Spondai

Bulgar_warrior-d8bdbd

Ἤδη δὲ τὸν τῆς ἱστορίας ὑφαίνειν ἱστὸν ἀπαρχόμενος τούς τε βαρβαρικοὺς πολέμους ἀναγράπτους ποιούμενος, τῆς κατὰ τους Ἀβάρους κινήσεως πρῶτα μνησθήσομαι, διά τε τὸ τῶν πράξεων προσεχέστατον τῆς τε τάξεως τὸ προσφορώτατον. οὐκ ὀλίγα τοίνυν νεανικώτερον παρ’ έκείνων τὸ τηνικαῦτα τετόλμηται. Οὖννοι δ’ οὗτοι, προσοικοῦντες τῷ Ἴστρῳ, ἀπιστότατον ἔθνος καὶ ἀπληστότατον τῶν νομάδην βιούντων. οὗτοι πρεσβεύονται πρὸς τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Μαυρίκιον οὐχ ἥκιστα τοῦ μεγίστου πολίσματος γενόμενοι κάτοχοι. Σίρμιον δὲ τοῦτο ὠνόμαστο, ἄστυ τε περίδοξον ἦν, τοῖς ἀνὰ τὴν Εὐρώπην οἰκοῦσι ῾Ρωμαίοις περιλαλούμενον καὶ ᾀδόμενον. τοῦτο ἥλω πρό τινος βραχυτάτου καιροῦ τοῦ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Μαυρίκιον τὰς ῾Ρωμαϊκὰς μετὰ τῆς πορφύρας ἐνδύντα φροντίδας τῆς τῶν Καισάρων ἐποχεῖσθαι καθέδρας. τὸ δ’ ὅπως Μενάνδρῳ τῷ περιφανεῖ σαφῶς διηγόρευται· περὶ ὧν οὔ μοι σχολὴ ἐπεξεργαστικώτερον τοῖς μακροῖς ἐκείνοις λόγοις ἐπεξελθεῖν, αὖθις δ’ ἀριζήλως εἰρημένα μυθολογεύειν καὶ ποιητικοῖς ἐπιτρίβεσθαι μώμοις. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐν χερσὶ τὸ ἄστυ ἐγεγόνει τῶν Οὔννων, προῆλθον αἱ σπονδαί, ὅπως ἡσυχίαν ἀσπάσοιτο τὸ πολέμιον καὶ τὴν ἠρεμίαν φιλοσοφήσοιεν. αἱ δὲ συνθῆκαι ἐπονείδιστοι ῾Ρωμαίοις· μετὰ γὰρ τηλικοῦτον κολοφῶνα κακοῦ, οἷά πως ἀγωνοθέται καθήμενοι, ὥσπερ ἆθλον εὐδοξίας δῶρα λαμπρὰ τοῖς βαρβάροις παρείχοντο ὀγδοήκοντά τε χιλιάδας χρυσῶν καθωμολόγουν ἀν’ ἔτος ἕκαστον τοῖς βαρβάροις ἐγκαταβάλλεσθαι δι’ ἐμπορίας ἀργύρου τε καὶ ποικίλης ἐσθῆτος. οὐ περαιτέρω δὲ διήρκεσαν τῶν δύο ἐνιαυτῶν αἱ σπονδαί· κατηυθαδίσατο γὰρ ῾Ρωμαίων ὁ παρὰ τοῖς Οὔννοις Χαγάνος οὕτω λεγόμενος. φήμη δέ τις ἀμφ’ αὐτὸν πρὸ τοῦ τὴν εἰρήνην διαφθαρῆναι περιεκέχυτο, ὡς ζῶα τρέφεται παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις τῷ μεγέθει καὶ τῷ σώματι ἐμφανέστατα. διὸ ἐξῄτησε βασιλέα εἰς θέαν τούτων ἐλθεῖν. καὶ ψυχαγωγεῖ θᾶττον ὁ βασιλεὺς τῆς ἱστορίας τὸν ἔρωτα καὶ δίδωσιν εἰς θεωρίαν ἐλεφάντων γενέσθαι, πέμψας ὡς αὐτὸν ἐκ τῶν παρ’ αὐτῷ τρεφομένων θηρίων τὸ ἐξοχώτατον. ὁπηνίκα δ’ εἶδεν τὸ ᾿Ινδικὸν ζῶον ὁ Χαγάνος ἐλέφαντα, παραυτίκα καταλύει τὸ θέατρον καὶ παλιννοστεῖν προστάττει τὸ θηρίον παρὰ τὸν Καίσαρα, ἢ καταπλαγεὶς ἢ ἀποφαυλίσας τὸ θαυμαζόμενον, οὐκ ἔχω εἰπεῖν· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἐκρυψάμην. ἐπώχλει δὲ τὸν Καίσαρα καὶ κλίνην χρυσῆν τεχνουργήσαντα ὡς αὐτὸν παραπέμψαι· ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον γὰρ τοῦτον μετεώριζεν ἡ τῆς παρούσης τύχης ἀκρώρεια. βασιλεὺς δὲ τὸ δῶρον ἐξεργασάμενος βασιλικῶς μετεπέμπετο. ὁ δὲ σοβαρευόμενος πολλῷ μᾶλλον κατεβρενθύετο οἷα προπηλακιζόμενος τῷ ἀναξίῳ τοῦ δωρήματος, ἀπεπέμπετο δὲ παρὰ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα ὡς εὐτελές τι καὶ ἄκομψον τὴν χρυσῆν ἀλαζονικώτερον κλίνην. ναὶ μὴν ἠξίου καὶ πρὸς ταῖς ὀγδοήκοντα τοῦ χρυσοῦ χιλιάσι καὶ ἑτέρας εἴκοσιν ἀν’ ἔτος ἕκαστον παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίων ἀποίσεσθαι· καὶ δῆτα δυσανασχετοῦντος τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος, περιφρονεῖ τὰς συνθήκας καὶ τοὺς ὅρκους ταῖς αὔραις φέρειν ἐδίδου, ἀθρόον τε τὴν πολέμῳ φίλην ἀράμενος σάλπιγγα τὰς δυνάμεις συνήθροιζε καὶ τὴν Σιγγηδόνα τὴν πόλιν ἐξαπιναίως ἄφρακτον οὖσαν ἐλάμβανε πολεμικῶν τε ὀργάνων χηρεύουσαν διὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς εἰρήνης ῥαθυμίαν πολλὴν ὑπερεκχεῖσθαι τῆς Θρᾴκης· ἀφύλακτον γὰρ εἰρήνη καὶ προμηθείας οὐκ ἀνεχόμενον.
(Theophylakt Simokatta, Hist. 1.3.1-1.41)

Now, as I begin to weave the web of history and make a record of barbarian wars, I will first mention the action against the Avars, because of the close proximity of the events and of the appropriateness of the arrangement. Numerous, then, were the violent deeds which they impetuously ventured at that time. These people are Huns, who dwell beside the Ister, a most untrustworthy and insatiable nation among those who live as nomads. These people sent an embassy to the emperor Maurice, not least because they had come into possession of the greatest township; this was named Sirmium and was a most famous city, of great renown and repute among the Romans who inhabit Europe. This had been captured only very shortly before the emperor Maurice was seated on the Caesar’s throne, when he donned the cares of the Romans together with the purple. The circumstances were clearly declared by the famous Menander; on this subject I have not the time to expound in greater detail those lengthy accounts, to relate again what has already been clearly reported, or to waste time in contrived criticism. After the city had come into the hands of the Huns, a treaty ensued, so that warfare might welcome peace and pursue quiet. The terms were most disgraceful to the Romans: for after such a monumental disaster, like a panel of judges in session, they gave the barbarians glorious gifts, as if a prize for excellence, and agreed to deposit with the barbarians each year eighty thousand gold coins in the form of merchandise of silver and of embroidered cloth. The treaty did not last longer than two years: for the Chagan of the Huns, as he is known, behaved arrogantly towards the Romans. Before the destruction of the peace, a certain rumour had circulated in his presence that creatures of most remarkable size and physique were nurtured among the Romans. Wherefore he demanded from the emperor that he come to a sight of these. And the emperor quickly assuaged the love of enquiry, and granted that he come to contemplation of elephants by sending him the most outstanding of the beasts bred by him. But when the Chagan saw an elephant, the Indian creature, he at once terminated the display, and commanded that the beast return to the Caesar, whether in terror or scorn of the marvel, I cannot say: for I would not keep it secret. He pestered the Caesar to fashion a gold couch and to send that to him as well, for the peak of his current good fortune had raised him so high; the emperor had the gift made and royally conveyed it. But he arrogantly assumed even haughtier airs, as if he had been besmirched by the unworthiness of the gift, and he sent back to the emperor the ostentatious gold couch as though it were something cheap and common. Furthermore he demanded that, in addition to eighty thousand gold coins, he be paid by the Romans another twenty thousand annually as well, and indeed when the emperor angrily refused, he spurned the agreements and threw his oaths to the winds. (tr. Michael & Mary Whitby)

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