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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

See his triumph in Theophanes p


[109] In the language of the

usurpers of every age, he imputes his own crimes to the Deity, and, without degrading his equal majesty, he offers to reconcile the long discord of the two nations, by a treaty of peace and alliance more durable than brass or iron. The conditions of the treaty were easily defined and faithfully executed. In the recovery of the standards and prisoners which had fallen into the hands of the Persians, the emperor imitated the example of Augustus: their care of the national dignity was celebrated by the poets of the times, but the decay of genius may be measured by the distance between Horace and George of Pisidia: the subjects and brethren of Heraclius were redeemed from persecution, slavery, and exile; but, instead of the Roman eagles, the true wood of the holy cross was restored to the importunate demands of the successor of Constantine. The victor was not ambitious of enlarging the weakness of the empire; the son of Chosroes abandoned without regret the conquests of his father; the Persians who evacuated the cities of Syria and Egypt were honorably conducted to the frontier, and a war which had wounded the vitals of the two monarchies, produced no change in their external and relative situation. The return of Heraclius from Tauris to Constantinople was a perpetual triumph; and after the exploits of six glorious campaigns, he peaceably enjoyed the Sabbath of his toils. After a long impatience, the senate, the clergy, and the people, went forth to meet their hero, with tears and
acclamations, with olive branches and innumerable lamps; he entered the capital in a chariot drawn by four elephants; and as soon as the emperor could disengage himself from the tumult of public joy, he tasted more genuine satisfaction in the embraces of his mother and his son. [110]

[Footnote 109: The letter of Siroes in the Paschal Chronicle (p. 402) unfortunately ends before he proceeds to business. The treaty appears in its execution in the histories of Theophanes and Nicephorus. * Note: M. Mai. Script. Vet. Nova Collectio, vol. i. P. 2, p. 223, has added some lines, but no clear sense can be made out of the fragment.--M.]

[Footnote 110: The burden of Corneille's song, "Montrez Heraclius au peuple qui l'attend," is much better suited to the present occasion. See his triumph in Theophanes (p. 272, 273) and Nicephorus, (p. 15, 16.) The life of the mother and tenderness of the son are attested by George of Pisidia, (Bell. Abar. 255, &c., p. 49.) The metaphor of the Sabbath is used somewhat profanely by these Byzantine Christians.]

The succeeding year was illustrated by a triumph of a very different kind, the restitution of the true cross to the holy sepulchre. Heraclius performed in person the pilgrimage of Jerusalem, the identity of the relic was verified by the discreet patriarch, [111] and this august ceremony has been commemorated by the annual festival of the exaltation of the cross. Before the emperor presumed to tread the consecrated ground, he was instructed to strip himself of the diadem and purple, the pomp and vanity of the world: but in the judgment of his clergy, the persecution of the Jews was more easily reconciled with the precepts of the gospel. [1111] He again ascended his throne to receive the congratulations of the ambassadors of France and India: and the fame of Moses, Alexander, and Hercules, [112] was eclipsed in the popular estimation, by the superior merit and glory of the great Heraclius. Yet the deliverer


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