The Ancient Library

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Mystacoti, was twice worsted, and the armies of Hormisdas were victorious till 586, when Philip-pus destroyed the Persian host at Solacon near Dara. His successor Heraclius was still more suc­cessful. In the great battle of Sisarbene, in 588, the Persians were annihilated, and their camp was taken. Hormuz now concluded an alliance with the Turks, who, however, turned suddenly against him, after having been admitted into Media, and Persia would have been lost but for the splendid achievements of Bahrain, who drove the barbarians back into their steppes, and compelled them to pay themselves the tribute which they had demanded from Persia. Bahram was rewarded with ingra­titude, and being supported by the aristocracy turned against the king, who now reaped the fruits of his former conduct against the grandees. While Bahram advanced upon the royal residence, Hor­muz was seized by Bindoes, a royal prince ; and a nation that knew no other form of government than the most absolute despotism, now beheld the anomalous sight of their king being tried by the grandees, sentenced to lose his throne, to be de­prived of his sight, and to end his days in captivity. Hormuz persuaded the grandees to place the diadem on his second son, but he was too much detested to meet with compliance, and his eldest son Chos-roes was chosen in his stead. Bahram protested against this election with sword in hand, and Chos-roes, unable to cope with him, fled to the camp of the emperor. During these troubles the blinded Hormuz was murdered by Bindoes (590). The events have been more fully related in the life of the emperor Mauricius. King Hormuz would have met with a better fate had his father's excellent minister, Abu-zurg-a-mihir, commonly called Buzurg, con­tinued to live at his court, from which old age obliged him to retire soon after the accession of Hormuz. According to some writers, Buzurg had been minister to king Cobades (502—531); but we can hardly believe that he discharged his emi­nent functions during so long a period as sixty years. However, the thing is possible. This Buzurg still lives in the memory of the people as one of the greatest sages. He introduced the study of Indian literature into Persia, and thence also he imported the most noble of games, chess.

23. bahram or varaistes VI. shubin, a royal prince, reigned from A. d. 590 till 591. This is the great general mentioned in the preceding article. Unable to maintain the throne against Khosrevv, who was supported by the emperor Mauricius, he fled to the Turks, once his enemies, by whom he was well received and raised to the highest digni­ties. It is said that he was poisoned (by the Per­sian king ?). Bahram was one of the greatest heroes of Persia, and his life is very interesting.

24. khosrew or chosroes!!. purwiz, reigned from a. d. 590 or 591 till 628, and was the son of hormuz IV. It has been related in the preceding article how he ascended the throne, lost it against Bahram, and recovered it with the assistance of the emperor Mauricius. In this expedition the Greek army was commanded by Narses, a general scarcely less eminent than the great eunuch, and who de­stroyed the hopes of the usurper Bahram in two great battles on the river Zab. The adherents of Bahram were severely punished by Chosroes, who continued to live in peace with Constantinople as long as Mauricius lived, and even kept a Greek body guard, so that Persia was entirely under



Greek influence. But when the murderer and successor of Mauricius, the tyrant Phocas, an­nounced his accession to Chosroes by Lilius, the same person who had spilt the blood of Mauricius, the Persian king, threw the ambassador into a dungeon and declared war to avenge the death of his benefactor (603). Owing to the prowess of the Persians, and the bad choice Phocas made of his generals after he had removed Narses from the command, the arms of Chosroes met with extra­ordinary success. He conquered Mesopotamia and its great bulwarks Dara, Amida, Edessa, and over­ran all Asia Minor, making the inhabitants of Constantinople tremble for their safety. Nor was his progress checked through the accession of Heraclius, in 610, who sued in vain for peace. Syria yielded to Chosroes in 611, Palestine in 614, Egypt in 616, and in the same year Asia Minor was completely conquered, a Persian camp being pitched at Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople, where the Persians maintained themselves during ten years. It was not before 621 that Heraclius showed himself that extraordinary man he really was, and saved the Eastern empire from the brink of ruin. The history of his splendid campaigns has been given in his life with sufficient details to make its repetition here superfluous. Borne down by a series of unparalleled misfortunes, and worn out by age and fatigue, Chosroes resolved, in 628, to abdicate in favour of his son Merdaza, but Shirweh, or Siroes, his eldest, anticipated his design, and at the head of a band of noble conspirators seized upon the person of his father, deposed him on the 25th of February, 628, and put him to death on the 28th following.

The Orientals say that Chosroes reigned six years too long ; and it is rather remarkable that his great antagonist Heraclius also outlived his glory. No Persian king lived in such splendour as Chosroes ; and however fabulous the Eastern accounts respecting his magnificence may be, they are true in the main, as is attested by the Western writers. Chosroes was summoned by Mohammed to embrace the new doctrine, but replied with con­tempt to the messenger of a " lizard eater," as the Persians used to call the wandering tribes of the Arabs. His successors held a different language.

25. shirweh or siroes (Sipo^s), reigned only eight months, and died probably an unnatural death, after having murdered Merdaza and several others of his brothers. In the month of March, 628, he concluded peace with the emperor Hera­clius. The numerous captives were restored on both sides, and hundreds of thousands of Greek subjects were thus given back to their families and their country. Siroes also restored the holy cross which had been taken at the conquest of Jeru­salem.

26. ardishir or artaxerxes, the infant son of Siroes, was murdered a few days after the death of his father. He was the last male Sassanid. After him the throne was disputed by a host of candidates of both sexes and doubtful descent, who had no sooner ascended the throne than they were hurried from it into death or captivity. They were, according to the Eastern sources—

27. puran-dokht, a daughter of Khosrew Pur-wiz, and a sister of Siroes.

28. shah-shenandah, her cousin and lover.

29. arzem-dokht, a daughter of Khosrew Purwiz.

3 A

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