The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part1)

Eutychius is obscure, so perhaps a reminder is in order.  It is often forgotten that the lands conquered by the Arabs contained large populations which did not instantly turn into Arabs, or into Moslems.  This text, the “Annals” is by the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa`id ibn Bitriq.  Compiled from older chronicles going back to Eusebius of Caesarea, this is the first of the Arabic Christian histories.  It’s interesting to see what a man at that date knew about the past.

Chapter 10.

1. In the tenth year of his reign the Persians appeared, who conquered Babil, Amid (1) and Persis.  Their king was Azdashir, son of Tabak, son of Shashan (2), a native of Istakhr (3), who was the first king to reign once again over Persia.  He sent letters to all the kings of Persia near him, and to the rulers of distant lands, asking them to recognize him as their king and give him their support, warning those, who dared oppose him, with threats of death and punishment.  When the edicts and letters came to these kings, great was their fear.  Some hastened to promise obedience and to assure him of their support; others waited until he went personally to them: then he made them pay obedience and submit themselves, some by love and some by force; others, however, refused to do what he had commanded them, and they were killed and destroyed.  To those who had immediately given him obedience, he rewarded them with magnanimity and elevated their position, denying, however, to everyone the title of king, because only he, and no other, could reign.  He moved continuously from one kingdom to another, from one king to another and from one country to another, until he came into the city of Zahl (4), which is in front of Maskin (5), also known as al-Hisn, within which was the King of as-Sawad (6). Azdashir besieged it long, without being able to take it.  Then out of the citadel, to watch the soldiers of Azdashir, came the daughter of the king — I mean the King of as-Sawad.  Seeing Azdashir, she was taken with the attractiveness of this man, and she fell in love.  Therefore she took an arrow and wrote on it:  “If you promise to marry me, I will show you a place from where you will be able to conquer this city.”  Then she shot the arrow in the direction of Azdashir. He found that he liked what she had written. He wrote this reply on the arrow: “I promise that I will do what you asked me,” and shot it in the direction of women.  When she had read it, she wrote: “This city has a small gate, built of unbaked bricks, in this place,” and described him the place.  Azdashir immediately sent some of his men to that place, while he kept the others engaged on another front, and he was able in this way to go through that place without the knowledge of the inhabitants of the city.  So he killed the king and had the better of all those who were in the city.  Afterwards Azdashir married the daughter of the king, as he had promised.  But one night. while he slept in his bed, [the woman] arose, and went out all night.  Looking around, on the next day, Azdashir saw, under the outer garment of the woman, on the bed, an olive leaf that had left its mark on her skin.  Azdashir asked her then with what her father nourished her, and she replied:  “Mostly on the cream of milk, honey and marrow.”  Azdashir said: “I do not know if anyone can give you as much love and honour as your father gave you. Yet you repaid him, contrary to what you should have rather done, with death.  You are not worthy of being in the world.  And I will avenge him.  If love blinded you, and took away your mind enough to make you forget your duty to your father, I am afraid that you will do the same thing to me also”.  So saying, he ordered them to tie her hair to the tail of a big horse and let him run.  This was done as [the king] ordered, and she was torn apart (7).

2. Commodus Caesar, king of the Romans, died.  After him reigned Bartinfqūs (8), king of the Romans, for three months and was killed.  After him reigned over the Romans Julianus Caesar (9) for two months and was killed.  After him reigned over the Romans, in Rome, Severus Caesar (10) for seventeen years.  This happened in the fourth year of the reign of Azdashir, son of Tabak.  This king Severus was wicked and procured for the Christians great misfortunes and much affliction.  In his day, many Christians found martyrdom everywhere.  Then he went to Egypt and had killed all the Christians who were in Egypt and Alexandria, destroying the churches.  At Alexandria he built a temple and called it the “Temple of the Gods”.  In the fourteenth year of his reign Callixtus was made patriarch of Rome (11).  He held the office for six years and died.  In the third year of his reign Asclepiades was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for nine years and died.  In the twelfth year of his reign Philetus was made patriarch of Antioch.  He led the office for thirteen years and died.  In the first year of his reign Capito was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Maximus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Antoninus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for five years and died.

3. As for Azdashir, son of Tabak, king of the Persians, he attempted to administer his people as justly as possible.  He founded six cities, namely the city of Gawr (12) and the city of Azdashirākhurrah (13), both in Persia; [the city of] Bahman-Azdashir (14), i.e. Furat al-Basrah, [the city of] Astādābād (15), i.e. Baysan Karkh in the district between the Tigris, the town of Souq al-Ahwaz (16) and one of the three cities that are in as-Sawad.  He rebuilt three cities, one of which is al-Khatt (17) to the west of the transfluvial region, the second is Bahārsamir near Karman, and the other is the city of al-Aylah (18).

4. Having reigned for fourteen years and six months Azdashir died.  There reigned after him his son Sabur, son of Azdashir (19), for thirty years and one month.  This was in the twelfth year of the reign of Severus Caesar, King of the Romans.  Severus Caesar died and reigned in Rome, after him, Antoninus Caesar Caracalla, the Bald (20), for six years.  In the third year of his reign  Uryānūs was made patriarch of Rome (21).  He held the office for four years and died.  In the first year of his reign Valens was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for three years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Dulichianus was made bishop of Jerusalem (22).  He held the office for four years and died.

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