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appeared on the frontiers of Armenia
, he was received with an unfeigned transport of joy and loyalty. During twenty-six years,
the country had experienced the real and imaginary hardships of a foreign yoke. The Persian
monarchs adorned their new conquest with
magnificent buildings; but those monuments had been erected at the expense of the people, and were abhorred as badges of slavery
apprehension of a revolt had inspired the most rigorous precautions: oppressio
n had been aggravated by insult, and the consciousness of the
public hatred had been productive of every measure that could render it still more implacable. We have already remarked the intolerant spirit of
the Magian religion. The statues of the deified kings of Armenia
, and the sacred images of the sun and moon, were broke in pieces by the zeal
of the conqueror; and the perpetual fire of Ormuzd
was kindled and preserved upon an altar erected on the summit of Mount Bagavan. 55
It was natural, that a people exasperated by so many injuries, should arm with zeal in the cause of their independence, their religion, and their hereditary sovereign. The torrent bore down every obstacle, and the Persian garrisons retreated before its fury. The nobles of Armenia flew to the standard of Tiridates
, all alleging their past merit, offering their future service, and soliciting from the new king those honors and rewards
from which they had been excluded with disdain under the foreign government. 56
The command of the army was bestowed on
, whose father had saved the infancy of Tiridates, and whose family had been massacred for that generous action. The brother of Artavasdes
obtained the government of a province. One of the first military dignities was conferred on the satrap Otas, a man of singular temperance and fortitude, who presented to the king his sister 57
and a considerable treasure, both of which, in a sequestered fortress
, Otas had preserved from violation. Among the Armenian nobles appeared an ally, whose fortunes are too remarkable to pass unnoticed. His name was Mamgo, !
his origin was Scythian
, and the horde which acknowledge his authority had encamped a very few years before on the skirts of the Chinese empire, 58
which at that time extended as far as the neighborhood of Sogdiana. 59
Having incurred the displeasure of his master, Mamgo, with his followers, retired to the banks of the Oxus, and implored the protection of Sapor. The emperor of China
claimed the fugitive, and alleged the rights of sovereignty
. The Persian monarch pleaded the laws of hospitality, and with some difficulty avoided a war, by the promise that he would banish Mamgo to the uttermost parts of the West, a punishment, as he described it, not less dreadful than death itself. Armenia
was chosen for the place of exile, and a large district was assigned to the Scythian horde, on which they might feed their flocks and herds, and remove their encampment from one place to another, according to the different seasons of the year. They were employed to repel the invasion
of Tiridates; but their leader, after weighing the obligations and injuries which he had received from the Persian monarch, resolved to abandon his party. The Armenian prince, who was well acquainted with this merit as well as power of Mamgo, treated him with distinguished respect; and, by admitting him into his confidence, acquired a brave and faithful servant, who contributed very effectually to his restoration. 60
Footnote 55: Moses of Chorene. Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 74. The statues had been erected by Valarsaces, who reigned
in Armenia about 130 years before Christ, and was the first king of the family of Arsaces, (see Moses, Hist. Armen. l. ii. 2, 3.) The deification of the Arsacides is mentioned by Justin, (xli. 5,) and by Ammianus Marcellinus, (xxiii. 6.)
Footnote 56: The Armenian nobility was numerous and powerful. Moses mentions many families which were
distinguished under the reign of Valarsaces, (l. ii. 7,) and which still subsisted in his own time, about the middle of the fifth century. See the
preface of his Editors.
Footnote 57: She was named Chosroiduchta, and had not the os patulum like other women. (Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 79.) I do not understand the expression.
Footnote !: Mamgo (according to M. St. Martin, note to Le Beau. ii. 213) belonged to the imperial race of Hon, who
had filled the throne of China for four hundred years. Dethroned by the usurping race of Wei, Mamgo found a hospitable reception in Persia in the reign of Ardeschir. The emperor of china having demanded the surrender of the fugitive and his partisans, Sapor, then king, threatened with war both by Rome and China, counseled Mamgo to retire into Armenia. "I have expelled him from my dominions, (he answered the Chinese ambassador;) I have banished him to the extremity of the earth, where the sun sets; I have dismissed him to certain death." Compare Mem. sur l'Armenie, ii. 25. - M.
Footnote 58: In the Armenian history, (l. ii. 78,) as well as in the Geography, (p. 367,) China is called Zenia, or
Zenastan. It is characterized by the production of silk, by the opulence of the natives, and by their love of peace, above all the other nations of
the earth. Note: See St. Martin, Mem. sur l'Armenie, i. 304.
Footnote 59: Vou-ti, the first emperor of the seventh dynasty, who then reigned in China, had political transactions
with Fergana, a province of Sogdiana, and is said to have received a Roman embassy, (Histoire des Huns, tom. i. p. 38.) In those ages the Chinese kept a garrison at Kashgar, and one of their generals, about the time of Trajan, marched as far as the Caspian Sea. With regard to the intercourse between China and the Western countries, a curious memoir of M. de Guignes may be consulted, in the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxii. p. 355.
Footnote 60: See Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 81.
For a while, fortune appeared to favor the enterprising valor of Tiridates
. He not only expelled the enemies of his family and
country from the whole extent of Armenia, but in the prosecution
of his revenge he carried his arms, or at least his incursions,
into the heart of Assyria
. The historian, who has preserved the name of Tiridates from oblivion
, celebrates, with a degree of
national enthusiasm, his personal prowess: and, in the true spirit of eastern romance, describes the giants and the elephants that
fell beneath his invincible arm. It is from other information that we discover the distracted state of the Persian monarchy, to
which the king of Armenia was indebted for some part of his advantages. The throne was disputed by the ambition of
contending brothers; and Hormuz, after exerting without success the strength of his own party, had recourse to the dangerous
assistance of the barbarians who inhabited the banks of the Caspian Sea
The civil war was, however, soon terminated,
either by a victor or by a reconciliation
; and Narses, who was universally acknowledged as king of Persia, directed his whole
force against the foreign enemy. The contest then became too unequal; nor was the valor of the hero able to withstand the
power of the monarch, Tiridates, a second time expelled from the throne of Armenia, once more took refuge in the court of the
Narses soon reestablished his authority over the revolted province; and loudly complaining of the protection
afforded by the Romans to rebels and fugitives, aspired to the conquest
of the East. 62
Footnote 61: Ipsos Persas ipsumque Regem ascitis Saccis, et Russis, et Gellis, petit frater Ormies. Panegyric. Vet.
iii. 1. The Saccae were a nation of wandering Scythians, who encamped towards the sources of the Oxus and the Jaxartes. The Gelli
where the inhabitants of Ghilan, along the Caspian Sea, and who so long, under the name of Dilemines, infested the Persian
monarchy. See d'Herbelot, Bibliotheque
Footnote *: M St. Martin represents this differently. Le roi de Perse * * * profits d'un voyage que Tiridate avoit fait a
Rome pour attaquer ce royaume. This reads like the evasion of the national historians to disguise the fact discreditable to their hero.
See Mem. sur l'Armenie, i. 304. - M.
Footnote 62: Moses of Chorene takes no notice of this second revolution, which I have been obliged to collect from a passage of Ammianus Marcellinus, (l. xxiii. c. 5.) Lactantius speaks of the ambition of Narses: "Concitatus domesticis exemplis avi sui Saporis ad occupandum orientem magnis copiis inhiabat." De Mort. Persecut. c. 9.
Neither prudence nor honor could permit the emperors to forsake the cause of the Armenian king, and it was resolved to exer
the force of the empire in the Persian war. Diocletian
, with the calm dignity which he constantly assumed, fixed his own station
in the city of Antioch, from whence he prepared and directed the military operations. 63
The conduct of the legions was
entrusted to the intrepid valor of Galerius
, who, for that important purpose, was removed from the banks of the Danube to those
of the Euphrates. The armies soon encountered each other in the plains of Mesopotamia
, and two battles were fought with
various and doubtful success; but the third engagement was of a more decisive nature; and the Roman army received a total
overthrow, which is attributed to the rashness of Galerius, who, with an inconsiderable body of troops, attacked the
innumerable host of the Persians. 64
But the consideration of the country that was the scene of action, may suggest another
reason for his defeat. The same ground on which Galerius was vanquished, had been rendered memorable by the death of
, and the slaughter of ten legions. It was a plain of more than sixty miles, which extended from the hills of Carrhae to the
Euphrates; a smooth and barren surface of sandy desert, without a hillock, without a tree, and without a spring of fresh water.
The steady infantry
of the Romans, fainting with heat and thirst, could neither hope for victory if they preserved their ranks,
nor break their ranks without exposing themselves to the most imminent danger. In this situation they were gradually
encompassed by the superior numbers, harassed by the rapid evolutions, and destroyed by the arrows of the barbarian cavalry
The king of Armenia
had signalized his valor in the battle, and acquired personal glory by the public misfortune. He was
pursued as far as the Euphrates; his horse was wounded, and it appeared impossible for him to escape the victorious enemy. In
this extremity Tiridates embraced the only refuge which appeared before him: he dismounted and plunged into the stream. His
armor was heavy, the river very deep, and at those parts at least half a mile in breadth; 66
yet such was his strength and
dexterity, that he reached in safety the opposite bank. 67
With regard to the Roman general, we are ignorant of the
circumstances of his escape; but when he returned to Antioch
received him, not with the tenderness of a friend and
colleague, but with the indignation of an offended sovereign. The haughtiest of men, clothed in his purple, but humbled by the
sense of his fault and misfortune, was obliged to follow the emperor's chariot above a mile on foot, and to exhibit, before the
whole court, the spectacle of his disgrace. 68
Footnote 63: We may readily believe, that Lactantius ascribes to cowardice the conduct of Diocletian. Julian, in his
oration, says, that he remained with all the forces of the empire; a very hyperbolical expression.
Footnote 64: Our five abbreviators, Eutropius, Festus, the two Victors, and Orosius, all relate the last and great battle; but Orosius is the only one who speaks of the two former.
Footnote 65: The nature of the country is finely described by Plutarch, in the life of Crassus; and by Xenophon, in the
first book of the Anabasis
Footnote 66: See Foster's Dissertation in the second volume of the
translation of the Anabasis by Spelman; which I will venture to recommend as one of the best versions extant.
Footnote 67: Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 76. I have transferred this exploit of Tiridates from an imaginary defeat to the real
one of Galerius.
Footnote 68: Ammian. Marcellin. l. xiv. The mile, in the hands of Eutropoius, (ix. 24,) of Festus (c. 25,) and of
Orosius, (vii 25), easily increased to several miles
As soon as Diocletian
had indulged his private resentment, and asserted the majesty of supreme power, he yielded to the
submissive entreaties of the Caesar
, and permitted him to retrieve his own honor, as well as that of the Roman arms. In the
room of the unwarlike troops of Asia, which had most probably served in the first expedition, a second army was drawn from
the veterans and new levies of the Illyrian frontier, and a considerable body of Gothic
auxiliaries were taken into the Imperial
At the head of a chosen army of twenty-five thousand men, Galerius
again passed the Euphrates; but, instead of
exposing his legions in the open plains of Mesopotamia
he advanced through the mountains of Armenia
, where he found the
inhabitants devoted to his cause, and the country as favorable to the operations of infantry as it was inconvenient for the
motions of cavalry. 70
Adversity had confirmed the Roman
discipline, while the barbarians, elated by success, were become
so negligent and remiss, that in the moment when they least expected it, they were surprised by the active conduct of Galerius
who, attended only by two horsemen, had with his own eyes secretly examined the state and position of their camp. A surprise,
especially in the night time, was for the most part fatal to a Persian army. "Their horses were tied, and generally shackled, to
prevent their running away; and if an alarm happened, a Persian had his housing to fix, his horse to bridle, and his corselet to put
on, before he could mount." 71
On this occasion, the impetuous attack of Galerius
spread disorder and dismay over the camp
of the barbarians. A slight resistance was followed by a dreadful carnage
, and, in the general confusion, the wounded monarch
commanded his armies in person) fled towards the deserts of Media
. His sumptuous tents, and those of his satraps,
afforded an immense booty to the conqueror; and an incident is mentioned, which proves the rustic but martial ignorance of the
legions in the elegant superfluities of life. A bag of shining leather, filled with pearls, fell into the hands of a private soldier; he
carefully preserved the bag, but he threw away its contents, judging that whatever was of no use could not possibly be of any
The principal loss of Narses
was of a much more affecting nature. Several of his wives, his sisters, and children, who
had attended the army, were made captives in the defeat. But though the character of Galerius had in general very little affinity
with that of Alexander
, he imitated, after his victory, the amiable behavior of the Macedonian
towards the family of Darius
wives and children of Narses were protected from violence and rapine, conveyed to a place of safety, and treated with every
mark of respect and tenderness, that was due from a generous enemy to their age, their sex, and their royal dignity. 73
Footnote 69: Aurelius Victor. Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 21.
Footnote 70: Aurelius Victor says, "Per Armeniam in hostes contendit, quae fermo sola, seu facilior vincendi via est." He followed the conduct of Trajan, and the idea of Julius Caesar.
Footnote 71: Xenophon's Anabasis, l. iii. For that reason the Persian cavalry encamped sixty stadia from the
Footnote 72: The story is told by Ammianus, l. xxii. Instead of saccum, some read
Footnote 73: The Persians confessed the Roman superiority in morals as well as in arms. Eutrop. ix. 24. But this
respect and gratitude of enemies is very seldom to be found in their own accounts.
While the East anxiously expected the decision of this great contest, the emperor Diocletian
, having assembled in Syria a strong
army of observation, displayed from a distance the resources of the Roman power, and reserved himself for any future
emergency of the war. On the intelligence
of the victory he condescended to advance towards the frontier, with a view of
moderating, by his presence and counsels, the pride of Galerius. The interview of the Roman princes at Nisibis
accompanied with every expression of respect on one side, and of esteem on the other. It was in that city that they soon
afterwards gave audience to the ambassador of the Great King. 74
The power, or at least the spirit, of Narses
, had been
broken by his last defeat; and he considered an immediate peace as the only means that could stop the progress of the Roman
arms. He dispatched Apharban
, a servant who possessed his favor and confidence, with a commission to negotiate a treaty
rather to receive whatever conditions the conqueror should impose. Apharban opened the conference by expressing his
master's gratitude for the generous treatment of his family, and by soliciting the liberty of those illustrious captives. He
celebrated the valor of Galerius
, without degrading the reputation of Narses
, and thought it no dishonor to confess the
superiority of the victorious Caesar, over a monarch who had surpassed in glory all the princes of his race. Notwithstanding the
justice of the Persian cause, he was empowered to submit the present differences to the decision of the emperors themselves;
convinced as he was, that, in the midst of prosperity, they would not be unmindful of the vicissitudes of fortune. Apharban
concluded his discourse in the style of eastern allegory, by observing that the Roman and Persian monarchies were the two eyes
of the world, which would remain imperfect and mutilated if either of them should be put out.
Footnote 74: The account of the negotiation is taken from the fragments of Peter the Patrician, in the Excerpta
Legationum, published in the Byzantine Collection. Peter lived under Justinian; but it is very evident, by the nature of his materials, that they
are drawn from the most authentic and respectable writers.
"It well becomes the Persians," replied Galerius, with a transport of fury, which seemed to convulse his whole frame,
" to expatiate on the vicissitudes of fortune
, and calmly to read us lectures on the virtues of moderation
them remember their own moderation, towards the unhappy Valerian
. They vanquished him by fraud, they treated him with
. They detained him till the last moment of his life in shameful captivity, and after his death they exposed his body to
." Softening, however, his tone, Galerius
insinuated to the ambassador, that it had never been the practice of
the Romans to trample on a prostrate enemy; and that, on this occasion, they should consult their own dignity rather than the
. He dismissed Apharban with a hope that Narses would soon be informed on what conditions he might obtain,
from the clemency of the emperors, a lasting peace, and the restoration of his wives and children. In this conference we may
discover the fierce passions of Galerius
, as well as his deference to the superior wisdom and authority of Diocletian
ambition of the former grasped at the conquest of the East, and had proposed to reduce Persia
into the state of a province. The
prudence of the latter, who adhered to the moderate policy of Augustus
and the Antonines, embraced the favorable opportunity
of terminating a successful war by an honorable and advantageous peace. 75
Footnote 75: Adeo victor (says Aurelius) ut ni Valerius, cujus nutu omnis gerebantur, abnuisset, Romani fasces in
provinciam novam ferrentur Verum pars terrarum tamen nobis utilior quaesita.
In pursuance of their promise, the emperors soon afterwards appointed Sicorius Probus, one of their secretaries, to acquaint
the Persian court with their final resolution. As the minister
of peace, he was received with every mark of politeness
friendship; but, under the pretence
of allowing him the necessary repose after so long a journey, the audience of Probus was
deferred from day to day; and he attended the slow motions of the king, till at length he was admitted to his presence, near the
River Asprudus in Media
. The secret motive of Narses, in this delay, had been to collect such a military force as might enable
him, though sincerely desirous of peace, to negotiate with the greater weight and dignity. Three persons only assisted at this
important conference, the minister Apharban, the prefect
of the guards, and an officer who had commanded on the Armenian
The first condition proposed by the ambassador is not at present of a very intelligible nature; that the city of Nisibis
might be established for the place of mutual exchange, or, as we should formerly have termed it, for the staple of trade,
between the two empires. There is no difficulty in conceiving the intention of the Roman princes to improve their revenue by
some restraints upon commerce
; but as Nisibis was situated within their own dominions, and as they were masters both of the
imports and exports, it should seem that such restraints were the objects of an internal law, rather than of a foreign treaty. To
render them more effectual, some stipulations were probably required on the side of the king of Persia, which appeared so very
repugnant either to his interest or to his dignity, that Narses could not be persuaded to subscribe them. As this was the only
article to which he refused his consent, it was no longer insisted on; and the emperors either suffered the trade
to flow in its
natural channels, or contented themselves with such restrictions, as it depended on their own authority to establish.
Footnote 76: He had been governor of Sumium, (Pot. Patricius in Excerpt. Legat. p. 30.) This province seems to be
mentioned by Moses of Chorene, (Geograph. p. 360,) and lay to the east of Mount Ararat. Note: The Siounikh of the Armenian writers St. Martin i. 142. - M.
As soon as this difficulty was removed, a solemn peace
was concluded and ratified between the two nations. The conditions of a treaty so
glorious to the empire, and so necessary to Persia Persian, may deserve a more peculiar attention, as the history of Rome presents very few
transactions of a similar nature; most of her wars having either been terminated by absolute conquest, or waged against barbarians ignorant of
the use of letters.
I. The Aboras, or, as it is called by Xenophon
, the Araxes, was fixed as the boundary between the two monarchies.
That river, which rose near the Tigris
, was increased, a few miles below Nisibis, by the little stream of the Mygdonius, passed
under the walls of Singara, and fell into the Euphrates
at Circesium, a frontier town, which, by the care of Diocletian, was very strongly
fortified. 78 Mesopotomia
, the object of so many wars, was ceded to the empire; and the Persians, by this treaty, renounced all
pretensions to that great province.
II. They relinquished to the Romans five provinces beyond the Tigris
Their situation formed a
very useful barrier, and their natural strength was soon improved by art and military skill. Four of these, to the north of the river, were districts
of obscure fame and inconsiderable extent; Intiline, Zabdicene, Arzanene, and Moxoene; !
but on the east of the Tigris, the empire
acquired the large and mountainous territory of Karduene
, the ancient seat of the Karduchians
, who preserved for many ages their manly
freedom in the heart of the despotic monarchies of Asia. The ten thousand Greeks traversed their country, after a painful march, or rather engagement, of seven days; and it is confessed by their leader, in his incomparable relation of the retreat, that they suffered more from the arrows of the Karduchians
, than from the power of the Great King. 80
Their posterity, the Kurds
, with very little alteration either of name or manners, *
acknowledged the nominal sovereignty of the Turkish sultan.
III. It is almost needless to observe, that Tiridates
, the faithful ally of Rome, was
restored to the throne of his fathers, and that the rights of the Imperial supremacy were fully asserted and secured. The limits of
were extended as far as the fortress of Sintha in Media
, and this increase of dominion
was not so much an act of
liberality as of justice. Of the provinces already mentioned beyond the Tigris, the four first had been dismembered by the
Parthians from the crown of Armenia
and when the Romans acquired the possession of them, they stipulated, at the
expense of the usurpers, an ample compensation, which invested their ally with the extensive and fertile country of Atropatene.
Its principal city, in the same situation perhaps as the modern Tauris
, was frequently honored by the residence of Tiridates; and
as it sometimes bore the name of Ecbatana, he imitated, in the buildings and fortifications, the splendid capital of the Medes
IV. The country of Iberia
was barren, its inhabitants rude
. But they were accustomed to the use of arms, and
they separated from the empire barbarians much fiercer and more formidable than themselves. The narrow defiles of Mount
were in their hands, and it was in their choice, either to admit or to exclude the wandering tribes of Sarmatia
, whenever a rapacious spirit urged them to penetrate into the richer climes of the South. 83
The nomination of the kings of Iberia
, which was resigned by the Persian monarch to the emperors, contributed to the strength and security of the Roman power in Asia. 84
The East enjoyed a profound tranquillity during forty years; and the treaty between the rival monarchies was strictly observed till the death of Tiridates
; when a new generation, animated with different views and different passions, succeeded to the government of the world; and the grandson of Narses
undertook a long and memorable war against the princes of the house of Constantine
Footnote 77: By an error of the geographer Ptolemy, the position of Singara is removed from the Aboras to the Tigris,
which may have produced the mistake of Peter, in assigning the latter river for the boundary, instead of the former. The line of the Roman frontier traversed, but never followed, the course of the Tigris. To the east of the Tigris is another less considerable river, named also
the Chaboras, which D'Anville calls the Centrites, Khabour, Nicephorius, without quoting the authorities on which he gives those names.
Gibbon did not mean to speak of this river, which does not pass by Singara, and does not fall into the Euphrates. See Michaelis, Supp. ad
Lex. Hebraica. 3d part, p. 664, 665. - G.
Footnote 78: Procopius de Edificiis, l. ii. c. 6.
Footnote 79: Three of the provinces, Zabdicene, Arzanene, and Carduene, are allowed on all sides. But instead of
the other two, Peter (in Excerpt. Leg. p. 30) inserts Rehimene and Sophene. I have preferred Ammianus, (l. xxv. 7,) because it might be proved that
Sophene was never in the hands of the Persians, either before the reign of Diocletian, or after that of Jovian. For want of correct maps, like
those of M. d'Anville, almost all the moderns, with Tillemont and Valesius at their head, have imagined, that it was in respect to Persia, and
not to Rome, that the five provinces were situate beyond the Tigris.
Footnote !: See St. Martin, note on Le Beau, i. 380. He would read, for Intiline, Ingeleme, the name of a small
province of Armenia, near the sources of the Tigris, mentioned by St. Epiphanius, (Haeres, 60;). These provinces do not appear to have made an integral part of the Roman empire; Roman garrisons replaced those of Persia, but the sovereignty remained in the hands of the feudatory princes of
Armenia. A prince of Carduene, ally or dependent on the empire, with the Roman name of Jovianus, occurs in the reign of Julian. -
Footnote 80: Xenophon's Anabasis, l. iv. Their bows were three cubits in length, their arrows two; they rolled down
stones that were each a wagon load. The Greeks found a great many villages in that rude country.
Footnote *: I traveled through this country in 1810, and should judge, from what I have read and seen of its
inhabitants, that they have remained unchanged in their appearance and character for more than twenty centuries Malcolm, note to Hist. of
Persia, vol. i. p. 82. - M.
Footnote 81: According to Eutropius, (vi. 9, as the text is represented by the best Mss.,) the city of Tigranocerta was
in Arzanene. The names and situation of the other three may be faintly traced.
Footnote 82: Compare Herodotus, l. i. c. 97, with Moses Choronens. Hist Armen. l. ii. c. 84, and the map of
Armenia given by his editors.
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