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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Kindling a fire with branches of frankincense


till they had enjoyed their

precedency over the envoy of the great king, whose loud and intemperate clamors interrupted the silence of the royal banquet. The power and ambition of Chosroes cemented the union of the Turks and Romans, who touched his dominions on either side: but those distant nations, regardless of each other, consulted the dictates of interest, without recollecting the obligations of oaths and treaties. While the successor of Disabul celebrated his father's obsequies, he was saluted by the ambassadors of the emperor Tiberius, who proposed an invasion of Persia, and sustained, with firmness, the angry and perhaps the just reproaches of that haughty Barbarian. "You see my ten fingers," said the great khan, and he applied them to his mouth. "You Romans speak with as many tongues, but they are tongues of deceit and perjury. To me you hold one language, to my subjects another; and the nations are successively deluded by your perfidious eloquence. You precipitate your allies into war and danger, you enjoy their labors, and you neglect your benefactors. Hasten your return, inform your master that a Turk is incapable of uttering or forgiving falsehood, and that he shall speedily meet the punishment which he deserves. While he solicits my friendship with flattering and hollow words, he is sunk to a confederate of my fugitive Varchonites. If I condescend to march against those contemptible slaves, they will tremble at the sound of our whips; they will be trampled, like a nest of ants, under the feet
of my innumerable cavalry. I am not ignorant of the road which they have followed to invade your empire; nor can I be deceived by the vain pretence, that Mount Caucasus is the impregnable barrier of the Romans. I know the course of the Niester, the Danube, and the Hebrus; the most warlike nations have yielded to the arms of the Turks; and from the rising to the setting sun, the earth is my inheritance." Notwithstanding this menace, a sense of mutual advantage soon renewed the alliance of the Turks and Romans: but the pride of the great khan survived his resentment; and when he announced an important conquest to his friend the emperor Maurice, he styled himself the master of the seven races, and the lord of the seven climates of the world. [37]

[Footnote 35: Theophanes, (Chron. p. 204,) and the Hist. Miscella, (l. xvi. p. 110,) as understood by De Guignes, (tom. i. part ii. p. 354,) appear to speak of a Turkish embassy to Justinian himself; but that of Maniach, in the fourth year of his successor Justin, is positively the first that reached Constantinople, (Menander p. 108.)]

[Footnote 36: The Russians have found characters, rude hieroglyphics, on the Irtish and Yenisei, on medals, tombs, idols, rocks, obelisks, &c., (Strahlenberg, Hist. of Siberia, p. 324, 346, 406, 429.) Dr. Hyde (de Religione Veterum Persarum, p. 521, &c.) has given two alphabets of Thibet and of the Eygours. I have long harbored a suspicion, that all the Scythian, and some, perhaps much, of the Indian science, was derived from the Greeks of Bactriana. * Note: Modern discoveries give no confirmation to this suspicion. The character of Indian science, as well as of their literature and mythology, indicates an original source. Grecian art may have occasionally found its way into India. One or two of the sculptures in Col. Tod's account of the Jain temples, if correct, show a finer outline, and purer sense of beauty, than appears native to India, where the monstrous always predominated over simple nature.--M.]

[Footnote 3611: This rite is so curious, that I have subjoined the description of it:-- When these (the exorcisers, the Shamans) approached Zemarchus, they took all our baggage and placed it in the centre. Then, kindling a fire with branches of frankincense, lowly murmuring certain barbarous words in the Scythian language, beating on a kind of bell (a gong) and a drum, they passed over the baggage the leaves of the frankincense, crackling with the fire, and at the same time themselves becoming frantic, and violently leaping about, seemed to exorcise the evil spirits. Having thus as they thought, averted all evil, they led Zemarchus himself through the fire. Menander, in Niebuhr's Bryant. Hist. p. 381. Compare Carpini's Travels. The princes of the race of Zingis Khan condescended to receive the ambassadors of the king of France, at the end of the 13th century without their submitting to this humiliating rite. See Correspondence published by Abel Remusat, Nouv. Mem. de l'Acad des Inscrip. vol. vii. On the embassy of Zemarchus, compare Klaproth, Tableaux de l'Asie p. 116.--M.]


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