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Julian, his successor. At length, the last-mentioned emperor, contrary to the sage advice of Hormisdas, a Persian general on the side of the Romans, advanced too far into the country, and being already half conquered by thirst and famine, his army was destroyed by Sapor, and himself slain. A peace was now concluded with the Romans on advantageous terms. Jovian, the successor of Julian, ceded the five provinces in dispute for ever to the Persians, together with the strong fortress of Nisibis, in Mesopotamia, which had so long been the bulwark of the eastern boundary of the Roman empire. This peace was concluded, A.D. 363.
Sapor now turned his attention to that part of his empire which was bounded by Tartary and India. He was thus occupied for some time; but Jovian, the Roman emperor, dying, and the affairs of that people being again embarrassed, regardless of the peace subsisting between the two empires, he again invaded the Roman territories. The particulars of this invasion have not been handed down to us. All we know is that he slew Arsaces, who reigned in Armenia, and reduced a large territory under his obedience; that on the arrival of Arinthius, he was constrained to abandon a great part of his conquests; that upon this he transferred the imperial seat to Ctesiphon, the old capital of the Parthian empire, that he might improve such opportunities as might offer; and that after this act he did not gain any great victory.
The restless and ambitious Sapor ended his days in the beginning of the reign of the Roman emperor Gratian, about A.D. 375, or 377, after having reigned seventy or seventy-two years (for authors differ on this point) with great variety of fortune; a variety that might have taught him the folly of pursuing the honours and possessions of this changing world. He seems by no means to have lacked wisdom. Some of his observations have been preserved, which exhibit a knowledge of the human mind. Words," he used to say, "may be more vivifying than the showers of spring, and sharper than the sword of destruction. The point of a lance may be drawn from the body; but a cruel word can never be extracted from the heart it has wounded."
Sapor was succeeded in his kingdom by
ARTAXERXES, OR ARDSCHIR,
concerning whose origin and life nothing is recorded, save that he maintained peace with the Romans, and governed his dominions four years. To him succeeded
SAPOR III., OR SCHABOUR BEN SCHABOUR,
who governed the kingdom of Persia for five years in great tranquillity. He was contemporary with Theodosius the Great, whose friendship he enjoyed during his reign. Persian writers say that he was killed by the fall of his tent; the cordage was broken by a whirlwind,* and the pole struck the monarch while he slept. Sapor III. was succeeded by his brother
These violent gusts are common in Persia. Malcolm says, that he has seen a whole line of tents levelled by their force, and some of them carried to a distance from the spot where they were pitched.
VARANES IV., OR KERMAN SCHAH,
who was so denominated from his having been ruler of the province of Kerman, the ancient Carmania. Varanes governed the kingdom of Persia eleven years, during which no event of importance occurred. Internal revolts seem only to have disturbed his peace. These were frequently dangerous, and he was eventually killed by an arrow, when endeavouring to quell a tumult in his army. The throne of Persia was next filled by
ISDEGERTES, OR JEZDEGARD AL ATHIM. The character of Isdegertes is differently given by the Byzantine and Persian historians. By the latter he is represented as a monster of cruelty, whose death was hailed as a blessing by his subjects, while the former represent him as a monarch deservedly renowned for his many virtues. Both accounts, says Dr. Hales are overcharged, and we may ascribe each to his partiality for the Christians, whom he, first of all the Persian monarchs, favoured and protected.
Procopius and Cedrenus relate, that the emperor Arcadius left Isdegertes guardian of his son Theodosius II., and protector of the Roman empire, a trust that he faithfully discharged. The Greek writers also relate, that during his reign, for twenty-one years, he lived in the utmost harmony with Theodosius. This fully vindicates the character of this prince from the calumnies of the Persian priesthood, who practised several pious frauds upon him, for which he ordered the magi to be decimated; allowed the Christians to build churches throughout his dominions; and repealed the penal laws enacted against them by his predecessors. It was doubtless this indulgence and toleration that extended the fame of Isdegertes among strangers, and caused it to be handed down with execration by the priesthood of his own country. They themselves, however, have preserved some of his sayings, breathing a spirit that contradicts the character they have given of him. He often remarked, say they, "That the wisest of monarchs was he who never punished when in a rage, and who followed the first impulse of his mind to reward the deserving." He used also to ob"That whenever a king ceased to do good actions, he necessarily committed bad; and that the thought of eternity could not for a moment be absent from the mind, without its verging towards sin." Such sentiments as these are worthy even of a Christian philosopher.
At the death of Isdegertes, A.D. 418, the magi, through hatred to him set up Kesra, a nobleman, in opposition to his son Baharam Gour, or Jur,* who was then abroad, educating by an Arab prince. By the assistance of the Arabs, however, Baharam raised an army to recover his crown, which he did almost without a struggle.
VARANES V., OR BAHARAM GOUR, OR JUR. The first act of Baharam was to reward Noman, who had educated him; his second, to pardon those who had endeavoured to deprive him of the crown. Such gratitude and clemency dis
*This surname was derived from his fondness for hunting the jur, or wild ass.
posed the hearts of all his subjects towards this prince; and his munificence, virtue, and valour, are the theme of every historian. His generosity was not limited to his court or capital, but extended over all his dominions. So unbounded was his liberality, that his minister, dreading the effects of its excess, presented a memorial to him, pointing out how essential the possession of treasure was to support the throne. Baharam wrote under this representation, "If I may not employ benefits and rewards to gain the hearts of free men who render me their obedience, let the framers of this memorial inform me what means I am to use for attaching such persons to my government."
Under Baharam, it is said, minstrels and musicians were first introduced into Persia, from India. Sir J. Malcolm says that this circumstance, with others of a similar nature, produced an impression among foreign powers that the king and his subjects were immersed in luxury; and that the love of the dance and song had superseded that martial spirit, which had so lately rendered Persia the terror of surrounding nations. The king of Turan, or Turkistan, acting under this impression, invaded Persia. He crossed the Oxus at the head of a large army, and laid waste the whole of Khorassan. This invasion spread a dismay which was greatly increased by the disappearance of Baharam, who it was concluded had fled from a sense of inability to meet the impending storm. The result of this was, the universal terror of the Persians, and the unguarded confidence of the Tartars. "The great king" conceived the war was over, and that he had only to receive the submission of the Persian chiefs, who daily crowded to his standard to implore his favour and protection. Baharam, however, was not lost: fetching a compass round by the coast of the Caspian Sea, he gained the important pass of Khuarasme, in the rear of the Turks; and while the invading host was buried in wine and sleep, he fell upon them with seven thousand of the bravest warriors of Persia, and put them to flight. The slaughter was great: the chief of the enemy fell under the sword of Baharam, who pursued the fugitives across the Oxus.
The use Baharam made of this victory was, to establish peace with all his neighbours, after which he returned to his capital.
Numbers fled, during this persecution, for protection to Theodosius, who espoused their cause. 2. Theodosius, in the days of Isdegertes, had lent a certain number of miners to that prince, to work anew some neglected gold and silver mines in Persia. These miners he now required, and Baharam refused to send them back.
It was from these two causes that the war between the Romans and Persians, at this date, arose. Fired with indignation, Theodosius took up arms, and Baharam followed the example. The contest was attended with no success of any great consequence to either. Alternate victory and defeat made up the whole sum of it; and it ended in a truce for 100 years, in which it was agreed that an end should be put to the severities exercised upon the Christians.
A noble Christian action, however, contributed, more than the peace between the two empires, to the re-establishment of Christianity in Persia. When the province of Azazene was ravaged by the Romans, in the beginning of the war, 7000 Persian prisoners were brought to the city of Amida in extreme misery. Acases, bishop of that place, having assembled his clergy, represented to them in pathetic terms the misery of these unhappy creatures. He then represented that as the Almighty preferred mercy to sacrifice, he would be better pleased with the relief of these his creatures, than by being served with gold and silver vessels in their churches. The suggestion was adopted: all the consecrated plate of gold and silver vessels were sold for the maintenance of their enemies, and they were sent home at the conclusion of the war with money to defray their expenses on the road. Baharam was so struck with this act, that he invited the bishop to his capital, where he received him with the utmost reverence, and granted the Christians many favours at his request. Thus, by heaping "coals of fire" upon the head of this high-minded prince, says Dr. Hales, did these Christian miners melt his heart to mutual compassion and kindness, verifying St. Paul's precept, Rom. xii. 20, 21. This is the true genius of the ever blessed gospel of Christ.
After this, Baharam enjoyed peace as long as he lived; and having reigned twenty-three years, he died, beloved and honoured by his subjects,
Baharam was one of the best monarchs that ever ruled Persia. During his whole reign, the happiness of his subjects was his sole object, his persecution of the Christians excepted. Ill
The Persians relate a romantic tale about the adventures of Baharam in India; and they assert that, after his return, he was very successful in some incursions into the Arabian and Roman territories, carrying his arms into the latter, al-timed zeal on the part of Abdas led him into the most to the gates of Constantinople. In this latter assertion, however, their flattery has misled them, as the reader will perceive from the following account of the war, as derived from Greek historians.
The cause of the war between Baharam and Theodosius was twofold.
1. Abdas, the Persian prelate, with an unwarrantable zeal, had burned a fire temple to the ground. Baharam, who had a great respect for him, gently reproved him, and commanded him to rebuild it. This he refused to do; and at the instigation of the magi, the king put him to death, demolished the churches, and confiscated the estates of the nobles who would not recant.
crime, and overwhelmed the Christians with sorrow. A good man's zeal should be ever on the wing; but it should be united with discernment and prudence, or it will be blind and extravagant, and injure the cause it intends to advance. To be genuine, zeal must be free from a persecuting spirit.
Baharam was succeeded by his son
VARANES VI., OR JEZDEGERD BEN BAHARAM. Varanes vi. is represented as a wise and brave prince, who took the best means of ensuring the prosperity of his empire, by retaining the favourite ministers and officers of his father, while he himself carefully attended to business. Varanes
was particularly strict in the administration of equal and impartial justice. He restored the ancient regulations that had fallen into disuse, and framed new laws by the advice of his council. He likewise kept up discipline in his army without severity, and never punished but with reluctance, whence he was called Siphadost. "a lover of his soldiers."
According to the Persian historians, Varanes broke the peace, and waged war with the Romans; but this is not probable, for the Greek annals make no further mention of him than that he was contemporary with Theodosius II. and his successor Martianus.
By some Persian writers the character of Varanes is represented as unchaste, avaricious, and cruel they style him Aitam, which has reference to violation, pillage, and massacre. This may have arisen from their displeasure at his countenancing Christianity, which, by the preaching of Manetha, bishop of Diarbekr, in Mesopotamia, and his coadjutors, made great progress in his dominions during his reign.
Varanes died A.D. 459, and he was succeeded in his kingdom by his son
PEROSES, OR FIROUZ.
Varanes had two sons, Firouz and Hormouz. His wish was, that Hormouz, the younger, should succeed him; and for this purpose he sent away Peroses to be governor of Nimrouz,* including Sigistan and Makran. Accordingly, upon his father's death, Hormouz assumed the throne, and was supported by the nobility; but Firouz engaged the Haiathelites, or White Huns, an IndoScythian tribe, who bordered on his provinces, to assist him in the recovery of his right, promising their king, Khoosh-Nuaz, the province of Nimrouz, as a recompense. With these auxiliaries, and some of the Persians who espoused his cause, Peroses invaded Persia, defeated his brother Hormouz, and put him to death.
In the beginning of the reign of Peroses, there was a dreadful drought of six years' continuance, which was interpreted, in that superstitious age, as a punishment from Heaven for the crime of acting contrary to the will of the virtuous Varanes. According to the Tubree, this drought was so excessive, that not even the appearance of moisture was left in the beds of the Oxus and Jaxartes.
In the seventh year, plenty was restored; and the first act of Peroses, after this national Scourge, was to invade the country of the Haiathelites, his benefactors. The great object of his life, indeed, appears to have been to destroy the power of the generous monarch to whom he owed his throne. He pretended to discover, from the evidence of some Tartar exiles, that their king was a tyrant; and with the pretext of relieving his subjects from his yoke, he invaded Tartary. Khoosh-Nuaz was too weak to oppose
Nimrouz is part of the modern Seistan. The Persians, says Malcolm, have a tradition that this country was formerly covered with a lake, which was drained by some genii in half a day, whence the name of Nimrouz, or halfday; but as Nimrouz means also mid-day, it is probably used metaphorically in the Persian, as in French, German, and several other languages, to designate the south; and this province lies directly south of Bulkh, the ancient capital of Persia.
the Persian forces, and he therefore retreated as they advanced; but he was soon enabled, by the devotion of one of his chief officers, not only to preserve his country, but to destroy his foes. This officer, after communicating the plan he had formed, entreated his prince to order the mutilation of his body, and then to cast him in the route of the Persian soldiers. This was done; and he was taken up, and carried to Peroses, who asked him who had reduced him to this sad condition. "That cruel tyrant, KhooshNuaz," was the answer; and being interrogated for what the deed was done, he replied, "Because I took the liberty of an old and faithful servant, to represent the consequences of his bad government, and to tell him how unequal he was to meet the troops of Persia, conducted by such a hero as Peroses. But I will be revenged," he added, as he writhed with pain; "I will lead you by a short route, where you shall, in a few days, intercept the tyrant's retreat, defeat his army, and rid the world of a monster." Peroses believed the tale, and the Persian army marched according to his directions. It was not till they had been several days without water, and famine was raging among their ranks, and they saw themselves surrounded by enemies from whom they had no hopes of escape, that they discovered they had been led to ruin, and that the conquest over them had been effected by one, who had courted death to obtain the title of "The preserver of his country."
The greatest part of the Persian army perished in this desert, and Peroses was only permitted to return with the survivors through the clemency of Khoosh-Nuaz, to whom he sent to solicit peace, and with whom he entered into a solemn covenant never to invade his territories again.
But Peroses was tormented by the thought of the degradation he had suffered. The generosity of his enemy was also hateful, as it made his own conduct appear more base and inexcusable. Hence, no sooner was he extricated from his difficulties, than, in violation of his oath, he collected an army, delivered over his kingdom to a regent, (who, the Greeks say, was his brother,) and once more crossed the Oxus, resolved to conquer or perish.
Peroses perished. The Haiathelites having timely notice of his intention, prepared to meet him. Concealing their forces behind some mountains, they issued forth suddenly on all sides of the Persian army, and totally routed it.† Almost all the soldiers of which it was composed were either slain or taken prisoners, and Peroses himself perished, after he had worn the Persian diadem for twenty years. Such was the reward of ingratitude, a vice never mentioned by any heathen writer but with particular marks of detestation; among Christians it should be doubly abhorred.
The faithless Peroses was succeeded by his son
+ Some of the oriental writers say, that the army was taken by a stratagem. They dug, say they, a large dyke in the middle of a plain, and after having covered it over, they entrapped the Persian army into it. But this must be looked upon as romance; for to have dug a pit of sufficient dimensions for such a purpose, they must have reared up a mountain with the earth, which would have told the tale, and have made the Persians look well to their feet.
VALENS, OR BALASCH BEN FIROUZ, who proved to be an excellent prince, tender, compassionate, and just, and desirous of lessening the misery of his country, which, at the death of Peroses, was rendered tributary to Khoosh-Nuaz. He paid the tribute for two years, and waged war with the Haiathelites two more, when, worn out with cares, he died. He was I succeeded by his brother
CAVADES, OR COBAD,
who was of a martial and enterprizing disposition; ready to undertake any thing for the extension of his kingdom, and jealous to the last degree of his authority, and the glory of the
In the tenth year of the reign of Cobad, Mazdak, an impostor, appeared in the desert, who set up for a prophet, and pretended to introduce a purer religion than had hitherto been revealed to mankind.* Cobad sanctioned the impostor and his enormities, which struck at the root of chastity and property. This produced an insurrection, in which the Persian nobles dethroned Cobad, and imprisoned him, appointing Giamasp, a person of great wisdom and integrity, king in his stead. Some time after, however, Cobad contrived to escape from prison, to the king of the Haiathelites, with whom it would appear he had made peace in the days of his prosperity, who assisted him with an army to recover his kingdom, which he accomplished: he deposed Giamasp, and put out his eyes.
As soon as Cobad was restored to the throne, he embarked in a war with the Romans, to repay the king of the Haiathelites large sums of money which he had borrowed, and for the charges of the expedition to restore him. He marched rapidly into Armenia, raised excessive contributions from the inhabitants, and then laid siege to Amida, the principal fortress in those quarters. As the province had for many years enjoyed profound peace, the city was unprepared for the attack; the citizens, however, refused to open their gates, and prepared to make an obstinate defence. He took it after eighty days, and the citizens were only saved from destruction by a well-timed though flattering compliment, from one of their number. Cobad having asked him why they treated him as an enemy? Because," said the citizen," it was the will of God to deliver Amida not to your power, but to your valour." Pleased with this reply, Cobad spared their lives, and some time afterwards he restored their privileges, and directed the walls and public buildings to be repaired. He left therein Glones, a Persian nobleman, with a garrison of 1000 men, and treated
mander, they were almost entirely destroyed. The only execution they did, was the destruction of a detachment of Haiathelites, whom they found alone on the banks of a river, the streams of which were dyed with their blood.
Cobad had scarcely gained his second victory over the Romans, when he was informed that the Huns had broken into the northern provinces of his empire; upon which he was compelled to return into Persia, whence he expelled the invaders.
After the departure of Cobad, the Romans, in several bodies, surrounded Amida, in order to prevent the garrison from receiving provisions. They also devised means to betray Glones, the Persian commander, into an ambuscade, in which he perished, with 200 of his forces. The garrison was eventually compelled to capitulate; and some time after, a truce for seven years was concluded between the Romans and Persians, and hostages on both sides were given for its due observance. A lasting peace was afterwards negotiated in the days of Justin, but this failed; and in the days of Justinian, a new war broke out between the two empires, in which the Persian army, under Peroses, was defeated by Belisarius in Mesopotamia; and Mermores, who commanded the Persian forces in Armenia, was twice defeated by Doritheus. Two castles, with the dependencies, fell also under the power of the Romans. But Cobad still kept the field. He raised new armies, which defeated Belisarius, and invested the city of Martyropolis, a place of the last importance to the Roman empire. The city was saved by intrigue, and a truce was soon afterwards concluded between the two empires.
During the last years of his life, Cobad also carried on a war with the Haiathelites, with varied success. He died, A.D. 532, after a long and diversified reign of forty-nine years, including the period in which he was imprisoned, for which Dr. Hales allows eight years.
Cobad left several sons; but he always appears to have shown a decided preference for Chosroes, or Nouschirvan, who seems in every respect to have been worthy of his father's favour. At his death, Cobad bequeathed his kingdom to Chosroes, and the testament was committed to the principal mobud, or high priest, by whom it was read to the assembled nobles of the empire. These declared their cheerful submission to the will of the deceased monarch; but Chosroes refused the proffered diadem, on the ground of his inability to reform the great abuses of the government. "All the principal offices." he exclaimed, are filled by worthless and despicable men; and who, in such days, would make a vain attempt to govern this kingdom according to principles of wisdom and justice? If I do my duty, I must make great changes, the result of which may be bloodshed; my sentiments toward many of you would perhaps alter; and families, which I now regard, would be ruined. I have no desire to be engaged in such scenes of strife and ruin; they are neither suited to my inclination nor my character, and I must avoid them." The assembly assented to the justice of these observations; and convinced, for the moment, that a reform was requisite, they took an oath to support him some additions of his own, very far from tending to purity in his measures, to obey his directions implicitly
it rather as a benefactor than a conqueror.
The tidings of these proceedings at length reached Rome, and an army was immediately marched to the frontiers, under the command of Ariobindus. Greek writers say, that there never were better forces sent against the Persians than these, or men of greater reputation. In two battles, however, through the neglect of the com
* Mazdak attempted to revive the system of Mani, with of heart.
and to devote their persons and property to his service and that of their country; upon which he
ascended the throne.
CHOSROES, OR NOUSCHIRVAN.
When Chosroes ascended the throne, he assembled his court, and addressed them as follows: "The authority which I derive from my office is established over your persons, not over your hearts: God alone can penetrate into the secret thoughts of men. I desire that you should understand from this, that my vigilance and control can extend only over your actions, not over your consciences: my judgments shall always be founded on the principles of justice, not on the dictates of will or caprice: and when, by such a proceeding, I shall have remedied the evils which have crept into the state, the empire will be powerful, and I shall merit the applause of posterity."
Acting upon this spirit of toleration, it is said that, in the commencement of his reign, he temporized with the followers of Mazdak. At length, however, he caused that licentious and false prophet to be apprehended, and sentenced to death; declaring his determined resolution to extirpate the followers of this pestilent heresy, the fundamental principle of which was, the annihilation of property, and its result, anarchy.
There are several reasons given for this act of severity. The most probable, because most consonant with the character of the monarch, is, that one of his subjects complained to him of his wife having been taken from him by a disciple of Mazdak. The king desired the false prophet to command his follower to restore the woman; but the mandate of the earthly monarch was treated with scorn and contempt, when its effect was contrary to what was deemed a sacred precept. Chosroes, enraged at this opposition to his authority, ordered the execution of Mazdak, which was followed by the destruction of many of his followers, and the proscription of his delusive and abominable tenets.
Chosroes was indefatigable in his endeavour to promote the prosperity of his dominions. One of his first acts was, to disgrace the public officers who had been obnoxious to the people in the last reign. All bridges which had fallen into decay he ordered to be repaired, and he directed many new edifices to be built. He also founded schools and colleges; and gave such encouragement to learned men, that philosophers resorted to his court from Greece. For the general instruction of his people, he circulated the admirable "Rules for living well," written by Ardshir, and required every family in Persia to possess a copy. For his own instruction, he procured a work of the famous Pilpay, from India, entitled Homaioun Nameh," The Royal Manual," or fables on the art of governing, which, by his direction, was translated into Persic.
Chosroes divided his kingdom into four great governments. The first of these governments comprised Khorassan, Seistan, and Kerman; the second, the lands dependent upon the cities of Ispahan and Koom, the provinces of Ghelan, Aderbigan, and Armenia; the third, Fars and Ahway; and the fourth, Irak, which extended to the frontier of the Roman empire. Wise regu
lations were introduced for the management of these governments, and every check established that could prevent abuse of power in the officers appointed for their administration.
In all these regulations Chosroes was ably assisted by his prime vizier, called Buzurge Mihir, "the well beloved," who was raised from the lowest station to the first rank in the kingdom; and the minister's virtues and talents have shed a lustre even on those of the great monarch who, by his penetration, called them into action. The wisdom of Buzurge is greatly celebrated by Persian writers, of whom they relate the following anecdotes, which prove it. One day, in council, when others had spoken at great length, Chosroes asked why he remained silent? "Because," said he, a statesman ought to give advice, as a physician medicines, only when there is occasion." At another time, at one of the assemblies of the sages, the king proposed as a subject of debate, "What is misery in the extreme?" A Greek philosopher, looking only to the present life, answered, "Poverty in old age;" in the same spirit, an Indian replied, "Great pain, with dejection of mind;" but Buzurge, looking beyond the grave, (for it is said that he was privately a Christian,) answered, “ A late repentance at the close of life;" to which a universal assent was given. And truly Buzurge was right. Bitter indeed is that man's cup, who, at the close of his earthly career, looks back upon a life of sin and shame, and forward to a just and an avenging God. Hope, that solace of life, he can hardly dare venture to entertain; he doubts if his repentance be sincere; he cannot adopt the promises of mercy as his own; and the darkness of despair thickens around him. We will not attempt to limit the Holy One of Israel, or discourage a true penitent; but surely it is highly improper, and may be fatal, to neglect the Saviour in the time of health, and trust to a late repentance. And yet how many thousands are there who build on that their hopes for eternity!
Chosroes early engaged in a war with the Romans, and throughout the whole course of his long reign, he maintained this war, at intervals, with the Emperors Justinian, Justin, and Tiberius; notwithstanding the former had purchased a disgraceful peace in the beginning of his reign. Four times he invaded the Roman territories successfully. He captured Sura and Antioch, reduced all Syria, conquered Colchis and Iberia, and established his power on the banks of the Phasis, and on the shores of the Euxine. During these invasions, he levied great contributions in the Roman territories, dismantled their cities, and plundered the rich offerings in the churches. After he had captured Antioch, and transplanted the inhabitants into Persia, Jus