Lazae or Lazi

Lazae Or Lazi (Λᾶζαι), the name of a large nation inhabiting Colchis, between the rivers Bathys and Phasis. Under the Romans the name Lazica was applied to the whole of Colchis. In 520 the prince of the Lazae, Tyathus (Zathus or Tzathus), went to Constantinople to ask the aid of the emperor Justin against the Persians. He was baptized there, with the emperor himself as his sponsor, married a Grecian Christian lady of high rank, and requested the emperor to crown him king, in order that, it he should receive the crown at the hands of the king of Persia, as was formerly the custom, he should not be obliged to take a part in the heathen ceremonies and sacrifices which would follow. Justin recognized him as an independent sovereign, and crowned him himself. Soon after this the whole of the Lazue appear to have become zealous Christians. Procopius calls them "the most zealous of all Christians," and this seems to be to some extent corroborated by the fact that Chosroes, king of Persia, endeavored to remove them into the interior of his empire, as they and their neighbors the Iberians, who were also Christians, opposed an invincible barrier to the extension of Persia. One of their princes, Gubazes, having been assassinated by a Roman general, they entertained for a moment the idea of attaching themselves to Persia, but relinquished it for fear of thereby being in danger of losing their faith: "qui enim varia senserint, versari simul nil possunt, et sane nec timore intercedente nec beneficio duce fides in his stabilis manet, ni forte eadem et rectius senserint" (Agath. 3:12). From the statement in Procopius (Bell. Goth. 4:2), that the bishops of the Lazae sent priests to neighboring independent Christian nations, it appears that the Lazae were zealous in propagating their faith. Among the converts they made to Christianity are the Abasians, to whom Justinian I sent priests. See Theophan. Chronogr. anno 512; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:250; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lexikcon, 6:386; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v.

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