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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Or this passage does not belong to the emperor Heraclius


of the East was indigent and

feeble. Of the Persian spoils, the most valuable portion had been expended in the war, distributed to the soldiers, or buried, by an unlucky tempest, in the waves of the Euxine. The conscience of the emperor was oppressed by the obligation of restoring the wealth of the clergy, which he had borrowed for their own defence: a perpetual fund was required to satisfy these inexorable creditors; the provinces, already wasted by the arms and avarice of the Persians, were compelled to a second payment of the same taxes; and the arrears of a simple citizen, the treasurer of Damascus, were commuted to a fine of one hundred thousand pieces of gold. The loss of two hundred thousand soldiers [113] who had fallen by the sword, was of less fatal importance than the decay of arts, agriculture, and population, in this long and destructive war: and although a victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort appears to have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief; an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valor had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians.

style="text-align: justify;">[Footnote 111: See Baronius, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 628, No. 1-4,) Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 240--248,) Nicephorus, (Brev. p. 15.) The seals of the case had never been broken; and this preservation of the cross is ascribed (under God) to the devotion of Queen Sira.]

[Footnote 1111: If the clergy imposed upon the kneeling and penitent emperor the persecution of the Jews, it must be acknowledge that provocation was not wanting; for how many of them had been eye-witnesses of, perhaps sufferers in, the horrible atrocities committed on the capture of the city! Yet we have no authentic account of great severities exercised by Heraclius. The law of Hadrian was reenacted, which prohibited the Jews from approaching within three miles of the city--a law, which, in the present exasperated state of the Christians, might be a measure of security of mercy, rather than of oppression. Milman, Hist. of the Jews, iii. 242.--M.]

[Footnote 112: George of Pisidia, Acroas. iii. de Expedit. contra Persas, 415, &c., and Heracleid. Acroas. i. 65--138. I neglect the meaner parallels of Daniel, Timotheus, &c.; Chosroes and the chagan were of course compared to Belshazzar, Pharaoh, the old serpent, &c.]

[Footnote 13: Suidas (in Excerpt. Hist. Byzant. p. 46) gives this number; but either the Persian must be read for the Isaurian war, or this passage does not belong to the emperor Heraclius.]

Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part I.


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