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before, the Emperor, riding round the city, had observed that in one place the wall was dilapidated, and had ordered the commander of the garrison to see that it was repaired. The officer delayed the execution of the command, until, hearing that Theophilus was marching from Constantinople to take the field against the Saracens, he hastily filled up the breach with stones and made the place, to outward view, indistinguishable from the rest of the wall. This specious spot, well known to the inhabitants, was revealed to the enemy by a traitor who is said to have been a Mohammadan captive converted to Christianity.1 The Caliph directed his engines against the place, and after a bombardment of two days the wall gave way and a breach was made. Aetius immediately dispatched a letter to the Emperor, communicating to him what had befallen, explaining the hopelessness of further defence, and announcing that he intended to leave the city at night and attempt to escape through the enemy's lines. The letter was entrusted to two messengers, one of whom spoke Arabic fluently. When they crossed the ditch, they fell into the hands of some Saracen soldiers, and pretended to be in the Caliph's service. But as they did not know the names of the generals or the regiments they were suspected as spies, and sent to the Caliph's tent, where they were searched and the letter was discovered.
The Caliph took every precaution to frustrate the intentions of escape which the intercepted letter disclosed. Troops of cavalry sat all night in full armour on their horses watching the gates. But it was easier to hinder escape than to take the city. The breadth of the ditch and the height of the walls rendered it difficult to operate effectively with siege - engines, and the usual devices of raising the ballistae on platforms and filling up the ditch were tried without success. But the breach in the wall was gradually
1 There were two acts of treachery during the siege. This first act (not mentioned by Michael Syr.) is related by Tabari (37), who is supported in one of the Acta 42 Mart. (12 πó τινων - - προδεδωκότων), by Cont. Th. 130, and Simeon, who speaks of two traitors, Boiditzes and Manikophagos (Add. Georg. 805). As Boiditzes perpetrated the later and decisive act of
treachery, Nikitin (Acta citt. 194) infers that Manikophagos was the name of the first traitor. Cont. Th. ascribes both acts to Boiditzes.
2 Michael Syr. 98. There had already been fighting for three days (ib.), and before this some days must have been occupied by the construction of the Saracen entrenchment (ib. 97).
widening, and the Greek officer to whom that section of the defence was entrusted despaired of being able to hold out. The Arabic historian, to whom we Owe our information concerning the details of the siege, states-what seems almost incredible-that Aetius refused to furnish additional forces for the defence of the dangerous spot, on the ground that it was the business of each captain and of no one else to provide for the safety of his own allotted section. But he saw that there was little hope, and he sent an embassy to Mutasim, offering to capitulate on condition that the inhabitants should be allowed to depart in safety. The envoys were the bishop of Amorion and three officers, of whom one was the captain of the weak section of the walls. His name was Boiditzes.1 The Caliph required unconditional surrender, and the ambassadors returned to the city. But Boiditzes went back to Mutasim's tent by himself and offered to betray the breach. The interview was protracted, and in the meantime the Saracens gradually advanced towards the wall, till they were close to the breach. The defenders, in obedience to the strict orders of their officer to abstain from hostilities till his return, did not shoot or attempt to oppose them, but only made signs that they should come no farther. At this juncture, Mutasim and Boiditzes issued from the pavilion, and at the same moment, at a signal from one of Mutasim's officers, the Saracens rushed into Amorion. The Greek traitor, dismayed at this perfidious practice, clutching his beard, upbraided the Caliph for his breach of faith, but the Caliph reassured him that all he wished would be his.2
A part of the unfortunate
1 Bodirns, Simeon and Cont. Th., locc. citt.; Bowdns, Euodios (Acta citt.), 71; Vendu, Tabari, 41, who explains the name as meaning a steer; Bôdîn, Michael Syr. 98. Genesios, 65, does not give the name, but says that he derived a nickname from an ox, on account of some quarrel between the Jews and Christians.
2 The Greek sources do not explain how the traitor communicated with the enemy; in Tabari he goes alone to Mutasim. Michael Syr. 98 gives what is evidently the true account as to the embassy, but he implies that
population sought refuge in Boiditzes returned to the city by himself and signalled from the walls to the besiegers that he had withdrawn the defenders. This is incomprehensible, for it was clear to his fellow envoys that he meant treachery, and if he had returned to the city he would have been arrested, unless Aetius was in the plot (which there is no good ground for suspecting). I have therefore here followed the narrative of Tabari. But the details are very uncertain. Mutasim gave the traitor 10,000 darics (Michael, 99).
a large church, in which after an obstinate resistance they perished by fire.1 The walls were rased to the ground and the place left desolate; and the Caliph, finding that the Emperor was not preparing to take the field, slowly returned to his own country, with thousands of captives.2 The fate of these Amorians was unhappy. The land was suffering from drought; the Saracens were unable to procure water, and some of the prisoners, exhausted by thirst, refused to go farther. These were at once dispatched by the sword; but as the army advanced, and the need grew more urgent, the Caliph gave orders that only the more distinguished captives should be retained; the rest were taken aside and slaughtered.3
The siege of Amorion had lasted for nearly two weeks.* But for the culpable neglect of the officer responsible for the integrity of the walls and the treachery which revealed the weak spot to the besiegers, the city could probably have defied all the skill and audacity of the enemy. Its fall seems to have made a deep impression on both Moslems and Christians, and popular imagination was soon busy with the treachery which had brought about the catastrophe. The name of the culprit, Boiditzes, is derived from boïdion, an ox; and, according to one story, he wrote a letter to the Saracens bidding them direct their attack close to the tower, where they saw a marble lion carved on the face and a stone ox (boïdion) above. The ox and the lion may have been there; but if the ox was a coincidence, the lion furnished a motive to
1 Michael, 99; Tabari, 42; cp. Acta 42 Mart. 44; Skylitzes (Cedr.) ii. 136.
2 Masudi, 68, says that 30,000 were killed in Amorion. If there is any foundation for the number it may represent the total of the inhabitants, military and civil. Euodios (Acta citt. 67) gives the ridiculous figure of more than 70,000 for the soldiers alone; this would represent nearly the whole Asiatic army. But the number was large, for after the massacres the captives were so numerous that at the distribution of the spoil Mutasim slew 4000. See Michael Syr. 100. This writer relates (99) that more than a 1000 nuns who survived the massacre were delivered to the outrages of the Turkish and Moorish slaves, and curiously adds: "glory to the incomprehensible
myth. Boiditzes was said to be a pupil of Leo the Philosopher,1 and an Arabic writer calls him Leo.2
A sequel of the siege of Amorion rendered it memorable in the annals of the Greek Church. Forty-two distinguished prisoners were carried off to Samarra and languished in captivity for seven years. The Caliph attempted in vain to persuade them to embrace Islam, and finally the choice was offered to them of conversion or death. According to the story, Boiditzes, who had betrayed Amorion, became a Mohammadan, and was sent at the last moment to represent to his countrymen the folly of resisting. But they stood stedfast in their faith, and on the 6th March 845 they were led to the banks of the Tigris and beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the river, and miraculously floated on the top of the water. The renegade traitor Boiditzes shared their fate-at least in the legendary tale; for the Saracen magnates said to the Caliph : "It is not just that he should live, for if he was not true to his own faith, neither will he be true to ours." Accordingly he was beheaded, but his body sank to the bottom. This was the last great martyrdom that the Greek Church has to record. Before two years passed, it was fashioned by the pens of Greek hagiographers into the shape of an edifying legend.* The deacon Ignatius, who wrote the life of the Patriarch Nicephorus, celebrated it in a canon, and the Forty-two Martyrs of
1 Pseudo-Simeon, 638. In his text, the second traitor, named Mανικοφάγος by Simeon (Add. Georg. 805, vers. Slav. 98), appears as Maviкopávηs. We may suspect that this name implies some connexion with the Manichaean (i.e. Paulician) heresy.
2 Masudi, 68, "the Patrician Leo."
3 Wathik, who succeeded Mutasim in 842. Of the forty-two, six are mentioned by name in the Acta. Five of them are the officers named above, P. 267 (Aetius, Constantine, Theodore, Theophilus, and Bassoes). The sixth was not properly an Amorian martyr, for he was not at the siege. He was Kallistos Melissenos, described as duke of Koloneia (Simeon, Add. Georg. 805 has divided him into two persons). His career is related in one of the Acts (T, see next note), from which we learn that he was captured in his own
province, and imprisoned along with the Amorian captives. For the government of Koloneia cp. above, p. 223.
4 The material will be found in the Acta edited by Vasilievski and Nikitin. As to the dates of these documents Nikitin's conclusions (cp. 272 sqq.) are as follows: The Canon of the Deacon Ignatius (texts H and ) was composed before or about the middle of A.D. 847; it was subsequent to text I', the author of which (who is specially interested in Kallistos) mentions that the Martyrs had been already celebrated in writing. To these earlier works B and A belong, and ▲ is probably earlier than B. Euodios (text Z, of which A is an abridgment) perhaps wrote his version in the reign of Basil I., certainly after 867. In my references to the Acta I have not distinguished the earlier texts, which belong to A.D. 845-847, but I have always indicated Euodios.
Amorion, established as "stars in the holy firmament of the Church," inspired some of the latest efforts of declining Greek hymnography.2
The fact that a number of distinguished captives, who had been carried from Amorion to the Tigris, were executed by Mutasim's successor admits of no doubt. But it would be rash to consider it merely an act of religious intolerance. We may rather suppose it to have been dictated by the motive of extorting large ransoms for prisoners of distinction. The Caliphs probably hoped to receive an immense sum for the release of the Amorian officers, and it was adroit policy to apply pressure by intimating that, unless they were ransomed, they could only purchase their lives by infidelity to their religion. The Emperor, immediately after the catastrophe, had indeed made an attempt to redeem the prisoners. He sent Basil, the governor of the Charsian frontier district,* bearing gifts and an apologetic letter to the Caliph, in which the Emperor regretted the destruction of Zapetra, demanded the surrender of Aetius, and offered to liberate his Saracen captives. He also gave Basil a second letter of menacing tenor, to be delivered in case the terms were rejected. Mutasim, when he had read the first, demanded the surrender of Manuel the patrician, whose desertion he had not forgiven, and Nasr the apostate. The envoy replied that this was impossible, and presented the second missive. Mutasim angrily flung back the gifts.5
1 Ib. 79:
Genesios, 66, knows nothing of the letters (which, as Vasil'ev suggests, may be an anecdote), but says that Theophilus offered him 20,000 lbs. of gold (£864,000). The Caliph disdained this large sum, remarking that the expedition had cost him 100,000; but in Cont. Th. 131 his reply is different, and again in Pseudo-Simeon, 639. The figures for the offer of Theophilus differ in different texts. Cont. Th. and Pseudo-Simeon agree with Genesios; Skylitzes (Cedrenus, ii. 137; vers. Gabii 22 verso; cp. Zonaras, xv. 29, 19) says only 2400. This discrepancy is noteworthy (not remarked by Hirsch); and the small sum, derived by Skylitzes from some unknown source, looks as if it might be right. The words of Gen. oùv a' ἑκατοντάδων are not clear.