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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Persian Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. I) Procopius
Persian Wars

Book II (continued)

 p351  [link to original Greek text] 11 1 Then Chosroes went to Seleucia, a city on the sea, one hundred and thirty stades distant from Antioch; and there he neither met nor harmed a single Roman, and he bathed himself alone in the sea‑water, and after sacrifi­cing to the sun and such other divinities as he wished, and calling upon the gods many times, he went back. 2 And when he came to the camp, he said that he had a desire to see the city of Apamea which was in the vicinity for no other reason than that of his interest in the place. 3 And the ambassadors unwillingly granted this also, but only on condition that after seeing the city  p353 and taking away with him from there one thousand pounds of silver, he should, without inflicting any further injury, march back. 4 But it was evident to the ambassadors and to all the others that Chosroes was setting out for Apamea with this sole purpose, that he might lay hold upon some pretext of no importance and plunder both the city and the land thereabout. Accordingly he first went up to Daphne, the suburb of Antioch, 5 where he expressed great wonder at the grove and at the fountains of water; for both of these are very well worth seeing. 6 And after sacrifi­cing to the nymphs he departed, doing no further damage than burning the sanctuary of the archangel Michael together with certain other buildings, for the following reason. 7 A Persian gentleman of high repute in the army of the Persians and well known to Chosroes, the king, while riding on horseback came in company with some others to a precipitous place near the so‑called Tretum, where is a temple of the archangel Michael, the work of Evaris. 8 This man, seeing one of the young men of Antioch on foot and alone concealing himself there, separated from the others and pursued him. Now the young man was a butcher, Aeimachus by name. 9 When he was about to be overtaken, he turned about unexpectedly and threw a stone at his pursuer which hit him on the forehead and penetrated to the membrane by the ear. And the rider fell immediately to the ground, whereupon the youth drew out his sword and slew him. 10 Then at his leisure he stripped him of his weapons and all his gold and whatever else he had on his person, and leaping upon his horse rode on. 11 And whether  p355 by the favour of fortune or by his knowledge of the country, he succeeded completely in eluding the Persians and making good his escape. 12 When Chosroes learned this, he was deeply grieved at what had happened, and commanded some of his followers to burn the sanctuary of the archangel Michael which I have mentioned above. 13 And they, thinking that sanctuary at Daphne was the one in question, burned it with the buildings about it, and they supposed that the commands of Chosroes had been executed. Such, then, was the course of these events.

[link to original Greek text] 14 But Chosroes with his whole army proceeded on the way to Apamea. Now there is a piece of wood one cubit in length in Apamea, a portion of the cross on which the Christ in Jerusalem once endured the punishment not unwillingly, as is generally agreed, and which in ancient times had been conveyed there secretly by a man of Syria. 15 And the men of olden times, believing that it would be a great protection both for themselves and for the city, made for it a sort of wooden chest and deposited it there; and they adorned this chest with much gold and with precious stones and they entrusted it to three priests who were to guard it in all security; and they bring it forth every year and the whole population worship it during one day. 16 Now at that time the people of Apamea, upon learning that the army of the Medes was coming against them, began to be in great fear. And when they heard that Chosroes was absolutely untruthful, they came to Thomas, the chief priest of the city, and begged him to show them the wood of the cross, in order that after worshipping it for the last time they might die. And he did as they requested.  p357 17 Then indeed it befell that a sight surpassing both description and belief was there seen. For while the priest was carrying the wood and shewing it, above him followed a flame of fire, and the portion of the roof over him was illuminated with a great and unaccustomed light. 18 And while the priest was moving through every part of the temple, the flame continued to advance with him, keeping constantly the place above him in the roof. 19 So the people of Apamea, under the spell of joy at the miracle, were wondering and rejoi­cing and weeping, and already all felt confidence concerning their safety. 20 And Thomas, after going about the whole temple, laid the wood of the cross in the chest and covered it, and suddenly the light had ceased. Then upon learning that the army of the enemy had come close to the city, he went in great haste to Chosroes. 21 And when the king enquired of the priest whether it was the will of the citizens of Apamea to marshal themselves on the wall against the army of the Medes, the priest replied that no such thing had entered the minds of the men. 22 "Therefore," said Chosroes, "receive me into the city accompanied by a few men with all the gates opened wide." 23 And the priest said "Yes, for I have come here to invite thee to do this very thing." So the whole army pitched their tents and made camp before the fortifications.

[link to original Greek text] 24 Then Chosroes chose out two hundred of the best of the Persians and entered the city. But when he had got inside the gates, he forgot willingly enough what had been agreed upon between himself and the ambassadors, and he commanded the bishop to give not only one thousand pounds of silver nor  p359 even ten times that amount, but whatsoever treasures were stored there, being all of gold and silver and of marvellous great size. 25 And I believe that he would not have shrunk from enslaving and plundering the whole city, unless some divine providence had manifestly prevented him; 26 in such a degree did avarice overpower him and the desire of fame turn his mind. 27 For he thought the enslavement of the cities a great glory for himself, considering it absolutely nothing that disregarding treaties and compacts he was performing such deeds against the Romans. 28 This attitude of Chosroes will be revealed by what he undertook to do concerning the city of Daras during his withdrawal at this same time, when he treated his agreements with absolute disregard, and also by what he did to the citizens of Callinicus a little later in time of peace, as will be told by me in the following narrative.​1 But God, as has been said, preserved Apamea. 29 Now when Chosroes had seized all the treasures, and Thomas saw that he was already intoxicated with the abundance of the wealth, then bringing out the wood of the cross with the chest, he opened the chest and displaying the wood said: "O most mighty King, these alone are left me out of all the treasures. 30 Now as for this chest (since it is adorned with gold and precious stones), we do not begrudge thy taking it and keeping it with all the rest, but this wood here, it is our salvation and precious to us, this, I beg and entreat thee, give to me." So spoke the priest. And Chosroes yielded and fulfilled the request.

[link to original Greek text] 31 Afterwards, being filled with a desire for popular applause, he commanded that the populace should  p361 go up into the hippodrome and that the charioteers should hold their accustomed contests. 32 And he himself went up there also, eager to be a spectator of the performances. And since he had heard long before that the Emperor Justinian was extraordinarily fond of the Venetus​2 colour, which is blue, wishing to go against him there also, he was desirous of bringing about victory for the green. 33 So the charioteers, starting from the barriers, began the contest, and by some chance he who was clad in the blue happened to pass his rival and take the lead. 34 And he was followed in the same tracks by the wearer of the green colour. 35 And Chosroes, thinking that this had been done purposely, was angry, and he cried out with a threat that the Caesar had wrongfully surpassed the others, and he commanded that the horses which were running in front should be held up, in order that from then on they might contend in the rear; and when this had been done just as he commanded, then Chosroes and the green faction were accounted victorious.

[link to original Greek text] 36 At that time one of the citizens of Apamea came before Chosroes and accused a Persian of entering his house and violating his maiden daughter. 37 Upon hearing this, Chosroes, boiling with anger, commanded that the man should be brought. And when he came before him, he directed that he should be impaled in the camp. 38 And when the people learned this, they raised a mighty shout as loud as they could, demanding that the man be saved from the king's anger. And Chosroes promised that he would release the man to them, but he secretly impaled him not long afterwards. So after these things had been thus accomplished, he departed and marched back with the whole army.

 p363  [link to original Greek text] 12 1 And when he came to the city of Chalcis, eighty-four stades distant from the city of Beroea, he again seemed to forget the things which had been agreed upon, and encamping not far from the fortifications he sent Paulus to threaten the inhabitants of Chalcis, saying that he would take the city by siege, unless they should purchase their safety by giving ransom, and should give up to the Persians all the soldiers who were there together with their leader. 2 And the citizens of Chalcis were seized with great fear of both sovereigns, and they swore that, as for soldiers, although they had hidden Adonachus, the commander of the soldiers, and others as well in some houses, in order that they might not be seen by the enemy; and with difficulty they collected two centenaria​3 of gold, for the city they inhabited was not very prosperous, and they gave them to Chosroes as the price of their lives and thus saved both the city and themselves.

[link to original Greek text] 3 From there on Chosroes did not wish to continue the return journey by the road he had come, but to cross the River Euphrates and gather by plunder as much money as possible from Mesopotamia. 4 He therefore constructed a bridge at the place called Obbane, which is forty stades distant from the fortress in Barbalissum; then he himself went across and gave orders to the whole army to cross as quickly as possible, adding that he would break up the bridge on the third day, and he appointed also the time of the day. 5 When the appointed day was come, it  p365 happened that some of the army were left who had not yet crossed, but without the least consideration for them he sent the men to break up the bridge. 6 And those who were left behind returned to their native land as each one could.

[link to original Greek text] Then a sort of ambition came over Chosroes to capture the city of Edessa. 7 For he was led on to this by a saying of the Christians, and it kept irritating his mind, because they maintained that it could not be taken, for the following reason. 8 There was a certain Augarus in early times, toparch of Edessa (for thus the kings of the different nations were called then). Now this Augarus was the most clever of all men of his time, and as a result of this was an especial friend of the Emperor Augustus. 9 For, desiring to make a treaty with the Romans, he came to Rome; and when he conversed with Augustus, he so astonished him by the abundance of his wisdom that Augustus wished never more to give up his company; for he was an ardent lover of his conversation, and whenever he met him, he was quite unwilling to depart from him. 10 A long time, therefore, was consumed by him in this visit. And one day when he was desirous of returning to his native land and was utterly unable to persuade Augustus to let him go, he devised the following plan. 11 He first went out to hunt in the country about Rome; for it happened that he had taken considerable interest in the practice of this sport. And going about over a large tract of country, he captured alive many of the animals of that region, and he gathered up and took with him from each part of the country some earth from the land; thus he returned to Rome bringing both the earth and  p367 the animals. 12 Then Augustus went up into the hippodrome and seated himself as was his wont, and Augarus came before him and displayed the earth and the animals, telling over from what district each portion of earth was and what animals they were. 13 Then he gave orders to put the earth in different parts of the hippodrome, and to gather all the animals into one place and then to release them. So the attendants did as he directed. 14 And the animals, separating from each other, went each to that portion of earth which was from the district in which it itself had been taken. 15 And Augustus looked upon the performance carefully for a very long time, and he was wondering that nature untaught makes animals miss their native land. Then Augarus, suddenly laying hold upon his knees, said, 16 "But as for me, O Master, what thoughts dost thou think I have, who possess a wife and children and a kingdom, small indeed, but in the land of my fathers?" 17 And the emperor, overcome and compelled by the truth of his saying, granted not at all willingly that he should go away, and bade him ask besides whatever he wished. 18 And when Augarus had secured this, he begged of Augustus to build him a hippodrome in the city of Edessa. And he granted also this. Thus then Augarus departed from Rome and came to Edessa. 19 And the citizens enquired of him whether he had come bringing any good thing for them from the Emperor Augustus. And he answering said he had brought to the inhabitants of Edessa pain without loss and pleasure without gain, hinting at the fortune of the hippodrome.

[link to original Greek text] 20 At a later time when Augarus was well advanced  p369 in years, he was seized with an exceedingly violent attack of gout. And being distressed by the pains and his inability to move in consequence of them, he carried the matter to the physicians, and from the whole land he gathered all who were skilled in these matters. 21 But later he abandoned these men (for they did not succeed in discovering any cure for the trouble), and finding himself helpless, he bewailed the fate which was upon him. 22 But about that time Jesus, the Son of God, was in the body and moving among the men of Palestine, showing manifestly by the fact that he never sinned at all, and also by his performing even things impossible, that he was the Son of God in very truth; 23 for he called the dead and raised them up as if from sleep, and opened the eyes of men who had been born blind, and cleansed those whose whole bodies were covered with leprosy, and released those whose feet were maimed, and he cured all the other diseases which are called by the physicians incurable. 24 When these things were reported to Augarus by those who travelled from Palestine to each, he took courage and wrote a letter to Jesus, begging him to depart from Judaea and the senseless people there, and to spend his life with him from that time forward. 25 When the Christ saw this message, he wrote in reply to Augarus, saying distinctly that he would not come, but promising health in the letter. 26 And they say that he added this also that never would the city be liable to capture by the barbarians. This final portion of the letter was entirely unknown to those who wrote the history of that time; for they did not even make mention of it anywhere; but the  p371 men of Edessa say that they found it with the letter, so that they have even caused the letter to be inscribed in this form on the gates of the city instead of any other defence. 27 The city did in fact come under the Medes a short time afterwards, not by capture however, but in the following manner. 28 A short time after Augarus received the letter of the Christ, he became free from suffering, and after living on in health for a long time, he came to his end. But that one of his sons who succeeded to the kingdom showed himself the most unholy of all men, and besides committing many other wrongs against his subjects, he voluntarily went over to the Persians, fearing the vengeance which was to come from the Romans. 29 But long after this the citizens of Edessa destroyed the barbarian guards who were dwelling with them, and gave the city into the hands of the Romans.  ***​4 he is eager to attach it to his cause, judging by what has happened in my time, which I shall present in the appropriate place. 30 And the thought once occurred to me that, if the Christ did not write this thing just as I have told it, still, since men have come to believe in it, He wishes to guard the city uncaptured for this reason, that He may never give them any pretext for error. As for these things, then, let them be as God wills, and so let them be told.

[link to original Greek text] 31 For this reason it seemed to Chosroes at that time a matter of moment to capture Edessa. And when he came to Batne, a small stronghold of no importance, one day's journey distant from Edessa, he bivouacked there for that night, but at early dawn he was on the march to Edessa with his whole  p373 army. 32 But it fell out that they lost their way and wandered about, and on the following night bivouacked in the same place; and they say that this happened to them a second time also. 33 When with difficulty Chosroes reached the neighbourhood of Edessa, they say that suppuration set in in his face and his jaw became swollen. For this reason he was quite unwilling to make an attempt on the city, but he sent Paulus and demanded money from the citizens. 34 And they said that they had absolutely no fear concerning the city, but in order that he might not damage the country they agreed to give two centenaria of gold. And Chosroes took the money and kept the agreement.

[link to original Greek text] 13 1 At that time also the Emperor Justinian wrote a letter to Chosroes, promising to carry out the agreement which had been made by him and the ambassadors regarding the peace.​5 2 When this message was received by Chosroes, he released the hostages and made preparations for his departure, and he wished to sell off all the captives from Antioch. 3 And when the citizens of Edessa learned of this, they displayed an unheard‑of zeal. For there was not a person who did not bring ransom for the captives and deposit it in the sanctuary according to the measure of his possessions. 4 And there were some who even exceeded their proportionate amount in so doing. For the harlots took off all the adornment which they wore on their persons, and threw it down there, and any farmer who was in want  p375 of plate or of money, but who had an ass or a sheep, brought this to the sanctuary with great zeal. 5 So there was collected an exceedingly great amount of gold and silver and money in other forms, but not a bit of it was given for ransom. 6 For Bouzes happened to be present there, and he took in hand to prevent the transaction, expecting that this would bring him some great gain. Therefore Chosroes moved forward, taking with him all the captives. 7 And the citizens of Carrhae met him holding out to him great sums of money; but he said that it did not belong to him because the most of them are not Christians but are of the old faith.

[link to original Greek text] 8 But when, likewise, the citizens of Constantina offered money, he accepted it, although he asserted that the city belonged to him from his fathers. For at the time when Cabades took Amida, he wished also to capture Edessa and Constantina. 9 But when he came near to Edessa he enquired of the Magi whether it would be possible for him to capture the city, pointing out the place to them with his right hand. 10 But they said that the city would not be captured by him by any device, judging by the fact that in stretching out his right hand to it he was not giving thereby the sign of capture or of any other grievous thing, but of salvation. 11 And when Cabades heard this, he was convinced and led his army on to Constantina. 12 And upon arriving there, he issued orders to the whole army to encamp for a siege. 13 Now the priest of Constantina was at that time Baradotus, a just man and especially beloved of God, and his prayers for this reason were always effectual for whatever he wished; and even seeing his face one would have straightway surmised that  p377 this man was most completely acceptable to God. 14 This Baradotus came then to Cabades bearing wine and dried figs and honey and unblemished loaves, and entreated him not to make an attempt on a city which was not of any importance and which was very much neglected by the Romans, having neither a garrison of soldiers nor any other defence, but only the inhabitants, who were pitiable folk. 15 Thus spoke the priest; and Cabades promised that he would grant him the city freely, and he presented him with all the food-supplies which had been prepared by him for the army in anticipation of the siege, an exceedingly great quantity; and thus he departed from the land of the Romans. For this reason it was that Chosroes claimed that the city belonged to him from his fathers.

[link to original Greek text] 16 And when he reached Daras, he began a siege; but within the city the Romans and Martinus, their general (for it happened that he was there), made their preparations for resistance. 17 Now the city is surrounded by two walls, the inner one of which is of great size and a truly wonderful thing to look upon (for each tower reaches to a height of a hundred feet, and the rest of the wall to sixty), while the outer wall is much smaller, but in other respects strong and one to be reckoned with seriously. 18 And the space between has a breadth of not less than fifty feet; in that place the citizens of Daras are accustomed to put their cattle and other animals when an enemy assails them. 19 At first then Chosroes made an assault on the fortifications toward the west, and forcing back his opponents by overwhelming numbers of missiles, he set fire to the gates of the small wall. 20 However  p379 no one of the barbarians dared to get inside. Next he decided to make a tunnel secretly at the eastern side of the city. For at this point alone can the earth be dug, since the other parts of the fortifications were set upon rock by the builders. 21 So the Persians began to dig, beginning from their trench. And since this was very deep, they were neither observed by the enemy nor did they afford them any means of discovering what was being done. 22 So they had already gone under the foundations of the outer wall, and were about to reach the space between the two walls and soon after to pass also the great wall and take the city by force; but since it was not fated to be captured by the Persians, someone from the camp of Chosroes came alone about midday close to the fortifications, whether a man or something else greater than man, and he made it appear to those who saw him that he was collecting the weapons which the Romans had a little before discharged from the wall against the barbarians who were assailing them. 23 And while doing this and holding his shield before him, he seemed to be bantering those who were on the parapet and taunting them with laughter. Then he told them of everything and commanded them all to be on the watch and to take all possible care for their safety. 24 After revealing these things he was off, while the Romans with much shouting and confusion were ordering men to dig the ground between the two walls. 25 The Persians, on the other hand, not knowing what was being done, were pushing on the work no less than before. 26 So while the Persians were making a straight way under­ground to the wall of the city, the Romans by the  p381 advice of Theodorus, a man learned in the science called mechanics, were constructing their trench in a cross-wise direction and making it of sufficient depth, so that when the Persians had reached the middle point between the two circuit-walls they suddenly broke into the trench of the Romans. 27 And the first of them the Romans killed, while those in the rear by fleeing at top speed into the camp saved themselves. For the Romans decided by no means to pursue them in the dark. 28 So Chosroes, failing in this attempt and having no hope that he would take the city by any device thereafter, opened negotiations with the besieged, and carrying away a thousand pounds of silver he retired into the land of Persia. 29 When this came to the knowledge of the Emperor Justinian, he was no longer willing to carry the agreement into effect, charging Chosroes with having attempted to capture the city of Daras during a truce. Such were the fortunes of the Romans during the first invasion of Chosroes; and the summer drew to its close.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cf. Book II.xxi.30‑32.

2 This term was applied to the "Blue Faction" in Byzantium and elsewhere.

3 Cf. Book I.xxii.4.

4 Nine MS. lines are missing at this point.

5 Cf. Book II.x.24.

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