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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

THE same Procopius narrates what the ancients had recorded concerning Edessa and Abgarus, and how Christ wrote a letter to him. he then relates how Chosroes made a fresh movement to lay siege to the city, thinking to falsify the assertion prevalent among the faithful, that Edessa would never fall into the power of an enemy: which assertion, however, is not contained in what was written to Abgarus by Christ our God; as the studious may gather from the history of Eusebius Pamphili, who cites the epistle verbatim. Such, however, is the averment and belief of the faithful; which was then realised, faith bringing about the accomplishment of the prediction. For after Chosroes had made many assaults on the city, had raised a mound of sufficient size to overtop the walls of the town, and had devised innumerable expedients beside, he raised the siege and retreated. I will, however, detail the particulars. Chosroes ordered his troops to collect a great quantity of wood for the siege from whatever timber fell in their way; and when this had been done before the order could well be issued, arranging it in a circular form, he threw a mound inside with its face advancing against the city. In this way elevating it gradually with the timber and earth, and pushing it forward towards the town, he raised it to a height sufficient to overtop the wall, so that the besiegers could hurl their missiles from vantage ground against the defenders. When the besiegers saw the mound approaching the walls like a moving mountain, and the enemy in expectation of stepping into the town at day-break, they devised to run a mine under the mound—which the Latins term “aggestus”—and by that means apply fire, so that the combustion of the timber might cause the downfall of the mound. The mine was completed; but they failed in attempting to fire the wood, because the fire, having no exit whence it could obtain a supply of air, was unable to take hold of it. In this state of utter perplexity, they bring the divinely wrought image, which the hands of men did not form, but Christ our God sent to Abgarus on his desiring to see Him. Accordingly, having introduced this holy image into the mine, and washed it over with water, they sprinkled some upon the timber; and the divine power forthwith being present to the faith of those who had so done, the result was accomplished which had previously been impossible: for the timber immediately caught the flame, and being in an instant reduced to cinders, communicated with that above, and the fire spread in all directions. When the besieged saw the smoke rising, they adopted the following contrivance. Having filled small jars with sulphur, tow, and other combustibles, they threw them upon the aggestus; and these, sending forth smoke as the fire was increased by the force of their flight, prevented that which was rising from the mound from being observed; so that all who were not in the secret, supposed that the smoke proceeded solely from the jars. On the third day the flames were seen issuing from the earth, and then the Persians on the mound became aware of their unfortunate situation. But Chosroes, as if in opposition to the power of heaven, endeavoured to extinguish the pile, by turning all the water-courses which were outside the city upon it. The fire, however, receiving the water as if it had been oil or sulphur, or some other combustible, continually increased, until it had completely levelled the entire mound and reduced the aggestus to ashes. Then Chosroes, in utter despair, impressed by the circumstances with a sense of his disgraceful folly in having entertained an idea of prevailing over the God whom we worship, retreated ingloriously into his own territories.








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