The reason for this emptiness of history is not far to seek. Thelatter part of the patriarchate of Joseph, and the first of that ofEzekiel, saw a terrible outbreak of plague in all the East-a return ofthe same scourge as that which had devastated both the Roman andPersian Empires in 541, and of which Procopius has left us adescription. Syriac writers call the sickness the "Shar'uth," ; butit was probably what we know as oriental plague, and itsdestructiveness was as awful as usual. Whole households died; and nonedare enter the empty houses to gather the gold that lay thereownerless. The King, by payment of a huge reward, got together acompany of grave-diggers, who collected the corpses in the capital,interred them, and claimed their fee. It was paid them; but all werefound dead a few hours later, the pile of gold lying undivided by theirside.


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