The revolution in southern Arabia was agreeable to Justinian on more accounts than one; for, though the conquest of Yaman might be regarded as the triumph of Christianity over its opponents, he hoped to reap more solid advantages from the friendly professions of the conquerors. In the sanguinary wars with the Persian monarch the Arabs of the Syrian frontiers had been faithful and effective allies. By an alliance with the kings of Abyssinia and Hamyar, he might, if necessary, call off the attentions of the Persians to another quarter. A simultaneous attack of the Hamyarites in Irak, and of the Romans and their more northern allies in Mesopotamia, would have divided and weakened their strength.
One of the most necessary luxuries of the Byzantine court was the silken produce of the worms of Serica or China. The value of this merchandise was sufficient to induce the caravans to consume a period of two hundred and forty days in traversing the interior of Asia from Syria to China. But the trade in silk and the commodities of the east was
- On the silk trade, consult Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. xl. and Procopius, c. 20.