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VIII.1‑7

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1928

The text is in the public domain.

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VIII.15‑17

(Vol. V) Procopius
Wars

Book VIII (continued)

 p117  8 1 Chorianes then, and the Median army had made their camp near the Hippis River. And when Gubazes, the Colchian king, and Dagisthaeus, who commanded the Roman army, learned this, they  p119 formed a common plan and led forth the Roman and Lazic army against the enemy. 2 And when they had come to the opposite side of the Hippis River and had made their camp there, they began to consider the situation, debating whether it would be more to their advantage to wait there and receive the enemy's attack or whether they should advance upon their enemy, in order, of course, that by displaying their daring to the Persians and by making it obvious to their opponents that they were filled with contempt as they went against them, they might, by assuming the offensive in the combat, be able to humble the spirit of the men arrayed against them. 3 And since the opinion of those prevailed who urged an advance upon the enemy, the whole army straightway hastened toward them. Thereupon the Lazi would no longer consent to fight beside the Romans, putting forth the objection that the Romans, on the one hand, in entering the struggle, were not risking their lives from their fatherland or their most precious possessions, while for them the danger involved their children and their wives and their ancestral land; so that they would have to blush before their own women, 4 if it should so fall out that they were defeated by their opponents. Indeed they imagined that under this stress they would improvise the valour which was not in them. 5 And they were filled with zeal to engage with the enemy by themselves first, so that the Romans might not throw them into confusion during the action through not having the same zeal as they had in meeting the danger. 6 After the Lazi had begun to shew this spirit of bravado, Gubazes became well pleased, and calling them together a little apart from the Romans he exhorted them as follows.

 p121  7 "Fellow‑men, I know not whether it is necessary to address any exhortation to you to impel you to be of good courage. For those men whose enthusiasm is upheld by the necessity of circumstances would, I think, need no further exhortation, and this is the case with us, in the present crisis at any rate. 8 For it is your women and children and your ancestral land, and, to speak plainly, your all, which is involved in this danger, for it is to secure these that the Persians are coming upon us. 9 For no one in the whole world gives way to those who are seeking by violence to rob him of any of his possessions, for nature compels him to fight for his property. 10 And you are not ignorant that nothing stops the avarice of the Persians when they have come to have power in their grasp, and if at the present time they prevail over us in the war, they will not stop with simply ruling us or imposing taxes or treating us in other matters as subjects, — a statement with which were can test by our own memory of what Chosroes attempted upon us not long ago. 11 But let me not even so much as mention the experience we have had with the Persians, and let not the name of the Lazi come to an end. And the struggle against the Medes, my fellow‑men, is not a hard one for us who have many times grappled with them and prevailed over them in the fight. 12 For a task which has become thoroughly familiar entails no difficulty whatever, the necessary labour having been previously expended in practice and experience. Consequently we shall be obliged because of this fact actually to despise the enemy as having been defeated in previous combats and having no such ground for courage as you have. 13 For when  p123 the spirit has been humbled, it is by no means wont to mount again. Holding these thoughts then before your minds, advance with high hopes to close with the enemy."

14 After making such a speech Gubazes led out the army of the Lazi, and they arrayed themselves as follows. As a vanguard the cavalry of the Lazi advanced in order against the foe, while the Roman cavalry followed them, not at a short interval, but very far in the rear. 15 This particular Roman force was under the leadership of Philegagus, a Gepaid by birth and an energetic man, and of John the Armenian, son of Thomas, an exceptionally able warrior who was known by the surname Guzes, and who has been mentioned already in the previous narrative.​1 16 Behind these followed Gubazes, the king of the Lazi, and Dagisthaeus, the general of the Romans, with the infantry of both armies, reasoning that, should it come about that the cavalry were routed, they would be saved very easily by falling back on them. 17 So the Romans and the Lazi arrayed themselves in this manner: Chorianes meanwhile selected from his army a thousand men equipped with the corselet and in all other respects most thoroughly armed, and sent them forward as a scouting party, while he himself with all the rest of the army marched in the rear, leaving behind in the camp a garrison of only a few men. 18 Now the cavalry of the Lazi which had gone ahead shewed in what they did scant regard for their professions, denouncing by their actions the hopes which they had previously aroused. 19 For when they came suddenly upon the advance party of the enemy, they did not bear the sight of them, but straightway  p125 wheeled their horses and began to gallop back to the rear in complete disorder; and pressing onward they mingled with the Romans, not declining to take refuge with the very men beside whom they had previously been unwilling to array themselves. 20 But when the two forces came close to each other, neither side at first opened the attack or joined battle, but each army drew back as their opponents advanced and in turn followed them as they retired, and they consumed much time in retreats and counter-pursuits and swiftly executed changes of front.

21 But there was a certain Artabanes in that Roman army, a Persarmenian​2 by birth, who had, as it happened, deserted long before to the Armenians who are subject to the Romans, not as a simple deserter however, but by the slaughter of one hundred and twenty Persian warriors he had given the Romans a pledge of his loyalty to them. 22 For he had come before Valerian, who at that time was a general in Armenia and requested him to give him fifty Romans; and upon getting what he wished he proceeded to a fortress situated in Persarmenia. 23 There a garrison of one hundred and twenty Persians received him with his company into the fortress, it not being as yet clear that he had changed his allegiance and gone over to the enemy. 24 He then slew the hundred and twenty men and plundered all the money in the fortress — and there was an enormous quantity of it — and so came to Valerian and the Roman army, and having thus proved  p127 himself faithful to them, he thereafter marched with the Romans. 25 This Artabanes in the present battle placed himself in the space between the armies, taking with him two of the Roman soldiers, and thither came some of the enemy also. 26 Artabanes charged these men, and engaging with one of the Persians who was a man of high valour and great bodily prowess, he straightway slew him with his spear and throwing him from his horse brought him down to the ground. 27 But one of the barbarians standing beside the fallen man smote Artabanes on the head with a sword, but not with a mortal stroke. Then one of the followers of Artabanes, a Goth by birth, attacked this man, and while he still held his hand at Artabanes' head, smote him with a well-directed blow in the left flank and laid him low. 28 Thereupon the thousand, being terrified at what had taken place, began to withdraw to the rear, where they awaited Chosroes and the rest of the army of Persians and Alani, and in a short time mingled with them.

29 By this time the infantry under Gubazes and Dagisthaeus also came up with their cavalry and both armies closed to a hand-to‑hand encounter. 30 At this point Philegagus and John, thinking they were too few to bear the onset of the barbarian horse, particularly because they had no confidence in the power of the Lazi, leaped from their horses and compelled all to do the same, both Romans and Lazi. 31 They then arrayed themselves on foot in a very deep phalanx, and all stood with a front facing the enemy and thrusting out their spears against them. 32 But the barbarians knew not what to make of it for they  p129 were neither able to charge their opponents, who were now on foot, nor could they break up their phalanx, because the horses, annoyed by the points of the spears and the clashing of the shields, balked; and so they all resorted to their bows, emboldened by the hope that by a multitude of missiles they would very easily turn their enemy to flight. 33 The Romans likewise and all the Lazi began to do exactly the same thing. So from each side the arrows were flying in great numbers into both armies, and on both sides many men were falling. 34 Now the Persians and Alani were discharging their missiles in a practically continuous stream and much faster than their opponents. However, the Roman shields checked the most of them.

In the course of this battle Chorianes, the commander of the Persians, happened to be hit. 35 But by whom this man was wounded was not clear to anyone; for some chance guided the shaft as it came out of a crowded mass of men, fastened itself in the man's neck, and killed him outright, and by one man's death the battle was inclined and victory fell to the Romans. 36 For as he fell from his horse to the ground on his face and lay there, the barbarians went in a wild rush to their stockade, while the Romans with the Lazi followed upon their heels and slew many, hoping to capture post one rush the camp of their opponents. 37 But one of the Alani, who was a man of great courage and bodily strength and who knew unusually well how to shoot rapidly to either side, took his stand at the end of the  p131 stockade, which was very narrow, and unexpectedly blocked the way for the oncoming Romans for a long time. 38 But John, the son of Thomas, approached alone very close to him and slew the man with a spear, and thus the Romans and Lazi captured the camp. And great numbers indeed of the barbarians were destroyed there, and the remainder betook themselves away to their native land, each one as he found it possible to get there. 39 So this invasion of the Persians into the land of Colchis ended in this way. Meanwhile another Persian army, after fortifying the garrison at Petra with an abundance of provisions and all other supplies, had departed on their way.

9 1 In the meantime the following took place. The Lazi began to slander Dagisthaeus to the emperor, going to Byzantium to do so, charging him with treason and Medizing. 2 For they declared that he had yielded to the persuasion of the Persians in refusing to establish himself inside the fallen circuit-wall of Petra, while the enemy in the interval had filled bags with sand and laid courses with them instead of stones, and thus had made secure such parts of the circuit-wall as had fallen down. 3 And they stated that Dagisthaeus, whether impelled to do so by a bribe or through negligence, had postponed the attack to some other time, and had thus let slip for the moment the precious opportunity which, of course, he had never again been able to grasp. 4 The emperor consequently confined him in the prison and kept him under guard; he then appointed  p133 Bessas, who had returned not long before from Italy, General of Armenia and sent him to Lazica with instructions to command the Roman army there. 5 Venilus, the brother of Buzes, had also been sent there already with an army, as well as Odonachus, Babas from Thrace, and Uligagus of the Eruli.

6 Now Nabedes had invaded Lazica with an army, but he accomplished nothing of consequence beyond spending so time with this army among the Abasgi, who had revolted from the Romans and Lazi, and taking from them sixty children of their notables as hostages. 7 It was at that time that Nabedes as an incident of his journey captured Theodora, the consort of Opsites (he was uncle of Gubazes and king of the Lazi), finding her among the Apsilii, and he carried her off to the land of Persia. 8 Now this woman happened to be a Roman by birth, for the kings of the Lazi from ancient times had been sending to Byzantium, and with the consent of the emperor, arranging marriages with some of the senators and taking home their wives from there. 9 In fact Gubazes was sprung from a Roman family on his mother's side. But the reason why these Abasgi turned to revolt I shall now set forth.

10 When they had removed from power their own kings, as has been told by me above,​3 Roman soldiers sent by the emperor began to be quartered among them very generally, and they sought to annex the land to the Roman empire, imposing certain new regulations upon them. 11 But because these were rather severe the Abasgi became exceedingly wroth. Fearing, consequently, that they would be mere  p135 slaves of the Romans thereafter, they again put their rulers in power, one named Opsites in the eastern part of the country, and Sceparnas in the western part. 12 Thus, because they had fallen into despair of good things, they naturally enough sought to regain the status which had previously seemed to them grievous in place of their later estate, seeing this had been worse, and in consequence of this change they were in fear of the power of the Romans and as secretly as possible went over to the Persians. When the Emperor Justinian heard this, he command Bessas to send a strong army against them. 13 He accordingly selected a large number from the Roman army, appointed to command them Uligagus and John the son of Thomas, and immediately sent them by sea against the Abasgi. Now it happened that one of the rulers of the Abasgi, the one named Sceparnas, was away for some reason among the Persians; 14 for he had gone under summons not long before to Chosroes. But the other ruler, learning of the inroad of the Romans, mustered all the Abasgi and made haste to encounter them.

15 Now there is a place beyond the boundary of Apsilia on the road into Abasgia of the following description: a lofty ridge runs out from the Caucasus, and gradually sinks, as its runs along, to a lower level, resembling in a way a ladder, until it comes to an end at the Euxine Sea. 16 And the Abasgi in ancient times built an exceedingly strong fortress of very considerable size on the lower slope of this mountain.  p137 17 Here they always take refuge and repel the inroads of their enemies, who are in no way able to storm the difficult position. Indeed there is only one path leading to this fortress and to the rest of the land of the Abasgi, and this happens to be impassable for men marching by twos. 18 For there is no possibility of getting along there except in single file and on foot, and that with difficulty. Above this path rises the side of an exceedingly rough gorge which extends from the fortress to the sea. 19 And the place bears a name worthy of the gorge, for the inhabitants call it Trachea,​4 using a Greek word.

20 So the Roman fleet put in between the boundaries of the Abasgi and the Apsilii, and John and Uligagus disembarked their troops and proceeded on foot, while the sailors followed the army along the coast with all the boats. 21 And when they came close to Trachea, they beheld the entire force of the Abasgi fully armed and standing in order along the whole gorge above the path which I have just mentioned, whereupon they fell into great perplexity because they were quite unable to handle the situation before them, until John, after reasoning log with himself, discovered a remedy for the trouble. 22 For leaving Uligagus there with the half of the army, he himself took the others and manned the boats. And by rowing they rounded the place where Trachea was and passed it entirely and thus Goti the rear of the enemy. 23 Thereupon the Romans raised their standards and advanced. The Abasgi, then,  p139 seeing their enemy pressing upon them from both sides, no longer offered resistance nor even kept their ranks, but turning to withdraw in very disorderly retreat they kept moving forward, but so impeded were they by their fear and the helplessness resulting therefrom that they were no longer able to find their way about the rough terrain of their native haunts, nor could they easily get away from the place. 24 The Romans meanwhile were following them up from either side and caught and killed many. And they reached the fortress on the run together with the fugitives and found the small gate there still open; for the guards could by no means shut the gates, since they were still taking in the fugitives. 25 So pursued and pursuers mingled together were all researching toward the gate, the former eager to save themselves, the latter to capture the fortress. 26 Finding then the gates open, they charged through them together: for the gate-keepers were neither able to distinguish the Abasgi from the enemy nor to shut the gates to with the throng overpowering them.

27 And the Abasgi for their part, though feeling relief at getting inside the fortress, were actually being captured with the fortress, while the Romans, thinking they had mastered their opponents, found themselves involved there in a more difficult struggle. 28 For the houses were numerous and not very far apart from each other — indeed they were even crowded close enough together so that they resembled a wall all round, and the Abasgi mounted them and defended themselves with all their strength by hurling mills upon the heads of their enemy, struggling with might and main and filled with  p141 terror and with pity for their children and women, and consequently overcome with despair, until it occurred to the Romans to fire the houses. 29 They accordingly set fire to them on all sides, and thus were completely victorious in this struggle. Now Opsites, the ruler of the Abasgi, succeeded in making his escape with only a few men, and withdrew to the neighbouring Huns and the Caucasus mountains. 30 But the others were either charred and burned to ashes with their houses or fell into the hands of their enemy. The Romans also captured the women of their rulers with all their offspring, razed the defences of the fortress to the ground, and rendered the land desolate to a great distance. For the Abasgi, then, this was the result of their revolution. But among the Apsilii the following took place.

10 1 The Apsilii have been subjects of the Lazi from ancient times. Now there is in this country an exceedingly strong fortress which the natives call Tzibile. 2 But one among the notables of the Lazi, Terdetes by name, who held the office of "magister,"​5 as it is called, in this nation, had brought a falling out with Gubazes, the king of the Lazi, and was hostile to him; accordingly he secretly promised the Persians to hand over this particular fortress to them, and he came into Apsilia leading an army of Persians to accomplish this object. 3 Then, when they came  p143 close to the fortress, he himself went ahead with his Lazic followers and got inside the fortifications, because those keeping guard there could in no way disobey the commander of the Lazi, feeling as they did no suspicion of him. Thus when the Persian army arrived Terdetes received it into the fortress. 4 And as a result of this the Medes considered that not Lazica alone, but also Apsilia was held by them. Meanwhile neither the Romans nor the Lazi were in a Patterson to defend the Apsilii, being hard pressed, as they were, by the task of dealing with Petra and the Median army.

5 But there was a certain woman who was the wife of the commandant of the garrison there, one of the Apsilii, an exceedingly comely person to look upon. With this woman the commander of the Persian army suddenly fellow violently in love, and at first he began to make advances, but after that, since he met with no encouragement from the woman, he attempted with no hesitation to force her. 6 At this the husband of the woman became exceedingly enraged, and at night he slew both the commander and all those who had entered the fortress with him, who thus became incidentally victims of their commander's hostlost, and he himself took charge of the fortress. On account of this after the Apsilii revolted from the Colchians,​6 alleging against them that, whilst the Apsilii were being oppressed by the Persians, they had been altogether unwilling to champion their cause 7 But Gubazes sent a thousand Romans and John the son of Thomas, whom I have  p145 recently mentioned, against them; this man succeeded, after long efforts at conciliation, in winning them over without a fight and made them once more subjects of the Lazi. Such was the story of the Apsilii and the fortress of Tzibile.

8 At about this time it came about that Chosroes through his inhumanity did not remain unscathed even as regards his own offspring. For the eldest of his sons named Anasozadus (this means in the Persian tongue "immortal") chanced to have a falling out with him, having been guilty of many breaches of conduct, and in particular having consorted with the wives of his father without the least hesitation. At first then Chosroes punished his son by banishment. 9 Now there is a certain land in Persia called Vazaïne, an exceedingly good country, in which the city named Belapaton is situated, seven days' journey distant from Ctesiphon. 10 There at the command of his father this Anasozadus was living.

But at that time it so fell out that Chosroes became violently ill, so that it was actually said that he had passed from the world; for Chosroes was by nature of a sickly disposition. 11 Certain it is that he often gathered around him physicians from all parts, among whom was the physician Tribunus, a Palestinian by birth. 12 This Tribunus was a man of great learning and inferior to none in medical skill, and was furthermore a temperate and God‑fearing man of the highest worth. 13 One one occasion he had cured Chosroes of a serious illness, and when he departed from the land of the Persians, he carried  p147 with him many notable and notable gifts from his patient. 14 When, accordingly, the truce preceding the present one was made, Chosroes demanded of the Emperor Justinian that he give him this Tribunus to live with him for a year. This demand having been granteded him, as stated by me above,​7 Chosroes bade Tribunus for whatever he wanted. 15 And he asked for nothing else in the world except that Chosroes should release for him some of the Roman captives. 16 So he released three thousand for him, and besides these all whom he requested by name as being notable men among the captives, and as a result of this incident Tribunus without great renown among all men. Thus did these events take place.

17 When Anasozadus learned of the disease which had fallen upon his father, he began to stir up a revolution by way of usurping the royal power. 18 And though his father recovered, he nevertheless set the city in revolt himself, and taking up arms against him went forth fully prepared for battle. 19 When Chosroes heard this, he sent against him an army with Phabrizus as general. So Phabrizus having been victorious in the battle made Anasozadus captive and brought him before Chosroes not long afterward. 20 And he caused the eyes of his son to be disfigured, not destroying their sight but distorting both the upper and lower lids in a very ugly fashion. 21 For he heated a sort of iron needle in the fire and with this seared the outside of his son's eyes when  p149 they were shut, thus marring the beauty of the lids. 22 Now Chosroes did this with only one end in view, that his son's hope of achieving the royal power might be frustrated. For the law does not permit a man who has a disfigurement to become king over the Persians, as has been stated by me in the preceding narrative also.8

11 1 As for Anasozadus, then, his fortune and his character brought him to this. 2 And when the fifth year of the truce had now come to an end, the Emperor Justinian sent Petrus, a patrician and holding the office of "Magister," to Chosroes, in order that they might arrange in every detail the treaty for the settlement of the East. 3 But Chosroes sent him away, promising that after no long time he would be followed by the man who would arrange these matters in a manner advantageous to both parties. 4 And not long afterwards he sent Isdigousnas for the second time, a man of pretentious demeanour and filled with a kind of unspeakable villainy, whose pompous puffing and blowing no one of the Romans could bear. 5 And he brought with him his wife and daughters and his brother, and was followed by a huge throng of retainers. One would have supposed that the good men were going out for battle. 6 In his company also were two of the most notable men among the Persians, who actually wore golden diadems on their heads. 7 And it irritated the people  p151 of Byzantium that the Emperor Justinian did not receive him simply as an ambassador, but counted him worthy of much more friendly attention and magnificence.

8 But Braducius​9 did not come again with him to Byzantium, for they say that Chosroes had removed him from the world, laying no other charge against the man than that he had been a table-companion of the Roman emperor. 9 "For," said he, "as a mere interpreter he would not have achieved such high honour from the emperor, unless he had betrayed the cause of the Persians." But some say that Isdigousnas slandered him, asserting that he had conversed secretly with the Romans. 10 Now when this ambassador met the emperor for the first time, he spoke no word either small or great about peace, but he made the charge that the Romans had violated the truce, alleging that Arethas​10 and the Saracens, who were allies of the Romans, had outraged Alamundarus in time of peace, and advancing other charges of no consequence which it has seemed to me not at all necessary of the mention.

11 While these negotiations were going on in Byzantium, Bessas with the whole Roman army was entering upon the siege of Petra. First the Romans dug a trench along the wall just where Dagisthaeus had made his ditch when he pulled the wall down there.​11 Now the reason why they dug in the same place I shall explain. 12 Those who built this city originally placed the foundations of the circuit-wall for the  p153 most part upon rock, but here and there they were led to rest upon earth. 13 And there was such a portion of the wall on the west side of the city of no great extent, on either side of which they had constructed the foundations of the circuit-wall upon hard, unyielding rock. 14 This was the portion which Dagisthaeus on the previous occasion and now Bessas likewise undermined, the character of the ground not permitting them to go further, but quite naturally determining the length of the trench for them and controlling it naturally.

15 Consequently when the Persians, after the withdrawal of Dagisthaeus, wished to build up this part of the wall which had fallen down, they did not follow the previous plan in its construction, but did as follows. 16 Filling the excavated place with gravel, they laid upon it heavy timbers which they had planed very thoroughly, making them entirely smooth, and then they bound them together so as to cover a wide space; these then they used as a base instead of foundation stones, and upon them they skilfully carried out the construction of the circuit-wall. This was not understood by the Romans and they thought they were making their ditch under the foundations. 17 But by excavating the entire space under the timbers which I have just mentioned and carrying their work across most of the ground they did succeed in damaging the wall seriously, and a portion of it had actually dropped down suddenly, but nevertheless this fallen part did not incline at all to either side nor was one of the courses of stone deranged, but the whole section  p155 descended intact in a direct line, as if let down by a machine, into the excavated space and stopped there, keeping its proper position, though not with the same height as before, but somewhat less. 18 So when the whole space under the timbers had been excavated, it came about that they settled into it with the entire wall on them.

19 But even so the wall did not become accessible of that Romans. For when Mermeroes had come there with his great throng of Persians, they had added a great deal to the earlier masonry and so built the circuit-wall exceedingly high. 20 So the Romans, when they saw the part of the wall which had been shaken down still standing, were at a loss and found themselves involved in great perplexity. 21 For neither could they mine any longer, seeing their digging had brought such a result, nor were they able at all to employ the ram, for they were fighting against a wall on a slope, and this engine cannot be brought up to a wall except on smooth and very flat ground.

22 Now by some chance it so fell out that there were in this Roman army a small number of the barbarians called Sabiri, for the following reason. 23 The Sabiri are a Hunnic nation and live in the region of the Caucasus, being a very numerous people and properly divided among many different rulers. 24 And some of the rulers from ancient times have had relations with the Roman emperor, and others with the king of Persia. And each of these two sovereigns was accustomed to pay a fixed amount of gold to those in alliance with him, not annually, however, but only as need impelled him to do so. 25 At that time, accordingly,  p157 the Emperor Justinian, by way of inviting those of the Sabiri who were friendly to him to a fighting alliance, had sent a man who was to convey the money to them. 26 But this man, seeing that, with enemies between, he could in no wise travel in safety into the Caucasus region, particularly when carrying money, went only as far as Bessas and the Roman army that was engaged in besieging Petra, and from there he sent to the Sabiri, bidding some of them who were to receive the money to come to him with all speed; whereupon the Sabiri selected three of their leading men and straightway sent them with a small escort into Lazica. These, then, were the men who, upon arrogant there, had entered into the attack on the wall with the Roman army.

27 Now when these Sabiri saw that the Romans were in despair and at a loss how to handle the situation, they devised a contrivance, such as had never been conceived by anyone else of the Romans or of the Persians since men have existed, although there have always been and now are great numbers of engineers in both countries. 28 And though both negotiations have often been in need of this device throughout their history, in storming the walls of fortresses situated on any rough and difficult ground, yet not to a single one of them has come this idea which now occurred to these barbarians. Thus as time goes on human ingenuity is ever wont to keep pace with it by discovering new devices. 29 For these Sabiri improvised a ram, not in the customary form, but using a new method which was their innovation. 30 They did not  p159 put any beams into this engine, either upright or transverse, but they bound together some rather thick wands and fitted them in place everywhere instead of the beams; then they covered the entire engine with hides and so kept the shape of a ram, and hung a sailing beam by loose chains, as is customary, in the centre of the engine, and the head of this, having been made sharp and covered over with iron like the barb of a missile, was intended to deal repeated blows of that circuit-wall. 31  And they made the engine so light that it was no longer necessary that it be dragged or pushed along by the men inside, but forty men, who were also destined to draw back the beam and thrust it forward against the wall, being inside the engine and concealed by the hides, could carry the ram upon their shoulders with no difficulty.

32 These barbarians made three such engines, taking the beams with their iron heads from the rams which the Romans had in readiness but were unable to draw up to the wall. And Roman soldiers chosen for their valour in groups of not less than forty went inside each one of them and set them down very close to the wall. 33 And others were standing on either side of each engine, armed with the corselet and having their heads carefully covered by helmet and carrying poles, the ends of which were fitted with hook-shaped irons; now the purpose for which these had been provided was this, that as soon as the impact of the ram on the wall should break up the courses of the stones, they might be able with these  p161 poles to loosen and pupil down such stones as were dislodged. 34 So the Romans set to work and the wall was already being shaken by frequent blows, using their hooked poles, were pulling down the stones as they were dislodged from their setting in the masonry, and its seemed c Eratosthenes that the city would be captured instantly.

35 But the Persians hit on the following plan. They placed on the top of the circuit-wall a wooden tower which had been made ready by them long before, filling it with their most warlike men, who had their heads and the rest of their bodies protected by iron nails and corselets. 36 And they had filled pots with sulphur and bitumen and the substance which the Persians call "naphtha"​12 and the Greeks "Medea's oil," and they now set fire to these and commenced to throw them upon the sheds of the rams, and they came within a little of burning them all. 37 But the men standing beside them, as I have said, by means of the pole which I have just mentioned kept removing these missiles with the great the determination and clearing them off, so that they hurled everything down to the ground from the engines as soon as it fell. 38 But they could not expect to hold out long in this work; for the fire kindled instantly whatever it touched, unless it was immediately thrown off. Such then was the course of events here.

39 But Bessus, who had himself donned his corselet and put his whole army under arms, began to move forward many ladders to the part of the wall which had sunk. 40 And after stirring their courage with a  p163 speech of only such length as not to blunt the point of the opportunity, he devoted the remainder of his exhortation to action. For though he was a man of more than seventy years and already well past his prime, he was the first to mount the ladder. 41 There a battle took place and a display of valour by both Romans and Persians such as I at least believe has never once been seen in these times. 42 For while the number of the barbarians amounted to two thousand three hundred, the Romans counted as many as six thousand. 43 And practically all those on both sides who were not killed received wounds, and it proved true that exceedingly few survived with their bodies intact. So the Romans, for their part, were struggling with all their strength to force the ascent, while the Persians on their side were beating them back the great vigorous. 44 Thus many were being slain on both sides and the Persians were not far from repelling the danger. For at the tops of the ladders a violent struggle for position took place, and many of the Romans, fighting as they were with an enemy above them, were being slain, and Bessas the general also fell to the ground and lay there. 45 And at that point a tremendous shout arose from both armies as the barbarians rushed together from all sides and shot at him, and his bodyguard gathered hastily about him, all of them having helmets on the heads and wearing corselets; and by holding their shields close together over their heads and crowding in so as to touch one another, they made a sort of rough over him and concealed their general in special safety, and kept fending off the missiles with all their strength. 46 And a great din arose from  p165 the missiles which were thrown continually and blunted on the shields and other armour, and at the same time each man was shouting and panting and exerting himself to the utmost. 47 Meanwhile all the Romans, in their eagerness to defend their general, were shooting at the wall, stopping not for an instant, seeking thus to check the enemy.

48 In this crisis Bessas distinguished himself; though he could not get on his feet on account of the impediment of his armour and also because his body was not nimble (for this man was fleshy and, as said, very old), still he did not yield to helpless despair, even when he had come into such great danger, but formed a plan on the spur of the moment by which he succeeded in saving both himself not ruin cause. 49 For he directed his bodyguards to drag him by the foot and thus pull him very far from the wall, 50 and they carried out this order. And so, while some were dragging him, others were retreating with him, holding their shields above him and toward each other, and walking at the same speed as he was being dragged, so that he might not, though becoming uncovered, be hit by the enemy. 51 Then as soon as Bessas had reached safety, he got on his feet, and urging his men forward went toward the wall, and setting foot on the ladder once more made haste to mount it. 52 And all the Romans following behind him made a display of real heroism against the enemy. Then the Persians became terrified and begged their opponents to give them some time, in order that they might pack up and get out of the way when they handed over the city. 53 But Bessas suspected  p167 that they had contrived some trickery, to the end that in the interval they might increase the strength of the circuit-wall, and so he said that he was unable to put a stop to the fighting, but those who wished to meet him to discuss terms could, while the armies were fighting, nevertheless proceed with him to another part of the wall; and he designated a certain spot to them.

54 This proposal, however, was not accepted by them, and once more fierce fighting commenced, involving a violent tussle; but while the conflict was still indecisive, it so fell out that the wall at another point, where the Romans had previously undermined it, suddenly toppled over. Consequently many from both armies rushed together at that spot. 55 And now the Romans showed their great numerical superiority over the enemy, though of they were divided into two parts, and they kept pressing the battle against their opponents, shooting faster than ever and pushing forward with the greatest force. 56 The Persians, on the other hand, no longer resisted with the same strength as before, assailed violently as they were at both points, and the smallness of their numbers thus divided between two fronts was conspicuous. 57 Now while both the armies were still struggling thus, and the Persians, on the one hand, could not repulse their enemy as they pressed upon them, and the Romans, on the other hand, were unable completely to force their entrance, a young man of the Armenian race named John, son of Thomas, whom they were wont to call Guzes, abandoned the downfallen part of the circuit-wall and the struggles there, and, taking with him some few of his Armenian followers, ascended by the  p169 precipice, where all considered the city to be impregnable, having overpowered the guards at that point. 58 Then, after getting on the parapet, he slew with his spear one of the Persian defenders there, who appeared to be the most warlike. In this manner an entry was made possible for the Romans.

59 Now the Persians who were posted in the wooden tower had kindled a huge number of fire-bearing pots, in order that they might be able by the very number of their missiles to burn up the engines, men and all, their defenders being unable to push them all aside with their poles. 60 But suddenly there sprang up from the south a wind of extraordinary violence and blew against them with a great roar, and in some way or other it set fire to one of the planks of the tower. 61 But the Persians there did not immediately comprehend this, for they were every man of them working and shouting immoderately, being fiddle with fear and in the midst of wild confusion, and the urgency of the moment had robbed them of their senses; so the flame rising little by little, fed by the oil which bears Medea's name and all the other things with which the tower was supplied, consumed the whole tower and the Persians who were in it. 62 These were all burned to death, and their charred bodies fell, some inside the wall, others outside where the engines stood with the Romans about them. Than the other Romans also who were fighting at the fallen part of the wall, since the enemy were giving way before them in utter despair and strove no longer to resist, got inside the fortifications, and Petra was captured completely.

63 So about five hundred of the Persians ran up  p171 to the acropolis, and seizing the stronghold there remained quiet, but the Romans made prisoners of all the others, such as they had not slain in the fighting, amounting to about seven hundred and thirty. 64 And among these they found only eighteen unhurt, all the rest having been wounded. There fell too munition of the best of the Romans, and among them John the son of Thomas, who, while entering the city, was hit on the head by a stone thrown by one of the barbarians, but only after he had made a display of marvellous deeds against the enemy.

12 1 On the following day the Romans, while besieging those barbarians who had seized the acropolis, made a proposal, offering them personal safety and promising to give them pledges to that effect, thinking that the Persians would submit on this basis. 2 But they did not receive the suggestion and prepared to resist, not thinking that they would hold out long in their desperate situation, but courting a heroic death. 3 But Bessas, wishing to dissuade them from this purpose and to turn them instead to a longing for safety, commanded one of the Roman soldiers to go up as close as he could to them and make a kind of exhortation to the men, he stated what he wished him to say to them.

4 This man then came up close to the fortress and spoke as follows: "Most noble Persians, what has  p173 come over you that you are stubbornly holding to this course of destruction, bending your energies with unreasonable zeal to accomplish a certain death and conspicuously dishonouring the practice of valour? For it is not a manly thing to array oneself against the inevitable, nor a wise thing to refuse to bow to those who have won the mastery; norm on the other hand, is it inglorious to live by falling in with the situation chance has brought. 5 For man, in the grip of necessity which is relieved by no hope of rescue, is thereby justly acquitted of the charge of dishonour, even if he is involved in the most shameful actions; for evil, when it is unavoidable, is naturally followed by forgiveness. 6 Do not, therefore, emulate madmen in the midst of obvious danger, and do not barter your safety for wanton folly, but rather call to mind that it is impossible for the dead to come to life, while the living can destroy themselves at a later time, if indeed this seems best. 7 Make, then, your final deliberation and consider well your interests, recalling the fact that those decisions would be the best in which reversal shall still be within the post of those who have made the decision. 8 For we on our part do pity you, though you are fighting against your own friends, and spare you when you are courting death, and we expect, as is customary for Christian Romans, 9 to feel compassion for you though you throw life to the winds, and look upon it as a trivial matter. And the result for you will be simply this, that by shifting your citizenship for the better you will have Justinian instead of Chosroes as master; 10 indeed  p175 we agree to give you pledges to make this promise binding. Do not then destroy yourselves when it is possible to be saved. For it is not a glorious thing to linger fondly in danger for no advantage whatsoever, since this is not playing the part of brave men, but simply courting death. 11 But noble is he who steels himself to endure the most severe fortune, when he can anticipate from it some benefit. For men do not applaud voluntary death in a situation where even the surrounding danger gives ground for so stronger hope, but a useless destruction of life is downright folly, and senseless daring which leads to death, when held out as a pretence of high seriousness, merits no praise, at least in the judgment of thinking men. 12 Furthermore, you are bound also to take into consideration that you may seem to be shewing some ingratitude toward Heaven. For if God wished to destroy you, my men, he would not, I think, have put you into the hands of those who are striving to preserve you. 13 Seeing then that such is our stand in the matter, it will clearly be for you to decide what it is fitting should befall you."

14 Such was the exhortation. The Persians, however, were unwilling even to listen to the discourse, but wonderfully shutting their ears pretended that they did not understand. 15 Then finally, at the command of the general, the Romans hurled fire into the acropolis, thinking that in this way the enemy would be constrained to surrender themselves. 16 Then, as the flames spread in great volume, the barbarians, with disaster before their eyes and knowing full well that they would speedily be burned to ashes, and having no hope, nor yet seeing  p177 any possibility of saving themselves by fighting, still even in that situation would not consent to fall into the power of their enemy, but they were immediately burned to death, every man of them, together with the acropolis, while the Roman army marvelled at what was taking place. 17 And at that time it became manifest how much importance Chosroes placed upon Lazica; for he had chosen out the most notable of all his soldiers and assigned them the garrison of Petra, and deposited there such an abundance of weapons that when the Romans took possession of them as plunder, five men's equipment fellow to each soldier, and this too in spite of the fact that many weapons had been burned on the acropolis. 18 There was also found a vast quantity of grain and of cured meat as well as all other provisions, which were indeed sufficient to keep all the besieged adequately supplied for five years.19  But the Persians had not, as it happened, stored wine there other than sour wine, but they had brought in an ample supply of beans. 20 But when the Romans actually found water there flowing from the aqueduct, they were greatly astonished and perplexed, until they learned the whole truth about the concealed pipes. And I shall now explain what these were.

21 At the time when Chosroes established the garrison in Petra after capturing it, knowing well as he did that the Romans would assail it with every means in their power, and would straightway attempt without a moment's hesitation to cut the aqueduct, he contrived the following plan. 22 The water which was being carried into the city he divided into three parts and had a very deep trench dug, in which he constructed three pipe-lines, one lying on the very  p179 bottom of the trench, and this he convoyed with mud and stones up to the middle of the trench; at that ville he concealed the second pipe-line, and above it built the third, which was above ground and visible to all; so the piping was on three levels, but this fact was concealed. 23 This the Romans at the beginning of the siege did not understand, and so, after they had cut this obvious pipe-line, they did not carry forward their work on the trench, but gave up the labour before the next pipe-line was destroyed, and thought that the besieged were in want of water, their minds being deceived by their own slipshod methods. 24 But as the siege was prolonged, the Romans by capturing some of the enemy learned that the besieged were drawing water from the aqueduct. 25 Accordingly they dug down into the ground and found there the second pipe-line, which they cut immediately, and they thought that they had thus crippled the enemy completely, not having learned even the second time from the lesson before them the real meaning of their previous experience. 26 But when they had captured the city and saw as I have said, the water flowing in from the pipe, they began to marvel and were greatly perplexed. 27 And hearing from their captives what had been done, they came to realize after the event the care shewn by the enemy in their work and the futility of their own feeble efforts.

28 Bessas now straightway sent all the prisoners to the emperor and razed the circuit-wall of Petra to  p181 the ground in order that the enemy might not again make trouble for them. 29 And the emperor praised him particularly for the valour he had displayed and for his wisdom in tearing down the whole wall. 30 Thus Bessas became once more,​13 both because of the good fortune he had enjoyed and also because of the valour he had displayed, an object of respectful admiration among all men. 31 For previously, when he was appointed to command the garrison of Rome, the Romans had great hopes of him, since before that time he had consistently shewn himself a man of the highest courage. 32 But when it came about that he met with ill fortune there, Rome being captured as it was by the Goths, as I have recounted in the previous narrative,​14 and the race of the Romans being in large part destroyed, still the Emperor Justinian, when he returned after this to Byzantium, appointed him General against the Persians. 33 Now practically everyone bitterly criticized this act and scoffed at the emperor's decision, if he was going to entrust the Medic war to this Bessas in his closing years, after he had been defeated decisively by the Goths and had now become a doddering old man. 34 But although this was the feeling of practically all men, it actually fell out that this general met with the good fortune and displayed the valour which I have described. Thus it is that human affairs proceed not according to the judgment of men, but are subject to the power and authority of God, which men are wont to call fortune, knowing not why in the world events proceed in the manner in which they manifest themselves to them.  p183 35 For the name of fortune is wont to attach to that which appears to be contrary to reason. But as regards this matter, let each man think as he wishes.

13 1 Now Mermeroes, fearing that in the course of a long time some mishap should befall Petra and the Persians left there, had set his whole army in motion and marched in that direction, being further influenced to do so by the season, seeing it was now past winter. 2 But in the course of this journey he learned all that had befallen and abandoned this march entirely, killed and wounded well that the Lazi had no fortress beyond the Phasis River excepting only the one at Petra. 3 He then returned and seized the passes from Iberia into the land of Colchis, where the Phasis can be forded, and he not only crossed this river on foot but also another river of no less difficulty, named the Rheon, which is likewise not navigable there, and thus getting on the right of the Phasis, he led his army forward against a city named Archaeopolis, which is the first and greatest city in Lazica. 4 Now this army, apart from a few men, was all cavalry, and they had with them eight elephants, upon which the Persians were to stand and shoot down upon the heads of the enemy just as from towers. 5 Indeed one might be led with good reason to marvel at the assiduity and resourcefulness of the Persians in the prosecution of their wars; for it was they who took in hand the road leading from Iberia into Colchis, which was everywhere impeded by precipitous ravines and difficult  p185 ground covered with brush, and concealed by forests of wide-spreading trees, so that even for an unencumbered traveller the way had seemed impassable previously, and they made it so smooth that not only did their entire cavalry pass that way with no difficulty, but they also actually marched over that road taking with them as many of their elephants as they wished. 6 And Huns also came to them as allies from the nation of the Sabiri, as they are called, to the number of twelve thousand. 7 But Mermeroes, fearing lest these barbarians, being in such numbers, would not only be altogether unwilling to obey his commands, but would actually do some terrible thing to the Persian army, permitted only four thousand to march with him, while he sent all the rest away to their homes after making them a generous present of money.

8 Now the Roman army numbered twelve thousand; they were not, however, all concentrated in one place, for there were only three thousand in the garrison at Archaeopolis under command of Odonachus and Babas, both able warriors, 9 while all the rest were waiting in camp on the other side of the Phasis River, having in mind that, if the enemy's army should make an attack at any point, they themselves would move out from there and go to the rescue in full force. 10 These were commanded by Venilus and Uligagus; and Varazes the Persarmenian was also with them, having recently returned from Italy and having eight hundred Tzani under his command. 11 As for Bessas, as soon as he had captured Petra, he was quite unwilling to continue the struggle, but withdrew to the Pontici and the Armenians and was giving the closest possible attention  p187 to the revenues from his territory, and by this niggardly policy he again wrecked the cause of the Romans. 12 For if, straightway after that victory which I have described and his capture of Petra, he had gone to the boundaries of Lazica and Iberia and barricaded the passes there, never again, as it seems to me, would a Persian army have entered Lazica. 13 But in fact this general, by slighting this task, all but surrendered Lazica to the enemy with his own hand, paying little heed to the emperor's wrath. 14 For the Emperor Justinian was accustomed to condone, for the most part, the mistakes of his commanders, and consequently they were found very generally to be guilty of offences both in private life and against the state.

15 Now there were two fortresses of the Lazi almost exactly on the boundary of Iberia, Scanda and Sarapanis. These, being situated in extremely rugged and difficult country, were extraordinarily hard of access. 16 They used to be garrisoned by the Lazi in ancient times with great difficulty, for no food at all grows there, and supplies had to be brought in by men who carried them on their shoulders. 17 But the Emperor Justinian at the beginning of this war had removed the Lazi from these fortresses and substituted a garrison of Roman soldiers. 18 These soldiers, then, not long afterwards, being hard pressed by the lack of necessary supplies, abandoned these fortresses because they were quite unable to live for any considerable time on millet, as the Colchians did, since it was not familiar to them, and the Lazi no longer persevered in travelling  p189 the long journey to bring them all their supplies. 19 Whereupon the Persians occupied and held them, but in the treaty the Romans got them back in exchange for the fortress of Bolum and Pharangium, as I have told in detail in the preceding narrative.​15 20 The Lazi accordingly razed these fortresses to the ground, in order that the Persians might not hold them as outposts against them. But the Persians rebuilt and held the one of the two which they call Scanda, and Mermeroes led the Medic army forward.

21 There had been a city in the plain called Rhodopolis, which lay first in the way of those invading Colchis from Iberia, so situated as to be easily accessible and altogether open to attack. 22 For this reason the Lazi had long before, in fear of the Persian invasion, razed it to the ground. When the Persians learned this, they proceeded straight for Archaeopolis. 23 But Mermeroes learned that his enemy was encamped near the mouth of the Phasis River, and he advanced upon them. 24 For it seemed to him better first to capture this force and then to undertake the siege of Archaeopolis, in order that they might not come from the rear and do harm to the Persian army. 25 And he went close by the fortifications of Archaeopolis and gave a mocking salutation to the Romans there, and with something of a swagger said that he would come back to them at the earliest moment. 26 For, said he, he wished to address his greetings to the other Romans first who were encamped near the Phasis River. 27 And the  p191 Romans, by way of answer, bade him go wherever he wished, but they declared that if he came upon the Romans there he would never return to them. 28 When the commanders of the Roman army learned this, they became thoroughly frightened and, thinking themselves too few to withstand the force of their assailants, embarked on the boats which they had ready and ferried across the Phasis River, every man of them, placing their supplies of provisions on the boats, as much at least as they were able to carry, and throwing the rest of it the river in order that the enemy might not be able to revel in them. 29 So when Mermeroes arrived there with his whole army not long afterward, and saw the enemy's camp entirely abandoned, he was vexed and filled with resentment at the baffling situation. 30 He then fired the Roman stockade, and boiling with fury turned back immediately and led his army against Archaeopolis.

14 1 The city of Archaeopolis is situated on an exceedingly rugged hill, and a river flows by, coming down from the mountains which are above the city. 2 And it has two gates, one of which is below, opening on the base of the hill, but this one is not inaccessible except in so far that the ascent to it from the plain is not smooth; but the upper gate leads out to the steep slope and is extremely difficult to approach; for the ground before this gate is covered with brush which extends to an indefinite distance. 3 And since  p193 the inhabitants of this city can get no other water, those who built it constructed two walls which extend from the city all the way to the river, in order that it might be possible for them to draw water from it in safety.

Mermeroes, consequently, being eager and determined to assault the wall there with his whole strength, did as follows. 4 He first commanded the Sabiri to build a great number of rams, of the sort which men would be able to carry on their shoulders, because he was quite unable to bring up the customary engines to the circuit-wall of Archaeopolis, lying as it did along the lower slopes of the hill; for he had heard what had been achieved by the Sabiri who were allies of the Romans at the wall of Petra not long before, and he sought by following out the method discovered by them to reap the advantage of their experience. 5 And they carried out his orders, constructing immediately a large number of rams, such as I have said were recently made for the Romans by the Sabiri. Next he sent the Dolomites, as they are called, to the precipitous parts of the city, directing them to harass the enemy there with all their strength. 6 These Dolomites are barbarians who live indeed in the middle of Persia, but have never become subject to the king of the Persians. 7 For their abode is on sheer mountain-sides which are altogether inaccessible, and so they have continued to be autonomous from ancient times down to the present day; but they always march with the Persians as mercenaries when they go against their enemies. 8 And they are all foot-soldiers, each man carrying a sword and shield and three javelins inhabits hand. 9 But they shew extraordinary  p195 nimbleness in running over cliffs and peaks of mountains, just as on a level plain. 10 For this reason Mermeroes assigned them to attack the wall there, while he with the rest of the army went against the lower gate, bringing up the rams and the elephants. 11 So then the Persians and Sabiri together, by shooting rapidly at the wall so that they filled the air round about it with their arrows, came not far from compelling the Romans there to abandon the parapet. 12 And the Dolomites, hurling in their javelins from the crags outside the circuit-wall, were inflicting still more harm upon the Romans facing them. 13 On every side, indeed, the situation of the Romans had become bad and full of danger, for they were in an extremely evil plight.

14 At that point Odonachus and Babas, either as making a display of valour or studying to test the soldiers, or it may even be that some divine influence moved them, left only a few of the soldiers where they were, directing them to ward off the assailants of the wall from the parapet, and meanwhile called together the greater part of them and made a short exhortation, speaking as follows. "Fellow-soldiers, you perceive the danger which is upon us and the necessity in which we are involved. 15 But it is incumbent upon us not to yield in the least to these evils. For those who come into a situation where safety is despaired of could be saved only by not courting safety; for a fondness for life is wont in most cases to be followed by destruction. 16 And you will be obliged to consider this fact also in our  p197 present stress, that by simply warding off the enemy from this parapet your safety will by no means be firmly established, even though we carry forward the struggle with the greatest zeal. 17 For a battle which is waged between armies standing apart gives no one opportunity to shew himself a brave man, but the issue as a general thing is determined by chance. 18 If, however, the conflict becomes a hand-to‑hand struggle, enthusiasm will in most cases prevail and victory will appear where valour lies. 19 And apart from this, even in the case of success in the conflict, men fighting from the wall would reap no great benefit from this success, because, while they have for the moment succeeded in repulsing the enemy, the danger will again be acute of the navy morrow, and, on the other hand, if they fail even by a little, they are naturally destroyed along with their defences. 20 But once having conquered their opponents in hand-to‑hand combat they will thereafter have their safety assured. Let us then with these thoughts in mind advance against the enemy with all zeal, calling to our aid the assistance from above, and with our hopes raised high by that desperate situation which has now fallen to us. 21 For God is ever wont to save those men above all others who find no hope of safety in themselves."

22 After Odonachus and Babas had thus encouraged the soldiers, they opened the gates and led the army forth on the run. leaving a few men behind for the following reason. 23 One of the Lazi, who was a man of note in this nation, an inhabitant of Archaeopolis, had on the previous day negotiated with Mermeroes for the betrayal of his native land.  p199 24 Now Mermeroes had sent word to him to render the Persians only this service, that, whenever they began the assault on the wall, he should secretly set fire to the buildings where the grain and the rest of the provisions were stored. 25 And he directed him to do this, reasoning that one of two things would happen, either that the Romans being concerned about this fire and devoting their attention to it would give his men opportunity to scale the circuit-wall unmolested, or that in their eagerness to repulse the Persians storming the wall they would pay no attention to these buildings; 26 and if in this way the grain and other provisions were burned, he would with no difficulty capture Archaeopolis in a short time. 27 With such purpose did Mermeroes give these instructions to this Laz; and he, for his part, agreed to carry out the order when he saw the storming of the wall at its height, by setting fire as secretly as possible to these buildings. 28 And when the Romans saw the flames rising suddenly, some few of them went to the rescue and with great difficulty quenched the fire, which had done a certain amount of damage, but all the rest, as stated, went forth against the enemy.

29 This force, by falling upon them suddenly and terrifying them by the unexpectedness of their attack, slew many, for the Persians offered no resistance; indeed they did not even dare raise a hand against them. 30 This was because the Persians, having no expectation that their enemy, who were few in number, would make a sally against them, had taken up positions apart from one another with a view to  p201 storming the wall and so were not in battle array. 31 And those who were carrying the rams upon their shoulders were quite naturally both unarmed and unprepared for battle, while the others, with only strung bows in their hands, were entirely unable to ward off an enemy pressing upon them in close array. 32 Thus the Romans, slashing and turning from side to side, kept destroying them. At that moment also it so happened that one of the elephants, because he was wounded, some say, or simply because he became excited, wheeled round out of control and reared up, 33 thus throwing his riders and breaking up the lines of the others. As a result of this the barbarians began to retreat, while the Romans continued without fear to destroy those who from time to time fell in their way. 34 And one might wonder at this point that the Romans, though knowing well by what means they ought to repel a hostile attack by elephants, did none of the necessary things, being obviously confused by the situation, and yet this result was achieved without effort on their part. And what this is I shall now make clear.

35 When Chosroes and the Medic army were storming the fortifications of Edessa, one of the elephants, mounted by a great number of the most warlike men among the Persians, came close toto circuit-wall and made it seem that in a short space he would overpower the men defending the tower at that point, seeing they were exposed to missiles falling thickly from above, and would thus take the city. 36 For it seemed that this was, in fact, an engine for the capture of cities. The Romans, however, by  p203 suspending a pig from the tower escaped this peril. 37 For as the pig was hanging there, he very naturally gave vent to sundry squeals, and this angered the elephant so that he got out of control and stepping back little by little, moved off to the rear. Such was the outcome of that situation. 38 But in the present case the omission due to the thoughtlessness of the Romans was made good by chance. But now that I have mentioned Edessa, I shall not be silent as to portent which appeared there before this present war. 39 When Chosroes was about to break the so‑called endless peace, a certain woman in the city gave birth to an infant which in other respects was a normally formed human being, but had two heads. And the meaning of this was made clear by the events which followed; 40 for both Edessa and the Roman empire to the north came to be fought for by two sovereigns. Thus did these things happen. But I shall return to the point from which I strayed.

41 When confusion thus fell upon the Medic army, those stationed in the rear, seeing the confusion of those before them, but having no real knowledge of what had happened, became panic-stricken and turned to retreat in great disorder. 42 And the Dolomites also experienced a like panic (for they were fighting from the higher positions and could see everything which transpired), and they too began to flee in a disgraceful manner, so that the rout became decisive. 43 Four thousand of the barbarians fell there, among whom, as it happened, were three  p205 of the commanders, and the Romans captured four of the Persian standards, which they immediately sent to Byzantium for the emperor. 44 They say, moreover, that not less than twenty thousand of their horses perished, not from wounds inflicted by their enemy's missiles or swords, but because in travelling a great distance they had become utterly exhausted and then had found no sufficiency fodder since the time they had come into Lazica; and so, they say, under the stress of both starvation and weakness they succumbed.

45 Having thus failed in this attempt, Mermeroes withdrew with his whole army to Mocheresis; for, even though they had failed of getting Archaeopolis, the Persians still held the mastery of the greater part of the rest of Lazica. 46 Now Mocheresis is one day's journey distant from Archaeopolis, a district which includes many populous villages. And this is really the beside the land in Colchis; for both wine and the other good things are produced there, though the rest of Lazica, to be sure, is not of such a sort. 47 Along by this district flows a river called Rheon, and on it the Colchians in ancient times built a fortress, but in later times they themselves razed the greater part of it to the ground, because, lying as it did in a very flat plain, it seemed to them easy of access. 48 In those times the fortresses was named Cotiaion in the Greek language, but now the Lazi call it Cotais,​16 having corrupted the true sound of the name because of their ignorance of the language. Such is the account given by Arrian.​17 49 But others say that the place was a city in ancient times and was called  p207 Coetaeon; and that Aeetes was born there, and as a result of this the poets both called him a Coetaean and applied the same name to the land of Colchis.

50 This place Mermeroes was now eager to rebuild, but, since he had no equipment for the task, and because at the same time the winter was already setting in, he replaced with wood as quickly apostle such parts of the fortress as had fallen down and remained there. 51 But very close to Cotais is an exceedingly strong fortress, Uthimereos by name; in this the Lazi were maintaining strict guard. 52 And a small number of Roman soldiers also were shading with them the defence of the fortress. 53 So Mermeroes settled there with his whole army, holding the fairest part of the land of Colchis, and preventing his opponents from carrying any provisions into the fortress of Uthimereos, or from going into the district of Suania and Scymnia, as it is called, though this was subject to them. 54 For when an enemy is in Mocheresis, the road into this region is thereby cut off for both Lazi and Romans. Thus were the armies engaged in Lazica.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Book II.xxx.4.

2 Persarmenia was the portion of Armenia subject to Persia.

3 Chap. iii.21.

4 "Rugged."

5 A military title equivalent to "General."

6 i.e. the Lazi; cf. chap. i.10.

7 Book II.xxviii.10.

8 Book I.xi.4.

9 Cf. Book II.xxviii.41.

10 Cf. Book II.i.3‑7.

11 Book II.xxix.36.

12 Bitumen and naphtha were Persian products.

13 He had previously won distinction in the defence of Rome under Belisarius. See Book V.

14 Book VII.xx.

15 Book I.xxii.18.

16 Probably Cytaea, modern Cutais.

17 This statement is not found in the extant works of Arrian.


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