Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Ch. 13, §5
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has not been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Ch. 15, §§1‑4

Vol. II
Chapter XIV

The Empire and Persia

§ 1. Relations with Persia in the Fifth Century

The rulers of Constantinople would hardly have steered their section of the Empire with even such success as they achieved through the dangers which beset it in the fifth century, had it not been that from the reign of Arcadius to that of Anastasius their peaceful relations with the Sassanid kings of Persia were only twice interrupted by brief hostilities. The unusually long duration of this period of peace, notwithstanding the fact that the conditions in Armenia constantly supplied provocations or pretexts for war, was in a great measure due to the occupation of Persia with savage and dangerous enemies who threatened her north-eastern frontier, the Ephthalites or White Huns, but there was a contributory cause in the fact that the power of the Sassanid kings at this time was steadily declining. It is significant that when, at the end of the fifth century, a monarch arose who was able to hold his own against the encroachments of the Zoroastrian priesthood and the nobility, grave hostilities immediately ensued which were to last with few and uneasy intervals for a hundred and thirty years.

At the accession of Arcadius, Varahran IV was on the Persian throne, but was succeeded in A.D. 399 by Yezdegerd I. The policy of this sovran was favourable to his Christian subjects, who had been allowed to recover from the violent persecution which they had suffered at the hands of Sapor, the conqueror of Julian; and he was an object of veneration to Christian historians,​1 while the Magi and the chroniclers of his own kingdom  p2  detested his name. After the death of Arcadius there were negotiations between the courts of Constantinople and Ctesiphon, but it is difficult to discover precisely what occurred. There is a record, which can hardly fail to have some foundation, that in his last illness Arcadius was fretted by the fear that the Persians might take advantage of his son's infancy to attack the Empire, and that he drew up a testament in which he requested the Great King to act as guardian of his son.​2 There seems no reason not to accept this statement, provided we do not press the legal sense of guardian,​3 and take the act of Arcadius to have been simply a recommendation of Theodosius to the protection and goodwill of Yezdegerd. The communication of this request would naturally be entrusted to the embassy, which, according to the traditional etiquette, announced the accession of a new Emperor at the Persian court.​4 Yezdegerd took the wish of his "brother" as a compliment and declared that the enemies of Theodosius would have to deal with him.

Whatever be the truth about this record, which is not mentioned by contemporary writers,​5 there is no doubt that there were transactions between the two governments at this juncture, and either a new treaty or some less formal arrangement seems to have been concluded, bearing chiefly on the position of Persian Christians and perhaps also on commerce. The Imperial Government employed the good offices of Maruthas, bishop of Martyropolis,​6 who, partly on account of his medical  p3  knowledge, enjoyed much credit with Yezdegerd, to persuade the king to protect his Christian subjects. Yezdegerd inaugurated a new policy, and for the next twelve years the Christians of Persia possessed complete ecclesiastical freedom.7

It is possible that at the same time the commercial relations between the two realms were under discussion. It was the policy of both powers alike to restrict the interchange of merchandise to a few places close to the frontier. Persian merchants never came to Constantinople, Roman merchants never went to Ctesiphon. The governments feared espionage under the guise of trade, and everything was done to discourage free intercourse between the two states. Before the treaty of Jovian, Nisibis was the only Roman town in which Persian merchants were allowed to trade.​8 After the loss of Nisibis, Callinicum seems to have become the Roman market for Persian merchandise, but we hear nothing of the new arrangements until the year 408‑409, when an Imperial edict was issued for the direction of the governors of the frontier provinces.​9 From it we learn that the two governments had agreed that the Persian towns of Nisibis and Artaxata and the Imperial town of Callinicum should be the only places to which Persian and Roman traders might bring their wares and resort to transact business. Taken in connection with the fact that the two governments had been engaged in negotiations, this promulgation of the edict at this time suggests that if a new compact regarding commercial relations was not concluded, an old agreement, which may have been laxly executed, was confirmed.10

 p4  At the very end of Yezdegerd's reign the friendly understanding was clouded. All might have gone well if the Christian clergy had been content to be tolerated and to enjoy their religious liberty. But they engaged in an active campaign of proselytism and were so success­ful in converting Persians to Christianity that the king became seriously alarmed.​11 It was perfectly natural that he should not have been disposed to allow the Zoroastrian religion to be endangered by the propagation of a hostile creed. It is quite certain that if there had been fanatical Zoroastrians​12 in the Roman Empire and they had undertaken to convert Christians, the Christian government would have stopped at nothing to avert the danger. Given the ideas which then prevailed on the importance of State religions, we cannot be surprised that Yezdegerd should have permitted acts of persecution. Some of the Christians fled to Roman territory. The Imperial government refused to surrender them (A.D. 420) and prepared for the event of war.​13 Yezdegerd died at this juncture, and was succeeded by his son Varahran V, who was completely under the influence of the Zoroastrian priests, and began a general persecution.​14 Some outages were committed on Roman merchants. The war which resulted lasted for little more than a year, and the Roman armies were success­ful.​15 Then a treaty was negotiated by which peace was made  p5  for a hundred years (A.D. 422). Varharan undertook to stay the persecution; and it was agreed that neither party should receive the Saracen subjects of the other.16

The attention of Varahran was soon occupied by the appearance of new enemies beyond the Oxus, who for more than a hundred years were constantly to distract Persian arms from the Roman frontier.​17 The lands between the Oxus and Jaxartes had for some centuries been in the hands of the Kushans. The Kushans were now conquered (c. A.D. 425) by another Tartar people, who were known to the Chinese as the Ye‑tha, to Armenian and Arabic writers as the Haithal, and to the Greeks as the Ephthalites.​18 The Greek historians sometimes classify them as Huns, but add the qualification "white," which refers to their fair complexion and distinguishes them from the true Huns (Hiung‑nu), who were dark and ugly.​19 The Ephthalites belonged in fact not to the Hiung‑nu, but to a different Turanian race, which was known to the Chinese as the Hoa. Their appearance on the Oxus marked a new epoch in the perennial warfare between Iran and Turan. They soon built up a considerable empire extending from the Caspian to the Indus, including Chorasmia, Sogdiana, and part of north-western India.​20 Their chief town was Balkh, and Gurgan​21 (on the river of the same name which flows into the Caspian) was their principal frontier fortress against Persia. The first hostilities against the Ephthalites broke out in A.D. 427 and resulted in a complete victory for Varahran.22

The reign of Theodosius II witnessed a second but less serious disturbance of the peace, soon after the accession of Yezdegerd II (A.D. 438). The cause is uncertain. It has been conjectured, without sufficient evidence, that the Persian king was in league  p6  with Attila and Gaiseric for the destruction of the Empire.​23 It is possible that Persian suspicions had been provoked by the erection of a fortress at Erzerum in Roman Armenia, on the Persarmenian frontier, which was named Theodosiopolis.​24 This stronghold was to have a long history, reaching down to the present day, as one of the principal eastern defences of Asia Minor. Whatever motives may have instigated him to violate the peace, Yezdegerd raided Roman Armenia (A.D. 440).​25 Menaced, however, in his rear by an invasion of the Ephthalites he was easily bought off by Anatolius, the Master of Soldiers in the East, and Aspar. A new peace was then concluded (A.D. 442), probably confirming the treaty of A.D. 422, with the additional stipulations that neither party should build a fortress within a certain distance of the frontier, and that the Romans should (as had been agreed by the treaty of A.D. 363) contribute a fixed sum to keep in repair the defences of the Caspian Gates against the barbarians beyond the Caucasus. "Caspian Gates" is a misleading name; for it was used to designate not, as one would expect, passes at the eastern extremity of the range, but passes in the centre, especially that of Dariel, north of Iberia. These danger-points were guarded by the Romans so long as they were over­lords of Iberia, but now they abandoned Iberia to Persian influence and were therefore no longer in a position to keep garrisons in the mountain passes.26

The greater part of Yezdegerd's reign was troubled by war with the Ephthalites. He made energetic efforts to convert Persian Armenia to the religion of Zoroaster, but the Armenians were tenacious of their Christianity and offered steady resistance to his armies. Since A.D. 428, when the last Arsacid king, Ardashir, had been deposed by the Persian monarch at the  p7  request of the Armenians themselves, the country had been ruled by Persian governors (marzbans).​27 In A.D. 450 the Armenians sent a message to Constantinople imploring the Emperor to rescue them and their faith. Marcian, who had just come to the throne and was threatened by Attila, was not in a position to go to war with Persia for the sake of the Persarmenian Christians. He determined to be neutral, and Yezdegerd was informed that he need fear no hostilities from the Empire.​28 The war between the Armenians and their over­lord continued after the death of Yezdegerd (A.D. 453) during the reign of Firuz (Perozes), under the leader­ship of Vahan the Mamigonian.

Firuz perished in a war with the Ephthalites, whose king had devised a cunning stratagem of covered ditches which were fatal to the Persian cavalry (A.D. 484).​29 Valakhesh (Balas), perhaps his brother, followed him, and enjoyed a shorter but more peaceable reign. He made a treaty with the enemy, consenting to pay them a tribute for two years. He pacified Armenia by granting unreserved toleration; Vahan was appointed its governor; and Christianity was reinstated. Valakhesh died in A.D. 488.

During this period — the reigns of Marcian, Leo, and Zeno — there had been no hostilities between the two empires, but there had been diplomatic incidents. About A.D. 464 Perozes had demanded money from Leo for the defence of the Caucasian passes, had complained of the reception of Persian refugees, and of the persecution of the Zoroastrian communities which still existed on Roman territory.​30 Leo sent an ambassador who was received by the king, perhaps on the frontier of the Ephthalites, and the matters seem to have been amicably arranged.​31 Ten years later an incident occurred which illustrates  p8  the danger of the extension of Persian influence to the Red Sea, although the Persian Government was in this case in no way responsible.​32 A Persian adventurer, Amorkesos, who "whether because he was not success­ful in Persia or for some other reason preferred Roman territory," settled in the province of Arabia. There he lived as a brigand, making raids, not on the Romans but on the Saracens. His power grew and he seized Jotaba, one of the small islands in the mouth of the gulf of Akaba, the eastern inlet formed by the promontory of Sinai. Jotaba belonged to the Romans and was a commercial station of some importance. Driving out the Greek custom-house officers, Amorkesos took possession of it and soon amassed a fortune by collecting the dues. He made himself ruler of some other places in the neighbourhood, and conceived the desire of becoming a phylarch or satrap of the Saracens of Arabia Petraea, who were nominally dependent on the Roman Emperor. He sent an ecclesiastic to Leo to negotiate the matter, and Leo graciously signified his wish to have a personal interview with Amorkesos. When the Persian arrived, he shared the Imperial table, was admitted to assemblies of the Senate, and even honoured with precedence over the patricians. The Byzantines, it appears, were scandalised that these privileges should be accorded to a fire-worshipper, and Leo seems to have been obliged to pretend that his guest intended to become a Christian. On his departure Leo gave him a valuable picture, and compelled the members of the Senate to present him with gifts; and, what was more important, he transferred to him the possession of Jotaba, and added more villages to those which he already governed, granting him also the coveted title of phylarch.​33 Jotaba, however, was not permanently lost. The Imperial authority there was re-established in the reign of Anastasius.34

 p9  Valakhehs was succeeded on the Persian throne by Kavad, the son of Perozes. Kavad was in some ways the ablest of all the Sassanid sovrans. His great achievement was to restore the royal power, which had been gradually declining since the end of the fourth century, and was now well on its way towards the destiny which two hundred years later was to overtake the Merovingian kings of France. The kings had failed to retain their own authority over the Magian priesthood and the official or bureaucratic nobility, and the state was really managed by the principal minister whose title was wazurg-framadhar, and whose functions may be compared to those of a Praetorian Prefect.​35 It was one of these ministers to whom Kavad owed his elevation.

Kavad might not have found it easy to emancipate the throne from the tutelage to which it had so long submitted, if there had not been a remarkable popular movement at the time of which he boldly took advantage.​36 A communist had arisen in the person of Mazdak, and was preaching successfully among the lower classes throughout Persia the doctrines that all men are equal, that the present state of society is contrary to nature, and that the acts condemned by society as crimes are, as merely tending to overthrow an unjustifiable institution, blameless. Community of property and wives was another deduction. Kavad embraced and actually helped to promulgate these anarchical doctrines. His conversion to Mazdakism was not, of course, sincere; his policy was to use the movement as a counterpoise to the power of the nobles and the Zoroastrian priests. There was a struggle for some years of which we do not know the details, but at length the nobles managed to immure the dangerous king in the Castle of "Lethe" (A.D. 497).​37 Mazdak was imprisoned, but forcibly released by his disciples. After a confinement of two or three years Kavad found means to escape, and with the help of the Ephthalites was reinstated on the throne (A.D. 499).

 p10  During his reign Kavad began a number of reforms in the organisation of the state which tended to establish and secure the royal authority. He did not do away with the high office of wazurg-framadhar, but he deprived it of its functions and it became little more than a honorific title.​38 He began a new survey of the land, for the purpose of instituting a system of sound finance.​39 Towards the end of his reign his position was so strong that he was able to take measures to suppress the anti-social Mazdakite sect, which he had suffered only because the hostility between these enthusiasts and the nobles and priests helped him to secure and consolidate the royal power.

§ 2. The Persian War of Anastasius (A.D. 502‑507)

It was some time after the restoration of Kavad that hostilities broke out, after sixty years of peace between Persia and the Empire. In their financial embarrassments the Sassanid kings were accustomed to apply to Constantinople, and to receive payments which were nominally the bargained contribution to the defence of the Caucasian passes. The Emperors Leo and Zeno had extricated Perozes from difficulties by such payments.​40 But in A.D. 483 the Persians repudiated a treaty obligation. It had been agreed by the treaty of Jovian that Persia was to retain Nisibis for 120 years and then restore it to the Romans. This period now terminated and the Persians declined to surrender a fortress which was essential to their position in Mesopotamia. The Emperor Zeno did not go to war, but he refused to make any further payments for the defence of the Caucasus. When king Valakhesh applied to him he said: "You have the taxes of Nisibis, which are due rightfully to us."​41 The Imperial Government cannot have seriously expected Persia to fulfil her obligation in regard to Nisibis, but her refusal to do so gave the Romans the legal right to decline to carry out their contract to supply money. Anastasius followed the policy of Zeno when Kavad renewed the demand with menaces in A.D. 491.42

 p11  After his restoration Kavad was in great straits for money. He owed the Ephthalites a large sum which he had undertaken to pay them for their services in restoring him to the throne, and he applied to Anastasius. The Emperor had no intention of helping him, as it appeared to be manifestly to the interest of the Empire to promote hostility and not friendship between the Ephthalites and the Persians. It is said that his refusal took the form of a demand for a written acknowledgment (cautio), as he knew that Kavad, unfamiliar with the usages of Roman law, would regard such a mercantile transaction as undignified and intolerable.​43 Kavad resolved on war, and the Hundred Years' Peace was broken, not for the first time, after a duration of eighty years (August, A.D. 502).44

The Persian monarch began operations with an invasion of Armenia, and Theodosiopolis fell into his hands by treachery. Then he marched southwards, attacked Martyropolis which surrendered, and laid siege to Amida. This city, after a long and laborious winter siege beginning in October, was surprised in January (A.D. 503), chiefly through the negligence of some monks who had undertaken to guard one of the towers, and having drunk too much wine slumbered instead of watching.​45 There was a hideous massacre which was stayed by the persuasions of a priest, the survivors were led away captive, and Amida was left with a garrison of 3000 men.46

On the first news of the invasion the Emperor had sent Rufinus as an ambassador to offer money and propose terms of peace.​47 Kavad detained him till Amida fell, and then  p12  despatched him to Constantinople with the news. Anastasius made military preparations, but the forces which he sent were perhaps not more than 15,000 men.​48 And, influenced by the traditions of the Isaurian campaigns, he committed the error of dividing the command, in the same theatre of war, among three generals. These were the Master of Soldiers in the East, Areobindus, the great-grandson of Aspar (on the mother's side) and son-in‑law of the Emperor Olybrius; and the two Masters of Soldiers in praesenti, Patricius, and the Emperor's nephew Hypatius, whose military inexperience did not deserve such a responsible post.49

The campaign opened (May, A.D. 503) with a success for Areobindus, in the neighbourhood of Nisibis, but the enemy soon mustered superior forces and compelled him to withdraw to Constantia. The jealousy of Hypatius and Patricius, who with 40,000 men had encamped​50 against Amida, induced them to keep back the support which they ought to have sent to their colleague. Soon afterwards the Persians fell upon them, their vanguard was cut up, and they fled with the rest of their army across the Euphrates to Samosata (August).51

Areobindus meanwhile had shut himself up in Edessa, and Kavad determined to attack it. The Christian legend of Edessa was in itself a certain challenge to the Persian kings. It was related that Abgar, prince of Edessa and friend of the Emperor Augustus, suffered in his old age from severe attacks of gout. Hearing of the miraculous cures which Jesus Christ was performing in Palestine, Abgar wrote to him, inviting him to leave a land of unbelievers and spend the rest of his life at Edessa. Jesus declined, but promised the prince recovery from his disease.  p13  The divine letter existed, and the Edessenes afterwards discovered a postscript, containing a pledge that their city would never be taken by an enemy. The text of the precious document was inscribed on one of the gates, as a sort of phylactery, and the inhabitants put implicit confidence in the sacred promise.​52 It is said that the Saracen sheikh Naman urged on Kavad against Edessa, and threatened to do there worse things than had been done at Amida. Thereupon a wound which he had received in his head swelled, and he lingered in pain for two days and died.​53 But notwithstanding this sign Kavad persisted in his evil intention.

Constantia lay in his route, and almost fell into his hands. Here we have a signal example of a secret danger which constantly threatened Roman rule in the Eastern provinces, the disaffection of the Jews. The Jews of Constantia had conspired to deliver the city to the enemy, but the plot was discovered, and the enraged Greeks killed all the Jews they could find. Disappointed of his hope to surprise the fortress, Kavad did not stay to attack it, but moved on to Edessa. He blockaded this city for a few days without success (September 17), and Areobindus sent him a message: "Now thou seest that the city is not thine, nor of Anastasius, but it is the city of Christ who blessed it, and it has withstood thy hosts."​54 But he deemed it prudent to induce the Persians to withdraw by agreeing to pay 2000 lbs. of gold at the end of twelve days and giving them hostages. Kavad withdrew, but demanded part of the payment before the appointed day. When this was refused he returned and renewed the blockade (September 24), but soon abandoned the enterprise in despair.

The operations of the following year were advantageous to the Empire. The evils of a divided command had been realised, Hypatius was recalled, and Celer, the Master of Offices, an Illyrian, was invested with the supreme command.​55 He invaded and devastated Arzanene; Areobindus invaded Persian Armenia;  p14  Patricius undertook the recovery of Amida. The siege of this place lasted throughout the winter till the following year (A.D. 505). The garrison, reduced to the utmost straits by famine, finally surrendered on favourable terms. The sufferings of the inhabitants are illustrated by the unpleasant story that women "used to go forth by stealth into the streets of the city in the evening or in the morning, and whomsoever they met, woman or child or man, for whom they were a match, they used to carry him by force into a house and kill and eat him either boiled or roasted." When this practice was betrayed by the smell of the roasting, the general put some of the women to death, but he gave leave to eat the dead.56

The Romans paid the Persians 1000 lbs. of gold for the surrender of Amida. Meanwhile Kavad was at war with the Ephthalites, and he entered into negotiations with Celer, which ended in the conclusion of a truce for seven years (A.D. 505).​57 It appears that the truce was not renewed at the end of that period, but the two empires remained actually at peace for more than twenty years.

It has been justly observed that in these oriental wars the Roman armies would hardly have held their own, but for the devoted loyalty of the civil population of the frontier provinces. It was through their heroic co-operation and patience of hunger that small besieged garrisons were able to hold out. Their labours are written in the remains of the stone fortresses in these regions.​58 And they had to suffer sorely in time of war, not only from the enemy, but from their defenders. The government did what it could by remitting taxes; but the ill-used which they experienced from the foreign, especially the German, mercenaries in the Imperial armies was enough to drive them into the arms of the Persians. Here is the vivid description of their sufferings by one of themselves.​59º

"Those who came to our aid under the name of deliverers plundered us almost as much as our enemies. Many poor people they turned out of their beds and slept in them, whilst their owners lay on the ground in cold weather. Others they drove out of their own houses, and went in and dwelt in them. The  p15  cattle of some they carried off by force as if it were spoil of war; the clothes of others they stripped off their persons and took away. Some they beat violently for a mere trifle; with others they quarrelled in the streets and reviled them for a small cause. They openly plundered every one's little stock of provisions, and the stores that some had laid up in the villages and cities. Before the eyes of every one they ill-used the women in the streets and houses. From old women, widows, and the poor they took oil, wood, salt, and other things for their own expenses, and they kept them from their own work to wait upon them. In short they harassed every one both great and small. Even the nobles of the land, who were set to keep them in order and to give them their billets, stretched out their hands for bribes; and as they took them from every one they spared nobody, but after a few days sent other soldiers to those upon whom they had quartered them in the first instance."

This war taught the Romans the existence of a capital defect in their Mesopotamian frontier. While the Persians had the strong fort of Nisibis against an advance to the Tigris, the Romans had no such defence on their own frontier commanding the high road to Constantia. After the conclusion of the treaty, Anastasius immediately prepared to remedy this weakness. At Daras, close to the frontier and a few miles from Nisibis, he built an imposing fortified town, provided with cornº-magazines, cisterns, and two public baths. He named it Anastasiopolis, and it was for the Empire what Nisibis was for Persia. Masons and workmen gathered from all Syria to complete the work while Kavad was still occupied by his Ephthalite war. He protested, for the building of a fort on the frontier was a breach of treaty engagements, but he was not in a position to do more than protest and he was persuaded to acquiesce by the diplomacy and bribes of the Emperor, who at the same time took the opportunity of strengthening the walls of Theodosiopolis.60

The Author's Notes:

1 Compare e.g. Socrates, VII.8; Chron. Edess. (ed. Guidi), p107. See Labourt, Le Christianisme dans l'empire perse, 91‑93.

2 Procopius, B. P. I.2; Theophanes, A.M. 5900 (a notice evidently drawn from the same source as that in Michael Syrus, VIII.1. Haury's view (Zur Beurteilung des Procop. 21) that Arcadius appointed Yezdegerd "guardian" in 402, when he crowned Theodosius, cannot be accepted. Agathias (IV.26) expresses scepticism about this statement of Procopius, and many modern writers (e.g. Tillemont, Gibbon, Nöldeke) have rejected it. (See P. Sauerbrei, König Jazdegerd, der Sünder, in Festschrift Albert v. Bamberg, Gotha, 1905; on the other hand, Haury, B.Z. XV.291 sqq. Cp. Güterbock, Byzanz und Persien, 28). But such a recommendation of a child heir to a foreign monarch is not without parallels. Heraclius, when he went forth against Persia, is said to have placed his son under the guardian­ship of the Chagan of the Avars. Kavad proposed that Justin I should adopt his son Chosroes (see below, p79).

3 Procopius uses the word ἐπίτροπος (= tutor), Theophanes (A.M. 5900), κουράτωρ.

4 According to Skylitzes (Cedrenus, I.586) Arcadius sent 1000 lbs. of gold to Yezdegerd. This is not improbable; the embassy announcing the Emperor's decease would in any case offer gifts.

5 Sauerbrei (op. cit.) seems to be right in his conclusion that the notice in Theophanes is not taken from Procopius but from a common source. If this is so, the record is not later than the fifth century. Skylitzes seems to have had access to this source or to an independent derivative.

6 Socrates, loc. cit.

7 The important Council of Seleucia held in 410 was the immediate outcome of the new situation. It is stated in the Acts of this Council that Yezdegerd ordained that the churches destroyed by his predecessors should be rebuilt, that all who had been imprisoned for their faith should be set at liberty, and the clergy should be free to move about without fear, Synodicon orientale, ed. Chapot, p254. See Labourt, op. cit. 91 sqq.

8 Peter Patric. fr. 3 (Leg. Rom. p4).

9 C. J. IV.63.4. The motive of the restriction of trade to certain places is stated plainly: ne alieni regni, quod non convenit, scrutentur arcana. Artaxata was subsequently replaced by Dubios (Dovin) not far to the north-east; camp. Procopius, B. P. II.25.

10 Güterbock (op. cit. 74‑75) refers the agreement to the treaty of 387, but why not to that of 363? The words of the edict are loca in quibus foederis tempore cum memorata natione nobis convenit. Sozomen makes the remarkable statement that the Persians prepared for war juncture, and then concluded a peace for 100 years (IX.4 ad init.). It is curious that he should have confused the peace of 422 with the transactions of 408. Haury (loc. cit. p294) suggests that there was actually a movement in Byzantium against the succession of Theodosius and that (p4) Yezdegerd threatened to intervene. It may be observed that the appointment of the Persian eunuch Antiochus to educate Theodosius had nothing to do with Yezdegerd.

11 The incident which immediately provoked the persecution was the outrageous act of a priest who destroyed a fire-temple near his church. Theodoret, V.38; Labourt, op. cit. 106 sq.

12 There were some old Zoroastrian communities in Cappadocia — settlers from Babylonia — in the time of the Achaemenids, which still existed in the fourth and fifth centuries (cp. Basil, Epp. 258‑325); they were known as Magusaeans (Μαγουσαῖοι). Strabo notices them,º XV.3.15 ἐν δὲ τῇ Καππαδοκίᾲ (πολὺ γὰρ ἐκεῖ τὸ τῶν Μάγων φῦλον, οἳ καὶ πύραιθοι καλοῦνται· πολλὰ δὲ καὶ τῶν Περσικῶν θεῶν ἱερά), κτλ. See Cumont, Les Mystères de Mithra, ed. 3, pp11, 12.

13 A constitution authorising the inhabitants of the Eastern and Pontic provinces to build walls round their homes (May, 420) is interpreted as a measure taken in view of impending invasion. C. J. VIII.10.10. Cp. Lebeau, V p493.

14 Labourt, 110 sqq.

15 The general Ardaburius operated in Arzanene and gained a victory, autumn 421, which forced the Persians to retreat to Nisibis, which Ardaburius then besieged. He raised the siege on the arrival of an army under Varahran, who proceeded to attack Resaina. Meanwhile the Saracens of Hira, under Al‑Mundhir, were sent to invade Syria, and were defeated by Vitianus. During the peace negotiations the Persians attacked the Romans and were defeated by Procopius, son-in‑law of Anthemius (Socrates, VII.18, 20). The Empress Eudocia celebrated the war in a poem in heroic metre (ib. 21).

16 Malchus (fr. 1 in De Leg. gent. p568) refers this provision to the peace concluding "the greatest war" in the time of Theodosius. This obviously means that of 422, not that of 442.

17 The best study of the history of the Ephthalites is the memoir of Ed. Drouin in Le Muséon, XIV (1895). See also A. Cunningham, Ephthalite or White Huns, in Transactions of Ninth International Oriental Congress, London, 1892.

Thayer's Note: Drouin's paper was published in four parts,

pp73‑84 pp141‑161 pp232‑247 pp277‑288

18 Theophylactus Simocatta gives the alternative name of Ἀβδελοί (Hist. VII.7.8).

19 See e.g. Proc. B.P. I.3; Cosmas, Christ. Top. XI.11. Procopius states that their habits were not nomad.

20 Cosmas, l.c.

21 Γοργώ, Procop. l.c.

22 The following is a chronological list of the Perso-Ephthalite wars (Drouin, op. cit. p288):

A.D. 427 war under Varahran.

" 442‑449 war under Yezdegerd II.

" 450‑451 "

" 454 "

" 474‑476 " Perozes.

" 482‑484 " "

" 485 war in interregnum.

" 503‑513 war under Kavad.

" 556‑557 " Chosroes.

23 Güldenpenning, op. cit. 340.

24 Moses of Chorene relates its foundation by Anatolius in his Hist. Arm. III.59. As Book III ends in A.D. 433, this seems to be the lower limit for the date. Procopius, Aed. III.5, p255 (cp. p210), ascribes the foundation to Theodosius I (and so Chapot, op. cit. p361); but his confusion between the two Emperors of that name is quite clear in III.1, p210.

25 And in Mesopotamia he advanced as far as Nisibis. See Elisha Vartabed, Hist. Arm. c1, p184.

26 The Persians built the fortress of Biraparach (Ἰουροειπαάχ Priscus, fr. 15, De leg. gent. p586; Βιραπαράχ John Lydus, De mag. III.52) probably in the pass of Dariel; and the fortress Korytzon (Menander, fr. 3, De leg. Rom. p180), which seems to be the Tzur of Procopius (B. G. IV.3; De Boor conjectures χώρου Τζόν in Menander), perhaps farther east. Cp. P.‑W. s.v. Biraparach; Chapot, op. cit. p369. See also Procopius, B. P. I.10. Procopius (ib. 2 ad fin.) confounds the war of 420‑422 with that of 440‑441.

27 Cp. Lazarus, Hist. Arm. c15, p272. Vramshapu had reigned from 392 to 414, then Chosroes III for a year, after whose death Yezdegerd appointed his own son Sapor. In 422 Varahran agreed to the accession of Ardashir, Vramshapu's son (Moses Chor. Hist. Arm. III. c18).

28 Elisha Vartabed, Hist. Arm. c3, pp206‑207; Lazarus, op. cit. c36, p298. A full and tedious account of the wars in Armenia will be found in these writers who were contemporary. Elisha's history ends in 446, Lazarus comes down to the accession of Valakhesh.

29 Procopius, B. P. I.4; Lazarus, op. cit. c73.

30 See above, p4, n2.

31 Priscus, fr. 15, De Leg. gent. p586, frs. 11, 12, De leg. Rom. It is difficult to reconcile the chronology with what is otherwise known of the first campaign of Perozes against the Ephthalites, whom Priscus apparently means by the Kidarites. The Kidarites proper seem to have been Huns who had settled in the trans-Caucasian (p8) country and threatened the pass of Dariel, and they are meant in another passage of Priscus (fr. 22, De leg. gent.) where Perozes announces to Leo that he has defeated them, c. A.D. 468. For the Kidarites, and this assumed confusion, see Drouin, op. cit. 143‑144.

32 The source is Malchus, fr. 1, De leg. gent. p568. Cp. Khvostov, Ist. vost. torgovli Egipta, I. p199. Jotaba has been identified with Strabo's Dia (XVI.4.18), now Tiran. It was inhabited by a colony of Jews, once independent, according to Procopius, B. P. I.19.4.

33 Leo was criticised for inviting Amorkesos to his court, and for permitting the foreigner to see the towns through which he help travel, unarmed and defenceless. Malchus, ib.

34 In A.D. 498 by Romanus (see above, Chap. XIII § 1, p432). Theophanes, A.M. 5990. It was arranged that Roman traders should live in the island. Cp. Procopius, ib.

35 See Stein's important study of the reforms of Kavad and Chosroes, Ein Kapitel vom persischen und vom byzantinischen Staate (Byz.-neugr. Jahrbücher, I, 1920) p57.

36 See Rawlinson, op. cit. 342 sqq.; Nöldeke, Tabari, 455 sqq. Cp. Tabari, 141 sq., Agathias, IV.27; Procopius, B. P. I.5. The Mazdakites are designated as Manichaeans in John Mal. XVIII p444, and the fuller account of Theophanes, A.M. 6016. Both these notices are derived from Timotheus, a baptized Persian.

37 Giligerda, in Susiana.

38 See Stein (ib. p65), who suggests with much probability (p52) that the institution of the astabedh, a minister whose functions are compared by Greek and Syrian writers to those of the magister officiorum, was due to Kavad. The first mention of this official is in Joshua Styl. c59 (A.D. 502); see also Procopius, B. P. I.11.25.

39 Tabari, p241.

40 Joshua Styl. p7.

41 Ib. pp7, 12.

42 Ib. p13. "As Zeno did not send, so neither will I, until thou (p11) restorest to me Nisibis." Kavad applied again during the Isaurian War, and Anastasius offered to send him money as a loan, but not as a matter of custom (ib. p15).

43 Procopius, B. P. I.7; Theodorus Lector, II.52; Theophanes, sub A.M. 5996. John Lydus (De mag. III.52) attributes the war to a demand for the costs of maintaining the castle of Biraparach, and doubtless the question of the Caucasian defences was mentioned in the negotiations. Kavad refers to the demand for money in his letter to Justinian quoted by John Mal. XVIII p450.

44 Joshua Styl. p37.

45 But whether the monks were to blame is doubtful (Haury, Zur Beurteilung des Proc. 23).

46 The siege of Amida is described by Joshua Styl. cc. l, liii; Zacharias Myt. VII.3; Procopius, B. P. I.7. Eustathius of Epiphania described it in his lost history (Evagrius, III.37), and may have been the source of both Procopius and Zacharias; if not, Procopius must have used Zacharias (cp. Haury, Proleg. to his ed. of Procopius, pp19‑20). The stories in the three sources are carefully compared by Merten, De bello Persico, 164 sqq.

47 During the siege of Amida, Roman Mesopotamia was invaded and plundered by the Saracens of Hira under Naman (Joshua Styl. p39 sqq.).

48 So Marcellinus, sub a. Joshua Styl. gives 40,000 men to Patricius and Hypatius and 12,000 to Areobindus.

49 Priscian's Panegyric on Anastasius may perhaps be dated to this year. For he says of Hypatius quem vidit validum Parthus sensitque timendum (p300) and does not otherwise mention the war. Among the subordinate commanders were Justin (the future Emperor); Patriciolus and his son Vitalian; Romanus. Areobindus was Consul in 506, and his consular diptych is preserved at Zürich, with the inscription Flavius Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus, V. I., Ex C. Sacri Stabuli et Magister Militum Per Orientem Ex Consule Consul Ordinarius. See CIL XIII.5245; Meyer, Zwei ant. Elfenb. p65.

50 At Siphrios, 9 miles from Amida.

51 John Lydus (De mag. III.53) attributes the ill-success of the Romans to the incompetence of the generals, Areobindus, who was devoted to dancing and music, Patricius and Hypatius, who were cowardly and inexperienced. This seems borne out by the narratives of Procopius and Joshua. Cp. Haury, Zur Beurt. des Proc. 24‑25.

52 Procopius, B. P. II.12.

53 Joshua Styl. p47.

54 This idea recurs in Procopius, who describes (B.P. II.26 ad init.) the Mesopotamian campaign of Chosroes, in which he besieged Edessa, as warfare "not with Justinian nor with any other man, but with the God of the Christians."

55 I infer the superior authority of Celer from Joshua Styl. p55. He had arrived, early in 504, with a reinforcement of 2000 according to Marcellinus, but with a very large army according to Joshua.

56 Joshua Styl. p62. Cp. Procopius, B. P. I.9 p44, from which it would appear that it was the few Roman inhabitants who were reduced to such straits.

57 Ib. p45. John Lydus, loc. cit.

58 Chapot, op. cit. p376.

59 Joshua Styl. p68. Cp. pp71‑73.

60 Procopius, B. P. II.10; Joshua Styl. p70. The fortifications of Daras will be described below, Chap. XVI § 3, in connection with the siege of Chosroes.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 17 Aug 20