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army of eastern fugitives, to whom his descent and knowledge of their language naturally recommended him. But the attachment of the soldiers to Theophobos was possibly based on a higher and transcendent claim.
The Hurramites cherished the firm belief that a Mahdi or Guide of their own race would appear who would guide them to faith in himself, would transmit his Empire to another, to be followed by a perpetual line of successors. Such a divine leader had recently arisen amongst them, but he was caught and executed.1 If Theophobos was recognised as his successor, we should understand both the ascendency which he exercised over them, and the motive of the legends which grew up about his origin. But the fact which suggests this explanation is the belief current among the Persians" in later generations that Theophobos had never tasted death.2
The foreigners had come to Sinope, having evidently followed the coast road by Trapezus, as they could not pass through the Saracen province of Melitene. Quarters were assigned to them here and at Amastris, but some years later they seized their commander and proclaimed him Emperor against his will (A.D. 837). Theophobos, whose services had been rewarded by the rank of patrician and the hand of a lady who was sister either to Theophilus himself or to Theodora, was a loyal subject, and he managed to send a
If so, Theophobos must have been a most distinguished and important figure in the Babek movement, otherwise he would hardly have married into the Emperor's family; and we should expect to find him mentioned in our Oriental sources. His Greek name, his orthodoxy, on which the chroniclers compliment him, and the trust reposed in him by Theophilus, all suggest that he was a Byzantine subject and Imperial officer; and the stories preserve the fact that he was born and educated at Constantinople. These stories were based on the three circumstances that he was a citizen of the Empire, that he belonged to a "Persian" family, and that he was appointed commander of the Hurramites. They let out the circumstance that his father (who may have been the first of the family to settle in Byzantium) served in the Imperial army (Ῥωμαίων ὄντα τοῖς καταλόγοις,
Gen. 54). The tale that the Persians became aware of his existence, by astrology or otherwise, and wanted to make him their king, is connected with the part he played in the negotiations with Babek; it is quite probable that he went as envoy to Babek in Armenia, though in Gen. and Cont. Th. the personal interview is at Sinope. (The improbable statement that Babek came himself to Sinope is rejected by Finlay and Vasil'ev.) Yet this is hardly a sufficient motif for the legendary anecdotes, which would, I think, be accounted for by the conjecture which I have ventured to put forward in the text.
1 Michael Syr. 50. For the Hurramites (Kopuάтo), see also Weil,
2 Gen. 60.
3 Simeon (Add. Georg. 793) says "a sister of Theodora"; Gen. 55= Cont. Th. 112, says "the sister of the
secret message to the Emperor. Theophilus pardoned the troops, but took the precaution of distributing them among the armies of various Themes, in regiments of 2000, which were known as the Persian turms."
We may pass briefly over the meagre details of the warfare during the next three years, noticing only the sack of Zapetra by Theophilus (A.D. 830), his victory in Cilicia (A.D. 831) which he celebrated by a triumphal entry into Constantinople, and the Saracen capture of the important fortress of Lulon.1 But we may linger longer over the overtures for peace which Theophilus addressed to the Caliph.
Defeated in a battle, in the autumn of A.D. 831, the Emperor wished for peace and from his camp he sent an ecclesiastic with a letter to Mamun. The Caliph received him in his camp,2 but on observing the superscription of the letter, he returned it to the envoy saying "I will not read his letter, which he begins with his own name." The ambassador retraced his steps, and Theophilus was compelled to rewrite his epistle and place the name of the Caliph before his own. The story may be an insolent invention of the Saracens, but it is certain that Mamun rejected the offers of Theophilus who proposed to give him 100,000 dinars and 7000 captives, if he would restore the fortresses which he had conquered and conclude a peace for five years. The time of the summer campaign, however, had drawn to a close, and Mamun retired into his own territories (September).
The capture of Lulon after a long siege was an important success for the arms of Mamun. The value of this fortress, the key to the northern entrance of the Cilician Gates, has
outside of the document, while the Emperor's name came first inside. If this style was usual before the time of Theophilus, his secretary committed a breach of etiquette. The forms of address used in the tenth century were: outside, τῷ μεγαλοπρεπεστάτῳ εὐγενεστάτῳ καὶ περιβλέπτῳ (name) πρωτοσυμβούλῳ καὶ διατάκτορι τῶν ̓Αγαρηνῶν ἀπὸ (name) τοῦ πιστοῦ αὐτοκράτορος Αὐγούστου μεγάλου βασιλέως Ῥωμαίων. Inside: (name) πιστὸς ἐν Χριστῷ τῷ θεῷ αὐτοκράτωρ Αὔγουστος μέγας βασιλεὺς ̔Ρωμαίων τῷ μεγαλοπрETEσTάTW KTλ. (as on outside). Constantine, Cer. 686.
already been explained. After its surrender, Theophilus addressed a letter to the Caliph, which according to an Arabic historian, was couched in the following phrases:
Of a truth, it is more reasonable for two antagonists, striving each for his own welfare, to agree than to cause injury to each other. Assuredly, you will not consent to renounce your own welfare for the sake of another's. You are sufficiently intelligent to understand this without a lesson from me. I wrote to you to propose the conclusion of peace, as I earnestly desire complete peace, and relief from the burden of war. We will be comrades and allies; our revenues will increase steadily, our trade will be facilitated, our captives liberated, our roads and uninhabited districts will be safe. If you refuse, then-for I will not dissimulate or flatter you with words-I will go forth against you, I will take your border lands from you, I will destroy your horsemen and your footmen. And if I do this, it will be after I have raised a flag of parleys between us. Farewell.
To this epistle the Caliph disdainfully replied in terms like these:
I have received your letter in which you ask for peace, and in mingled tones of softness and severity try to bend me by referring to commercial advantages, steady augmentation of revenues, liberation of captives, and the termination of war. Were I not cautious and deliberate before deciding to act, I would have answered your letter by a squadron of valiant and seasoned horsemen, who would attempt to tear you from your household, and in the cause of God would count as nought the pain which your valour might cause them. And then I would have given them reinforcements and supplies of arms. And they would rush to drink the draughts of death with more zest than you would flee to find a refuge from their insults. For they are promised one of two supreme blessings-victory here or the glorious future of paradise. But I have deemed it right to invite you and yours to acknowledge the One God and to adopt monotheism and Islam. If you refuse, then there shall be a truce for the exchange of captives; but if you also decline this proposition, you will have such personal acquaintance with our qualities as shall render further eloquence on my part needless. He is safe who follows the right path.
If these letters represent the tenor of the communications which actually passed 2 it is clear that Mamun, encouraged by
the successes of the three past years, had no wish to bring the war to a close. He looked forward, perhaps, to the entire subjugation of the Empire.1 But his days were numbered. In the following summer he crossed the frontier,2 took some fortresses, and returned to Podandos, where he was stricken down by a fatal fever. He died on August 7, A.D. 833, and was buried at Tarsus.
§ 5. The Embassy of John the Grammarian and the Flight of Manuel
It was probably in the first months of his reign that the Emperor sent to the Caliph an embassy which made such an impression on popular imagination that it has assumed a more or less legendary character. The fact seems to be, so far as can be made out from the perplexing evidence, that John the Synkellos, commonly known as the Grammarian, a savant who, it may well be, was acquainted with Arabic, was sent to Baghdad, to announce the accession of Theophilus.3 He carried costly presents for the Caliph, and large sums of money for the purpose of impressing the Saracens by ostentatious liberality. The imagination of the Greeks dwelt complacently on the picture of an Imperial ambassador astonishing the Eastern world by his luxury and magnificence, and all kinds of anecdotes concerning John's doings at Baghdad were invented. It was said that he scattered gold like the sand of the sea, and bestowed rich gifts on anyone who on any pretext visited him in his hostel.
An additional interest was attached to the embassy of John the grammarian by the link, whether actual or fictitious, which connected it with the adventures of a famous general of the time, and this connection led Greek tradition to misdate the embassy to a later period in the reign. Manuel, who under Leo V. had been stratêgos of the Armeniac Theme, was distinguished for his personal prowess, and under Michael II.
1 So Yakubi, 9, who says he purposed to besiege Amorion, and settle the Arabs of the desert in the towns of the empire.
2 While he was at Podandos, before he crossed the frontier, an envoy of Theophilus is said to have arrived
with new proposals of peace.
3 Cont. Th. 95 preserves the truth. This was first pointed out by Brooks. See Appendix VIII.
4 Over £17,000, Cont. Th. 96.
he had apparently again acted as stratêgos, perhaps of the same Theme. He was of Armenian descent, and the Empress Theodora was his brother's daughter.1 In the Saracen war his boldness and determination saved the Emperor's life. It was related that Theophilus, in a battle which he fought and lost (A.D. 830) against the forces of Mamun, was hard pressed and sought safety among the Persian troops who formed the intention of handing over his person to the enemy and making terms for themselves. Manuel, who knew their language, became aware of the contemplated treachery, rushed through their ranks, and seizing the bridle of Theophilus dragged him, angry and reluctant, from the danger which he did not suspect. The Emperor rewarded his saviour with such lavish marks of favour that the jealousy of Petronas, the brother of the Empress, was aroused. Theophilus was informed that Manuel was aspiring to the throne, and he believed the accusation, based perhaps on some unguarded words. Made aware of his danger, Manuel crossed over to Pylae, and making use of the Imperial post reached the Cilician frontier. He was joyfully welcomed by the Saracens, and the Caliph, who was wintering in Syria, gladly accepted the services of his enemy's ablest general. The countrymen of Manuel, who were vainer of his reputation for warlike prowess than they were indignant at his desertion to the Unbelievers, relate with complacency that he performed great services for the Caliph against the sectaries of Babek and the rebellious population of Khurasan.1
1 For his career see Cont. Th. 110 (his Armenian descent is also noted in Gen. 52). For his relationship to Theodora, ib. 148, θεῖος ἀπὸ πατρός. Vasil'ev (Index, 171), and others distinguish two Manuels, but there can in my opinion be no question that Manuel, the magister, who played an important part after the death of Theophilus, is the same as the Manuel whom Theophilus created a magister. See Appendix VIII.
2 I have followed the briefer and more intelligible version of Simeon (Add. Georg. 802=710 ed. Mur.): so Vasil'ev, 86. In Gen. 61 (followed in Cont. Th. 116), the incident is improved with details, and the danger is heightened; the Emperor is rescued not from the Persians, but from the Saracens themselves.
3 Simeon's account of the circumstance (Add. Georg. 796) is superior to Gen. and Cont. Th. The person who brought the charge against Manuel was Myron, Logothete of the Course, otherwise of no note in history; but he was the father-in-law of Petronas, and it might therefore be conjectured that Petronas was behind the attempt to ruin his uncle. The fact that Petronas was Manuel's nephew does not militate against this supposition.
4 See Cont. Th. 118. I infer that this piece was based on a good source, from the mention of the Hurramites (Kopμáтo). This was not a familiar name to the Greeks, and points to special information. Cp. also Gen.