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her decay was imperceptible: the Persian em- To the lascivious pipe and wanton song,
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern, fancy. This character of the Persians in dif
Down to the gulf, from which is no return, ferent ages has been aptly compressed by the They trust in navies, and their navies failpoet Thomson :
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail.
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies:
But all they trust in withers, as it must,
When He commands, in whom they place no trust.
A long despised, but now victorious host;
Tyranny sends the claim that must abridgę
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock.” multitude of men, who were impressed for the
COWPER. service from their respective countries. It was only in their mercenaries, the Greeks, that they Long time were the Persians enslaved. They had any real strength, and their valour was fre- groaned under the Macedo-Grecian dynasty for quently counteracted by the unwieldiness of the 102 years, and when that was overturned by the Persian hosts, and their lack of a knowledge of Parthians, they wore the Parthian yoke for 454 military tactics. The younger Cyrus knew the more.* At the end of that time, A.D. 225, the value of the arms of Greece ; hence, as soon as Parthians being greatly weakened by their ruinthe design against his brother's throne was ous wars with the Romans, Artaxeres, a gallant decided, he with great care extended his con- Persian, encouraged his countrymen to seize the nexions among them. The only soldiers, also, in opportunity of shaking off the yoke, which they the army of Darius, who performed their duty, did in a battle of three days' continuance, when and continued faithful to him to the last, were
the enemy were defeated, and Artabanus, king the Greeks.
of the Parthians at that time, taken and slain.
THE KINGDOM OF PERSIA.
HISTORIANS differ widely in their account of the ing, is governed by his courtiers. Despotic acts family of Artaxeres. The Byzantine authorialone, for the most part, denoted, in the last
ties represent him as rising to the throne from stages of the Persian empire, that he possessed writers say, that he was the grandson of Sassan,
a mean and spurious origin, while the oriental any power in the state. In a word, all was corrupt, and where corruption prevails, ruin fol
brother of a Persian queen, during the Parthian lows in the train; for
dominion ; and by his mother's side, the grand
son of Babek, who was governor of Persia Pro“Not only vice disposes and prepares
per. This latter account is considered by Dr. The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares,
Hales as the most credible; and hence, he says, To stoop to tyranny's usurped command
Artaxeres assumed the title of Babegan, and the And bend her polished neck beneath his hand ; (A dire effect by one of nature's laws
dynasty that of Sassanian. Unchangeably connected with its cause;)
On the death of his grandfather, Babek, ArBut Providence himself will intervene
taxeres applied to be appointed his successor in To throw his dark displeasure o'er the scene. All are his instruments, each form of war,
the government, but was refused by Ardevan, What burns at home, or threatens from afar:
who was jealous of his merit, and disturbed by Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
a dream, portending the loss of his life and The storms, that overset the joys of life,
crown. Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land,
Upon this disappointment, Artaxeres
fled to Persepolis, and formed a strong party And waste it at the bidding of his hand. He gives the word, and mutiny soon roars
among the Persian nobility, in conjunction with In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores: whom he effected the overthrow of the Parthian The standards of all nations are unfurled ;
empire. On ascending the throne, A.D. 225, he She has one foe, and that one foe the world. And if He doom that people with a frown,
assumed the pompous title of Shah in Shah, And mark them with a seal of wrath pressed down, King of kings.” Obduracy takes place; callous and tough, The reprobated race grows judgment proof :
* The particulars, during this period, will be found Earth shakes beneath them, and heaven roars above; narrated in the histories of the Macedonians, Seleucidæ, But nothing scares them from the course they love: and Parthians.
Artaxeres was no sooner seated on the throne, 1. When a king applies himself to render justhan he conceived a design of restoring the Per- tice, the people are eager to render him obedisian empire to its pristine greatness. Accordingly, he gave notice to the Roman governors of 2. Of all princes, the worst is he whom the the provinces bordering on his dominions, that good fear, and from whom the bad hope. he had an unquestionable title, as the successor 3. All the branches of a community are inof Cyrus, to all the Lesser Asia, which he com- separably connected with each other, and with manded them to relinquish, as well as the pro- the trunk; hence kings and subjects have recivinces on the frontiers of the ancient Parthian procal cares and duties; which, if neglected on kingdom, which were already under his sway. either side, produce ruin and confusion to both. The emperor Alexander Severus, who at that 4. He felt so much the danger of his high statime ruled over the Roman empire, sent letters tion, from self-deception, that he appointed one to Artaxeres, importing that he would show his of his courtiers to examine him every morning, wisdom if he kept within bounds, and not out as his confessor, and to require an account of all of hopes of conquest rekindle war, which might that he had said or done the preceding day. be unsuccessful; that he ought to consider he 5. The royal authority cannot be supported was to cope with a nation used to war, a nation without troops, nor troops without taxes, nor whose emperors, Augustus, Trajan, and Severus, taxes without culture of the lands, nor this culhad often vanquished the Parthians.
ture without justice well administered, and a Artaxeres, regardless of these letters, raised a police well regulated. great army, and attacked the fortified posts of 6. By the assistance of a council of seven the Romans on the river Euphrates. His con- sages, he abolished the superstition and idolatry quests over them were so rapid, that Alexander that had been introduced under the Macedowas compelled to raise an army, and to march Grecian and Parthian dynasties, and revived the towards Mesopotamia in order to check his | reformed religion of Darius Hystaspes : hence
he proclaimed throughout the empire, that “ he When Artaxeres heard of the approach of the had taken away the sword of Aristotle, the Roman emperor, he was employed in the siege philosopher, which had devoured the nation for of Nisibis, or Antiochia, which he immediately 500 years ;" meaning the civil and religious inraised, that he might prepare for the contest. At novations of Alexander, the pupil of Aristotle, the same time he sent 400 deputies, gorgeously which had prevailed during that period. arrayed, and commissioned, when they should be Artaxeres was succeeded in his kingdom by introduced to the emperor's presence, to speak thus: “ The great king Artaxeres commands the
SHABOUR, OR SAPOR, Romans, and their prince, to depart out of all Syria and Asia Minor, and to restore to the Per- his son, a prince whose nature was fierce and sians all the countries on this side the Ægean untractable; and who was covetous of glory, and Pontic seas, as of right descending to them haughty, insolent, and cruel. from their ancestors.” These deputies performed Shabour was no sooner seated on the throne, their commission; but Alexander, to show his than he meditated a war with the Romans. He contempt of it, stripped them of their equipage, was abetted in his designs by the traitor Cyriand sent them into Phrygia, where he assigned ades, the son of a commander of the same name them farms to cultivate for their subsistence.
in the Roman army.
In conjunction with Artaxeres now repaired to Mesopotamia, with Odomastes, a Persian general, Cyriades wasted a large army, to meet the Roman emperor. An the adjacent provinces, and having at length engagement ensued, in which the Romans were prevailed upon the king himself to take the victorious. But though Artaxeres was defeated, field, he, with a number of deserters, who, for he was not subdued. He recruited his army, and the sake of plunder, followed him, attacked the the Roman emperor having divided his forces cities of Antioch and Cesarea Philippi, of which into three bodies, he attacked them separately, cities they possessed themselves. Upon the conand though repulsed by one body in Media, he quest of these cities, Cyriades took the title of destroyed another, which had invaded his terri: Cesar, and afterwards of emperor. tories, after which the Roman emperor returned Provoked by these proceedings, Gordian, then to Rome. He entered the city in triumph, and emperor of Rome, resolved to carry his arms assumed the title of Parthicus and Persicus. into the east, for the double purpose of chastising
Artaxeres now employed himself in recovering Cyriades, and checking the Persian power. what he had lost, and in restoring the honour of With this view, he marched into Syria at the the Persian name. He ruled with much reputa. head of a numerous army, and he chased Shation till his death, which occurred A.D. 240. bour into his own dominions, whither the em
Dr. Hales observes that this re-founder of the peror followed him, taking Charra, or Haran, Persian monarchy was one of the best and in Mesopotamia. He was preparing to push his greatest of their kings; and that it was his wish conquest still further, when he was murdered by to retrieve the ancient glory of the kingdom by the treachery of Philip, whom he had made a steady adherence to the maxims of the Pisch- captain of his guards, on the death of his fatherdadians and Kaianians in politics and religion. in-law. He composed a book for the use of the entire Philip, having possessed himself of the sovebody of his subjects, entitled, “ Rules for living reign authority, made peace with Sapor, and well,” from which, etc., the following wise poli- abandoned Mesopotamia and Armenia to him tical maxims are derived, as paraphrased from again. The senate, however, disapproving of his Herbelot.
conduct, regardless of the treaty, he recovered part of these provinces, and then, leaving troops, attentive to the welfare of his subjects, and the to secure the frontiers, he marched back into improvement of his kingdom in the construction Italy.
of public works, such as cities, aqueducts, etc. As soon as the Roman forces were withdrawn, / Mirkhond says that his administration of justice Sapor and Cyriades renewed their incursions ; was so rigid, that some of his rapacious courtiers and the latter growing stronger and stronger, were alarmed, and set fire to his tent during a began to be treated as an emperor. The affairs stormy night, that it might be thought to have of Rome were in such a sinking condition, that been occasioned by lightning. many of its provinces took shelter, out of neces- In the reign of Sapor, the famous Mani * or sity, under his protection. At length, however, Manes, the founder of the Manichæan heresy, Valerian, though advanced to the empire at a flourished, and he is said to have favoured him, great age, took measures to reduce the numerous and to have built for him, on the borders of the provinces to obedience. He carried his arms province of Susiana, a place of retreat called victoriously westward and northward, and there Dascarah. This was only, however, while he was every prospect of uniting them all again acted the part of a philosopher: when Mani under the Roman sway. But while he was thus attempted to reconcile his philosophy with engaged, Sapor, with a formidable army, invaded Christianity, or to mix the gospel with some of the Roman territories, burned and pillaged the his national superstitions, and thereby to frame country, and at length advanced as far as Edessa, a new system of religion, which he hoped to to which he laid siege. Valerian hastened to its propagate among both infidels and Christians, relief, and necessary steps were taken for com- Sapor, who was averse to any innovations in the pelling the Persians to retreat. A mutiny of national religion, persecuted him, and obliged the soldiers of Cyriades, who put him to death, him to flee for his life. added to the power of Valerian, for whom they The errors of the Manichæans were some of declared. Sapor, however, resolved to venture à the most pernicious that have ever been promulbattle, and an action took place before Edessa, gated. Mani pretended to be an apostle of Jesus in which Valerian was made prisoner, A.D. 268. Christ, and a prophet illuminated by the Holy
According to the Byzantine historians, Sapor Spirit, to reform all religions, and to reveal used his fortune with an insolence the people could truths which the Saviour had not thought proper not endure. Instigated by despair, they first, to reveal to his disciples. To carry out this under the command of Callistus, and afterwards imposture, he chose twelve apostles, whom he under that, of Odenatus, prince of Palmyrene, sent forth to preach his doctrines. His doctrines, protected themselves for some time from his in- says Neumann, his symbolical language, and in sults, and finally compelled him to retire into particular, the division of his followers into layhis own dominions.
men, auditores, and priests, electi, and the differIn his march, Sapor is said to have made use ent duties prescribed to each of them, seem to of the bodies of his prisoners to fill up the hollow be verbally copied from Buddhism. His boast roads, and to facilitate the passages of his car- was, that he had obtained a perfect knowledge of riages over rivers. On his return, he was solicited all things, and that he had banished mysteries by the kings of the Cadusians, Armenians, Bac- from religion. He professed to teach every trians, and other nations, to set the aged Vale- thing by demonstration, and the knowledge of rian free; but this only increased his cruelty God, by the light of reason. But never yet has towards him. He used him with the most the world by wisdom known God, i Cor. i. 21. shameful indignity, mounting on horseback from When reason, says an excellent writer, has tired his neck as a footstool ; and, to crown all, after and bewildered herself in searching after God, several years' imprisonment, he caused him to be the result must be non est inventus, that is, He is flayed alive.
not to be found by me. Faith may look upon him, After his return, the affairs of Sapor were and that with comfort, but for unassisted reason straitened. Flushed with victory, Odenatus, to gaze too much upon him is the way to lose her clothed with the character of president over the sight. Roman provinces in the east, not only checked the progress of the Persian arms, but caused that
HORMOUZ, OR HORMISDAS. people terror in their own country. Twice did This prince was the son of Sapor, whom he this general advance as far as the city of Ctesi- succeeded on the throne. During his reign, phon; and when he died, the celebrated Zenobia, which continued only for about the brief space of his wife, continued successfully to oppose the one year, nothing of political interest occurred. Persians, till she was conquered and made pri- By Persian historians he was called Al Horri, soner by the emperor Aurelian, who appeared “ the liberal ;" and they say that he was beloved to vindicate the honour of the Romans on this by his subjects. An instance of his liberality is side of the empire. Aurelian also took ample on record. The governor of Ormus, on the Pervengeance on Sapor, for his ill-treatment of Va- sian Gulf, having purchased for him some dialerian. He carried away many prisoners and monds for 100,000 pieces of gold, informed him, much spoil from the Persians, with which he graced his triumphs at Rome. Notwithstanding, * Archbishop Usher has shown that Mani in Persian, Sapor continued to enlarge his dominions at the
Manes in Greek, and Menachem in Hebrew, mean preexpense of his barbarous neighbours till his cisely the same, namely,“ a comforter." His followers
adduce this as a proof that he was the Paraclete, or Comdeath, which occurred A.D. 271.
forter promised by the Saviour, a pretension to which he Although Sapor was cruel and vindictive to- laid claim. This explains the reason why the Manichees wards his enemies, according to Persian historians rejected the Acts of the Apostles : the account of the de
scent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, comhe was liberal and munificent to his friends, and pletely destroyed such pretensions.
that if he did not choose to keep them, he might , induced him to seek peace. This was granted, dispose of them at double the cost; or, in other and internal discords prevented the Romans from words, might gain cent. per cent. profit. Hor- carrying into effect their after intentions of remisdas replied, “ To me a hundred or a thousand invading Persia ; so that Varanes may be said per cent, is nothing. But if I meddle in mer- to have reigned in peace. The duration of his chandize, who will undertake the functions of the reign, according to both Greek and Persian king? and what will become of the merchants ?” writers, was seventeen years. He died, A.D. 292;
The following saying is attributed to Hormis- and das : “ Princes are like fire, which buros those
VARANES III., OR BAHARAM III. that approach too near; but greatly serves those that keep at a proper distance.” A wiser saying his son, ascended the throne. This prince than this is attributed to his successor: Huma reigned only four months; and, according to both nity cannot be defined, because it comprehends oriental and Greek historians, did nothing worall the virtues." Well would it bave been for the thy of notice. To him succeeded world had all its princes thought thus, and acted in the spirit of the maxim. Nature has formed
NARSES, OR NARSI. man, more than any other living creature, for the This prince, acting in the spirit of Artaxeres, exercise of the virtues of sympathy; and he lays sought the reduction of all the Persian provinces, violent hands upon his own feelings, who acts held either by the barbarous nations, or conwith cruelty towards his species. The act is ac- quered by the Romans. The state of the Roman companied with its own punishment.
empire seemed to favour his designs ; for war was
raging in every part. Narses, with a large army, Man is dear to man; the poorest poor
invaded Mesopotamia, and in a short time recoLong for some moments, in a weary life,
vered most of the places which had belonged to When they can know, and feel that they have been Themselves the fathers, and the dealers out
his ancestors. At this time Diocletian and GaOf some small blessings; have been kind to such lerius reigned conjointly at Rome, under the deAs needed kindness, for this single cause
nomination of the two Cesars. The latter took That we have all of us one heart."
the field against Narses, and in two battles near
Antioch defeated him. Galerius passed the river Hormisdas was succeeded in his kingdom by Tigris, and advanced into the very heart of the
king's dominions; but abating his care and cirVARANES I., OR BAHARAM I.,
cumspection, Narses fell suddenly upon the Roof whom very little more is known, than that man army, and they were totally defeated. Gahe reigned three years. Persian historians say lerius himself escaped with difficulty, to tell the that he reigned with great applause ; and that his tidings at Rome. He was at first received coldly death, which was caused by treachery, as he was by Diocletian, but, by his importunities, he was endeavouring to allay a tumult, was a great grief entrusted with another army against the Perand loss to his subjects.
sians. He took a terrihle revenge. Adding During the reign of Varanes, the Romans, un- prudence to fortitude, like Narses, he watched his der the command of Saturninus, kept the Persians opportunity, and stole upon the Persian army within their limits. He was succeeded on the unawares, whereby he gained a complete victory. throne by his son,
Narses himself was wounded, and forced to flee,
with a small remnant of his army, into the VARANES II., OR BAHARAM II.
mountains. His treasures and papers, as also This prince, at the commencement of his reign, his sister, queen, concubines, and children, with acted with such haughtiness and cruelty, that the many nobles, fell into the hands of Galerius. It people gave him the surname of Khalef, that is,
was in vain that Narses endeavoured to retrieve unjust.” Hence they contemplated his de
his misfortunes: no fresh army could be colthronement; but the magi undertook his reform-lected; and the victorious Romans being shortly ation; and they did this with such warmth, and after joined by Diocletian, he consented to sursuch evident loyalty, that Baharam listened to
render the five provinces west of the Tigris; on their sage admonitions, and became an excellent which condition, peace was granted him, and his prince.
queen restored. The other prisoners were re
tained to grace a triumph at Rome. These ac“ The way of a fool is right in his own eyes:
cumulated misfortunes broke the heart of Narses, But he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
A.D. 300, after he had reigned seven years. He
was succeeded by his son The most remarkable act of the reign of Varanes, says Sir J. Malcolm, was the execution of
MISDATES, OR HORMOUZ. the celebrated Mani, about A.D. 277, who returned According to oriental historians, this prince during his reign into Persia. At first Varanes was eminent for his justice. When he saw that showed a disposition to embrace his faith, though the rich oppressed the poor, he established a most authors contend that this was a mere pre- court of justice for the redress of the latter; and text to lull Mani and his followers into a fatal he frequently presided himself, to keep the judges security. The result would seem to confirm this in awe. Misdates likewise devised many new opinion ; for Mani and almost all his disciples laws and regulations for the encouragement of were slain by his order.
trade; whence he was careful of the maritime Varanes contemplated war with the Romans; coasts and the ports of Persia. He is said to have but his resolution was shaken by the activity and extended his dominions considerably, but the prowess of the Roman emperor Probus, which particulars are not related. His reign was brief,
Prov. xii. 15.
continuing only seven years. When he was pliment that prince, and to renew the peace which dying, the infant, of whom the queen was preg
had recently subsisted between the two empires. nant, was elected his successor; the magi having This was the avowed object of the embassy; but prognosticated that it would be a son. He was they had secret orders to inquire into the strength called “ Schabour Doulaktaf,”* that is, one upon of the Romans, and to purchase arms, of which “ whose shoulder the government devolved be- he stood in need. Constantine was informed of fore his birth ;" an eastern form of expression, the designs of Sapor; but he received his miniswhich recalls to memory a reference to the Mes- ters graciously, granted their requests, and, at siah, (see Isa. ix. 6,) signifying his royal power, their return, charged them with a letter for as King of kings.
The purport of this letter was, to intercede for SAPOR II., OR SCHABOUR DOULAKTAF. the Christians. In it the emperor gave a brief During the minority of Sapor, the Persians account of his faith ; then of his success and granwere exposed to many disasters, and especially deur, which he attributed wholly to the Divine to the ravages of the Arabs, who, leaving their blessing. He afterwards expatiated on the odious arid plains on the southern shores of the Gulf, folly of idolatry, but without alluding to the cirentered Persia in vast numbers, spread desolation cumstance of Sapor’s being an idolater. He next wherever they came, and carried off the sister of pathetically represented the miseries which had the late king Hormouz, and the aunt of Scha-constantly attended unjust and cruel princes, inbour, into captivity. When Sapor came of age, stancing Valerian, whom he asserted to have been he resolved to revenge these injuries. He put happy in all his undertakings, until he became a their king to death, and treated the inhabitants persecutor of the Christians. Finally, he recomof Yemen, or Arabia, with great cruelty. Ori- mended the Christians to the favour of Sapor, and ental historians say, that he was chiefly induced besought him, for his sake, to look upon them as to act thus by the advice of his astrologers, who good and loyal subjects. This letter appears to asserted that some one of their nation would, in have had a good effect, for Sapor afterwards future, subvert the Persian empire. Malek ben treated the Christians with less severity. Nasser, an ancestor of Mohammed, their ambas- But Sapor still adhered to the plan of raising sador, remonstrated with Sapor, and suggested himself and his successors to the empire of the that either the prediction might be false, or that, east. After he had made sufficient preparations, if true, his cruelties would only provoke the he acquainted Constantine with his intentions, Arabs to retaliate. This caused him to reflect, transmitting to him a letter, wherein he claimed and he afterwards treated the Arabs so kindly, all the dominions anciently belonging to the that they called him Doulaknaf, “on the wings,"
emperors ; and affirmed that the river or their protector; from the eagles carrying their Strymon was the legal boundary of his empire. young on the wings. This was a lovely charac- His letter read thus : “ I have re-assembled my ter, and one which reminds us of the reference numerous army. I am resolved to avenge my to Jehovah in the Hebrew Scriptures, Exod. subjects, who have been plundered, made capxix. 4; Deut. xxxii. 11, 12, and to the Saviour tives, and slain. It is for this that I have bared in the Gospels, Matt. xxii. 37.
my arm, and girded my loins. If you consent Sapor was a zealous supporter of the honour to pay the price of the blood which has been shed, of the Persian diadem, and pursued steadily that to deliver up the booty which has been plundered, policy which Artaxeres had adopted, namely, and to restore the city of Nisibis, which is in that of uniting all the territories of the ancient Irak, (Arabi,) and belongs to our empire, though Persian kings under his sway. In pursuing this now in your possession, I will sheath the sword plan, however, his measures were different from of war; but should you refuse these terms, the those of his predecessors. Instead of waging war hoofs of my horse, which are hard as steel, shall himself, he encouraged the barbarians dwelling efface the name of the Romans from the earth : on the frontiers of the Roman provinces to ra- and my glorious scimitar, that destroys like fire, vage and harass them. This he did openly, shall exterminate the people of your empire.” when the Romans were in confusion, and covertly,
Constantine returned Sapor a letter replete when they were free from internal alarm. After with dignity and resolution; and though he was this, he extended his dominions eastward and now advanced in years, he prepared for war. But northward, increased his revenues by encourag- just as he was on the point of commencing his ing trade and commerce, disciplined his troops, march for the eastern provinces, he was removed and effected a profound veneration for the civil from this world of strife. and religious institutions of his country.
Upon the death of Constantine, Sapor, taking At the instigation of the magi, Sapor perse advantage of the dissensions that ensued in the cuted both the Jews and Christians; the former Roman empire, entered their provinces, and reas evil-minded subjects, and avowed enemies of annexed to his dominions the parts which his their religion; and the latter, as being attached ancestors had lost. Many years were occupied tu Constantine the Great, after his profession of in this struggle, and with various successes and Christianity. The power of Constantine was too reverses of fortune. In pitched battles, as at great for Sapor to attack him openly; he there- Siugara, and in the defence of fortresses, as at fore sent an embassy to Constantinople, to com- Nisibiu, the Romans usually bad the advantage,
but in rapid marches, equestrian skirmishes and * Some authors interpret this word, “ Lord of the surprises, the Persians triumphed. shoulders," and say, that the name was derived from his
All this happened during the reign of Constans, manner of chastising the Arab tribes, which was to pierce the shoulders of his captives, and then to dislocate them
who had succeeded Constantine in the empire of by a string passed through them.
the Romans, and in the early part of the reign of