decision as of thy valour." Cabades was pleased by this speech, and permitted no further slaughter, but he bade the Persians plunder the property and make slaves of the survivors, and he directed them to choose out for himself all the notables among them.

A short time after this he departed, leaving there to garrison the place a thousand men under command of Glones, a Persian, and some few unfortunates among the citizens of Amida who were destined to minister as servants to the daily wants of the Persians; he himself with all the remainder of the army and the captives marched away homeward. These captives were treated by Cabades with a generosity befitting a king; for after a short time he released all of them to return to their homes, but he pretended that they had escaped from him by stealth[10]; and the Roman Emperor, Anastasius, also shewed them honour worthy of their bravery, for he remitted to the city all the annual taxes for the space of seven years, and presented all of them as a body and each one of them separately with many good things, so that they came fully to forget the misfortunes which had befallen them. But this happened in later years.


At that time the Emperor Anastasius, upon learning that Amida was being besieged, dispatched with all speed an army of sufficient strength. But in this army there were general officers in command of every symmory[11], while the supreme command was divided between the following four generals: Areobindus, at that time General of the East, the son-in-law of Olyvrius, who had been Emperor in the West not long before; Celer, commander of the palace troops (this officer the Romans are accustomed to call "magister"); besides these still, there were the commanders of troops in Byzantium, Patricias, the Phrygian, and Hypatius, the nephew of the emperor; these four, then, were the generals. With them also was associated Justinus, who at a later time became emperor upon the death of Anastasius, and Patriciolus with his son Vitalianus, who raised an armed insurrection against the Emperor Anastasius not long afterwards and made himself tyrant; also Pharesmanes, a native of Colchis, and a man of exceptional ability as a warrior, and the Goths Godidisklus and Bessas, who were among those Goths who had not followed Theoderic when he went from Thrace into Italy, both of them men of the noblest birth and experienced in matters pertaining to warfare; many others, too, who were men of high station, joined this army. For such an army, they say, was never assembled by the Romans against the Persians either before or after that time. However, all these men did not assemble in one body, nor did they form a single army as they marched, but each commander by himself led his own division separately against the enemy. And as manager of the finances of the army Apion, an Aegyptian, was sent, a man of eminence among the patricians and extremely energetic; and the emperor in a written statement declared him partner in the royal power, in order that he might have authority to administer the finances as he wished.

Now this army was mustered with considerable delay, and advanced with little speed. As a result of this they did not find the barbarians in the Roman territory; for the Persians had made their attack suddenly, and had immediately withdrawn with all their booty to their own land. Now no one of the generals desired for the present to undertake the siege of the garrison left in Amida, for they learned that they had carried in a large supply of provisions; but they made haste to invade the land of the enemy. However they did not advance together against the barbarians but they encamped apart from one another as they proceeded. When Cabades learned this (for he happened to be close by), he came with all speed to the Roman frontier and confronted them. But the Romans had not yet learned that Cabades was moving against them with his whole force, and they supposed that some small Persian army was there. Accordingly the forces of Areobindus established their camp in a place called Arzamon, at a distance of two days' journey from the city of Constantina, and those of Patricius and Hypatius in a place called Siphrios, which is distant not less than three hundred and fifty stades from the city of Amida. As for Celer, he had not yet arrived.

Areobindus, when he ascertained that Cabades was coming upon them with his whole army, abandoned his camp, and, in company with all his men, turned to flight and retired on the run to Constantina. And the enemy, coming up not long afterwards, captured the camp without a man in it and all the money it contained. From there they advanced swiftly against the other Roman army. Now the troops of Patricius and Hypatius had happened upon eight hundred Ephthalitae who were marching in advance of the Persian army, and they had killed practically all of them. Then, since they had learned nothing of Cabades and the Persian army, supposing that they had won the victory, they began to conduct themselves with less caution. At any rate they had stacked their arms and were preparing themselves a lunch; for already the appropriate time of day was drawing near. Now a small stream flowed in this place and in it the Romans began to wash the pieces of meat which they were about to eat; some, too, distressed by the heat, were bathing themselves in the stream; and in consequence the brook flowed on with a muddy current. But while Cabades, learning what had befallen the Ephthalitae, was advancing against the enemy with all speed, he noticed that the water of the brook was disturbed, and divining what was going on, he came to the conclusion that his opponents were unprepared, and gave orders to charge upon them immediately at full speed. [Aug., 503 A.D.] Straightway, then, they fell upon them feasting and unarmed. And the Romans did not withstand their onset, nor did they once think of resistance, but they began to flee as each one could; and some of them were captured and slain, while others climbed the hill which rises there and threw themselves down the cliff in panic and much confusion. And they say that not a man escaped from there; but Patricius and Hypatius had succeeded in getting away at the beginning of the onset. After this Cabades retired homeward with his whole army, since hostile Huns had made an invasion into his land, and with this people he waged a long war in the northerly portion of his realm. In the meantime the other Roman army also came, but they did nothing worth recounting, because, it seems, no one was made commander-in-chief of the expedition; but all the generals were of equal rank, and consequently they were always opposing one another's opinions and were utterly unable to unite. However Celer, with his contingent, crossed the Nymphius River and made some sort of an invasion into Arzanene. This river is one very close to Martyropolis, about three hundred stades from Amida. So Celer's troops plundered the country thereabout and returned not long after, and the whole invasion was completed in a short time.


After this Areobindus went to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor, while the other generals reached Amida, and, in spite of the winter season, invested it. And although they made many attempts they were unable to carry the fortress by storm, but they were on the point of accomplishing their object by starvation; for all the provisions of the besieged were exhausted. The generals, however, had ascertained nothing of the straits in which the enemy were; but since they saw that their own troops were distressed by the labour of the siege and the wintry weather, and at the same time suspected that a Persian army would be coming upon them before long, they were eager to quit the place on any terms whatever. The Persians, on their part, not knowing what would become of them in such terrible straits, continued to conceal scrupulously their lack of the necessities of life, and made it appear that they had an abundance of all provisions, wishing to return to their homes with the reputation of honour. So a proposal was discussed between them, according to which the Persians were to deliver over the city to the Romans upon receipt of one thousand pounds of gold. Both parties then gladly executed the terms of the agreement, and the son of Glones, upon receiving the money, delivered over Amida to the Romans. For Glones himself had already died in the following manner.

When the Romans had not yet encamped before the city of Amida but were not far from its vicinity, a certain countryman, who was accustomed to enter the city secretly with fowls and loaves and many other delicacies, which he sold to this Glones at a great price, came before the general Patricius and promised to deliver into his hands Glones and two hundred Persians, if he should receive from him assurance of some requital. And the general promised that he should have everything he desired, and thus dismissed the fellow. He then tore his garments in a dreadful manner, and, assuming the aspect of one who had been weeping, entered the city. And coming before Glones, and tearing his hair he said: "O Master, I happened to be bringing in for you all the good things from my village, when some Roman soldiers chanced upon me (for, as you know, they are constantly wandering about the country here in small bands and doing violence to the miserable country-folk), and they inflicted upon me blows not to be endured, and, taking away everything, they departed,--the robbers, whose ancient custom it is to fear the Persians and to beat the farmers. But do you, O Master, take thought to defend yourself and us and the Persians. For if you go hunting into the outskirts of the city, you will find rare game. For the accursed rascals go about by fours or fives to do their robbery." Thus he spoke. And Glones was persuaded, and enquired of the fellow about how many Persians he thought would be sufficient for him to carry out the enterprise. He said that about fifty would do, for they would never meet more than five of them going together; however, in order to forestall any unexpected circumstance, it would do no harm to take with him even one hundred men; and if he should double this number it would be still better from every point of view; for no harm could come to a man from the larger number. Glones accordingly picked out two hundred horsemen and bade the fellow lead the way for them. But he insisted that it was better for him to be sent first to spy out the ground, and, if he should bring back word that he had seen Romans still going about in the same districts, that then the Persians should make their sally at the fitting moment. Accordingly, since he seemed to Glones to speak well, he was sent forward by his own order. Then he came before the general Patricius and explained everything; and the general sent with him two of his own body-guard and a thousand soldiers. These he concealed about a village called Thilasamon, forty stades distant from Amida, among valleys and woody places, and instructed them to remain there in this ambush; he himself then proceeded to the city on the run, and telling Glones that the prey was ready, he led him and the two hundred horsemen upon the ambush of the enemy. And when they passed the spot where the Romans were lying in wait, without being observed by Glones or any of the Persians, he roused the Romans from their ambuscade and pointed out to them the enemy. And when the Persians saw the men coming against them, they were astounded at the suddenness of the thing, and were in much distress what to do. For neither could they retire to the rear, since their opponents were behind them, nor were they able to flee anywhere else in a hostile land. But as well as they could under the circumstances, they arrayed themselves for battle and tried to drive back their assailants; but being at a great disadvantage in numbers they were vanquished, and all of them together with Glones were destroyed. Now when the son of Glones learned of this, being deeply grieved and at the same time furious with anger because he had not been able to defend his father, he fired the sanctuary of Symeon, a holy man, where Glones had his lodging. It must be said, however, that with the exception of this one building, neither Glones nor Cabades, nor indeed any other of the Persians, saw fit either to tear down or to destroy in any other way any building in Amida at any rate, or outside this city. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

[504 A.D.] Thus the Romans by giving the money recovered Amida two years after it had been captured by the enemy. And when they got into the city, their own negligence and the hardships under which the Persians had maintained themselves were discovered. For upon reckoning the amount of grain left there and the number of barbarians who had gone out, they found that rations for about seven days were left in the city, although Glones and his son had been for a long time doling out provisions to the Persians more sparingly than they were needed. For to the Romans who had remained with them in the city, as I have stated above, they had decided to dispense nothing at all from the time when their enemy began the siege; and so these men at first resorted to unaccustomed foods and laid hold on every forbidden thing, and at the last they even tasted each other's blood. So the generals realized that they had been deceived by the barbarians, and they reproached the soldiers for their lack of self-control, because they had shewn themselves wanting in obedience to them, when it was possible to capture as prisoners of war such a multitude of Persians and the son of Glones and the city itself, while they had in consequence attached to themselves signal disgrace by carrying Roman money to the enemy, and had taken Amida from the Persians by purchasing it with silver. [506 A.D.] After this the Persians, since their war with the Huns kept dragging on, entered into a treaty with the Romans, which was arranged by them for seven years, and was made by the Roman Celer and the Persian Aspebedes; both armies then retired homeward and remained at peace. Thus, then, as has been told, began the war of the Romans and the Persians, and to this end did it come. But I shall now turn to the narration of the events touching the Caspian Gates.


The Taurus mountain range of Cilicia passes first Cappadocia and Armenia and the land of the so-called Persarmenians, then also Albania and Iberia and all the other countries in this region, both independent and subject to Persia. For it extends to a great distance, and as one proceeds along this range, it always spreads out to an extraordinary breadth and rises to an imposing height. And as one passes beyond the boundary of Iberia there is a sort of path in a very narrow passage, extending for a distance of fifty stades. This path terminates in a place cut off by cliffs and, as it seems, absolutely impossible to pass through. For from there no way out appears, except indeed a small gate set there by nature, just as if it had been made by the hand of man, which has been called from of old the Caspian Gates. From there on there are plains suitable for riding and extremely well watered, and extensive tracts used as pasture land for horses, and level besides. Here almost all the nations of the Huns are settled, extending as far as the Maeotic lake. Now if these Huns go through the gate which I have just mentioned into the land of the Persians and the Romans, they come with their horses fresh and without making any detour or encountering any precipitous places, except in those fifty stades over which, as has been said, they pass to the boundary of Iberia. If, however, they go by any other passes, they reach their destination with great difficulty, and can no longer use the same horses. For the detours which they are forced to make are many and steep besides. When this was observed by Alexander, the son of Philip, he constructed gates in the aforesaid place and established a fortress there. And this was held by many men in turn as time went on, and finally by Ambazouces, a Hun by birth, but a friend of the Romans and the Emperor Anastasius. Now when this Ambazouces had reached an advanced age and was near to death, he sent to Anastasius asking that money be given him, on condition that he hand over the fortress and the Caspian Gates to the Romans. But the Emperor Anastasius was incapable of doing anything without careful investigation, nor was it his custom to act thus: reasoning, therefore, that it was impossible for him to support soldiers in a place which was destitute of all good things, and which had nowhere in the neighbourhood a nation subject to the Romans, he expressed deep gratitude to the man for his good-will toward him, but by no means accepted this proposition. So Ambazouces died of disease not long afterwards, and Cabades overpowered his sons and took possession of the Gates.

The Emperor Anastasius, after concluding the treaty with Cabades, built a city in a place called Daras, exceedingly strong and of real importance, bearing the name of the emperor himself. Now this place is distant from the city of Nisibis one hundred stades lacking two, and from the boundary line which divides the Romans from the Persians about twenty-eight. And the Persians, though eager to prevent the building, were quite unable to do so, being constrained by the war with the Huns in which they were engaged. But as soon as Cabades brought this to an end, he sent to the Romans and accused them of having built a city hard by the Persian frontier, though this had been forbidden in the agreement previously made between the Medes and the Romans[12]. At that time, therefore, the Emperor Anastasius desired, partly by threats, and partly by emphasizing his friendship with him and by bribing him with no mean sum of money, to deceive him and to remove the accusation. And another city also was built by this emperor, similar to the first, in Armenia, hard by the boundaries of Persarmenia; now in this place there had been a village from of old, but it had taken on the dignity of a city by the favour of the Emperor Theodosius even to the name, for it had come to be named after him[13]. But Anastasius surrounded it with a very substantial wall, and thus gave offence to the Persians no less than by the other city; for both of them are strongholds menacing their country.


[Aug. 1, 518 A.D.] And when a little later Anastasius died, Justinus received the empire, forcing aside all the kinsmen of Anastasius, although they were numerous and also very distinguished. Then indeed a sort of anxiety came over Cabades, lest the Persians should make some attempt to overthrow his house as soon as he should end his life; for it was certain that he would not pass on the kingdom to any one of his sons without opposition. For while the law called to the throne the eldest of his children Caoses by reason of his age, he was by no means pleasing to Cabades; and the father's judgment did violence to the law of nature and of custom as well. And Zames, who was second in age, having had one of his eyes struck out, was prevented by the law. For it is not lawful for a one-eyed man or one having any other deformity to become king over the Persians. But Chosroes, who was born to him by the sister of Aspebedes, the father loved exceedingly; seeing, however, that all the Persians, practically speaking, felt an extravagant admiration for the manliness of Zames (for he was a capable warrior), and worshipped his other virtues, he feared lest they should rise against Chosroes and do irreparable harm to the family and to the kingdom. Therefore it seemed best to him to arrange with the Romans to put an end both to the war and the causes of war, on condition that Chosroes be made an adopted son of the Emperor Justinus; for only in this way could he preserve stability in the government. Accordingly he sent envoys to treat of this matter and a letter to the Emperor Justinus in Byzantium. And the letter was written in this wise: "Unjust indeed has been the treatment which we have received at the hands of the Romans, as even you yourself know, but I have seen fit to abandon entirely all the charges against you, being assured of this, that the most truly victorious of all men would be those who, with justice on their side, are still willingly overcome and vanquished by their friends. However I ask of you a certain favour in return for this, which would bind together in kinship and in the good-will which would naturally spring from this relation not only ourselves but also all our subjects, and which would be calculated to bring us to a satiety of the blessings of peace. My proposal, then, is this, that you should make my son Chosroes, who will be my successor to the throne, your adopted son."

When this message was brought to the Emperor Justinus, he himself was overjoyed and Justinian also, the nephew of the emperor, who indeed was expected to receive from him the empire. And they were making all haste to perform the act of setting down in Writing the adoption, as the law of the Romans prescribes--and would have done so, had they not been prevented by Proclus, who was at that time a counsellor to the emperor, holding the office of quaestor, as it is called, a just man and one whom it was manifestly impossible to bribe; for this reason he neither readily proposed any law, nor was he willing to disturb in any way the settled order of things; and he at that time also opposed the proposition, speaking as follows: "To venture on novel projects is not my custom, and indeed I dread them more than any others; for where there is innovation security is by no means preserved. And it seems to me that, even if one should be especially bold in this matter, he would feel reluctance to do the thing and would tremble at the storm which would arise from it; for I believe that nothing else is before our consideration at the present time than the question how we may hand over the Roman empire to the Persians on a seemly pretext. For they make no concealment nor do they employ any blinds, but explicitly acknowledging their purpose they claim without more ado to rob us of our empire, seeking to veil the manifestness of their deceit under a shew of simplicity, and hide a shameless intent behind a pretended unconcern. And yet both of you ought to repel this attempt of the barbarians with all your power; thou, O Emperor, in order that thou mayst not be the last Emperor of the Romans, and thou, O General, that thou mayst not prove a stumbling block to thyself as regards coming to the throne. For other crafty devices which are commonly concealed by a pretentious shew of words might perhaps need an interpreter for the many, but this embassy openly and straight from the very first words means to make this Chosroes, whoever he is, the adopted heir of the Roman Emperor. For I would have you reason thus in this matter: by nature the possessions of fathers are due to their sons and while the laws among all men are always in conflict with each other by reason of their varying nature, in this matter both among the Romans and among all barbarians they are in agreement and harmony with each other, in that they declare sons to be masters of their fathers' inheritance. Take this first resolve if you choose: if you do you must agree to all its consequences."

Thus spoke Proclus; and the emperor and his nephew gave ear to his words and deliberated upon what should be done. In the meantime Cabades sent another letter also to the Emperor Justinus, asking him to send men of repute in order to establish peace with him, and to indicate by letter the manner in which it would be his desire to accomplish the adoption of his son. And then, indeed, still more than before Proclus decried the attempt of the Persians, and insisted that their concern was to make over to themselves as securely as possible the Roman power. And he proposed as his opinion that the peace should be concluded with them with all possible speed, and that the noblest men should be sent by the emperor for this purpose; and that these men must answer plainly to Cabades, when he enquired in what manner the adoption of Chosroes should be accomplished, that it must be of the sort befitting a barbarian, and his meaning was that the barbarians adopt sons, not by a document, but by arms and armour[14]. Accordingly the Emperor Justinus dismissed the envoys, promising that men who were the noblest of the Romans would follow them not long afterwards, and that they would arrange a settlement regarding the peace and regarding Chosroes in the best possible way. He also answered Cabades by letter to the same effect. Accordingly there were sent from the Romans Hypatius, the nephew of Anastasius, the late emperor, a patrician who also held the office of General of the East, and Rufinus, the son of Silvanus, a man of note among the patricians and known to Cabades through their fathers; from the Persians came one of great power and high authority, Seoses by name, whose title was adrastadaran salanes, and Mebodes, who held the office of magister. These men came together at a certain spot which is on the boundary line between the land of the Romans and the Persians: there they met and negotiated as to how they should do away with their differences and settle effectually the question of the peace. Chosroes also came to the Tigris River, which is distant from the city of Nisibis about two days journey, in order that, when the details of the peace should seem to both parties to be as well arranged as possible, he might betake himself in person to Byzantium. Now many words were spoken on both sides touching the differences between them, and in particular Seoses made mention of the land of Colchis, which is now called Lazica, saying that it had been subject to the Persians from of old and that the Romans had taken it from them by violence and held it on no just grounds. When the Romans heard this, they were indignant to think that even Lazica should be disputed by the Persians. And when they in turn stated that the adoption of Chosroes must take place just as is proper for a barbarian, it seemed to the Persians unbearable. The two parties therefore separated and departed homeward, and Chosroes with nothing accomplished was off to his father, deeply injured at what had taken place and vowing vengeance on the Romans for their insult to him.

After this Mebodes began to slander Seoses to Cabades, saying that he had proposed the discussion of Lazica purposely, although he had not been instructed to do so by his master, thereby frustrating the peace, and also that he had had words previously with Hypatius, who was by no means well-disposed toward his own sovereign and was trying to prevent the conclusion of peace and the adoption of Chosroes; and many other accusations also were brought forward by the enemies of Seoses, and he was summoned to trial. Now the whole Persian council gathered to sit in judgment moved more by envy than by respect for the law. For they were thoroughly hostile to his office, which was unfamiliar to them, and also were embittered by the natural temper of the man. For while Seoses was a man quite impossible to bribe, and a most exact respecter of justice, he was afflicted with a degree of arrogance not to be compared with that of any other. This quality, indeed, seems to be inbred in the Persian officials, but in Seoses even they thought that the malady had developed to an altogether extraordinary degree. So his accusers said all those things which have been indicated above, and added to this that the man was by no means willing to live in the established fashion or to uphold the institutions of the Persians. For he both reverenced strange divinities, and lately, when his wife had died, he had buried her, though it was forbidden by the laws of the Persians ever to hide in the earth the bodies of the dead. The judges therefore condemned the man to death, while Cabades, though seeming to be deeply moved with sympathy as a friend of Seoses, was by no means willing to rescue him. He did not, on the other hand, make it known that he was angry with him, but, as he said, he was not willing to undo the laws of the Persians, although he owed the man the price of his life, since Seoses was chiefly responsible both for the fact that he was alive and also that he was king. Thus, then, Seoses was condemned and was removed from among men. And the office which began with him ended also with him. For no other man has been made adrastadaran salanes. Rufinus also slandered Hypatius to the emperor. As a result of this the emperor reduced him from his office, and tortured most cruelly certain of his associates only to find out that this slander was absolutely unsound; beyond this, however, he did Hypatius no harm.


Immediately after this, Cabades, though eager to make some kind of an invasion into the land of the Romans, was utterly unable to do so on account of the following obstacle which happened to arise. The Iberians, who live in Asia, are settled in the immediate neighbourhood of the Caspian Gates, which lie to the north of them. Adjoining them on the left towards the west is Lazica, and on the right towards the east are the Persian peoples. This nation is Christian and they guard the rites of this faith more closely than any other men known to us, but they have been subjects of the Persian king, as it happens, from ancient times. And just then Cabades was desirous of forcing them to adopt the rites of his own religion. And he enjoined upon their king, Gourgenes, to do all things as the Persians are accustomed to do them, and in particular not under any circumstances to hide their dead in the earth, but to throw them all to the birds and dogs. For this reason, then, Gourgenes wished to go over to the Emperor Justinus, and he asked that he might receive pledges that the Romans would never abandon the Iberians to the Persians. And the emperor gave him these pledges with great eagerness, and he sent Probus, the nephew of the late emperor Anastasius, a man of patrician rank, with a great sum of money to Bosporus, that he might win over with money an army of Huns and send them as allies to the Iberians. This Bosporus is a city by the sea, on the left as one sails into the so-called Euxine Sea, twenty days journey distant from the city of Cherson, which is the limit of the Roman territory. Between these cities everything is held by the Huns. Now in ancient times the people of Bosporus were autonomous, but lately they had decided to become subject to the Emperor Justinus. Probus, however, departed from there without accomplishing his mission, and the emperor sent Peter as general with some Huns to Lazica to fight with all their strength for Gourgenes. Meanwhile Cabades sent a very considerable army against Gourgenes and the Iberians, and as general a Persian bearing the title of "varizes," Boes by name. Then it was seen that Gourgenes was too weak to withstand the attack of the Persians, for the help from the Romans was insufficient, and with all the notables of the Iberians he fled to Lazica, taking with him his wife and children and also his brothers, of whom Peranius was the eldest. And when they had reached the boundaries of Lazica, they remained there, and, sheltering themselves by the roughness of the country, they took their stand against the enemy. And the Persians followed after them but did nothing deserving even of mention since the circumstance of the rough country was against them.

Thereafter the Iberians presented themselves at Byzantium and Petrus came to the emperor at his summons; and from then on the emperor demanded that he should assist the Lazi to guard their country, even against their will, and he sent an army and Eirenaeus in command of it. Now there are two fortresses in Lazica[15] which one comes upon immediately upon entering their country from the boundaries of Iberia, and the defence of them had been from of old in charge of the natives, although they experienced great hardship in this matter; for neither corn nor wine nor any other good thing is produced there. Nor indeed can anything be carried in from elsewhere on account of the narrowness of the paths, unless it be carried by men. However, the Lazi were able to live on a certain kind of millet which grows there, since they were accustomed to it. These garrisons the emperor removed from the place and commanded that Roman soldiers should be stationed there to guard the fortresses. And at first the Lazi with difficulty brought in provisions for these soldiers, but later they gave up the service and the Romans abandoned these forts, whereupon the Persians with no trouble took possession of them. This then happened in Lazica.

And the Romans, under the leadership of Sittas and Belisarius, made an inroad into Persarmenia, a territory subject to the Persians, where they plundered a large tract of country and then withdrew with a great multitude of Armenian captives. These two men were both youths and wearing their first beards[16], body-guards of the general Justinian, who later shared the empire with his uncle Justinus. But when a second inroad had been made by the Romans into Armenia, Narses and Aratius unexpectedly confronted them and engaged them in battle. These men not long after this came to the Romans as deserters, and made the expedition to Italy with Belisarius; but on the present occasion they joined battle with the forces of Sittas and Belisarius and gained the advantage over them. An invasion was also made near the city of Nisibis by another Roman army under command of Libelarius of Thrace. This army retired abruptly in flight although no one came out against thorn. And because of this the emperor reduced Libelarius from his office and appointed Belisarius commander of the troops in Daras. It was at that time that Procopius, who wrote this history, was chosen as his adviser. [527 A.D.]


[Apr. 1, 527] Not long after this Justinus, who had declared his nephew Justinian emperor with him, died, and thus the empire came to Justinian alone. [Aug. 1, 527] This Justinian commanded Belisarius to build a fortress in a place called Mindouos, which is over against the very boundary of Persia, on the left as one goes to Nisibis. He accordingly with great haste began to carry out the decision of the emperor, and the fort was already rising to a considerable height by reason of the great number of artisans. But the Persians forbade them to build any further, threatening that, not with words alone but also with deeds, they would at no distant time obstruct the work. When the emperor heard this, inasmuch as Belisarius was not able to beat off the Persians from the place with the army he had, he ordered another army to go thither, and also Coutzes and Bouzes, who at that time commanded the soldiers in Libanus[17]. These two were brothers from Thrace, both young and inclined to be rash in engaging with the enemy. So both armies were gathered together and came in full force to the scene of the building operations, the Persians in order to hinder the work with all their power, and the Romans to defend the labourers. And a fierce battle took place in which the Romans were defeated, and there was a great slaughter of them, while some also were made captive by the enemy. Among these was Coutzes himself. All these captives the Persians led away to their own country, and, putting them in chains, confined them permanently in a cave; as for the fort, since no one defended it any longer, they razed what had been built to the ground.

After this the Emperor Justinian appointed Belisarius General of the East and bade him make an expedition against the Persians. And he collected a very formidable army and came to Daras. Hermogenes also came to him from the emperor to assist in setting the army in order, holding the office of magister; this man was formerly counsellor to Vitalianus at the time when he was at war with the Emperor Anastasius. The emperor also sent Rufinus as ambassador, commanding him to remain in Hierapolis on the Euphrates River until he himself should give the word. For already much was being said on both sides concerning peace. Suddenly, however, someone reported to Belisarius and Hermogenes that the Persians were expected to invade the land of the Romans, being eager to capture the city of Daras. And when they heard this, they prepared for the battle as follows. [July, 530] Not far from the gate which lies opposite the city of Nisibis, about a stone's throw away, they dug a deep trench with many passages across it. Now this trench was not dug in a straight line, but in the following manner. In the middle there was a rather short portion straight, and at either end of this there were dug two cross trenches at right angles to the first; and starting from the extremities of the two cross trenches, they continued two straight trenches in the original direction to a very great distance. Not long afterwards the Persians came with a great army, and all of them made camp in a place called Ammodios, at a distance of twenty stades from the city of Daras. Among the leaders of this army were Pityaxes and the one-eyed Baresmanas. But one general held command over them all, a Persian, whose title was "mirranes" (for thus the Persians designate this office), Perozes by name. This Perozes immediately sent to Belisarius bidding him make ready the bath: for he wished to bathe there on the following day. Accordingly the Romans made the most vigorous preparations for the encounter, with the expectation that they would fight on the succeeding day.

At sunrise, seeing the enemy advancing against them, they arrayed themselves as follows[18]. The extremity of the left straight trench which joined the cross trench, as far as the hill which rises here, was held by Bouzes with a large force of horsemen and by Pharas the Erulian with three hundred of his nation. On the right of these, outside the trench, at the angle formed by the cross trench and the straight section which extended from that point, were Sunicas and Aigan, Massagetae by birth, with six hundred horsemen, in order that, if those under Bouzes and Pharas should be driven back, they might, by moving quickly on the flank, and getting in the rear of the enemy, be able easily to support the Romans at that point. On the other wing also they were arrayed in the same manner; for the extremity of the straight trench was held by a large force of horsemen, who were commanded by John, son of Nicetas, and by Cyril and Marcellus; with them also were Germanus and Dorotheus; while at the angle on the right six hundred horsemen took their stand, commanded by Simmas and Ascan, Massagetae, in order that, as has been said, in case the forces of John should by any chance be driven back, they might move out from there and attack the rear of the Persians. Thus all along the trench stood the detachments of cavalry and the infantry. And behind these in the middle stood the forces of Belisarius and Hermogenes. Thus the Romans arrayed themselves, amounting to five-and-twenty thousand; but the Persian army consisted of forty thousand horse and foot, and they all stood close together facing the front, so as to make the front of the phalanx as deep as possible. Then for a long time neither side began battle with the other, but the Persians seemed to be wondering at the good order of the Romans, and appeared at a loss what to do under the circumstances.

In the late afternoon a certain detachment of the horsemen who held the right wing, separating themselves from the rest of the army, came against the forces of Bouzes and Pharas. And the Romans retired a short distance to the rear. The Persians, however, did not pursue them, but remained there, fearing, I suppose, some move to surround them on the part of the enemy. Then the Romans who had turned to flight suddenly rushed upon them. And the Persians did not withstand their onset and rode back to the phalanx, and again the forces of Bouzes and Pharas stationed themselves in their own position. In this skirmish seven of the Persians fell, and the Romans gained possession of their bodies; thereafter both armies remained quietly in position. But one Persian, a young man, riding up very close to the Roman army, began to challenge all of them, calling for whoever wished to do battle with him. And no one of the whole army dared face the danger, except a certain Andreas, one of the personal attendants of Bouzes, not a soldier nor one who had ever practised at all the business of war, but a trainer of youths in charge of a certain wrestling school in Byzantium. Through this it came about that he was following the army, for he cared for the person of Bouzes in the bath; his birthplace was Byzantium. This man alone had the courage, without being ordered by Bouzes or anyone else, to go out of his own accord to meet the man in single combat. And he caught the barbarian while still considering how he should deliver his attack, and hit him with his spear on the right breast. And the Persian did not bear the blow delivered by a man of such exceptional strength, and fell from his horse to the earth. Then Andreas with a small knife slew him like a sacrificial animal as he lay on his back, and a mighty shout was raised both from the city wall and from the Roman army. But the Persians were deeply vexed at the outcome and sent forth another horseman for the same purpose, a manly fellow and well favoured as to bodily size, but not a youth, for some of the hair on his head already shewed grey. This horseman came up along the hostile army, and, brandishing vehemently the whip with which he was accustomed to strike his horse, he summoned to battle whoever among the Romans was willing. And when no one went out against him, Andreas, without attracting the notice of anyone, once more came forth, although he had been forbidden to do so by Hermogenes. So both rushed madly upon each other with their spears, and the weapons, driven against their corselets, were turned aside with mighty force, and the horses, striking together their heads, fell themselves and threw off their riders. And both the two men, falling very close to each other, made great haste to rise to their feet, but the Persian was not able to do this easily because his size was against him, while Andreas, anticipating him (for his practice in the wrestling school gave him this advantage), smote him as he was rising on his knee, and as he fell again to the ground dispatched him. Then a roar went up from the wall and from the Roman army as great, if not greater, than before; and the Persians broke their phalanx and withdrew to Ammodios, while the Romans, raising the pæan, went inside the fortifications; for already it was growing dark. Thus both armies passed that night.


On the following day ten thousand soldiers arrived who had been summoned by the Persians from the city of Nisibis, and Belisarius and Hermogenes wrote to the mirranes as follows: "The first blessing is peace, as is agreed by all men who have even a small share of reason. It follows that if any one should be a destroyer of it, he would be most responsible not only to those near him but also to his whole nation for the troubles which come. The best general, therefore, is that one who is able to bring about peace from war. But you, when affairs were well settled between the Romans and the Persians, have seen fit to bring upon us a war without cause, although the counsels of each king are looking toward peace, and although our envoys are already present in the neighbourhood, who will at no distant time settle all the points of dispute in talking over the situation together, unless some irreparable harm coming from your invasion proves sufficient to frustrate for us this hope. But lead away as soon as possible your army to the land of the Persians, and do not stand in the way of the greatest blessings, lest at some time you be held responsible by the Persians, as is probable, for the disasters which will come to pass." When the mirranes saw this letter brought to him, he replied as follows: "I should have been persuaded by what you write, and should have done what you demand, were the letter not, as it happens, from Romans, for whom the making of promises is easy, but the fulfilment of the promises in deed most difficult and beyond hope, especially if you sanction the agreement by any oaths. We, therefore, despairing in view of your deception, have been compelled to come before you in arms, and as for you, my dear Romans, consider that from now on you will be obliged to do nothing else than make war against the Persians. For here we shall be compelled either to die or grow old until you accord to us justice in deed." Such was the reply which the mirranes wrote back. And again Belisarius and his generals wrote as follows: "O excellent mirranes, it is not fitting in all things to depend upon boasting, nor to lay upon one's neighbours reproaches which are justified on no grounds whatever. For we said with truth that Rufinus had come to act as an envoy and was not far away, and you yourself will know this at no remote time. But since you are eager for deeds of war, we shall array ourselves against you with the help of God, who will, we know, support us in the danger, being moved by the peaceful inclination of the Romans, but rebuking the boastfulness of the Persians and your decision to resist us when we invite you to peace. And we shall array ourselves against you, having prepared for the conflict by fastening the letters written by each of us on the top of our banners." Such was the message of this letter. And the mirranes again answered as follows: "Neither are we entering upon the war without our gods, and with their help we shall come before you, and I expect that on the morrow they will bring the Persians into Daras. But let the bath and lunch be in readiness for me within the fortifications." When Belisarius and his generals read this, they prepared themselves for the conflict.

On the succeeding day the mirranes called together all the Persians at about sunrise and spoke as follows: "I am not ignorant that it is not because of words of their leaders, but because of their individual bravery and their shame before each other that the Persians are accustomed to be courageous in the presence of dangers. But seeing you considering why in the world it is that, although the Romans have not been accustomed heretofore to go into battle without confusion and disorder, they recently awaited the advancing Persians with a kind of order which is by no means characteristic of them, for this reason I have decided to speak some words of exhortation to you, so that it may not come about that you be deceived by reason of holding an opinion which is not true. For I would not have you think that the Romans have suddenly become better warriors, or that they have acquired any more valour or experience, but that they have become more cowardly than they were previously; at any rate they fear the Persians so much that they have not even dared to form their phalanx without a trench. And not even with this did they begin any fighting, but when we did not join battle with them at all, joyfully and considering that matters had gone better for them than they had hoped, they withdrew to the wall. For this reason too it happened that they were not thrown into confusion, for they had not yet come into the dangers of battle. But if the fighting comes to close quarters, fear will seize upon them, and this, together with their inexperience, will throw them, in all probability, into their customary disorder. Such, therefore, is the case with regard to the enemy; but do you, O men of Persia, call to mind the judgment of the King of Kings. For if you do not play the part of brave men in the present engagement, in a manner worthy of the valour of the Persians, an inglorious punishment will fall upon you." With this exhortation the mirranes began to lead his army against the enemy. Likewise Belisarius and Hermogenes gathered all the Romans before the fortifications, and encouraged them with the following words: "You know assuredly that the Persians are not altogether invincible, nor too strong to be killed, having taken their measure in the previous battle; and that, although superior to them in bravery and in strength of body, you were defeated only by reason of being rather heedless of your officers, no one can deny. This thing you now have the opportunity to set right with no trouble. For while the adversities of fortune are by no means such as to be set right by an effort, reason may easily become for a man a physician for the ills caused by himself. If therefore you are willing to give heed to the orders given, you will straightway win for yourselves the superiority in battle. For the Persians come against us basing their confidence on nothing else than our disorder. But this time also they will be disappointed in this hope, and will depart just as in the previous encounter. And as for the great numbers of the enemy, by which more than anything else they inspire fear, it is right for you to despise them. For their whole infantry is nothing more than a crowd of pitiable peasants who come into battle for no other purpose than to dig through walls and to despoil the slain and in general to serve the soldiers. For this reason they have no weapons at all with which they might trouble their opponents, and they only hold before themselves those enormous shields in order that they may not possibly be hit by the enemy. Therefore if you shew yourselves brave men in this struggle, you will not only conquer the Persians for the present, but you will also punish them for their folly, so that they will never again make an expedition into the Roman territory."

When Belisarius and Hermogenes had finished this exhortation, since they saw the Persians advancing against them, they hastily drew up the soldiers in the same manner as before. And the barbarians, coming up before them, took their stand facing the Romans. But the mirranes did not array all the Persians against the enemy, but only one half of them, while he allowed the others to remain behind. These were to take the places of the men who were fighting and to fall upon their opponents with their vigour intact, so that all might fight in constant rotation. But the detachment of the so-called Immortals alone he ordered to remain at rest until he himself should give the signal. And he took his own station at the middle of the front, putting Pityaxes in command on the right wing, and Baresmanas on the left. In this manner, then, both armies were drawn up. Then Pharas came before Belisarius and Hermogenes, and said: "It does not seem to me that I shall do the enemy any great harm if I remain here with the Eruli; but if we conceal ourselves on this slope, and then, when the Persians have begun the fight, if we climb up by this hill and suddenly come upon their rear, shooting from behind them, we shall in all probability do them the greatest harm." Thus he spoke, and, since it pleased Belisarius and his staff, he carried out this plan.

But up to midday neither side began battle. As soon, however, as the noon hour was passed, the barbarians began the fight, having postponed the engagement to this time of the day for the reason that they are accustomed to partake of food only towards late afternoon, while the Romans have their meal before noon; and for this reason they thought that the Romans would never hold out so well, if they assailed them while hungry. At first, then, both sides discharged arrows against each other, and the missiles by their great number made, as it were, a vast cloud; and many men were falling on both sides, but the missiles of the barbarians flew much more thickly. For fresh men were always fighting in turn, affording to their enemy not the slightest opportunity to observe what was being done; but even so the Romans did not have the worst of it. For a steady wind blew from their side against the barbarians, and checked to a considerable degree the force of their arrows. Then, after both sides had exhausted all their missiles, they began to use their spears against each other, and the battle had come still more to close quarters. On the Roman side the left wing was suffering especially. For the Cadiseni, who with Pityaxes were fighting at this point, rushing up suddenly in great numbers, routed their enemy, and crowding hard upon the fugitives, were killing many of them. When this was observed by the men under Sunicas and Aigan, they charged against them at full speed. But first the three hundred Eruli under Pharas from the high ground got in the rear of the enemy and made a wonderful display of valorous deeds against all of them and especially the Cadiseni. And the Persians, seeing the forces of Sunicas too already coming up against them from the flank, turned to a hasty flight. And the rout became complete, for the Romans here joined forces with each other, and there was a great slaughter of the barbarians. On the Persian right wing not fewer than three thousand perished in this action, while the rest escaped with difficulty to the phalanx and were saved. And the Romans did not continue their pursuit, but both sides took their stand facing each other in line. Such was the course of these events.

But the mirranes stealthily sent to the left a large body of troops and with them all the so-called Immortals. And when these were noticed by Belisarius and Hermogenes, they ordered the six hundred men under Sunicas and Aigan to go to the angle on the right, where the troops of Simmas and Ascan were stationed, and behind them they placed many of Belisarius men. So the Persians who held the left wing under the leadership of Baresmanas, together with the Immortals, charged on the run upon the Romans opposite them, who failed to withstand the attack and beat a hasty retreat. Thereupon the Romans in the angle, and all who were behind them, advanced with great ardour against the pursuers. But inasmuch as they came upon the barbarians from the side, they cut their army into two parts, and the greater portion of them they had on their right, while some also who were left behind were placed on their left. Among these happened to be the standard bearer of Baresmanas, whom Sunicas charged and struck with his spear. And already the Persians who were leading the pursuit perceived in what straits they were, and, wheeling about, they stopped the pursuit and went against their assailants, and thus became exposed to the enemy on both sides. For those in flight before them understood what was happening and turned back again. The Persians, on their part, with the detachment of the Immortals, seeing the standard inclined and lowered to the earth, rushed all together against the Romans at that point with Baresmanas. There the Romans held their ground. And first Sunicas killed Baresmanas and threw him from his horse to the ground. As a result of this the barbarians were seized with great fear and thought no longer of resistance, but fled in utter confusion. And the Romans, having made a circle as it were around them, killed about five thousand. Thus both armies were all set in motion, the Persians in retreat, and the Romans in pursuit. In this part of the conflict all the foot-soldiers who were in the Persian army threw down their shields and were caught and wantonly killed by their enemy. However, the pursuit was not continued by the Romans over a great distance. For Belisarius and Hermogenes refused absolutely to let them go farther, fearing lest the Persians through some necessity should turn about and rout them while pursuing recklessly, and it seemed to them sufficient to preserve the victory unmarred. For on that day the Persians had been defeated in battle by the Romans, a thing which had not happened for a long time. Thus the two armies separated from each other. And the Persians were no longer willing to fight a pitched battle with the Romans. However, some sudden attacks were made on both sides, in which the Romans were not at a disadvantage. Such, then, was the fortune of the armies in Mesopotamia.


And Cabades sent another army into the part of Armenia which is subject to the Romans. This army was composed of Persarmenians and Sunitae, whose land adjoins that of the Alani. There were also Huns with them, of the stock called Sabiri, to the number of three thousand, a most warlike race. And Mermeroes, a Persian, had been made general of the whole force. When this army was three days' march from Theodosiopolis, they established their camp and, remaining in the land of the Persarmenians, made their preparations for the invasion. Now the general of Armenia was, as it happened, Dorotheus, a man of discretion and experienced in many wars. And Sittas held the office of general in Byzantium, and had authority over the whole army in Armenia. These two, then, upon learning that an army was being assembled in Persarmenia, straightway sent two body-guards with instructions to spy out the whole force of the enemy and report to them. And both of these men got into the barbarian camp, and after noting everything accurately, they departed. And they were travelling toward some place in that region, when they happened unexpectedly upon hostile Huns. By them one of the two, Dagaris by name, was made captive and bound, while the other succeeded in escaping and reported everything to the generals. They then armed their whole force and made an unexpected assault upon the camp of their enemy; and the barbarians, panic-stricken by the unexpected attack, never thought of resistance, but fled as best each one could. Thereupon the Romans, after killing a large number and plundering the camp, immediately marched back.

Not long after this Mermeroes, having collected the whole army, invaded the Roman territory, and they came upon their enemy near the city of Satala. There they established themselves in camp and remained at rest in a place called Octava, which is fifty-six stades distant from the city. Sittas therefore led out a thousand men and concealed them behind one of the many hills which surround the plain in which the city of Satala lies. Dorotheus with the rest of the army he ordered to stay inside the fortifications, because they thought that they were by no means able to withstand the enemy on level ground, since their number was not fewer than thirty thousand, while their own forces scarcely amounted to half that number. On the following day the barbarians came up close to the fortifications and busily set about closing in the town. But suddenly, seeing the forces of Sittas who by now were coming down upon them from the high ground, and having no means of estimating their number, since owing to the summer season a great cloud of dust hung over them, they thought they were much more numerous than they were, and, hurriedly abandoning their plan of closing in the town, they hastened to mass their force into a small space. But the Romans anticipated the movement and, separating their own force into two detachments, they set upon them as they were retiring from the fortifications; and when this was seen by the whole Roman army, they took courage, and with a great rush they poured out from the fortifications and advanced against their opponents. They thus put the Persians between their own troops, and turned them to flight. However, since the barbarians were greatly superior to their enemy in numbers, as has been said, they still offered resistance, and the battle had become a fierce fight at close quarters. And both sides kept making advances upon their opponents and retiring quickly, for they were all cavalry. Thereupon Florentius, a Thracian, commanding a detachment of horse, charged into the enemy's centre, and seizing the general's standard, forced it to the ground, and started to ride back. And though he himself was overtaken and fell there, hacked to pieces, he proved to be the chief cause of the victory for the Romans. For when the barbarians no longer saw the standard, they were thrown into great confusion and terror, and retreating, got inside their camp, and remained quiet, having lost many men in the battle; and on the following day they all returned homeward with no one following them up, for it seemed to the Romans a great and very noteworthy thing that such a great multitude of barbarians in their own country had suffered those things which have just been narrated above, and that, after making an invasion into hostile territory, they should retire thus without accomplishing anything and defeated by a smaller force.

At that time the Romans also acquired certain Persian strongholds in Persarmenia, both the fortress of Bolum and the fortress called Pharangium, which is the place where the Persians mine gold, which they take to the king. It happened also that a short time before this they had reduced to subjection the Tzanic nation, who had been settled from of old in Roman territory as an autonomous people; and as to these things, the manner in which they were accomplished will be related here and now.

As one goes from the land of Armenia into Persarmenia the Taurus lies on the right, extending into Iberia and the peoples there, as has been said a little before this[19], while on the left the road which continues to descend for a great distance is overhung by exceedingly precipitous mountains, concealed forever by clouds and snow, from which the Phasis River issues and flows into the land of Colchis. In this place from the beginning lived barbarians, the Tzanic nation, subject to no one, called Sani in early times; they made plundering expeditions among the Romans who lived round about, maintaining a most difficult existence, and always living upon what they stole; for their land produced for them nothing good to eat. Wherefore also the Roman emperor sent them each year a fixed amount of gold, with the condition that they should never plunder the country thereabout. And the barbarians had sworn to observe this agreement with the oaths peculiar to their nation, and then, disregarding what they had sworn, they had been accustomed for a long time to make unexpected attacks and to injure not only the Armenians, but also the Romans who lived next to them as far as the sea; then, after completing their inroad in a short space of time, they would immediately betake themselves again to their homes. And whenever it _so_ happened that they chanced upon a Roman army, they were always defeated in the battle, but they proved to be absolutely beyond capture owing to the strength of their fastnesses. In this way Sittas had defeated them in battle before this war; and then by many manifestations of kindness in word and in deed he had been able to win them over completely. For they changed their manner of life to one of a more civilized sort, and enrolled themselves among the Roman troops, and from that time they have gone forth against the enemy with the rest of the Roman army. They also abandoned their own religion for a more righteous faith, and all of them became Christians. Such then was the history of the Tzani.

Beyond the borders of this people there is a cañon whose walls are both high and exceedingly steep, extending as far as the Caucasus mountains. In it are populous towns, and grapes and other fruits grow plentifully. And this canon for about the space of a three days' journey is tributary to the Romans, but from there begins the territory of Persarmenia; and here is the gold-mine which, with the permission of Cabades, was worked by one of the natives, Symeon by name. When this Symeon saw that both nations were actively engaged in the war, he decided to deprive Cabades of the revenue. Therefore he gave over both himself and Pharangium to the Romans, but refused to deliver over to either one the gold of the mine. And as for the Romans, they did nothing, thinking it sufficient for them that the enemy had lost the income from there, and the Persians were not able against the will of the Romans to force the inhabitants of the place to terms, because they were baffled by the difficult country.

At about the same time Narses and Aratius who at the beginning of this war, as I have stated above,[20] had an encounter with Sittas and Belisarius in the land of the Persarmenians, came together with their mother as deserters to the Romans; and the emperor's steward, Narses, received them (for he too happened to be a Persarmenian by birth), and he presented them with a large sum of money. When this came to the knowledge of Isaac, their youngest brother, he secretly opened negotiations with the Romans, and delivered over to them the fortress of Bolum, which lies very near the limits of Theodosiopolis. For he directed that soldiers should be concealed somewhere in the vicinity, and he received them into the fort by night, opening stealthily one small gate for them. Thus he too came to Byzantium.


Thus matters stood with the Romans. But the Persians, though defeated by Belisarius in the battle at Daras, refused even so to retire from there, until Rufinus, coming into the presence of Cabades, spoke as follows: "O King, I have been sent by thy brother, who reproaches thee with a just reproach, because the Persians for no righteous cause have come in arms into his land. But it would be more seemly for a king who is not only mighty, but also wise as thou art, to secure a peaceful conclusion of war, rather than, when affairs have been satisfactorily settled, to inflict upon himself and his people unnecessary confusion. Wherefore also I myself have come here with good hopes, in order that from now on both peoples may enjoy the blessings which come from peace." So spoke Rufinus. And Cabades replied as follows: "O son of Silvanus, by no means try to reverse the causes, understanding as you do best of all men that you Romans have been the chief cause of the whole confusion. For we have taken the Caspian Gates to the advantage of both Persians and Romans, after forcing out the barbarians there, since Anastasius, the Emperor of the Romans, as you yourself doubtless know, when the opportunity was offered him to buy them with money, was not willing to do so, in order that he might not be compelled to squander great sums of money in behalf of both nations by keeping an army there perpetually. And since that time we have stationed that great army there, and have supported it up to the present time, thereby giving you the privilege of inhabiting the land unplundered as far as concerns the barbarians on that side, and of holding your own possessions with complete freedom from trouble. But as if this were not sufficient for you, you have also made a great city, Daras, as a stronghold against the Persians, although this was explicitly forbidden in the treaty which Anatolius arranged with the Persians; and as a result of this it is necessary for the Persian state to be afflicted with the difficulties and the expense of two armies, the one in order that the Massagetae may not be able fearlessly to plunder the land of both of us, and the other in order that we may check your inroads. When lately we made a protest regarding these matters and demanded that one of two things should be done by you, either that the army sent to the Caspian Gates should be sent by both of us, or that the city of Daras should be dismantled, you refused to understand what was said, but saw fit to strengthen your plot against the Persians by a greater injury, if we remember correctly the building of the fort in Mindouos[21]. And even now the Romans may choose peace, or they may elect war, by either doing justice to us or going against our rights. For never will the Persians lay down their arms, until the Romans either help them in guarding the gates, as is just and right, or dismantle the city of Daras." With these words Cabades dismissed the ambassador, dropping the hint that he was willing to take money from the Romans and have done with the causes of the war. This was reported to the emperor by Rufinus when he came to Byzantium. [531 A.D.] Hermogenes also came thither not long afterwards, and the winter came to a close; thus ended the fourth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian.


At the opening of spring a Persian army under the leadership of Azarethes invaded the Roman territory. They were fifteen thousand strong, all horsemen. With them was Alamoundaras, son of Saccice, with a very large body of Saracens. But this invasion was not made by the Persians in the customary manner; for they did not invade Mesopotamia, as formerly, but the country called Commagene of old, but now Euphratesia, a point from which, as far as we know, the Persians never before conducted a campaign against the Romans. But why the land was called Mesopotamia and why the Persians refrained from making their attack at this point is what I now propose to relate.

There is a mountain in Armenia which is not especially precipitous, two-and-forty stades removed from Theodosiopolis and lying toward the north from it. From this mountain issue two springs, forming immediately two rivers, the one on the right called the Euphrates, and the other the Tigris. One of these, the Tigris, descends, with no deviations and with no tributaries except small ones emptying into it, straight toward the city of Amida. And continuing into the country which lies to the north of this city it enters the land of Assyria. But the Euphrates at its beginning flows for a short distance, and is then immediately lost to sight as it goes on; it does not, however, become subterranean, but a very strange thing happens. For the water is covered by a bog of great depth, extending about fifty stades in length and twenty in breadth; and reeds grow in this mud in great abundance. But the earth there is of such a hard sort that it seems to those who chance upon it to be nothing else than solid ground, so that both pedestrians and horsemen travel over it without any fear. Nay more, even wagons pass over the place in great numbers every day, but they are wholly insufficient to shake the bog or to find a weak spot in it at any point. The natives burn the reeds every year, to prevent the roads being stopped up by them, and once, when an exceedingly violent wind struck the place, it came about that the fire reached the extremities of the roots, and the water appeared at a small opening; but in a short time the ground closed again, and gave the spot the same appearance which it had had before. From there the river proceeds into the land called Celesene, where was the sanctuary of Artemis among the Taurians, from which they say Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, fled with Orestes and Pylades, bearing the statue of Artemis. For the other temple which has existed even to my day in the city of Comana is not the one "Among the Taurians." But I shall explain how this temple came into being.

When Orestes had departed in haste from the Taurians with his sister, it so happened that he contracted some disease. And when he made inquiry about the disease they say that the oracle responded that his trouble would not abate until he built a temple to Artemis in a spot such as the one among the Taurians, and there cut off his hair and named the city after it. So then Orestes, going about the country there, came to Pontus, and saw a mountain which rose steep and towering, while below along the extremities of the mountain flowed the river Iris. Orestes, therefore, supposing at that time that this was the place indicated to him by the oracle, built there a great city and the temple of Artemis, and, shearing off his hair, named after it the city which even up to the present time has been called Comana. The story goes on that after Orestes had done these things, the disease continued to be as violent as before, if not even more so. Then the man perceived that he was not satisfying the oracle by doing these things, and he again went about looking everywhere and found a certain spot in Cappadocia very closely resembling the one among the Taurians. I myself have often seen this place and admired it exceedingly, and have imagined that I was in the land of the Taurians. For this mountain resembles the other remarkably, since the Taurus is here also and the river Sarus is similar to the Euphrates there. So Orestes built in that place an imposing city and two temples, the one to Artemis and the other to his sister Iphigenia, which the Christians have made sanctuaries for themselves, without changing their structure at all. This is called even now Golden Comana, being named from the hair of Orestes, which they say he cut off there and thus escaped from his affliction. But some say that this disease from which he escaped was nothing else than that of madness which seized him after he had killed his own mother. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

From Tauric Armenia and the land of Celesene the River Euphrates, flowing to the right of the Tigris, flows around an extensive territory, and since many rivers join it and among them the Arsinus, whose copious stream flows down from the land of the so-called Persarmenians, it becomes naturally a great river, and flows into the land of the people anciently called White Syrians but now known as the Lesser Armenians, whose first city, Melitene, is one of great importance. From there it flows past Samosata and Hierapolis and all the towns in that region as far as the land of Assyria, where the two rivers unite with each other into one stream which bears the name of the Tigris. The land which lies outside the River Euphrates, beginning with Samosata, was called in ancient times Commagene, but now it is named after the river[22]. But the land inside the river, that namely which is between it and the Tigris, is appropriately named Mesopotamia; however, a portion of it is called not only by this name, but also by certain others. For the land as far as the city of Amida has come to be called Armenia by some, while Edessa together with the country around it is called Osroene, after Osroes, a man who was king in that place in former times, when the men of this country were in alliance with the Persians. After the time, therefore, when the Persians had taken from the Romans the city of Nisibis and certain other places in Mesopotamia, whenever they were about to make an expedition against the Romans, they disregarded the land outside the River Euphrates, which was for the most part unwatered and deserted by men, and gathered themselves here with no trouble, since they were in a land which was their own and which lay very close to the inhabited land of their enemy, and from here they always made their invasions.

When the mirranes[23], defeated in battle[24] and with the greater part of his men lost, came back to the Persian land with the remainder of his army, he received bitter punishment at the hands of King Cabades. For he took away from him a decoration which he was accustomed to bind upon the hair of his head, an ornament wrought of gold and pearls. Now this is a great dignity among the Persians, second only to the kingly honour. For there it is unlawful to wear a gold ring or girdle or brooch or anything else whatsoever, except a man be counted worthy to do so by the king.

Thereafter Cabades began to consider in what manner he himself should make an expedition against the Romans. For after the mirranes had failed in the manner I have told, he felt confidence in no one else. While he was completely at a loss as to what he should do, Alamoundaras, the king of the Saracens, came before him and said: "Not everything, O Master, should be entrusted to fortune, nor should one believe that all wars ought to be successful. For this is not likely and besides it is not in keeping with the course of human events, but this idea is most unfortunate for those who are possessed by it. For when men who expect that all the good things will come to them fail at any time, if it so happen, they are distressed more than is seemly by the very hope which wrongly led them on. Therefore, since men have not always confidence in fortune, they do not enter into the danger of war in a straightforward way, even if they boast that they surpass the enemy in every respect, but by deception and divers devices they exert themselves to circumvent their opponents. For those who assume the risk of an even struggle have no assurance of victory. Now, therefore, O King of Kings, neither be thus distressed by the misfortune which has befallen Mirranes, nor desire again to make trial of fortune. For in Mesopotamia and the land of Osroene, as it is called, since it is very close to thy boundaries, the cities are very strong above all others, and now they contain a multitude of soldiers such as never before, so that if we go there the contest will not prove a safe one; but in the land which lies outside the River Euphrates, and in Syria which adjoins it, there is neither a fortified city nor an army of any importance. For this I have often heard from the Saracens sent as spies to these parts. There too, they say, is the city of Antioch, in wealth and size and population the first of all the cities of the Eastern Roman Empire; and this city is unguarded and destitute of soldiers. For the people of this city care for nothing else than fêtes and luxurious living, and their constant rivalries with each other in the theatres. Accordingly, if we go against them unexpectedly, it is not at all unlikely that we shall capture the city by a sudden attack, and that we shall return to the land of the Persians without having met any hostile army, and before the troops in Mesopotamia have learned what has happened. As for lack of water or of any kind of provisions, let no such thought occur to thee; for I myself shall lead the army wherever it shall seem best."

When Cabades heard this he could neither oppose nor distrust the plan. For Alamoundaras was most discreet and well experienced in matters of warfare, thoroughly faithful to the Persians, and unusually energetic,--a man who for a space of fifty years forced the Roman state to bend the knee. For beginning from the boundaries of Aegypt and as far as Mesopotamia he plundered the whole country, pillaging one place after another, burning the buildings in his track and making captives of the population by the tens of thousands on each raid, most of whom he killed without consideration, while he gave up the others for great sums of money. And he was confronted by no one at all. For he never made his inroad without looking about, but so suddenly did he move and so very opportunely for himself, that, as a rule, he was already off with all the plunder when the generals and the soldiers were beginning to learn what had happened and to gather themselves against him. If, indeed, by any chance, they were able to catch him, this barbarian would fall upon his pursuers while still unprepared and not in battle array, and would rout and destroy them with no trouble; and on one occasion he made prisoners of all the soldiers who were pursuing him together with their officers. These officers were Timostratus, the brother of Rufinus, and John, the son of Lucas, whom he gave up indeed later, thereby gaining for himself no mean or trivial wealth. And, in a word, this man proved himself the most difficult and dangerous enemy of all to the Romans. The reason was this, that Alamoundaras, holding the position of king, ruled alone over all the Saracens in Persia, and he was always able to make his inroad with the whole army wherever he wished in the Roman domain; and neither any commander of Roman troops, whom they call "duces," nor any leader of the Saracens allied with the Romans, who are called "phylarchs," was strong enough with his men to array himself against Alamoundaras; for the troops stationed in the different districts were not a match in battle for the enemy. [531 A.D.] For this reason the Emperor Justinian put in command of as many clans as possible Arethas, the son of Gabalas, who ruled over the Saracens of Arabia, and bestowed upon him the dignity of king, a thing which among the Romans had never before been done. However Alamoundaras continued to injure the Romans just as much as before, if not more, since Arethas was either extremely unfortunate in every inroad and every conflict, or else he turned traitor as quickly as he could. For as yet we know nothing certain about him. In this way it came about that Alamoundaras, with no one to stand against him, plundered the whole East for an exceedingly long time, for he lived to a very advanced age.


This man's suggestion at that time therefore pleased Cabades, and he chose out fifteen thousand men, putting in command of them Azarethes, a Persian, who was an exceptionally able warrior, and he bade Alamoundaras lead the expedition. So they crossed the River Euphrates in Assyria, and, after passing over some uninhabited country, they suddenly and unexpectedly threw their forces into the land of the so-called Commagenae. This was the first invasion made by the Persians from this point into Roman soil, as far as we know from tradition or by any other means, and it paralyzed all the Romans with fear by its unexpectedness. And when this news came to the knowledge of Belisarius, at first he was at a loss, but afterwards he decided to go to the rescue with all speed. So he established a sufficient garrison in each city in order that Cabades with another hostile army might not come there and find the towns of Mesopotamia utterly unguarded, and himself with the rest of the army went to meet the invasion; and crossing the River Euphrates they moved forward in great haste. Now the Roman army amounted to about twenty thousand foot and horse, and among them not less than two thousand were Isaurians. The commanders of cavalry were all the same ones who had previously fought the battle at Daras with Mirranes and the Persians, while the infantry were commanded by one of the body-guards of the Emperor Justinian, Peter by name. The Isaurians, however, were under the command of Longinus and Stephanacius. Arethas also came there to join them with the Saracen army. When they reached the city of Chalcis, they encamped and remained there, since they learned that the enemy were in a place called Gabboulon, one hundred and ten stades away from Chalcis. When this became known to Alamoundaras and Azarethes, they were terrified at the danger, and no longer continued their advance, but decided to retire homeward instantly. Accordingly they began to march back, with the River Euphrates on the left, while the Roman army was following in the rear. And in the spot where the Persians bivouacked each night the Romans always tarried on the following night. For Belisarius purposely refused to allow the army to make any longer march because he did not wish to come to an engagement with the enemy, but he considered that it was sufficient for them that the Persians and Alamoundaras, after invading the land of the Romans, should retire from it in such a fashion, betaking themselves to their own land without accomplishing anything. And because of this all secretly mocked him, both officers and soldiers, but not a man reproached him to his face.

Finally the Persians made their bivouac on the bank of the Euphrates just opposite the city of Callinicus. From there they were about to march through a country absolutely uninhabited by man, and thus to quit the land of the Romans; for they purposed no longer to proceed as before, keeping to the bank of the river. The Romans had passed the night in the city of Sura, and, removing from there, they came upon the enemy just in the act of preparing for the departure. [Ap. 19, 531] Now the feast of Easter was near and would take place on the following day; this feast is reverenced by the Christians above all others, and on the day before it they are accustomed to refrain from food and drink not only throughout the day, but for a large part of the night also they continue the fast. Then, therefore, Belisarius, seeing that all his men were passionately eager to go against the enemy, wished to persuade them to give up this idea (for this course had been counselled by Hermogenes also, who had come recently on an embassy from the emperor); he accordingly called together all who were present and spoke as follows: "O Romans, whither are you rushing? and what has happened to you that you are purposing to choose for yourselves a danger which is not necessary? Men believe that there is only one victory which is unalloyed, namely to suffer no harm at the hands of the enemy, and this very thing has been given us in the present instance by fortune and by the fear of us that overpowers our foes. Therefore it is better to enjoy the benefit of our present blessings than to seek them when they have passed. For the Persians, led on by many hopes, undertook an expedition against the Romans, and now, with everything lost, they have beaten a hasty retreat. So that if we compel them against their will to abandon their purpose of withdrawing and to come to battle with us, we shall win no advantage whatsoever if we are victorious,--for why should one rout a fugitive?--while if we are unfortunate, as may happen, we shall both be deprived of the victory which we now have, not robbed of it by the enemy, but flinging it away ourselves, and also we shall abandon the land of the emperor to lie open hereafter to the attacks of the enemy without defenders. Moreover this also is worth your consideration, that God is always accustomed to succour men in dangers which are necessary, not in those which they choose for themselves. And apart from this it will come about that those who have nowhere to turn will play the part of brave men even against their will, while the obstacles which are to be met by us in entering the engagement are many; for a large number of you have come on foot and all of us are fasting. I refrain from mentioning that some even now have not arrived." So spoke Belisarius.

But the army began to insult him, not in silence nor with any concealment, but they came shouting into his presence, and called him weak and a destroyer of their zeal; and even some of the officers joined with the soldiers in this offence, thus displaying the extent of their daring. And Belisarius, in astonishment at their shamelessness, changed his exhortation and now seemed to be urging them on against the enemy and drawing them up for battle, saying that he had not known before their eagerness to fight, but that now he was of good courage and would go against the enemy with a better hope. He then formed the phalanx with a single front, disposing his men as follows: on the left wing by the river he stationed all the infantry, while on the right where the ground rose sharply he placed Arethas and all his Saracens; he himself with the cavalry took his position in the centre. Thus the Romans arrayed themselves. And when Azarethes saw the enemy gathering in battle line, he exhorted his men with the following words: "Persians as you are, no one would deny that you would not give up your valour in exchange for life, if a choice of the two should be offered. But I say that not even if you should wish, is it within your power to make the choice between the two. For as for men who have the opportunity to escape from danger and live in dishonour it is not at all unnatural that they should, if they wish, choose what is most pleasant instead of what is best; but for men who are bound to die, either gloriously at the hands of the enemy or shamefully led to punishment by your Master, it is extreme folly not to choose what is better instead of what is most shameful. Now, therefore, when things stand thus, I consider that it befits you all to bear in mind not only the enemy but also your own Lord and so enter this battle."

After Azarethes also had uttered these words of exhortation, he stationed the phalanx opposite his opponents, assigning the Persians the right wing and the Saracens the left. Straightway both sides began the fight, and the battle was exceedingly fierce. For the arrows, shot from either side in very great numbers, caused great loss of life in both armies, while some placed themselves in the interval between the armies and made a display of valorous deeds against each other, and especially among the Persians they were falling by the arrows in great numbers. For while their missiles were incomparably more frequent, since the Persians are almost all bowmen and they learn to make their shots much more rapidly than any other men, still the bows which sent the arrows were weak and not very tightly strung, so that their missiles, hitting a corselet, perhaps, or helmet or shield of a Roman warrior, were broken off and had no power to hurt the man who was hit. The Roman bowmen are always slower indeed, but inasmuch as their bows are extremely stiff and very tightly strung, and one might add that they are handled by stronger men, they easily slay much greater numbers of those they hit than do the Persians, for no armour proves an obstacle to the force of their arrows. Now already two-thirds of the day had passed, and the battle was still even. Then by mutual agreement all the best of the Persian army advanced to attack the Roman right wing, where Arethas and the Saracens had been stationed. But they broke their formation and moved apart, so that they got the reputation of having betrayed the Romans to the Persians. For without awaiting the oncoming enemy they all straightway beat a hasty retreat. So the Persians in this way broke through the enemy's line and immediately got in the rear of the Roman cavalry. Thus the Romans, who were already exhausted both by the march and the labour of the battle,--and besides this they were all fasting so far on in the day,--now that they were assailed by the enemy on both sides, held out no longer, but the most of them in full flight made their way to the islands in the river which were close by, while some also remained there and performed deeds both amazing and remarkable against the enemy. Among these was Ascan who, after killing many of the notables among the Persians, was gradually hacked to pieces and finally fell, leaving to the enemy abundant reason to remember him. And with him eight hundred others perished after shewing themselves brave men in this struggle, and almost all the Isaurians fell with their leaders, without even daring to lift their weapons against the enemy. For they were thoroughly inexperienced in this business, since they had recently left off farming and entered into the perils of warfare, which before that time were unknown to them. And yet just before these very men had been most furious of all for battle because of their ignorance of warfare, and were then reproaching Belisarius with cowardice. They were not in fact all Isaurians but the majority of them were Lycaones.

Belisarius with some few men remained there, and as long as he saw Ascan and his men holding out, he also in company with those who were with him held back the enemy; but when some of Ascan's troops had fallen, and the others had turned to flee wherever they could, then at length he too fled with his men and came to the phalanx of infantry, who with Peter were still fighting, although not many in number now, since the most of them too had fled. There he himself gave up his horse and commanded all his men to do the same thing and on foot with the others to fight off the oncoming enemy. And those of the Persians who were following the fugitives, after pursuing for only a short distance, straightway returned and rushed upon the infantry and Belisarius with all the others. Then the Romans turned their backs to the river so that no movement to surround them might be executed by the enemy, and as best they could under the circumstances were defending themselves against their assailants. And again the battle became fierce, although the two sides were not evenly matched in strength; for foot-soldiers, and a very few of them, were fighting against the whole Persian cavalry. Nevertheless the enemy were not able either to rout them or in any other way to overpower them. For standing shoulder to shoulder they kept themselves constantly massed in a small space, and they formed with their shields a rigid, unyielding barricade, so that they shot at the Persians more conveniently than they were shot at by them. Many a time after giving up, the Persians would advance against them determined to break up and destroy their line, but they always retired again from the assault unsuccessful. For their horses, annoyed by the clashing of the shields, reared up and made confusion for themselves and their riders. Thus both sides continued the struggle until it had become late in the day. And when night had already come on, the Persians withdrew to their camp, and Belisarius accompanied by some few men found a freight-boat and crossed over to the island in the river, while the other Romans reached the same place by swimming. On the following day many freight-boats were brought to the Romans from the city of Callinicus and they were conveyed thither in them, and the Persians, after despoiling the dead, all departed homeward. However they did not find their own dead less numerous than the enemy's.

When Azarethes reached Persia with his army, although he had prospered in the battle, he found Cabades exceedingly ungrateful, for the following reason. It is a custom among the Persians that, when they are about to march against any of their foes, the king sits on the royal throne, and many baskets are set there before him; and the general also is present who is expected to lead the army against the enemy; then the army passes along before the king, one man at a time, and each of them throws one weapon into the baskets; after this they are sealed with the king's seal and preserved; and when this army returns to Persia, each one of the soldiers takes one weapon out of the baskets. A count is then made by those whose office it is to do so of all the weapons which have not been taken by the men, and they report to the king the number of the soldiers who have not returned, and in this way it becomes evident how many have perished in the war. Thus the law has stood from of old among the Persians. Now when Azarethes came into the presence of the king, Cabades enquired of him whether he came back with any Roman fortress won over to their side, for he had marched forth with Alamoundaras against the Romans, with the purpose of subduing Antioch. And Azarethes said that he had captured no fortress, but that he had conquered the Romans and Belisarius in battle. So Cabades bade the army of Azarethes pass by, and from the baskets each man took out a weapon just as was customary. But since many weapons were left, Cabades rebuked Azarethes for the victory and thereafter ranked him among the most unworthy. So the victory had this conclusion for Azarethes.


At that time the idea occurred to the Emperor Justinian to ally with himself the Aethiopians and the Homeritae, in order to injure the Persians. I shall now first explain what part of the earth these nations occupy, and then I shall point out in what manner the emperor hoped that they would be of help to the Romans. The boundaries of Palestine extend toward the east to the sea which is called the Red Sea. Now this sea, beginning at India, comes to an end at this point in the Roman domain. And there is a city called Aelas on its shore, where the sea comes to an end, as I have said, and becomes a very narrow gulf. And as one sails into the sea from there, the Egyptian mountains lie on the right, extending toward the south; on the other side a country deserted by men extends northward to an indefinite distance; and the land on both sides is visible as one sails in as far as the island called Iotabe, not less than one thousand stades distant from the city of Aelas. On this island Hebrews had lived from of old in autonomy, but in the reign of this Justinian they have become subject to the Romans. From there on there comes a great open sea. And those who sail into this part of it no longer see the land on the right, but they always anchor along the left coast when night comes on. For it is impossible to navigate in the darkness on this sea, since it is everywhere full of shoals. But there are harbours there and great numbers of them, not made by the hand of man, but by the natural contour of the land, and for this reason it is not difficult for mariners to find anchorage wherever they happen to be.

This coast[25] immediately beyond the boundaries of Palestine is held by Saracens, who have been settled from of old in the Palm Groves. These groves are in the interior, extending over a great tract of land, and there absolutely nothing else grows except palm trees. The Emperor Justinian had received these palm groves as a present from Abochorabus, the ruler of the Saracens there, and he was appointed by the emperor captain over the Saracens in Palestine. And he guarded the land from plunder constantly, for both to the barbarians over whom he ruled and no less to the enemy, Abochorabus always seemed a man to be feared and an exceptionally energetic fellow. Formally, therefore, the emperor holds the Palm Groves, but for him really to possess himself of any of the country there is utterly impossible. For a land completely destitute of human habitation and extremely dry lies between, extending to the distance of a ten days' journey; moreover the Palm Groves themselves are by no means worth anything, and Abochorabus only gave the form of a gift, and the emperor accepted it with full knowledge of the fact. So much then for the Palm Groves. Adjoining this people there are other Saracens in possession of the coast, who are called Maddeni and who are subjects of the Homeritae. These Homeritae dwell in the land on the farther side of them on the shore of the sea. And beyond them many other nations are said to be settled as far as the man-eating Saracens. Beyond these are the nations of India. But regarding these matters let each one speak as he may wish.

About opposite the Homeritae on the opposite mainland dwell the Aethiopians who are called Auxomitae, because their king resides in the city of Auxomis. And the expanse of sea which lies between is crossed in a voyage of five days and nights, when a moderately favouring wind blows. For here they are accustomed to navigate by night also, since there are no shoals at all in these parts; this portion of the sea has been called the Red Sea by some. For the sea which one traverses beyond this point as far as the shore and the city of Aelas has received the name of the Arabian Gulf, inasmuch as the country which extends from here to the limits of the city of Gaza used to be called in olden times Arabia, since the king of the Arabs had his palace in early times in the city of Petrae. Now the harbour of the Homeritae from which they are accustomed to put to sea for the voyage to Aethiopia is called Bulicas; and at the end of the sail across the sea they always put in at the harbour of the Adulitae. But the city of Adulis is removed from the harbour a distance of twenty stades (for it lacks only so much of being on the sea), while from the city of Auxomis it is a journey of twelve days.

All the boats which are found in India and on this sea are not made in the same manner as are other ships. For neither are they smeared with pitch, nor with any other substance, nor indeed are the planks fastened together by iron nails going through and through, but they are bound together with a kind of cording. The reason is not as most persons suppose, that there are certain rocks there which draw the iron to themselves (for witness the fact that when the Roman vessels sail from Aelas into this sea, although they are fitted with much iron, no such thing has ever happened to them), but rather because the Indians and the Aethiopians possess neither iron nor any other thing suitable for such purposes. Furthermore, they are not even able to buy any of these things from the Romans since this is explicitly forbidden to all by law; for death is the punishment for one who is caught. Such then is the description of the so-called Red Sea[26] and of the land which lies on either side of it.

From the city of Auxomis to the Aegyptian boundaries of the Roman domain, where the city called Elephantine is situated, is a journey of thirty days for an unencumbered traveller. Within that space many nations are settled, and among them the Blemyes and the Nobatae, who are very large nations. But the Blemyes dwell in the central portion of the country, while the Nobatae possess the territory about the River Nile. Formerly this was not the limit of the Roman empire, but it lay beyond there as far as one would advance in a seven days' journey; but the Roman Emperor Diocletian came there, and observed that the tribute from these places was of the smallest possible account, since the land is at that point extremely narrow (for rocks rise to an exceedingly great height at no great distance from the Nile and spread over the rest of the country), while a very large body of soldiers had been stationed there from of old, the maintenance of which was an excessive burden upon the public; and at the same time the Nobatae who formerly dwelt about the city of Oasis used to plunder the whole region; so he persuaded these barbarians to move from their own habitations, and to settle along the River Nile, promising to bestow upon them great cities and land both extensive and incomparably better than that which they had previously occupied. For in this way he thought that they would no longer harass the country about Oasis at least, and that they would possess themselves of the land given them, as being their own, and would probably beat off the Blemyes and the other barbarians. And since this pleased the Nobatae, they made the migration immediately, just as Diocletian directed them, and took possession of all the Roman cities and the land on both sides of the river beyond the city of Elephantine. Then it was that this emperor decreed that to them and to the Blemyes a fixed sum of gold should be given every year with the stipulation that they should no longer plunder the land of the Romans. And they receive this gold even up to my time, but none the less they overrun the country there. Thus it seems that with all barbarians there is no means of compelling them to keep faith with the Romans except through the fear of soldiers to hold them in check. And yet this emperor went so far as to select a certain island in the River Nile close to the city of Elephantine and there construct a very strong fortress in which he established certain temples and altars for the Romans and these barbarians in common, and he settled priests of both nations in this fortress, thinking that the friendship between them would be secure by reason of their sharing the things sacred to them. And for this reason he named the place Philae. Now both these nations, the Blemyes and the Nobatae, believe in all the gods in which the Greeks believe, and they also reverence Isis and Osiris, and not least of all Priapus. But the Blemyes are accustomed also to sacrifice human beings to the sun. These sanctuaries in Philae were kept by these barbarians even up to my time, but the Emperor Justinian decided to tear them down. Accordingly Narses, a Persarmenian by birth, whom I have mentioned before as having deserted to the Romans[27], being commander of the troops there, tore down the sanctuaries at the emperor's order, and put the priests under guard and sent the statues to Byzantium. But I shall return to the previous narrative.


At about the time of this war Hellestheaeus, the king of the Aethiopians, who was a Christian and a most devoted adherent of this faith, discovered that a number of the Homeritae on the opposite mainland were oppressing the Christians there outrageously; many of these rascals were Jews, and many of them held in reverence the old faith which men of the present day call Hellenic. He therefore collected a fleet of ships and an army and came against them, and he conquered them in battle and slew both the king and many of the Homeritae. He then set up in his stead a Christian king, a Homerite by birth, by name Esimiphaeus, and, after ordaining that he should pay a tribute to the Aethiopians every year, he returned to his home. In this Aethiopian army many slaves and all who were readily disposed to crime were quite unwilling to follow the king back, but were left behind and remained there because of their desire for the land of the Homeritae; for it is an extremely goodly land.

These fellows at a time not long after this, in company with certain others, rose against the king Esimiphaeus and put him in confinement in one of the fortresses there, and established another king over the Homeritae, Abramus by name. Now this Abramus was a Christian, but a slave of a Roman citizen who was engaged in the business of shipping in the city of Adulis in Aethiopia. When Hellestheaeus learned this, he was eager to punish Abramus together with those who had revolted with him for their injustice to Esimiphaeus, and he sent against them an army of three thousand men with one of his relatives as commander. This army, once there, was no longer willing to return home, but they wished to remain where they were in a goodly land, and so without the knowledge of their commander they opened negotiations with Abramus; then when they came to an engagement with their opponents, just as the fighting began, they killed their commander and joined the ranks of the enemy, and so remained there. But Hellestheaeus was greatly moved with anger and sent still another army against them; this force engaged with Abramus and his men, and, after suffering a severe defeat in the battle, straightway returned home. Thereafter the king of the Aethiopians became afraid, and sent no further expeditions against Abramus. After the death of Hellestheaeus, Abramus agreed to pay tribute to the king of the Aethiopians who succeeded him, and in this way he strengthened his rule. But this happened at a later time.

At that time, when Hellestheaeus was reigning over the Aethiopians, and Esimiphaeus over the Homeritae, the Emperor Justinian sent an ambassador, Julianus, demanding that both nations on account of their community of religion should make common cause with the Romans in the war against the Persians; for he purposed that the Aethiopians, by purchasing silk from India and selling it among the Romans, might themselves gain much money, while causing the Romans to profit in only one way, namely, that they be no longer compelled to pay over their money to their enemy. (This is the silk of which they are accustomed to make the garments which of old the Greeks called Medic, but which at the present time they name "seric"[28]). As for the Homeritae, it was desired that they should establish Caïsus, the fugitive, as captain over the Maddeni, and with a great army of their own people and of the Maddene Saracens make an invasion into the land of the Persians. This Caïsus was by birth of the captain's rank and an exceptionally able warrior, but he had killed one of the relatives of Esimiphaeus and was a fugitive in a land which is utterly destitute of human habitation. So each king, promising to put this demand into effect, dismissed the ambassador, but neither one of them did the things agreed upon by them. For it was impossible for the Aethiopians to buy silk from the Indians, for the Persian merchants always locate themselves at the very harbours where the Indian ships first put in, (since they inhabit the adjoining country), and are accustomed to buy the whole cargoes; and it seemed to the Homeritae a difficult thing to cross a country which was a desert and which extended so far that a long time was required for the journey across it, and then to go against a people much more warlike than themselves. Later on Abramus too, when at length he had established his power most securely, promised the Emperor Justinian many times to invade the land of Persia, but only once began the journey and then straightway turned back. Such then were the relations which the Romans had with the Aethiopians and the Homeritae.


Hermogenes, as soon as the battle on the Euphrates had taken place, came before Cabades to negotiate with him, but he accomplished nothing regarding the peace on account of which he had come, since he found him still swelling with rage against the Romans; for this reason he returned unsuccessful. And Belisarius came to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor, having been removed from the office which he held, in order that he might march against the Vandals; but Sittas, as had been decreed by the Emperor Justinian, went to the East in order to guard that portion of the empire. And the Persians once more invaded Mesopotamia with a great army under command of Chanaranges and Aspebedes and Mermeroes. Since no one dared to engage with them, they made camp and began the siege of Martyropolis, where Bouzes and Bessas had been stationed in command of the garrison. This city lies in the land called Sophanene, two hundred and forty stades distant from the city of Amida toward the north; it is just on the River Nymphius which divides the land of the Romans and the Persians. So the Persians began to assail the fortifications, and, while the besieged at first withstood them manfully, it did not seem likely that they would hold out long. For the circuit-wall was quite easily assailable in most parts, and could be captured very easily by a Persian siege, and besides they did not have a sufficient supply of provisions, nor indeed had they engines of war nor anything else that was of any value for defending themselves. Meanwhile Sittas and the Roman army came to a place called Attachas, one hundred stades distant from Martyropolis, but they did not dare to advance further, but established their camp and remained there. Hermogenes also was with them, coming again as ambassador from Byzantium. At this point the following event took place.

It has been customary from ancient times both among the Romans and the Persians to maintain spies at public expense; these men are accustomed to go secretly among the enemy, in order that they may investigate accurately what is going on, and may then return and report to the rulers. Many of these men, as is natural, exert themselves to act in a spirit of loyalty to their nation, while some also betray their secrets to the enemy. At that time a certain spy who had been sent from the Persians to the Romans came into the presence of the Emperor Justinian and revealed many things which were taking place among the barbarians, and, in particular, that the nation of the Massagetae, in order to injure the Romans, were on the very point of going out into the land of Persia, and that from there they were prepared to march into the territory of the Romans, and unite with the Persian army. When the emperor heard this, having already a proof of the man's truthfulness to him, he presented him with a handsome sum of money and persuaded him to go to the Persian army which was besieging the Martyropolitans, and announce to the barbarians there that these Massagetae had been won over with money by the Roman emperor, and were about to come against them that very moment. The spy carried out these instructions, and coming to the army of the barbarians he announced to Chanaranges and the others that an army of Huns hostile to them would at no distant time come to the Romans. And when they heard this, they were seized with terror, and were at a loss how to deal with the situation.

At this juncture it came about that Cabades became seriously ill, and he called to him one of the Persians who were in closest intimacy with him, Mebodes by name, and conversed with him concerning Chosroes and the kingdom, and said he feared the Persians would make a serious attempt to disregard some of the things which had been decided upon by him. But Mebodes asked him to leave the declaration of his purpose in writing, and bade him be confident that the Persians would never dare to disregard it. So Cabades set it down plainly that Chosroes should become king over the Persians. The document was written by Mebodes himself, and Cabades immediately passed from among men. [Sept. 13, 531] And when everything had been performed as prescribed by law in the burial of the king, then Caoses, confident by reason of the law, tried to lay claim to the office, but Mebodes stood in his way, asserting that no one ought to assume the royal power by his own initiative but by vote of the Persian notables. So Caoses committed the decision in the matter to the magistrates, supposing that there would be no opposition to him from there. But when all the Persian notables had been gathered together for this purpose and were in session, Mebodes read the document and stated the purpose of Cabades regarding Chosroes, and all, calling to mind the virtue of Cabades, straightway declared Chosroes King of the Persians.

Thus then Chosroes secured the power. But at Martyropolis, Sittas and Hermogenes were in fear concerning the city, since they were utterly unable to defend it in its peril, and they sent certain men to the enemy, who came before the generals and spoke as follows: "It has escaped your own notice that you are becoming wrongfully an obstacle to the king of the Persians and to the blessings of peace and to each state. For ambassadors sent from the emperor are even now present in order that they may go to the king of the Persians and there settle the differences and establish a treaty with him; but do you as quickly as possible remove from the land of the Romans and permit the ambassadors to act in the manner which will be of advantage to both peoples. For we are ready also to give as hostages men of repute concerning these very things, to prove that they will be actually accomplished at no distant date." Such were the words of the ambassadors of the Romans. It happened also that a messenger came to them from the palace, who brought them word that Cabades had died and that Chosroes, son of Cabades, had become king over the Persians, and that in this way the situation had become unsettled. And as a result of this the generals heard the words of the Romans gladly, since they feared also the attack of the Huns. The Romans therefore straightway gave as hostages Martinus and one of the body-guards of Sittas, Senecius by name; so the Persians broke up the siege and made their departure promptly. And the Huns not long afterward invaded the land of the Romans, but since they did not find the Persian army there, they made their raid a short one, and then all departed homeward.


Straightway Rufinus and Alexander and Thomas came to act as ambassadors with Hermogenes, and they all came before the Persian king at the River Tigris. And when Chosroes saw them, he released the hostages. Then the ambassadors coaxed Chosroes, and spoke many beguiling words most unbecoming to Roman ambassadors. By this treatment Chosroes became tractable, and agreed to establish a peace with them that should be without end for the price of one hundred and ten "centenaria," on condition that the commander of troops in Mesopotamia should be no longer at Daras, but should spend all his time in Constantina, as was customary in former times; but the fortresses in Lazica he refused to give back, although he himself demanded that he should receive back from the Romans both Pharangium and the fortress of Bolum. (Now the "centenarium" weighs one hundred pounds, for which reason it is so called; for the Romans call one hundred "centum"). He demanded that this gold be given him, in order that the Romans might not be compelled either to tear down the city of Daras or to share the garrison at the Caspian Gates with the Persians[29]. However the ambassadors, while approving the rest, said that they were not able to concede the fortresses, unless they should first make enquiry of the emperor concerning them. It was decided, accordingly, that Rufinus should be sent concerning them to Byzantium, and that the others should wait until he should return. And it was arranged with Rufinus that seventy days' time be allowed until he should arrive. When Rufinus reached Byzantium and reported to the emperor what Chosroes' decision was concerning the peace, the emperor commanded that the peace be concluded by them on these terms.

In the meantime, however, a report which was not true reached Persia saying that the Emperor Justinian had become enraged and put Rufinus to death. Chosroes indeed was much perturbed by this, and, already filled with anger, he advanced against the Romans with his whole army. But Rufinus met him on the way as he was returning not far from the city of Nisibis. Therefore they proceeded to this city themselves, and, since they were about to establish the peace, the ambassadors began to convey the money thither. But the Emperor Justinian was already repenting that he had given up the strong holds of Lazica, and he wrote a letter to the ambassadors expressly commanding them by no means to hand them over to the Persians. For this reason Chosroes no longer saw fit to make the treaty; and then it came to the mind of Rufinus that he had counselled more speedily than safely in bringing the money into the land of Persia. Straightway, therefore, he threw himself on the earth, and lying prone he entreated Chosroes to send the money back with them and not march immediately against the Romans, but to put off the war to some other time. And Chosroes bade him rise from the ground, promising that he would grant all these things. So the ambassadors with the money came to Daras and the Persian army marched back.

Then indeed the fellow-ambassadors of Rufinus began to regard him with extreme suspicion themselves, and they also denounced him to the emperor, basing their judgment on the fact that Chosroes had been persuaded to concede him everything which he asked of him. However, the emperor showed him no disfavour on account of this. At a time not long after this Rufinus himself and Hermogenes were again sent to the court of Chosroes, and they immediately came to agreement with each other concerning the treaty, subject to the condition that both sides should give back all the places which each nation had wrested from the other in that war, and that there should no longer be any military post in Daras; as for the Iberians, it was agreed that the decision rested with them whether they should remain there in Byzantium or return to their own fatherland. And there were many who remained, and many also who returned to their ancestral homes. [532 A.D.] Thus, then, they concluded the so-called "endless peace," when the Emperor Justinian was already in the sixth year of his reign. And the Romans gave the Persians Pharangium and the fortress of Bolum together with the money, and the Persians gave the Romans the strongholds of Lazica. The Persians also returned Dagaris to the Romans, and received in return for him another man of no mean station. This Dagaris in later times often conquered the Huns in battle when they had invaded the land of the Romans, and drove them out; for he was an exceptionally able warrior. Thus both sides in the manner described made secure the treaty between them.


Straightway it came about that plots were formed against both rulers by their subjects; and I shall now explain how this happened. Chosroes, the son of Cabades, was a man of an unruly turn of mind and strangely fond of innovations. For this reason he himself was always full of excitement and alarms, and he was an unfailing cause of similar feelings in all others. All, therefore, who were men of action among the Persians, in vexation at his administration, were purposing to establish over themselves another king from the house of Cabades. And since they longed earnestly for the rule of Zames, which was made impossible by the law by reason of the disfigurement of his eye, as has been stated, they found upon consideration that the best course for them was to establish in power his child Cabades, who bore the same name as his grandfather, while Zames, as guardian of the child, should administer the affairs of the Persians as he wished. So they went to Zames and disclosed their plan, and, urging him on with great enthusiasm, they endeavoured to persuade him to undertake the thing. And since the plan pleased him, they were purposing to assail Chosroes at the fitting moment. But the plan was discovered and came to the knowledge of the king, and thus their proceedings were stopped. For Chosroes slew Zames himself and all his own brothers and those of Zames together with all their male offspring, and also all the Persian notables who had either begun or taken part in any way in the plot against him. Among these was Aspebedes, the brother of Chosroes' mother.

Cabades, however, the son of Zames, he was quite unable to kill; for he was still being reared under the chanaranges, Adergoudounbades. But he sent a message to the chanaranges, bidding him himself kill the boy he had reared; for he neither thought it well to shew mistrust, nor yet had he power to compel him. The chanaranges, therefore, upon hearing the commands of Chosroes, was exceedingly grieved and, lamenting the misfortune, he communicated to his wife and Cabades' nurse all that the king had commanded. Then the woman, bursting into tears and seizing the knees of her husband, entreated him by no means to kill Cabades. They therefore consulted together, and planned to bring up the child in the most secure concealment, and to send word in haste to Chosroes that Cabades had been put out of the world for him. And they sent word to the king to this effect, and concealed Cabades in such a way that the affair did not come to the notice of any one, except Varrames, their own child, and one of the servants who seemed to them to be in every way most trustworthy. But when, as time went on, Cabades came of age, the chanaranges began to fear lest what had been done should be brought to light; he therefore gave Cabades money and bade him depart and save himself by flight wherever he could. At that time, then, Chosroes and all the others were in ignorance of the fact that the chanaranges had carried this thing through.

At a later time Chosroes was making an invasion into the land of Colchis with a great army, as will be told in the following narrative[30]. And he was followed by the son of this same chanaranges, Varrames, who took with him a number of his servants, and among them the one who shared with him the knowledge of what had happened to Cabades; while there Varrames told the king everything regarding Cabades, and he brought forward the servant agreeing with him in every particular. When Chosroes learned this he was forthwith exceedingly angry, and he counted it a dreadful thing that he had suffered such things at the hand of a man who was his slave; and since he had no other means of getting the man under his hand he devised the following plan. When he was about to return homeward from the land of Colchis, he wrote to this chanaranges that he had decided to invade the land of the Romans with his whole army, not, however, by a single inroad into the country, but making two divisions of the Persian army, in order that the attack might be made upon the enemy on both sides of the River Euphrates. Now one division of the army he himself, as was natural, would lead into the hostile land, while to no one else of his subjects would he grant the privilege of holding equal honour with the king in this matter, except to the chanaranges himself on account of his valour. It was necessary, therefore, that the chanaranges should come speedily to meet him as he returned, in order that he might confer with him and give him all the directions which would be of advantage to the army, and that he should bid his attendants travel behind him on the road. When the chanaranges received this message, he was overjoyed at the honour shown him by the king, and in complete ignorance of his own evil plight, he immediately carried out the instructions. But in the course of this journey, since he was quite unable to sustain the toil of it (for he was a very old man), he relaxed his hold on the reins and fell off his horse, breaking the bone in his leg. It was therefore necessary for him to remain there quietly and be cared for, and the king came to that place and saw him. And Chosroes said to him that with his leg in such a plight it was not possible that he make the expedition with them, but that he must go to one of the fortresses in that region and receive treatment there from the physicians. Thus then Chosroes sent the man away on the road to death, and behind him followed the very men who were to destroy him in the fortress,--a man who was in fact as well as in name an invincible general among the Persians, who had marched against twelve nations of barbarians and subjected them all to King Cabades. After Adergoudounbades had been removed from the world, Varrames, his son, received the office of chanaranges. Not long after this either Cabades himself, the son of Zames, or someone else who was assuming the name of Cabades came to Byzantium; certainly he resembled very closely in appearance Cabades, the king. And the Emperor Justinian, though in doubt concerning him, received him with great friendliness and honoured him as the grandson of Cabades. So then fared the Persians who rose against Chosroes.

Later on Chosroes destroyed also Mebodes for the following reason. While the king was arranging a certain important matter, he directed Zaberganes who was present to call Mebodes. Now it happened that Zaberganes was on hostile terms with Mebodes. When he came to him, he found him marshalling the soldiers under his command, and he said that the king summoned him to come as quickly as possible. And Mebodes promised that he would follow directly as soon as he should have arranged the matter in hand; but Zaberganes, moved by his hostility to him, reported to Chosroes that Mebodes did not wish to come at present, claiming to have some business or other. Chosroes, therefore, moved with anger, sent one of his attendants commanding Mebodes to go to the tripod. Now as to what this is I shall explain forthwith. An iron tripod stands always before the palace; and whenever anyone of the Persians learns that the king is angry with him, it is not right for such a man to flee for refuge to a sanctuary nor to go elsewhere, but he must seat himself by this tripod and await the verdict of the king, while no one at all dares protect him. There Mebodes sat in pitiable plight for many days, until he was seized and put to death at the command of Chosroes. Such was the final outcome of his good deeds to Chosroes.


[Jan. 1, 532] At this same time an insurrection broke out unexpectedly in Byzantium among the populace, and, contrary to expectation, it proved to be a very serious affair, and ended in great harm to the people and to the senate, as the following account will shew. In every city the population has been divided for a long time past into the Blue and the Green factions; but within comparatively recent times it has come about that, for the sake of these names and the seats which the rival factions occupy in watching the games, they spend their money and abandon their bodies to the most cruel tortures, and even do not think it unworthy to die a most shameful death. And they fight against their opponents knowing not for what end they imperil themselves, but knowing well that, even if they overcome their enemy in the fight, the conclusion of the matter for them will be to be carried off straightway to the prison, and finally, after suffering extreme torture, to be destroyed. So there grows up in them against their fellow men a hostility which has no cause, and at no time does it cease or disappear, for it gives place neither to the ties of marriage nor of relationship nor of friendship, and the case is the same even though those who differ with respect to these colours be brothers or any other kin. They care neither for things divine nor human in comparison with conquering in these struggles; and it matters not whether a sacrilege is committed by anyone at all against God, or whether the laws and the constitution are violated by friend or by foe; nay even when they are perhaps ill supplied with the necessities of life, and when their fatherland is in the most pressing need and suffering unjustly, they pay no heed if only it is likely to go well with their "faction"; for so they name the bands of partisans. And even women join with them in this unholy strife, and they not only follow the men, but even resist them if opportunity offers, although they neither go to the public exhibitions at all, nor are they impelled by any other cause; so that I, for my part, am unable to call this anything except a disease of the soul. This, then, is pretty well how matters stand among the people of each and every city.

But at this time the officers of the city administration in Byzantium were leading away to death some of the rioters. But the members of the two factions, conspiring together and declaring a truce with each other, seized the prisoners and then straightway entered the prison and released all those who were in confinement there, whether they had been condemned on a charge of stirring up sedition, or for any other unlawful act. And all the attendants in the service of the city government were killed indiscriminately; meanwhile, all of the citizens who were sane-minded were fleeing to the opposite mainland, and fire was applied to the city as if it had fallen under the hand of an enemy. The sanctuary of Sophia and the baths of Zeuxippus, and the portion of the imperial residence from the propylaea as far as the so-called House of Ares were destroyed by fire, and besides these both the great colonnades which extended as far as the market place which bears the name of Constantine, in addition to many houses of wealthy men and a vast amount of treasure. During this time the emperor and his consort with a few members of the senate shut themselves up in the palace and remained quietly there. Now the watch-word which the populace passed around to one another was Nika[31], and the insurrection has been called by this name up to the present time.

The praetorian prefect at that time was John the Cappadocian, and Tribunianus, a Pamphylian by birth, was counsellor to the emperor; this person the Romans call "quaestor." One of these two men, John, was entirely without the advantages of a liberal education; for he learned nothing while attending the elementary school except his letters, and these, too, poorly enough; but by his natural ability he became the most powerful man of whom we know. For he was most capable in deciding upon what was needful and in finding a solution for difficulties. But he became the basest of all men and employed his natural power to further his low designs; neither consideration for God nor any shame before man entered into his mind, but to destroy the lives of many men for the sake of gain and to wreck whole cities was his constant concern. So within a short time indeed he had acquired vast sums of money, and he flung himself completely into the sordid life of a drunken scoundrel; for up to the time of lunch each day he would plunder the property of his subjects, and for the rest of the day occupy himself with drinking and with wanton deeds of lust. And he was utterly unable to control himself, for he ate food until he vomited, and he was always ready to steal money and more ready to bring it out and spend it. Such a man then was John. Tribunianus, on the other hand, both possessed natural ability and in educational attainments was inferior to none of his contemporaries; but he was extraordinarily fond of the pursuit of money and always ready to sell justice for gain; therefore every day, as a rule, he was repealing some laws and proposing others, selling off to those who requested it either favour according to their need.

Now as long as the people were waging this war with each other in behalf of the names of the colours, no attention was paid to the offences of these men against the constitution; but when the factions came to a mutual understanding, as has been said, and so began the sedition, then openly throughout the whole city they began to abuse the two and went about seeking them to kill. Accordingly the emperor, wishing to win the people to his side, instantly dismissed both these men from office. And Phocas, a patrician, he appointed praetorian prefect, a man of the greatest discretion and fitted by nature to be a guardian of justice; Basilides he commanded to fill the office of quaestor, a man known among the patricians for his agreeable qualities and a notable besides. However, the insurrection continued no less violently under them. Now on the fifth day of the insurrection in the late afternoon the Emperor Justinian gave orders to Hypatius and Pompeius, nephews of the late emperor, Anastasius, to go home as quickly as possible, either because he suspected that some plot was being matured by them against his own person, or, it may be, because destiny brought them to this. But they feared that the people would force them to the throne (as in fact fell out), and they said that they would be doing wrong if they should abandon their sovereign when he found himself in such danger. When the Emperor Justinian heard this, he inclined still more to his suspicion, and he bade them quit the palace instantly. Thus, then, these two men betook themselves to their homes, and, as long as it was night, they remained there quietly.

But on the following day at sunrise it became known to the people that both men had quit the palace where they had been staying. So the whole population ran to them, and they declared Hypatius emperor and prepared to lead him to the market-place to assume the power. But the wife of Hypatius, Mary, a discreet woman, who had the greatest reputation for prudence, laid hold of her husband and would not let go, but cried out with loud lamentation and with entreaties to all her kinsmen that the people were leading him on the road to death. But since the throng overpowered her, she unwillingly released her husband, and he by no will of his own came to the Forum of Constantine, where they summoned him to the throne; then since they had neither diadem nor anything else with which it is customary for a king to be clothed, they placed a golden necklace upon his head and proclaimed him Emperor of the Romans. By this time the members of the senate were assembling,--as many of them as had not been left in the emperor's residence,--and many expressed the opinion that they should go to the palace to fight. But Origenes, a man of the senate, came forward and spoke as follows: "Fellow Romans, it is impossible that the situation which is upon us be solved in any way except by war. Now war and royal power are agreed to be the greatest of all things in the world. But when action involves great issues, it refuses to be brought to a successful conclusion by the brief crisis of a moment, but this is accomplished only by wisdom of thought and energy of action, which men display for a length of time. Therefore if we should go out against the enemy, our cause will hang in the balance, and we shall be taking a risk which will decide everything in a brief space of time; and, as regards the consequences of such action, we shall either fall down and worship Fortune or reproach her altogether. For those things whose issue is most quickly decided, fall, as a rule, under the sway of fortune. But if we handle the present situation more deliberately, not even if we wish shall we be able to take Justinian in the palace, but he will very speedily be thankful if he is allowed to flee; for authority which is ignored always loses its power, since its strength ebbs away with each day. Moreover we have other palaces, both Placillianae and the palace named from Helen, which this emperor should make his headquarters and from there he should carry on the war and attend to the ordering of all other matters in the best possible way." So spoke Origenes. But the rest, as a crowd is accustomed to do, insisted more excitedly and thought that the present moment was opportune, and not least of all Hypatius (for it was fated that evil should befall him) bade them lead the way to the hippodrome. But some say that he came there purposely, being well-disposed toward the emperor.

Now the emperor and his court were deliberating as to whether it would be better for them if they remained or if they took to flight in the ships. And many opinions were expressed favouring either course. And the Empress Theodora also spoke to the following effect: "As to the belief that a woman ought not to be daring among men or to assert herself boldly among those who are holding back from fear, I consider that the present crisis most certainly does not permit us to discuss whether the matter should be regarded in this or in some other way. For in the case of those whose interests have come into the greatest danger nothing else seems best except to settle the issue immediately before them in the best possible way. My opinion then is that the present time, above all others, is inopportune for flight, even though it bring safety. For while it is impossible for a man who has seen the light not also to die, for one who has been an emperor it is unendurable to be a fugitive. May I never be separated from this purple, and may I not live that day on which those who meet me shall not address me as mistress. If, now, it is your wish to save yourself, O Emperor, there is no difficulty. For we have much money, and there is the sea, here the boats. However consider whether it will not come about after you have been saved that you would gladly exchange that safety for death. For as for myself, I approve a certain ancient saying that royalty is a good burial-shroud." When the queen had spoken thus, all were filled with boldness, and, turning their thoughts towards resistance, they began to consider how they might be able to defend themselves if any hostile force should come against them. Now the soldiers as a body, including those who were stationed about the emperor's court, were neither well disposed to the emperor nor willing openly to take an active part in fighting, but were waiting for what the future would bring forth. All the hopes of the emperor were centred upon Belisarius and Mundus, of whom the former, Belisarius, had recently returned from the Persian war bringing with him a following which was both powerful and imposing, and in particular he had a great number of spearmen and guards who had received their training in battles and the perils of warfare. Mundus had been appointed general of the Illyrians, and by mere chance had happened to come under summons to Byzantium on some necessary errand, bringing with him Erulian barbarians.

When Hypatius reached the hippodrome, he went up immediately to where the emperor is accustomed to take his place and seated himself on the royal throne from which the emperor was always accustomed to view the equestrian and athletic contests. And from the palace Mundus went out through the gate which, from the circling descent, has been given the name of the Snail. Belisarius meanwhile began at first to go straight up toward Hypatius himself and the royal throne, and when he came to the adjoining structure where there has been a guard of soldiers from of old, he cried out to the soldiers commanding them to open the door for him as quickly as possible, in order that he might go against the tyrant. But since the soldiers had decided to support neither side, until one of them should be manifestly victorious, they pretended not to hear at all and thus put him off. So Belisarius returned to the emperor and declared that the day was lost for them, for the soldiers who guarded the palace were rebelling against him. The emperor therefore commanded him to go to the so-called Bronze Gate and the propylaea there. So Belisarius, with difficulty and not without danger and great exertion, made his way over ground covered by ruins and half-burned buildings, and ascended to the stadium. And when he had reached the Blue Colonnade which is on the right of the emperor's throne, he purposed to go against Hypatius himself first; but since there was a small door there which had been closed and was guarded by the soldiers of Hypatius who were inside, he feared lest while he was struggling in the narrow space the populace should fall upon him, and after destroying both himself and all his followers, should proceed with less trouble and difficulty against the emperor. Concluding, therefore, that he must go against the populace who had taken their stand in the hippodrome--a vast multitude crowding each other in great disorder--he drew his sword from its sheath and, commanding the others to do likewise, with a shout he advanced upon them at a run. But the populace, who were standing in a mass and not in order, at the sight of armoured soldiers who had a great reputation for bravery and experience in war, and seeing that they struck out with their swords unsparingly, beat a hasty retreat. Then a great outcry arose, as was natural, and Mundus, who was standing not far away, was eager to join in the fight,--for he was a daring and energetic fellow--but he was at a loss as to what he should do under the circumstances; when, however, he observed that Belisarius was in the struggle, he straightway made a sally into the hippodrome through the entrance which they call the Gate of Death. Then indeed from both sides the partisans of Hypatius were assailed with might and main and destroyed. When the rout had become complete and there had already been great slaughter of the populace, Boraedes and Justus, nephews of the Emperor Justinian, without anyone daring to lift a hand against them, dragged Hypatius down from the throne, and, leading him in, handed him over together with Pompeius to the emperor. And there perished among the populace on that day more than thirty thousand. But the emperor commanded the two prisoners to be kept in severe confinement. Then, while Pompeius was weeping and uttering pitiable words (for the man was wholly inexperienced in such misfortunes), Hypatius reproached him at length and said that those who were about to die unjustly should not lament. For in the beginning they had been forced by the people against their will, and afterwards they had come to the hippodrome with no thought of harming the emperor. And the soldiers killed both of them on the following day and threw their bodies into the sea. The emperor confiscated all their property for the public treasury, and also that of all the other members of the senate who had sided with them. Later, however, he restored to the children of Hypatius and Pompeius and to all others the titles which they had formerly held, and as much of their property as he had not happened to bestow upon his friends. This was the end of the insurrection in Byzantium.


Tribunianus and John were thus deprived of office, but at a later time they were both restored to the same positions. And Tribunianus lived on in office many years and died of disease, suffering no further harm from anyone. For he was a smooth fellow and agreeable in every way and well able by the excellence of his education to throw into the shade his affliction of avarice. But John was oppressive and severe alike with all men, inflicting blows upon those whom he met and plundering without respect absolutely all their money; consequently in the tenth year of his office he rightly and justly atoned for his lawless conduct in the following manner.

The Empress Theodora hated him above all others. And while he gave offence to the woman by the wrongs he committed, he was not of a mind to win her by flattery or by kindness in any way, but he openly set himself in opposition to her and kept slandering her to the emperor, neither blushing before her high station nor feeling shame because of the extraordinary love which the emperor felt for her. When the queen perceived what was being done, she purposed to slay the man, but in no way could she do this, since the Emperor Justinian set great store by him. And when John learned of the purpose of the queen regarding him, he was greatly terrified. And whenever he went into his chamber to sleep, he expected every night that some one of the barbarians would fall upon him to slay him; and he kept peeping out of the room and looking about the entrances and remained sleepless, although he had attached to himself many thousands of spearmen and guards, a thing which had been granted to no prefect before that time. But at daybreak, forgetting all his fears of things divine and human, he would become again a plague to all the Romans both in public and in private. And he conversed commonly with sorcerers, and constantly listened to profane oracles which portended for him the imperial office, so that he was plainly walking on air and lifted up by his hopes of the royal power. But in his rascality and the lawlessness of his conduct there was no moderation or abatement. And there was in him absolutely no regard for God, and even when he went to a sanctuary to pray and to pass the night, he did not do at all as the Christians are wont to do, but he clothed himself in a coarse garment appropriate to a priest of the old faith which they are now accustomed to call Hellenic, and throughout that whole night mumbled out some unholy words which he had practised, praying that the mind of the emperor might be still more under his control, and that he himself might be free from harm at the hands of all men.

At this time Belisarius, after subjugating Italy, came to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor with his wife Antonina, in order to march against the Persians[32]. And while in the eyes of all others he was an honoured and distinguished person, as was natural, John alone was hostile to him and worked actively against him, for no other reason than that he drew the hatred of all to himself, while Belisarius enjoyed an unequalled popularity. And it was on him that the hope of the Romans centred as he marched once more against the Persians, leaving his wife in Byzantium. Now Antonina, the wife of Belisarius, (for she was the most capable person in the world to contrive the impossible,) purposing to do a favour to the empress, devised the following plan. John had a daughter, Euphemia, who had a great reputation for discretion, but a very young woman and for this reason very susceptible; this girl was exceedingly loved by her father, for she was his only child. By treating this young woman kindly for several days Antonina succeeded most completely in winning her friendship, and she did not refuse to share her secrets with her. And on one occasion when she was present alone with her in her room she pretended to lament the fate which was upon her, saying that although Belisarius had made the Roman empire broader by a goodly measure than it had been before, and though he had brought two captive kings and so great an amount of wealth to Byzantium, he found Justinian ungrateful; and in other respects she slandered the government as not just. Now Euphemia was overjoyed by these words, for she too was hostile to the present administration by reason of her fear of the empress, and she said: "And yet, dearest friend, it is you and Belisarius who are to blame for this, seeing that, though you have opportunity, you are not willing to use your power." And Antonina replied quickly: "It is because we are not able, my daughter, to undertake revolutions in camp, unless some of those here at home join with us in the task. Now if your father were willing, we should most easily organize this project and accomplish whatever God wills." When Euphemia heard this, she promised eagerly that the suggestion would be carried out, and departing from there she immediately brought the matter before her father. And he was pleased by the message (for he inferred that this undertaking offered him a way to the fulfilment of his prophecies and to the royal power), and straightway without any hesitation he assented, and bade his child arrange that on the following day he himself should come to confer with Antonina and give pledges. When Antonina learned the mind of John, she wished to lead him as far as possible astray from the understanding of the truth, so she said that for the present it was inadvisable that he should meet her, for fear lest some suspicion should arise strong enough to prevent proceedings; but she was intending straightway to depart for the East to join Belisarius. When, therefore, she had quit Byzantium and had reached the suburb (the one called Rufinianae which was the private possession of Belisarius), there John should come as if to salute her and to escort her forth on the journey, and they should confer regarding matters of state and give and receive their pledges. In saying this she seemed to John to speak well, and a certain day was appointed to carry out the plan. And the empress, hearing the whole account from Antonina, expressed approval of what she had planned, and by her exhortations raised her enthusiasm to a much higher pitch still.

When the appointed day was at hand, Antonina bade the empress farewell and departed from the city, and she went to Rufinianae, as if to begin on the following day her journey to the East; hither too came John at night in order to carry out the plan which had been agreed upon. Meanwhile the empress denounced to her husband the things which were being done by John to secure the tyranny, and she sent Narses, the eunuch, and Marcellus, the commander of the palace guards to Rufinianae with numerous soldiers, in order that they might investigate what was going on, and, if they found John setting about a revolution, that they might kill the man forthwith and return. So these departed for this task. But they say that the emperor got information of what was being done and sent one of John's friends to him forbidding him on any condition to meet Antonina secretly. But John (since it was fated that he should fare ill), disregarding the emperor's warning, about midnight met Antonina, close by a certain wall behind which she had stationed Narses and Marcellus with their men that they might hear what was said. There, while John with unguarded tongue was assenting to the plans for the attack and binding himself with the most dread oaths, Narses and Marcellus suddenly set upon him. But in the natural confusion which resulted the body-guards of John (for they stood close by) came immediately to his side. And one of them smote Marcellus with his sword, not knowing who he was, and thus John was enabled to escape with them, and reached the city with all speed. And if he had had the courage to go straightway before the emperor, I believe that he would have suffered no harm at his hand; but as it was, he fled for refuge to the sanctuary, and gave the empress opportunity to work her will against him at her pleasure.

[May, 541] Thus, then, from being prefect he became a private citizen, and rising from that sanctuary he was conveyed to another, which is situated in the suburb of the city of Cyzicus called by the Cyzicenes Artace. There he donned the garb of a priest, much against his will, not a bishop's gown however, but that of a presbyter, as they are called. But he was quite unwilling to perform the office of a priest lest at some time it should be a hindrance to his entering again into office; for he was by no means ready to relinquish his hopes. All his property was immediately confiscated to the public treasury, but a large proportion of this the emperor remitted to him, for he was still inclined to spare him. There it was possible for John to live, disregarding all dangers and enjoying great wealth, both that which he himself had concealed and that which by the decision of the emperor remained with him, and to indulge in luxury at his pleasure, and, if he had reasoned wisely, to consider his present lot a happy one. For this reason all the Romans were exceedingly vexed with the man, because, forsooth, after proving himself the basest of all demons, contrary to his deserts he was leading a life happier than before. But God, I think, did not suffer John's retribution to end thus, but prepared for him a greater punishment. And it fell out thus.

There was in Cyzicus a certain bishop named Eusebius, a man harsh to all who came in his way, and no less so than John; this man the Cyzicenes denounced to the emperor and summoned to justice. And since they accomplished nothing inasmuch as Eusebius circumvented them by his great power, certain youths agreed together and killed him in the market-place of Cyzicus. Now it happened that John had become especially hostile to Eusebius, and hence the suspicion of the plot fell upon him. Accordingly men were sent from the senate to investigate this act of pollution. And these men first confined John in a prison, and then this man who had been such a powerful prefect, and had been inscribed among the patricians and had mounted the seat of the consuls, than which nothing seems greater, at least in the Roman state, they made to stand naked like any robber or footpad, and thrashing him with many blows upon his back, compelled him to tell his past life. And while John had not been clearly convicted as guilty of the murder of Eusebius, it seemed that God's justice was exacting from him the penalties of the world. Thereafter they stripped him of all his goods and put him naked on board a ship, being wrapped in a single cloak, and that a very rough one purchased for some few obols; and wherever the ship anchored, those who had him in charge commanded him to ask from those he met bread or obols. Thus begging everywhere along the way he was conveyed to the city of Antinous in Aegypt. And this is now the third year during which they have been guarding him there in confinement. As for John himself, although he has fallen into such troubles, he has not relinquished his hope of royal power, but he made up his mind to denounce certain Alexandrians as owing money to the public treasury. Thus then John the Cappadocian ten years afterward was overtaken by this punishment for his political career.


At that time the Emperor again designated Belisarius General of the East, and, sending him to Libya, gained over the country, as will be told later on in my narrative. When this information came to Chosroes and the Persians, they were mightily vexed, and they already repented having made peace with the Romans, because they perceived that their power was extending greatly. And Chosroes sent envoys to Byzantium, and said that he rejoiced with the Emperor Justinian, and he asked with a laugh to receive his share of the spoils from Libya, on the ground that the emperor would never have been able to conquer in the war with the Vandals if the Persians had not been at peace with him. So then Justinian made a present of money to Chosroes, and not long afterwards dismissed the envoys.

In the city of Daras the following event took place. There was a certain John there serving in a detachment of infantry; this man, in conspiracy with some few of the soldiers, but not all, took possession of the city, essaying to make himself tyrant. Then he established himself in a palace as if in a citadel, and was strengthening his tyranny every day. And if it had not happened that the Persians were continuing to keep peace with the Romans, irreparable harm would have come from this affair to the Romans. But as it was, this was prevented by the agreement which had already been reached, as I have said. On the fourth day of the tyranny some soldiers conspired together, and by the advice of Mamas, the priest of the city, and Anastasius, one of the notable citizens, they went up to the palace at high noon, each man hiding a small sword under his garment. And first at the door of the courtyard they found some few of the body-guards, whom they slew immediately. Then they entered the men's apartment and laid hold upon the tyrant; but some say that the soldiers were not the first to do this, but that while they were still hesitating in the courtyard and trembling at the danger, a certain sausage-vendor who was with them rushed in with his cleaver and meeting John smote him unexpectedly. But the blow which had been dealt him was not a fatal one, this account goes on to say, and he fled with a great outcry and suddenly fell among these very soldiers. Thus they laid hands upon the man and immediately set fire to the palace and burned it, in order that there might be left no hope from there for those making revolutions; and John they led away to the prison and bound. And one of them, fearing lest the soldiers, upon learning that the tyrant survived, might again make trouble for the city, killed John, and in this way stopped the confusion. Such, then, was the progress of events touching this tyranny.


  1. Cf. Iliad xi. 385 [Greek: toxota, lôbêtêr, kerai aglae, parthenopipa], the only place where [Greek: toxotês] occurs in Homer.
  2. Cf. Iliad v. 192.
  3. Cf. Iliad viii. 267; xi. 371.
  4. Cf. Iliad iv. 113.


Cf. _Iliad_ iv. 123.


Cf. _Iliad_ xi. 390.


The trench crossed the plain in an approximately straight line. The army of the Ephthalitae were drawn up behind it, facing the advancing Persians, while a few of them went out beyond the trench to draw the attack of the Persians.


Cf. Thuc. ii. 76, 4.


Cf. Book VII. xxvi. 4.


Cf. Thuc. i. 128.


A division of no fixed number.


Cf. Book I. ii. 15.


Modern Erzeroum.


_i.e._ "by force."


Cf. Book VIII. xiii. 15.


Cf. _Iliad_ xxiv. 348; _Odyssey_ x. 279.




Roman formation.

_a--a, trench._

1. Bouzes and Pharas.

2. Sunicas and Aigan.

3. John, Cyril, Marcellus, Germanus, and Dorotheus.

4. Simmas and Ascan.

5. Belisarius and Hermogenes.

[Illustration: Roman formation.]

     1.                                    3.
 (h)=======           |----|         ===========
 hill             2.--| 5. |--4.
           a__________|    |__________a


Cf. Book I. x. 2.


Cf. Book I. xii. 21.


Cf. Book I. xiii. 2.


"Euphratesia"; cf. section 2.


Title meaning a patrician. See Index.


Ch. xiv. 28-54.


The coast described here is that of Arabia.


Rather the "Arabian Gulf."


Cf. ch. xv. 31.


In Latin _serica_, as coming from the Chinese (Seres).


Cf. chap. xvi. 7.


Cf. Book II. xvii.


_i.e._ "Conquer."


Book VI. xxx. 30.