Life of Mar Aba – chapter 28

28.  Then the King of Kings told him: “That you ignored our command and come here, we forgive you.  But the four very serious accusations that the magians make against you are as follows: that you make magians leave their religion (dên) and into Christians; that you do not let your people marry many women as they wish; that you subvert the legal processes of the magians; that you were originally a heathen and only later became a Christian.  Add to this that when you were interned, you appointed bishops, priests and deacons and ordered them to teach and convert people to Christianity as you do.  All this we forgive you in our benevolence.  Only the fact that you became a Christian later, must you account for, if the Mobedan Mobed requires it from you.  Now go home and be at peace.”  Then the Saint worshipped and praised God; he blessed the King of Kings, and went out of the HRPDKA with great joy.[1]  But because of the crush of the crowd accompanying him he could not get through the city gate, but went over the city moat.  At this the aforementioned magians were amazed and upset; they went and woke the King and said: “The man, who is the enemy of the religion (dên) of Hormizd, you have let go free and he is going to his house!”

If this is historical — and this is a hagiographical text, so it may not be — then we can see the cunning calculation taking place in the astute political mind of Chosroes II:  Mar Aba is not the leader of a bunch of potential enemy sympathisers, as previous Catholici may have been.  He can’t be disloyal, because he is persona non grata in the Roman empire, as are his followers.  He has to rely on the king for support against the Magians, so must be loyal in return.  And he isn’t some nobody, but a noble Persian.  His followers increase in numbers every day, although still small.  All this keeps the powerful Zoroastrian clergy so busy that they have no time to plot against the King of Kings, unlike some of their predecessors.  And both sides have to appeal to the King, whose authority is thereby strengthened.

From Chosroes II’s point of view, what’s not to like?  All he has to do is keep the pot boiling.  So he dismisses most of the charges, but leaves a very intractable one; and at the same time endears himself to the Magians by making them judges in the case.

  1. [1]The HRPDKA seems to be the jail at court, perhaps.

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