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Galerius – tricky cabbage seller

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


In 294 CE king of Persia – Narseh, son of the great Shapur I, led a surprise invasion of the Roman Empire. Galerius in the office of Caesar, with the help of smaller forces, delayed the Sassanid attack while awaiting the arrival of Augustus’ reinforcements Diocletian.

The rivalry between Rome and Persia lasted until 298 CE when the final battle of Satala took place. Roman troops unexpectedly approached the large camp of Narseh and completely defeated the enemy troops.

Faustus of Byzantium – an ancient writer from the 4th/5th century CE – in his work “History of the Armenians” reported that the camp was conquered by a trick, with the help of Galerius himself. According to the work, Galerius personally chose two men from the Armenian army (supporting the Romans) and went with them to the gates of the camp, pretending to be cabbage sellers. Galerius and his companions were let in, behind the fortifications and, while selling vegetables, searched for weak points in the enemy’s fortifications.

Galerius left the Sassanid camp, gathered troops and led the attack on the designated section of the walls. The attack took the unprepared Persians by surprise. The wounded king of Persia fled from Armenia to Persia, and the Romans seized huge treasures and harem, which the Persian ruler was carrying with him. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, one of the Roman soldiers was to obtain a beautifully ornate leather bag filled with pearls. A simple legionnaire, however, was to throw away the pearls, considering them unnecessary1.

  1. Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, 22.4.8
  • Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians, III.72

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