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WHILE Justinian was thus conquering in the West and substituting his own rule for that of barbarian potentates, the tide of war was rising in the East, and almost similar disasters to those he was inflicting were impending on the integral territory of the Empire. The triumphal progress of the Imperial arms in Africa and Italy was watched with the keenest solicitude by Chosroes, and he began to fear that the power and resources of his hereditary rival were being so formidably increased that he would soon be able to make an irresistible attack on his own dominions. Even before the formalities of the Perpetual Peace had been completely adjusted the news arrived of the virtual subjugation of the Vandalic kingdom; and Chosroes, while congratulating the Emperor by his legates, jestingly put forward a claim to share in the spoils, which, he observed, could not have being won but for his own ready assent to the Roman suit for peace. Justinian, however, took his banter seriously, and presented him with a large sum of money as a conciliatory gift.

Chosroes is represented by the historian of the period as a man who talked humanity and philosophy in a most engaging manner, but with treacherous intent, and who never failed to take advantage of his opponents after he had lulled their suspicions by an outward show of sympathy and benevolence. Whatever his individual inclination may have been in 539 as to the expediency of entering on a war with the Empire, ample incitement from without was not wanting to induce him to bend his mind intently to the question.

While Vitigis was struggling to retain his kingdom the natives of Roman Armenia were in revolt against Justinian's newly imposed taxes and stricter system of local government. Hoping to divert the armaments of the Emperor from themselves, both parties successively sent legations to Chosroes urging that in his own interest he should make war on their oppressor. If he did not take up arms in time, they argued, his encroachments would continue unchecked, and Persia would shortly find that no option was left to her but that of being devoured last. To such representations the Persian monarch was quickly responsive, and in each instance the emissaries departed feeling satisfied that their object had been attained.

In the autumn of 539 Chosroes made up his mind to wage war with the Romans, and cast about him for some plausible pretext to begin his military operations. He accused Justinian of tampering with the allegiance of his Saracenic ally Alamundar by pecuniary inducements, of bribing the Huns to invade Persia, and finally he instigated the Arab sheikh to make a raid into Syria in order to provoke a declaration of war from his rival. Justinian, however, was very anxious to keep the peace, and addressed a dignified expostulation to the Persian Court, in which he exhorted the Shahinshah to deal with him in good faith. To this appeal Chosroes deigned no reply, but retained the ambassador till he had matured his preparations for invading the Empire.

In the spring of 540 he crossed the Euphrates in great force, and advanced along the river for four hundred miles until he arrived in the vicinity of Callinicum. During the latter third of this march he was on Roman territory, where he exacted a pecuniary ransom from some small towns, and destroyed others. At this point he dismissed Justinian’s legate, telling him simply to go and inform his master in what part of the world he had left Chosroes, the son of Cavades.

The whole of Syria was now at the mercy of the Persian King, and deputies arrived on all sides to inquire what amount he would accept in order to leave their districts unmolested. A small force stationed at Hierapolis was deserted by its commander, Buzes, who disappeared suddenly and forgot to leave his address. Chosroes soon appeared before the walls, but he allowed himself to be bought off for two thousand pounds of silver; and from thence he proceeded further on his depredations, but his price rose as he went along. At Beroea, a much smaller place, having been paid a similar sum, he demanded more, and, in default, ended by sacking and burning the town. At the same time he was convened by a bishop on the part of the Antiochians, who offered him a thousand pounds of gold to quit the country. To these terms he agreed, but when the bishop returned to Antioch to clinch the bargain, he found that legates had arrived from Constantinople, who issued a prohibition against the Syrians continuing to buy back the Emperor’s cities from the Persian monarch. Having received an intimation, therefore, consonant to this decree, Chosroes marched with all speed against the city.




Antioch, with a previous history of eight centuries, was the great commercial emporium between the Far East and the West; and it is supposed that the term Ta-Thsin, which represents the Roman Empire in Chinese annals, is a travesty of the proper name of the overflowing Syrian mart, of which alone they had any practical cognizance. Under the Empire, its history is especially dignified by the names of Julian, Libanius, and Chrysostom. But it must have been shorn of much of its splendour by the disastrous earthquake of 526, an account of which has been given on a previous page.

The city was situated in a plain about two miles wide between the Orontes and Mount Casius. On the north the river, which flowed past the walls, afforded adequate protection, but on the south two spurs from the mountain projected to such an extent that part of the city was built on their declivities and in the valley between them. On that side, consequently, the fortifications were disposed in two loops, which rose over the hills with a dip in the interspace. The moment information as to the hostile irruption was conveyed to Justinian, he sent his nephew, Germanus, with a small brigade, to the seat of war, promising him that large forces should follow with the least possible delay. On his arrival, Germanus inspected the fortifications, and observed that on the summit of one of the hills masses of rock arose at a short distance outside the walls, which they almost equalled in height. Hence an enemy, by occupying this elevation, could dominate that part of the town. He advised, therefore, that a deep foss should be excavated so as to render the walls inaccessible on that aspect, or that a huge tower conjoined to the wall should be built opposite the rocks, which could thus be rendered untenable by showers of missiles. The local engineers, however, decided that there was no time to undertake works of such magnitude, whilst an unfinished attempt would only advertise the enemy as to the weak point in the line of defence. Shortly afterwards, Germanus, having no news of a Byzantine army being on the route, retired into Cilicia, giving as his reason that the presence of a prince of the blood would be an incentive to Chosroes to exert all his force to capture the city.

When Chosroes reached Antioch, he was still willing to accept a ransom, but the citizens were now in no mood to meet his proposals. A certain number, the most timid, had already fled, but those who remained were suddenly reassured by the arrival of six thousand troops from the south under the military governors of Libanus. Having encamped his army along the Orontes, the Shah sent forward an interpreter lo interrogate the municipality as to a ransom, but a mob congregated on the walls immediately overwhelmed him with jeers and insults; and shortly he had to run for bis life in order to escape from a shower of stones.

Burning with resentment, Chosroes now commanded that the siege should be pressed on all sides with the utmost ardour. He himself, with the most strenuous body of troops he could select, ascended the southern hill, where he took up his position on the rocky plateau, from whence, with all the advantage of being on level ground, his men began to discharge their arrows with tireless energy against the defenders of the wall. On their side the garrison had improvised a means of doubling their powers of resistance by erecting a wooden platform above the battlements in the interspace between the pair of towers which confronted the threatening ridge of rock. From thence soldiers commingled with citizen volunteers, in superimposed ranks, launched their darts against the enemy. The battle with missiles raged hotly for some time, when suddenly the wooden platform, imperfectly sustained, gave way with a loud crash, and precipitated all those who were supported by it to the ground. A senseless panic then ensued, a cry was raised that the Persians had forced the wall and were pouring into the city, whereupon the newly-arrived garrison descended and leaped on to their horses, which were tethered below, and rushed to the gate of Daphne on the opposite side of the town. Their leaders rode at their head, and, wishing to get away without hindrance, scattered the news that Buzes was at hand with an army of relief, which they were hastening to admit into the city. But the citizens thronged after them excitedly, and a fatal crush occurred in the vicinity of the gate, where people of all ages were trampled to death by the horses of the flying cavalry.

In the meantime the Persians, seeing the walls deserted, brought up ladders, and, ascending in great numbers, took possession of the battlements. There they remained for some time, for Chosroes, seated outside on a high tower, having noticed the flight of the military, thought it wisest to give them time to evacuate the city, instead of provoking them to rally by an untimely attack. As soon as the tumult appeared to have subsided, the Persians began to descend and make their way into the level part of the city with some difficulty, as the tract adjoining the south wall inside consisted for the most part of precipitous crags. In a short time, however, they unexpectedly found themselves in conflict with a large mass of the youth of Antioch, members of the Circus factions, who had assembled in the Forum, some armed in military fashion, others provided only with stones. The first bands of the Orientals were severely repulsed, and already the Syrio-Greeks began to sing the paean of "Justinian the Victor", when large forces arrived and extinguished their resistance. A ruthless massacre then followed, neither age nor sex being spared, until the Shah thought fit to give the signal for its cessation.

Previous to the commencement of the siege, the Roman legates had been received in the Persian camp, where they vainly endeavoured to dissuade Chosroes from continuing the war. He now summoned them to his presence, and, in a lachrymose tone, delivered a homily on the diversified nature of human fortune. The ruin of this noble capital, he remarked, was a sad spectacle, which he had done all in his power to prevent. By their rash defence with unequal forces, the citizens had brought this calamity on themselves, but he had restrained the incensed soldiery and given time for great numbers to escape. The arrogance of mortals, he continued, was visited with condign punishment by the Deity, who sought to restrain them from encroaching beyond their proper sphere. He pointed at Justinian, on whom he cast the whole onus of originating the war. But to his hearers it seemed that only wanton aggression had impelled him on this campaign, whilst all understood that he had delayed the assault discreetly lest his own army should incur needless risk.

The fate of Antioch was presently decided. All the remaining inhabitants were seized as captives, and the buildings were given over to pillage and fire. Treasures of gold and silver and works of art in marble were accumulated for the special benefit of the Shah, who departed, leaving incendiaries in the city to complete the task of destruction. Ultimately, however, Chosroes showed himself as a benignant master of the Antiochians whom he had carried off. In the vicinity of Ctesiphon he built a new city, to which he gave the name of Chosroantioch, and furnished it with everything appertaining to a Roman town, including a circus and public baths. Here the captives were housed under the eye of the monarch himself, with no intermediary satrap, and endowed with many privileges which were not enjoyed by his Persian subjects, Moreover, if any of the relatives of the inhabitants, who had been enslaved, succeeded in escaping to this town, they were granted a permanent asylum, so that their masters could not reclaim them, even should they be nobles of the court.

It might be said, without much sacrifice of accuracy, that the war which had now broken out between Rome and Persia only terminated a century later, when the Sassanian dynasty was extinguished by the votaries of Mohammed. There were interruptions to hostilities, vicissitudes in the martial relations of the two empires, yet no stable peace.

But the Saracens then became the neighbours of Rome on the Euphrates, as they had always previously been on the Arabian frontiers; and, viewing the conflict as one between East and West, between Grecian and Oriental civilization, we might traverse a millennium and aver that the war never ended until 1453, when Mohammed II made his victorious entry into Constantinople. Henceforward Justinian was almost perpetually engaged in desultory and indecisive military operations on the eastern marches; and the repair of damages inflicted by his restless compeer constituted a permanent drain on the resources of the Empire.




After this signal success there was a lull in the activity of Chosroes, and he showed a disposition to grant a peace. He discussed the subject with the Byzantine envoys, and finally dismissed them with a precise statement as to what terms he would accept. He then took a pleasure trip to the sea at Seleucia, the port of Antioch, visited the grove of Daphne, after which his greed for acquisition returned, and he bethought himself of the rich city of Apamea, which was in the vicinity. He appeared before the gates, but, as an informal truce was supposed to be in existence, he professed himself to be an amicable visitor, desirous only of viewing the objects of interest in the town. He was admitted with a guard of cavalry, and presided in the Circus in imitation of the Byzantine autocrat. Hearing that Justinian favoured the Blues, he announced himself in opposition as a partisan of the Greens. As, however, his temper was uncertain, it was thought prudent to conciliate him with a gift of a thousand pounds of silver before his departure; but, still insatiate, he insisted also in appropriating the treasures of the cathedral. He now discarded all respect for the peace negotiations, and resumed his career of subjugation. Ransoms were exacted as before, and he decided on the blockade of Edessa, but was deterred by the evil omen of a boil on his check. He then laid siege to Dara, and drove a tunnel beneath the walls. His design, however, was betrayed, and frustrated by a counterwork on the part of the besieged, whereupon he abandoned the enterprise and returned to Persia for the winter.

Justinian now repudiated the peace convention, which had been made by his legates, on the ground that Chosroes had violated the conditions and in the spring of 541 Belisarius arrived at Dara to organize the defences of the country. The result of a military council was an advance, with all the forces which could be mustered, on Nisibis. Here the usual round of skirmishes were fought outside the walls, but at length it was decided that the fortress was impregnable, and the Roman army retired. A conflict with the Shah had been expected, but he was reported to be occupied with a Hunnish incursion, and did not make bis appearance on the Euphrates this year. After directing some raids on Persian territory, in the course of which Sisauranum, an important fortress, with its garrison, was captured, Belisarius returned to Constantinople for the winter. Arethas, the Saracen sheikh, with a large following, took part in this expedition, and even crossed the Tigris into Assyria; but, being ill-directed and supported, rendered little effective service. The Persian soldiers who had been taken as prisoners of war, about eight hundred in number, were sent to Italy, there to do duty as combatants against the Goths.

In the meantime Chosroes had really absented himself on an expedition which he had undertaken insidiously against Byzantine commerce in the Euxine Sea. After the Lazi and Iberians had taken refuge in the arms of Rome, Justinian had proceeded to make his suzerainty practical by building a strong fortress on the coast of Lazica. Founded among inaccessible rocks, and approachable from the plain on one side only, this stronghold received the appropriate name of Petra. A pair of military Dukes, distinguished as usual for rapacity, were placed in charge, and they immediately created a monopoly in their own favour of the imports by sea, on which the Lazi were almost wholly dependent.

The region, in fact, was devoid of agricultural produce and salt. For such necessaries they bartered slaves and skins. Soon the fiscal oppression became so intolerable that deputies were secretly despatched lo implore the Persian King to take up arms on behalf of the Lazi and expel the Romans. Chosroes seized the opportunity, and, giving out that he was marching against the Huns, proceeded with a numerous army to the occupation of Lazica. The country was shut in by precipitous mountains, but level passes existed, which, however, were blocked by a dense forest. With the aid of native guides and a strong body of pioneers, a route was quickly opened, so that the Persians poured in rapidly and disposed themselves for an assault on Petra. At the onset they suffered severely through a ruse of the Byzantine commandant, who withdrew all his men from the battlements so as to give the fortress a deserted appearance. The Orientals, therefore, crowded up carelessly, and began to arrange their siege engines in suitable positions, when suddenly the gates were flung open, and the garrison, charging impetuously, drove them back with great slaughter.

Within a few days, however, the resourceful author of this success was slain by an arrow, and thereafter the defence became languid and ineffective. Two great towers were the chief bulwarks of the town, and the Persians, without being observed, bored a tunnel which terminated under the base of one of them. Then the stone foundations were cautiously removed and substituted by a mass of inflammable wood. On fire being applied, the ponderous pile soon collapsed; whereupon the besieged gladly accepted the terms offered them to surrender. The treasures of John Tzibus such was the name of the Duke who had been in command which he had amassed by his extortions to a large amount, fell into the hands of the victor, who then evacuated the principality, leaving a Persian garrison in the fortress. Chosroes was now in a position to ruin Byzantine commerce in the Euxine, but it was first essential that he should build a fleet in order to make his conquest of Petra effective for the purpose.

In order to guard his retreat during this expedition, the Shah had impelled an irruption of Huns into Roman Armenia, but they were met and defeated by the Master of Soldiers in that region, who, however, neglected to follow up his success, being ignorant or misdirected as to the opportunity of intercepting the Persians on their way through the mountain passes of Lazica.

The insufficiency of the Byzantine forces in the East was such that next year (542), when Belisarius returned to the seat of war, he was obliged to trust to a ruse to stop the progress of the Persian army. Chosroes again led the invasion, and this time with Jerusalem as the object of his cupidity, when he heard that a Roman camp had been formed on the river, south of the frontier, so as to intercept him should he return by his usual line of march. Thereupon he sent an exploratory legation, ostensibly to interrogate the Master of Soldiers as to Justinian's intentions with respect to a treaty. Having named a day for their reception, Belisarius advanced from his camp accompanied by six thousand of his tallest soldiers, chosen from as many diverse nationalities as possible. When the time of meeting was at hand, he appeared reclining in an extemporized tent, as if resting after a hunting expedition, whilst in various directions, as far as the eye could reach, were seen Thracians, Mysians, Goths, Herules, Vandals, and Moors, all in undress, hurrying to and fro, seemingly busied with matters relating only to the chase.

On the opposite side of the river a thousand cavalry were disposed, making as much show as possible by their evolutions. When the Persians came up, Belisarius, regarding them in a questioning manner, with an air of repellent surprise, inquired what might be the object of their visit to his camp. At the same time the men, passing and repassing, one with a horsewhip, another with an axe, a sword, or a bow, gave them a look of careless and contemptuous scrutiny, and went on as if too intent on their occupation to notice them any further. In reply to the general, the chief legate said that the Shah was indignant at Justinian's not having sent an ambassador with a definite answer as to the proposed treaty. “It is not customary”, said Belisarius in a haughty tone, “for people to act like Chosroes to invade a neighbouring kingdom with a great army, and then to inquire what pacific measures would be most acceptable. Withdraw your forces; we decline to treat with you unless upon equal terms. Making a gesture of dismissal, he then turned away and began to occupy himself with something else.

Duly impressed by this burlesque, the envoy reported to Chosroes that he had never met a general so decided and authoritative, nor seen soldiers of such splendid proportions, whilst the main army must be very numerous, since so many could be out of arms at one time as a mere hunting party. Moved by this report, the Shah thought it prudent to retreat across the Euphrates at the spot where he found himself instead of retracing his usual route to Ctesiphon. Thus was Palestine saved; and by many Belisarius was credited with a finer achievement than when he led Gelimer or Witigis captive to Constantinople. Yet it was the last occasion on which he held a command in the Orient; and his activities in future were to be confined to Italy and the vicinity of the capital. Even on this occasion, however, the Persian monarch did not regain his capital empty handed, but, finding on his way back that Callinicus was poorly fortified, he took it by a sudden assault, and made a clean sweep of everything worth removing from the site.

During the following year, owing to the prevalence of a fatal epidemie, Chosroes remained inactive; but the Romans penetrated into Persarmenia, where they carried on the war with little success, and sustained at least one decisive defeat.

In 544, however, the Shah again emerged from his boundaries, this time resolved on the capture of Edessa, a city which affirmed itself to possess a direct guarantee from the Deity that it would never he taken by an enemy, and a passage to that effect from a letter, said to have been written by Jesus to Abgar, a former ruler, was inscribed over the gates. But Chosroes was ambitious of disproving the validity of this safeguard, and, therefore, set about beleaguering the city in a manner which should exclude the possibility of being unsuccessful. His ardour in this undertaking was sustained by the fanaticism of the Magi, who, having adored Jesus at his birth, ever afterwards regarded him as an impostor most obnoxious to their religion. A preliminary skirmish, however, having turned out unfavourably for his arms, he began to dread the disgrace of failure, and proposed a ransom; but the amount was so exorbitant that the citizens elected rather to endure a siege. Preparations for capture were, therefore, pushed on energetically; and first of all the Persians began to construct an immense quadrangular mound, from the flat top of which they intended to dominate the city with their missiles. Trunks of trees, stones, and earth were congested together, in the beginning at a distance beyond bow-shot from the walls, but as the work progressed towards the town, the builders became attainable by the arrows and engines of the garrison. The discharge was at first effective, especially that of flaming darts, but the Orientals soon erected huge screens made of hides, under cover of which they were able to work in safety. The citizens now became seriously alarmed, and sent a further deputation to Chosroes, but in vain, fifty thousand pounds of gold being the lowest price he would accept to raise the siege. All hope of an accommodation being now lost, the engineers of the city began to devise means to counteract the hostile operations. First they tried to raise a mound, conjoined to the walls, to oppose that of the enemy, but the task proved to be beyond their powers, and so they desisted. Then they bored a tunnel, which reached as far as the centre of the mound, designing to destroy it by fire from below, but the Persian sentinels heard the excavators at work, and the scheme was frustrated by a counterboring. Another tunnel, which only attained the proximate part of the mound, was achieved with better success, and a cavern was hollowed out, into which a vast quantity of dry wood impregnated with oil, sulphur, and bitumen was introduced. Here a fire was kept burning constantly by fresh supplies, whilst the enemy’s attention was diverted from the rising smoke by an incessant discharge of blazing arrows and pitch-pots. After some days, however, as the fire pervaded the viscera of the mound, volumes of smoke betrayed the real nature of the conflagration. The Persians then essayed to extinguish it with earth and water, but, failing to check it, they decided to abandon this siege work. A surprise attack by night with ladders was the next manoeuvre, but the Romans were too vigilant, and the coup only led to a slaughterous repulse.

During the whole period of the beleaguerment, sallies were regularly organized by the garrison, and generally with considerable loss to the besiegers. Finally Chosroes nerved himself to make a supreme effort with all his powers to storm the city. With this object in view, myriads of adobes were moulded and laid over the top of the smouldering mound. The assault was begun in the early morning, and at first bid fair to be successful, the defenders of the wall being comparatively few; but, as the day wore on, the whole effective population, men, women, and children, crowded to the battlements. Then improvised projectiles of every available substance were hurled, cauldrons of oil were brought up and fired along the top of the wall, and, with the aid of suitable sprinklers, drops of the burning liquid were rained down on the escaladers. After a prolonged and vigorous attack, the besiegers retired and informed the Shah that they could make no headway. He raged, and drove them back again; they returned to the assault with reckless fury; ladders, lowers, and engines of every description were rushed up to the walls, but for the second time the ceaseless torrent of missiles put them to flight. Chosroes then resigned himself and left his post of observation, while the townspeople hurled their taunts of defiance after his retreating figure. The siege of Edessa had failed; and, with the slight compensation of five hundred pounds of gold, he broke up bis camp and departed.

Shortly after Justinian’s legates again convened Chosroes and in 545 he granted a truce for five years in exchange for two thousand pounds of gold, and a Greek physician, whose skill had formerly relieved him from a painful malady. Yet such was bis ill faith that when he sent a plenipotentiary to conclude the pact at Constantinople, he commissioned him to attempt the capture of Dara, while on his way, by a stratagem. But for the wariness of the inhabitants of that fortress, the emissary would have gained admission with a large retinue, fired the houses in the night, and opened the gates to the army of Nisibis, which was lo lie in waiting outside the walls.

Notwithstanding the establishment of peaceful relations, a desultory warfare was still carried on in Lazica. A twelvemonth's experience of Persian domination convinced the Lazi that there was something even worse than Byzantine extortion, and they prayed to be received again into the fold of a nation which was at least Christian like themselves. Nor could the Romans endure the loss of Petra, but sent an expeditionary force into the country to retake it. They were opposed by a Persian army, and for many years the principality was the scene of numerous petty successes and defeats. Chosroes imported a large quantity of material for the purpose of building a fleet on the Euxine, but it was suddenly consumed by lightning, whence it happened that the command of the sea in these regions was never obtained by the Persians.

Intermittently the siege of Petra was pressed for eight years before the stronghold again came into the hands of the Byzantines (551). The successful general was Bessas, who, though above seventy years of age, was the first to ascend the scaling ladders at the last assault. The defence of the fortress had been persisted in by the Persians with extraordinary fortitude; and out of seven hundred and thirty men of the garrison, who were taken prisoners, it was found that only eighteen had not received a wound. Five hundred of the survivors took refuge in the citadel, and in spite of an earnest exhortation by Bessas, preferred death by fire to surrender; whence all of these perished in the flames with which the Romans consumed the buildings. The fortress contained a store of provisions calculated to last for five years, and the reserve of arms and armour would have sufficed to fit out each man of the garrison five times over. But the captors were chiefly amazed at seeing a copious flow issuing from an aqueduct, although every channel of water supply had apparently been cut off. In the only possible track a surface conduit had been divided, but for long afterwards no signs could be detected of a lack of water in the town. Evidently there must be a second supply; they dug down and came on an underground conduit beneath the first, and that also was severed. Only after the capture of the fortress was it discovered that at a still greater depth a third watercourse for the supply of the inhabitants had been constructed. Petra was now abolished by Bessas, who razed every building to the ground level, and departed with his prisoners to the capital.




Two years after the beginning of this war an outbreak of bubonic plague, the first circumstantially recorded in history, was manifested in the Eastern Hemisphere. The phenomena of the disease were first noted at Pelusium, whence it spread throughout Egypt on the one band, and Asia Minor on the other. In the spring of the next year (543) it reached Constantinople, where it raged for four months. At first few persons were stricken, but the epidemy became intensified gradually, until at the height of its virulence as many as ten thousand victims died in one day.

The cessation of all normal activities of social life, and the changed aspect of the Imperial capital have been described by Procopius, who was present there at the time.

Deserted streets, except for those hurrying to bury the dead without religious rites; the oppletion of all ordinary sepulchres and cemeteries; the digging of graves in every available patch of ground in the suburbs; the ultimate difficulty of disposing of the corpses by any recognized method, when some were projected into the sea, and others were hurled down the wall towers of Sycae, the roofs having been temporarily removed for the purpose; the stench afterwards pervading the city when the wind set from that quarter; the wailing of the bereaved and the fearful who betook themselves to the churches; the opulent households in which sometimes a few slaves were the sole survivors of the family; the dying left untended and those who fell dead in the thoroughfares while conveying their relatives to the tomb; finally the obliteration of the feud between the Circus factions, and their dejectedly working in harmony for the removal of their own dead and those of others; such were the main features which denoted the state of hopeless desolation prevailing during this calamitous visitation.

The symptoms of this plague have been described by the contemporary historian with an accuracy which leaves little to be added by a modem physician having a clinical acquaintance with the disease. In typical cases the victim at some unexpected moment felt a sharp stab, almost invariably in the groin or the axilla; whence the superstitious declared that they had seen a demon who at the critical instant approached and struck them. Fever, with the development of a bubo at the sensitive spot, rapidly set in; coma or delirium then supervened, and death occurred in three or four days. Black patches often appeared on the body, and were premonitory of an immediately fatal ending. Among the worst signs, vomiting or spitting of blood was also observed.

In the most violent attacks the patient without warning fell down in contortions and died before other symptoms became apparent. Some rushed madly through the street, others flung themselves from windows or roofs. The disease was not contagious, and those who handled the infected bodies were not on that account more liable to be seized. Recovery was forecasted by ripening and suppuration of the buboes, whilst indolence of those tumours was surely indicative of a fatal termination. The medical faculty dissected the corpses with assiduity, but found neither explanation nor remedy. In their prognosis also they were often wrong, some recovering whom they had given up, and others dying, of whom they had entertained the best hopes. Having once manifested itself, the plague became endemic, and more than half a century afterwards continued to be one of the chief causes of mortality.