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I.1‑9

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Persian Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1914

The text is in the public domain.

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I.15‑18

(Vol. I) Procopius
Persian Wars

Book I (continued)

 p77  10 1 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. 2 For it extends to a great distance, and as one proceeds along this range, it always spreads out to an extraordinary  p79 breadth and rises to an imposing height. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 Here almost all the nations of the Huns are settled, extending as far as the Maeotic lake. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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  p81 Gates to the Romans. 11 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. 12 So Ambazouces died of disease not long afterwards, and Cabades overpowered his sons and took possession of the Gates.

13 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. 14 Now this place is distant from city of Nisibis one hundred stades lacking two, and from the boundary line which divides the Romans from the Persians about twenty-eight. 15 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. 16 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.​1 17 At that time, therefore, the Emperor Anastasius desired, partly by threats, and barely by emphasizing his friendship with him and by bribing him with no mean sum of money, to deceive him and to remove the accusation. 18 And another city also was built by this emperor, similar  p83 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.​2 19 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.

11 1 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. 2 Then indeed a sort of anxiety came over Cabades, lest the Persians should make some attempt to overthrow his house as soon as hesitated end his life; for it was certain that he would not pass on the kingdom to any one of his sons without opposition. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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  p85 admiration for the manliness of Zames (for he was a capable warrior), and worshipped his other virtues, he feared lest they would rise against Chosroes and do irreparable harm to the family and to the kingdom. 6 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 the Emperor Justinus in Byzantium. 7 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. 8 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. 9 My proposal, then, is this, that you should make my son Chosroes, who will be my successor to the throne, your adopted son."

10 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. 11 And they were making all haste to perform the act of  p87 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; 12 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: 13 "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. 14 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; 15 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 acknowledge their purpose they claim without more ado to rob us of our empire, seeking to veil the manifestness of their deceit under a show of simplicity, and hide a shameless intent behind a pretended unconcern. 16 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. 17 For other crafty devices which are commonly concealed by a pretentious show of words might perhaps need an interpreter for the many,  p89 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. 18 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."

19 Thus spoke Proclus; and the emperor and his nephew gave ear to his words and deliberated upon what should be done. 20 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. 21 And then, indeed, still more than before Proclus decried the attempt of the Persians, and insisted that their concerned was to make over to themselves as securely as possible the Roman power. 22 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  p91 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.​3 23 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. 24 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; 25 from the Persians came one of great power and authority, Seoses by name, whose title was adrastadaran salanes, and Mebodes, who held the office of magister. 26 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. 27 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. 28 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  p93 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. 29 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 that adoption of Chosroes must take place just as is proper for a barbarian, it seemed to the Persians unbearable. 30 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.

31 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. 32 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. 33 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  p95 malady had developed to an altogether extraordinary degree. 34 So his accusers said all those things which have been indicated above, and added of the this that the man was by no means willing to live in the established fashion or to uphold the institutions of the Persians. 35 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. 36 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. 37 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. 38 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. 39 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.

12 1 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  p97 the following obstacle which happened to arise. 2 The Iberians, who live in Asia, are settled in the might make neighbourhood of the Caspian Gates, which lie to the north them. Adjoining them on the left towards the west is Laica, and on the right towards the east are the Persian peoples. 3 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. 4 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 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. 5 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. 6 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 merely to Bosporus, that he might win over with money an army of Huns and sent down them as allies to the Iberians. 7 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. 8 Now in ancient times the people of Bosporus were autonomous, but lately they had decided to become subject to the Emperor Justinus. 9 Probus, however, departed  p99 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. 10 Meanwhile Cabades sent a very considerable army against Gourgenes and the Iberians, and as general a Persian bearing that of "varizes," Boes by name. 11 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. 12 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. 13 And the Persians followed after them but did nothing deserving even of mention since the circumstance of the rough country was against them.

14 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. 15 Now there are two fortresses in Lazica​4 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 cornº nor wine nor any other good thing is produced there. 16 Nor indeed can anything be carried in from elsewhere on account of the narrowness of the paths, unless it be carried by men.  p101 17 However, the Lazi were able to live on a certain kind of millet which grows there, since they were accustomed to it. 18 These garrisons the emperor removed from the place and commanded that Roman soldiers should be stationed there to guard the fortress. 19 And at first the Lazi with difficulty brought in provisions for these soldiers, but later they gave up the serve and the Romans abandoned these forts, whereupon the Persians with no trouble took possession of them. This then happened in Lazica.

20 And the Romans, under the leadership of Sittas and Belisarius, made an inroad into Persarmenia, a territory should be to the Persians, where they plundered a large tract of country and then withdrew with a great multitude of Armenian captives. 21 These two men were both youths and wearing their first beards,​5 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. 22 These men not long after 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. 23 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 them. 24 And because of this the emperor reduced Libelarius from his office and appointed Belisarius commander of the points in Daras. It was at that time that Procopius, who wrote this history, was chosen as his adviser.

 p103  13 1 Not long after this Justinus, who had declared his nephew Justinian emperor with him, died, and thus the empire came to Justinian alone. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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.​6 These two were brothers from Thrace, both young and inclined to be rash in engaging with the enemy. 6 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. 7 And a fierce battle took place in which the Romans were defeated, and there was a great slaughter of them, while some all were made captive by the enemy. Among these was Coutzes himself. 8 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  p105 one defended it any longer, they razed what had been built to the ground.

9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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. 13 And when they heard this, they prepared for the battle as follows. 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. 14 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 stills of the two cross trenches, they continued two straight trenches in the original direction to a very great distance. 15 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. 16 Among the leaders  p107 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. 17 This Perozes immediately sent to Belisarius bidding him make ready the bath: for he wished to bathe there on the following day. 18 Accordingly the Romans made the most vigorous preparations for the encounter, with the expectation that they would fight on the succeeding day.

19 At sunrise, seeing the enemy advancing against them, they arrayed themselves as follows.​7 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. 20 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, be able easily to support the Romans at that point. On the other wing also they were arrayed in the same manner; 21 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  p109 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. 22 Thus all along the trench stood the detachments of cavalry and the infantry. And beheld these in the middle stood the forces of Belisarius and Hermogenes. 23 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. 24 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.

25 In the late afternoon a certain detachment of horsemen who held the right wing, separating themselves from the rest of the army, came against the forces of Bouzes and Pharas. 26 And the Romans retired a short distance to the rear. The Persians, however, did not pursue them, but remained there, fearing, I suppose, some victim to surround them on the part of the enemy. Then the Romans who had turned to flight suddenly rushed upon them. 27 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. 28 In this skirmish seven of the Persians fell, and the Romans gained possession of their bodies; thereafter both armies remained quietly in position. 29 But one Persian, a young man, riding up very close to the Roman army, began to challenge all of them,  p111 calling for whoever wished to do battle with him. 30 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 tender of youths in charge of a certain wrestling school in Byzantium. 31 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 to deliver his attack, and hit him with his spear on the right breast. 32 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. 33 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 young, for some of the hair on his head already shewed grey. 34 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. 35 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. 36 So both rushed madly upon each other with their spears, and the weapons, driven  p113 against their corselets, were turned aside with mighty force, and the horses, striking together their heads, fell themselves and threw off their riders. 37 And both the two men, falling very close to each other, made great haste to rise to their feet, but the Persian was not above 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 grounded dispatched him. 38 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 paean, went inside the fortifications; for already it was growing dark. 39 Thus both armies passed that night.

14 1 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 almost men who have even a small share of reason. 2 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. 3 But you, when affairs were well settled between the Romans and the Persians, have seen fit to bring upon us a war without cause,  p115 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. 4 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 for the disasters which will come to pass." 5 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 dell' most difficult and beyond hope, especially if you sanction the agreement by any oaths. 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 But since you are eager for deeds of war, we shall array  p117 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. 10 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." 11 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. 12 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.

13 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. 14 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 dc vd by reason of holding an opinion which is not true. 15 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,  p119 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. 16 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. 17 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 I expect, will throw them, in all probability, into their customary disorder. 18 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. 19 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." 20 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: 21 "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. 22 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  p121 be set right by an effort, reason may easily become for a man a physician for the ills caused by himself. 23 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. 24 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, it is right for you to despise them. 25 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 inspector general to serve the soldiers. 26 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. 27 Therefore if you show 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."

28 When Belisarius and Hermogenes had finished this exhortation, since eeew the Persians advancing against them, they hastily drew up the soldiers in the same manner as before. 29 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. 30 These were to take the places of the men who were fighting  p123 and to fall upon their opponents with their vigour intact, so that all might fight in constant rotation. 31 But the detachment of the so‑called Immortals alone he ordered to remain at rest until he himself should give the signal. 32 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: 33 "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 up 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.

34 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 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. 35 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. 36 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  p125 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. 37 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. 38 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. 39 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. 40 And the Persians, seeing the forces of Sunicas too already coming up against them from the flank, turned to a hasty flight.41 And the rout became complete, for the Romans here joined forces with each other, and there was a great slaughter of the barbarians. 42 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. 43 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.

44 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  p127 and Ascan were stationed, and behind them they placed many of Belisarius's men. 45 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. 46 Thereupon the Romans in the angle, and all who were behind them, advanced with great ardour against the pursuers. 47 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. 48 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. 49 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. 50 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. 51 And the Romans, having made a circle as it were around them, killed about five thousand. Thus both armies  p129 were all set in motion, the Persians in retreat, and the Romans in pursuit. 52 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. 53 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. 54 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. 55 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.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cf. Book I.i.15.

2 Modern Erzeroum.

3 i.e. "by force."

4 Cf. Book VIII.xiii.15.

5 Cf. Iliad XXIV.348; Odyssey X.279.

6 Lebanon.

7 Roman formation. DIAGRAM KEY: a‑a, trench. 1. Bouzes and Pharas. 2. Sunicas and Aigan. 3. John, Cyril, Marcellus, and Dorotheus. 4. Simmas and Ascan. 5. Belisarius and Hermogenes.


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