Recently a regular visitor let me know by email that he was dismayed because of my wish to exterminate those who trade by skinning alive some poor animals. He merely wanted to close the Chinese factories that supply more than half of the fur garments for sale in the corrupt, deranged West. This is my response:
I am not the monster. Those who don’t harbor exterminationist fantasies are the moral Neanderthals compared to me.
Take as an example my recent posts on pre-Hispanic Amerinds. In the last one a disturbing possibility was raised by the author of an academic paper (take heed that this is an establishment source): Several Maya skulls show marks of sharp and unhealed cuts, particularly around the eye sockets, which suggests that some of these individuals might have been flayed before the sacrifice. The presence of women and children among these skulls mean that even they, not only mature men, might have suffered a horrible death, like what still happens today in the Chinese fur factories.
I usually don’t get comments on my pre-Columbian posts, perhaps because the unearthed data sheds light onto such ghastly history that it makes it difficult to digest. But if we dare to see that the same is happening today to some animals, the emergent individual who approaches these subjects can only see those who avoid it as intellectual cowards. Why? Because the whole subject of white survival depends upon regaining a self-image that puts whites above the other races from the moral—i.e., the development of empathy—standpoint, especially empathy toward women, children and our cousins, the animals.
After my previous post on Maya sacrifice I have read another academic paper in the book El Sacrificio Humano (28 authors), this one by Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina, a chapter with nine pages of bibliographical references of specialized literature. (*)
Tiesler and Cucina let us know that modern Mayanists are using, in addition to the Spanish chronicles and the iconographic evidence of pre-Columbian art, the science of taphonomy (analysis of skeletons) as tangible evidence of human sacrifice in the Maya civilization.
On pages 199-200 the authors mention the techniques that the Maya used in their practices, now corroborated by taphonomy: the victim could have been shot by arrows or lapidated, his or her throat or nape could have been cut or broken, his or her heart could have been extracted either through the diaphragm or through the thorax; could have suffered multiple and fatal lacerations, or incinerated, disemboweled or skinned or dismembered. The body remains could have been eaten or used as trophies, or used in the manufacture of percussion instruments.
The authors deduce this by direct, physical evidence of the studied skeletons (or other remains) and they also mention a form of sacrifice that I had not heard of: the offering of human faces in the context of the influence on the Mayas by the Xipe Totec deity, “Our Lord the Flayed One,” who was widely worshipped at the north, in central Mexico.
Tiesler and Cucina also point out to other kind of physical evidence in the Maya civilization (that I already had mentioned in The Return of Quetzalcoatl): many skeletons with sacrificial marks have been found at the bottom of the cenotes of sacrifice. On page 206 they include the illustration of some Maya dignitaries showing off on their “uniforms” inverted heads such as the one I already added in my entry on pre-Columbia Oaxaca. The news is that a skeleton has been found of an individual showing on his thorax a human mask that hanged from his belt when he was alive.
On page 209 the authors let us know that the Mayas even sacrificed animals, and include an illustration of a jaguar surrounded in flames. They don’t say if the animal was alive when sacrificed; and on page 211 they tell of “an elevated percentage of child, adolescent and female victims whose cadavers used to be, also, the object of ritual manipulation.” In the same page appears a Maya depiction of a decapitated woman, and on page 215 a photo is reproduced of a perforated thorax suggesting that the body remains might have been used as manikins “with the objective of a terrifying display of institutional power.” They also suggest that the sacrifices might have been still performed long after the Spanish Conquest, albeit “clandestinely and increasingly resorting to animal substitutes.”
This makes my point beautifully. If you forbid a barbarous practice in a primitive race the violence will be displaced, not eradicated.
The sacrificial victims are now the animals. Remember my entry where I mentioned the case of recent torture of bunnies in Mexico? The reason why I speak with haughty contempt of non-exterminationists (“my moral inferiors”) is because they are afraid of taking their premises to their logical, commonsensical conclusion. It is not enough to close the Chinese skinning factories or the Mexican slaughter houses. To put an absolute end to such practices with no further displacement you got to wipe out the entire psychoclass behind such cruelties. (Cf. my views on psychohistory to grasp the meaning of the term “psychoclass” and also the last pages of Pierce’s The Turner Diaries.)
(*) “Sacrificio, Tratamiento y Ofrenda del Cuerpo Humano entre los Mayas Peninsulares,” in López Luján, Leonardo & Guilhem Olivier (2010): El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana [Human Sacrifice in the Mesoamerican Religious Tradition]. Mexico City, Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas. ISBN 978-607-484-076-6. OCLC 667990552. (Spanish)
In their article, “El Sacrificio Humano en la Parte Central del Área Maya”, pages 169-193 of El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana, Stephen Houston and Andrew Scherer write:
Some examples [frescoes] of Piedras Negras, Guatemala, show a knife with knots of paper and a feathered plume of the sacrificial victim, with his heart possibly extracted, leaning over a bundle of paper for a burnt-offering.
The reduced size of the characters raises the possibility of youngsters or infants, whose breasts are opened more easily by its cartilaginous nature. There is a series of images on plates with infants whose breasts show a small cut on the heart (e.g., the famous dish of the Popol Vuh, K3395). But not all of them are representations. In 1985, as a member of Project Caracol in Belize, Stephen Houston excavated a reused crypt with at least twenty-five individuals, where he found the body of a newborn on top of a plate.
Incidentally, it is remarkable the presence of fire in scenes of children, such as in a mural of a jamb of Tohcok, Campeche, and another on Stela 3 of Yaxhá, Guatemala. The first image traces the shape of a body on an incendiary base, bundles of firewood with ajaw on the head, corresponding to the sign of the homes of the founders of dynasties, especially those related to the pre-eminent city of Teotihuacan.
The second image shows the remains of a human body on a plate supported by cross-shaped sticks. From above fall grains of incense, ch’aaj in the ch’olan language in most classical texts; from below clouds of fire raise up. Through the sign for “wood,” té, inscribed next to the trait, it is indicated that the dish will also burn.
A documented vase (K1645, above) by Justin Kerr explains the mythical context of these historical facts. Two supplicant characters, the first perhaps tied as a captive (at least placed in a very uncomfortable position), faces two “packages” with heads of gods, a scene that appears in other vessels, but with different dates and other companions. The verb “born” sihyaj suggests that Chahk, the rain god, and the so-called god of “Pax” are newborns. In the vase K1645 the supplicants are ch’ajoomtaak, “those who spread incense.” The first character carries the attributes of the ch’ajoom, “incense spreader,” even a distinctive headband and a dress of dry leaves.
Both supplicants offer to the enthroned figures an object named “his foot,” yook, perhaps referring to the wooden scaffolding that stands in the stela of Yaxhá. The link to the fires is made clear with the presence of the inflammatory base behind the scaffold. Unlike other sacrificed children, the infant appears to be alive [Chechar’s note: see image below].
As in several Mesoamerican societies, the image of a supernatural act can function as a basic model for the dynastic rituals. There is a parallel in the evidence of the sacrifice by fire, a torture with fatal goals, applied by a god on the back of another…
The presence of infants over the plates, especially in contexts of way [Mayan word] or co-essences of Maya rulers, indicates that this is a special “food.” Usually, the way was very different food from the food of human beings, with emphasis on hands, eyes, bones, and in this case, the soft bodies of children.
[Above I excerpted passages from pages 170 to 173. Below there’s an excerpt from page 182, where the authors discuss other Maya sacrifices:]
The presence of women and children indicates that these individuals were not enemy combatants and strongly suggests a sacrificial context, though perhaps a sacrifice of wider political significance.
Several skulls of Colhá show marks of sharp and unhealed cuts, particularly around the eye sockets, which suggests that some of these individuals were flayed, either shortly before or after death. The skinning of the face supports the iconographic images of beheading showing substantial mutilation, particularly of the eyes. Although it is likely that much of this occurred post-mortem, we must ask whether at least some of these traumas were inflicted before death to maximize the suffering of those about to be executed.
Note: For my psychological interpretation of Maya and other Amerind cruelty, see The Return of Quetzalcoatl, a chapter of my book.
The lead paragraph of Wikipedia article “Human trophy taking in Mesoamerica” starts with this sentence:
Most of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica such as the Olmec, Maya, Mixtec, Zapotec and Aztec cultures practised some kind of taking of human trophies during warfare. Captives taken during war would often be taken to their captors’ city-states where they would be ritually tortured and sacrificed. These practices are documented by a rich material of iconographic and archaeological evidence from across Mesoamerica.
Today I added some info to that article.
In the South West of Mexico there are various pre-Columbian figures in which high-ranking characters, warriors and ball players wear ritual and military paraphernalia, holding inverted heads with their loose, long hair hanging down. One of these figures can be seen in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington (see drawing below). Javier Urcid writes that these trophies may have been “soft parts of decapitated heads turned into relics to hang.” There are also several figures showing characters with facial skin on their face: the skin of a flayed human. Urcid’s article in El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana includes several illustrations of these trophies in the southern west of Mexico, including a brazier depicting a ball player with a flayed facial mask, wearing a necklace of human bones and carrying a severed head.
The Relación Geográfica of 1580 mentions the festivity of the tlacaxipehualiztli in the context of human skin as trophies in Oaxaca: “… and with rods they hit throughout the body until it swelled, and then flayed the bodies and washed the meat with hot water and ate it, and carried the skins in the nearby villages for begging.”
Sometimes it is not even necessary to add value judgments about such practices. A simple enumeration of the facts is enough. More info about this cute ritual, the tlacaxipehualiztli, performed by these little angles that were the pre-Hispanic Amerinds appears in my book. Keep in mind that the tlacaxipehualiztli was performed every year before the Spanish conquest.
This book was very difficult to read, not because it is poorly written, it isn’t, but because of the subject matter. I frequently had to put it down because of the sheer horror of what was done to the helpless German people. I have been aware for years that vast crimes were committed by the “liberators” of Europe during and after the war. The demonic creatures who instigated the war also planned and executed the destruction of all that was best about European civilization and its people in a welter of blood, murder, rape, torture and starvation.
However, I had only absorbed snippets of what was done over time. Goodrich brings it all together in a litany of woe that is hard to take, especially when one realizes that most of the perpetrators were never called to task for their sickening crimes, several living out their lives in comfort in Israel. Indeed, most of them thrived and many were and are lionized to this day. It says much about propaganda that blood-soaked monsters like Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Benes et al are still today regarded as heroic leaders.
One wonders at the mentality of people like the American pilots who machine-gunned thousands of the shocked survivors of Dresden, the great majority of whom were women and children and injured, as well as the rescue crews. No doubt they stand proudly at veterans get-togethers for the part they played in “making the world safe for democracy.”
It is notable also that the system still insists that a mere 35,000 died at Dresden when they know full well that the true number must be at least ten times greater. History is an agreed-upon set of lies by the victors where the alleged crimes of the defeated are exaggerated out of all proportion and the vast and very real crimes of the victors are minimized or ignored. Never has this been truer than of the period of European history between 1914 and 1950.
Goodrich is to be commended for doing so much to expose the monstrous crimes committed against the German people and the vile slanders laid against them ever since. Knowing this I can never help but sneer at the people who stand proudly at the Cenotaph in London each November 11th with their berets and medals and who to this day claim to have made the world a better place.
No doubt, Hellstorm will not be readily available in bookstores and libraries, unlike revolting works of fiction such as “the man who broke into Auschwitz” and other fantasies. We can also be certain that Spielberg will not be making a blockbuster on the subject any time soon.
Nevertheless, for those who want to know the truth and to get some understanding as to why our civilization is dying it shines as a terrible beacon in the world of lies in which we now live.
Eduardo Matos Moctezuma is a prominent Mexican archaeologist that has directed excavations at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. In his article “La Muerte del Hombre por el Hombre” in El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana (pages 43-64), he includes fifteen illustrations of ancient codexes, of which I’ll reproduce only a couple of them.
After quoting the details of Maya human sacrifice recounted by Diego de Landa (1524-1579), a Spanish bishop of Yucatán, Matos Moctezuma writes (my translation) that “in some Mixtec codexes this practice is shown as in the Codex Borgia, where we have images of the extraction of the heart, and also in the Codex Laud”:
A few pages later the archeologist describes another form of sacrifice that was popular in both Teotihuacan and in the Maya world, decapitation: “Also in various codexes we see images of decapitation, as in the Codex Vaticanus B, pre-Hispanic, in which page 24 a figure can be seen of a bat with outstretched arms holding in each of his hands a bloody human head. It corresponds to the eastern trecenas [13-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars] and reads like: ‘They are time of vampire Xolotl, the deadly lethal bat that cuts heads and takes off hearts’.”
I don’t want to repeat what I already said about pre-Hispanic human sacrifice in The Return of Quetzalcoatl. I want to add something new. And since art is the royal road to enter the soul of a totally alien culture, I find it convenient to include these images of how the books authored by the representatives of the high culture in the Amerind world looked like before they were conquered by the white man.
The above is a highly-pixelated image. Click on it to see the details (click again for even more detailed close-up). I may be no expert in deciphering such codexes but a central image on the left page looks like a grey-faced man holding a decapitated head with blood pouring under it.
The academic treatise El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana sheds light on a photograph I used in a chapter of my book, the picture above the note “Photo by Héctor Montaño,” a photo of a recent discovery of a child offering to Huitzilopochtli that Montaño kindly sent me a few years ago when I was researching the subject of child sacrifice in pre-Columbian America. (By the end of this entry I reproduce this high-quality photo again: click on it if you want to see the details.)
In an article of El Sacrificio Humano, “Huitzilopochtli and child sacrifice in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan” (my translation) by Leonardo López Luján, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Norma Valentín and Aurora Montúfar (pages 367-394), the authors tell us:
Everything indicates that this deposit is the material expression of a mass sacrificial ceremony motivated by the devastating drought of year 1 Tochli, corresponding to our 1454 C.E. and reported in a number of Indian annals. The presence of the Offering 48 in the northwest corner of Temple fully agrees with the documentary sources of the 16th century (pages 367-368).
During such ceremonies [to Tláloc], subject to the calendar or performed in times of crisis, children were symbolically similar to the dwarfs and deformed assistants of rain, as their profuse tears shed when immolated served as a hopeful omen of abundant precipitation. The careful study recently published by Michel Graulich about human sacrifice among the Aztecs indicates that, usually, the chosen children were given away or sold by their parents…; little slaves offered by the lords and wealthy people; infants purchased out of town, or children of prisoners of war. There are indications, moreover, that the kings and lords to some extent responsible for the smooth running of the meteors destined their own offspring to the téhcatl during droughts or floods, or to get rich harvests (pages 368 & 370).
The taphonomic analysis
Numerous cut marks on the ribs of both sides of the rib cage, as well as perimortem fractures produced by the same cutting action… In our view, this body of evidence is sufficient to conclude that the child of Offering 111 died during a sacrificial ceremony in which his tiny heart was extracted (pages 377-378).
Child sacrifice, war and Huitzilopochtli
Not all child sacrifices were linked to the gods of rain and fertility. Some historical documents reveal that people who were in situations of adversity, or had lost their freedom, or had been suffering a terrible disease, promised to give their children in exchange for their salvation. In other cases, the life of infants was claimed just before the military confrontations (pages 381-382).
In the following pages the authors mention the Spanish chroniclers as complementary sources of what recent archeology has discovered; chroniclers and 16th century texts such as Francisco Lopez de Gómara, the “List of Coatepec and his party,” Antonio Tello, Diego Durán and Bernardino de Sahagún.
It’s nice to see that modern science confirms, not denies, what the 16th century Spaniards had witnessed and reported.
Recently I was in the bookstore of the Museo Nacional de Antropología (MNA), which I had not visited for years, and the cover of a DVD for sell caught my attention. Although it was about human sacrifice in pre-Columbian America, the back cover of this BBC documentary claimed that “women had more rights” in the pre-Hispanic world than in the West. I immediately put the DVD, which before reading that had tempted me to purchase it, back to the shelf.
It is unbelievable the level of chutzpah and blatant historical lies that presently are broadcasted to the unsuspecting masses. As I wrote in my book rebutting similar, outrageous claims by renowned British historians, unlike pre-Columbian women “European women were not deceived to be sacrificed, decapitated and skinned punctually according to rituals of the Gregorian calendar.”
In my chapter of Hojas Susurrantes dealing with the Aztecs I did not include references because the format of that chapter is literary, not academic. But now that I was in the MNA I obtained a copy of what could be regarded as the most up-to-date academic work on human sacrifice in Mesoamerica.
El Sacrificio Humano en la Tradición Religiosa Mesoamericana is a 600-page, academic treatise authored by 28 scholars on the subject of pre-Columbian sacrifice: Mexican, European and American archeologists, historians and anthropologists. Published in 2010 by both the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), this can be the ultimate source to validate what I wrote in my book about the Aztecs. In addition to the sources I already knew, El Sacrificio Humano includes some new archeological evidence corroborating the 16th century claims of the Spaniards about Amerind infanticide, sacrifice and cannibalism.
Of course: the Mexicans who coordinated the publishing of this major work are politically-correct idiots whose main objective is that the readers continue to subscribe the non-judgmental ethos so fashionable in anthropology today, an ethos that takes Boasian anthropology as axiomatic. This can be gathered from the presentations to this collaborative work by the director of the INAH (“Accepting the reality of the sacrificial practices in ancient Mexico does not mean to rule in favor or against them”—my translation); those who coordinate the MNA (“…the Hispanist fundamentalism that sees only the most barbaric aspects of this practice”), and the director of the Institute of Historical Research of the UNAM (“…among the non-specialist public often circulates reductionist ideas about it [the Mesoamerican sacrifice]… the papers presented here allow a more accurate and nuanced approach”).
Take note that these men and women and all Mexican and non-Mexican anthropologists and historians that contributed with academic papers to El Sacrificio Humano don’t deny the facts about what the pre-Hispanic Amerinds did. What modern academics do is, like their guru the Jew Franz Boas, abstaining from value judgments about such practices. In today’s historiography you can say everything you want against whites, the Germans and the Nazis, but even the slightest condemnation of non-white cultures is considered disloyal.
In one of the first chapters after the above-mentioned presentations, the archeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma presents the archeological evidences of sacrificial rituals—skeleton remains of the victims, stony bases for the sacrifice, the instruments used in the immolations, etc.—that Leonardo López Luján, the main coordinator of the book, acknowledges in the very first chapter as “having their referents in the historical sources from the 16th century.” This scholar is thus acknowledging that what the Spanish chroniclers saw and recorded in the 16th century is now being corroborated by archeology. López Luján of course uses the passive voice, “fueron muertos” instead of the natural “los mataron” (they killed them) in that introductory chapter when writing about the sacrificial victims.
In the next entries of these new series I will be examining the naked facts that the scholars of El Sacrificio Humano present about how these little angels, the Amerinds, behaved before any substantial contact with the Europeans.
Tenochtitlan, the world’s most beautiful city in the 16th century.
For my interpretation of Aztec human sacrifice see my book: here.
The History of the Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire
The retreat and death of Julian
The martial impatience of Julian urged him to take the field in the beginning of the spring; and he dismissed, with contempt and reproach, the senate of Antioch, who accompanied the emperor beyond the limits of their own territory, to which he was resolved never to return. After a laborious march of two days, he halted on the third at Beræa, or Aleppo, where he had the mortification of finding a senate almost entirely Christian; who received with cold and formal demonstrations of respect the eloquent sermon of the apostle of paganism. The son of one of the most illustrious citizens of Beræa, who had embraced, either from interest or conscience, the religion of the emperor, was disinherited by his angry parent.
The father and the son were invited to the Imperial table. Julian, placing himself between them, attempted, without success, to inculcate the lesson and example of toleration; supported, with affected calmness, the indiscreet zeal of the aged Christian, who seemed to forget the sentiments of nature, and the duty of a subject; and at length, turning towards the afflicted youth, “Since you have lost a father,” said he, “for my sake, it is incumbent on me to supply his place.” The emperor was received in a manner much more agreeable to his wishes at Batnæ, a small town pleasantly seated in a grove of cypresses, about twenty miles from the city of Hierapolis.
The solemn rites of sacrifice were decently prepared by the inhabitants of Batnæ, who seemed attached to the worship of their tutelar deities, Apollo and Jupiter; but the serious piety of Julian was offended by the tumult of their applause; and he too clearly discerned, that the smoke which arose from their altars was the incense of flattery, rather than of devotion. The ancient and magnificent temple which had sanctified, for so many ages, the city of Hierapolis, no longer subsisted; and the consecrated wealth, which afforded a liberal maintenance to more than three hundred priests, might hasten its downfall.
Yet Julian enjoyed the satisfaction of embracing a philosopher and a friend, whose religious firmness had withstood the pressing and repeated solicitations of Constantius and Gallus, as often as those princes lodged at his house, in their passage through Hierapolis. In the hurry of military preparation, and the careless confidence of a familiar correspondence, the zeal of Julian appears to have been lively and uniform. He had now undertaken an important and difficult war; and the anxiety of the event rendered him still more attentive to observe and register the most trifling presages, from which, according to the rules of divination, any knowledge of futurity could be derived.
He informed Libanius of his progress as far as Hierapolis, by an elegant epistle, which displays the facility of his genius, and his tender friendship for the sophist of Antioch. Hierapolis, situate almost on the banks of the Euphrates, had been appointed for the general rendezvous of the Roman troops, who immediately passed the great river on a bridge of boats, which was previously constructed. If the inclinations of Julian had been similar to those of his predecessor, he might have wasted the active and important season of the year in the circus of Samosata or in the churches of Edessa.
But as the warlike emperor, instead of Constantius, had chosen Alexander for his model, he advanced without delay to Carrhæ, a very ancient city of Mesopotamia, at the distance of fourscore miles from Hierapolis. The temple of the Moon attracted the devotion of Julian; but the halt of a few days was principally employed in completing the immense preparations of the Persian war. The secret of the expedition had hitherto remained in his own breast; but as Carrhæis the point of separation of the two great roads, he could no longer conceal whether it was his design to attack the dominions of Sapor on the side of the Tigris, or on that of the Euphrates.
The emperor detached an army of thirty thousand men, under the command of his kinsman Procopius, and of Sebastian, who had been duke of Egypt. They were ordered to direct their march towards Nisibis, and to secure the frontier from the desultory incursions of the enemy, before they attempted the passage of the Tigris. Their subsequent operations were left to the discretion of the generals; but Julian expected, that after wasting with fire and sword the fertile districts of Media and Adiabene, they might arrive under the walls of Ctesiphon at the same time that he himself, advancing with equal steps along the banks of the Euphrates, should besiege the capital of the Persian monarchy.
The success of this well-concerted plan depended, in a great measure, on the powerful and ready assistance of the king of Armenia, who, without exposing the safety of his own dominions, might detach an army of four thousand horse, and twenty thousand foot, to the assistance of the Romans. But the feeble Arsaces Tiranus, king of Armenia, had degenerated still more shamefully than his father Chosroes, from the manly virtues of the great Tiridates; and as the pusillanimous monarch was averse to any enterprise of danger and glory, he could disguise his timid indolence by the more decent excuses of religion and gratitude. He expressed a pious attachment to the memory of Constantius, from whose hands he had received in marriage Olympias, the daughter of the præfect Ablavius; and the alliance of a female, who had been educated as the destined wife of the emperor Constans, exalted the dignity of a Barbarian king.
Tiranus professed the Christian religion; he reigned over a nation of Christians; and he was restrained, by every principle of conscience and interest, from contributing to the victory, which would consummate the ruin of the church. The alienated mind of Tiranus was exasperated by the indiscretion of Julian, who treated the king of Armenia as his slave, and as the enemy of the gods. The haughty and threatening style of the Imperial mandates awakened the secret indignation of a prince, who, in the humiliating state of dependence, was still conscious of his royal descent from the Arsacides, the lords of the East, and the rivals of the Roman power.
The military dispositions of Julian were skillfully contrived to deceive the spies and to divert the attention of Sapor. The legions appeared to direct their march towards Nisibis and the Tigris. On a sudden they wheeled to the right; traversed the level and naked plain of Carrhæ; and reached, on the third day, the banks of the Euphrates, where the strong town of Nicephorium, or Callinicum, had been founded by the Macedonian kings. From thence the emperor pursued his march, above ninety miles, along the winding stream of the Euphrates, till, at length, about one month after his departure from Antioch, he discovered the towers of Circesium, the extreme limit of the Roman dominions.
The army of Julian, the most numerous that any of the Cæsars had ever led against Persia, consisted of sixty-five thousand effective and well-disciplined soldiers. The veteran bands of cavalry and infantry, of Romans and Barbarians, had been selected from the different provinces; and a just preeminence of loyalty and valor was claimed by the hardy Gauls, who guarded the throne and person of their beloved prince. A formidable body of Scythian auxiliaries had been transported from another climate, and almost from another world, to invade a distant country, of whose name and situation they were ignorant.
The love of rapine and war allured to the Imperial standard several tribes of Saracens, or roving Arabs, whose service Julian had commanded, while he sternly refuse the payment of the accustomed subsidies. The broad channel of the Euphrates was crowded by a fleet of eleven hundred ships, destined to attend the motions, and to satisfy the wants, of the Roman army. The military strength of the fleet was composed of fifty armed galleys; and these were accompanied by an equal number of flat-bottomed boats, which might occasionally be connected into the form of temporary bridges. The rest of the ships, partly constructed of timber, and partly covered with raw hides, were laden with an almost inexhaustible supply of arms and engines, of utensils and provisions.
The vigilant humanity of Julian had embarked a very large magazine of vinegar and biscuit for the use of the soldiers, but he prohibited the indulgence of wine; and rigorously stopped a long string of superfluous camels that attempted to follow the rear of the army. The River Chaboras falls into the Euphrates at Circesium; and as soon as the trumpet gave the signal of march, the Romans passed the little stream which separated two mighty and hostile empires. The custom of ancient discipline required a military oration; and Julian embraced every opportunity of displaying his eloquence. He animated the impatient and attentive legions by the example of the inflexible courage and glorious triumphs of their ancestors.
He excited their resentment by a lively picture of the insolence of the Persians; and he exhorted them to imitate his firm resolution, either to extirpate that perfidious nation, or to devote his life in the cause of the republic. The eloquence of Julian was enforced by a donative of one hundred and thirty pieces of silver to every soldier; and the bridge of the Chaboras was instantly cut away, to convince the troops that they must place their hopes of safety in the success of their arms.
Yet the prudence of the emperor induced him to secure a remote frontier, perpetually exposed to the inroads of the hostile Arabs. A detachment of four thousand men was left at Circesium, which completed, to the number of ten thousand, the regular garrison of that important fortress. From the moment that the Romans entered the enemy’s country, the country of an active and artful enemy, the order of march was disposed in three columns. The strength of the infantry, and consequently of the whole army was placed in the centre, under the peculiar command of their master-general Victor.
On the right, the brave Nevitta led a column of several legions along the banks of the Euphrates, and almost always in sight of the fleet. The left flank of the army was protected by the column of cavalry. Hormisdas and Arinthæus were appointed generals of the horse; and the singular adventures of Hormisdas are not undeserving of our notice. He was a Persian prince, of the royal race of the Sassanides, who, in the troubles of the minority of Sapor, had escaped from prison to the hospitable court of the great Constantine.
Hormisdas at first excited the compassion, and at length acquired the esteem, of his new masters; his valor and fidelity raised him to the military honors of the Roman service; and though a Christian, he might indulge the secret satisfaction of convincing his ungrateful country, than at oppressed subject may prove the most dangerous enemy. Such was the disposition of the three principal columns. The front and flanks of the army were covered by Lucilianus with a flying detachment of fifteen hundred light-armed soldiers, whose active vigilance observed the most distant signs, and conveyed the earliest notice, of any hostile approach.
Dagalaiphus, and Secundinus duke of Osrhoene, conducted the troops of the rear-guard; the baggage securely proceeded in the intervals of the columns; and the ranks, from a motive either of use or ostentation, were formed in such open order, that the whole line of march extended almost ten miles. The ordinary post of Julian was at the head of the centre column; but as he preferred the duties of a general to the state of a monarch, he rapidly moved, with a small escort of light cavalry, to the front, the rear, the flanks, wherever his presence could animate or protect the march of the Roman army.
The country which they traversed from the Chaboras, to the cultivated lands of Assyria, may be considered as a part of the desert of Arabia, a dry and barren waste, which could never be improved by the most powerful arts of human industry. Julian marched over the same ground which had been trod above seven hundred years before by the footsteps of the younger Cyrus, and which is described by one of the companions of his expedition, the sage and heroic Xenophon.
“The country was a plain throughout, as even as the sea, and full of wormwood; and if any other kind of shrubs or reeds grew there, they had all an aromatic smell, but no trees could be seen. Bustards and ostriches, antelopes and wild asses, appeared to be the only inhabitants of the desert; and the fatigues of the march were alleviated by the amusements of the chase.”
The loose sand of the desert was frequently raised by the wind into clouds of dust; and a great number of the soldiers of Julian, with their tents, were suddenly thrown to the ground by the violence of an unexpected hurricane. The sandy plains of Mesopotamia were abandoned to the antelopes and wild asses of the desert; but a variety of populous towns and villages were pleasantly situated on the banks of the Euphrates, and in the islands which are occasionally formed by that river.
The city of Annah, or Anatho, the actual residence of an Arabian emir, is composed of two long streets, which enclose, within a natural fortification, a small island in the midst, and two fruitful spots on either side, of the Euphrates. The warlike inhabitants of Anatho showed a disposition to stop the march of a Roman emperor; till they were diverted from such fatal presumption by the mild exhortations of Prince Hormisdas, and the approaching terrors of the fleet and army. They implored, and experienced, the clemency of Julian, who transplanted the people to an advantageous settlement, near Chalcis in Syria, and admitted Pusæus, the governor, to an honorable rank in his service and friendship.
But the impregnable fortress of Thilutha could scorn the menace of a siege; and the emperor was obliged to content himself with an insulting promise, that, when he had subdued the interior provinces of Persia, Thilutha would no longer refuse to grace the triumph of the emperor. The inhabitants of the open towns, unable to resist, and unwilling to yield, fled with precipitation; and their houses, filled with spoil and provisions, were occupied by the soldiers of Julian, who massacred, without remorse and without punishment, some defenseless women.
During the march, the Surenas, or Persian general, and Malek Rodosaces, the renowned emir of the tribe of Gassan, incessantly hovered round the army; every straggler was intercepted; every detachment was attacked; and the valiant Hormisdas escaped with some difficulty from their hands. But the Barbarians were finally repulsed; the country became every day less favorable to the operations of cavalry; and when the Romans arrived at Macepracta, they perceived the ruins of the wall, which had been constructed by the ancient kings of Assyria, to secure their dominions from the incursions of the Medes. These preliminaries of the expedition of Julian appear to have employed about fifteen days; and we may compute near three hundred miles from the fortress of Circesium to the wall of Macepracta.
The fertile province of Assyria, which stretched beyond the Tigris, as far as the mountains of Media, extended about four hundred miles from the ancient wall of Macepracta, to the territory of Basra, where the united streams of the Euphrates and Tigris discharge themselves into the Persian Gulf. The whole country might have claimed the peculiar name of Mesopotamia; as the two rivers, which are never more distant than fifty, approach, between Bagdad and Babylon, within twenty-five miles, of each other. A multitude of artificial canals, dug without much labor in a soft and yielding soil connected the rivers, and intersected the plain of Assyria.
The uses of these artificial canals were various and important. They served to discharge the superfluous waters from one river into the other, at the season of their respective inundations. Subdividing themselves into smaller and smaller branches, they refreshed the dry lands, and supplied the deficiency of rain. They facilitated the intercourse of peace and commerce; and, as the dams could be speedily broke down, they armed the despair of the Assyrians with the means of opposing a sudden deluge to the progress of an invading army.
To the soil and climate of Assyria, nature had denied some of her choicest gifts, the vine, the olive, and the fig-tree; but the food which supports the life of man, and particularly wheat and barley, were produced with inexhaustible fertility; and the husbandman, who committed his seed to the earth, was frequently rewarded with an increase of two, or even of three, hundred. The face of the country was interspersed with groves of innumerable palm-trees; and the diligent natives celebrated, either in verse or prose, the three hundred and sixty uses to which the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the juice, and the fruit, were skilfully applied.
Several manufactures, especially those of leather and linen, employed the industry of a numerous people, and afforded valuable materials for foreign trade; which appears, however, to have been conducted by the hands of strangers. Babylon had been converted into a royal park; but near the ruins of the ancient capital, new cities had successively arisen, and the populous ness of the country was displayed in the multitude of towns and villages, which were built of bricks dried in the sun, and strongly cemented with bitumen; the natural and peculiar production of the Babylonian soil.
While the successors of Cyrus reigned over Asia, the province of Syria alone maintained, during a third part of the year, the luxurious plenty of the table and household of the Great King. Four considerable villages were assigned for the subsistence of his Indian dogs; eight hundred stallions, and sixteen thousand mares, were constantly kept, at the expense of the country, for the royal stables; and as the daily tribute, which was paid to the satrap, amounted to one English bushel of silver, we may compute the annual revenue of Assyria at more than twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling.