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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

CHOSROES, when his preparations for war were completed, having accompanied Adaarmanes for some distance, sent him across the Euphrates from his own bank of the river into the Roman territory, by Circesium, a city most important to the Romans, situated at the limit of the empire, and rendered strong not only by its walls, which are carried to an immense height, but by the rivers Euphrates and Aboras, which, as it were, insulate the place. Chosroes himself, having crossed the Tigris with his own division of the army, advanced upon Nisibis.

Of these operations the Romans were for a long time ignorant, so far that Justin, relying on a rumour to the effect that Chosroes was either dead or approaching his last breath, was indignant at the tardiness of the siege of Nisibis, and sent persons for the purpose of stimulating the efforts of Marcian, and bringing to him the keys of the gates as quickly as possible. Information, however, that the siege was making no progress, but that the commander was bringing great discredit upon himself by attempting impossibilities in the case of so important a city with so contemptible a force, is conveyed in the first instance to Gregory, bishop of Theopolis: for the bishop of Nisibis, being strongly attached to Gregory, as having received munificent presents from him, and especially being indignant at the insolence which the Persians were continually displaying towards the Christians, and desirous that his city should be subject to the Roman power, supplied information to Gregory of all things that were going on in the enemy’s territory, at each several juncture. This the latter immediately forwarded to Justin, informing him as quickly as possible of the advance of Chosroes: but he, being immersed in his habitual pleasures, paid no regard to the letters of Gregory; nor was he indeed inclined to believe them, indulging rather the thoughts suggested by his wishes: for the ordinary mark of dissolute persons is a meanness of spirit combined with confidence with regard to results; as well as incredulity, if any thing occurs which runs counter to their desires. Accordingly he writes to Gregory, altogether repudiating the information as being utterly false, and, even supposing it were true, saying that the Persians would not come up before the siege was concluded, and that, if they did, they would be beaten off with loss. He further sends Acacius, a wicked and insolent man, to Marcian with orders to supersede him in the command, even supposing he had already set one foot within the town. This command he strictly executed, carrying out the emperor’s orders without any regard to the public good: for, on his arrival at the camp, he deprives Marcian of his command while on the enemy’s territory, and without informing the army of the transaction. The various officers, on learning at the break of the next day that their commander was superseded, no longer appeared at the head of their troops, but stole away in various directions, and thus raised that ridiculous siege.

Adaarmanes, on the other hand, in command of a considerable force of Persians and Scenite barbarians, having marched by Circesium, inflicted every possible injury with fire and sword upon the Roman territory, setting no limits to his intentions or actions. He also captures many fortresses and towns, without encountering any resistance; in the first place, because there was no one in command, and secondly, because, since the Roman troops were shut up in Daras by Chosroes, his foragings and incursions were made in perfect security. he also directed an advance upon Theopolis, without proceeding thither in person. These troops were compelled to draw off most unexpectedly; for scarcely any one, or indeed very few persons, remained in the city; and the bishop had fled, taking with him the sacred treasures, because both the greater part of the walls had fallen to ruins, and the populace had made insurrection with the hope of gaining ascendancy by change: a thing of frequent occurrence, and especially at junctures like this. The insurgents themselves also abandoned the city, without any attempt to meet the emergency or take active measures against the enemy.








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