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176
EARLY CHRISTIANITY

Maurice,[1] although the friendly understanding between the two empires had been nearly broken by the predatory incursions of the Roman Arabs into the territory of Babylon.[2] Hostilities, however, commenced after the death of Maurice, and in the Persian war, which lasted from this period till the victories of Heraclius, the Roman and Persian Saracens make again a considerable figure.[3]

Till after the conquest of Mecca, the progress of Muhammed had been unobserved by, perhaps unknown to, the great powers around. The victorious army of Noushirwan was overrunning the richest tracts of Syria, and was only separated from the capital of the Cæsars by the breadth of the Hellespont; but the coffers of Persia were emptied and its best blood wasted in a continuance of desperate efforts, and it would require no very prophetic spirit to foresee that their conquests must soon be abandoned.

After having at Mecca given a death-blow to the

  1. Theophylact. lib. iii. cc. 6—18. lib. iv. cc. 1—16. lib. v. cc. 1—15. gives the history of Persia during the reign of Maurice; as also Evagrius, lib. vi. c. 16.
  2. Theophylact. lib. viii. c. 1.
  3. George of Pisidia mentions the hostile Arabians in Heraclius' expedition:—
    Παρην τις αρχιφυλος ευτολμου γενους,
    Το Σαρακηνων ταγμα των πολυτριχων
    Αγων συν αυτῳ, και περισκυπων, οπως
    Λαθων επελθοι τῳ στρατῳ σου προς βλαβην.

    De Expedit. Heracl. Acroas. ii. v. 217.