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menta," which becomes épμnтa. So much for the derivation of CαTρikov the second in descent from Chaturanga through the Persian Chatrang.
The Hellenic modification of the Arabic term Shatranj, not Chatrang, occurs in Ducas, a recent Byzantine historian, who wrote about, or soon after A.D. 1402. In speaking of Timur's great victory over Bāyazīd, (vulgarly Bajazet,) in the plains of Angora, he says that, "when Bayazid was brought in captive, Timur was seated in his tent with his son Shah Rukh1 playing Chess, which the Persians call Zavтpát. Now this last term is, evidently, by transposition, the Arabic Shatranj then used universally by Persian writers. The Greek alphabet possessed neither the initial nor the final sound of the word. For the former they made use of the (sigma) σ as the nearest approximation; and for the latter the (zeta) Č as in the case of the Persian "ch" for the ch and being cognate sounds both were represented, when necessary in Greek by ; hence the term σaтρávy or per metathesin, Gavтpay which is the third in descent from Chatur-anga through the forms of "Chatrang" and Shatranj" respectively. There is another Neo-Hellenic formation of the term Shatranj, viz. Zaтpevylov or more properly Zarρeyov evidently from the modern Arabic, in which the letter j is frequently sounded like our hard g. I have dwelt thus particularly on the etymological or philological part of our argument, because, if sound, and I cannot see any flaw in it, we are warranted in drawing thence several important conclusions.
1. In the first place, we have shown that the term ÇaтρIKIOν the older form under which it appears in the Byzantine writers, is derived solely from the Persian "Chatrang," and not from the Arabic "Shatranj.”
On the origin of the name Shāh-Rukh, vide chapter XI., page 159.
The obvious inference then is, that the Greeks received game of Chess, along with the term ÇarpıKIOV directly from the Persians and not through the intervention of the Arabs. This event may possibly have occurred during the reign of Naushirawan, who repeatedly carried his conquests into Syria and Asia Minor, but it is much more probable that it took place some thirty or forty years later, during the reign of his grandson Khusrü Parviz, or Chosroes II., as we shall hereafter point out.
2. In the second place, the Byzantines must have received the term ÇaтρIKIOV, and consequently the game of ζατρίκιον, Chess from the Persians at a period when the latter made use in their language of the older term "Chatrang," and not after they had adopted the Arabic modification "Shatranj." This must have happened some time before the middle of the seventh century, when the language of Persia became greatly intermixed with Arabic words, and the ancient religion of Zoroaster gave place to that of Muhammad, in consequence of the invasion and conquests of the Saracens. These temperate and hardy sons of the desert, under the command of the Caliph 'Umar, with the Kuran in one hand, and the sword in the other, overwhelmed like a torrent the whole country extending from the Euphrates to the confines of Tartary and India, about A.D. 640. The hitherto comparatively pure language of Persia then adopted numerous words and phrases from the Arabic; and the term "Shatranj," the only one in use by Persian writers of modern times, then superseded the older form "Chatrang." All this leads us nearly to the same conclusion as before, viz., that the Byzantines received the game of Chess from the Persians, at least as early as the first or second quarter of the seventh century.
3. Lastly, if we could ascertain the earliest mention of
the word CαTρIKIOV among the Byzantine writers, we should have a certain landmark by which to steer our course. We might rest assured that the game of Chess had, ere then, become known to the Greeks. We are told that the word occurs for the first time in the Alexiad of Anna Comnena,' which was written early in the twelfth century. The term is also used by a mediæval scholiast on Theocritus, but I am unable to ascertain the period at which the scholiast wrote. In Theocritus Idyll, vi. 18, the following passage occurs, which clearly alludes only to the game of TеTTеια, viz., καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ γραμμᾶς κινει λίθον, “he moves away the pebble from the [sacred] line," meaning that "he has the worst of the contest." Now, for our further enlightenment, the scholiast tells us that "this is a figurative expression borrowed from the phraseology of those who play at the game commonly called Caтpikiov or Chess!" whereupon Hyde exclaims, in the genuine oldfashioned commentator style, " quantum hallucinatus est Scholiastes!" One thing, however, we may safely infer, which is this, that the scholiast wrote, not earlier than the eighth century; but whether before or after the days of Anna Comnena is uncertain.
Having thus endeavoured to establish on etymological grounds that Chess had reached Byzantium within a century after its arrival in Persia, we shall proceed to investigate such historical evidence- at least presumptive evidence-as comes within our reach. It is true, we have not in this case, such positive and incontestable proofs to rely on, as we had in our last chapter respecting
1 We are by no means sure that this is the first time that it is mentioned in the Byzantine writers; and even if it should be so, it proves nothing against the fact of the game's being known there for four or five centuries previously.
2 Theocritus Bion et Moschus, &c., edit. A Valpy, 2 tom. 8vo, Londini, 1829.
the introduction of Chess among the Arabs. We must therefore content ourselves, in the first place, with such fair and legitimate inferences as an unprejudiced mind can scarcely fail to accept. This course is frequently adopted, in the absence of positive testimony, by those who endeavour to clear up obscure or doubtful points of history.
We observed in a note (Chap. VI.) respecting Sergius, the Greek interpreter at the Court of Naushirawan, that Chess might have reached Byzantium even in the days of Justinian. This bare possibility amounts to a strong probability some quarter of a century later under the reign of Khusrū Parviz, the grandson of Naushirawān, and the contemporary of the Byzantine Emperors Maurice, Phocas, and Heraclius. Khusrū, or as the Greeks styled him Chosroes II., ascended the Persian throne in A.D. 591, and reigned thirty-seven years. His father, Hormuz, had been assassinated by Bahrām, an able, but unscrupulous general, who himself aimed at sovereign power. The young prince Khusrū became an exile at the Court of the Emperor Maurice, and to the generous (or politic) friendship of the latter he was solely indebted for his restoration to his crown and sceptre. When resident at the Court of Byzantium, Khusru married Maryam, or Mapía, one of Maurice's daughters; and during the lifetime of that emperor the strictest intimacy existed between the two nations. Out of compliment to his wife and to his father-in-law, Khusru maintained for several years in his service, as a select body-guard, a thousand Byzantine youths; while his court was thronged by eminent men from the Lower Empire who had befriended him in his exile, and by whose aid he ultimately succeeded to the throne of his ancestors.
I have here ventured to differ from Gibbon, no mean
authority, who tells us that the name of the Grecian princess was Sīrā or Shirin. Now Shirin was quite a different person; she was the daughter of an Armenian or Circassian prince at whose court Khusru sought an asylum when he fled from the usurper Bahrām. She was celebrated, and is so still, for her wit and beauty, which form the theme of many a romance by the best Persian poets. She is styled, par excellence, “Zauja,i maḥbuba,i Khusrü, or "the Wife of Khusru's affection." My authority respecting Maurice's daughter Maryam is that of a most esteemed Persian historian Yahya Bin 'Abdu-l-Latif-al-Kazwini, in his work entitled Lubbu-lTawārīkh, i.e., “The Cream or Marrow of Histories," "Medulla Historiarum" being a General History of the Ancient Persians, and of the Modern Muslims, from the earliest times down to A.D. 1540.
The peace and friendship that existed between the two states were suddenly broken on the death, or rather the assassination of Maurice, early in the seventh century, after which event Khusru, on pretence of avenging his benefactor and father-in-law, declared war against the Roman Empire, then ruled over by the weak and contemptible Phocas. It does not fall within our province to follow the Persian monarch in his career of conquest for the next twenty years. It is sufficient to say that within that period he became master of Asia Minor, all Syria, Egypt, and the north of Africa; and had he possessed a sufficient naval power he would have overrun the whole of Eastern Europe. A Persian camp was maintained for more than ten years in sight of Constantinople; but the days of reverse and humiliation were fast approaching. During the last six years of his reign Khusru was stripped of all his recent conquests by the Emperor Heraclius.