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them to resist the foes whom he had himself invoked against them. Seeing that further delay would only serve the Greeks, Asad advanced on Syracuse, where he was joined by his fleet. He burned the vessels of the Greeks and closed the greater and the lesser Harbours with his own ships. The fortifications were too strong to be assaulted without siege engines, with which the Arabs were not provided, and Asad could only blockade the town, while he waited for reinforcements from Africa. He encamped among the quarries, south of
As all the provisions had been conveyed into the city from the surrounding country, the Saracen army suffered from want of food, and the discontent waxed so great that a certain Ibn Kadim advised the general to break up his camp and sail back to Africa; "The life of one Musulman," he said, "is more valuable than all the goods of Christendom." Asad sternly replied, "I am not one of those who allow Moslems, when they go forth to a Holy War, to return home when they have still such hopes of victory." He quenched the mutiny by threatening to burn the ships and punishing with stripes the audacious Ibn Kadim.1 Presently reinforcements, and probably supplies, arrived from Africa.2
Meanwhile the Emperor had taken measures to recall Sicily to its allegiance. The story was told that when the tidings of the rebellion of Euphemios reached him, he summoned the magister Irenaeus and said, "We may congratulate ourselves, Magister, on the revolt of Sicily." "This, sir," replied Irenaeus, "is no matter for congratulation," and turning to one of the magnates who were present, he solemnly repeated the lines:
"Dire woes will fall upon the world, what time
1 Riad an-Nufus, 78.
2 Also from Spain: Ibn Adari, 146, Nuwairi, 174. Vasil'ev believes that the Spaniards were really some of the Cretan Arabs (who were originally from Spain), arguing the improbability of co-operation at this time between the Aghlabids and Omayyads. So Amari, Storia, i. 274, n. 1. But surely adventurers may have come
from Spain, without the authority of
ἀρχὴ κακῶν γε <προσ?πεσεῖται τῇ χθονὶ
The anecdote may be apocryphal, invented in the light of subsequent disasters, as a reflexion on the ruler in whose reign such grave losses had befallen the Empire. But if Michael, who sent fleet after fleet to regain Crete, and was even then perhaps engaged in organizing a new expedition, jested at the news from Sicily, the jest was bitter. The pressing concern for Crete and the Aegean islands hindered him from sending any large armament to the west. The naval establishment was inadequate to the defence of the Empire; this had been the consequence of its neglect since the days of Leo the Isaurian. The loss of Crete and the jeopardy of Sicily were to bring home to the Imperial government the importance of sea-power, and the strengthening of the navy was one of the chief tasks which successors of Michael II. would be forced to take in hand.
Some troops were sent to Sicily, but the Emperor at this crisis looked for help from a western dependency, whose own interests were undoubtedly involved in not suffering the Moslem to gain a footing on Sicilian soil. The proximity of such a foe to the waters of the Hadriatic sea would be a constant distress and anxiety to the city of Venice. It was therefore a fair and reasonable demand, on the part of the Emperor, that Venice should send a squadron to cope with the invaders of Sicily, and it is not improbable that she was bound by definite agreement to co-operate in such a case. The Duke, Justinianus, sent some warships, but it does not appear that they achieved much for the relief of the Syracusans.1
The besiegers had in the meantime entrenched themselves, surrounding their camp with a ditch, and digging in front of it holes which served as pitfalls for the cavalry of the Greeks. The besieged, finding themselves hard pressed, sought to parley, but their proposals were rejected, and the siege was protracted through the winter, till the invaders were confronted with a more deadly adversary than the Greeks. Pestilence broke out in their camp, and Asad, their indomitable leader, was one of its victims (A. D. 828). The army itself elected a new commander, a certain Mohammad, but fortune had deserted the Arabs; the epidemic raged among them as it had raged among the Carthaginians of 1 Dandulus, Chron. 170 (A.D. 827).
Hamilcar who had sought to master Syracuse twelve hundred years before. The new reinforcements came from Constantinople, and a second squadron was expected from Venice.1 The besiegers despaired and decided to return to Africa. They weighed anchor, but found that they were shut in by the ships of the enemy. They disembarked, set fire to their ships, and, laden with many sick, began a weary march in the direction of Mineo.
Euphemios served them as a guide. He had not parted from his foreign friends, though he had, for a time at least, secretly worked against them. But now that they were chastened by ill-success and no longer led by the masterful Asad, he expected to be able to use them for his own purpose. The town of Mineo surrendered, and when the army recovered from the effects of the plague, it divided into two parts, of which one marched westward and captured Agrigentum. other, accompanied by Euphemios, laid siege to the impregnable fortress which stands in the very centre of the island, the massive rock of Henna, which was called in the ninth century, as it is to-day, Castrogiovanni.
The garrison of Castrogiovanni opened negotiations with Euphemios, offering to recognise him as Emperor and to cast in their lot with him and his Arab confederates. But these overtures were only an artifice; the men of Castrogiovanni were loyal to the Emperor Michael. Euphemios fell into the trap. At an appointed hour and place, he met a deputation of the townsmen. While some fell down before him, as their sovran, and kissed the ground, others at the same moment stabbed him from behind.2
With the disappearance of Euphemios from the scene, the warfare in Sicily was simplified to the plain and single issue of a contest between Moslem and Christian for the lordship of the island. It was a slow and tedious contest, protracted for two generations; and although the advance of the Moslems 1 Joannes, Chron. Ven. 109" iterum imperatore efflagitante exercitum ad Siciliam preparaverunt; qui etiam reversus est absque triumpho." The last clause suggests that the Venetians arrived after the raising of the siege and did not take part in forcing the Saracens to burn their ships.
2 Such is the Arabic
(Nuwairi, 175). The Greek story is different, attributing his death to the plot of two brothers and placing it at Syracuse. But it is not suggested (as Vasil'ev thinks, p. 71) that these brothers were the brothers-in-law of Euphemios. Cont. Th. 83 dúo TIVES ἀδελφοί.
was steady, it was so slow that an observer might have forecast its result as an eventual division between the two races, a repetition of the old division between Greeks and Phoenicians. But history did not repeat itself thus. The Greek states in the days of Gelon and of Dionysios were of different metal from the provincials who were under the protection of the Eastern Emperors. The Arabs were to do what the Phoenicians had failed to do, and make the whole island a portion of Asia in Europe.
The record, which has come down to us, of the incidents of the warfare chronicles the gradual reduction of town after town, fort after fort, but is so meagre that it offers little instruction or interest We may note the most important stages in the conquest and observe the efforts made by the Imperial government to drive out the invaders. The forces which had been sent by the Emperor Michael to the relief of Syracuse were commanded by Theodotos, a patrician who was not without military talent.1 He followed the enemy to Castrogiovanni, where he was defeated and driven to take refuge in the fortress, which the Arabs, after the death of Euphemios continued to besiege. But Theodotos soon had his revenge. Sallying forth and gaining a victory, he surrounded and besieged the camp of the besiegers. They tried to escape at night, but the Greek general, foreseeing such an attempt, had secretly abandoned his own camp, and laid an ambush. Those who escaped from his trap made their way to Mineo, where he blockaded them so effectively that they were reduced to eating the flesh of dogs.
The Arab garrison in Agrigentum, seeing that the tide had turned, withdrew to Mazara; and in the summer of A.D. 829 only Mazara and Mineo, far distant from each other, were held by the invaders. At this moment a powerful armament from Constantinople might have been decisive. But no reinforcements were sent.
A seal of Theodotos (diovπáтw πατρικίῳ βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ dioikηT ZIKEλías) is preserved, and as it may be referred to the ninth century probably belongs to this Theodotos. Schlumberger, Sig. 215.
2 Nuwairi (175) says that ninety "patricians" were taken prisoners.
The successes of Theodotos
"Patrician is used very loosely by Arabic writers, and here can mean no more than officer. Vasil'ev seems to take it literally (74).
3 During the siege Mohammad died and the army elected Zuhair to the command.
were probably taken to show that he would be able to complete his task alone, and then the death of Michael intervened. But if the government reckoned thus, it reckoned without Africa and Spain. Two hostile fleets sailed to the Sicilian shores. Ziadat Allah sent a new armament1, and a Spanish squadron came to join in the warfare, for the sake of plunder, not of conquest, under Asbag ibn Wakil.2 The African Moslems, hard pressed at Mineo, proposed common action to the Spanish adventurers, and the Spaniards agreed on condition that Asbag should be the commander-in-chief and that the Africans should provide horses. But the confederates carried on their operations separately. Asbag and his men marched first to Mineo, which, still blockaded by Theodotos, must have been suffering the last distresses of hunger. They defeated the besiegers and Theodotos fell in the battle.3 Asbag burned Mineo, but his career was almost immediately cut short. A pestilence broke out among his troops while he was besieging another stronghold, and, like Asad, he fell a victim to the infection. His followers returned to Spain.
Meanwhile the Africans had laid siege to Panormos. This city held out for a year, but it seems to have been an easier place to besiege than Syracuse or Castrogiovanni. In the autumn of A.D. 831 the commander of the garrison surrendered, having bargained for the safety of himself, his family, and his property. The inhabitants were treated as prisoners of war. The bishop of Panormos escaped to Constantinople, bearing the news of the calamity." The anxiety of the Emperor Theophilus to come to terms with the
1 Ibn al-Athir, 94 (A.D. 829). He adds "the general number of ships reached 300." Amari, Storia, i. 288.
2 The Arabic writers are not clear about the date. They mention the arrival of the Andalusians under A.H. 214 A.D. 829 March-830 Feb. (Ibn Adari, 146, Ibn al-Athir, ib.), but from Ibn Adari's narrative we may probably date it (with Amari and Vasil'ev) to A. H. 215. On the other hand, there seems no reason for not accepting A.D. 829 as the date of the sending of the reinforcements from Africa.
3 July-August: Nuwairi, 175.
4 G. 1-wali (Ibn Adari, ib.) Perhaps Calloniana = Caltanisetta (Vasil'ev,
5 The siege began Aug. 830 (Nuwairi, ib.): the date of the capitulation was Sept. 831. See 1. Ibn al-Athir, 94, in the month corresponding to Aug. 14-Sept. 12, 831; and 2. Cambridge Chronicle, 24, A. M. 6340, ind. 10, which began Sept. 1, 831. These notices together fix the date between the 1st and 12th of Sept. Cp. Vasil'ev, 107.
6 See Joann. Neap. 430; De S. Philareto (who was put to death) in A.S.S. April 8, t. i. 753.7
7 He was accompanied by Simeon, a spatharios (it has been conjectured that he was the governor, cp. Vasil'ev, 107). Joann. Neap. 430.