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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Persian Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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(Vol. I) Procopius
Persian Wars

Book II (continued)

 p295  5 1 When the winter was already reaching its close, and the thirteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian was ending, Chosroes, son of Cabades, invaded the land of the Romans at the opening of spring with a mighty army, and openly broke the so‑called endless peace. But he did not enter by the country between the rivers, but advanced with the Euphrates of his right. 2 On the other side of the river stands the last Roman stronghold which is called Circesium, an exceedingly strong place, since the River Aborras, a large stream, has its mouth at this point and mingles with the Euphrates, and this fortress lies exactly in the angle which is made by the junction of the two rivers. 3 And a long second wall outside the fortress cuts off the land between the two rivers, and completes the form of a triangle around Circesium. 4 Chosroes, therefore, not wishing to make trial of so strong a fortress and not having in mind to cross the River Euphrates, but rather to go against the Syrians and Cilicians, without any hesitation led his army forward, and after advancing for what, to an unencumbered traveller, is about a three days' journey along the bank of the Euphrates, he came upon the city of Zenobia; this place Zenobia had built in former times, and, as was natural, she gave her name to the city. 5 Now Zenobia was the wife of Odonathus, the ruler of the Saracens of that region, who had been on terms of peace with the Romans  p297 from of old. 6 This Odonathus rescued for the Romans the Eastern Empire when it had come under the power of the Medes; but this took place in former times. 7 Chosroes then came near to Zenobia, but upon learning that the place was not important and observing that the land was untenanted and destitute of all good things, he feared lest any time spent by him there would be wasted on an affair of no consequence and would be a hindrance to great undertakings, and he attempted to force the place to surrender. But meeting with no success, he hastened his march forward.

8 After again accomplishing a journey of equal extent, he reached the city of Sura, which is on the River Euphrates, and stopped very close to it. 9 There it happened that the horse on which Chosroes neighed and stamped the ground with his foot. And the Magi considered the meaning of this incident and announced that the place would be captured. 10 Chosroes then made camp and led his army against the fortifications to assail the wall. 11 Now it happened that a certain Arsaces, an Armenian by birth, was commander of the soldiers in the town; and he made the soldiers mount the parapets, and fighting from there most valiantly slew many of the enemy, but was himself struck by an arrow and died. 12 And then, since it was late in the day, the Persians retired to their camp in order to assail the wall again on the following day; but the Romans were in despair since their leader was dead, and were purposing to make themselves suppliants of Chosroes. 13 On the following day, therefore, they sent the bishop of the city to plead for them and to beg that the town be  p299 spared; so he took with him some of his attendants, who carried fowls and wine and clean loaves, and came before Chosroes; there he threw himself on the ground, and with tears supplicated him to spare a pitiable population and a city altogether without honour in the eyes of the Romans, and one which in past times had never been of any account to the Persians, and which never would be such thereafter; and he promised that the men of Sura would give have ransom worthy of themselves and the city which they inhabited. 14 But Chosroes was angry with the townsmen because, being the first he had met of all the Romans, they had not willingly received him into their city, but even daring to raise their arms against him had slain a large number of Persian notables. 15 However he did not disclose his anger, but carefully concealed it behind a smooth countenance, in order that by carrying out the punishment of the inhabitants of Sura he might make himself in the eyes of the Romans a fearful person and one not to be resisted. For by acting in this way he calculated that those who would from time to time come in his way would yield to him without trouble. 16 Accordingly with great friendliness he caused the bishop to rise, and receiving the gifts, gave the impression, in a way, that he would immediately confer with the notables out of the Persians concerning the ransom of the townsmen, and would settle their request favourably. 17 Thus he dismissed the bishop and his following without any suspect of the plot, and he sent with him certain of the men of note among the Persians, who were to be ostensibly an escort. 18 These men he secretly commanded to go with him as far as the  p301 wall, encouraging him and cheering him with fair hopes, so that he and all those with him should be seen by those inside rejoicing and fearing nothing. 19 But when the guards had set the gate open and about to receive them into the city, they were to throw a stone or block of wood between the threshold and the gate and not allow them to shut it, but should themselves for a time stand in the way of those who wished to close it; for not long afterwards the army would follow them.

20 After giving these directions to the men Chosroes made ready the army, and commanded them to advance upon the city on the run whenever he should give the signal. 21 So when they came close to the fortifications, the Persians bade farewell to the bishop and remained outside, and the townsmen, seeing that the man was exceedingly happy and that he was being escorted in great honour by the enemy, forgetting all their difficulties opened the gate wide, and received the priest and his following with clapping of hands and much shouting. 22 And when all got inside, the guards began to push the gate in order to close it, but the Persians flung down a stone, which they had provided, between it and the threshold. 23 And the guards pushed and struggled still more, but were quite unable to get the gate back to the threshold. 24 On the other hand they dared not open it again, since they perceived that it was held by the enemy. But some say that it was not a stone but a block of wood which the Persians threw into the gateway. 25 When the townsmen had as yet scarcely realized the plot, Chosroes was at  p303 hand with his whole army, and the barbarians forced back and flung open the gate, which was soon carried by storm. 26 Straightway, then, Chosroes, filled with wrath, plundered the houses and put to death great numbers of the population; all the remainder he reduced to slavery, and setting fire to the whole city razed it to the ground. 27 Then he dismissed Anastasius, bidding him announce to the Emperor Justinian where in the world he had left Chosroes, son of Cabades.

28 Afterwards either through motives of humanity or of avarice, or as granting a favour to a woman whom he had taken as a captive from the city, Euphemia by name, Chosroes decided to show some kindness to the inhabitants of Sura; for he had conceived for this woman an extraordinary love (for she was exceedingly beautiful to look upon), and had made her his wedded wife. 29 He sent, accordingly, to Sergiopolis, a city subject to the Romans, named from Sergius, a famous saint, distant from the captured city one hundred and twenty‑six stades and lying to the south of it in the so‑called Barbarian Plain, and bade Candidus, the bishop of the city, purchase the captives, twelve thousand in number, for two centenaria. 30 But the bishop, alleging that he had no money, refused absolutely to undertake the matter. Chosroes therefore requested him to set down in a document the agreement that he would give the money at a later time, and thus to purchase for a small sum such a multitude of slaves. 31 Candidus did as directed, promising to give the money within a year, and swore the most sire oaths,  p305 specifying that he should receive the following punishment if he should not give the money at the time agreed upon, that he should pay double the amount and should himself be no longer a priest, as one who had neglected his sworn promise. 32 And after setting down these things in writing, Candidus received all the inhabitants of Sura. 33 And some few among them survived, but the majority, unable to support the misery which had fallen to their lot, succumbed soon afterwards. After the settlement of this affair Chosroes led his army forward.

6 1 It had happened a little before this that the emperor had divided into two parts the military command of the East, leaving the portion as far as the River Euphrates under the control of Belisarius who formerly held the command of the whole, while the portion from there as far as the Persian boundary he entrusted to Bouzes, commanding him to take charge of the whole territory of the East until Belisarius should return from Italy. 2 Bouzes therefore at first remained at Hierapolis, keeping his whole army with him; but when he learned what had befallen Sura, he called together the first men of the Hierapolitans and spoke as follows: 3 "Whenever men are confronted with a struggle against an assailant with whom they are evenly matched in strength, it is not at all unreasonable that they should engage in open conflict with the enemy; but for those who are by comparison much inferior  p307 to their opponents it will be more advantageous to circumvent their enemy by some kind of tricks than to array themselves openly against them and thus enter into foreseen danger. 4 How great, now, the army of Chosroes is you are assuredly informed. And if, with this army, he wishes to capture us by siege, and if we carry on the fight from the wall, it is probable that, while our supplies will fail us, the Persians will secure all they need from our land, where there will be no one to oppose them. 5 And if the siege is prolonged in this way, I believe too that the fortification wall will not withstand the assaults of the enemy, for in many places it is most susceptible to attack, and thus irreparable harm will come to the Romans. 6 But if with a portion of the army we guard the wall of the city, while the rest of us occupy the heights about the city, we shall make attacks from there at times upon the camp of our antagonists, and at times upon those who are sent out for the sake of provisions, and thus compel Chosroes to abandon the siege immediately and to make his retreat within a short time; for he will not be at all able to direct his attack without fear against the fortifications, nor to provide any of the necessities for so great an army." 7 So spoke Bouzes; and in his words he seemed to set forth the advantageous course of action, but of what was necessary he did nothing. For he chose out all that portion of the Roman army which was of marked excellence and was off. 8 And where in the world he was neither any of the Romans in Hierapolis, nor the hostile army was able to learn. Such, then, was the course of these events.

 p309  9 But the Emperor Justinian, upon learning of the inroad of the Persians, immediately sent his nephew Germanus with three hundred followers in great disorder, promising that after no great time a numerous army would follow. 10 And Germanus, upon reaching Antioch, went around the whole circuit of the wall; and the greater part of it he found secure, for along that portion of it which lies on the level ground the River Orontes flows, making it everywhere difficult of access, and the portion which is on higher ground rises upon steep hills and is quite inaccessible to the enemy; but when he attained the highest point, which the men of that place are accustomed to call Orocasias, he noticed that the wall at that point was very easy to assail. 11 For there happens to be in that place a rock, which spreads out to a very considerable width, and rises to a height only a little less than the fortifications. 12 He therefore commanded that they should either cut off the rock by making a deep ditch along the wall, lest anyone should essay to mount from there upon the fortifications, or that they should build upon it a great tower and connect its structure with the wall of the city. 13 But to the architects of public buildings it seemed that neither one of these things should be done. For, as they said, the work would not be completed in a short time with the attack of the enemy so imminent, while if they began this work and did not carry it to completion, they would do nothing else than show to the enemy at what point in the wall they should make their attack. 14 Germanus, though disappointed in this plan, had some hope at first because he expected an army from Byzantium. 15 But when, after considerable time had passed, no  p311 army arrived from the emperor nor was expected to arrive, he began to fear lest Chosroes, learning that the emperor's nephew was there, would consider it more important than any other thing to capture Antioch and himself, and for this reason would neglect everything else and come against the city with his whole army. 16 The natives of Antioch also had these things in mind, and they held a council concerning them, at which it seemed most advisable to offer money to Chosroes and thus escape the present danger.

17 Accordingly they sent Megas, the bishop of Beroea, a man of discretion who at that time happened to be tarrying among them, to beg for mercy from Chosroes; and departing from there he came upon the Median army not far from Hierapolis. 18 And coming into the presence of Chosroes, he entreated him earnestly to have pity upon men who had committed no offence against him and who we are not able to hold out against the Persian army. 19 For it was becoming to a king least of all men to trample upon and do violence to those who retreated before him and were quite unwilling to array themselves against him; for not one of the things which he was then doing was a kingly or honourable act, because, without affording any time for consideration to the Roman emperor, so that he might either make the peace secure as might seem well to both sovereigns, or make his preparations for war in accordance with a mutual agreement, as was to be expected, he had thus recklessly advanced in arms against the Romans, while their emperor did not as yet know what had  p313 come upon them. 20 When Chosroes heard this, he was utterly unable by reason of his stupidity to order his mind with reason and discretion, but still more than before he was lifted up in spirit. 21 He therefore threatened to destroy all the Syrians and Cilicians, and bidding Megas follow him, he led his army to Hierapolis. 22 When he had come there and established his camp, since he saw that the fortifications were strong and learned that the city was well garrisoned with soldiers, he demanded money from the Hierapolitans, sending to them Paulus as interpreter. 23 This Paulus had been reared in Roman territory and had gone to an elementary school in Antioch, and besides he was said to be by birth of Roman extraction. 24 But in spite of everything the inhabitants were exceedingly fearful for the fortifications, which embraced a large tract of land as far as the hill which rises there, and besides they wished to preserve their land unplundered; accordingly they agreed to give two thousand pounds of silver. 25 Then indeed Megas entreated Chosroes in behalf of all the inhabitants of the East, and would not cease his entreaty, until Chosroes promised him that he would accept ten centenaria of gold and depart from the whole Roman empire.

7 1 Thus, then, on that day Megas departed thence and when on the way to Antioch, while Chosroes after receiving the ransom was moving toward Beroea.  p315 2 This city lies between Antioch and Hierapolis, at a distance from both of two days' journey for an unencumbered traveller. 3 Now while Megas, who travelled with a small company, advanced very quickly, the Persian army was accomplishing only one half of the distance which he travelled each day. 4 And so on the fourth day he reached Antioch, while the Persians came to the suburb of Beroea. 5 And Chosroes immediately sent Paulus and demanded money of the Beroeans, not only as much as he had received from the Hierapolitans, but double the amount, since he saw that their wall in many places was very vulnerable. 6 As for the Beroeans, since they could by no means place confidence in their fortifications, they Florida agreed to gate Jalapa, but after giving two thousand pounds of silver, they said that they were not able to give the remainder. 7 And since Chosroes pressed them on this account, on the following night all of them fled for refuge into the fortress which is on the acropolis together with the soldiers who had been stationed there to guard the place. 8 And on the following day men were sent to the city by Chosroes in order to receive the money; but in coming near the fortifications they found all the gates closed, and being unable to discover any man, they reported the situation to the king. 9 And he commanded them to set ladders against the wall and to make trial of mounting it, and they did as directed. 10 Then since no one opposed them, they got inside the fortifications and opened the gates at their leisure, 11 and received into the city the whole army and Chosroes himself. By this time the king was furious  p317 with anger and he fired nearly the whole city. He then mounted the acropolis and decided to storm the fortress. 12 There indeed the Roman soldiers while valiantly defending themselves slew some of the enemy; but Chosroes was greatly favoured by fortune by reason of the folly of the besieged, who had not sought refuge in this fortress by themselves, but along with all their horses and other animals, and by this inconsiderate act they were placed at a great disadvantage and began to be in danger. 13 For since there was only one spring there and the horses and mules and other animals drank from it when they should not have done so, it came about that the water was exhausted. Such, then, was the situation of the Beroeans.

14 Megas, upon reaching Antioch and announcing the terms arranged by him with Chosroes, failed utterly to persuade them to carry out this agreement. 15 For it happened that the Emperor Justinian had sent John, the son of Rufinus, and Julian, his private1 secretary, as ambassadors to Chosroes. The person holding this office is styled "a secretis" by the Romans; for secrets they are accustomed to call "secreta." 16 These men had reached Antioch and were remaining there. Now Julian, one of the ambassadors, explicitly forbade everybody to give money to the enemy, or to purchase the cities of the emperor, and besides he denounced to Germanus the chief priest Ephraemius, as being eager to deliver over the city to Chosroes. 17 For this reason Megas returned unsuccessful. But Ephraemius, the bishop of Antioch, fearing the attack of the Persians, went into Cilicia. 18 There too came Germanus not long afterwards,  p319 taking with him some few men but leaving the most of them in Antioch.

19 Megas then came in haste to Beroea, and in vexation at what had taken place, he charged Chosroes with having treated the Beroeans outrageously; for while, as it seemed, he had both plundered the property of the citizens, though they had committed no wrong at all, and had compelled them to shut themselves up in that fortress, and had then set fire to the city and razed it to the ground in defiance of right. 20 To this Chosroes replied as follows: "Verily, my friend, you yourself are responsible for these things, in having compelled us to delay here; for as it is, you have arrived, not at the appointed time, but far behind it. 21 And as for the strange conduct of your fellow-citizens, my most excellent sir, why should one make speeches of great length? For after agreeing to give us a fixed amount of silver for their own safety, they even now do not think it necessary to fulfil the agreement, but placing such complete confidence in the strength of their position, they are disregarding us absolutely while we are compelled to undertake a siege of a fortress, as you surely see. 22 But for my part, I have hope that with the help of the gods I shall have vengeance upon them shortly, and execute upon the guilty the punishment for the Persians whom I have lost wrongfully before this wall." 23 So spoke Chosroes, and Megas replied as follows: "If one should consider that as king thou art making these charges against men who are in pitiable and most dishonoured plight, he would be compelled without a word of protest to agree with what thou  p321 hast said; for authority which is unlimited is bound by its very nature to carry with it also supremacy in argument; 24 but if one be permitted to shake off all else and the espouse the truth of the matter, thou wouldst have, O King, nothing with which justly to reproach us; but mayst thou hear all mildly. 25 First, after me, since the time when I was sent to declare to the men of Antioch the message which thou didst send them, seven days have passed (and what could be done more quickly than this?) and now coming into thy presence I find these things accomplished by the against my fatherland; 26 but these men, having already lost all that is most valuable, thereafter have only one struggle to engage in — that for life — 27 and have come, I think, so to be masters of the situation that they can no longer be compelled to pay thee any of the money. For to pay a thing which one does not possess could not be made possible for a man by any device. 28 From of old indeed have the names of things been well and suitably distinguished by men; and among these distinctions is this, that want of power is separated from want of consideration. 29 For when the latter by reason of intemperance of mind proceeds to resistance, it is accustomed to be detested, as is natural, but when the former, because of the impossibility of performing a service, is driven to the same point, it deserves to be pitied. 30 Permit, therefore, O King, that, while we receive as our portion all the direst misfortunes, we may take with us this consolation at least, that we should not seem to have been ourselves responsible for the things which have befallen us. 31 And as for money, consider that what thou hast taken into thy possession is sufficient for thee, not weighing this by thy  p323 position, but with regard to the power of the Beroeans. 32 But beyond this do not force us in any way, lest perchance thou shouldst seem unable to accomplish the thing to which thou hast set thy hand; for excess is always punished by meeting obstacles that cannot be overcome, and the best course is not to essay the impossible. 33 Let this, then, be my defence for the moment in behalf of these men. But if I should be able to have converse with the sufferers, I should have something else also to say which has now escaped me." 34 So spoke Megas, and Chosroes permitted him to go into the acropolis. And when he had gone there and learned all that had happened concerning the spring, weeping he came again before Chosroes, and lying prone on the ground insisted that no money at all was left to the Beroeans, and entreated him to grant him only the lives of the men. 35 Moved by the tearful entreaties of the man Chosroes fulfilled ship request, and binding himself by an oath, gave pledges to all on the acropolis. 36 Then the Beroeans, after coming into such great danger, left the acropolis free from harm, and departing went each his own way. 37 Among the soldiers some few followed them, but the majority came as willing deserters to Chosroes, putting forth as their grievance that the government owed them their pay for a long time; and with him they later went into the land of Persia.

 p325  8 1 Then Chosroes (since Megas said that he had by no means persuaded the inhabitants of Antioch to bring him the money) went with his whole army against them. 2 Some of the population of Antioch thereupon departed from there with their money and fled as each one could. And all the rest likewise were purposing to do the same thing, and would have done so had not the commanders of the troops in Lebanon, Theoctistus and Molatzes, who arrived in the meantime with six thousand men, fortified them with hope and thus prevented their departure. 3 Not long enough after this the Persian army also came. There they all pitched their tents and made camp fronting on the River Orontes and not very far from the stream. 4 Chosroes then sent Paulus up beside the fortifications and demanded money from the men of Antioch, saying that for ten centenaria2 of gold he would depart from there, and it was obvious that he would accept even less than this for his withdrawal. 5 And on that day their ambassadors sent before Chosroes, and after speaking at length concerning the breaking of the peace and hearing much from him, they retired. 6 But on the morrow the populace of Antioch (for they are not seriously disposed, but are always engaged in jesting and disorderly performance) heaped insults upon Chosroes from the battlements and taunted him with unseemly laughter; 7 and when Paulus came near the fortifications and exhorted them to purchase freedom for themselves and the city for a small  p327 sum of money, they very nearly killed him with shots from their bows, and would have done so if he had not seen their purpose in time and guarded against it. On account of this Chosroes, boiling with anger, decided to storm the wall.

8 On the following day, accordingly, he led up all the Persians against the wall and commanded a portion of the army to make assaults at different points along the river, and he himself with the most of the men and best troops directed an attack against the height. For at this place, as has been stated by me above, the wall of fortification was most vulnerable. 9 Thereupon the Romans, since the structure on which they were to stand when fighting was very narrow, devised the following remedy. Binding together long timbers they suspended them between the towers, and in this way they made these spaces much broader, in order that still more men might be able to ward off the assailants from there. 10 So the Persians, pressing on most vigorously from all sides, were sending their arrows thickly everywhere, and especially along the crest of the hill. 11 Meanwhile the Romans were fighting them back with all their strength, not soldiers alone, but also many of the most courageous youths of the populace. 12 But it appeared that those who were attacking the wall there were engaged in a battle on even terms with their enemy. For the rock which was broad and high and, as it were, drawn up against the fortifications caused the conflict to be just as if on level ground. 13 And if anyone of the Roman army had had the courage to get outside the fortifications with three hundred men and to anticipate the enemy in seizing this work and to ward off the assailants  p329 from there, never, I believe, would the city have come into any danger from the enemy. 14 For the barbarians had no point from which they could have conducted their assault, for they would be exposed to missiles from above both from the rock and from the wall; but as it was (for it was fated that Antioch be destroyed by this army of the Medes), this idea occurred to no one. 15 So then while the Persians were fighting beyond their power, since Chosroes was present with them and urging them on with a mighty cry, giving their opposes not a moment in which to look about or guard against the missiles discharged from their bows, and while the Romans, in great numbers and with much shouting, were defending themselves still more vigorously, the ropes with which the beams had been bound together, failing to support the weight, suddenly broke asunder and the timbers together with all those who had taken their stand on them fell to the ground with a mighty crash. 16 When this was heard by other Romans also, who were fighting from the adjoining towers, being utterly unable to comprehend what had happened, but supposing that the wall at this point had been destroyed, they beat a hasty retreat. 17 Now many young men of the populace who in former times had been accustomed to engage in factional strife with each other in the hippodromes descended into the city from the fortification wall, but they refused to flee and remained where they were, while the soldiers with Theoctistus and Molatzes straightway leaped upon the horses which happened to be ready there and rode away to the gates, telling the others a tale to the effect that Bouzes had come with an army and they wished to  p331 receive them quickly into the city, and with them to ward off the enemy. 18 Thereupon many of the men of Antioch and all the women with their children made a great rushes toward the gates; but since they were crowded by the horses, being in very narrow quarters, they began to fall down. 19 The soldiers, however, sparing absolutely no one of those before them, all kept riding over the fallen still more fiercely than before, and a great many were killed there, especially about the gates themselves.

20 But the Persians, with no one opposing them, set ladders against the wall and mounted with no difficulty. And quickly reaching the battlements, for a time they were by no means willing to descend, but they seemed like men looking about them and at a loss what to do, because, as it seems to me, they supposed that the rug ground was beset with some ambuscades of the enemy. 21 For the land inside the fortifications which one traverses immediately upon descending from the height is an uninhabited tract extending for a great distance and there are found there rocks which rise to a very great high, and steep places. 22 But some say that it was by the will of Chosroes that the Persians hesitated. 23 For when he observed the difficulty of the ground and saw the soldiers fleeing, he feared lest by reason of some necessity they should turn back from their retreat and make trouble for the Persians, and thus become an obstacle, as might well happen, in the way of his capturing a city which was both ancient and of great importance and the first of all the cities which the Romans had throughout the East both in wealth and in size and in population and in beauty and in prosperity of every kind.  p333 24 Hence it was that, considering everything else of less account, he wished to allow the Roman soldiers freely to avail themselves of the chance for flight. For this reason too the Persians also made signs to the fugitives with their hands, urging them to flee as quickly as possible. 25 So the soldiers of the Romans together with their commanders took a hasty departure, all of them, through the gate which leads to Daphne, the suburb of Antioch; 26 for from this gate alone the Persians kept away while the others were seized; and of the populace some few escaped with the soldiers. 27 Then when the Persians saw that all the Roman soldiers had gone on, they descended from the height and got into the middle of the city. 28 There, however, many of the young men of Antioch engaged in battle with them, and at first they seemed to have the upper hand in the conflict. Some of them were in heavy armour, but the majority were unarmed and using only stones as missiles. 29 And pushing back the enemy they raised the paean, and with shouts proclaimed the Emperor Justinian triumphant, as if they had won the victory.

30 At this point Chosroes, seated on the tower which is on the height, seemed the ambassadors, wishing to say something. And one of his officers, Zaberganes, thinking that he wished to have words with the ambassadors concerning a settlement, came quickly before the king and spoke as follows: 31 "Thou dost not seem to me, O Master, to think in the same way as do the Romans concerning the safety of these men. For they both before fighting offer insults to thy kingdom, and when they are defeated dare the impossible and do the  p335 Persians irreparable harm, as if fearing lest some reason for shewing them humanity should be left in thee; but thou art wishing to pity those who do not ask to be saved, and hast shewn zeal to spare those who by no means wish it. 32 Meanwhile these men have set an ambush in a captured city and are destroying the victors by means of snares, although all the soldiers have long since fled from them." 33 When Chosroes heard this, he sent a large number of the best troops against them, and these not long afterwards returned and announced that nothing untoward had come to pass. 34 For already the Persians had forced back the citizens by their numbers and turned them to flight, and a great slaughter took place there. For the Persians did not spare persons of any age and were slaying all whom they met, old and young alike. 35 At that time they say that two women of those who were illustrious in Antioch got outside the fortifications, but perceiving that they would fall into the hands of the enemy (for they were already plainly seen going about everywhere), went running to the River Orontes, and, fearing lest the Persians should do them some insult, they covered their faces with their veils and threw themselves into the river's current and were carried out of sight. Thus the inhabitants of Antioch were visited with every form of misfortune.

9 1 Then Chosroes spoke to the ambassadors as follows: "Not far from the truth, I think, is the ancient saying that God does not give blessings  p337 unmixed, but He mingles them with troubles and then bestows them upon men. 2 And for this reason we do not even have laughter without tears, but there is always attached to our successes some misfortune, and to our pleasures pain, not permitting anyone to enjoy in its purity such good fortune as is granted. 3 For this city, which is of altogether pre‑eminent importance in fact as well as in name in the land of the Romans I have indeed succeeded in capturing with the least exertion, since God has provided the victory all at once for us, as you doubtless see. 4 But when I behold the massacre of such a multitude of men, and the victory thus drenched in blood, there is in me no sense of the delight that should follow my achievement. 5 And for this the wretched men of Antioch are to blame, for when the Persians were storming the wall they did not prove able to keep them back, and then when they had already triumphed and had captured the city at the first cry these men with unreasoned daring sought to die fighting against them in close combat. 6 So while all the notables of the Persians were harassing me unceasingly with their demand that I should drag the city as with a net and destroy all the captives, I was commanding the fugitives to press on still more in their flight, in order that they might save themselves as quickly as possible. For to trample upon captives is not holy." 7 Such high-sounding and airy words did Chosroes speak to the ambassadors, but nevertheless it did not escape them why he gave time to the races in their flight.

8 For he was the cleverest of all men in saying that which was not, and in concealing the truth, and in  p339 attributing the blame for the wrongs which he committed to those who suffered the wrong; besides he was ready to agree to everything and to pledge the agreement with an oath, and much more ready to forget completely the things lately agreed to and sworn to by him, and for the sake of money to debase his soul without reluctance to every act of pollution — a past master at feigning piety in his countenance, and absolving himself in words from the responsibility of the act. This man well displayed his own peculiar character on a certain occasion at Sura; 9 for after he had hoodwinked the inhabitants of the city by a trick and had destroyed them in the manner which I have described, although they had previously done him no wrong at all, he saw, while the city was being captured, a comely woman and one not of lowly station being dragged by her left hand with great violence by one of the barbarians; and the child, which she had only lately weaned, she was unwilling to let go, but was dragging it with her other hand, fallen, as it was, to the ground since it was not able to keep pace with that violent running. 10 And they say that he uttered a pretended groan, and making it appear to all who were present at that time including Anastasius the ambassador that he was all in tears, he prayed God to exact vengeance from the man who was guilty of the troubles which had come to pass. 11 Now Justinian, the Emperor of the Romans, was the one whom he wished to have understood, though he knew well that he himself was most responsible for everything. 12 Endowed with such a singular nature Chosroes both  p341 became King of the Persians (for ill fortune had deprived Zames of his eye, he who in point of years had first right to the kingdom, at any rate after Caoses, whom Cabades for no good reason hated), and with no difficulty he conquered those who revolted against him, and all the harm which he purposed to do the Romans he accomplished easily. 13 For every time when Fortune wishes to make a man great, she does at the fitting times those things which she has decided upon, with no one standing against the force of her will; and she neither regards the man's station, nor purposes to prevent the occurrence of things which ought not to be, nor does she give heed that many will blaspheme against her because of these things, mocking scornfully at that which has been done by her contrary to the deserts of the man who receives her favour; nor does she take into consideration anything else at all, if only she accomplish the thing which has been decided upon by her. But as for these matters, let them be as God wishes.

14 Chosroes commanded the army to capture and enslave the survivors of the population of Antioch, and to plunder all the property, while he himself with the ambassadors descended from the height to the sanctuary which they call a church. 15 There Chosroes found stores of gold and silver so great in amount that, though he took no other part of the booty except these stores, he departed possessed of enormous wealth. 16 And he took down from there many wonderful marbles and ordered them to be deposited outside the fortifications, in order that that they might convey these too to the land of Persia. 17 When he had finished these things, he gave orders to the  p343 Persians to burn the whole city. And the ambassadors begged him to withhold his hand only from the church, for which he had carried away ransom in abundance. 18 This he granted to the ambassadors, but gave orders to burn everything else; then, leaving there a few men who were to fire the city, he himself with all the rest retired to the camp where they had previously set up their tents.

10 1 A short time before this calamity God displayed a sign to the inhabitants of that city, by which He indicated the things which were to be. For the standards of the soldiers who had been stationed there for a long time had been standing previously toward the west, but of their own accord they turned and stood toward the east, and then returned again to their former position untouched by anyone. 2 This the soldiers showed to many who were near at hand and among them the manager of finances in the camp, while the standards were still trembling. This man Tatianus by name, was an especially discreet person, a native of Mopsuestia. 3 But even so those who saw this sign did not recognize that the mastery of the place would pass from the western to the eastern king, in order, eventually, that escape might be utterly impossible for those who were bound to suffer those things which came to pass.

4 But I become dizzy as I write of such a great calamity and transmit it to future times, and I am  p345 unable to understand why indeed it should be the will of God to exalt on high the fortunes of a man or of a place, and then to cast them down and destroy them for no cause which us. 5 For it is wrong to say that with Him all things are not always done with reason, though he then endured to see Antioch brought down to the ground at the hands of a most unholy man, a city whose beauty and grandeur in every respect could not even so be utterly concealed.

6 So, then, after the city had been destroyed, the church was left solitary, thanks to the activity and foresight of the Persians to whom this work was assigned. 7 And there were also left about the so‑called Cerataeum many houses, not because of the foresight of any man, but, since they were situated at the extremity of the city, and not connected with any other building, the fire failed entirely to reach them. 8 The barbarians burned also the parts outside the fortifications, except the sanctuary which is dedicated to St. Julianus and the houses which stand about this sanctuary. 9 For it happened that the ambassadors had taken up their lodgings there. As for the fortifications, the Persians left them wholly untouched.

10 A little later the ambassadors again came to Chosroes and spoke as follows: "If our words were not addressed to thee in thy presence, O King, we should never believe that Chosroes, the son of Cabades, had come into the land of the Romans in arms, dishonouring the oaths which have recently been sworn by thee — for such pledges are regarded as the last and most firm security of all things among  p347 men to Gaul mutual trust and truthfulness — and breaking the treaty, though hope in treaties is the only thing left to those who are living in insecurity because of the evil deeds of war. 11 For one ought to say of such a state of affairs that it is nothing else than the transformation of the habits of men into those of beasts. 12 For in a time when no treaties at all are made, there will remain certainly war without end, and was which has no end is always calculated to estrange from their proper nature those who engage in it. 13 With what intent, moreover, didst thou write to thy brother not long ago that he himself was responsible for the breaking of the treaty? Was it and the obviously with the admission that the breaking of treaties is an exceedingly great evil. 14 If therefore he has done no wrong, thou art necessary acting justly now in coming against us; but if it happen that thy brother has done any such thing, yet let thy complaint have its fulfilment thus far, and go no farther, that thou mayst show thyself superior. For he who submits to be worsted in evil things would in better things justly be victorious. 15 Yet we know well that the Emperor Justinian has never gone contrary to the treaty, and we entreat thee not to do the Romans such harm, from which there will be no advantage to the Persians, and thou wilt gain only this, that thou wilt have wrongfully wrought deeds of irreparable harm upon those who have recently made peace with thee." So spoke the ambassadors.

16 And Chosroes, upon hearing this, insisted that the treaty had been broken by the Emperor  p349 Justinian; and he enumerated the causes of war which the Emperor afforded, some of them of real importance and others idle and fabricated without any reason; most of all he wished to show that the letters written by him to Alamoundaras and the Huns were the chief cause of the war, just as I have stated above.3 17 But as for any Roman who had invaded the land of Persia, or who had made a display of warlike deeds, he was unable either to mention or to point out such a one. 18 The ambassadors, however, referred the charges in part not to Justinian but to certain of those who had served him, while in the case of others, they took exception to what he had said on the ground that the things had not taken place as stated. 19 Finally Chosroes made the demand that the Romans give him a large sum of money, but he warned them not to hope to establish peace for all time by giving money at that moment only. 20 For friendship, he said, which is made by men on terms of money is generally spent as fast as the money is used up. 21 It was necessary, therefore, that the Romans should pay some definite annual sum to the Persians. "For thus," he said, "the Persians will keep the peace secure for them, guarding the Caspian Gates themselves and no longer feeling resentment at them on account of the city of Daras, in return for which the Persians themselves will be in their pay forever." 22 "So," said the ambassadors, "the Persians desire to have the Romans subject and tributary to themselves." 23 "No," said Chosroes, "but the Romans will have the Persians as their own soldiers for the future, dispensing to them a fixed payment for their service;  p351 for you give an annual payment of gold to some of the Huns and to the Saracens, not as tributary subjects to them, but in order that they may guard your land unplundered for all time." 24 After Chosroes and the ambassadors had spoken thus at length with each other, they at last came to terms, agreeing that Chosroes should forthwith take from the Romans fifty centenaria,4 and that, receiving a tribute of five more centenaria annually for all time, he should do them no further harm, but taking with him hostages from the ambassadors to pledge the keeping of the agreement, should make his departure with the whole army to his native land, and that there ambassadors sent from the Emperor Justinian should arrange on a firm basis for the future the compact regarding the peace.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 "Secretary of secrets."

2 Cf. Book I.xxii.4.

3 Cf. Book II.i.13; iii.47.

4 Cf. Book I.xxii.4.

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