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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 74: George of Pisidia, (Acroas. i. 112—125, p. 5,) who states the opinions, acquits the pusillanimous counsellors of any sinister views. Would he have excused the proud and contemptuous admonition of Crispus?]

[Footnote 75: George Pisid. Acroas. i. 51, &c. p: 4. The Orientals are not less fond of remarking this strange vicissitude; and I remember some story of Khosrou Parviz, not very unlike the ring of Polycrates of Samos.]

[Footnote 76: Baronius gravely relates this discovery, or rather transmutation, of barrels, not of honey, but of gold, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 620, No. 3, &c.) Yet the loan was arbitrary, since it was collected by soldiers, who were ordered to leave the patriarch of Alexandria no more than one hundred pounds of gold. Nicephorus, (p. 11,) two hundred years afterwards, speaks with ill humor of this contribution, which the church of Constantinople might still feel.]

[Footnote 77: Theophylact Symocatta, l. viii. c. 12. This circumstance need not excite our surprise. The muster-roll of a regiment, even in time of peace, is renewed in less than twenty or twenty-five years.]

[Footnote 78: He changed his purple for black, buckskins, and dyed them red in the blood of the Persians, (Georg. Pisid. Acroas. iii. 118, 121, 122 See the notes of Foggini, p. 35.)]

The neighboring heights of Chalcedon were covered with tents and arms: but if the new levies of Heraclius had been rashly led to the attack, the victory of the Persians in the sight of Constantinople might have been the last day of the Roman empire. As imprudent would it have been to advance into the provinces of Asia, leaving their innumerable cavalry to intercept his convoys, and continually to hang on the lassitude and disorder of his rear. But the Greeks were still masters of the sea; a fleet of galleys, transports, and store-ships, was assembled in the harbor; the Barbarians consented to embark; a steady wind carried them through the Hellespont the western and southern coast of Asia Minor lay on their left hand; the spirit of their chief was first displayed in a storm, and even the eunuchs of his train were excited to suffer and to work by the example of their master. He landed his troops on the confines of Syria and Cilicia, in the Gulf of Scanderoon, where the coast suddenly turns to the south; [79] and his discernment was expressed in the choice of this important post. [80] From all sides, the scattered garrisons of the maritime cities and the mountains might repair with speed and safety to his Imperial standard. The natural fortifications of Cilicia protected, and even concealed, the camp of Heraclius, which was pitched near Issus, on the same ground where Alexander had vanquished the host of Darius. The angle which the emperor occupied was deeply indented into a vast semicircle of the Asiatic, Armenian, and Syrian provinces; and to whatsoever point of the circumference he should direct his attack, it was easy for him to dissemble his own motions, and to prevent those of the enemy. In the camp of Issus, the Roman general reformed the sloth and disorder of the veterans, and educated the new recruits in the knowledge and practice of military virtue. Unfolding the miraculous image of Christ, he urged them to revenge the holy altars which had been profaned by the worshippers of fire; addressing them by the endearing appellations of sons and brethren, he deplored the public and private wrongs of the republic. The subjects of a monarch were persuaded that they fought in the cause of freedom; and a similar enthusiasm was communicated to the foreign mercenaries, who must have viewed with equal indifference the interest of Rome and of Persia. Heraclius himself, with the skill and patience of a centurion, inculcated the lessons of the school of tactics, and the soldiers were assiduously trained in the use of their weapons, and the exercises and evolutions of the field. The cavalry and infantry in light or heavy armor were divided into two parties; the trumpets were fixed in the centre, and their signals directed the march, the charge, the retreat or pursuit; the direct or oblique order, the deep or extended phalanx; to represent in fictitious combat the operations of genuine war. Whatever hardships the emperor imposed on the troops, he inflicted with equal severity on himself; their labor, their diet, their sleep, were measured by the inflexible rules of discipline; and, without despising the enemy, they were taught to repose an implicit confidence in their own valor and the wisdom of their leader. Cilicia was soon encompassed with the Persian arms; but their cavalry hesitated to enter the defiles of Mount Taurus, till they were circumvented by the evolutions of Heraclius, who insensibly gained their rear, whilst he appeared to present his front in order of battle. By a false motion, which seemed to threaten Armenia, he drew them, against their wishes, to a general action. They were tempted by the artful disorder of his camp; but when they advanced to combat, the ground, the sun, and the expectation of both armies, were unpropitious to the Barbarians; the Romans successfully repeated their tactics in a field of battle, [81] and the event of the day declared to the world, that the Persians were not invincible, and that a hero was invested with the purple. Strong in victory and fame, Heraclius boldly ascended the heights of Mount Taurus, directed his march through the plains of Cappadocia, and established his troops, for the winter season, in safe and plentiful quarters on the banks of the River Halys. [82] His soul was superior to the vanity of entertaining Constantinople with an imperfect triumph; but the presence of the emperor was indispensably required to soothe the restless and rapacious spirit of the Avars.

[Footnote 79: George of Pisidia, (Acroas. ii. 10, p. 8) has fixed this important point of the Syrian and Cilician gates. They are elegantly described by Xenophon, who marched through them a thousand years before. A narrow pass of three stadia between steep, high rocks, and the Mediterranean, was closed at each end by strong gates, impregnable to the land, accessible by sea, (Anabasis, l. i. p. 35, 36, with Hutchinson's Geographical Dissertation, p. vi.) The gates were thirty-five parasangs, or leagues, from Tarsus, (Anabasis, l. i. p. 33, 34,) and eight or ten from Antioch. Compare Itinerar. Wesseling, p. 580, 581. Schultens, Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit. Saladin. p. 9. Voyage en Turquie et en Perse, par M. Otter, tom. i. p. 78, 79.]

[Footnote 80: Heraclius might write to a friend in the modest words of Cicero: "Castra habuimus ea ipsa quae contra Darium habuerat apud Issum Alexander, imperator haud paulo melior quam aut tu aut ego." Ad Atticum, v. 20. Issus, a rich and flourishing city in the time of Xenophon, was ruined by the prosperity of Alexandria or Scanderoon, on the other side of the bay.]

[Footnote 81: Foggini (Annotat. p. 31) suspects that the Persians were deceived by the of Aelian, (Tactic. c. 48,) an intricate spiral motion of the army. He observes (p. 28) that the military descriptions of George of Pisidia are transcribed in the Tactics of the emperor Leo.]

[Footnote 82: George of Pisidia, an eye-witness, (Acroas. ii. 122, &c.,) described in three acroaseis, or cantos, the first expedition of Heraclius. The poem has been lately (1777) published at Rome; but such vague and declamatory praise is far from corresponding with the sanguine hopes of Pagi, D'Anville, &c.]

Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire [83] He permitted the Persians to oppress for a while the provinces, and to insult with impunity the capital of the East; while the Roman emperor explored his perilous way through the Black Sea, [84] and the mountains of Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, [85] and recalled the armies of the great king to the defence of their bleeding country. With a select band of five thousand soldiers, Heraclius sailed from Constantinople to Trebizond; assembled his forces which had wintered in the Pontic regions; and, from the mouth of the Phasis to the Caspian Sea, encouraged his subjects and allies to march with the successor of Constantine under the faithful and victorious banner of the cross. When the legions of Lucullus and Pompey first passed the Euphrates, they blushed at their easy victory over the natives of Armenia. But the long experience of war had hardened the minds and bodies of that effeminate peeple; their zeal and bravery were approved in the service of a declining empire; they abhorred and feared the usurpation of the house of Sassan, and the memory of persecution envenomed their pious hatred of the enemies of Christ. The limits of Armenia, as it had been ceded to the emperor Maurice, extended as far as the Araxes: the river submitted to the indignity of a bridge, [86] and Heraclius, in the footsteps of Mark Antony, advanced towards the city of Tauris or Gandzaca, [87] the ancient and modern capital of one of the provinces of Media. At the head of forty thousand men, Chosroes himself had returned from some distant expedition to oppose the progress of the Roman arms; but he retreated on the approach of Heraclius, declining the generous alternative of peace or of battle. Instead of half a million of inhabitants, which have been ascribed to Tauris under the reign of the Sophys, the city contained no more than three thousand houses; but the value of the royal treasures was enhanced by a tradition, that they were the spoils of Croesus, which had been transported by Cyrus from the citadel of Sardes. The rapid conquests of Heraclius were suspended only by the winter season; a motive of prudence, or superstition, [88] determined his retreat into the province of Albania, along the shores of the Caspian; and his tents were most probably pitched in the plains of Mogan, [89] the favorite encampment of Oriental princes. In the course of this successful inroad, he signalized the zeal and revenge of a Christian emperor: at his command, the soldiers extinguished the fire, and destroyed the temples, of the Magi; the statues of Chosroes, who aspired to divine honors, were abandoned to the flames; and the ruins of Thebarma or Ormia, [90] which had given birth to Zoroaster himself, made some atonement for the injuries of the holy sepulchre. A purer spirit of religion was shown in the relief and deliverance of fifty thousand captives. Heraclius was rewarded by their tears and grateful acclamations; but this wise measure, which spread the fame of his benevolence, diffused the murmurs of the Persians against the pride and obstinacy of their own sovereign. [Footnote 83: Theophanes (p. 256) carries Heraclius swiftly into Armenia. Nicephorus, (p. 11,) though he confounds the two expeditions, defines the province of Lazica. Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 231) has given the 5000 men, with the more probable station of Trebizond.]

[Footnote 84: From Constantinople to Trebizond, with a fair wind, four or five days; from thence to Erzerom, five; to Erivan, twelve; to Taurus, ten; in all, thirty-two. Such is the Itinerary of Tavernier, (Voyages, tom. i. p. 12—56,) who was perfectly conversant with the roads of Asia. Tournefort, who travelled with a pacha, spent ten or twelve days between Trebizond and Erzerom, (Voyage du Levant, tom. iii. lettre xviii.;) and Chardin (Voyages, tom. i. p. 249—254) gives the more correct distance of fifty-three parasangs, each of 5000 paces, (what paces?) between Erivan and Tauris.]

[Footnote 85: The expedition of Heraclius into Persia is finely illustrated by M. D'Anville, (Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 559—573.) He discovers the situation of Gandzaca, Thebarma, Dastagerd, &c., with admirable skill and learning; but the obscure campaign of 624 he passes over in silence.]

[Footnote 86: Et pontem indignatus Araxes.—Virgil, Aeneid, viii. 728. The River Araxes is noisy, rapid, vehement, and, with the melting of the snows, irresistible: the strongest and most massy bridges are swept away by the current; and its indignation is attested by the ruins of many arches near the old town of Zulfa. Voyages de Chardin, tom. i. p. 252.]

[Footnote 87: Chardin, tom. i. p. 255—259. With the Orientals, (D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 834,) he ascribes the foundation of Tauris, or Tebris, to Zobeide, the wife of the famous Khalif Haroun Alrashid; but it appears to have been more ancient; and the names of Gandzaca, Gazaca, Gaza, are expressive of the royal treasure. The number of 550,000 inhabitants is reduced by Chardin from 1,100,000, the popular estimate.]

[Footnote 88: He opened the gospel, and applied or interpreted the first casual passage to the name and situation of Albania. Theophanes, p. 258.]

[Footnote 89: The heath of Mogan, between the Cyrus and the Araxes, is sixty parasangs in length and twenty in breadth, (Olearius, p. 1023, 1024,) abounding in waters and fruitful pastures, (Hist. de Nadir Shah, translated by Mr. Jones from a Persian Ms., part ii. p. 2, 3.) See the encampments of Timur, (Hist. par Sherefeddin Ali, l. v. c. 37, l. vi. c. 13,) and the coronation of Nadir Shah, (Hist. Persanne, p. 3—13 and the English Life by Mr. Jones, p. 64, 65.)]

[Footnote 90: Thebarma and Ormia, near the Lake Spauta, are proved to be the same city by D'Anville, (Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xxviii. p. 564, 565.) It is honored as the birthplace of Zoroaster, according to the Persians, (Schultens, Index Geograph. p. 48;) and their tradition is fortified by M. Perron d'Anquetil, (Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscript. tom. xxxi. p. 375,) with some texts from his, or their, Zendavesta. * Note: D'Anville (Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscript. tom. xxxii. p. 560) labored to prove the identity of these two cities; but according to M. St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 97, not with perfect success. Ourmiah. called Ariema in the ancient Pehlvi books, is considered, both by the followers of Zoroaster and by the Mahometans, as his birthplace. It is situated in the southern part of Aderbidjan.—M.]



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.—Part IV.

Amidst the glories of the succeeding campaign, Heraclius is almost lost to our eyes, and to those of the Byzantine historians. [91] From the spacious and fruitful plains of Albania, the emperor appears to follow the chain of Hyrcanian Mountains, to descend into the province of Media or Irak, and to carry his victorious arms as far as the royal cities of Casbin and Ispahan, which had never been approached by a Roman conqueror. Alarmed by the danger of his kingdom, the powers of Chosroes were already recalled from the Nile and the Bosphorus, and three formidable armies surrounded, in a distant and hostile land, the camp of the emperor. The Colchian allies prepared to desert his standard; and the fears of the bravest veterans were expressed, rather than concealed, by their desponding silence. "Be not terrified," said the intrepid Heraclius, "by the multitude of your foes. With the aid of Heaven, one Roman may triumph over a thousand Barbarians. But if we devote our lives for the salvation of our brethren, we shall obtain the crown of martyrdom, and our immortal reward will be liberally paid by God and posterity." These magnanimous sentiments were supported by the vigor of his actions. He repelled the threefold attack of the Persians, improved the divisions of their chiefs, and, by a well-concerted train of marches, retreats, and successful actions, finally chased them from the field into the fortified cities of Media and Assyria. In the severity of the winter season, Sarbaraza deemed himself secure in the walls of Salban: he was surprised by the activity of Heraclius, who divided his troops, and performed a laborious march in the silence of the night. The flat roofs of the houses were defended with useless valor against the darts and torches of the Romans: the satraps and nobles of Persia, with their wives and children, and the flower of their martial youth, were either slain or made prisoners. The general escaped by a precipitate flight, but his golden armor was the prize of the conqueror; and the soldiers of Heraclius enjoyed the wealth and repose which they had so nobly deserved. On the return of spring, the emperor traversed in seven days the mountains of Curdistan, and passed without resistance the rapid stream of the Tigris. Oppressed by the weight of their spoils and captives, the Roman army halted under the walls of Amida; and Heraclius informed the senate of Constantinople of his safety and success, which they had already felt by the retreat of the besiegers. The bridges of the Euphrates were destroyed by the Persians; but as soon as the emperor had discovered a ford, they hastily retired to defend the banks of the Sarus, [92] in Cilicia. That river, an impetuous torrent, was about three hundred feet broad; the bridge was fortified with strong turrets; and the banks were lined with Barbarian archers. After a bloody conflict, which continued till the evening, the Romans prevailed in the assault; and a Persian of gigantic size was slain and thrown into the Sarus by the hand of the emperor himself. The enemies were dispersed and dismayed; Heraclius pursued his march to Sebaste in Cappadocia; and at the expiration of three years, the same coast of the Euxine applauded his return from a long and victorious expedition. [93]

[Footnote 91: I cannot find, and (what is much more,) M. D'Anville does not attempt to seek, the Salban, Tarantum, territory of the Huns, &c., mentioned by Theophanes, (p. 260-262.) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 231, 232,) an insufficient author, names Asphahan; and Casbin is most probably the city of Sapor. Ispahan is twenty-four days' journey from Tauris, and Casbin half way between, them (Voyages de Tavernier, tom. i. p. 63—82.)]

[Footnote 92: At ten parasangs from Tarsus, the army of the younger Cyrus passed the Sarus, three plethra in breadth: the Pyramus, a stadium in breadth, ran five parasangs farther to the east, (Xenophon, Anabas. l. i. p 33, 34.) Note: Now the Sihan.—M.]

[Footnote 93: George of Pisidia (Bell. Abaricum, 246—265, p. 49) celebrates with truth the persevering courage of the three campaigns against the Persians.]

Instead of skirmishing on the frontier, the two monarchs who disputed the empire of the East aimed their desperate strokes at the heart of their rival. The military force of Persia was wasted by the marches and combats of twenty years, and many of the veterans, who had survived the perils of the sword and the climate, were still detained in the fortresses of Egypt and Syria. But the revenge and ambition of Chosroes exhausted his kingdom; and the new levies of subjects, strangers, and slaves, were divided into three formidable bodies. [94] The first army of fifty thousand men, illustrious by the ornament and title of the golden spears, was destined to march against Heraclius; the second was stationed to prevent his junction with the troops of his brother Theodorus; and the third was commanded to besiege Constantinople, and to second the operations of the chagan, with whom the Persian king had ratified a treaty of alliance and partition. Sarbar, the general of the third army, penetrated through the provinces of Asia to the well-known camp of Chalcedon, and amused himself with the destruction of the sacred and profane buildings of the Asiatic suburbs, while he impatiently waited the arrival of his Scythian friends on the opposite side of the Bosphorus. On the twenty-ninth of June, thirty thousand Barbarians, the vanguard of the Avars, forced the long wall, and drove into the capital a promiscuous crowd of peasants, citizens, and soldiers. Fourscore thousand [95] of his native subjects, and of the vassal tribes of Gepidae, Russians, Bulgarians, and Sclavonians, advanced under the standard of the chagan; a month was spent in marches and negotiations, but the whole city was invested on the thirty-first of July, from the suburbs of Pera and Galata to the Blachernae and seven towers; and the inhabitants descried with terror the flaming signals of the European and Asiatic shores. In the mean while, the magistrates of Constantinople repeatedly strove to purchase the retreat of the chagan; but their deputies were rejected and insulted; and he suffered the patricians to stand before his throne, while the Persian envoys, in silk robes, were seated by his side. "You see," said the haughty Barbarian, "the proofs of my perfect union with the great king; and his lieutenant is ready to send into my camp a select band of three thousand warriors. Presume no longer to tempt your master with a partial and inadequate ransom your wealth and your city are the only presents worthy of my acceptance. For yourselves, I shall permit you to depart, each with an under-garment and a shirt; and, at my entreaty, my friend Sarbar will not refuse a passage through his lines. Your absent prince, even now a captive or a fugitive, has left Constantinople to its fate; nor can you escape the arms of the Avars and Persians, unless you could soar into the air like birds, unless like fishes you could dive into the waves." [96] During ten successive days, the capital was assaulted by the Avars, who had made some progress in the science of attack; they advanced to sap or batter the wall, under the cover of the impenetrable tortoise; their engines discharged a perpetual volley of stones and darts; and twelve lofty towers of wood exalted the combatants to the height of the neighboring ramparts.

But the senate and people were animated by the spirit of Heraclius, who had detached to their relief a body of twelve thousand cuirassiers; the powers of fire and mechanics were used with superior art and success in the defence of Constantinople; and the galleys, with two and three ranks of oars, commanded the Bosphorus, and rendered the Persians the idle spectators of the defeat of their allies. The Avars were repulsed; a fleet of Sclavonian canoes was destroyed in the harbor; the vassals of the chagan threatened to desert, his provisions were exhausted, and after burning his engines, he gave the signal of a slow and formidable retreat. The devotion of the Romans ascribed this signal deliverance to the Virgin Mary; but the mother of Christ would surely have condemned their inhuman murder of the Persian envoys, who were entitled to the rights of humanity, if they were not protected by the laws of nations. [97]

[Footnote 94: Petavius (Annotationes ad Nicephorum, p. 62, 63, 64) discriminates the names and actions of five Persian generals who were successively sent against Heraclius.]

[Footnote 95: This number of eight myriads is specified by George of Pisidia, (Bell. Abar. 219.) The poet (50—88) clearly indicates that the old chagan lived till the reign of Heraclius, and that his son and successor was born of a foreign mother. Yet Foggini (Annotat. p. 57) has given another interpretation to this passage.]

[Footnote 96: A bird, a frog, a mouse, and five arrows, had been the present of the Scythian king to Darius, (Herodot. l. iv. c. 131, 132.) Substituez une lettre a ces signes (says Rousseau, with much good taste) plus elle sera menacante moins elle effrayera; ce ne sera qu'une fanfarronade dont Darius n'eut fait que rire, (Emile, tom. iii. p. 146.) Yet I much question whether the senate and people of Constantinople laughed at this message of the chagan.]

[Footnote 97: The Paschal Chronicle (p. 392—397) gives a minute and authentic narrative of the siege and deliverance of Constantinople Theophanes (p. 264) adds some circumstances; and a faint light may be obtained from the smoke of George of Pisidia, who has composed a poem (de Bello Abarico, p. 45—54) to commemorate this auspicious event.]

After the division of his army, Heraclius prudently retired to the banks of the Phasis, from whence he maintained a defensive war against the fifty thousand gold spears of Persia. His anxiety was relieved by the deliverance of Constantinople; his hopes were confirmed by a victory of his brother Theodorus; and to the hostile league of Chosroes with the Avars, the Roman emperor opposed the useful and honorable alliance of the Turks. At his liberal invitation, the horde of Chozars [98] transported their tents from the plains of the Volga to the mountains of Georgia; Heraclius received them in the neighborhood of Teflis, and the khan with his nobles dismounted from their horses, if we may credit the Greeks, and fell prostrate on the ground, to adore the purple of the Caesars. Such voluntary homage and important aid were entitled to the warmest acknowledgments; and the emperor, taking off his own diadem, placed it on the head of the Turkish prince, whom he saluted with a tender embrace and the appellation of son. After a sumptuous banquet, he presented Ziebel with the plate and ornaments, the gold, the gems, and the silk, which had been used at the Imperial table, and, with his own hand, distributed rich jewels and ear-rings to his new allies. In a secret interview, he produced the portrait of his daughter Eudocia, [99] condescended to flatter the Barbarian with the promise of a fair and august bride; obtained an immediate succor of forty thousand horse, and negotiated a strong diversion of the Turkish arms on the side of the Oxus. [100] The Persians, in their turn, retreated with precipitation; in the camp of Edessa, Heraclius reviewed an army of seventy thousand Romans and strangers; and some months were successfully employed in the recovery of the cities of Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, whose fortifications had been imperfectly restored. Sarbar still maintained the important station of Chalcedon; but the jealousy of Chosroes, or the artifice of Heraclius, soon alienated the mind of that powerful satrap from the service of his king and country. A messenger was intercepted with a real or fictitious mandate to the cadarigan, or second in command, directing him to send, without delay, to the throne, the head of a guilty or unfortunate general. The despatches were transmitted to Sarbar himself; and as soon as he read the sentence of his own death, he dexterously inserted the names of four hundred officers, assembled a military council, and asked the cadarigan whether he was prepared to execute the commands of their tyrant. The Persians unanimously declared, that Chosroes had forfeited the sceptre; a separate treaty was concluded with the government of Constantinople; and if some considerations of honor or policy restrained Sarbar from joining the standard of Heraclius, the emperor was assured that he might prosecute, without interruption, his designs of victory and peace.

[Footnote 98: The power of the Chozars prevailed in the viith, viiith, and ixth centuries. They were known to the Greeks, the Arabs, and under the name of Kosa, to the Chinese themselves. De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. part ii. p. 507—509. * Note: Moses of Chorene speaks of an invasion of Armenia by the Khazars in the second century, l. ii. c. 62. M. St. Martin suspects them to be the same with the Hunnish nation of the Acatires or Agazzires. They are called by the Greek historians Eastern Turks; like the Madjars and other Hunnish or Finnish tribes, they had probably received some admixture from the genuine Turkish races. Ibn. Hankal (Oriental Geography) says that their language was like the Bulgarian, and considers them a people of Finnish or Hunnish race. Klaproth, Tabl. Hist. p. 268-273. Abel Remusat, Rech. sur les Langues Tartares, tom. i. p. 315, 316. St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 115.—M]

[Footnote 99: Epiphania, or Eudocia, the only daughter of Heraclius and his first wife Eudocia, was born at Constantinople on the 7th of July, A.D. 611, baptized the 15th of August, and crowned (in the oratory of St. Stephen in the palace) the 4th of October of the same year. At this time she was about fifteen. Eudocia was afterwards sent to her Turkish husband, but the news of his death stopped her journey, and prevented the consummation, (Ducange, Familiae Byzantin. p. 118.)]

[Footnote 100: Elmcain (Hist. Saracen. p. 13—16) gives some curious and probable facts; but his numbers are rather too high—300,000 Romans assembled at Edessa—500,000 Persians killed at Nineveh. The abatement of a cipher is scarcely enough to restore his sanity]

Deprived of his firmest support, and doubtful of the fidelity of his subjects, the greatness of Chosroes was still conspicuous in its ruins. The number of five hundred thousand may be interpreted as an Oriental metaphor, to describe the men and arms, the horses and elephants, that covered Media and Assyria against the invasion of Heraclius. Yet the Romans boldly advanced from the Araxes to the Tigris, and the timid prudence of Rhazates was content to follow them by forced marches through a desolate country, till he received a peremptory mandate to risk the fate of Persia in a decisive battle. Eastward of the Tigris, at the end of the bridge of Mosul, the great Nineveh had formerly been erected: [101] the city, and even the ruins of the city, had long since disappeared; [102] the vacant space afforded a spacious field for the operations of the two armies. But these operations are neglected by the Byzantine historians, and, like the authors of epic poetry and romance, they ascribe the victory, not to the military conduct, but to the personal valor, of their favorite hero. On this memorable day, Heraclius, on his horse Phallas, surpassed the bravest of his warriors: his lip was pierced with a spear; the steed was wounded in the thigh; but he carried his master safe and victorious through the triple phalanx of the Barbarians. In the heat of the action, three valiant chiefs were successively slain by the sword and lance of the emperor: among these was Rhazates himself; he fell like a soldier, but the sight of his head scattered grief and despair through the fainting ranks of the Persians. His armor of pure and massy gold, the shield of one hundred and twenty plates, the sword and belt, the saddle and cuirass, adorned the triumph of Heraclius; and if he had not been faithful to Christ and his mother, the champion of Rome might have offered the fourth opime spoils to the Jupiter of the Capitol. [103] In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards, besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. They acknowledged, that on this occasion it was less difficult to kill than to discomfit the soldiers of Chosroes; amidst the bodies of their friends, no more than two bow-shot from the enemy the remnant of the Persian cavalry stood firm till the seventh hour of the night; about the eighth hour they retired to their unrifled camp, collected their baggage, and dispersed on all sides, from the want of orders rather than of resolution. The diligence of Heraclius was not less admirable in the use of victory; by a march of forty-eight miles in four-and-twenty hours, his vanguard occupied the bridges of the great and the lesser Zab; and the cities and palaces of Assyria were open for the first time to the Romans. By a just gradation of magnificent scenes, they penetrated to the royal seat of Dastagerd, [1031] and, though much of the treasure had been removed, and much had been expended, the remaining wealth appears to have exceeded their hopes, and even to have satiated their avarice. Whatever could not be easily transported, they consumed with fire, that Chosroes might feel the anguish of those wounds which he had so often inflicted on the provinces of the empire: and justice might allow the excuse, if the desolation had been confined to the works of regal luxury, if national hatred, military license, and religious zeal, had not wasted with equal rage the habitations and the temples of the guiltless subject. The recovery of three hundred Roman standards, and the deliverance of the numerous captives of Edessa and Alexandria, reflect a purer glory on the arms of Heraclius. From the palace of Dastagerd, he pursued his march within a few miles of Modain or Ctesiphon, till he was stopped, on the banks of the Arba, by the difficulty of the passage, the rigor of the season, and perhaps the fame of an impregnable capital. The return of the emperor is marked by the modern name of the city of Sherhzour: he fortunately passed Mount Zara, before the snow, which fell incessantly thirty-four days; and the citizens of Gandzca, or Tauris, were compelled to entertain the soldiers and their horses with a hospitable reception. [104]

[Footnote 101: Ctesias (apud Didor. Sicul. tom. i. l. ii. p. 115, edit. Wesseling) assigns 480 stadia (perhaps only 32 miles) for the circumference of Nineveh. Jonas talks of three days' journey: the 120,000 persons described by the prophet as incapable of discerning their right hand from their left, may afford about 700,000 persons of all ages for the inhabitants of that ancient capital, (Goguet, Origines des Loix, &c., tom. iii. part i. p. 92, 93,) which ceased to exist 600 years before Christ. The western suburb still subsisted, and is mentioned under the name of Mosul in the first age of the Arabian khalifs.]

[Footnote 102: Niebuhr (Voyage en Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 286) passed over Nineveh without perceiving it. He mistook for a ridge of hills the old rampart of brick or earth. It is said to have been 100 feet high, flanked with 1500 towers, each of the height of 200 feet.]

[Footnote 103: Rex regia arma fero (says Romulus, in the first consecration).... bina postea (continues Livy, i. 10) inter tot bella, opima parta sunt spolia, adeo rara ejus fortuna decoris. If Varro (apud Pomp Festum, p. 306, edit. Dacier) could justify his liberality in granting the opime spoils even to a common soldier who had slain the king or general of the enemy, the honor would have been much more cheap and common]

[Footnote 1031: Macdonald Kinneir places Dastagerd at Kasr e Shirin, the palace of Sira on the banks of the Diala between Holwan and Kanabee. Kinnets Geograph. Mem. p. 306.—M.]

[Footnote 104: In describing this last expedition of Heraclius, the facts, the places, and the dates of Theophanes (p. 265—271) are so accurate and authentic, that he must have followed the original letters of the emperor, of which the Paschal Chronicle has preserved (p. 398—402) a very curious specimen.]

When the ambition of Chosroes was reduced to the defence of his hereditary kingdom, the love of glory, or even the sense of shame, should have urged him to meet his rival in the field. In the battle of Nineveh, his courage might have taught the Persians to vanquish, or he might have fallen with honor by the lance of a Roman emperor. The successor of Cyrus chose rather, at a secure distance, to expect the event, to assemble the relics of the defeat, and to retire, by measured steps, before the march of Heraclius, till he beheld with a sigh the once loved mansions of Dastagerd. Both his friends and enemies were persuaded, that it was the intention of Chosroes to bury himself under the ruins of the city and palace: and as both might have been equally adverse to his flight, the monarch of Asia, with Sira, [1041] and three concubines, escaped through a hole in the wall nine days before the arrival of the Romans. The slow and stately procession in which he showed himself to the prostrate crowd, was changed to a rapid and secret journey; and the first evening he lodged in the cottage of a peasant, whose humble door would scarcely give admittance to the great king. [105] His superstition was subdued by fear: on the third day, he entered with joy the fortifications of Ctesiphon; yet he still doubted of his safety till he had opposed the River Tigris to the pursuit of the Romans. The discovery of his flight agitated with terror and tumult the palace, the city, and the camp of Dastagerd: the satraps hesitated whether they had most to fear from their sovereign or the enemy; and the females of the harem were astonished and pleased by the sight of mankind, till the jealous husband of three thousand wives again confined them to a more distant castle. At his command, the army of Dastagerd retreated to a new camp: the front was covered by the Arba, and a line of two hundred elephants; the troops of the more distant provinces successively arrived, and the vilest domestics of the king and satraps were enrolled for the last defence of the throne. It was still in the power of Chosroes to obtain a reasonable peace; and he was repeatedly pressed by the messengers of Heraclius to spare the blood of his subjects, and to relieve a humane conqueror from the painful duty of carrying fire and sword through the fairest countries of Asia. But the pride of the Persian had not yet sunk to the level of his fortune; he derived a momentary confidence from the retreat of the emperor; he wept with impotent rage over the ruins of his Assyrian palaces, and disregarded too long the rising murmurs of the nation, who complained that their lives and fortunes were sacrificed to the obstinacy of an old man. That unhappy old man was himself tortured with the sharpest pains both of mind and body; and, in the consciousness of his approaching end, he resolved to fix the tiara on the head of Merdaza, the most favored of his sons. But the will of Chosroes was no longer revered, and Siroes, [1051] who gloried in the rank and merit of his mother Sira, had conspired with the malecontents to assert and anticipate the rights of primogeniture. [106] Twenty-two satraps (they styled themselves patriots) were tempted by the wealth and honors of a new reign: to the soldiers, the heir of Chosroes promised an increase of pay; to the Christians, the free exercise of their religion; to the captives, liberty and rewards; and to the nation, instant peace and the reduction of taxes. It was determined by the conspirators, that Siroes, with the ensigns of royalty, should appear in the camp; and if the enterprise should fail, his escape was contrived to the Imperial court. But the new monarch was saluted with unanimous acclamations; the flight of Chosroes (yet where could he have fled?) was rudely arrested, eighteen sons were massacred [1061] before his face, and he was thrown into a dungeon, where he expired on the fifth day. The Greeks and modern Persians minutely describe how Chosroes was insulted, and famished, and tortured, by the command of an inhuman son, who so far surpassed the example of his father: but at the time of his death, what tongue would relate the story of the parricide? what eye could penetrate into the tower of darkness? According to the faith and mercy of his Christian enemies, he sunk without hope into a still deeper abyss; [107] and it will not be denied, that tyrants of every age and sect are the best entitled to such infernal abodes. The glory of the house of Sassan ended with the life of Chosroes: his unnatural son enjoyed only eight months the fruit of his crimes: and in the space of four years, the regal title was assumed by nine candidates, who disputed, with the sword or dagger, the fragments of an exhausted monarchy. Every province, and each city of Persia, was the scene of independence, of discord, and of blood; and the state of anarchy prevailed about eight years longer, [1071] till the factions were silenced and united under the common yoke of the Arabian caliphs. [108]

[Footnote 1041: The Schirin of Persian poetry. The love of Chosru and Schirin rivals in Persian romance that of Joseph with Zuleika the wife of Potiphar, of Solomon with the queen of Sheba, and that of Mejnoun and Leila. The number of Persian poems on the subject may be seen in M. von Hammer's preface to his poem of Schirin.—M]

[Footnote 105: The words of Theophanes are remarkable. Young princes who discover a propensity to war should repeatedly transcribe and translate such salutary texts.]

[Footnote 1051: His name was Kabad (as appears from an official letter in the Paschal Chronicle, p. 402.) St. Martin considers the name Siroes, Schirquieh of Schirwey, derived from the word schir, royal. St. Martin, xi. 153.—M.]

[Footnote 106: The authentic narrative of the fall of Chosroes is contained in the letter of Heraclius (Chron. Paschal. p. 398) and the history of Theophanes, (p. 271.)]

[Footnote 1061: According to Le Beau, this massacre was perpetrated at Mahuza in Babylonia, not in the presence of Chosroes. The Syrian historian, Thomas of Maraga, gives Chosroes twenty-four sons; Mirkhond, (translated by De Sacy,) fifteen; the inedited Modjmel-alte-warikh, agreeing with Gibbon, eighteen, with their names. Le Beau and St. Martin, xi. 146.—M.]

[Footnote 107: On the first rumor of the death of Chosroes, an Heracliad in two cantos was instantly published at Constantinople by George of Pisidia, (p. 97—105.) A priest and a poet might very properly exult in the damnation of the public enemy but such mean revenge is unworthy of a king and a conqueror; and I am sorry to find so much black superstition in the letter of Heraclius: he almost applauds the parricide of Siroes as an act of piety and justice. * Note: The Mahometans show no more charity towards the memory of Chosroes or Khoosroo Purveez. All his reverses are ascribed to the just indignation of God, upon a monarch who had dared, with impious and accursed hands, to tear the letter of the Holy Prophet Mahomed. Compare note, p. 231.—M.]

[Footnote 1071: Yet Gibbon himself places the flight and death of Yesdegird Ill., the last king of Persia, in 651. The famous era of Yesdegird dates from his accession, June 16 632.—M.]

[Footnote 108: The best Oriental accounts of this last period of the Sassanian kings are found in Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 251—256,) who dissembles the parricide of Siroes, D'Herbelot (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 789,) and Assemanni, (Bibliothec. Oriental. tom. iii. p. 415—420.)]

As soon as the mountains became passable, the emperor received the welcome news of the success of the conspiracy, the death of Chosroes, and the elevation of his eldest son to the throne of Persia. The authors of the revolution, eager to display their merits in the court or camp of Tauris, preceded the ambassadors of Siroes, who delivered the letters of their master to his brother the emperor of the Romans. [109] In the language of the usurpers of every age, he imputes his own crimes to the Deity, and, without degrading his equal majesty, he offers to reconcile the long discord of the two nations, by a treaty of peace and alliance more durable than brass or iron. The conditions of the treaty were easily defined and faithfully executed. In the recovery of the standards and prisoners which had fallen into the hands of the Persians, the emperor imitated the example of Augustus: their care of the national dignity was celebrated by the poets of the times, but the decay of genius may be measured by the distance between Horace and George of Pisidia: the subjects and brethren of Heraclius were redeemed from persecution, slavery, and exile; but, instead of the Roman eagles, the true wood of the holy cross was restored to the importunate demands of the successor of Constantine. The victor was not ambitious of enlarging the weakness of the empire; the son of Chosroes abandoned without regret the conquests of his father; the Persians who evacuated the cities of Syria and Egypt were honorably conducted to the frontier, and a war which had wounded the vitals of the two monarchies, produced no change in their external and relative situation. The return of Heraclius from Tauris to Constantinople was a perpetual triumph; and after the exploits of six glorious campaigns, he peaceably enjoyed the Sabbath of his toils. After a long impatience, the senate, the clergy, and the people, went forth to meet their hero, with tears and acclamations, with olive branches and innumerable lamps; he entered the capital in a chariot drawn by four elephants; and as soon as the emperor could disengage himself from the tumult of public joy, he tasted more genuine satisfaction in the embraces of his mother and his son. [110]

[Footnote 109: The letter of Siroes in the Paschal Chronicle (p. 402) unfortunately ends before he proceeds to business. The treaty appears in its execution in the histories of Theophanes and Nicephorus. * Note: M. Mai. Script. Vet. Nova Collectio, vol. i. P. 2, p. 223, has added some lines, but no clear sense can be made out of the fragment.—M.]

[Footnote 110: The burden of Corneille's song, "Montrez Heraclius au peuple qui l'attend," is much better suited to the present occasion. See his triumph in Theophanes (p. 272, 273) and Nicephorus, (p. 15, 16.) The life of the mother and tenderness of the son are attested by George of Pisidia, (Bell. Abar. 255, &c., p. 49.) The metaphor of the Sabbath is used somewhat profanely by these Byzantine Christians.]

The succeeding year was illustrated by a triumph of a very different kind, the restitution of the true cross to the holy sepulchre. Heraclius performed in person the pilgrimage of Jerusalem, the identity of the relic was verified by the discreet patriarch, [111] and this august ceremony has been commemorated by the annual festival of the exaltation of the cross. Before the emperor presumed to tread the consecrated ground, he was instructed to strip himself of the diadem and purple, the pomp and vanity of the world: but in the judgment of his clergy, the persecution of the Jews was more easily reconciled with the precepts of the gospel. [1111] He again ascended his throne to receive the congratulations of the ambassadors of France and India: and the fame of Moses, Alexander, and Hercules, [112] was eclipsed in the popular estimation, by the superior merit and glory of the great Heraclius. Yet the deliverer of the East was indigent and feeble. Of the Persian spoils, the most valuable portion had been expended in the war, distributed to the soldiers, or buried, by an unlucky tempest, in the waves of the Euxine. The conscience of the emperor was oppressed by the obligation of restoring the wealth of the clergy, which he had borrowed for their own defence: a perpetual fund was required to satisfy these inexorable creditors; the provinces, already wasted by the arms and avarice of the Persians, were compelled to a second payment of the same taxes; and the arrears of a simple citizen, the treasurer of Damascus, were commuted to a fine of one hundred thousand pieces of gold. The loss of two hundred thousand soldiers [113] who had fallen by the sword, was of less fatal importance than the decay of arts, agriculture, and population, in this long and destructive war: and although a victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort appears to have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief; an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valor had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians.

[Footnote 111: See Baronius, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 628, No. 1-4,) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 240—248,) Nicephorus, (Brev. p. 15.) The seals of the case had never been broken; and this preservation of the cross is ascribed (under God) to the devotion of Queen Sira.]

[Footnote 1111: If the clergy imposed upon the kneeling and penitent emperor the persecution of the Jews, it must be acknowledge that provocation was not wanting; for how many of them had been eye-witnesses of, perhaps sufferers in, the horrible atrocities committed on the capture of the city! Yet we have no authentic account of great severities exercised by Heraclius. The law of Hadrian was reenacted, which prohibited the Jews from approaching within three miles of the city—a law, which, in the present exasperated state of the Christians, might be a measure of security of mercy, rather than of oppression. Milman, Hist. of the Jews, iii. 242.—M.]

[Footnote 112: George of Pisidia, Acroas. iii. de Expedit. contra Persas, 415, &c., and Heracleid. Acroas. i. 65—138. I neglect the meaner parallels of Daniel, Timotheus, &c.; Chosroes and the chagan were of course compared to Belshazzar, Pharaoh, the old serpent, &c.]

[Footnote 13: Suidas (in Excerpt. Hist. Byzant. p. 46) gives this number; but either the Persian must be read for the Isaurian war, or this passage does not belong to the emperor Heraclius.]



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part I.

Theological History Of The Doctrine Of The Incarnation.—The Human And Divine Nature Of Christ.—Enmity Of The Patriarchs Of Alexandria And Constantinople.—St. Cyril And Nestorius. —Third General Council Of Ephesus.—Heresy Of Eutyches.— Fourth General Council Of Chalcedon.—Civil And Ecclesiastical Discord.—Intolerance Of Justinian.—The Three Chapters.—The Monothelite Controversy.—State Of The Oriental Sects:—I. The Nestorians.—II. The Jacobites.— III. The Maronites.—IV. The Armenians.—V. The Copts And Abyssinians.

After the extinction of paganism, the Christians in peace and piety might have enjoyed their solitary triumph. But the principle of discord was alive in their bosom, and they were more solicitous to explore the nature, than to practice the laws, of their founder. I have already observed, that the disputes of the Trinity were succeeded by those of the Incarnation; alike scandalous to the church, alike pernicious to the state, still more minute in their origin, still more durable in their effects.

It is my design to comprise in the present chapter a religious war of two hundred and fifty years, to represent the ecclesiastical and political schism of the Oriental sects, and to introduce their clamorous or sanguinary contests, by a modest inquiry into the doctrines of the primitive church. [1]

[Footnote 1: By what means shall I authenticate this previous inquiry, which I have studied to circumscribe and compress?—If I persist in supporting each fact or reflection by its proper and special evidence, every line would demand a string of testimonies, and every note would swell to a critical dissertation. But the numberless passages of antiquity which I have seen with my own eyes, are compiled, digested and illustrated by Petavius and Le Clerc, by Beausobre and Mosheim. I shall be content to fortify my narrative by the names and characters of these respectable guides; and in the contemplation of a minute or remote object, I am not ashamed to borrow the aid of the strongest glasses: 1. The Dogmata Theologica of Petavius are a work of incredible labor and compass; the volumes which relate solely to the Incarnation (two folios, vth and vith, of 837 pages) are divided into xvi. books—the first of history, the remainder of controversy and doctrine. The Jesuit's learning is copious and correct; his Latinity is pure, his method clear, his argument profound and well connected; but he is the slave of the fathers, the scourge of heretics, and the enemy of truth and candor, as often as they are inimical to the Catholic cause. 2. The Arminian Le Clerc, who has composed in a quarto volume (Amsterdam, 1716) the ecclesiastical history of the two first centuries, was free both in his temper and situation; his sense is clear, but his thoughts are narrow; he reduces the reason or folly of ages to the standard of his private judgment, and his impartiality is sometimes quickened, and sometimes tainted by his opposition to the fathers. See the heretics (Cerinthians, lxxx. Ebionites, ciii. Carpocratians, cxx. Valentiniins, cxxi. Basilidians, cxxiii. Marcionites, cxli., &c.) under their proper dates. 3. The Histoire Critique du Manicheisme (Amsterdam, 1734, 1739, in two vols. in 4to., with a posthumous dissertation sur les Nazarenes, Lausanne, 1745) of M. de Beausobre is a treasure of ancient philosophy and theology. The learned historian spins with incomparable art the systematic thread of opinion, and transforms himself by turns into the person of a saint, a sage, or a heretic. Yet his refinement is sometimes excessive; he betrays an amiable partiality in favor of the weaker side, and, while he guards against calumny, he does not allow sufficient scope for superstition and fanaticism. A copious table of contents will direct the reader to any point that he wishes to examine. 4. Less profound than Petavius, less independent than Le Clerc, less ingenious than Beausobre, the historian Mosheim is full, rational, correct, and moderate. In his learned work, De Rebus Christianis ante Constantinum (Helmstadt 1753, in 4to.,) see the Nazarenes and Ebionites, p. 172—179, 328—332. The Gnostics in general, p. 179, &c. Cerinthus, p. 196—202. Basilides, p. 352—361. Carpocrates, p. 363—367. Valentinus, p. 371—389 Marcion, p. 404—410. The Manichaeans, p. 829-837, &c.]

I. A laudable regard for the honor of the first proselyte has countenanced the belief, the hope, the wish, that the Ebionites, or at least the Nazarenes, were distinguished only by their obstinate perseverance in the practice of the Mosaic rites.

Their churches have disappeared, their books are obliterated: their obscure freedom might allow a latitude of faith, and the softness of their infant creed would be variously moulded by the zeal or prudence of three hundred years. Yet the most charitable criticism must refuse these sectaries any knowledge of the pure and proper divinity of Christ. Educated in the school of Jewish prophecy and prejudice, they had never been taught to elevate their hopes above a human and temporal Messiah. [2] If they had courage to hail their king when he appeared in a plebeian garb, their grosser apprehensions were incapable of discerning their God, who had studiously disguised his celestial character under the name and person of a mortal. [3] The familiar companions of Jesus of Nazareth conversed with their friend and countryman, who, in all the actions of rational and animal life, appeared of the same species with themselves. His progress from infancy to youth and manhood was marked by a regular increase in stature and wisdom; and after a painful agony of mind and body, he expired on the cross. He lived and died for the service of mankind: but the life and death of Socrates had likewise been devoted to the cause of religion and justice; and although the stoic or the hero may disdain the humble virtues of Jesus, the tears which he shed over his friend and country may be esteemed the purest evidence of his humanity. The miracles of the gospel could not astonish a people who held with intrepid faith the more splendid prodigies of the Mosaic law. The prophets of ancient days had cured diseases, raised the dead, divided the sea, stopped the sun, and ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot. And the metaphorical style of the Hebrews might ascribe to a saint and martyr the adoptive title of Son of God.

[Footnote 2: Jew Tryphon, (Justin. Dialog. p. 207) in the name of his countrymen, and the modern Jews, the few who divert their thoughts from money to religion, still hold the same language, and allege the literal sense of the prophets. * Note: See on this passage Bp. Kaye, Justin Martyr, p. 25.—M. Note: Most of the modern writers, who have closely examined this subject, and who will not be suspected of any theological bias, Rosenmuller on Isaiah ix. 5, and on Psalm xlv. 7, and Bertholdt, Christologia Judaeorum, c. xx., rightly ascribe much higher notions of the Messiah to the Jews. In fact, the dispute seems to rest on the notion that there was a definite and authorized notion of the Messiah, among the Jews, whereas it was probably so vague, as to admit every shade of difference, from the vulgar expectation of a mere temporal king, to the philosophic notion of an emanation from the Deity.—M.]

[Footnote 3: Chrysostom (Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, tom. v. c. 9, p. 183) and Athanasius (Petav. Dogmat. Theolog. tom. v. l. i. c. 2, p. 3) are obliged to confess that the Divinity of Christ is rarely mentioned by himself or his apostles.]

Yet in the insufficient creed of the Nazarenes and the Ebionites, a distinction is faintly noticed between the heretics, who confounded the generation of Christ in the common order of nature, and the less guilty schismatics, who revered the virginity of his mother, and excluded the aid of an earthly father. The incredulity of the former was countenanced by the visible circumstances of his birth, the legal marriage of the reputed parents, Joseph and Mary, and his lineal claim to the kingdom of David and the inheritance of Judah. But the secret and authentic history has been recorded in several copies of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, [4] which these sectaries long preserved in the original Hebrew, [5] as the sole evidence of their faith. The natural suspicions of the husband, conscious of his own chastity, were dispelled by the assurance (in a dream) that his wife was pregnant of the Holy Ghost: and as this distant and domestic prodigy could not fall under the personal observation of the historian, he must have listened to the same voice which dictated to Isaiah the future conception of a virgin. The son of a virgin, generated by the ineffable operation of the Holy Spirit, was a creature without example or resemblance, superior in every attribute of mind and body to the children of Adam. Since the introduction of the Greek or Chaldean philosophy, [6] the Jews [7] were persuaded of the preexistence, transmigration, and immortality of souls; and providence was justified by a supposition, that they were confined in their earthly prisons to expiate the stains which they had contracted in a former state. [8] But the degrees of purity and corruption are almost immeasurable. It might be fairly presumed, that the most sublime and virtuous of human spirits was infused into the offspring of Mary and the Holy Ghost; [9] that his abasement was the result of his voluntary choice; and that the object of his mission was, to purify, not his own, but the sins of the world. On his return to his native skies, he received the immense reward of his obedience; the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah, which had been darkly foretold by the prophets, under the carnal images of peace, of conquest, and of dominion. Omnipotence could enlarge the human faculties of Christ to the extend of is celestial office. In the language of antiquity, the title of God has not been severely confined to the first parent, and his incomparable minister, his only-begotten son, might claim, without presumption, the religious, though secondary, worship of a subject of a subject world.

[Footnote 4: The two first chapters of St. Matthew did not exist in the Ebionite copies, (Epiphan. Haeres. xxx. 13;) and the miraculous conception is one of the last articles which Dr. Priestley has curtailed from his scanty creed. * Note: The distinct allusion to the facts related in the two first chapters of the Gospel, in a work evidently written about the end of the reign of Nero, the Ascensio Isaiae, edited by Archbishop Lawrence, seems convincing evidence that they are integral parts of the authentic Christian history.—M.]

[Footnote 5: It is probable enough that the first of the Gospels for the use of the Jewish converts was composed in the Hebrew or Syriac idiom: the fact is attested by a chain of fathers—Papias, Irenaeus, Origen, Jerom, &c. It is devoutly believed by the Catholics, and admitted by Casaubon, Grotius, and Isaac Vossius, among the Protestant critics. But this Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew is most unaccountably lost; and we may accuse the diligence or fidelity of the primitive churches, who have preferred the unauthorized version of some nameless Greek. Erasmus and his followers, who respect our Greek text as the original Gospel, deprive themselves of the evidence which declares it to be the work of an apostle. See Simon, Hist. Critique, &c., tom. iii. c. 5—9, p. 47—101, and the Prolegomena of Mill and Wetstein to the New Testament. * Note: Surely the extinction of the Judaeo-Christian community related from Mosheim by Gibbon himself (c. xv.) accounts both simply and naturally for the loss of a composition, which had become of no use—nor does it follow that the Greek Gospel of St. Matthew is unauthorized.—M.]

[Footnote 6: The metaphysics of the soul are disengaged by Cicero (Tusculan. l. i.) and Maximus of Tyre (Dissertat. xvi.) from the intricacies of dialogue, which sometimes amuse, and often perplex, the readers of the Phoedrus, the Phoedon, and the Laws of Plato.]

[Footnote 7: The disciples of Jesus were persuaded that a man might have sinned before he was born, (John, ix. 2,) and the Pharisees held the transmigration of virtuous souls, (Joseph. de Bell. Judaico, l. ii. c. 7;) and a modern Rabbi is modestly assured, that Hermes, Pythagoras, Plato, &c., derived their metaphysics from his illustrious countrymen.]

[Footnote 8: Four different opinions have been entertained concerning the origin of human souls: 1. That they are eternal and divine. 2. That they were created in a separate state of existence, before their union with the body. 3. That they have been propagated from the original stock of Adam, who contained in himself the mental as well as the corporeal seed of his posterity. 4. That each soul is occasionally created and embodied in the moment of conception.—The last of these sentiments appears to have prevailed among the moderns; and our spiritual history is grown less sublime, without becoming more intelligible.]

[Footnote 9: It was one of the fifteen heresies imputed to Origen, and denied by his apologist, (Photius, Bibliothec. cod. cxvii. p. 296.) Some of the Rabbis attribute one and the same soul to the persons of Adam, David, and the Messiah.]

II. The seeds of the faith, which had slowly arisen in the rocky and ungrateful soil of Judea, were transplanted, in full maturity, to the happier climes of the Gentiles; and the strangers of Rome or Asia, who never beheld the manhood, were the more readily disposed to embrace the divinity, of Christ. The polytheist and the philosopher, the Greek and the Barbarian, were alike accustomed to conceive a long succession, an infinite chain of angels or daemons, or deities, or aeons, or emanations, issuing from the throne of light. Nor could it seem strange or incredible, that the first of these aeons, the Logos, or Word of God, of the same substance with the Father, should descend upon earth, to deliver the human race from vice and error, and to conduct them in the paths of life and immortality. But the prevailing doctrine of the eternity and inherent pravity of matter infected the primitive churches of the East. Many among the Gentile proselytes refused to believe that a celestial spirit, an undivided portion of the first essence, had been personally united with a mass of impure and contaminated flesh; and, in their zeal for the divinity, they piously abjured the humanity, of Christ. While his blood was still recent on Mount Calvary, [10] the Docetes, a numerous and learned sect of Asiatics, invented the phantastic system, which was afterwards propagated by the Marcionites, the Manichaeans, and the various names of the Gnostic heresy. [11] They denied the truth and authenticity of the Gospels, as far as they relate the conception of Mary, the birth of Christ, and the thirty years that preceded the exercise of his ministry. He first appeared on the banks of the Jordan in the form of perfect manhood; but it was a form only, and not a substance; a human figure created by the hand of Omnipotence to imitate the faculties and actions of a man, and to impose a perpetual illusion on the senses of his friends and enemies. Articulate sounds vibrated on the ears of the disciples; but the image which was impressed on their optic nerve eluded the more stubborn evidence of the touch; and they enjoyed the spiritual, not the corporeal, presence of the Son of God. The rage of the Jews was idly wasted against an impassive phantom; and the mystic scenes of the passion and death, the resurrection and ascension, of Christ were represented on the theatre of Jerusalem for the benefit of mankind. If it were urged, that such ideal mimicry, such incessant deception, was unworthy of the God of truth, the Docetes agreed with too many of their orthodox brethren in the justification of pious falsehood. In the system of the Gnostics, the Jehovah of Israel, the Creator of this lower world, was a rebellious, or at least an ignorant, spirit. The Son of God descended upon earth to abolish his temple and his law; and, for the accomplishment of this salutary end, he dexterously transferred to his own person the hope and prediction of a temporal Messiah.

[Footnote 10: Apostolis adhuc in seculo superstitibus, apud Judaeam Christi sanguine recente, Phantasma domini corpus asserebatur. Hieronym, advers. Lucifer. c. 8. The epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, and even the Gospel according to St. John, are levelled against the growing error of the Docetes, who had obtained too much credit in the world, (1 John, iv. 1—5.)]

[Footnote 11: About the year 200 of the Christian aera, Irenaeus and Hippolytus efuted the thirty-two sects, which had multiplied to fourscore in the time of Epiphanius, (Phot. Biblioth. cod. cxx. cxxi. cxxii.) The five books of Irenaeus exist only in barbarous Latin; but the original might perhaps be found in some monastery of Greece.]

One of the most subtile disputants of the Manichaean school has pressed the danger and indecency of supposing, that the God of the Christians, in the state of a human foetus, emerged at the end of nine months from a female womb. The pious horror of his antagonists provoked them to disclaim all sensual circumstances of conception and delivery; to maintain that the divinity passed through Mary like a sunbeam through a plate of glass; and to assert, that the seal of her virginity remained unbroken even at the moment when she became the mother of Christ. But the rashness of these concessions has encouraged a milder sentiment of those of the Docetes, who taught, not that Christ was a phantom, but that he was clothed with an impassible and incorruptible body. Such, indeed, in the more orthodox system, he has acquired since his resurrection, and such he must have always possessed, if it were capable of pervading, without resistance or injury, the density of intermediate matter. Devoid of its most essential properties, it might be exempt from the attributes and infirmities of the flesh. A foetus that could increase from an invisible point to its full maturity; a child that could attain the stature of perfect manhood without deriving any nourishment from the ordinary sources, might continue to exist without repairing a daily waste by a daily supply of external matter. Jesus might share the repasts of his disciples without being subject to the calls of thirst or hunger; and his virgin purity was never sullied by the involuntary stains of sensual concupiscence. Of a body thus singularly constituted, a question would arise, by what means, and of what materials, it was originally framed; and our sounder theology is startled by an answer which was not peculiar to the Gnostics, that both the form and the substance proceeded from the divine essence. The idea of pure and absolute spirit is a refinement of modern philosophy: the incorporeal essence, ascribed by the ancients to human souls, celestial beings, and even the Deity himself, does not exclude the notion of extended space; and their imagination was satisfied with a subtile nature of air, or fire, or aether, incomparably more perfect than the grossness of the material world. If we define the place, we must describe the figure, of the Deity. Our experience, perhaps our vanity, represents the powers of reason and virtue under a human form. The Anthropomorphites, who swarmed among the monks of Egypt and the Catholics of Africa, could produce the express declaration of Scripture, that man was made after the image of his Creator. [12] The venerable Serapion, one of the saints of the Nitrian deserts, relinquished, with many a tear, his darling prejudice; and bewailed, like an infant, his unlucky conversion, which had stolen away his God, and left his mind without any visible object of faith or devotion. [13]

[Footnote 12: The pilgrim Cassian, who visited Egypt in the beginning of the vth century, observes and laments the reign of anthropomorphism among the monks, who were not conscious that they embraced the system of Epicurus, (Cicero, de Nat. Deorum, i. 18, 34.) Ab universo propemodum genere monachorum, qui per totam provinciam Egyptum morabantur, pro simplicitatis errore susceptum est, ut e contraric memoratum pontificem (Theophilus) velut haeresi gravissima depravatum, pars maxima seniorum ab universo fraternitatis corpore decerneret detestandum, (Cassian, Collation. x. 2.) As long as St. Augustin remained a Manichaean, he was scandalized by the anthropomorphism of the vulgar Catholics.]

[Footnote 13: Ita est in oratione senex mente confusus, eo quod illam imaginem Deitatis, quam proponere sibi in oratione consueverat, aboleri de suo corde sentiret, ut in amarissimos fletus, crebrosque singultus repente prorumpens, in terram prostratus, cum ejulatu validissimo proclamaret; "Heu me miserum! tulerunt a me Deum meum, et quem nunc teneam non habeo, vel quem adorem, aut interpallam am nescio." Cassian, Collat. x. 2.]

III. Such were the fleeting shadows of the Docetes. A more substantial, though less simple, hypothesis, was contrived by Cerinthus of Asia, [14] who dared to oppose the last of the apostles. Placed on the confines of the Jewish and Gentile world, he labored to reconcile the Gnostic with the Ebionite, by confessing in the same Messiah the supernatural union of a man and a God; and this mystic doctrine was adopted with many fanciful improvements by Carpocrates, Basilides, and Valentine, [15] the heretics of the Egyptian school. In their eyes, Jesus of Nazareth was a mere mortal, the legitimate son of Joseph and Mary: but he was the best and wisest of the human race, selected as the worthy instrument to restore upon earth the worship of the true and supreme Deity. When he was baptized in the Jordan, the Christ, the first of the aeons, the Son of God himself, descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, to inhabit his mind, and direct his actions during the allotted period of his ministry. When the Messiah was delivered into the hands of the Jews, the Christ, an immortal and impassible being, forsook his earthly tabernacle, flew back to the pleroma or world of spirits, and left the solitary Jesus to suffer, to complain, and to expire. But the justice and generosity of such a desertion are strongly questionable; and the fate of an innocent martyr, at first impelled, and at length abandoned, by his divine companion, might provoke the pity and indignation of the profane. Their murmurs were variously silenced by the sectaries who espoused and modified the double system of Cerinthus. It was alleged, that when Jesus was nailed to the cross, he was endowed with a miraculous apathy of mind and body, which rendered him insensible of his apparent sufferings. It was affirmed, that these momentary, though real, pangs would be abundantly repaid by the temporal reign of a thousand years reserved for the Messiah in his kingdom of the new Jerusalem. It was insinuated, that if he suffered, he deserved to suffer; that human nature is never absolutely perfect; and that the cross and passion might serve to expiate the venial transgressions of the son of Joseph, before his mysterious union with the Son of God. [16]

[Footnote 14: St. John and Cerinthus (A.D. 80. Cleric. Hist. Eccles. p. 493) accidentally met in the public bath of Ephesus; but the apostle fled from the heretic, lest the building should tumble on their heads. This foolish story, reprobated by Dr. Middleton, (Miscellaneous Works, vol. ii.,) is related, however, by Irenaeus, (iii. 3,) on the evidence of Polycarp, and was probably suited to the time and residence of Cerinthus. The obsolete, yet probably the true, reading of 1 John, iv. 3 alludes to the double nature of that primitive heretic. * Note: Griesbach asserts that all the Greek Mss., all the translators, and all the Greek fathers, support the common reading.—Nov. Test. in loc.—M]

[Footnote 15: The Valentinians embraced a complex, and almost incoherent, system. 1. Both Christ and Jesus were aeons, though of different degrees; the one acting as the rational soul, the other as the divine spirit of the Savior. 2. At the time of the passion, they both retired, and left only a sensitive soul and a human body. 3. Even that body was aethereal, and perhaps apparent.—Such are the laborious conclusions of Mosheim. But I much doubt whether the Latin translator understood Irenaeus, and whether Irenaeus and the Valetinians understood themselves.]

[Footnote 16: The heretics abused the passionate exclamation of "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Rousseau, who has drawn an eloquent, but indecent, parallel between Christ and Socrates, forgets that not a word of impatience or despair escaped from the mouth of the dying philosopher. In the Messiah, such sentiments could be only apparent; and such ill-sounding words were properly explained as the application of a psalm and prophecy.]

IV. All those who believe the immateriality of the soul, a specious and noble tenet, must confess, from their present experience, the incomprehensible union of mind and matter. A similar union is not inconsistent with a much higher, or even with the highest, degree of mental faculties; and the incarnation of an aeon or archangel, the most perfect of created spirits, does not involve any positive contradiction or absurdity. In the age of religious freedom, which was determined by the council of Nice, the dignity of Christ was measured by private judgment according to the indefinite rule of Scripture, or reason, or tradition. But when his pure and proper divinity had been established on the ruins of Arianism, the faith of the Catholics trembled on the edge of a precipice where it was impossible to recede, dangerous to stand, dreadful to fall and the manifold inconveniences of their creed were aggravated by the sublime character of their theology. They hesitated to pronounce; that God himself, the second person of an equal and consubstantial trinity, was manifested in the flesh; [17] that a being who pervades the universe, had been confined in the womb of Mary; that his eternal duration had been marked by the days, and months, and years of human existence; that the Almighty had been scourged and crucified; that his impassible essence had felt pain and anguish; that his omniscience was not exempt from ignorance; and that the source of life and immortality expired on Mount Calvary. These alarming consequences were affirmed with unblushing simplicity by Apollinaris, [18] bishop of Laodicea, and one of the luminaries of the church. The son of a learned grammarian, he was skilled in all the sciences of Greece; eloquence, erudition, and philosophy, conspicuous in the volumes of Apollinaris, were humbly devoted to the service of religion. The worthy friend of Athanasius, the worthy antagonist of Julian, he bravely wrestled with the Arians and Polytheists, and though he affected the rigor of geometrical demonstration, his commentaries revealed the literal and allegorical sense of the Scriptures. A mystery, which had long floated in the looseness of popular belief, was defined by his perverse diligence in a technical form; and he first proclaimed the memorable words, "One incarnate nature of Christ," which are still reechoed with hostile clamors in the churches of Asia, Egypt, and Aethiopia. He taught that the Godhead was united or mingled with the body of a man; and that the Logos, the eternal wisdom, supplied in the flesh the place and office of a human soul. Yet as the profound doctor had been terrified at his own rashness, Apollinaris was heard to mutter some faint accents of excuse and explanation. He acquiesced in the old distinction of the Greek philosophers between the rational and sensitive soul of man; that he might reserve the Logos for intellectual functions, and employ the subordinate human principle in the meaner actions of animal life.

With the moderate Docetes, he revered Mary as the spiritual, rather than as the carnal, mother of Christ, whose body either came from heaven, impassible and incorruptible, or was absorbed, and as it were transformed, into the essence of the Deity. The system of Apollinaris was strenuously encountered by the Asiatic and Syrian divines whose schools are honored by the names of Basil, Gregory and Chrysostom, and tainted by those of Diodorus, Theodore, and Nestorius. But the person of the aged bishop of Laedicea, his character and dignity, remained inviolate; and his rivals, since we may not suspect them of the weakness of toleration, were astonished, perhaps, by the novelty of the argument, and diffident of the final sentence of the Catholic church. Her judgment at length inclined in their favor; the heresy of Apollinaris was condemned, and the separate congregations of his disciples were proscribed by the Imperial laws. But his principles were secretly entertained in the monasteries of Egypt, and his enemies felt the hatred of Theophilus and Cyril, the successive patriarchs of Alexandria. [Footnote 17: This strong expression might be justified by the language of St. Paul, (1 Tim. iii. 16;) but we are deceived by our modern Bibles. The word which was altered to God at Constantinople in the beginning of the vith century: the true reading, which is visible in the Latin and Syriac versions, still exists in the reasoning of the Greek, as well as of the Latin fathers; and this fraud, with that of the three witnesses of St. John, is admirably detected by Sir Isaac Newton. (See his two letters translated by M. de Missy, in the Journal Britannique, tom. xv. p. 148—190, 351—390.) I have weighed the arguments, and may yield to the authority of the first of philosophers, who was deeply skilled in critical and theological studies. Note: It should be Griesbach in loc. The weight of authority is so much against the common reading in both these points, that they are no longer urged by prudent controversialists. Would Gibbon's deference for the first of philosophers have extended to all his theological conclusions?—M.]

[Footnote 18: For Apollinaris and his sect, see Socrates, l. ii. c. 46, l. iii. c. 16 Sazomen, l. v. c. 18, 1. vi. c. 25, 27. Theodoret, l. v. 3, 10, 11. Tillemont, Memoires Ecclesiastiques, tom. vii. p. 602—638. Not. p. 789—794, in 4to. Venise, 1732. The contemporary saint always mentions the bishop of Laodicea as a friend and brother. The style of the more recent historians is harsh and hostile: yet Philostorgius compares him (l. viii. c. 11-15) to Basil and Gregory.]

V. The grovelling Ebionite, and the fantastic Docetes, were rejected and forgotten: the recent zeal against the errors of Apollinaris reduced the Catholics to a seeming agreement with the double nature of Cerinthus. But instead of a temporary and occasional alliance, they established, and we still embrace, the substantial, indissoluble, and everlasting union of a perfect God with a perfect man, of the second person of the trinity with a reasonable soul and human flesh. In the beginning of the fifth century, the unity of the two natures was the prevailing doctrine of the church. On all sides, it was confessed, that the mode of their coexistence could neither be represented by our ideas, nor expressed by our language. Yet a secret and incurable discord was cherished, between those who were most apprehensive of confounding, and those who were most fearful of separating, the divinity, and the humanity, of Christ. Impelled by religious frenzy, they fled with adverse haste from the error which they mutually deemed most destructive of truth and salvation. On either hand they were anxious to guard, they were jealous to defend, the union and the distinction of the two natures, and to invent such forms of speech, such symbols of doctrine, as were least susceptible of doubt or ambiguity. The poverty of ideas and language tempted them to ransack art and nature for every possible comparison, and each comparison mislead their fancy in the explanation of an incomparable mystery. In the polemic microscope, an atom is enlarged to a monster, and each party was skilful to exaggerate the absurd or impious conclusions that might be extorted from the principles of their adversaries. To escape from each other, they wandered through many a dark and devious thicket, till they were astonished by the horrid phantoms of Cerinthus and Apollinaris, who guarded the opposite issues of the theological labyrinth. As soon as they beheld the twilight of sense and heresy, they started, measured back their steps, and were again involved in the gloom of impenetrable orthodoxy. To purge themselves from the guilt or reproach of damnable error, they disavowed their consequences, explained their principles, excused their indiscretions, and unanimously pronounced the sounds of concord and faith. Yet a latent and almost invisible spark still lurked among the embers of controversy: by the breath of prejudice and passion, it was quickly kindled to a mighty flame, and the verbal disputes [19] of the Oriental sects have shaken the pillars of the church and state.

[Footnote 19: I appeal to the confession of two Oriental prelates, Gregory Abulpharagius the Jacobite primate of the East, and Elias the Nestorian metropolitan of Damascus, (see Asseman, Bibliothec. Oriental. tom. ii. p. 291, tom. iii. p. 514, &c.,) that the Melchites, Jacobites, Nestorians, &c., agree in the doctrine, and differ only in the expression. Our most learned and rational divines—Basnage, Le Clerc, Beausobre, La Croze, Mosheim, Jablonski—are inclined to favor this charitable judgment; but the zeal of Petavius is loud and angry, and the moderation of Dupin is conveyed in a whisper.]

The name of Cyril of Alexandria is famous in controversial story, and the title of saint is a mark that his opinions and his party have finally prevailed. In the house of his uncle, the archbishop Theophilus, he imbibed the orthodox lessons of zeal and dominion, and five years of his youth were profitably spent in the adjacent monasteries of Nitria. Under the tuition of the abbot Serapion, he applied himself to ecclesiastical studies, with such indefatigable ardor, that in the course of one sleepless night, he has perused the four Gospels, the Catholic Epistles, and the Epistle to the Romans. Origen he detested; but the writings of Clemens and Dionysius, of Athanasius and Basil, were continually in his hands: by the theory and practice of dispute, his faith was confirmed and his wit was sharpened; he extended round his cell the cobwebs of scholastic theology, and meditated the works of allegory and metaphysics, whose remains, in seven verbose folios, now peaceably slumber by the side of their rivals. [20] Cyril prayed and fasted in the desert, but his thoughts (it is the reproach of a friend) [21] were still fixed on the world; and the call of Theophilus, who summoned him to the tumult of cities and synods, was too readily obeyed by the aspiring hermit. With the approbation of his uncle, he assumed the office, and acquired the fame, of a popular preacher. His comely person adorned the pulpit; the harmony of his voice resounded in the cathedral; his friends were stationed to lead or second the applause of the congregation; [22] and the hasty notes of the scribes preserved his discourses, which in their effect, though not in their composition, might be compared with those of the Athenian orators. The death of Theophilus expanded and realized the hopes of his nephew. The clergy of Alexandria was divided; the soldiers and their general supported the claims of the archdeacon; but a resistless multitude, with voices and with hands, asserted the cause of their favorite; and after a period of thirty-nine years, Cyril was seated on the throne of Athanasius. [23]

[Footnote 20: La Croze (Hist. du Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 24) avows his contempt for the genius and writings of Cyril. De tous les on vrages des anciens, il y en a peu qu'on lise avec moins d'utilite: and Dupin, (Bibliotheque Ecclesiastique, tom. iv. p. 42—52,) in words of respect, teaches us to despise them.]

[Footnote 21: Of Isidore of Pelusium, (l. i. epist. 25, p. 8.) As the letter is not of the most creditable sort, Tillemont, less sincere than the Bollandists, affects a doubt whether this Cyril is the nephew of Theophilus, (Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 268.)]

[Footnote 22: A grammarian is named by Socrates (l. vii. c. 13).]

[Footnote 23: See the youth and promotion of Cyril, in Socrates, (l. vii. c. 7) and Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarchs. Alexandrin. p. 106, 108.) The Abbe Renaudot drew his materials from the Arabic history of Severus, bishop of Hermopolis Magma, or Ashmunein, in the xth century, who can never be trusted, unless our assent is extorted by the internal evidence of facts.]



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part II.

The prize was not unworthy of his ambition. At a distance from the court, and at the head of an immense capital, the patriarch, as he was now styled, of Alexandria had gradually usurped the state and authority of a civil magistrate. The public and private charities of the city were blindly obeyed by his numerous and fanatic parabolani, [24] familiarized in their daily office with scenes of death; and the praefects of Egypt were awed or provoked by the temporal power of these Christian pontiffs. Ardent in the prosecution of heresy, Cyril auspiciously opened his reign by oppressing the Novatians, the most innocent and harmless of the sectaries. The interdiction of their religious worship appeared in his eyes a just and meritorious act; and he confiscated their holy vessels, without apprehending the guilt of sacrilege. The toleration, and even the privileges of the Jews, who had multiplied to the number of forty thousand, were secured by the laws of the Caesars and Ptolemies, and a long prescription of seven hundred years since the foundation of Alexandria. Without any legal sentence, without any royal mandate, the patriarch, at the dawn of day, led a seditious multitude to the attack of the synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of resistance; their houses of prayer were levelled with the ground, and the episcopal warrior, after-rewarding his troops with the plunder of their goods, expelled from the city the remnant of the unbelieving nation. Perhaps he might plead the insolence of their prosperity, and their deadly hatred of the Christians, whose blood they had recently shed in a malicious or accidental tumult.

Such crimes would have deserved the animadversion of the magistrate; but in this promiscuous outrage, the innocent were confounded with the guilty, and Alexandria was impoverished by the loss of a wealthy and industrious colony. The zeal of Cyril exposed him to the penalties of the Julian law; but in a feeble government and a superstitious age, he was secure of impunity, and even of praise. Orestes complained; but his just complaints were too quickly forgotten by the ministers of Theodosius, and too deeply remembered by a priest who affected to pardon, and continued to hate, the praefect of Egypt. As he passed through the streets, his chariot was assaulted by a band of five hundred of the Nitrian monks his guards fled from the wild beasts of the desert; his protestations that he was a Christian and a Catholic were answered by a volley of stones, and the face of Orestes was covered with blood. The loyal citizens of Alexandria hastened to his rescue; he instantly satisfied his justice and revenge against the monk by whose hand he had been wounded, and Ammonius expired under the rod of the lictor. At the command of Cyril his body was raised from the ground, and transported, in solemn procession, to the cathedral; the name of Ammonius was changed to that of Thaumasius the wonderful; his tomb was decorated with the trophies of martyrdom, and the patriarch ascended the pulpit to celebrate the magnanimity of an assassin and a rebel. Such honors might incite the faithful to combat and die under the banners of the saint; and he soon prompted, or accepted, the sacrifice of a virgin, who professed the religion of the Greeks, and cultivated the friendship of Orestes. Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the mathematician, [25] was initiated in her father's studies; her learned comments have elucidated the geometry of Apollonius and Diophantus, and she publicly taught, both at Athens and Alexandria, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. In the bloom of beauty, and in the maturity of wisdom, the modest maid refused her lovers and instructed her disciples; the persons most illustrious for their rank or merit were impatient to visit the female philosopher; and Cyril beheld, with a jealous eye, the gorgeous train of horses and slaves who crowded the door of her academy. A rumor was spread among the Christians, that the daughter of Theon was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the praefect and the archbishop; and that obstacle was speedily removed. On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader, and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp cyster shells, [26] and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts; but the murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria. [27]

[Footnote 24: The Parabolani of Alexandria were a charitable corporation, instituted during the plague of Gallienus, to visit the sick and to bury the dead. They gradually enlarged, abused, and sold the privileges of their order. Their outrageous conduct during the reign of Cyril provoked the emperor to deprive the patriarch of their nomination, and to restrain their number to five or six hundred. But these restraints were transient and ineffectual. See the Theodosian Code, l. xvi. tit. ii. and Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 276—278.]

[Footnote 25: For Theon and his daughter Hypatia. see Fabricius, Bibliothec. tom. viii. p. 210, 211. Her article in the Lexicon of Suidas is curious and original. Hesychius (Meursii Opera, tom. vii. p. 295, 296) observes, that he was persecuted; and an epigram in the Greek Anthology (l. i. c. 76, p. 159, edit. Brodaei) celebrates her knowledge and eloquence. She is honorably mentioned (Epist. 10, 15 16, 33—80, 124, 135, 153) by her friend and disciple the philosophic bishop Synesius.]

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