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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

The flames of war approached the residence of Nushirvan


the midst of the camp, pillaged the royal tent, profaned the eternal fire, loaded a train of camels with the spoils of Asia, cut his way through the Persian host, and returned with songs of victory to his friends, who had consumed the day in single combats, or ineffectual skirmishes. The darkness of the night, and the separation of the Romans, afforded the Persian monarch an opportunity of revenge; and one of their camps was swept away by a rapid and impetuous assault. But the review of his loss, and the consciousness of his danger, determined Chosroes to a speedy retreat: he burnt, in his passage, the vacant town of Melitene; and, without consulting the safety of his troops, boldly swam the Euphrates on the back of an elephant. After this unsuccessful campaign, the want of magazines, and perhaps some inroad of the Turks, obliged him to disband or divide his forces; the Romans were left masters of the field, and their general Justinian, advancing to the relief of the Persarmenian rebels, erected his standard on the banks of the Araxes. The great Pompey had formerly halted within three days' march of the Caspian: [5] that inland sea was explored, for the first time, by a hostile fleet, [6] and seventy thousand captives were transplanted from Hyrcania to the Isle of Cyprus. On the return of spring, Justinian descended into the fertile plains of Assyria; the flames of war approached the residence of Nushirvan; the indignant monarch sunk into the grave; and his last edict restrained his successors from exposing their person in battle against the Romans. [611] Yet the memory of this transient affront was lost in the glories of a long reign; and his formidable enemies, after indulging their dream of conquest, again solicited a short respite from the calamities of war. [7]

[Footnote 3: The general independence of the Arabs, which cannot be admitted without many limitations, is blindly asserted in a separate dissertation of the authors of the Universal History, vol. xx. p. 196--250. A perpetual miracle is supposed to have guarded the prophecy in favor of the posterity of Ishmael; and these learned bigots are not afraid to risk the truth of Christianity on this frail and slippery foundation. * Note: It certainly appears difficult to extract a prediction of the perpetual independence of the Arabs from the text in Genesis, which would have received an ample fulfilment during centuries of uninvaded freedom. But the disputants appear to forget the inseparable connection in the prediction between the wild, the Bedoween habits of the Ismaelites, with their national independence. The stationary and civilized descendant of Ismael forfeited, as it were, his birthright, and ceased to be a genuine son of the "wild man" The phrase, "dwelling in the presence of his brethren," is interpreted by Rosenmuller (in loc.) and others, according to the Hebrew geography, "to the East" of his brethren, the legitimate race of Abraham--M.]

[Footnote 4: D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 477. Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 64, 65. Father Pagi (Critica, tom. ii. p. 646) has proved that, after ten years' peace, the Persian war, which continued twenty years, was renewed A.D. 571. Mahomet was born A.D. 569, in the year of the elephant, or the defeat of Abrahah, (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 89, 90, 98;) and this account allows two years for the conquest of Yemen. * Note: Abrahah, according to some accounts, was succeeded by his son Taksoum, who reigned seventeen years; his brother Mascouh, who was slain in battle against the Persians, twelve. But this chronology is irreconcilable with the Arabian conquests of Nushirvan the Great. Either Seif, or his son Maadi Karb, was the native prince placed on the throne by the Persians. St. Martin, vol. x. p. 78. See likewise Johannsen, Hist. Yemanae.--M.]


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