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II.22‑23

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.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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II.26‑27

(Vol. I) Procopius
Persian Wars

Book II (continued)

 p473  [link to original Greek text] 24 1 Now it happened that Chosroes had come from Assyria to a place toward the north called Adarbiganon, from which he was planning to make an invasion into the Roman domain through Persarmenia. 2 In that place is the great sanctuary of fire, which the Persians reverence above all other gods. There the fire is guarded unquenched by the Magi, and they perform carefully a great number of sacred rites, and in particular they consult an oracle on those matters which are of the greatest importance. This is the fire which the Romans worshipped under the name of Hestia​1 in ancient times. 3 There someone who had been sent from Byzantium to Chosroes announced that Constantianus and Sergius would come before him directly as envoys to arrange the treaty. 4 Now these two men were both trained speakers and exceedingly clever; Constantianus was an Illyrian  p475 by birth, and Sergius was from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. 5 And Chosroes remained quiet expecting these men. But in the course of the journey thither Constantianus became ill and much time was consumed; in the meantime it came about that the pestilence fell upon the Persians. 6 For this reason Nabedes, who at that time held the office of general in Persarmenia, sent the priest of the Christians in Dubios by direction of the king to Valerianus, the general in Armenia, in order to reproach the envoys for their tardiness and to urge the Romans with all zeal toward peace. 7 And he came with his brother to Armenia, and, meeting Valerianus, declared that he himself, as a Christian, was favourably disposed toward the Romans, and that the king Chosroes always followed his advice in every matter; so that if the ambassadors would come with him to the land of Persia, there would be nothing to prevent them from arranging the peace as they wished. 8 Thus then spoke the priest; but the brother of the priest met Valerianus secretly and said that Chosroes was in great straits: for his son had risen against him in an attempt to set up a tyranny, and he himself together with the whole Persian army had been taken with the plague; and this was the reason why he wished just now to settle the agreement with the Romans. 9 When Valerianus heard this, he straightway dismissed the bishop, promising that the envoys would come to Chosroes at no distant time, but he himself reported the words which he had heard to the Emperor Justinian. 10 This led the emperor immediately  p477 to send word to him and to Martinus and the other commanders to invade the enemy's territory as quickly as possible. For he knew well that no one of the enemy would stand in their way. 11 And he commanded them to gather all in one place and so make their invasion into Persarmenia. When the commanders received these letters, all of them together with their followers began to gather into the land of Armenia.

[link to original Greek text] 12 And already Chosroes had abandoned Adarbiganon a little before through fear of the plague and was off with his whole army into Assyria, where the pestilence had not as yet become epidemic. Valerianus accordingly encamped close by Theodosiopolis with the troops under him; and with him was arrayed Narses, who had with him Armenians and some of the Eruli. 13 And Martinus, the General of the East, together with Ildiger and Theoctistus, reached the fortress of Citharizon, and fixing his camp there, remained on the spot. This fortress is separated from Theodosiopolis by a journey of four days. There too Peter came not long afterwards together with Adolius and some other commanders. 14 Now the troops in this region were commanded by Isaac, the brother of Narses. And Philemouth and Beros with the Eruli who were under them came into the territory of Chorzianene, not far from the camp of Martinus. 15 And Justus, the emperor's nephew, and Peranius and John, the son of Nicetas, together with Domentiolus and John, who was  p479 called the Glutton, made camp near the place called Phison, which is close by the boundaries of Martyropolis. 16 Thus then were encamped the Roman commanders with their troops; and the whole army amounted to thirty thousand men. 17 Now all these troops were neither gathered into one place, nor indeed was there any general meeting for conference. But the generals sent to each other some of their followers and began to make enquiries concerning the invasion. 18 Suddenly, however, Peter, without communicating with anyone, and without any careful consideration, invaded the hostile land with his troops. And when on the following day this was found out by Philemouth and Beros, the leaders of the Eruli, they straightway followed. 19 And when this in turn came to the knowledge of Martinus and Valerianus and their men, they quickly joined in the invasion. 20 And all of them a little later united with each other in the enemy's territory, with the exception of Justus and his men, who, as I have said, had encamped far away from the rest of the army, and learned later of their invasion; then, indeed, they also invaded the territory of the enemy as quickly as possible at the point where they were, but failed altogether to unite with the other commanders. 21 As for the others, they proceeded in a body straight for Doubios, neither plundering nor damaging in any other way the land of the Persians.

[link to original Greek text] 25 1 Now Doubios is a land excellent in every respect, and especially blessed with a healthy climate and abundance of good water; and from Theodosiopolis  p481 it is removed a journey of eight days. 2 In that region there are plains suitable for riding, and many very populous villages are situated in very close proximity to one another, and numerous merchants conduct their business in them. 3 For from India and the neighbouring regions of Iberia and from practically all the nations of Persia and some of those under the Roman sway they bring in merchandise and carry on their dealings with each other there. 4 And the priest of the Christians is called "Catholicos" in the Greek tongue, because he presides alone over the whole region. 5 Now at a distance of about one hundred and twenty stades from Doubios on the right as one travels from the land of the Romans, there is a mountain difficult of ascent and moreover precipitous, and a village crowded into very narrow space by the rough country about, Anglon by name. 6 Thither Nabedes withdrew with his whole army as soon as he learned of the inroad of the enemy, and, confident in his strength of position, he shut himself in. 7 Now the village lies at the extremity of the mountain, and there is a strong fortress bearing the same name as this village on the steep mountain side. 8 So Nabedes with stones and carts blocked up the entrances into the village and thus made it still more difficult of access. 9 And in front of it he dug a sort of trench and stationed the army there, having filled some old cabins with ambuscades of infantrymen. Altogether the Persian army amounted to four thousand men.

[link to original Greek text] 10 While these things were being done in this way, the Romans reached a place one day's journey distant from Anglon, and capturing one of the enemy who was going out as a spy they enquired  p483 where in the world Nabedes was then. And he asserted that the man had retired from Anglon with the whole Median army. 11 And when Narses heard this, he was indignant, and he heaped reproaches and abuse upon his fellow-commanders for their hesitation. 12 And others, too, began to do the very same thing, casting insults upon one another; and from then on, giving up all thought of battle and danger, they were eager to plunder the country thereabout. 13 The troops broke camp, accordingly, and without the guidance of generals and without observing any definite formation, they moved forward in complete confusion; for neither had they any countersign among themselves, as is customary in such perilous situations, nor were they arranged in their proper divisions. 14 For the soldiers marched forward, mixed in with the baggage train, as if going to the ready plunder of great wealth. 15 But when they came near to Anglon, they sent out spies who returned to them announcing the array of the enemy. 16 And the generals were thunder-struck by the unexpectedness of it, but they considered it altogether disgraceful and unmanly to turn back with an army of such great size, and so they disposed the army in its three divisions, as well as the circumstances permitted, and advanced straight toward the enemy. 17 Now Peter held the right wing and Valerianus the left, while Martinus and his men arrayed themselves in the centre. And when they came close to their opponents, they halted, preserving their formation, but not without disorder. 18 The cause for this was to be found in the difficulty of the ground, which was very badly broken up, and in the fact that they  p485 were entering battle in a formation arranged on the spur of the moment. 19 And up to this time the barbarians, who had gathered themselves into a small space, were remaining quiet, considering the strength of their antagonists, since the order had been given them by Nabedes not under any circumstances to begin the fighting, but if the enemy should assail them, to defend themselves with all their might.

[link to original Greek text] 20 And first Narses with the Eruli and those of the Romans who were under him, engaged with the enemy, and after a hard hand-to‑hand struggle, he routed the Persians who were before him. 21 And the barbarians in flight ascended on the run to the fortress, and in so doing they inflicted terrible injury upon one another in the narrow way. 22 And then Narses urged his men forward and pressed still harder upon the enemy, and the rest of the Romans joined in the action. 23 But all of a sudden the men who were in ambush, as has been said,​2 came out from the cabins along the narrow alleys, and killed some of the Eruli, falling unexpectedly upon them, and they struck Narses himself a blow on the temple. 24 And his brother Isaac carried him out from among the fighting men, mortally wounded. And he died shortly afterwards, having proved himself a brave man in this engagement. 25 Then, as was to be expected, great confusion fell upon the Roman army, and Nabedes let out the whole Persian force upon his opponents. 26 And the Persians, shooting into great masses of the enemy in the narrow alleys, killed a large number without difficulty, and particularly of the Eruli who had at the first fallen upon the enemy with Narses and were fighting for  p487 the most part without protection. 27 For the Eruli have neither helmet nor corselet nor any other protective armour, except a shield and a thick jacket, which they gird about them before they enter a struggle. 28 And indeed the Erulian slaves go into battle without even a shield, and when they prove themselves brave men in war, then their masters permit them to protect themselves in battle with shields. Such is the custom of the Eruli.

[link to original Greek text] 29 And the Romans did not withstand the enemy and all of them fled as fast as they could, never once thinking of resistance and heedless of shame or of any other worthy motive. 30 But the Persians, suspecting that they had not turned thus to a shameless flight, but that they were making use of some ambuscades against them, pursued them as far as the rough ground extended and then turned back, not daring to fight a decisive battle on level ground, a few against many. 31 The Romans, however, and especially all the generals, supposing that the enemy were continuing the pursuit without pause, kept fleeing still faster, wasting not a moment; and they were urging on their horses as they ran with whip and voice, and throwing their corslets and other accoutrements in haste and confusion to the ground. 32 For they had not the courage to array themselves against the Persians if they overtook them, but they placed all hope of safety in their horses' feet, and, in short, the flight became such that scarcely any one of their horses survived, but when they stopped running, they straightway fell down and expired. 33 And this proved a disaster for the Romans  p489 so great as to exceed anything that had ever befallen them previously. For great numbers of them perished and still more fell into the hands of the enemy. 34 And their weapons and draught animals which were taken by the enemy amounted to such an imposing number that Persia seemed as a result of this affair to have become richer. 35 And Adolius, while passing through a fortified place during this retreat — it was situated in Persarmenia — was struck on the head by a stone thrown by one of the inhabitants of the town, and died there. As for the forces of Justus and Peranius, they invaded the country about Taraunon, and after gathering some little plunder, immediately returned.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Vesta.

2 Cf. section 9 above.


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