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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 4
by Edward Gibbon
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[Footnote 10: Ragae, or Rei, is mentioned in the Apocryphal book of Tobit as already flourishing, 700 years before Christ, under the Assyrian empire. Under the foreign names of Europus and Arsacia, this city, 500 stadia to the south of the Caspian gates, was successively embellished by the Macedonians and Parthians, (Strabo, l. xi. p. 796.) Its grandeur and populousness in the ixth century are exaggerated beyond the bounds of credibility; but Rei has been since ruined by wars and the unwholesomeness of the air. Chardin, Voyage en Perse, tom. i. p. 279, 280. D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Oriental. p. 714.]

[Footnote 11: Theophylact. l. iii. c. 18. The story of the seven Persians is told in the third book of Herodotus; and their noble descendants are often mentioned, especially in the fragments of Ctesias. Yet the independence of Otanes (Herodot. l. iii. c. 83, 84) is hostile to the spirit of despotism, and it may not seem probable that the seven families could survive the revolutions of eleven hundred years. They might, however, be represented by the seven ministers, (Brisson, de Regno Persico, l. i. p. 190;) and some Persian nobles, like the kings of Pontus (Polyb l. v. p. 540) and Cappadocia, (Diodor. Sicul. l. xxxi. tom. ii. p. 517,) might claim their descent from the bold companions of Darius.]

[Footnote 1111: He is generally called Baharam Choubeen, Baharam, the stick-like, probably from his appearance. Malcolm, vol. i. p. 120.—M.]

[Footnote 1112: The Persian historians say, that Hormouz entreated his general to increase his numbers; but Baharam replied, that experience had taught him that it was the quality, not the number of soldiers, which gave success. * * * No man in his army was under forty years, and none above fifty. Malcolm, vol. i. p. 121—M.]

[Footnote 12: See an accurate description of this mountain by Olearius, (Voyage en Perse, p. 997, 998,) who ascended it with much difficulty and danger in his return from Ispahan to the Caspian Sea.]

As the passes were faithfully guarded, Hormouz could only compute the number of his enemies by the testimony of a guilty conscience, and the daily defection of those who, in the hour of his distress, avenged their wrongs, or forgot their obligations. He proudly displayed the ensigns of royalty; but the city and palace of Modain had already escaped from the hand of the tyrant. Among the victims of his cruelty, Bindoes, a Sassanian prince, had been cast into a dungeon; his fetters were broken by the zeal and courage of a brother; and he stood before the king at the head of those trusty guards, who had been chosen as the ministers of his confinement, and perhaps of his death. Alarmed by the hasty intrusion and bold reproaches of the captive, Hormouz looked round, but in vain, for advice or assistance; discovered that his strength consisted in the obedience of others; and patiently yielded to the single arm of Bindoes, who dragged him from the throne to the same dungeon in which he himself had been so lately confined. At the first tumult, Chosroes, the eldest of the sons of Hormouz, escaped from the city; he was persuaded to return by the pressing and friendly invitation of Bindoes, who promised to seat him on his father's throne, and who expected to reign under the name of an inexperienced youth. In the just assurance, that his accomplices could neither forgive nor hope to be forgiven, and that every Persian might be trusted as the judge and enemy of the tyrant, he instituted a public trial without a precedent and without a copy in the annals of the East. The son of Nushirvan, who had requested to plead in his own defence, was introduced as a criminal into the full assembly of the nobles and satraps. [13] He was heard with decent attention as long as he expatiated on the advantages of order and obedience, the danger of innovation, and the inevitable discord of those who had encouraged each other to trample on their lawful and hereditary sovereign. By a pathetic appeal to their humanity, he extorted that pity which is seldom refused to the fallen fortunes of a king; and while they beheld the abject posture and squalid appearance of the prisoner, his tears, his chains, and the marks of ignominious stripes, it was impossible to forget how recently they had adored the divine splendor of his diadem and purple. But an angry murmur arose in the assembly as soon as he presumed to vindicate his conduct, and to applaud the victories of his reign. He defined the duties of a king, and the Persian nobles listened with a smile of contempt; they were fired with indignation when he dared to vilify the character of Chosroes; and by the indiscreet offer of resigning the sceptre to the second of his sons, he subscribed his own condemnation, and sacrificed the life of his own innocent favorite. The mangled bodies of the boy and his mother were exposed to the people; the eyes of Hormouz were pierced with a hot needle; and the punishment of the father was succeeded by the coronation of his eldest son. Chosroes had ascended the throne without guilt, and his piety strove to alleviate the misery of the abdicated monarch; from the dungeon he removed Hormouz to an apartment of the palace, supplied with liberality the consolations of sensual enjoyment, and patiently endured the furious sallies of his resentment and despair. He might despise the resentment of a blind and unpopular tyrant, but the tiara was trembling on his head, till he could subvert the power, or acquire the friendship, of the great Bahram, who sternly denied the justice of a revolution, in which himself and his soldiers, the true representatives of Persia, had never been consulted. The offer of a general amnesty, and of the second rank in his kingdom, was answered by an epistle from Bahram, friend of the gods, conqueror of men, and enemy of tyrants, the satrap of satraps, general of the Persian armies, and a prince adorned with the title of eleven virtues. [14] He commands Chosroes, the son of Hormouz, to shun the example and fate of his father, to confine the traitors who had been released from their chains, to deposit in some holy place the diadem which he had usurped, and to accept from his gracious benefactor the pardon of his faults and the government of a province. The rebel might not be proud, and the king most assuredly was not humble; but the one was conscious of his strength, the other was sensible of his weakness; and even the modest language of his reply still left room for treaty and reconciliation. Chosroes led into the field the slaves of the palace and the populace of the capital: they beheld with terror the banners of a veteran army; they were encompassed and surprised by the evolutions of the general; and the satraps who had deposed Hormouz, received the punishment of their revolt, or expiated their first treason by a second and more criminal act of disloyalty. The life and liberty of Chosroes were saved, but he was reduced to the necessity of imploring aid or refuge in some foreign land; and the implacable Bindoes, anxious to secure an unquestionable title, hastily returned to the palace, and ended, with a bowstring, the wretched existence of the son of Nushirvan. [15]

[Footnote 13: The Orientals suppose that Bahram convened this assembly and proclaimed Chosroes; but Theophylact is, in this instance, more distinct and credible. * Note: Yet Theophylact seems to have seized the opportunity to indulge his propensity for writing orations; and the orations read rather like those of a Grecian sophist than of an Eastern assembly.—M.]

[Footnote 14: See the words of Theophylact, l. iv. c. 7., &c. In answer, Chosroes styles himself in genuine Oriental bombast.]

[Footnote 15: Theophylact (l. iv. c. 7) imputes the death of Hormouz to his son, by whose command he was beaten to death with clubs. I have followed the milder account of Khondemir and Eutychius, and shall always be content with the slightest evidence to extenuate the crime of parricide. Note: Malcolm concurs in ascribing his death to Bundawee, (Bindoes,) vol. i. p. 123. The Eastern writers generally impute the crime to the uncle St. Martin, vol. x. p. 300.—M.]

While Chosroes despatched the preparations of his retreat, he deliberated with his remaining friends, [16] whether he should lurk in the valleys of Mount Caucasus, or fly to the tents of the Turks, or solicit the protection of the emperor. The long emulation of the successors of Artaxerxes and Constantine increased his reluctance to appear as a suppliant in a rival court; but he weighed the forces of the Romans, and prudently considered that the neighborhood of Syria would render his escape more easy and their succors more effectual. Attended only by his concubines, and a troop of thirty guards, he secretly departed from the capital, followed the banks of the Euphrates, traversed the desert, and halted at the distance of ten miles from Circesium. About the third watch of the night, the Roman praefect was informed of his approach, and he introduced the royal stranger to the fortress at the dawn of day. From thence the king of Persia was conducted to the more honorable residence of Hierapolis; and Maurice dissembled his pride, and displayed his benevolence, at the reception of the letters and ambassadors of the grandson of Nushirvan. They humbly represented the vicissitudes of fortune and the common interest of princes, exaggerated the ingratitude of Bahram, the agent of the evil principle, and urged, with specious argument, that it was for the advantage of the Romans themselves to support the two monarchies which balance the world, the two great luminaries by whose salutary influence it is vivified and adorned. The anxiety of Chosroes was soon relieved by the assurance, that the emperor had espoused the cause of justice and royalty; but Maurice prudently declined the expense and delay of his useless visit to Constantinople. In the name of his generous benefactor, a rich diadem was presented to the fugitive prince, with an inestimable gift of jewels and gold; a powerful army was assembled on the frontiers of Syria and Armenia, under the command of the valiant and faithful Narses, [17] and this general, of his own nation, and his own choice, was directed to pass the Tigris, and never to sheathe his sword till he had restored Chosroes to the throne of his ancestors. [1711] The enterprise, however splendid, was less arduous than it might appear. Persia had already repented of her fatal rashness, which betrayed the heir of the house of Sassan to the ambition of a rebellious subject: and the bold refusal of the Magi to consecrate his usurpation, compelled Bahram to assume the sceptre, regardless of the laws and prejudices of the nation. The palace was soon distracted with conspiracy, the city with tumult, the provinces with insurrection; and the cruel execution of the guilty and the suspected served to irritate rather than subdue the public discontent. No sooner did the grandson of Nushirvan display his own and the Roman banners beyond the Tigris, than he was joined, each day, by the increasing multitudes of the nobility and people; and as he advanced, he received from every side the grateful offerings of the keys of his cities and the heads of his enemies. As soon as Modain was freed from the presence of the usurper, the loyal inhabitants obeyed the first summons of Mebodes at the head of only two thousand horse, and Chosroes accepted the sacred and precious ornaments of the palace as the pledge of their truth and the presage of his approaching success. After the junction of the Imperial troops, which Bahram vainly struggled to prevent, the contest was decided by two battles on the banks of the Zab, and the confines of Media. The Romans, with the faithful subjects of Persia, amounted to sixty thousand, while the whole force of the usurper did not exceed forty thousand men: the two generals signalized their valor and ability; but the victory was finally determined by the prevalence of numbers and discipline. With the remnant of a broken army, Bahram fled towards the eastern provinces of the Oxus: the enmity of Persia reconciled him to the Turks; but his days were shortened by poison, perhaps the most incurable of poisons; the stings of remorse and despair, and the bitter remembrance of lost glory. Yet the modern Persians still commemorate the exploits of Bahram; and some excellent laws have prolonged the duration of his troubled and transitory reign.

[Footnote 16: After the battle of Pharsalia, the Pompey of Lucan (l. viii. 256—455) holds a similar debate. He was himself desirous of seeking the Parthians: but his companions abhorred the unnatural alliance and the adverse prejudices might operate as forcibly on Chosroes and his companions, who could describe, with the same vehemence, the contrast of laws, religion, and manners, between the East and West.]

[Footnote 17: In this age there were three warriors of the name of Narses, who have been often confounded, (Pagi, Critica, tom. ii. p. 640:) 1. A Persarmenian, the brother of Isaac and Armatius, who, after a successful action against Belisarius, deserted from his Persian sovereign, and afterwards served in the Italian war.—2. The eunuch who conquered Italy.—3. The restorer of Chosroes, who is celebrated in the poem of Corippus (l. iii. 220—327) as excelsus super omnia vertico agmina.... habitu modestus.... morum probitate placens, virtute verendus; fulmineus, cautus, vigilans, &c.]

[Footnote 1711: The Armenians adhered to Chosroes. St. Martin, vol. x. p. 312.—M.]

[Footnote 1712: According to Mivkhond and the Oriental writers, Bahram received the daughter of the Khakan in marriage, and commanded a body of Turks in an invasion of Persia. Some say that he was assassinated; Malcolm adopts the opinion that he was poisoned. His sister Gourdieh, the companion of his flight, is celebrated in the Shah Nameh. She was afterwards one of the wives of Chosroes. St. Martin. vol. x. p. 331.—M.]

The restoration of Chosroes was celebrated with feasts and executions; and the music of the royal banquet was often disturbed by the groans of dying or mutilated criminals. A general pardon might have diffused comfort and tranquillity through a country which had been shaken by the late revolutions; yet, before the sanguinary temper of Chosroes is blamed, we should learn whether the Persians had not been accustomed either to dread the rigor, or to despise the weakness, of their sovereign. The revolt of Bahram, and the conspiracy of the satraps, were impartially punished by the revenge or justice of the conqueror; the merits of Bindoes himself could not purify his hand from the guilt of royal blood: and the son of Hormouz was desirous to assert his own innocence, and to vindicate the sanctity of kings. During the vigor of the Roman power, several princes were seated on the throne of Persia by the arms and the authority of the first Caesars. But their new subjects were soon disgusted with the vices or virtues which they had imbibed in a foreign land; the instability of their dominion gave birth to a vulgar observation, that the choice of Rome was solicited and rejected with equal ardor by the capricious levity of Oriental slaves. But the glory of Maurice was conspicuous in the long and fortunate reign of his son and his ally. A band of a thousand Romans, who continued to guard the person of Chosroes, proclaimed his confidence in the fidelity of the strangers; his growing strength enabled him to dismiss this unpopular aid, but he steadily professed the same gratitude and reverence to his adopted father; and till the death of Maurice, the peace and alliance of the two empires were faithfully maintained. [18] Yet the mercenary friendship of the Roman prince had been purchased with costly and important gifts; the strong cities of Martyropolis and Dara [1811] were restored, and the Persarmenians became the willing subjects of an empire, whose eastern limit was extended, beyond the example of former times, as far as the banks of the Araxes, and the neighborhood of the Caspian. A pious hope was indulged, that the church as well as the state might triumph in this revolution: but if Chosroes had sincerely listened to the Christian bishops, the impression was erased by the zeal and eloquence of the Magi: if he was armed with philosophic indifference, he accommodated his belief, or rather his professions, to the various circumstances of an exile and a sovereign. The imaginary conversion of the king of Persia was reduced to a local and superstitious veneration for Sergius, [19] one of the saints of Antioch, who heard his prayers and appeared to him in dreams; he enriched the shrine with offerings of gold and silver, and ascribed to this invisible patron the success of his arms, and the pregnancy of Sira, a devout Christian and the best beloved of his wives. [20] The beauty of Sira, or Schirin, [21] her wit, her musical talents, are still famous in the history, or rather in the romances, of the East: her own name is expressive, in the Persian tongue, of sweetness and grace; and the epithet of Parviz alludes to the charms of her royal lover. Yet Sira never shared the passions which she inspired, and the bliss of Chosroes was tortured by a jealous doubt, that while he possessed her person, she had bestowed her affections on a meaner favorite. [22]

[Footnote 18: Experimentis cognitum est Barbaros malle Roma petere reges quam habere. These experiments are admirably represented in the invitation and expulsion of Vonones, (Annal. ii. 1—3,) Tiridates, (Annal. vi. 32-44,) and Meherdates, (Annal. xi. 10, xii. 10-14.) The eye of Tacitus seems to have transpierced the camp of the Parthians and the walls of the harem.]

[Footnote 1811: Concerning Nisibis, see St. Martin and his Armenian authorities, vol. x p. 332, and Memoires sur l'Armenie, tom. i. p. 25.—M.]

[Footnote 19: Sergius and his companion Bacchus, who are said to have suffered in the persecution of Maximian, obtained divine honor in France, Italy, Constantinople, and the East. Their tomb at Rasaphe was famous for miracles, and that Syrian town acquired the more honorable name of Sergiopolis. Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. v. p. 481—496. Butler's Saints, vol. x. p. 155.]

[Footnote 20: Evagrius (l. vi. c. 21) and Theophylact (l. v. c. 13, 14) have preserved the original letters of Chosroes, written in Greek, signed with his own hand, and afterwards inscribed on crosses and tables of gold, which were deposited in the church of Sergiopolis. They had been sent to the bishop of Antioch, as primate of Syria. * Note: St. Martin thinks that they were first written in Syriac, and then translated into the bad Greek in which they appear, vol. x. p. 334.—M.]

[Footnote 21: The Greeks only describe her as a Roman by birth, a Christian by religion: but she is represented as the daughter of the emperor Maurice in the Persian and Turkish romances which celebrate the love of Khosrou for Schirin, of Schirin for Ferhad, the most beautiful youth of the East, D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 789, 997, 998. * Note: Compare M. von Hammer's preface to, and poem of, Schirin in which he gives an account of the various Persian poems, of which he has endeavored to extract the essence in his own work.—M.]

[Footnote 22: The whole series of the tyranny of Hormouz, the revolt of Bahram, and the flight and restoration of Chosroes, is related by two contemporary Greeks—more concisely by Evagrius, (l. vi. c. 16, 17, 18, 19,) and most diffusely by Theophylact Simocatta, (l. iii. c. 6—18, l. iv. c. 1—16, l. v. c. 1-15:) succeeding compilers, Zonaras and Cedrenus, can only transcribe and abridge. The Christian Arabs, Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 200—208) and Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 96—98) appear to have consulted some particular memoirs. The great Persian historians of the xvth century, Mirkhond and Khondemir, are only known to me by the imperfect extracts of Schikard, (Tarikh, p. 150—155,) Texeira, or rather Stevens, (Hist. of Persia, p. 182—186,) a Turkish Ms. translated by the Abbe Fourmount, (Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. vii. p. 325—334,) and D'Herbelot, (aux mots Hormouz, p. 457—459. Bahram, p. 174. Khosrou Parviz, p. 996.) Were I perfectly satisfied of their authority, I could wish these Oriental materials had been more copious.]



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.—Part II.

While the majesty of the Roman name was revived in the East, the prospect of Europe is less pleasing and less glorious. By the departure of the Lombards, and the ruin of the Gepidae, the balance of power was destroyed on the Danube; and the Avars spread their permanent dominion from the foot of the Alps to the sea-coast of the Euxine. The reign of Baian is the brightest aera of their monarchy; their chagan, who occupied the rustic palace of Attila, appears to have imitated his character and policy; [23] but as the same scenes were repeated in a smaller circle, a minute representation of the copy would be devoid of the greatness and novelty of the original. The pride of the second Justin, of Tiberius, and Maurice, was humbled by a proud Barbarian, more prompt to inflict, than exposed to suffer, the injuries of war; and as often as Asia was threatened by the Persian arms, Europe was oppressed by the dangerous inroads, or costly friendship, of the Avars. When the Roman envoys approached the presence of the chagan, they were commanded to wait at the door of his tent, till, at the end perhaps of ten or twelve days, he condescended to admit them. If the substance or the style of their message was offensive to his ear, he insulted, with real or affected fury, their own dignity, and that of their prince; their baggage was plundered, and their lives were only saved by the promise of a richer present and a more respectful address. But his sacred ambassadors enjoyed and abused an unbounded license in the midst of Constantinople: they urged, with importunate clamors, the increase of tribute, or the restitution of captives and deserters: and the majesty of the empire was almost equally degraded by a base compliance, or by the false and fearful excuses with which they eluded such insolent demands. The chagan had never seen an elephant; and his curiosity was excited by the strange, and perhaps fabulous, portrait of that wonderful animal. At his command, one of the largest elephants of the Imperial stables was equipped with stately caparisons, and conducted by a numerous train to the royal village in the plains of Hungary. He surveyed the enormous beast with surprise, with disgust, and possibly with terror; and smiled at the vain industry of the Romans, who, in search of such useless rarities, could explore the limits of the land and sea. He wished, at the expense of the emperor, to repose in a golden bed. The wealth of Constantinople, and the skilful diligence of her artists, were instantly devoted to the gratification of his caprice; but when the work was finished, he rejected with scorn a present so unworthy the majesty of a great king. [24] These were the casual sallies of his pride; but the avarice of the chagan was a more steady and tractable passion: a rich and regular supply of silk apparel, furniture, and plate, introduced the rudiments of art and luxury among the tents of the Scythians; their appetite was stimulated by the pepper and cinnamon of India; [25] the annual subsidy or tribute was raised from fourscore to one hundred and twenty thousand pieces of gold; and after each hostile interruption, the payment of the arrears, with exorbitant interest, was always made the first condition of the new treaty. In the language of a Barbarian, without guile, the prince of the Avars affected to complain of the insincerity of the Greeks; [26] yet he was not inferior to the most civilized nations in the refinement of dissimulation and perfidy. As the successor of the Lombards, the chagan asserted his claim to the important city of Sirmium, the ancient bulwark of the Illyrian provinces. [27] The plains of the Lower Hungary were covered with the Avar horse and a fleet of large boats was built in the Hercynian wood, to descend the Danube, and to transport into the Save the materials of a bridge. But as the strong garrison of Singidunum, which commanded the conflux of the two rivers, might have stopped their passage and baffled his designs, he dispelled their apprehensions by a solemn oath that his views were not hostile to the empire. He swore by his sword, the symbol of the god of war, that he did not, as the enemy of Rome, construct a bridge upon the Save. "If I violate my oath," pursued the intrepid Baian, "may I myself, and the last of my nation, perish by the sword! May the heavens, and fire, the deity of the heavens, fall upon our heads! May the forests and mountains bury us in their ruins! and the Save returning, against the laws of nature, to his source, overwhelm us in his angry waters!" After this barbarous imprecation, he calmly inquired, what oath was most sacred and venerable among the Christians, what guilt or perjury it was most dangerous to incur. The bishop of Singidunum presented the gospel, which the chagan received with devout reverence. "I swear," said he, "by the God who has spoken in this holy book, that I have neither falsehood on my tongue, nor treachery in my heart." As soon as he rose from his knees, he accelerated the labor of the bridge, and despatched an envoy to proclaim what he no longer wished to conceal. "Inform the emperor," said the perfidious Baian, "that Sirmium is invested on every side. Advise his prudence to withdraw the citizens and their effects, and to resign a city which it is now impossible to relieve or defend." Without the hope of relief, the defence of Sirmium was prolonged above three years: the walls were still untouched; but famine was enclosed within the walls, till a merciful capitulation allowed the escape of the naked and hungry inhabitants. Singidunum, at the distance of fifty miles, experienced a more cruel fate: the buildings were razed, and the vanquished people was condemned to servitude and exile. Yet the ruins of Sirmium are no longer visible; the advantageous situation of Singidunum soon attracted a new colony of Sclavonians, and the conflux of the Save and Danube is still guarded by the fortifications of Belgrade, or the White City, so often and so obstinately disputed by the Christian and Turkish arms. [28] From Belgrade to the walls of Constantinople a line may be measured of six hundred miles: that line was marked with flames and with blood; the horses of the Avars were alternately bathed in the Euxine and the Adriatic; and the Roman pontiff, alarmed by the approach of a more savage enemy, [29] was reduced to cherish the Lombards, as the protectors of Italy. The despair of a captive, whom his country refused to ransom, disclosed to the Avars the invention and practice of military engines. [30] But in the first attempts they were rudely framed, and awkwardly managed; and the resistance of Diocletianopolis and Beraea, of Philippopolis and Adrianople, soon exhausted the skill and patience of the besiegers. The warfare of Baian was that of a Tartar; yet his mind was susceptible of a humane and generous sentiment: he spared Anchialus, whose salutary waters had restored the health of the best beloved of his wives; and the Romans confessed, that their starving army was fed and dismissed by the liberality of a foe. His empire extended over Hungary, Poland, and Prussia, from the mouth of the Danube to that of the Oder; [31] and his new subjects were divided and transplanted by the jealous policy of the conqueror. [32] The eastern regions of Germany, which had been left vacant by the emigration of the Vandals, were replenished with Sclavonian colonists; the same tribes are discovered in the neighborhood of the Adriatic and of the Baltic, and with the name of Baian himself, the Illyrian cities of Neyss and Lissa are again found in the heart of Silesia. In the disposition both of his troops and provinces the chagan exposed the vassals, whose lives he disregarded, [33] to the first assault; and the swords of the enemy were blunted before they encountered the native valor of the Avars.

[Footnote 23: A general idea of the pride and power of the chagan may be taken from Menander (Excerpt. Legat. p. 118, &c.) and Theophylact, (l. i. c. 3, l. vii. c. 15,) whose eight books are much more honorable to the Avar than to the Roman prince. The predecessors of Baian had tasted the liberality of Rome, and he survived the reign of Maurice, (Buat, Hist. des Peuples Barbares, tom. xi. p. 545.) The chagan who invaded Italy, A.D. 611, (Muratori, Annali, tom. v. p. 305,) was then invenili aetate florentem, (Paul Warnefrid, de Gest. Langobard. l v c 38,) the son, perhaps, or the grandson, of Baian.]

[Footnote 24: Theophylact, l. i. c. 5, 6.]

[Footnote 25: Even in the field, the chagan delighted in the use of these aromatics. He solicited, as a gift, and received. Theophylact, l. vii. c. 13. The Europeans of the ruder ages consumed more spices in their meat and drink than is compatible with the delicacy of a modern palate. Vie Privee des Francois, tom. ii. p. 162, 163.]

[Footnote 26: Theophylact, l. vi. c. 6, l. vii. c. 15. The Greek historian confesses the truth and justice of his reproach]

[Footnote 27: Menander (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 126—132, 174, 175) describes the perjury of Baian and the surrender of Sirmium. We have lost his account of the siege, which is commended by Theophylact, l. i. c. 3. * Note: Compare throughout Schlozer Nordische Geschichte, p. 362—373—M.]

[Footnote 28: See D'Anville, in the Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 412—443. The Sclavonic name of Belgrade is mentioned in the xth century by Constantine Porphyrogenitus: the Latin appellation of Alba Croeca is used by the Franks in the beginning of the ixth, (p. 414.)]

[Footnote 29: Baron. Annal. Eccles. A. B. 600, No. 1. Paul Warnefrid (l. iv. c. 38) relates their irruption into Friuli, and (c. 39) the captivity of his ancestors, about A.D. 632. The Sclavi traversed the Adriatic cum multitudine navium, and made a descent in the territory of Sipontum, (c. 47.)]

[Footnote 30: Even the helepolis, or movable turret. Theophylact, l. ii. 16, 17.]

[Footnote 31: The arms and alliances of the chagan reached to the neighborhood of a western sea, fifteen months' journey from Constantinople. The emperor Maurice conversed with some itinerant harpers from that remote country, and only seems to have mistaken a trade for a nation Theophylact, l. vi. c. 2.]

[Footnote 32: This is one of the most probable and luminous conjectures of the learned count de Buat, (Hist. des Peuples Barbares, tom. xi. p. 546—568.) The Tzechi and Serbi are found together near Mount Caucasus, in Illyricum, and on the lower Elbe. Even the wildest traditions of the Bohemians, &c., afford some color to his hypothesis.]

[Footnote 33: See Fredegarius, in the Historians of France, tom. ii. p. 432. Baian did not conceal his proud insensibility.]

The Persian alliance restored the troops of the East to the defence of Europe: and Maurice, who had supported ten years the insolence of the chagan, declared his resolution to march in person against the Barbarians. In the space of two centuries, none of the successors of Theodosius had appeared in the field: their lives were supinely spent in the palace of Constantinople; and the Greeks could no longer understand, that the name of emperor, in its primitive sense, denoted the chief of the armies of the republic. The martial ardor of Maurice was opposed by the grave flattery of the senate, the timid superstition of the patriarch, and the tears of the empress Constantina; and they all conjured him to devolve on some meaner general the fatigues and perils of a Scythian campaign. Deaf to their advice and entreaty, the emperor boldly advanced [34] seven miles from the capital; the sacred ensign of the cross was displayed in the front; and Maurice reviewed, with conscious pride, the arms and numbers of the veterans who had fought and conquered beyond the Tigris. Anchialus was the last term of his progress by sea and land; he solicited, without success, a miraculous answer to his nocturnal prayers; his mind was confounded by the death of a favorite horse, the encounter of a wild boar, a storm of wind and rain, and the birth of a monstrous child; and he forgot that the best of omens is to unsheathe our sword in the defence of our country. [35] Under the pretence of receiving the ambassadors of Persia, the emperor returned to Constantinople, exchanged the thoughts of war for those of devotion, and disappointed the public hope by his absence and the choice of his lieutenants. The blind partiality of fraternal love might excuse the promotion of his brother Peter, who fled with equal disgrace from the Barbarians, from his own soldiers and from the inhabitants of a Roman city. That city, if we may credit the resemblance of name and character, was the famous Azimuntium, [36] which had alone repelled the tempest of Attila. The example of her warlike youth was propagated to succeeding generations; and they obtained, from the first or the second Justin, an honorable privilege, that their valor should be always reserved for the defence of their native country. The brother of Maurice attempted to violate this privilege, and to mingle a patriot band with the mercenaries of his camp; they retired to the church, he was not awed by the sanctity of the place; the people rose in their cause, the gates were shut, the ramparts were manned; and the cowardice of Peter was found equal to his arrogance and injustice. The military fame of Commentiolus [37] is the object of satire or comedy rather than of serious history, since he was even deficient in the vile and vulgar qualification of personal courage. His solemn councils, strange evolutions, and secret orders, always supplied an apology for flight or delay. If he marched against the enemy, the pleasant valleys of Mount Haemus opposed an insuperable barrier; but in his retreat, he explored, with fearless curiosity, the most difficult and obsolete paths, which had almost escaped the memory of the oldest native. The only blood which he lost was drawn, in a real or affected malady, by the lancet of a surgeon; and his health, which felt with exquisite sensibility the approach of the Barbarians, was uniformly restored by the repose and safety of the winter season. A prince who could promote and support this unworthy favorite must derive no glory from the accidental merit of his colleague Priscus. [38] In five successive battles, which seem to have been conducted with skill and resolution, seventeen thousand two hundred Barbarians were made prisoners: near sixty thousand, with four sons of the chagan, were slain: the Roman general surprised a peaceful district of the Gepidae, who slept under the protection of the Avars; and his last trophies were erected on the banks of the Danube and the Teyss. Since the death of Trajan the arms of the empire had not penetrated so deeply into the old Dacia: yet the success of Priscus was transient and barren; and he was soon recalled by the apprehension that Baian, with dauntless spirit and recruited forces, was preparing to avenge his defeat under the walls of Constantinople. [39]

[Footnote 34: See the march and return of Maurice, in Theophylact, l. v. c. 16 l. vi. c. 1, 2, 3. If he were a writer of taste or genius, we might suspect him of an elegant irony: but Theophylact is surely harmless.]

[Footnote 35: Iliad, xii. 243. This noble verse, which unites the spirit of a hero with the reason of a sage, may prove that Homer was in every light superior to his age and country.]

[Footnote 36: Theophylact, l. vii. c. 3. On the evidence of this fact, which had not occurred to my memory, the candid reader will correct and excuse a note in Chapter XXXIV., note 86 of this History, which hastens the decay of Asimus, or Azimuntium; another century of patriotism and valor is cheaply purchased by such a confession.]

[Footnote 37: See the shameful conduct of Commentiolus, in Theophylact, l. ii. c. 10—15, l. vii. c. 13, 14, l. viii. c. 2, 4.]

[Footnote 38: See the exploits of Priscus, l. viii. c. 23.]

[Footnote 39: The general detail of the war against the Avars may be traced in the first, second, sixth, seventh, and eighth books of the history of the emperor Maurice, by Theophylact Simocatta. As he wrote in the reign of Heraclius, he had no temptation to flatter; but his want of judgment renders him diffuse in trifles, and concise in the most interesting facts.]

The theory of war was not more familiar to the camps of Caesar and Trajan, than to those of Justinian and Maurice. [40] The iron of Tuscany or Pontus still received the keenest temper from the skill of the Byzantine workmen. The magazines were plentifully stored with every species of offensive and defensive arms. In the construction and use of ships, engines, and fortifications, the Barbarians admired the superior ingenuity of a people whom they had so often vanquished in the field. The science of tactics, the order, evolutions, and stratagems of antiquity, was transcribed and studied in the books of the Greeks and Romans. But the solitude or degeneracy of the provinces could no longer supply a race of men to handle those weapons, to guard those walls, to navigate those ships, and to reduce the theory of war into bold and successful practice. The genius of Belisarius and Narses had been formed without a master, and expired without a disciple Neither honor, nor patriotism, nor generous superstition, could animate the lifeless bodies of slaves and strangers, who had succeeded to the honors of the legions: it was in the camp alone that the emperor should have exercised a despotic command; it was only in the camps that his authority was disobeyed and insulted: he appeased and inflamed with gold the licentiousness of the troops; but their vices were inherent, their victories were accidental, and their costly maintenance exhausted the substance of a state which they were unable to defend. After a long and pernicious indulgence, the cure of this inveterate evil was undertaken by Maurice; but the rash attempt, which drew destruction on his own head, tended only to aggravate the disease. A reformer should be exempt from the suspicion of interest, and he must possess the confidence and esteem of those whom he proposes to reclaim. The troops of Maurice might listen to the voice of a victorious leader; they disdained the admonitions of statesmen and sophists; and, when they received an edict which deducted from their pay the price of their arms and clothing, they execrated the avarice of a prince insensible of the dangers and fatigues from which he had escaped.

The camps both of Asia and Europe were agitated with frequent and furious seditions; [41] the enraged soldiers of Edessa pursued with reproaches, with threats, with wounds, their trembling generals; they overturned the statues of the emperor, cast stones against the miraculous image of Christ, and either rejected the yoke of all civil and military laws, or instituted a dangerous model of voluntary subordination. The monarch, always distant and often deceived, was incapable of yielding or persisting, according to the exigence of the moment. But the fear of a general revolt induced him too readily to accept any act of valor, or any expression of loyalty, as an atonement for the popular offence; the new reform was abolished as hastily as it had been announced, and the troops, instead of punishment and restraint, were agreeably surprised by a gracious proclamation of immunities and rewards. But the soldiers accepted without gratitude the tardy and reluctant gifts of the emperor: their insolence was elated by the discovery of his weakness and their own strength; and their mutual hatred was inflamed beyond the desire of forgiveness or the hope of reconciliation. The historians of the times adopt the vulgar suspicion, that Maurice conspired to destroy the troops whom he had labored to reform; the misconduct and favor of Commentiolus are imputed to this malevolent design; and every age must condemn the inhumanity of avarice [42] of a prince, who, by the trifling ransom of six thousand pieces of gold, might have prevented the massacre of twelve thousand prisoners in the hands of the chagan. In the just fervor of indignation, an order was signified to the army of the Danube, that they should spare the magazines of the province, and establish their winter quarters in the hostile country of the Avars. The measure of their grievances was full: they pronounced Maurice unworthy to reign, expelled or slaughtered his faithful adherents, and, under the command of Phocas, a simple centurion, returned by hasty marches to the neighborhood of Constantinople. After a long series of legal succession, the military disorders of the third century were again revived; yet such was the novelty of the enterprise, that the insurgents were awed by their own rashness. They hesitated to invest their favorite with the vacant purple; and, while they rejected all treaty with Maurice himself, they held a friendly correspondence with his son Theodosius, and with Germanus, the father-in-law of the royal youth. So obscure had been the former condition of Phocas, that the emperor was ignorant of the name and character of his rival; but as soon as he learned, that the centurion, though bold in sedition, was timid in the face of danger, "Alas!" cried the desponding prince, "if he is a coward, he will surely be a murderer."

[Footnote 40: Maurice himself composed xii books on the military art, which are still extant, and have been published (Upsal, 1664) by John Schaeffer, at the end of the Tactics of Arrian, (Fabricius, Bibliot Graeca, l. iv. c. 8, tom. iii. p. 278,) who promises to speak more fully of his work in its proper place.]

[Footnote 41: See the mutinies under the reign of Maurice, in Theophylact l iii c. 1—4,.vi. c. 7, 8, 10, l. vii. c. 1 l. viii. c. 6, &c.]

[Footnote 42: Theophylact and Theophanes seem ignorant of the conspiracy and avarice of Maurice. These charges, so unfavorable to the memory of that emperor, are first mentioned by the author of the Paschal Chronicle, (p. 379, 280;) from whence Zonaras (tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 77, 78) has transcribed them. Cedrenus (p. 399) has followed another computation of the ransom.]

Yet if Constantinople had been firm and faithful, the murderer might have spent his fury against the walls; and the rebel army would have been gradually consumed or reconciled by the prudence of the emperor. In the games of the Circus, which he repeated with unusual pomp, Maurice disguised, with smiles of confidence, the anxiety of his heart, condescended to solicit the applause of the factions, and flattered their pride by accepting from their respective tribunes a list of nine hundred blues and fifteen hundred greens, whom he affected to esteem as the solid pillars of his throne Their treacherous or languid support betrayed his weakness and hastened his fall: the green faction were the secret accomplices of the rebels, and the blues recommended lenity and moderation in a contest with their Roman brethren The rigid and parsimonious virtues of Maurice had long since alienated the hearts of his subjects: as he walked barefoot in a religious procession, he was rudely assaulted with stones, and his guards were compelled to present their iron maces in the defence of his person. A fanatic monk ran through the streets with a drawn sword, denouncing against him the wrath and the sentence of God; and a vile plebeian, who represented his countenance and apparel, was seated on an ass, and pursued by the imprecations of the multitude. [43] The emperor suspected the popularity of Germanus with the soldiers and citizens: he feared, he threatened, but he delayed to strike; the patrician fled to the sanctuary of the church; the people rose in his defence, the walls were deserted by the guards, and the lawless city was abandoned to the flames and rapine of a nocturnal tumult. In a small bark, the unfortunate Maurice, with his wife and nine children, escaped to the Asiatic shore; but the violence of the wind compelled him to land at the church of St. Autonomus, [44] near Chalcedon, from whence he despatched Theodosius, he eldest son, to implore the gratitude and friendship of the Persian monarch. For himself, he refused to fly: his body was tortured with sciatic pains, [45] his mind was enfeebled by superstition; he patiently awaited the event of the revolution, and addressed a fervent and public prayer to the Almighty, that the punishment of his sins might be inflicted in this world rather than in a future life. After the abdication of Maurice, the two factions disputed the choice of an emperor; but the favorite of the blues was rejected by the jealousy of their antagonists, and Germanus himself was hurried along by the crowds who rushed to the palace of Hebdomon, seven miles from the city, to adore the majesty of Phocas the centurion. A modest wish of resigning the purple to the rank and merit of Germanus was opposed by his resolution, more obstinate and equally sincere; the senate and clergy obeyed his summons; and, as soon as the patriarch was assured of his orthodox belief, he consecrated the successful usurper in the church of St. John the Baptist. On the third day, amidst the acclamations of a thoughtless people, Phocas made his public entry in a chariot drawn by four white horses: the revolt of the troops was rewarded by a lavish donative; and the new sovereign, after visiting the palace, beheld from his throne the games of the hippodrome. In a dispute of precedency between the two factions, his partial judgment inclined in favor of the greens. "Remember that Maurice is still alive," resounded from the opposite side; and the indiscreet clamor of the blues admonished and stimulated the cruelty of the tyrant. The ministers of death were despatched to Chalcedon: they dragged the emperor from his sanctuary; and the five sons of Maurice were successively murdered before the eyes of their agonizing parent. At each stroke, which he felt in his heart, he found strength to rehearse a pious ejaculation: "Thou art just, O Lord! and thy judgments are righteous." And such, in the last moments, was his rigid attachment to truth and justice, that he revealed to the soldiers the pious falsehood of a nurse who presented her own child in the place of a royal infant. [46] The tragic scene was finally closed by the execution of the emperor himself, in the twentieth year of his reign, and the sixty-third of his age. The bodies of the father and his five sons were cast into the sea; their heads were exposed at Constantinople to the insults or pity of the multitude; and it was not till some signs of putrefaction had appeared, that Phocas connived at the private burial of these venerable remains. In that grave, the faults and errors of Maurice were kindly interred. His fate alone was remembered; and at the end of twenty years, in the recital of the history of Theophylact, the mournful tale was interrupted by the tears of the audience. [47]

[Footnote 43: In their clamors against Maurice, the people of Constantinople branded him with the name of Marcionite or Marcionist; a heresy (says Theophylact, l. viii. c. 9). Did they only cast out a vague reproach—or had the emperor really listened to some obscure teacher of those ancient Gnostics?]

[Footnote 44: The church of St. Autonomous (whom I have not the honor to know) was 150 stadia from Constantinople, (Theophylact, l. viii. c. 9.) The port of Eutropius, where Maurice and his children were murdered, is described by Gyllius (de Bosphoro Thracio, l. iii. c. xi.) as one of the two harbors of Chalcedon.]

[Footnote 45: The inhabitants of Constantinople were generally subject; and Theophylact insinuates, (l. viii. c. 9,) that if it were consistent with the rules of history, he could assign the medical cause. Yet such a digression would not have been more impertinent than his inquiry (l. vii. c. 16, 17) into the annual inundations of the Nile, and all the opinions of the Greek philosophers on that subject.]

[Footnote 46: From this generous attempt, Corneille has deduced the intricate web of his tragedy of Heraclius, which requires more than one representation to be clearly understood, (Corneille de Voltaire, tom. v. p. 300;) and which, after an interval of some years, is said to have puzzled the author himself, (Anecdotes Dramatiques, tom. i. p. 422.)]

[Footnote 47: The revolt of Phocas and death of Maurice are told by Theophylact Simocatta, (l. viii. c. 7—12,) the Paschal Chronicle, (p. 379, 380,) Theophanes, (Chronograph. p. 238-244,) Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 77—80,) and Cedrenus, (p. 399—404.)]

Such tears must have flowed in secret, and such compassion would have been criminal, under the reign of Phocas, who was peaceably acknowledged in the provinces of the East and West. The images of the emperor and his wife Leontia were exposed in the Lateran to the veneration of the clergy and senate of Rome, and afterwards deposited in the palace of the Caesars, between those of Constantine and Theodosius. As a subject and a Christian, it was the duty of Gregory to acquiesce in the established government; but the joyful applause with which he salutes the fortune of the assassin, has sullied, with indelible disgrace, the character of the saint. The successor of the apostles might have inculcated with decent firmness the guilt of blood, and the necessity of repentance; he is content to celebrate the deliverance of the people and the fall of the oppressor; to rejoice that the piety and benignity of Phocas have been raised by Providence to the Imperial throne; to pray that his hands may be strengthened against all his enemies; and to express a wish, perhaps a prophecy, that, after a long and triumphant reign, he may be transferred from a temporal to an everlasting kingdom. [48] I have already traced the steps of a revolution so pleasing, in Gregory's opinion, both to heaven and earth; and Phocas does not appear less hateful in the exercise than in the acquisition of power The pencil of an impartial historian has delineated the portrait of a monster: [49] his diminutive and deformed person, the closeness of his shaggy eyebrows, his red hair, his beardless chin, and his cheek disfigured and discolored by a formidable scar. Ignorant of letters, of laws, and even of arms, he indulged in the supreme rank a more ample privilege of lust and drunkenness; and his brutal pleasures were either injurious to his subjects or disgraceful to himself. Without assuming the office of a prince, he renounced the profession of a soldier; and the reign of Phocas afflicted Europe with ignominious peace, and Asia with desolating war. His savage temper was inflamed by passion, hardened by fear, and exasperated by resistance of reproach. The flight of Theodosius to the Persian court had been intercepted by a rapid pursuit, or a deceitful message: he was beheaded at Nice, and the last hours of the young prince were soothed by the comforts of religion and the consciousness of innocence. Yet his phantom disturbed the repose of the usurper: a whisper was circulated through the East, that the son of Maurice was still alive: the people expected their avenger, and the widow and daughters of the late emperor would have adopted as their son and brother the vilest of mankind. In the massacre of the Imperial family, [50] the mercy, or rather the discretion, of Phocas had spared these unhappy females, and they were decently confined to a private house. But the spirit of the empress Constantina, still mindful of her father, her husband, and her sons, aspired to freedom and revenge. At the dead of night, she escaped to the sanctuary of St. Sophia; but her tears, and the gold of her associate Germanus, were insufficient to provoke an insurrection. Her life was forfeited to revenge, and even to justice: but the patriarch obtained and pledged an oath for her safety: a monastery was allotted for her prison, and the widow of Maurice accepted and abused the lenity of his assassin. The discovery or the suspicion of a second conspiracy, dissolved the engagements, and rekindled the fury, of Phocas. A matron who commanded the respect and pity of mankind, the daughter, wife, and mother of emperors, was tortured like the vilest malefactor, to force a confession of her designs and associates; and the empress Constantina, with her three innocent daughters, was beheaded at Chalcedon, on the same ground which had been stained with the blood of her husband and five sons. After such an example, it would be superfluous to enumerate the names and sufferings of meaner victims. Their condemnation was seldom preceded by the forms of trial, and their punishment was embittered by the refinements of cruelty: their eyes were pierced, their tongues were torn from the root, the hands and feet were amputated; some expired under the lash, others in the flames; others again were transfixed with arrows; and a simple speedy death was mercy which they could rarely obtain. The hippodrome, the sacred asylum of the pleasures and the liberty of the Romans, was polluted with heads and limbs, and mangled bodies; and the companions of Phocas were the most sensible, that neither his favor, nor their services, could protect them from a tyrant, the worthy rival of the Caligulas and Domitians of the first age of the empire. [51]

[Footnote 48: Gregor. l. xi. epist. 38, indict. vi. Benignitatem vestrae pietatis ad Imperiale fastigium pervenisse gaudemus. Laetentur coeli et exultet terra, et de vestris benignis actibus universae republicae populus nunc usque vehementer afflictus hilarescat, &c. This base flattery, the topic of Protestant invective, is justly censured by the philosopher Bayle, (Dictionnaire Critique, Gregoire I. Not. H. tom. ii. p. 597 598.) Cardinal Baronius justifies the pope at the expense of the fallen emperor.]

[Footnote 49: The images of Phocas were destroyed; but even the malice of his enemies would suffer one copy of such a portrait or caricature (Cedrenus, p. 404) to escape the flames.]

[Footnote 50: The family of Maurice is represented by Ducange, (Familiae By zantinae, p. 106, 107, 108;) his eldest son Theodosius had been crowned emperor, when he was no more than four years and a half old, and he is always joined with his father in the salutations of Gregory. With the Christian daughters, Anastasia and Theocteste, I am surprised to find the Pagan name of Cleopatra.]

[Footnote 51: Some of the cruelties of Phocas are marked by Theophylact, l. viii. c. 13, 14, 15. George of Pisidia, the poet of Heraclius, styles him (Bell. Avaricum, p. 46, Rome, 1777). The latter epithet is just—but the corrupter of life was easily vanquished.]



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.—Part III.

A daughter of Phocas, his only child, was given in marriage to the patrician Crispus, [52] and the royal images of the bride and bridegroom were indiscreetly placed in the circus, by the side of the emperor. The father must desire that his posterity should inherit the fruit of his crimes, but the monarch was offended by this premature and popular association: the tribunes of the green faction, who accused the officious error of their sculptors, were condemned to instant death: their lives were granted to the prayers of the people; but Crispus might reasonably doubt, whether a jealous usurper could forget and pardon his involuntary competition. The green faction was alienated by the ingratitude of Phocas and the loss of their privileges; every province of the empire was ripe for rebellion; and Heraclius, exarch of Africa, persisted above two years in refusing all tribute and obedience to the centurion who disgraced the throne of Constantinople. By the secret emissaries of Crispus and the senate, the independent exarch was solicited to save and to govern his country; but his ambition was chilled by age, and he resigned the dangerous enterprise to his son Heraclius, and to Nicetas, the son of Gregory, his friend and lieutenant. The powers of Africa were armed by the two adventurous youths; they agreed that the one should navigate the fleet from Carthage to Constantinople, that the other should lead an army through Egypt and Asia, and that the Imperial purple should be the reward of diligence and success. A faint rumor of their undertaking was conveyed to the ears of Phocas, and the wife and mother of the younger Heraclius were secured as the hostages of his faith: but the treacherous heart of Crispus extenuated the distant peril, the means of defence were neglected or delayed, and the tyrant supinely slept till the African navy cast anchor in the Hellespont. Their standard was joined at Abidus by the fugitives and exiles who thirsted for revenge; the ships of Heraclius, whose lofty masts were adorned with the holy symbols of religion, [53] steered their triumphant course through the Propontis; and Phocas beheld from the windows of the palace his approaching and inevitable fate. The green faction was tempted, by gifts and promises, to oppose a feeble and fruitless resistance to the landing of the Africans: but the people, and even the guards, were determined by the well-timed defection of Crispus; and they tyrant was seized by a private enemy, who boldly invaded the solitude of the palace. Stripped of the diadem and purple, clothed in a vile habit, and loaded with chains, he was transported in a small boat to the Imperial galley of Heraclius, who reproached him with the crimes of his abominable reign. "Wilt thou govern better?" were the last words of the despair of Phocas. After suffering each variety of insult and torture, his head was severed from his body, the mangled trunk was cast into the flames, and the same treatment was inflicted on the statues of the vain usurper, and the seditious banner of the green faction. The voice of the clergy, the senate, and the people, invited Heraclius to ascend the throne which he had purified from guilt and ignominy; after some graceful hesitation, he yielded to their entreaties. His coronation was accompanied by that of his wife Eudoxia; and their posterity, till the fourth generation, continued to reign over the empire of the East. The voyage of Heraclius had been easy and prosperous; the tedious march of Nicetas was not accomplished before the decision of the contest: but he submitted without a murmur to the fortune of his friend, and his laudable intentions were rewarded with an equestrian statue, and a daughter of the emperor. It was more difficult to trust the fidelity of Crispus, whose recent services were recompensed by the command of the Cappadocian army. His arrogance soon provoked, and seemed to excuse, the ingratitude of his new sovereign. In the presence of the senate, the son-in-law of Phocas was condemned to embrace the monastic life; and the sentence was justified by the weighty observation of Heraclius, that the man who had betrayed his father could never be faithful to his friend. [54]

[Footnote 52: In the writers, and in the copies of those writers, there is such hesitation between the names of Priscus and Crispus, (Ducange, Fam Byzant. p. 111,) that I have been tempted to identify the son-in-law of Phocas with the hero five times victorious over the Avars.]

[Footnote 53: According to Theophanes. Cedrenus adds, which Heraclius bore as a banner in the first Persian expedition. See George Pisid. Acroas L 140. The manufacture seems to have flourished; but Foggini, the Roman editor, (p. 26,) is at a loss to determine whether this picture was an original or a copy.]

[Footnote 54: See the tyranny of Phocas and the elevation of Heraclius, in Chron. Paschal. p. 380—383. Theophanes, p. 242-250. Nicephorus, p. 3—7. Cedrenus, p. 404—407. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 80—82.]

Even after his death the republic was afflicted by the crimes of Phocas, which armed with a pious cause the most formidable of her enemies. According to the friendly and equal forms of the Byzantine and Persian courts, he announced his exaltation to the throne; and his ambassador Lilius, who had presented him with the heads of Maurice and his sons, was the best qualified to describe the circumstances of the tragic scene. [55] However it might be varnished by fiction or sophistry, Chosroes turned with horror from the assassin, imprisoned the pretended envoy, disclaimed the usurper, and declared himself the avenger of his father and benefactor. The sentiments of grief and resentment, which humanity would feel, and honor would dictate, promoted on this occasion the interest of the Persian king; and his interest was powerfully magnified by the national and religious prejudices of the Magi and satraps. In a strain of artful adulation, which assumed the language of freedom, they presumed to censure the excess of his gratitude and friendship for the Greeks; a nation with whom it was dangerous to conclude either peace or alliance; whose superstition was devoid of truth and justice, and who must be incapable of any virtue, since they could perpetrate the most atrocious of crimes, the impious murder of their sovereign. [56] For the crime of an ambitious centurion, the nation which he oppressed was chastised with the calamities of war; and the same calamities, at the end of twenty years, were retaliated and redoubled on the heads of the Persians. [57] The general who had restored Chosroes to the throne still commanded in the East; and the name of Narses was the formidable sound with which the Assyrian mothers were accustomed to terrify their infants. It is not improbable, that a native subject of Persia should encourage his master and his friend to deliver and possess the provinces of Asia. It is still more probable, that Chosroes should animate his troops by the assurance that the sword which they dreaded the most would remain in its scabbard, or be drawn in their favor. The hero could not depend on the faith of a tyrant; and the tyrant was conscious how little he deserved the obedience of a hero. Narses was removed from his military command; he reared an independent standard at Hierapolis, in Syria: he was betrayed by fallacious promises, and burnt alive in the market-place of Constantinople. Deprived of the only chief whom they could fear or esteem, the bands which he had led to victory were twice broken by the cavalry, trampled by the elephants, and pierced by the arrows of the Barbarians; and a great number of the captives were beheaded on the field of battle by the sentence of the victor, who might justly condemn these seditious mercenaries as the authors or accomplices of the death of Maurice. Under the reign of Phocas, the fortifications of Merdin, Dara, Amida, and Edessa, were successively besieged, reduced, and destroyed, by the Persian monarch: he passed the Euphrates, occupied the Syrian cities, Hierapolis, Chalcis, and Berrhaea or Aleppo, and soon encompassed the walls of Antioch with his irresistible arms. The rapid tide of success discloses the decay of the empire, the incapacity of Phocas, and the disaffection of his subjects; and Chosroes provided a decent apology for their submission or revolt, by an impostor, who attended his camp as the son of Maurice [58] and the lawful heir of the monarchy.

[Footnote 55: Theophylact, l. viii. c. 15. The life of Maurice was composed about the year 628 (l. viii. c. 13) by Theophylact Simocatta, ex-praefect, a native of Egypt. Photius, who gives an ample extract of the work, (cod. lxv. p. 81—100,) gently reproves the affectation and allegory of the style. His preface is a dialogue between Philosophy and History; they seat themselves under a plane-tree, and the latter touches her lyre.]

[Footnote 56: Christianis nec pactum esse, nec fidem nec foedus ..... quod si ulla illis fides fuisset, regem suum non occidissent. Eutych. Annales tom. ii. p. 211, vers. Pocock.]

[Footnote 57: We must now, for some ages, take our leave of contemporary historians, and descend, if it be a descent, from the affectation of rhetoric to the rude simplicity of chronicles and abridgments. Those of Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 244—279) and Nicephorus (p. 3—16) supply a regular, but imperfect, series of the Persian war; and for any additional facts I quote my special authorities. Theophanes, a courtier who became a monk, was born A.D. 748; Nicephorus patriarch of Constantinople, who died A.D. 829, was somewhat younger: they both suffered in the cause of images Hankius, de Scriptoribus Byzantinis, p. 200-246.]

[Footnote 58: The Persian historians have been themselves deceived: but Theophanes (p. 244) accuses Chosroes of the fraud and falsehood; and Eutychius believes (Annal. tom. ii. p. 212) that the son of Maurice, who was saved from the assassins, lived and died a monk on Mount Sinai.]

The first intelligence from the East which Heraclius received, [59] was that of the loss of Antioch; but the aged metropolis, so often overturned by earthquakes, and pillaged by the enemy, could supply but a small and languid stream of treasure and blood. The Persians were equally successful, and more fortunate, in the sack of Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia; and as they advanced beyond the ramparts of the frontier, the boundary of ancient war, they found a less obstinate resistance and a more plentiful harvest. The pleasant vale of Damascus has been adorned in every age with a royal city: her obscure felicity has hitherto escaped the historian of the Roman empire: but Chosroes reposed his troops in the paradise of Damascus before he ascended the hills of Libanus, or invaded the cities of the Phoenician coast. The conquest of Jerusalem, [60] which had been meditated by Nushirvan, was achieved by the zeal and avarice of his grandson; the ruin of the proudest monument of Christianity was vehemently urged by the intolerant spirit of the Magi; and he could enlist for this holy warfare with an army of six-and-twenty thousand Jews, whose furious bigotry might compensate, in some degree, for the want of valor and discipline. [6011] After the reduction of Galilee, and the region beyond the Jordan, whose resistance appears to have delayed the fate of the capital, Jerusalem itself was taken by assault. The sepulchre of Christ, and the stately churches of Helena and Constantine, were consumed, or at least damaged, by the flames; the devout offerings of three hundred years were rifled in one sacrilegious day; the Patriarch Zachariah, and the true cross, were transported into Persia; and the massacre of ninety thousand Christians is imputed to the Jews and Arabs, who swelled the disorder of the Persian march. The fugitives of Palestine were entertained at Alexandria by the charity of John the Archbishop, who is distinguished among a crowd of saints by the epithet of almsgiver: [61] and the revenues of the church, with a treasure of three hundred thousand pounds, were restored to the true proprietors, the poor of every country and every denomination. But Egypt itself, the only province which had been exempt, since the time of Diocletian, from foreign and domestic war, was again subdued by the successors of Cyrus. Pelusium, the key of that impervious country, was surprised by the cavalry of the Persians: they passed, with impunity, the innumerable channels of the Delta, and explored the long valley of the Nile, from the pyramids of Memphis to the confines of Aethiopia. Alexandria might have been relieved by a naval force, but the archbishop and the praefect embarked for Cyprus; and Chosroes entered the second city of the empire, which still preserved a wealthy remnant of industry and commerce. His western trophy was erected, not on the walls of Carthage, [62] but in the neighborhood of Tripoli; the Greek colonies of Cyrene were finally extirpated; and the conqueror, treading in the footsteps of Alexander, returned in triumph through the sands of the Libyan desert. In the same campaign, another army advanced from the Euphrates to the Thracian Bosphorus; Chalcedon surrendered after a long siege, and a Persian camp was maintained above ten years in the presence of Constantinople. The sea-coast of Pontus, the city of Ancyra, and the Isle of Rhodes, are enumerated among the last conquests of the great king; and if Chosroes had possessed any maritime power, his boundless ambition would have spread slavery and desolation over the provinces of Europe.

[Footnote 59: Eutychius dates all the losses of the empire under the reign of Phocas; an error which saves the honor of Heraclius, whom he brings not from Carthage, but Salonica, with a fleet laden with vegetables for the relief of Constantinople, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 223, 224.) The other Christians of the East, Barhebraeus, (apud Asseman, Bibliothec. Oriental. tom. iii. p. 412, 413,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 13—16,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 98, 99,) are more sincere and accurate. The years of the Persian war are disposed in the chronology of Pagi.]

[Footnote 60: On the conquest of Jerusalem, an event so interesting to the church, see the Annals of Eutychius, (tom. ii. p. 212—223,) and the lamentations of the monk Antiochus, (apud Baronium, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 614, No. 16—26,) whose one hundred and twenty-nine homilies are still extant, if what no one reads may be said to be extant.]

[Footnote 6011: See Hist. of Jews, vol. iii. p. 240.—M.]

[Footnote 61: The life of this worthy saint is composed by Leontius, a contemporary bishop; and I find in Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 610, No. 10, &c.) and Fleury (tom. viii. p. 235-242) sufficient extracts of this edifying work.]

[Footnote 62: The error of Baronius, and many others who have carried the arms of Chosroes to Carthage instead of Chalcedon, is founded on the near resemblance of the Greek words, in the text of Theophanes, &c., which have been sometimes confounded by transcribers, and sometimes by critics.]

From the long-disputed banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, the reign of the grandson of Nushirvan was suddenly extended to the Hellespont and the Nile, the ancient limits of the Persian monarchy. But the provinces, which had been fashioned by the habits of six hundred years to the virtues and vices of the Roman government, supported with reluctance the yoke of the Barbarians. The idea of a republic was kept alive by the institutions, or at least by the writings, of the Greeks and Romans, and the subjects of Heraclius had been educated to pronounce the words of liberty and law. But it has always been the pride and policy of Oriental princes to display the titles and attributes of their omnipotence; to upbraid a nation of slaves with their true name and abject condition, and to enforce, by cruel and insolent threats, the rigor of their absolute commands. The Christians of the East were scandalized by the worship of fire, and the impious doctrine of the two principles: the Magi were not less intolerant than the bishops; and the martyrdom of some native Persians, who had deserted the religion of Zoroaster, [63] was conceived to be the prelude of a fierce and general persecution. By the oppressive laws of Justinian, the adversaries of the church were made the enemies of the state; the alliance of the Jews, Nestorians, and Jacobites, had contributed to the success of Chosroes, and his partial favor to the sectaries provoked the hatred and fears of the Catholic clergy. Conscious of their fear and hatred, the Persian conqueror governed his new subjects with an iron sceptre; and, as if he suspected the stability of his dominion, he exhausted their wealth by exorbitant tributes and licentious rapine despoiled or demolished the temples of the East; and transported to his hereditary realms the gold, the silver, the precious marbles, the arts, and the artists of the Asiatic cities. In the obscure picture of the calamities of the empire, [64] it is not easy to discern the figure of Chosroes himself, to separate his actions from those of his lieutenants, or to ascertain his personal merit in the general blaze of glory and magnificence. He enjoyed with ostentation the fruits of victory, and frequently retired from the hardships of war to the luxury of the palace. But in the space of twenty-four years, he was deterred by superstition or resentment from approaching the gates of Ctesiphon: and his favorite residence of Artemita, or Dastagerd, was situate beyond the Tigris, about sixty miles to the north of the capital. [65] The adjacent pastures were covered with flocks and herds: the paradise or park was replenished with pheasants, peacocks, ostriches, roebucks, and wild boars, and the noble game of lions and tigers was sometimes turned loose for the bolder pleasures of the chase. Nine hundred and sixty elephants were maintained for the use or splendor of the great king: his tents and baggage were carried into the field by twelve thousand great camels and eight thousand of a smaller size; [66] and the royal stables were filled with six thousand mules and horses, among whom the names of Shebdiz and Barid are renowned for their speed or beauty. [6611] Six thousand guards successively mounted before the palace gate; the service of the interior apartments was performed by twelve thousand slaves, and in the number of three thousand virgins, the fairest of Asia, some happy concubine might console her master for the age or the indifference of Sira.

The various treasures of gold, silver, gems, silks, and aromatics, were deposited in a hundred subterraneous vaults and the chamber Badaverd denoted the accidental gift of the winds which had wafted the spoils of Heraclius into one of the Syrian harbors of his rival. The vice of flattery, and perhaps of fiction, is not ashamed to compute the thirty thousand rich hangings that adorned the walls; the forty thousand columns of silver, or more probably of marble, and plated wood, that supported the roof; and the thousand globes of gold suspended in the dome, to imitate the motions of the planets and the constellations of the zodiac. [67] While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. "It is thus," exclaimed the Arabian prophet, "that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplications of Chosroes." [68] [] Placed on the verge of the two great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans. [69]

[Footnote 63: The genuine acts of St. Anastasius are published in those of the with general council, from whence Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 614, 626, 627) and Butler (Lives of the Saints, vol. i. p. 242—248) have taken their accounts. The holy martyr deserted from the Persian to the Roman army, became a monk at Jerusalem, and insulted the worship of the Magi, which was then established at Caesarea in Palestine.]

[Footnote 64: Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 99. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 14.]

[Footnote 65: D'Anville, Mem. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxxii. p. 568—571.]

[Footnote 66: The difference between the two races consists in one or two humps; the dromedary has only one; the size of the proper camel is larger; the country he comes from, Turkistan or Bactriana; the dromedary is confined to Arabia and Africa. Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. p. 211, &c. Aristot. Hist. Animal. tom. i. l. ii. c. 1, tom. ii. p. 185.]

[Footnote 6611: The ruins of these scenes of Khoosroo's magnificence have been visited by Sir R. K. Porter. At the ruins of Tokht i Bostan, he saw a gorgeous picture of a hunt, singularly illustrative of this passage. Travels, vol. ii. p. 204. Kisra Shirene, which he afterwards examined, appears to have been the palace of Dastagerd. Vol. ii. p. 173—175.—M.]

[Footnote 67: Theophanes, Chronograph. p. 268. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 997. The Greeks describe the decay, the Persians the splendor, of Dastagerd; but the former speak from the modest witness of the eye, the latter from the vague report of the ear.]

[Footnote 68: The historians of Mahomet, Abulfeda (in Vit. Mohammed, p. 92, 93) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 247,) date this embassy in the viith year of the Hegira, which commences A.D. 628, May 11. Their chronology is erroneous, since Chosroes died in the month of February of the same year, (Pagi, Critica, tom. ii. p. 779.) The count de Boulainvilliers (Vie de Mahomed, p. 327, 328) places this embassy about A.D. 615, soon after the conquest of Palestine. Yet Mahomet would scarcely have ventured so soon on so bold a step.]

[Footnote 6811: Khoosroo Purveez was encamped on the banks of the Karasoo River when he received the letter of Mahomed. He tore the letter and threw it into the Karasoo. For this action, the moderate author of the Zeenut-ul-Tuarikh calls him a wretch, and rejoices in all his subsequent misfortunes. These impressions still exist. I remarked to a Persian, when encamped near the Karasoo, in 1800, that the banks were very high, which must make it difficult to apply its waters to irrigation. "It once fertilized the whole country," said the zealous Mahomedan, "but its channel sunk with honor from its banks, when that madman, Khoosroo, threw our holy Prophet's letter into its stream; which has ever since been accursed and useless." Malcolm's Persia, vol. i. p. 126—M.]

[Footnote 69: See the xxxth chapter of the Koran, entitled the Greeks. Our honest and learned translator, Sale, (p. 330, 331,) fairly states this conjecture, guess, wager, of Mahomet; but Boulainvilliers, (p. 329—344,) with wicked intentions, labors to establish this evident prophecy of a future event, which must, in his opinion, embarrass the Christian polemics.]

At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire. If the motives of Chosroes had been pure and honorable, he must have ended the quarrel with the death of Phocas, and he would have embraced, as his best ally, the fortunate African who had so generously avenged the injuries of his benefactor Maurice. The prosecution of the war revealed the true character of the Barbarian; and the suppliant embassies of Heraclius to beseech his clemency, that he would spare the innocent, accept a tribute, and give peace to the world, were rejected with contemptuous silence or insolent menace. Syria, Egypt, and the provinces of Asia, were subdued by the Persian arms, while Europe, from the confines of Istria to the long wall of Thrace, was oppressed by the Avars, unsatiated with the blood and rapine of the Italian war. They had coolly massacred their male captives in the sacred field of Pannonia; the women and children were reduced to servitude, and the noblest virgins were abandoned to the promiscuous lust of the Barbarians. The amorous matron who opened the gates of Friuli passed a short night in the arms of her royal lover; the next evening, Romilda was condemned to the embraces of twelve Avars, and the third day the Lombard princess was impaled in the sight of the camp, while the chagan observed with a cruel smile, that such a husband was the fit recompense of her lewdness and perfidy. [70] By these implacable enemies, Heraclius, on either side, was insulted and besieged: and the Roman empire was reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from Tyre to Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. After the loss of Egypt, the capital was afflicted by famine and pestilence; and the emperor, incapable of resistance, and hopeless of relief, had resolved to transfer his person and government to the more secure residence of Carthage. His ships were already laden with the treasures of the palace; but his flight was arrested by the patriarch, who armed the powers of religion in the defence of his country; led Heraclius to the altar of St. Sophia, and extorted a solemn oath, that he would live and die with the people whom God had intrusted to his care. The chagan was encamped in the plains of Thrace; but he dissembled his perfidious designs, and solicited an interview with the emperor near the town of Heraclea. Their reconciliation was celebrated with equestrian games; the senate and people, in their gayest apparel, resorted to the festival of peace; and the Avars beheld, with envy and desire, the spectacle of Roman luxury. On a sudden the hippodrome was encompassed by the Scythian cavalry, who had pressed their secret and nocturnal march: the tremendous sound of the chagan's whip gave the signal of the assault, and Heraclius, wrapping his diadem round his arm, was saved with extreme hazard, by the fleetness of his horse. So rapid was the pursuit, that the Avars almost entered the golden gate of Constantinople with the flying crowds: [71] but the plunder of the suburbs rewarded their treason, and they transported beyond the Danube two hundred and seventy thousand captives. On the shore of Chalcedon, the emperor held a safer conference with a more honorable foe, who, before Heraclius descended from his galley, saluted with reverence and pity the majesty of the purple. The friendly offer of Sain, the Persian general, to conduct an embassy to the presence of the great king, was accepted with the warmest gratitude, and the prayer for pardon and peace was humbly presented by the Praetorian praefect, the praefect of the city, and one of the first ecclesiastics of the patriarchal church. [72] But the lieutenant of Chosroes had fatally mistaken the intentions of his master. "It was not an embassy," said the tyrant of Asia, "it was the person of Heraclius, bound in chains, that he should have brought to the foot of my throne. I will never give peace to the emperor of Rome, till he had abjured his crucified God, and embraced the worship of the sun." Sain was flayed alive, according to the inhuman practice of his country; and the separate and rigorous confinement of the ambassadors violated the law of nations, and the faith of an express stipulation. Yet the experience of six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute or ransom of the Roman empire; a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins. Heraclius subscribed these ignominious terms; but the time and space which he obtained to collect such treasures from the poverty of the East, was industriously employed in the preparations of a bold and desperate attack. [Footnote 70: Paul Warnefrid, de Gestis Langobardorum, l. iv. c. 38, 42. Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 305, &c.]

[Footnote 71: The Paschal Chronicle, which sometimes introduces fragments of history into a barren list of names and dates, gives the best account of the treason of the Avars, p. 389, 390. The number of captives is added by Nicephorus.]

[Footnote 72: Some original pieces, such as the speech or letter of the Roman ambassadors, (p. 386—388,) likewise constitute the merit of the Paschal Chronicle, which was composed, perhaps at Alexandria, under the reign of Heraclius.]

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. It was the duty of the Byzantine historians to have revealed the causes of his slumber and vigilance. At this distance we can only conjecture, that he was endowed with more personal courage than political resolution; that he was detained by the charms, and perhaps the arts, of his niece Martina, with whom, after the death of Eudocia, he contracted an incestuous marriage; [73] and that he yielded to the base advice of the counsellors, who urged, as a fundamental law, that the life of the emperor should never be exposed in the field. [74] Perhaps he was awakened by the last insolent demand of the Persian conqueror; but at the moment when Heraclius assumed the spirit of a hero, the only hopes of the Romans were drawn from the vicissitudes of fortune, which might threaten the proud prosperity of Chosroes, and must be favorable to those who had attained the lowest period of depression. [75] To provide for the expenses of war, was the first care of the emperor; and for the purpose of collecting the tribute, he was allowed to solicit the benevolence of the eastern provinces. But the revenue no longer flowed in the usual channels; the credit of an arbitrary prince is annihilated by his power; and the courage of Heraclius was first displayed in daring to borrow the consecrated wealth of churches, under the solemn vow of restoring, with usury, whatever he had been compelled to employ in the service of religion and the empire. The clergy themselves appear to have sympathized with the public distress; and the discreet patriarch of Alexandria, without admitting the precedent of sacrilege, assisted his sovereign by the miraculous or seasonable revelation of a secret treasure. [76] Of the soldiers who had conspired with Phocas, only two were found to have survived the stroke of time and of the Barbarians; [77] the loss, even of these seditious veterans, was imperfectly supplied by the new levies of Heraclius, and the gold of the sanctuary united, in the same camp, the names, and arms, and languages of the East and West. He would have been content with the neutrality of the Avars; and his friendly entreaty, that the chagan would act, not as the enemy, but as the guardian, of the empire, was accompanied with a more persuasive donative of two hundred thousand pieces of gold. Two days after the festival of Easter, the emperor, exchanging his purple for the simple garb of a penitent and warrior, [78] gave the signal of his departure. To the faith of the people Heraclius recommended his children; the civil and military powers were vested in the most deserving hands, and the discretion of the patriarch and senate was authorized to save or surrender the city, if they should be oppressed in his absence by the superior forces of the enemy. [Footnote 73: Nicephorus, (p. 10, 11,) is happy to observe, that of two sons, its incestuous fruit, the elder was marked by Providence with a stiff neck, the younger with the loss of hearing.]

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