History of the Wars, Books I and II (of 8) - The Persian War
by Procopius
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With an English Translation by H. B. Dewing

In Seven Volumes



London William Heinemann Ltd Cambridge, Massachusetts Harvard University Press


First Printed 1914





BOOK II.—THE PERSIAN WAR (continued) 259


Procopius is known to posterity as the historian of the eventful reign of Justinian (527-565 A.D.), and the chronicler of the great deeds of the general Belisarius. He was born late in the fifth century in the city of Caesarea in Palestine. As to his education and early years we are not informed, but we know that he studied to fit himself for the legal profession. He came as a young man to Constantinople, and seems to have made his mark immediately. For as early as the year 527 he was appointed legal adviser and private secretary[1] to Belisarius, then a very young man who had been serving on the staff of the general Justinian, and had only recently been advanced to the office of general. Shortly after this Justinian was called by his uncle Justinus to share the throne of the Roman Empire, and four months later Justinus died, leaving Justinian sole emperor of the Romans. Thus the stage was set for the scenes which are presented in the pages of Procopius. His own activity continued till well nigh the end of Justinian's life, and he seems to have outlived his hero, Belisarius.

During the eventful years of Belisarius' campaigning in Africa, in Italy, and in the East, Procopius was moving about with him and was an eye-witness of the events he describes in his writings. In 527 we find him in Mesopotamia; in 533 he accompanied Belisarius to Africa; and in 536 he journeyed with him to Italy. He was therefore quite correct in the assertion which he makes rather modestly in the introduction of his history, that he was better qualified than anyone else to write the history of that period. Besides his intimacy with Belisarius it should be added that his position gave him the further advantage of a certain standing at the imperial court in Constantinople, and brought him the acquaintance of many of the leading men of his day. Thus we have the testimony of one intimately associated with the administration, and this, together with the importance of the events through which he lived, makes his record exceedingly interesting as well as historically important. One must admit that his position was not one to encourage impartiality in his presentation of facts, and that the imperial favour was not won by plain speaking; nevertheless we have before us a man who could not obliterate himself enough to play the abject flatterer always, and he gives us the reverse, too, of his brilliant picture, as we shall see presently.

Procopius' three works give us a fairly complete account of the reign of Justinian up till near the year 560 A.D., and he has done us the favour of setting forth three different points of view which vary so widely that posterity has sometimes found it difficult to reconcile them. His greatest work, as well as his earliest, is the History of the Wars, in eight books. The material is not arranged strictly according to chronological sequence, but so that the progress of events may be traced separately in each one of three wars. Thus the first two books are given over to the Persian wars, the next two contain the account of the war waged against the Vandals in Africa, the three following describe the struggle against the Goths in Italy. These seven books were published together first, and the eighth book was added later as a supplement to bring the history up to about the date of 554, being a general account of events in different parts of the empire. It is necessary to bear in mind that the wars described separately by Procopius overlapped one another in time, and that while the Romans were striving to hold back the Persian aggressor they were also maintaining armies in Africa and in Italy. In fact the Byzantine empire was making a supreme effort to re-establish the old boundaries, and to reclaim the territories lost to the barbarian nations. The emperor Justinian was fired by the ambition to make the Roman Empire once more a world power, and he drained every resource in his eagerness to make possible the fulfilment of this dream. It was a splendid effort, but it was doomed to failure; the fallen edifice could not be permanently restored.

The history is more general than the title would imply, and all the important events of the time are touched upon. So while we read much of the campaigns against the nations who were crowding back the boundaries of the old empire, we also hear of civic affairs such as the great Nika insurrection in Byzantium in 532; similarly a careful account is given of the pestilence of 540, and the care shewn in describing the nature of the disease shews plainly that the author must have had some acquaintance with the medical science of the time.

After the seventh book of the History of the Wars Procopius wrote the Anecdota, or Secret History. Here he freed himself from all the restraints of respect or fear, and set down without scruple everything which he had been led to suppress or gloss over in the History through motives of policy. He attacks unmercifully the emperor and empress and even Belisarius and his wife Antonina, and displays to us one of the blackest pictures ever set down in writing. It is a record of wanton crime and shameless debauchery, of intrigue and scandal both in public and in private life. It is plain that the thing is overdone, and the very extravagance of the calumny makes it impossible to be believed; again and again we meet statements which, if not absolutely impossible, are at least highly improbable. Many of the events of the History are presented in an entirely new light; we seem to hear one speaking out of the bitterness of his heart. It should be said, at the same time, that there are very few contradictions in statements of fact. The author has plainly singled out the empress Theodora as the principal victim of his venomous darts, and he gives an account of her early years which is both shocking and disgusting, but which, happily, we are not forced to regard as true. It goes without saying that such a work as this could not have been published during the lifetime of the author, and it appears that it was not given to the world until after the death of Justinian in 565.

Serious doubts have been entertained in times past as to the authenticity of the Anecdota, for at first sight it seems impossible that the man who wrote in the calm tone of the History and who indulged in the fulsome praise of the panegyric On the Buildings could have also written the bitter libels of the Anecdota. It has come to be seen, however, that this feeling is not supported by any unanswerable arguments, and it is now believed to be highly probable at least, that the Anecdota is the work of Procopius. Its bitterness may be extreme and its calumnies exaggerated beyond all reason, but it must be regarded as prompted by a reaction against the hollow life of the Byzantine court.

The third work is entitled On the Buildings, and is plainly an attempt to gain favour with the emperor. We can only guess as to what the immediate occasion was for its composition. It is plain, however, that the publication of the History could not have aroused the enthusiasm of Justinian; there was no attempt in it to praise the emperor, and one might even read an unfavourable judgment between the lines. And it is not at all unlikely that he was moved to envy by the praises bestowed upon his general, Belisarius. At any rate the work On the Buildings is written in the empty style of the fawning flatterer. It is divided into six short books and contains an account of all the public buildings of Justinian's reign in every district of the empire. The subject was well chosen and the material ample, and Procopius lost no opportunity of lauding his sovereign to the skies. It is an excellent example of the florid panegyric style which was, unfortunately, in great favour with the literary world of his own as well as later Byzantine times. But in spite of its faults, this work is a record of the greatest importance for the study of the period, since it is a storehouse of information concerning the internal administration of the empire.

The style of Procopius is in general clear and straightforward, and shews the mind of one who endeavours to speak the truth in simple language wherever he is not under constraint to avoid it. At the same time he is not ignorant of the arts of rhetoric, and especially in the speeches he is fond of introducing sounding phrases and sententious statements. He was a great admirer of the classical writers of prose, and their influence is everywhere apparent in his writing; in particular he is much indebted to the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, and he borrows from them many expressions and turns of phrase. But the Greek which he writes is not the pure Attic, and we find many evidences of the influence of the contemporary spoken language.

Procopius writes at times as a Christian, and at times as one imbued with the ideas of the ancient religion of Greece. Doubtless his study of the classical writers led him into this, perhaps unconsciously. At any rate it seems not to have been with him a matter in which even consistency was demanded. It was politic to espouse the religion of the state, but still he often allows himself to speak as if he were a contemporary of Thucydides.

The text followed is that of Haury, issued in the Teubner series, 1905-1913.


The editio princeps of Procopius was published by David Hoeschel, Augsburg, 1607; the Secret History was not included, and only summaries of the six books of the work On the Buildings were given. The edition is not important except as being the first.

The Secret History was printed for the first time separately with a Latin translation by Alemannus, Lyon, 1623.

The first complete edition was that of Maltretus, Paris, 1661-63, reprinted in Venice, 1729; the edition included a Latin translation of all the works, which was taken over into the edition of Procopius in the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae by Dindorf, Bonn, 1833-38.

Two editions of recent years are to be mentioned: Domenico Comparetti, La Guerra Gotica di Procopio di Cesarea; testo Greco emendato sui manoscritti con traduxione Italiana, Rome, 1895-98; 3 vols. Jacobus Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, Leipzig, 1905-13; 3 vols. (Bibl. Teub.).

Among a number of works on Procopius or on special subjects connected with his writings the following may be mentioned:

Felix Dahn: Procopius von Caesarea, Berlin, 1865.

Julius Jung: Geographisch-Historisches bei Procopius von Caesarea, Wiener Studien 5 (1883) 85-115.

W. Gundlach: Quaestiones Procopianae, Progr. Hanau, 1861, also Dissert. Marburg, 1861.

J. Haury: Procopiana, Progr. Augsburg, 1891.

B. Pancenko: Ueber die Geheimgeschichte des Prokop, Viz. Vrem. 2 (1895).

J. Haury: Zur Beurteilung des Geschichtschreibers Procopius von Caesarea, Munich, 1896-97.

1971. The Teubner edition in 4 volumes by J. Haury (1905-1913) has been re-edited by G. Wirth.



[Greek: xymboulos], Proc. Bell. I. xii. 24. He is elsewhere referred to as [Greek: paredros] or [Greek: hypographeus].









Procopius of Caesarea has written the history of the wars which Justinian, Emperor of the Romans, waged against the barbarians of the East and of the West, relating separately the events of each one, to the end that the long course of time may not overwhelm deeds of singular importance through lack of a record, and thus abandon them to oblivion and utterly obliterate them. The memory of these events he deemed would be a great thing and most helpful to men of the present time, and to future generations as well, in case time should ever again place men under a similar stress. For men who purpose to enter upon a war or are preparing themselves for any kind of struggle may derive some benefit from a narrative of a similar situation in history, inasmuch as this discloses the final result attained by men of an earlier day in a struggle of the same sort, and foreshadows, at least for those who are most prudent in planning, what outcome present events will probably have. Furthermore he had assurance that he was especially competent to write the history of these events, if for no other reason, because it fell to his lot, when appointed adviser to the general Belisarius, to be an eye-witness of practically all the events to be described. It was his conviction that while cleverness is appropriate to rhetoric, and inventiveness to poetry, truth alone is appropriate to history. In accordance with this principle he has not concealed the failures of even his most intimate acquaintances, but has written down with complete accuracy everything which befell those concerned, whether it happened to be done well or ill by them.

It will be evident that no more important or mightier deeds are to be found in history than those which have been enacted in these wars,—provided one wishes to base his judgment on the truth. For in them more remarkable feats have been performed than in any other wars with which we are acquainted; unless, indeed, any reader of this narrative should give the place of honour to antiquity, and consider contemporary achievements unworthy to be counted remarkable. There are those, for example, who call the soldiers of the present day "bowmen," while to those of the most ancient times they wish to attribute such lofty terms as "hand-to-hand fighters," "shield-men," and other names of that sort; and they think that the valour of those times has by no means survived to the present,—an opinion which is at once careless and wholly remote from actual experience of these matters. For the thought has never occurred to them that, as regards the Homeric bowmen who had the misfortune to be ridiculed by this term[1] derived from their art, they were neither carried by horse nor protected by spear or shield[2]. In fact there was no protection at all for their bodies; they entered battle on foot, and were compelled to conceal themselves, either singling out the shield of some comrade[3], or seeking safety behind a tombstone on a mound[4], from which position they could neither save themselves in case of rout, nor fall upon a flying foe. Least of all could they participate in a decisive struggle in the open, but they always seemed to be stealing something which belonged to the men who were engaged in the struggle. And apart from this they were so indifferent in their practice of archery that they drew the bowstring only to the breast[5], so that the missile sent forth was naturally impotent and harmless to those whom it hit[6]. Such, it is evident, was the archery of the past. But the bowmen of the present time go into battle wearing corselets and fitted out with greaves which extend up to the knee. From the right side hang their arrows, from the other the sword. And there are some who have a spear also attached to them and, at the shoulders, a sort of small shield without a grip, such as to cover the region of the face and neck. They are expert horsemen, and are able without difficulty to direct their bows to either side while riding at full speed, and to shoot an opponent whether in pursuit or in flight. They draw the bowstring along by the forehead about opposite the right ear, thereby charging the arrow with such an impetus as to kill whoever stands in the way, shield and corselet alike having no power to check its force. Still there are those who take into consideration none of these things, who reverence and worship the ancient times, and give no credit to modern improvements. But no such consideration will prevent the conclusion that most great and notable deeds have been performed in these wars. And the history of them will begin at some distance back, telling of the fortunes in war of the Romans and the Medes, their reverses and their successes.


[408 A.D.] When the Roman Emperor Arcadius was at the point of death in Byzantium, having a malechild, Theodosius, who was still unweaned, he felt grave fears not only for him but for the government as well, not knowing how he should provide wisely for both. For he perceived that, if he provided a partner in government for Theodosius, he would in fact be destroying his own son by bringing forward against him a foe clothed in the regal power; while if he set him alone over the empire, many would try to mount the throne, taking advantage, as they might be expected to do, of the helplessness of the child. These men would rise against the government, and, after destroying Theodosius, would make themselves tyrants without difficulty, since the boy had no kinsman in Byzantium to be his guardian. For Arcadius had no hope that the boy's uncle, Honorius, would succour him, inasmuch as the situation in Italy was already troublesome. And he was equally disturbed by the attitude of the Medes, fearing lest these barbarians should trample down the youthful emperor and do the Romans irreparable harm. When Arcadius was confronted with this difficult situation, though he had not shewn himself sagacious in other matters, he devised a plan which was destined to preserve without trouble both his child and his throne, either as a result of conversation with certain of the learned men, such as are usually found in numbers among the advisers of a sovereign, or from some divine inspiration which came to him. For in drawing up the writings of his will, he designated the child as his successor to the throne, but appointed as guardian over him Isdigerdes, the Persian King, enjoining upon him earnestly in his will to preserve the empire for Theodosius by all his power and foresight. So Arcadius died, having thus arranged his private affairs as well as those of the empire. But Isdigerdes, the Persian King, when he saw this writing which was duly delivered to him, being even before a sovereign whose nobility of character had won for him the greatest renown, did then display a virtue at once amazing and remarkable. For, loyally observing the behests of Arcadius, he adopted and continued without interruption a policy of profound peace with the Romans, and thus preserved the empire for Theodosius. Indeed, he straightway dispatched a letter to the Roman senate, not declining the office of guardian of the Emperor Theodosius, and threatening war against any who should attempt to enter into a conspiracy against him.

[441 A.D.] When Theodosius had grown to manhood and was in the prime of life, and Isdigerdes had been taken from the world by disease, Vararanes, the Persian King, invaded the Roman domains with a mighty army; however he did no damage, but returned to his home without accomplishing anything. This came about in the following way. Anatolius, General of the East, had, as it happened, been sent by the Emperor Theodosius as ambassador to the Persians, alone and unaccompanied; as he approached the Median army, solitary as he was, he leapt down from his horse, and advanced on foot toward Vararanes. And when Vararanes saw him, he enquired from those who were near who this man could be who was coming forward. And they replied that he was the general of the Romans. Thereupon the king was so dumbfounded by this excessive degree of respect that he himself wheeled his horse about and rode away, and the whole Persian host followed him. When he had reached his own territory, he received the envoy with great cordiality, and granted the treaty of peace on the terms which Anatolius desired of him; one condition, however, he added, that neither party should construct any new fortification in his own territory in the neighbourhood of the boundary line between the two countries. When this treaty had been executed, both sovereigns then continued to administer the affairs of their respective countries as seemed best to them.


At a later time the Persian King Perozes became involved in a war concerning boundaries with the nation of the Ephthalitae Huns, who are called White Huns, gathered an imposing army, and marched against them. The Ephthalitae are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name; however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us, for they occupy a land neither adjoining nor even very near to them; but their territory lies immediately to the north of Persia; indeed their city, called Gorgo, is located over against the Persian frontier, and is consequently the centre of frequent contests concerning boundary lines between the two peoples. For they are not nomads like the other Hunnic peoples, but for a long period have been established in a goodly land. As a result of this they have never made any incursion into the Roman territory except in company with the Median army. They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies and countenances which are not ugly. It is also true that their manner of living is unlike that of their kinsmen, nor do they live a savage life as they do; but they are ruled by one king, and since they possess a lawful constitution, they observe right and justice in their dealings both with one another and with their neighbours, in no degree less than the Romans and the Persians. Moreover, the wealthy citizens are in the habit of attaching to themselves friends to the number of twenty or more, as the case may be, and these become permanently their banquet-companions, and have a share in all their property, enjoying some kind of a common right in this matter. Then, when the man who has gathered such a company together comes to die, it is the custom that all these men be borne alive into the tomb with him.

Perozes, marching against these Ephthalitae, was accompanied by an ambassador, Eusebius by name, who, as it happened, had been sent to his court by the Emperor Zeno. Now the Ephthalitae made it appear to their enemy that they had turned to flight because they were wholly terrified by their attack, and they retired with all speed to a place which was shut in on every side by precipitous mountains, and abundantly screened by a close forest of wide-spreading trees. Now as one advanced between the mountains to a great distance, a broad way appeared in the valley, extending apparently to an indefinite distance, but at the end it had no outlet at all, but terminated in the very midst of the circle of mountains. So Perozes, with no thought at all of treachery, and forgetting that he was marching in a hostile country, continued the pursuit without the least caution. A small body of the Huns were in flight before him, while the greater part of their force, by concealing themselves in the rough country, got in the rear of the hostile army; but as yet they desired not to be seen by them, in order that they might advance well into the trap and get as far as possible in among the mountains, and thus be no longer able to turn back. When the Medes began to realize all this (for they now began to have a glimmering of their peril), though they refrained from speaking of the situation themselves through fear of Perozes, yet they earnestly entreated Eusebius to urge upon the king, who was completely ignorant of his own plight, that he should take counsel rather than make an untimely display of daring, and consider well whether there was any way of safety open to them. So he went before Perozes, but by no means revealed the calamity which was upon them; instead he began with a fable, telling how a lion once happened upon a goat bound down and bleating on a mound of no very great height, and how the lion, bent upon making a feast of the goat, rushed forward with intent to seize him, but fell into a trench exceedingly deep, in which was a circular path, narrow and endless (for it had no outlet anywhere), which indeed the owners of the goat had constructed for this very purpose, and they had placed the goat above it to be a bait for the lion. When Perozes heard this, a fear came over him lest perchance the Medes had brought harm upon themselves by their pursuit of the enemy. He therefore advanced no further, but, remaining where he was, began to consider the situation. By this time the Huns were following him without any concealment, and were guarding the entrance of the place in order that their enemy might no longer be able to withdraw to the rear. Then at last the Persians saw clearly in what straits they were, and they felt that the situation was desperate; for they had no hope that they would ever escape from the peril. Then the king of the Ephthalitae sent some of his followers to Perozes; he upbraided him at length for his senseless foolhardiness, by which he had wantonly destroyed both himself and the Persian people, but he announced that even so the Huns would grant them deliverance, if Perozes should consent to prostrate himself before him as having proved himself master, and, taking the oaths traditional among the Persians, should give pledges that they would never again take the field against the nation of the Ephthalitae. When Perozes heard this, he held a consultation with the Magi who were present and enquired of them whether he must comply with the terms dictated by the enemy. The Magi replied that, as to the oath, he should settle the matter according to his own pleasure; as for the rest, however, he should circumvent his enemy by craft. And they reminded him that it was the custom among the Persians to prostrate themselves before the rising sun each day; he should, therefore, watch the time closely and meet the leader of the Ephthalitae at dawn, and then, turning toward the rising sun, make his obeisance. In this way, they explained, he would be able in the future to escape the ignominy of the deed. Perozes accordingly gave the pledges concerning the peace, and prostrated himself before his foe exactly as the Magi had suggested, and so, with the whole Median army intact, gladly retired homeward.


Not long after this, disregarding the oath he had sworn, he was eager to avenge himself upon the Huns for the insult done him. He therefore straightway gathered together from the whole land all the Persians and their allies, and led them against the Ephthalitae; of all his sons he left behind him only one, Cabades by name, who, as it happened, was just past the age of boyhood; all the others, about thirty in number, he took with him. The Ephthalitae, upon learning of his invasion, were aggrieved at the deception they had suffered at the hands of their enemy, and bitterly reproached their king as having abandoned them to the Medes. He, with a laugh, enquired of them what in the world of theirs he had abandoned, whether their land or their arms or any other part of their possessions. They thereupon retorted that he had abandoned nothing, except, forsooth, the one opportunity on which, as it turned out, everything else depended. Now the Ephthalitae with all zeal demanded that they should go out to meet the invaders, but the king sought to restrain them at any rate for the moment. For he insisted that as yet they had received no definite information as to the invasion, for the Persians were still within their own boundaries. So, remaining where he was, he busied himself as follows. In the plain where the Persians were to make their irruption into the land of the Ephthalitae he marked off a tract of very great extent and made a deep trench of sufficient width; but in the centre he left a small portion of ground intact, enough to serve as a way for ten horses. Over the trench he placed reeds, and upon the reeds he scattered earth, thereby concealing the true surface. He then directed the forces of the Huns that, when the time came to retire inside the trench, they should draw themselves together into a narrow column and pass rather slowly across this neck of land, taking care that they should not fall into the ditch[7]. And he hung from the top of the royal banner the salt over which Perozes had once sworn the oath which he had disregarded in taking the field against the Huns. Now as long as he heard that the enemy were in their own territory, he remained at rest; but when he learned from his scouts that they had reached the city of Gorgo which lies on the extreme Persian frontier, and that departing thence they were now advancing against his army, remaining himself with the greater part of his troops inside the trench, he sent forward a small detachment with instructions to allow themselves to be seen at a distance by the enemy in the plain, and, when once they had been seen, to flee at full speed to the rear, keeping in mind his command concerning the trench as soon as they drew near to it. They did as directed, and, as they approached the trench, they drew themselves into a narrow column, and all passed over and joined the rest of the army. But the Persians, having no means of perceiving the stratagem, gave chase at full speed across a very level plain, possessed as they were by a spirit of fury against the enemy, and fell into the trench, every man of them, not alone the first but also those who followed in the rear. For since they entered into the pursuit with great fury, as I have said, they failed to notice the catastrophe which had befallen their leaders, but fell in on top of them with their horses and lances, so that, as was natural, they both destroyed them, and were themselves no less involved in ruin. Among them were Perozes and all his sons. And just as he was about to fall into this pit, they say that he realized the danger, and seized and threw from him the pearl which hung from his right ear,—a gem of wonderful whiteness and greatly prized on account of its extraordinary size—in order, no doubt, that no one might wear it after him; for it was a thing exceedingly beautiful to look upon, such as no king before him had possessed. This story, however, seems to me untrustworthy, because a man who found himself in such peril would have thought of nothing else; but I suppose that his ear was crushed in this disaster, and the pearl disappeared somewhere or other. This pearl the Roman Emperor then made every effort to buy from the Ephthalitae, but was utterly unsuccessful. For the barbarians were not able to find it although they sought it with great labour. However, they say that the Ephthalitae found it later and sold it to Cabades.

The story of this pearl, as told by the Persians, is worth recounting, for perhaps to some it may not seem altogether incredible. For they say that it was lodged in its oyster in the sea which washes the Persian coast, and that the oyster was swimming not far from the shore; both its valves were standing open and the pearl lay between them, a wonderful sight and notable, for no pearl in all history could be compared with it at all, either in size or in beauty. A shark, then, of enormous size and dreadful fierceness, fell in love with this sight and followed close upon it, leaving it neither day nor night; even when he was compelled to take thought for food, he would only look about for something eatable where he was, and when he found some bit, he would snatch it up and eat it hurriedly; then overtaking the oyster immediately, he would sate himself again with the sight he loved. At length a fisherman, they say, noticed what was passing, but in terror of the monster he recoiled from the danger; however, he reported the whole matter to the king, Perozes. Now when Perozes heard his account, they say that a great longing for the pearl came over him, and he urged on this fisherman with many flatteries and hopes of reward. Unable to resist the importunities of the monarch, he is said to have addressed Perozes as follows: "My master, precious to a man is money, more precious still is his life, but most prized of all are his children; and being naturally constrained by his love for them a man might perhaps dare anything. Now I intend to make trial of the monster, and hope to make thee master of the pearl. And if I succeed in this struggle, it is plain that henceforth I shall be ranked among those who are counted blessed. For it is not unlikely that thou, as King of Kings, wilt reward me with all good things; and for me it will be sufficient, even if it so fall out that I gain no reward, to have shewn myself a benefactor of my master. But if it must needs be that I become the prey of this monster, thy task indeed it will be, O King, to requite my children for their father's death. Thus even after my death I shall still be a wage-earner among those closest to me, and thou wilt win greater fame for thy goodness,—for in helping my children thou wilt confer a boon upon me, who shall have no power to thank thee for the benefit—because generosity is seen to be without alloy only when it is displayed towards the dead." With these words he departed. And when he came to the place where the oyster was accustomed to swim and the shark to follow, he seated himself there upon a rock, watching for an opportunity of catching the pearl alone without its admirer. As soon as it came about that the shark had happened upon something which would serve him for food, and was delaying over it, the fisherman left upon the beach those who were following him for this service, and made straight for the oyster with all his might; already he had seized it and was hastening with all speed to get out of the water, when the shark noticed him and rushed to the rescue. The fisherman saw him coming, and, when he was about to be overtaken not far from the beach, he hurled his booty with all his force upon the land, and was himself soon afterwards seized and destroyed. But the men who had been left upon the beach picked up the pearl, and, conveying it to the king, reported all that had happened. Such, then, is the story which the Persians relate, just as I have set it down, concerning this pearl. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

[484 A.D.] Thus Perozes was destroyed and the whole Persian army with him. For the few who by chance did not fall into the ditch found themselves at the mercy of the enemy. As a result of this experience a law was established among the Persians that, while marching in hostile territory, they should never engage in any pursuit, even if it should happen that the enemy had been driven back by force. Thereupon those who had not marched with Perozes and had remained in their own land chose as their king Cabades, the youngest son of Perozes, who was then the only one surviving. At that time, then, the Persians became subject and tributary to the Ephthalitae, until Cabades had established his power most securely and no longer deemed it necessary to pay the annual tribute to them. And the time these barbarians ruled over the Persians was two years.


But as time went on Cabades became more high-handed in the administration of the government, and introduced innovations into the constitution, among which was a law which he promulgated providing that Persians should have communal intercourse with their women, a measure which by no means pleased the common people. [486 A.D.] Accordingly they rose against him, removed him from the throne, and kept him in prison in chains. They then chose Blases, the brother of Perozes, to be their king, since, as has been said, no male offspring of Perozes was left, and it is not lawful among the Persians for any man by birth a common citizen to be set upon the throne, except in case the royal family be totally extinct. Blases, upon receiving the royal power, gathered together the nobles of the Persians and held a conference concerning Cabades; for it was not the wish of the majority to put the man to death. After the expression of many opinions on both sides there came forward a certain man of repute among the Persians, whose name was Gousanastades, and whose office that of "chanaranges" (which would be the Persian term for general); his official province lay on the very frontier of the Persian territory in a district which adjoins the land of the Ephthalitae. Holding up his knife, the kind with which the Persians were accustomed to trim their nails, of about the length of a man's finger, but not one-third as wide as a finger, he said: "You see this knife, how extremely small it is; nevertheless it is able at the present time to accomplish a deed, which, be assured, my dear Persians, a little later two myriads of mail-clad men could not bring to pass." This he said hinting that, if they did not put Cabades to death, he would straightway make trouble for the Persians. But they were altogether unwilling to put to death a man of the royal blood, and decided to confine him in a castle which it is their habit to call the "Prison of Oblivion." For if anyone is cast into it, the law permits no mention of him to be made thereafter, but death is the penalty for the man who speaks his name; for this reason it has received this title among the Persians. On one occasion, however, the History of the Armenians relates that the operation of the law regarding the Prison of Oblivion was suspended by the Persians in the following way.

There was once a truceless war, lasting two and thirty years, between the Persians and the Armenians, when Pacurius was king of the Persians, and of the Armenians, Arsaces, of the line of the Arsacidae. And by the long continuance of this war it came about that both sides suffered beyond measure, and especially the Armenians. But each nation was possessed by such great distrust of the other that neither of them could make overtures of peace to their opponents. In the meantime it happened that the Persians became engaged in a war with certain other barbarians who lived not far from the Armenians. Accordingly the Armenians, in their eagerness to make a display to the Persians of their goodwill and desire for peace, decided to invade the land of these barbarians, first revealing their plan to the Persians. Then they fell upon them unexpectedly and killed almost the whole population, old and young alike. Thereupon Pacurius, who was overjoyed at the deed, sent certain of his trusted friends to Arsaces, and giving him pledges of security, invited him to his presence. And when Arsaces came to him he shewed him every kindness, and treated him as a brother on an equal footing with himself. Then he bound him by the most solemn oaths, and he himself swore likewise, that in very truth the Persians and Armenians should thenceforth be friends and allies to each other; thereafter he straightway dismissed Arsaces to return to his own country.

Not long after this certain persons slandered Arsaces, saying that he was purposing to undertake some seditious enterprise. Pacurius was persuaded by these men and again summoned him, intimating that he was anxious to confer with him on general matters. And he, without any hesitation at all, came to the king, taking with him several of the most warlike among the Armenians, and among them Bassicius, who was at once his general and counsellor; for he was both brave and sagacious to a remarkable degree. Straightway, then, Pacurius heaped reproach and abuse upon both Arsaces and Bassicius, because, disregarding the sworn compact, they had so speedily turned their thoughts toward secession. They, however, denied the charge, and swore most insistently that no such thing had been considered by them. At first, therefore, Pacurius kept them under guard in disgrace, but after a time he enquired of the Magi what should be done with them. Now the Magi deemed it by no means just to condemn men who denied their guilt and had not been explicitly found guilty, but they suggested to him an artifice by which Arsaces himself might be compelled to become openly his own accuser. They bade him cover the floor of the royal tent with earth, one half from the land of Persia, and the other half from Armenia. This the king did as directed. Then the Magi, after putting the whole tent under a spell by means of some magic rites, bade the king take his walk there in company with Arsaces, reproaching him meanwhile with having violated the sworn agreement. They said, further, that they too must be present at the conversation, for in this way there would be witnesses of all that was said. Accordingly Pacurius straightway summoned Arsaces, and began to walk to and fro with him in the tent in the presence of the Magi; he enquired of the man why he had disregarded his sworn promises, and was setting about to harass the Persians and Armenians once more with grievous troubles. Now as long as the conversation took place on the ground which was covered with the earth from the land of Persia, Arsaces continued to make denial, and, pledging himself with the most fearful oaths, insisted that he was a faithful subject of Pacurius. But when, in the midst of his speaking, he came to the centre of the tent where they stepped upon Armenian earth, then, compelled by some unknown power, he suddenly changed the tone of his words to one of defiance, and from then on ceased not to threaten Pacurius and the Persians, announcing that he would have vengeance upon them for this insolence as soon as he should become his own master. These words of youthful folly he continued to utter as they walked all the way, until turning back, he came again to the earth from the Persian land. Thereupon, as if chanting a recantation, he was once more a suppliant, offering pitiable explanations to Pacurius. But when he came again to the Armenian earth, he returned to his threats. In this way he changed many times to one side and the other, and concealed none of his secrets. Then at length the Magi passed judgment against him as having violated the treaty and the oaths. Pacurius flayed Bassicius, and, making a bag of his skin, filled it with chaff and suspended it from a lofty tree. As for Arsaces, since Pacurius could by no means bring himself to kill a man of the royal blood, he confined him in the Prison of Oblivion.

After a time, when the Persians were marching against a barbarian nation, they were accompanied by an Armenian who had been especially intimate with Arsaces and had followed him when he went into the Persian land. This man proved himself a capable warrior in this campaign, as Pacurius observed, and was the chief cause of the Persian victory. For this reason Pacurius begged him to make any request he wished, assuring him that he would be refused nothing by him. The Armenian asked for nothing else than that he might for one day pay homage to Arsaces in the way he might desire. Now it annoyed the king exceedingly, that he should be compelled to set aside a law so ancient; however, in order to be wholly true to his word, he permitted that the request be granted. When the man found himself by the king's order in the Prison of Oblivion, he greeted Arsaces, and both men, embracing each other, joined their voices in a sweet lament, and, bewailing the hard fate that was upon them, were able only with difficulty to release each other from the embrace. Then, when they had sated themselves with weeping and ceased from tears, the Armenian bathed Arsaces, and completely adorned his person, neglecting nothing, and, putting on him the royal robe, caused him to recline on a bed of rushes. Then Arsaces entertained those present with a royal banquet just as was formerly his custom. During this feast many speeches were made over the cups which greatly pleased Arsaces, and many incidents occurred which delighted his heart. The drinking was prolonged until nightfall, all feeling the keenest delight in their mutual intercourse; at length they parted from each other with great reluctance, and separated thoroughly imbued with happiness. Then they tell how Arsaces said that after spending the sweetest day of his life, and enjoying the company of the man he had missed most of all, he would no longer willingly endure the miseries of life; and with these words, they say, he dispatched himself with a knife which, as it happened, he had purposely stolen at the banquet, and thus departed from among men. Such then is the story concerning this Arsaces, related in the Armenian History just as I have told it, and it was on that occasion that the law regarding the Prison of Oblivion was set aside. But I must return to the point from which I have strayed.


While Cabades was in the prison he was cared for by his wife, who went in to him constantly and carried him supplies of food. Now the keeper of the prison began to make advances to her, for she was exceedingly beautiful to look upon. And when Cabades learned this from his wife, he bade her give herself over to the man to treat as he wished. In this way the keeper of the prison came to be familiar with the woman, and he conceived for her an extraordinary love, and as a result permitted her to go in to her husband just as she wished, and to depart from there again without interference from anyone. Now there was a Persian notable, Seoses by name, a devoted friend of Cabades, who was constantly in the neighbourhood of this prison, watching his opportunity, in the hope that he might in some way be able to effect his deliverance. And he sent word to Cabades through his wife that he was keeping horses and men in readiness not far from the prison, and he indicated to him a certain spot. Then one day as night drew near Cabades persuaded his wife to give him her own garment, and, dressing herself in his clothes, to sit instead of him in the prison where he usually sat. In this way, therefore, Cabades made his escape from the prison. For although the guards who were on duty saw him, they supposed that it was the woman, and therefore decided not to hinder or otherwise annoy him. At daybreak they saw in the cell the woman in her husband's clothes, and were so completely deceived as to think that Cabades was there, and this belief prevailed during several days, until Cabades had advanced well on his way. As to the fate which befell the woman after the stratagem had come to light, and the manner in which they punished her, I am unable to speak with accuracy. For the Persian accounts do not agree with each other, and for this reason I omit the narration of them.

Cabades, in company with Seoses, completely escaped detection, and reached the Ephthalitae Huns; there the king gave him his daughter in marriage, and then, since Cabades was now his son-in-law, he put under his command a very formidable army for a campaign against the Persians. This army the Persians were quite unwilling to encounter, and they made haste to flee in every direction. And when Cabades reached the territory where Gousanastades exercised his authority, he stated to some of his friends that he would appoint as chanaranges the first man of the Persians who should on that day come into his presence and offer his services. But even as he said this, he repented his speech, for there came to his mind a law of the Persians which ordains that offices among the Persians shall not be conferred upon others than those to whom each particular honour belongs by right of birth. For he feared lest someone should come to him first who was not a kinsman of the present chanaranges, and that he would be compelled to set aside the law in order to keep his word. Even as he was considering this matter, chance brought it about that, without dishonouring the law, he could still keep his word. For the first man who came to him happened to be Adergoudounbades, a young man who was a relative of Gousanastades and an especially capable warrior. He addressed Cabades as "Lord," and was the first to do obeisance to him as king, and besought him to use him as a slave for any service whatever. [488 A.D.] So Cabades made his way into the royal palace without any trouble, and, taking Blases destitute of defenders, he put out his eyes, using the method of blinding commonly employed by the Persians against malefactors, that is, either by heating olive oil and pouring it, while boiling fiercely, into the wide-open eyes, or by heating in the fire an iron needle, and with this pricking the eyeballs. Thereafter Blases was kept in confinement, having ruled over the Persians two years. Gousanastades was put to death and Adergoudounbades was established in his place in the office of chanaranges, while Seoses was immediately proclaimed "adrastadaran salanes,"—a title designating the one set in authority over all magistrates and over the whole army. Seoses was the first and only man who held this office in Persia; for it was conferred on no one before or after that time. And the kingdom was strengthened by Cabades and guarded securely; for in shrewdness and activity he was surpassed by none.


A little later Cabades was owing the king of the Ephthalitae a sum of money which he was not able to pay him, and he therefore requested the Roman emperor Anastasius to lend him this money. Whereupon Anastasius conferred with some of his friends and enquired of them whether this should be done; and they would not permit him to make the loan. For, as they pointed out, it was inexpedient to make more secure by means of their money the friendship between their enemies and the Ephthalitae; indeed it was better for the Romans to disturb their relations as much as possible. It was for this reason, and for no just cause, that Cabades decided to make an expedition against the Romans. [502 A.D.] First he invaded the land of the Armenians, moving with such rapidity as to anticipate the news of his coming, and, after plundering the greater part of it in a rapid campaign, he unexpectedly arrived at the city of Amida, which is situated in Mesopotamia, and, although the season was winter, he invested the town. Now the citizens of Amida had no soldiers at hand, seeing that it was a time of peace and prosperity, and in other respects were utterly unprepared; nevertheless they were quite unwilling to yield to the enemy, and shewed an unexpected fortitude in holding out against dangers and hardships.

Now there was among the Syrians a certain just man, Jacobus by name, who had trained himself with exactitude in matters pertaining to religion. This man had confined himself many years before in a place called Endielon, a day's journey from Amida, in order that he might with more security devote himself to pious contemplation. The men of this place, assisting his purpose, had surrounded him with a kind of fencing, in which the stakes were not continuous, but set at intervals, so that those who approached could see and hold converse with him. And they had constructed for him a small roof over his head, sufficient to keep off the rain and snow. There this man had been sitting for a long time, never yielding either to heat or cold, and sustaining his life with certain seeds, which he was accustomed to eat, not indeed every day, but only at long intervals. Now some of the Ephthalitae who were overrunning the country thereabout saw this Jacobus and with great eagerness drew their bows with intent to shoot at him. But the hands of every one of them became motionless and utterly unable to manage the bow. When this was noised about through the army and came to the ears of Cabades, he desired to see the thing with his own eyes; and when he saw it, both he and the Persians who were with him were seized with great astonishment, and he entreated Jacobus to forgive the barbarians their crime. And he forgave them with a word, and the men were released from their distress. Cabades then bade the man ask for whatever he wished, supposing that he would ask for a great sum of money, and he also added with youthful recklessness that he would be refused nothing by him. But he requested Cabades to grant to him all the men who during that war should come to him as fugitives. This request Cabades granted, and gave him a written pledge of his personal safety. And great numbers of men, as might be expected, came flocking to him from all sides and found safety there; for the deed became widely known. Thus, then, did these things take place.

Cabades, in besieging Amida, brought against every part of the defences the engines known as rams; but the townspeople constantly broke off the heads of the rams by means of timbers thrown across them[8]. However, Cabades did not slacken his efforts until he realized that the wall could not be successfully assailed in this way. For, though he battered the wall many times, he was quite unable to break down any portion of the defence, or even to shake it; so secure had been the work of the builders who had constructed it long before. Failing in this, Cabades raised an artificial hill to threaten the city, considerably overtopping the wall; but the besieged, starting from the inside of their defences, made a tunnel extending under the hill, and from there stealthily carried out the earth, until they hollowed out a great part of the inside of the hill. However, the outside kept the form which it had at first assumed, and afforded no opportunity to anyone of discovering what was being done. Accordingly many Persians mounted it, thinking it safe, and stationed themselves on the summit with the purpose of shooting down upon the heads of those inside the fortifications. But with the great mass of men crowding upon it with a rush, the hill suddenly fell in and killed almost all of them. Cabades, then, finding no remedy for the situation, decided to raise the siege, and he issued orders to the army to retreat on the morrow. Then indeed the besieged, as though they had no thought of their danger, began laughingly from the fortifications to jeer at the barbarians. Besides this some courtesans shamelessly drew up their clothing and displayed to Cabades, who was standing close by, those parts of a woman's body which it is not proper that men should see uncovered. This was plainly seen by the Magi, and they thereupon came before the king and tried to prevent the retreat, declaring as their interpretation of what had happened that the citizens of Amida would shortly disclose to Cabades all their secret and hidden things. So the Persian army remained there.

Not many days later one of the Persians saw close by one of the towers the mouth of an old underground passage, which was insecurely concealed with some few small stones. In the night he came there alone, and, making trial of the entrance, got inside the circuit-wall; then at daybreak he reported the whole matter to Cabades. The king himself on the following night came to the spot with a few men, bringing ladders which he had made ready. And he was favoured by a piece of good fortune; for the defence of the very tower which happened to be nearest to the passage had fallen by lot to those of the Christians who are most careful in their observances, whom they call monks. These men, as chance would have it, were keeping some annual religious festival to God on that day. When night came on they all felt great weariness[9] on account of the festival, and, having sated themselves with food and drink beyond their wont, they fell into a sweet and gentle sleep, and were consequently quite unaware of what was going on. So the Persians made their way through the passage inside the fortifications, a few at a time, and, mounting the tower, they found the monks still sleeping and slew them to a man. When Cabades learned this, he brought his ladders up to the wall close by this tower. It was already day. And those of the townsmen who were keeping guard on the adjoining tower became aware of the disaster, and ran thither with all speed to give assistance. Then for a long time both sides struggled to crowd back the other, and already the townsmen were gaining the advantage, killing many of those who had mounted the wall, and throwing back the men on the ladders, and they came very near to averting the danger. But Cabades drew his sword and, terrifying the Persians constantly with it, rushed in person to the ladders and would not let them draw back, and death was the punishment for those who dared turn to leave. As a result of this the Persians by their numbers gained the upper hand and overcame their antagonists in the fight. So the city was captured by storm on the eightieth day after the beginning of the siege. [Jan. 11, 503 A.D.] There followed a great massacre of the townspeople, until one of the citizens—an old man and a priest—approached Cabades as he was riding into the city, and said that it was not a kingly act to slaughter captives. Then Cabades, still moved with passion, replied: "But why did you decide to fight against me?" And the old man answered quickly: "Because God willed to give Amida into thy hand not so much because of our decision as of thy valour." Cabades was pleased by this speech, and permitted no further slaughter, but he bade the Persians plunder the property and make slaves of the survivors, and he directed them to choose out for himself all the notables among them.

A short time after this he departed, leaving there to garrison the place a thousand men under command of Glones, a Persian, and some few unfortunates among the citizens of Amida who were destined to minister as servants to the daily wants of the Persians; he himself with all the remainder of the army and the captives marched away homeward. These captives were treated by Cabades with a generosity befitting a king; for after a short time he released all of them to return to their homes, but he pretended that they had escaped from him by stealth[10]; and the Roman Emperor, Anastasius, also shewed them honour worthy of their bravery, for he remitted to the city all the annual taxes for the space of seven years, and presented all of them as a body and each one of them separately with many good things, so that they came fully to forget the misfortunes which had befallen them. But this happened in later years.


At that time the Emperor Anastasius, upon learning that Amida was being besieged, dispatched with all speed an army of sufficient strength. But in this army there were general officers in command of every symmory[11], while the supreme command was divided between the following four generals: Areobindus, at that time General of the East, the son-in-law of Olyvrius, who had been Emperor in the West not long before; Celer, commander of the palace troops (this officer the Romans are accustomed to call "magister"); besides these still, there were the commanders of troops in Byzantium, Patricias, the Phrygian, and Hypatius, the nephew of the emperor; these four, then, were the generals. With them also was associated Justinus, who at a later time became emperor upon the death of Anastasius, and Patriciolus with his son Vitalianus, who raised an armed insurrection against the Emperor Anastasius not long afterwards and made himself tyrant; also Pharesmanes, a native of Colchis, and a man of exceptional ability as a warrior, and the Goths Godidisklus and Bessas, who were among those Goths who had not followed Theoderic when he went from Thrace into Italy, both of them men of the noblest birth and experienced in matters pertaining to warfare; many others, too, who were men of high station, joined this army. For such an army, they say, was never assembled by the Romans against the Persians either before or after that time. However, all these men did not assemble in one body, nor did they form a single army as they marched, but each commander by himself led his own division separately against the enemy. And as manager of the finances of the army Apion, an Aegyptian, was sent, a man of eminence among the patricians and extremely energetic; and the emperor in a written statement declared him partner in the royal power, in order that he might have authority to administer the finances as he wished.

Now this army was mustered with considerable delay, and advanced with little speed. As a result of this they did not find the barbarians in the Roman territory; for the Persians had made their attack suddenly, and had immediately withdrawn with all their booty to their own land. Now no one of the generals desired for the present to undertake the siege of the garrison left in Amida, for they learned that they had carried in a large supply of provisions; but they made haste to invade the land of the enemy. However they did not advance together against the barbarians but they encamped apart from one another as they proceeded. When Cabades learned this (for he happened to be close by), he came with all speed to the Roman frontier and confronted them. But the Romans had not yet learned that Cabades was moving against them with his whole force, and they supposed that some small Persian army was there. Accordingly the forces of Areobindus established their camp in a place called Arzamon, at a distance of two days' journey from the city of Constantina, and those of Patricius and Hypatius in a place called Siphrios, which is distant not less than three hundred and fifty stades from the city of Amida. As for Celer, he had not yet arrived.

Areobindus, when he ascertained that Cabades was coming upon them with his whole army, abandoned his camp, and, in company with all his men, turned to flight and retired on the run to Constantina. And the enemy, coming up not long afterwards, captured the camp without a man in it and all the money it contained. From there they advanced swiftly against the other Roman army. Now the troops of Patricius and Hypatius had happened upon eight hundred Ephthalitae who were marching in advance of the Persian army, and they had killed practically all of them. Then, since they had learned nothing of Cabades and the Persian army, supposing that they had won the victory, they began to conduct themselves with less caution. At any rate they had stacked their arms and were preparing themselves a lunch; for already the appropriate time of day was drawing near. Now a small stream flowed in this place and in it the Romans began to wash the pieces of meat which they were about to eat; some, too, distressed by the heat, were bathing themselves in the stream; and in consequence the brook flowed on with a muddy current. But while Cabades, learning what had befallen the Ephthalitae, was advancing against the enemy with all speed, he noticed that the water of the brook was disturbed, and divining what was going on, he came to the conclusion that his opponents were unprepared, and gave orders to charge upon them immediately at full speed. [Aug., 503 A.D.] Straightway, then, they fell upon them feasting and unarmed. And the Romans did not withstand their onset, nor did they once think of resistance, but they began to flee as each one could; and some of them were captured and slain, while others climbed the hill which rises there and threw themselves down the cliff in panic and much confusion. And they say that not a man escaped from there; but Patricius and Hypatius had succeeded in getting away at the beginning of the onset. After this Cabades retired homeward with his whole army, since hostile Huns had made an invasion into his land, and with this people he waged a long war in the northerly portion of his realm. In the meantime the other Roman army also came, but they did nothing worth recounting, because, it seems, no one was made commander-in-chief of the expedition; but all the generals were of equal rank, and consequently they were always opposing one another's opinions and were utterly unable to unite. However Celer, with his contingent, crossed the Nymphius River and made some sort of an invasion into Arzanene. This river is one very close to Martyropolis, about three hundred stades from Amida. So Celer's troops plundered the country thereabout and returned not long after, and the whole invasion was completed in a short time.


After this Areobindus went to Byzantium at the summons of the emperor, while the other generals reached Amida, and, in spite of the winter season, invested it. And although they made many attempts they were unable to carry the fortress by storm, but they were on the point of accomplishing their object by starvation; for all the provisions of the besieged were exhausted. The generals, however, had ascertained nothing of the straits in which the enemy were; but since they saw that their own troops were distressed by the labour of the siege and the wintry weather, and at the same time suspected that a Persian army would be coming upon them before long, they were eager to quit the place on any terms whatever. The Persians, on their part, not knowing what would become of them in such terrible straits, continued to conceal scrupulously their lack of the necessities of life, and made it appear that they had an abundance of all provisions, wishing to return to their homes with the reputation of honour. So a proposal was discussed between them, according to which the Persians were to deliver over the city to the Romans upon receipt of one thousand pounds of gold. Both parties then gladly executed the terms of the agreement, and the son of Glones, upon receiving the money, delivered over Amida to the Romans. For Glones himself had already died in the following manner.

When the Romans had not yet encamped before the city of Amida but were not far from its vicinity, a certain countryman, who was accustomed to enter the city secretly with fowls and loaves and many other delicacies, which he sold to this Glones at a great price, came before the general Patricius and promised to deliver into his hands Glones and two hundred Persians, if he should receive from him assurance of some requital. And the general promised that he should have everything he desired, and thus dismissed the fellow. He then tore his garments in a dreadful manner, and, assuming the aspect of one who had been weeping, entered the city. And coming before Glones, and tearing his hair he said: "O Master, I happened to be bringing in for you all the good things from my village, when some Roman soldiers chanced upon me (for, as you know, they are constantly wandering about the country here in small bands and doing violence to the miserable country-folk), and they inflicted upon me blows not to be endured, and, taking away everything, they departed,—the robbers, whose ancient custom it is to fear the Persians and to beat the farmers. But do you, O Master, take thought to defend yourself and us and the Persians. For if you go hunting into the outskirts of the city, you will find rare game. For the accursed rascals go about by fours or fives to do their robbery." Thus he spoke. And Glones was persuaded, and enquired of the fellow about how many Persians he thought would be sufficient for him to carry out the enterprise. He said that about fifty would do, for they would never meet more than five of them going together; however, in order to forestall any unexpected circumstance, it would do no harm to take with him even one hundred men; and if he should double this number it would be still better from every point of view; for no harm could come to a man from the larger number. Glones accordingly picked out two hundred horsemen and bade the fellow lead the way for them. But he insisted that it was better for him to be sent first to spy out the ground, and, if he should bring back word that he had seen Romans still going about in the same districts, that then the Persians should make their sally at the fitting moment. Accordingly, since he seemed to Glones to speak well, he was sent forward by his own order. Then he came before the general Patricius and explained everything; and the general sent with him two of his own body-guard and a thousand soldiers. These he concealed about a village called Thilasamon, forty stades distant from Amida, among valleys and woody places, and instructed them to remain there in this ambush; he himself then proceeded to the city on the run, and telling Glones that the prey was ready, he led him and the two hundred horsemen upon the ambush of the enemy. And when they passed the spot where the Romans were lying in wait, without being observed by Glones or any of the Persians, he roused the Romans from their ambuscade and pointed out to them the enemy. And when the Persians saw the men coming against them, they were astounded at the suddenness of the thing, and were in much distress what to do. For neither could they retire to the rear, since their opponents were behind them, nor were they able to flee anywhere else in a hostile land. But as well as they could under the circumstances, they arrayed themselves for battle and tried to drive back their assailants; but being at a great disadvantage in numbers they were vanquished, and all of them together with Glones were destroyed. Now when the son of Glones learned of this, being deeply grieved and at the same time furious with anger because he had not been able to defend his father, he fired the sanctuary of Symeon, a holy man, where Glones had his lodging. It must be said, however, that with the exception of this one building, neither Glones nor Cabades, nor indeed any other of the Persians, saw fit either to tear down or to destroy in any other way any building in Amida at any rate, or outside this city. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

[504 A.D.] Thus the Romans by giving the money recovered Amida two years after it had been captured by the enemy. And when they got into the city, their own negligence and the hardships under which the Persians had maintained themselves were discovered. For upon reckoning the amount of grain left there and the number of barbarians who had gone out, they found that rations for about seven days were left in the city, although Glones and his son had been for a long time doling out provisions to the Persians more sparingly than they were needed. For to the Romans who had remained with them in the city, as I have stated above, they had decided to dispense nothing at all from the time when their enemy began the siege; and so these men at first resorted to unaccustomed foods and laid hold on every forbidden thing, and at the last they even tasted each other's blood. So the generals realized that they had been deceived by the barbarians, and they reproached the soldiers for their lack of self-control, because they had shewn themselves wanting in obedience to them, when it was possible to capture as prisoners of war such a multitude of Persians and the son of Glones and the city itself, while they had in consequence attached to themselves signal disgrace by carrying Roman money to the enemy, and had taken Amida from the Persians by purchasing it with silver. [506 A.D.] After this the Persians, since their war with the Huns kept dragging on, entered into a treaty with the Romans, which was arranged by them for seven years, and was made by the Roman Celer and the Persian Aspebedes; both armies then retired homeward and remained at peace. Thus, then, as has been told, began the war of the Romans and the Persians, and to this end did it come. But I shall now turn to the narration of the events touching the Caspian Gates.


The Taurus mountain range of Cilicia passes first Cappadocia and Armenia and the land of the so-called Persarmenians, then also Albania and Iberia and all the other countries in this region, both independent and subject to Persia. For it extends to a great distance, and as one proceeds along this range, it always spreads out to an extraordinary breadth and rises to an imposing height. And as one passes beyond the boundary of Iberia there is a sort of path in a very narrow passage, extending for a distance of fifty stades. This path terminates in a place cut off by cliffs and, as it seems, absolutely impossible to pass through. For from there no way out appears, except indeed a small gate set there by nature, just as if it had been made by the hand of man, which has been called from of old the Caspian Gates. From there on there are plains suitable for riding and extremely well watered, and extensive tracts used as pasture land for horses, and level besides. Here almost all the nations of the Huns are settled, extending as far as the Maeotic lake. Now if these Huns go through the gate which I have just mentioned into the land of the Persians and the Romans, they come with their horses fresh and without making any detour or encountering any precipitous places, except in those fifty stades over which, as has been said, they pass to the boundary of Iberia. If, however, they go by any other passes, they reach their destination with great difficulty, and can no longer use the same horses. For the detours which they are forced to make are many and steep besides. When this was observed by Alexander, the son of Philip, he constructed gates in the aforesaid place and established a fortress there. And this was held by many men in turn as time went on, and finally by Ambazouces, a Hun by birth, but a friend of the Romans and the Emperor Anastasius. Now when this Ambazouces had reached an advanced age and was near to death, he sent to Anastasius asking that money be given him, on condition that he hand over the fortress and the Caspian Gates to the Romans. But the Emperor Anastasius was incapable of doing anything without careful investigation, nor was it his custom to act thus: reasoning, therefore, that it was impossible for him to support soldiers in a place which was destitute of all good things, and which had nowhere in the neighbourhood a nation subject to the Romans, he expressed deep gratitude to the man for his good-will toward him, but by no means accepted this proposition. So Ambazouces died of disease not long afterwards, and Cabades overpowered his sons and took possession of the Gates.

The Emperor Anastasius, after concluding the treaty with Cabades, built a city in a place called Daras, exceedingly strong and of real importance, bearing the name of the emperor himself. Now this place is distant from the city of Nisibis one hundred stades lacking two, and from the boundary line which divides the Romans from the Persians about twenty-eight. And the Persians, though eager to prevent the building, were quite unable to do so, being constrained by the war with the Huns in which they were engaged. But as soon as Cabades brought this to an end, he sent to the Romans and accused them of having built a city hard by the Persian frontier, though this had been forbidden in the agreement previously made between the Medes and the Romans[12]. At that time, therefore, the Emperor Anastasius desired, partly by threats, and partly by emphasizing his friendship with him and by bribing him with no mean sum of money, to deceive him and to remove the accusation. And another city also was built by this emperor, similar to the first, in Armenia, hard by the boundaries of Persarmenia; now in this place there had been a village from of old, but it had taken on the dignity of a city by the favour of the Emperor Theodosius even to the name, for it had come to be named after him[13]. But Anastasius surrounded it with a very substantial wall, and thus gave offence to the Persians no less than by the other city; for both of them are strongholds menacing their country.


[Aug. 1, 518 A.D.] And when a little later Anastasius died, Justinus received the empire, forcing aside all the kinsmen of Anastasius, although they were numerous and also very distinguished. Then indeed a sort of anxiety came over Cabades, lest the Persians should make some attempt to overthrow his house as soon as he should end his life; for it was certain that he would not pass on the kingdom to any one of his sons without opposition. For while the law called to the throne the eldest of his children Caoses by reason of his age, he was by no means pleasing to Cabades; and the father's judgment did violence to the law of nature and of custom as well. And Zames, who was second in age, having had one of his eyes struck out, was prevented by the law. For it is not lawful for a one-eyed man or one having any other deformity to become king over the Persians. But Chosroes, who was born to him by the sister of Aspebedes, the father loved exceedingly; seeing, however, that all the Persians, practically speaking, felt an extravagant admiration for the manliness of Zames (for he was a capable warrior), and worshipped his other virtues, he feared lest they should rise against Chosroes and do irreparable harm to the family and to the kingdom. Therefore it seemed best to him to arrange with the Romans to put an end both to the war and the causes of war, on condition that Chosroes be made an adopted son of the Emperor Justinus; for only in this way could he preserve stability in the government. Accordingly he sent envoys to treat of this matter and a letter to the Emperor Justinus in Byzantium. And the letter was written in this wise: "Unjust indeed has been the treatment which we have received at the hands of the Romans, as even you yourself know, but I have seen fit to abandon entirely all the charges against you, being assured of this, that the most truly victorious of all men would be those who, with justice on their side, are still willingly overcome and vanquished by their friends. However I ask of you a certain favour in return for this, which would bind together in kinship and in the good-will which would naturally spring from this relation not only ourselves but also all our subjects, and which would be calculated to bring us to a satiety of the blessings of peace. My proposal, then, is this, that you should make my son Chosroes, who will be my successor to the throne, your adopted son."

When this message was brought to the Emperor Justinus, he himself was overjoyed and Justinian also, the nephew of the emperor, who indeed was expected to receive from him the empire. And they were making all haste to perform the act of setting down in Writing the adoption, as the law of the Romans prescribes—and would have done so, had they not been prevented by Proclus, who was at that time a counsellor to the emperor, holding the office of quaestor, as it is called, a just man and one whom it was manifestly impossible to bribe; for this reason he neither readily proposed any law, nor was he willing to disturb in any way the settled order of things; and he at that time also opposed the proposition, speaking as follows: "To venture on novel projects is not my custom, and indeed I dread them more than any others; for where there is innovation security is by no means preserved. And it seems to me that, even if one should be especially bold in this matter, he would feel reluctance to do the thing and would tremble at the storm which would arise from it; for I believe that nothing else is before our consideration at the present time than the question how we may hand over the Roman empire to the Persians on a seemly pretext. For they make no concealment nor do they employ any blinds, but explicitly acknowledging their purpose they claim without more ado to rob us of our empire, seeking to veil the manifestness of their deceit under a shew of simplicity, and hide a shameless intent behind a pretended unconcern. And yet both of you ought to repel this attempt of the barbarians with all your power; thou, O Emperor, in order that thou mayst not be the last Emperor of the Romans, and thou, O General, that thou mayst not prove a stumbling block to thyself as regards coming to the throne. For other crafty devices which are commonly concealed by a pretentious shew of words might perhaps need an interpreter for the many, but this embassy openly and straight from the very first words means to make this Chosroes, whoever he is, the adopted heir of the Roman Emperor. For I would have you reason thus in this matter: by nature the possessions of fathers are due to their sons and while the laws among all men are always in conflict with each other by reason of their varying nature, in this matter both among the Romans and among all barbarians they are in agreement and harmony with each other, in that they declare sons to be masters of their fathers' inheritance. Take this first resolve if you choose: if you do you must agree to all its consequences."

Thus spoke Proclus; and the emperor and his nephew gave ear to his words and deliberated upon what should be done. In the meantime Cabades sent another letter also to the Emperor Justinus, asking him to send men of repute in order to establish peace with him, and to indicate by letter the manner in which it would be his desire to accomplish the adoption of his son. And then, indeed, still more than before Proclus decried the attempt of the Persians, and insisted that their concern was to make over to themselves as securely as possible the Roman power. And he proposed as his opinion that the peace should be concluded with them with all possible speed, and that the noblest men should be sent by the emperor for this purpose; and that these men must answer plainly to Cabades, when he enquired in what manner the adoption of Chosroes should be accomplished, that it must be of the sort befitting a barbarian, and his meaning was that the barbarians adopt sons, not by a document, but by arms and armour[14]. Accordingly the Emperor Justinus dismissed the envoys, promising that men who were the noblest of the Romans would follow them not long afterwards, and that they would arrange a settlement regarding the peace and regarding Chosroes in the best possible way. He also answered Cabades by letter to the same effect. Accordingly there were sent from the Romans Hypatius, the nephew of Anastasius, the late emperor, a patrician who also held the office of General of the East, and Rufinus, the son of Silvanus, a man of note among the patricians and known to Cabades through their fathers; from the Persians came one of great power and high authority, Seoses by name, whose title was adrastadaran salanes, and Mebodes, who held the office of magister. These men came together at a certain spot which is on the boundary line between the land of the Romans and the Persians: there they met and negotiated as to how they should do away with their differences and settle effectually the question of the peace. Chosroes also came to the Tigris River, which is distant from the city of Nisibis about two days journey, in order that, when the details of the peace should seem to both parties to be as well arranged as possible, he might betake himself in person to Byzantium. Now many words were spoken on both sides touching the differences between them, and in particular Seoses made mention of the land of Colchis, which is now called Lazica, saying that it had been subject to the Persians from of old and that the Romans had taken it from them by violence and held it on no just grounds. When the Romans heard this, they were indignant to think that even Lazica should be disputed by the Persians. And when they in turn stated that the adoption of Chosroes must take place just as is proper for a barbarian, it seemed to the Persians unbearable. The two parties therefore separated and departed homeward, and Chosroes with nothing accomplished was off to his father, deeply injured at what had taken place and vowing vengeance on the Romans for their insult to him.

After this Mebodes began to slander Seoses to Cabades, saying that he had proposed the discussion of Lazica purposely, although he had not been instructed to do so by his master, thereby frustrating the peace, and also that he had had words previously with Hypatius, who was by no means well-disposed toward his own sovereign and was trying to prevent the conclusion of peace and the adoption of Chosroes; and many other accusations also were brought forward by the enemies of Seoses, and he was summoned to trial. Now the whole Persian council gathered to sit in judgment moved more by envy than by respect for the law. For they were thoroughly hostile to his office, which was unfamiliar to them, and also were embittered by the natural temper of the man. For while Seoses was a man quite impossible to bribe, and a most exact respecter of justice, he was afflicted with a degree of arrogance not to be compared with that of any other. This quality, indeed, seems to be inbred in the Persian officials, but in Seoses even they thought that the malady had developed to an altogether extraordinary degree. So his accusers said all those things which have been indicated above, and added to this that the man was by no means willing to live in the established fashion or to uphold the institutions of the Persians. For he both reverenced strange divinities, and lately, when his wife had died, he had buried her, though it was forbidden by the laws of the Persians ever to hide in the earth the bodies of the dead. The judges therefore condemned the man to death, while Cabades, though seeming to be deeply moved with sympathy as a friend of Seoses, was by no means willing to rescue him. He did not, on the other hand, make it known that he was angry with him, but, as he said, he was not willing to undo the laws of the Persians, although he owed the man the price of his life, since Seoses was chiefly responsible both for the fact that he was alive and also that he was king. Thus, then, Seoses was condemned and was removed from among men. And the office which began with him ended also with him. For no other man has been made adrastadaran salanes. Rufinus also slandered Hypatius to the emperor. As a result of this the emperor reduced him from his office, and tortured most cruelly certain of his associates only to find out that this slander was absolutely unsound; beyond this, however, he did Hypatius no harm.


Immediately after this, Cabades, though eager to make some kind of an invasion into the land of the Romans, was utterly unable to do so on account of the following obstacle which happened to arise. The Iberians, who live in Asia, are settled in the immediate neighbourhood of the Caspian Gates, which lie to the north of them. Adjoining them on the left towards the west is Lazica, and on the right towards the east are the Persian peoples. This nation is Christian and they guard the rites of this faith more closely than any other men known to us, but they have been subjects of the Persian king, as it happens, from ancient times. And just then Cabades was desirous of forcing them to adopt the rites of his own religion. And he enjoined upon their king, Gourgenes, to do all things as the Persians are accustomed to do them, and in particular not under any circumstances to hide their dead in the earth, but to throw them all to the birds and dogs. For this reason, then, Gourgenes wished to go over to the Emperor Justinus, and he asked that he might receive pledges that the Romans would never abandon the Iberians to the Persians. And the emperor gave him these pledges with great eagerness, and he sent Probus, the nephew of the late emperor Anastasius, a man of patrician rank, with a great sum of money to Bosporus, that he might win over with money an army of Huns and send them as allies to the Iberians. This Bosporus is a city by the sea, on the left as one sails into the so-called Euxine Sea, twenty days journey distant from the city of Cherson, which is the limit of the Roman territory. Between these cities everything is held by the Huns. Now in ancient times the people of Bosporus were autonomous, but lately they had decided to become subject to the Emperor Justinus. Probus, however, departed from there without accomplishing his mission, and the emperor sent Peter as general with some Huns to Lazica to fight with all their strength for Gourgenes. Meanwhile Cabades sent a very considerable army against Gourgenes and the Iberians, and as general a Persian bearing the title of "varizes," Boes by name. Then it was seen that Gourgenes was too weak to withstand the attack of the Persians, for the help from the Romans was insufficient, and with all the notables of the Iberians he fled to Lazica, taking with him his wife and children and also his brothers, of whom Peranius was the eldest. And when they had reached the boundaries of Lazica, they remained there, and, sheltering themselves by the roughness of the country, they took their stand against the enemy. And the Persians followed after them but did nothing deserving even of mention since the circumstance of the rough country was against them.

Thereafter the Iberians presented themselves at Byzantium and Petrus came to the emperor at his summons; and from then on the emperor demanded that he should assist the Lazi to guard their country, even against their will, and he sent an army and Eirenaeus in command of it. Now there are two fortresses in Lazica[15] which one comes upon immediately upon entering their country from the boundaries of Iberia, and the defence of them had been from of old in charge of the natives, although they experienced great hardship in this matter; for neither corn nor wine nor any other good thing is produced there. Nor indeed can anything be carried in from elsewhere on account of the narrowness of the paths, unless it be carried by men. However, the Lazi were able to live on a certain kind of millet which grows there, since they were accustomed to it. These garrisons the emperor removed from the place and commanded that Roman soldiers should be stationed there to guard the fortresses. And at first the Lazi with difficulty brought in provisions for these soldiers, but later they gave up the service and the Romans abandoned these forts, whereupon the Persians with no trouble took possession of them. This then happened in Lazica.

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