The Ancient Library

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Magi. This persecution, begun at the close of the reign of Yezdigerd, was continued under his suc­cessor; and some Christian fugitives crossed the frontiers into the Roman territories to seek pro­tection. The Persian king claimed the fugitives, but his demand was refused ; and tnis, added to other causes of dispute, kindled a war between the two empires. Theodosius was not a soldier, and the war was carried on for about two years by his general Ardaburius, with no important results. The defence of Theodosiopolis in Mesopotamia has immortalised the name of its warrior bishop Eunomus. The town had been besieged by the enemy for some time, but the bishop and his flock stoutly held out, and destroyed the wooden towers of the enemy. The obstinate resistance of the place provoked the blasphemy of a Persian prince, who threatened to burn the temple of God when he took the town. The bishop, shocked at his im­pious threats, pointed at him a balista, which bore the potent name of St. Thomas, and the formidable machine discharged a stone which struck the blas­phemer dead. Upon this the king of Persia lost heart, and withdrew his troops. (Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs., vol. vi. c. 13.)

Socrates, the chief authority for the history of the Persian war, says that Theodosius, notwith­standing his success in the war, was the first to propose terms of peace. A truce for one hundred years was concluded between the Persians and the Romans. The kingdom of Armenia, now extin­guished, was divided between the Persians and the Romans, an arrangement which gave to the empire of the East a new and extensive province. The divi­sion of Armenia probably followed the conclusion of a second Persian war, a. d. 441. 'In a. d. 423 died Honorius the emperor of the West. Placidia., the sister of Honorius, had been sent away from Italy, with her sons Valentinian and Honorius, by the Western emperor, a short time before his death, and she took refuge at Constantinople. The throne of the West was usurped by Joannes, who declared • himself emperor. Theodosius refused to acknow­ledge the usurper, and sent against him a force commanded by Ardaburius. The usurper was taken in Ravenna, and his head was cut off, A. d. 425. Theodosius was enjoying the games of the Circus at Constantinople when the news came, and he showed his piety, as Tillemont remarks, by stopping the entertainment, and inviting all the people to go to the church with him, to return thanks to God for the death of the tyrant. Whether Theodosius had no ambition to keep the empire of the West, or those who governed him determined his conduct, he resolved to confer it on his youth­ful cousin Valentinian. Eudocia, the daughter of Theodosius, was betrothed to the young emperor, and she was married to him in A. D. 437.

The reign of the younger Theodosius was not free from the religious troubles which had dis­tracted the reign of his grandfather Theodosius. The great dispute which originated with Nestorius, who was made patriarch of Constantinople in a. d. 428, and ended in the Council of Ephesus, a. d. 431, is described at length under nestorius.

The Huns had ravaged the eastern provinces in the reign of Arcadius, the father of Theodosius ; and they were now the formidable neighbours of the empire on the frontier of the Danube. In a. d. 441 the Huns, under Attila and his brother Bleda, crossed the Danube, and took Viminiacum


in Moesia ; they broke through the Illyrian frontier, the fortresses of which offered only a feeble re­sistance, destroyed Sirmium, Singidunum (Bel­grade), Sardica, and other towns, and extended their ravages into Thrace. Theodosius recalled the troops from Sicily which he had sent against Genseric king of the Vandals, and collected from Asia and Europe all the men that he could muster ; but his generals were unable to direct this force efficiently, and after several defeats they retreated towards Constantinople, which alone, of all the cities between the Archipelago and the Euxine, remained for the protection of the emperor. The history of the ravages of Attila comprehends several years, and they were apparently interrupted by intervals of peace, for it was not till a.d. 447, the year of the great earthquake which destroyed part of the walls of Constantinople and threw down fifty'Seven towers, that the Huns approached the capital, and peace was finally made. In a. d. 447 or 448 Theodosius concluded a disgraceful peace with the king of the Huns, to whom was given up a territory on the Danube extending from Singi­dunum to Novae, in the diocese of Thrace, and fifteen days' journey in breadth. The annual sub­sidy that had hitherto been paid to Attila, was increased from seven hundred pounds of gold to twenty-one hundred, and six thousand pounds of gold were to be paid on the spot. Theodosius had exhausted his treasury by extravagant expenditure, and his unfortunate subjects, who had been pillaged by the Huns, were pillaged again by this unwar­like and feeble emperor, to supply the demands of the barbarian conqueror. Attila also required all the deserters from his camp to be given up, and he claimed back, without any ransom, all his men who had been taken prisoners.

In A. d. 448 or 449 Theodosius sent an embassy to Attila, at the head of which was Maximin. The ambassador was accompanied by the historian Prisons, who has left a most interesting account of the domestic habits of Attila. [PRiscus.] The pro­posed object of the embassy was to maintain the good understanding between the emperor of the East and the king of the Huns ; but Theodosius had a private object to accomplish, the execution of which was entrusted only to Vigilius, the interpreter j and this was the assassination of Attila. The ambassador passed through Sardica, and crossed the Danube ; and in some place north of this river he had his first interview with Attila, whom he was obliged to follow in his progress northwards before he could conclude the business on which he was sent. The narrative of Priscus leads us to infer that the place in which the king of the Huns gave his final reception to the ambassador was in the plains of northern Hungary. The proposal to assassinate Attila had been made at Constantinople by the eunuch Chrysaphius, who then reigned in the name of Theodosius, and made to Edecon, a chieftain of the Scyrri. Vigilius was the medium of commanication between Chrysaphius and Edecon^ who was to receive for his reward some of the wealth on which he had gazed with admiration at Constantinople. The scheme was communicated to the emperor, who approved of it. The emperor's conduct was rendered more disgraceful by the fact that Maximin, his ambassador, was exposed to all the danger of the discovery of this treachery, and, being kept in ignorance of it, had not even the choice of refusing to conduct the embassy. Edecoa

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