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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 54 Agathias specifies the Gorgias


reverence among the treasures

of the kings of India. The physician Perozes was secretly despatched to the banks of the Ganges, with instructions to procure, at any price, the communication of this valuable work. His dexterity obtained a transcript, his learned diligence accomplished the translation; and the fables of Pilpay [55] were read and admired in the assembly of Nushirvan and his nobles. The Indian original, and the Persian copy, have long since disappeared; but this venerable monument has been saved by the curiosity of the Arabian caliphs, revived in the modern Persic, the Turkish, the Syriac, the Hebrew, and the Greek idioms, and transfused through successive versions into the modern languages of Europe. In their present form, the peculiar character, the manners and religion of the Hindoos, are completely obliterated; and the intrinsic merit of the fables of Pilpay is far inferior to the concise elegance of Phaedrus, and the native graces of La Fontaine. Fifteen moral and political sentences are illustrated in a series of apologues: but the composition is intricate, the narrative prolix, and the precept obvious and barren. Yet the Brachman may assume the merit of inventing a pleasing fiction, which adorns the nakedness of truth, and alleviates, perhaps, to a royal ear, the harshness of instruction. With a similar design, to admonish kings that they are strong only in the strength of their subjects, the same Indians invented the game of chess, which was likewise introduced into Persia under the reign
of Nushirvan. [56]

[Footnote 46: A thousand years before his birth, the judges of Persia had given a solemn opinion, (Herodot. l. iii. c. 31, p. 210, edit. Wesseling.) Nor had this constitutional maxim been neglected as a useless and barren theory.]

[Footnote 47: On the literary state of Persia, the Greek versions, philosophers, sophists, the learning or ignorance of Chosroes, Agathias (l. ii. c. 66--71) displays much information and strong prejudices.]

[Footnote 48: Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. DCCXLV. vi. vii.]

[Footnote 49: The Shah Nameh, or Book of Kings, is perhaps the original record of history which was translated into Greek by the interpreter Sergius, (Agathias, l. v. p. 141,) preserved after the Mahometan conquest, and versified in the year 994, by the national poet Ferdoussi. See D'Anquetil (Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xxxi. p. 379) and Sir William Jones, (Hist. of Nadir Shah, p. 161.)]

[Footnote 50: In the fifth century, the name of Restom, or Rostam, a hero who equalled the strength of twelve elephants, was familiar to the Armenians, (Moses Chorenensis, Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 7, p. 96, edit. Whiston.) In the beginning of the seventh, the Persian Romance of Rostam and Isfendiar was applauded at Mecca, (Sale's Koran, c. xxxi. p. 335.) Yet this exposition of ludicrum novae historiae is not given by Maracci, (Refutat. Alcoran. p. 544--548.)]

[Footnote 51: Procop. (Goth. l. iv. c. 10.) Kobad had a favorite Greek physician, Stephen of Edessa, (Persic. l. ii. c. 26.) The practice was ancient; and Herodotus relates the adventures of Democedes of Crotona, (l. iii p. 125--137.)]

[Footnote 52: See Pagi, tom. ii. p. 626. In one of the treaties an honorable article was inserted for the toleration and burial of the Catholics, (Menander, in Excerpt. Legat. p. 142.) Nushizad, a son of Nushirvan, was a Christian, a rebel, and--a martyr? (D'Herbelot, p. 681.)]

[Footnote 53: On the Persian language, and its three dialects, consult D'Anquetil (p. 339--343) and Jones, (p. 153--185:) is the character which Agathias (l. ii. p. 66) ascribes to an idiom renowned in the East for poetical softness.]

[Footnote 54: Agathias specifies the Gorgias, Phaedon, Parmenides, and Timaeus. Renaudot (Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec. tom. xii. p. 246--261) does not mention this Barbaric version of Aristotle.]


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