Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving in Coste and Flandin. The vignette, drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a statuette in terra-cotta, found in Southern Russia, represents a young Scythian.
The Iranian religions -- Cyrus in Lydia and at Babylon: Cambyses in Egypt -- Darius and the organisation of the empire.
The Median empire is the least known of all those which held sway for a time over the destinies of a portion of Western Asia. The reason of this is not to be ascribed to the shortness of its duration: the Chaldaean empire of Nebuchadrezzar lasted for a period quite as brief, and yet the main outlines of its history can be established with some certainty in spite of large blanks and much obscurity. Whereas at Babylon, moreover, original documents abound, enabling us to put together, feature by feature, the picture of its ancient civilisation and of the chronology of its kings, we possess no contemporary monuments of Ecbatana to furnish direct information as to its history. To form any idea of the Median kings or their people, we are reduced to haphazard notices gleaned from the chroniclers of other lands, retailing a few isolated facts, anecdotes, legends, and conjectures, and, as these materials reach us through the medium of the Babylonians or the Greeks of the fifth or sixth century B.C., the picture which we endeavour to compose from them is always imperfect or out of perspective. We seemingly catch glimpses of ostentatious luxury, of a political and military organisation, and a method of government analogous to that which prevailed at later periods among the Persians, but more imperfect, ruder, and nearer to barbarism -- a Persia, in fact, in the rudimentary stage, with its ruling spirit and essential characteristics as yet undeveloped. The machinery of state had doubtless been adopted almost in its entirety from the political organisations which obtained in the kingdoms of Assyria, Elam, and Chaldaea, with which sovereignties the founders of the Median empire had held in turns relations as vassals, enemies, and allies; but once we penetrate this veneer of Mesopotamian civilisation and reach the inner life of the people, we find in the religion they profess -- mingled with some borrowed traits -- a world of unfamiliar myths and dogmas of native origin.
The main outlines of this religion were already fixed when the Medes rose in rebellion against Assur-bani-pal; and the very name of Confessor -- Fravartish -- applied to the chief of that day, proves that it was the faith of the royal family. It was a religion common to all the Iranians, the Persians as well as the Medes, and legend honoured as its first lawgiver and expounder an ancient prophet named Zarathustra, known to us as Zoroaster.* Most classical writers relegated Zoroaster to some remote age of antiquity -- thus he is variously said to have lived six thousand years before the death of Plato,** five thousand before the Trojan war,*** one thousand before Moses, and six hundred before Xerxes' campaign against Athens; while some few only affirmed that he had lived at a comparatively recent period, and made him out a disciple of the philosopher Pythagoras, who flourished about the middle of the fifth century B.C.
* The name Zarathustra has been interpreted in a score of different ways. The Greeks sometimes attributed to it the meaning |worshipper of the stars,| probably by reason of the similarity in sound of the termination |-astres| of Zoroaster with the word |astron.| Among modern writers, H. Rawlinson derived it from the Assyrian Ziru-Ishtar, |the seed of Ishtar,| but the etymology now most generally accepted is that of Burnouf, according to which it would signify |the man with gold-coloured camels,| the |possessor of tawny camels.| The ordinary Greek form Zoroaster seems to be derived from some name quite distinct from Zarathustra.
** This was, as Pliny records, the opinion of Eudoxus; not Eudoxus of Cnidus, pupil of Plato, as is usually stated, but a more obscure personage, Eudoxus of Rhodes.
*** This was the statement of Hermodorus.
According to the most ancient national traditions, he was born in the Aryanem-vaejo, or, in other words, in the region between the Araxes and the Kur, to the west of the Caspian Sea. Later tradition asserted that his conception was attended by supernatural circumstances, and the miracles which accompanied his birth announced the advent of a saint destined to regenerate the world by the revelation of the True Law. In the belief of an Iranian, every man, every living creature now existing or henceforth to exist, not excluding the gods themselves, possesses a Frohar, or guardian spirit, who is assigned to him at his entrance into the world, and who is thenceforth devoted entirely to watching over his material and moral well-being,* About the time appointed for the appearance of the prophet, his Frohar was, by divine grace, imprisoned in the heart of a Haoma,** and was absorbed, along with the juice of the plant, by the priest Purushaspa,*** during a sacrifice, a ray of heavenly glory descending at the same time into the bosom of a maiden of noble race, named Dughdova, whom Purushaspa shortly afterwards espoused.
* The Fravashi (for fravarti, from fra-var, |to support, nourish|), or the frohar (feruer), is, properly speaking, the nurse, the genius who nurtures. Many of the practices relating to the conception and cult of the Fravashis seem to me to go back to the primitive period of the Iranian religions.
** The haoma is an Asclepias Sarcostema Viminalis.
*** The name signifies |He who has many horses.|
Zoroaster was engendered from the mingling of the Frohar with the celestial ray. The evil spirit, whose supremacy he threatened, endeavoured to destroy him as soon as he saw the light, and despatched one of his agents, named Bouiti, from the country of the far north to oppose him; but the infant prophet immediately pronounced the formula with which the psalm for the offering of the waters opens: |The will of the Lord is the rule of good!| and proceeded to pour libations in honour of the river Dareja, on the banks of which he had been born a moment before, reciting at the same time the |profession of faith which puts evil spirits to flight.| Bouiti fled aghast, but his master set to work upon some fresh device. Zoroaster allowed him, however, no time to complete his plans: he rose up, and undismayed by the malicious riddles propounded to him by his adversary, advanced against him with his hands full of stones -- stones as large as a house -- with which the good deity supplied him. The mere sight of him dispersed the demons, and they regained the gates of their hell in headlong flight, shrieking out, |How shall we succeed in destroying him? For he is the weapon which strikes down evil beings; he is the scourge of evil beings.| His infancy and youth were spent in constant disputation with evil spirits: ever assailed, he ever came out victorious, and issued more perfect from each attack. When he was thirty years old, one of the good spirits, Vohumano, appeared to him, and conducted him into the presence of Ahura-mazda, the Supreme Being. When invited to question the deity, Zoroaster asked, |Which is the best of the creatures which are upon the earth?| The answer was, that the man whose heart is pure, he excels among his fellows. He next desired to know the names and functions of the angels, and the nature and attributes of evil. His instruction ended, he crossed a mountain of flames, and underwent a terrible ordeal of purification, during which his breast was pierced with a sword, and melted lead poured into his entrails without his suffering any pain: only after this ordeal did he receive from the hands of Ahura-mazda the Book of the Law, the Avesta, was then sent back to his native land bearing his precious burden. At that time, Vishtaspa, son of Aurvataspa, was reigning over Bactria. For ten years Zoroaster had only one disciple, his cousin Maidhyoi-Maonha, but after that he succeeded in converting, one after the other, the two sons of Hvogva, the grand vizir Jamaspa, who afterwards married the prophet's daughter, and Frashaoshtra, whose daughter Hvogvi he himself espoused; the queen, Hutaosa, was the next convert, and afterwards, through her persuasions, the king Vishtaspa himself became a disciple. The triumph of the good cause was hastened by the result of a formal disputation between the prophet and the wise men of the court: for three days they essayed to bewilder him with their captious objections and their magic arts, thirty standing on his right hand and thirty on his left, but he baffled their wiles, aided by grace from above, and having forced them to avow themselves at the end of their resources, he completed his victory by reciting the Avesta before them. The legend adds, that after rallying the majority of the people round him, he lived to a good old age, honoured of all men for his saintly life. According to some accounts, he was stricken dead by lightning,* while others say he was killed by a Turanian soldier, Bratrok-resh, in a war against the Hyaonas.
* This is, under very diverse forms, the version preferred by Western historians of the post-classical period.
The question has often been asked whether Zoroaster belongs to the domain of legend or of history. The only certain thing we know concerning him is his name; all the rest is mythical, poetic, or religious fiction. Classical writers attributed to him the composition or editing of all the writings comprised in Persian literature: the whole consisted, they said, of two hundred thousand verses which had been expounded and analysed by Hermippus in his commentaries on the secret doctrines of the Magi. The Iranians themselves averred that he had given the world twenty-one volumes -- the twenty-one Nasks of the Avesta,* which the Supreme Deity had created from the twenty-one words of the Magian profession of faith, the Ahuna Vairya. King Vishtaspa is said to have caused two authentic copies of the Avesta -- which contained in all ten or twelve hundred chapters** -- to be made, one of which was consigned to the archives of the empire, the other laid up in the treasury of a fortress, either Shapigan, Shizigan, Samarcand, or Persepolis.***
* The word Avesta, in Pehlevi Apastak, whence come the Persian forms avasta, osta, is derived from the
Achaemenian word Abasta, which signifies law in the inscriptions of Darius. The term Zend-Avesta, commonly used to designate the sacred book of the Persians, is incorrectly derived from the expression Apastac u Zend, which in Pehlevi designates first the law itself, and then the translation and commentary in more modern language which conduces to a knowledge (Zend) of the law. The customary application, therefore, of the name Zend to the language of the Avesta is incorrect.
** The Dinkart fixes the number of chapters at 1000, and the Shah-Namak at 1200, written on plates of gold. According to Masudi, the book itself and the two commentaries formed 12,000 volumes, written in letters of gold, the twenty-one Nasks each contained 200 pages, and the whole of these writings had been inscribed on 12,000 cow-hides.
*** The site of Shapigan or Shaspigan is unknown. J. Darmesteter suggests that it ought to be read as Shizigan, which would permit of the identification of the place with Shiz, one of the ancient religious centres of Iran, whose temple was visited by the Sassanids on their accession to the throne. According to the Arda-Viraf the law was preserved at Istakhr, or Persepolis, according to the Shah- Namak at Samarcand in the temple of the Fire-god.
Alexander is said to have burnt the former copy: the latter, stolen by the Greeks, is reported to have been translated into their language and to have furnished them with all their scientific knowledge. One of the Arsacids, Vologesus I., caused a search to be made for all the fragments which existed either in writing or in the memory of the faithful,* and this collection, added to in the reign of the Sassanid king, Ardashir Babagan, by the high priest Tansar, and fixed in its present form under Sapor I., was recognised as the religious code of the empire in the time of Sapor II., about the fourth century of the Christian era.*** The text is composed, as may be seen, of three distinct strata, which are by no means equally ancient;*** one can, nevertheless, make out from it with sufficient certainty the principal features of the religion and cult of Iran, such as they were under the Achaemenids, and perhaps even under the hegemony of the Medes.
* Tradition speaks simply of a King Valkash, without specifying which of the four kings named Vologesus is intended. James Darmesteter has given good reasons for believing that this Valkash is Vologesus I. (50-75 A.D.), the contemporary of Nero.
** This is the tradition reproduced in two versions of the Dinkart.
*** Darmesteter declares that ancient Zoroastrianism is, in its main lines, the religion of the Median Magi, even though he assigns the latest possible date to the composition of the Avesta as now existing, and thinks he can discern in it Greek, Jewish, and Christian elements.
It is a complicated system of religion, and presupposes a long period of development. The doctrines are subtle; the ceremonial order of worship, loaded with strict observances, is interrupted at every moment by laws prescribing minute details of ritual,* which were only put in practice by priests and strict devotees, and were unknown to the mass of the faithful.
* Renan defined the Avesta as |the Code of a very small religious sect; it is a Talmud, a book of casuistry and strict observance. I have difficulty in believing that the great Persian empire, which, at least in religious matters, professed a certain breadth of ideas, could have had a law so strict. I think, that had the Persians possessed a sacred book of this description, the Greeks must have mentioned it.|
The primitive, base of this religion is difficult to discern clearly: but we may recognise in it most of those beings or personifications of natural phenomena which were the chief objects of worship among all the ancient nations of Western Asia -- the stars, Sirius, the moon, the sun, water and fire, plants, animals beneficial to mankind, such as the cow and the dog, good and evil spirits everywhere present, and beneficent or malevolent souls of mortal men, but all systematised, graduated, and reduced to sacerdotal principles, according to the prescriptions of a powerful priesthood. Families consecrated to the service of the altar had ended, as among the Hebrews, by separating themselves from the rest of the nation and forming a special tribe, that of the Magi, which was the last to enter into the composition of the nation in historic times. All the Magi were not necessarily devoted to the service of religion, but all who did so devote themselves sprang from the Magian tribe; the Avesta, in its oldest form, was the sacred book of the Magi, as well as that of the priests who handed down their religious tradition under the various dynasties, native or foreign, who bore rule over Iran.
The Creator was described as |the whole circle of the heavens,| |the most steadfast among the gods,| for |he clothes himself with the solid vault of the firmament as his raiment,| |the most beautiful, the most intelligent, he whose members are most harmoniously proportioned; his body was the light and the sovereign glory, the sun and the moon were his eyes.| The theologians had gradually spiritualised the conception of this deity without absolutely disconnecting him from the material universe.
[Illustration: 012.jpg THE AHURA-MAZDA OF THE BAS-RELIEFS OF PERSEPOLIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Flandin and Coste.
He remained under ordinary circumstances invisible to mortal eyes, and he could conceal his identity even from the highest gods, but he occasionally manifested himself in human form. He borrowed in such case from Assyria the symbol of Assur, and the sculptors depict him with the upper part of his body rising above that winged disk which is carved in a hovering attitude on the pediments of Assyrian monuments or stelae.
[Illustration: 012b.jpg HYPOSTYLE OF HALL OF XERXES: DETAIL OF ENTABLATURE]
In later days he was portrayed under the form of a king of imposing stature and majestic mien, who revealed himself from time to time to the princes of Iran.*
* In a passage of Philo of Byblos the god is described as having the head of a falcon or an eagle, perhaps by confusion with one of the genii represented on the walls of the palaces.
[Illustration: 013.jpg AN IRANIAN GENIUS IN FORM OF A WINGED BULL]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
He was named Ahuro-mazdao or Ahura-mazda, the omniscient lord,* Spento-mainyus, the spirit of good, Mainyus-spenishto** the most beneficent of spirits.
* Ahura is derived from Ahu = Lord: Mazdao can be analysed into the component parts, maz = great, and dao = he who knows. At first the two terms were
interchangeable, and even in the Gathas the form Mazda Ahura is employed much more often than the form Ahura Mazda. In the Achsemenian inscriptions, Auramazda is only found as a single word, except in an inscription of Xerxes, where the two terms are in one passage separated and declined Aurahya mazdaha. The form Ormuzd, Ormazd, usually employed by Europeans, is that assumed by the name in modern Persian.
** These two names are given to him more especially in connection with his antagonism to Angromainyus.
Himself uncreated, he is the creator of all things, but he is assisted in the administration of the universe by legions of beings, who are all subject to him.*
* Darius styles Ahura-mazda, mathishta baganam, the greatest of the gods, and Xerxes invokes the protection of Ahura-mazda along with that of the gods. The classical writers also mention gods alongside of Ahura-mazda as recognised not only among the Achaemenian Persians, but also among the Parthians. Darmesteter considers that the earliest Achaemenids worshipped Ahura-mazda alone, |placing the other gods together in a subordinate and anonymous group: May Ahura-mazda and the other gods protect me.|
[Illustration: 014.jpg AHURA-MAZDA BESTOWING THE TOKENS OF ROYALTY ON AN IRANIAN KING]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Dieulafoy.
The most powerful among his ministers were originally nature-gods, such as the sun, the moon, the earth, the winds, and the waters. The sunny plains of Persia and Media afforded abundant witnesses of their power, as did the snow-clad peaks, the deep gorges through which rushed roaring torrents, and the mountain ranges of Ararat or Taurus, where the force of the subterranean fires was manifested by so many startling exhibitions of spontaneous conflagration.* The same spiritualising tendency which had already considerably modified the essential concept of Ahura-mazda, affected also that of the inferior deities, and tended to tone down in them the grosser traits of their character. It had already placed at their head six genii of a superior order, six ever-active energies, who, after assisting their master at the creation of the universe, now presided under his guidance over the kingdoms and forces of nature.**
* All these inferior deities, heroes, and genii who presided over Persia, the royal family, and the different parts of the empire, are often mentioned in the most ancient classical authors that have come down to us.
** The six Amesha-spentas, with their several
characteristics, are enumerated in a passage of the De Iside. This exposition of Persian doctrine is usually attributed to Theopompus, from which we may deduce the existence of a belief in the Amesha-spentas in the
Achsemenian period. J. Darmesteter affirms, on the contrary, that |the author describes the Zoro-astrianism of his own times (the second century A.D.), and quotes Theopompus for a special doctrine, that of the periods of the world's life.| Although this last point is correct, the first part of Darmesteter's theory does not seem to me justified by investigation. The whole passage of Plutarch is a well- arranged composition of uniform style, which may be regarded as an exposition of the system described by Theopompus, probably in the eighth of his Philippics.
[Illustration: 016a.jpg THE MOON-GOD]
[Illustration: 016b.jpg GOD OF THE WIND]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin of King Kanishka, published by Percy Gardner.
These benevolent and immortal beings -- Amesha-spentas -- were, in the order of precedence, Vohu-mano (good thought), Asha-vahista (perfect holiness), Khshathra-vairya (good government), Spenta-armaiti (meek piety), Haurvatat (health), Ameretat (immortality). Each of them had a special domain assigned to him in which to display his energy untrammelled: Vohu-mano had charge of cattle, Asha-vahista of fire, Khshathra-vairya of metals, Spenta-armaiti of the earth, Haurvatat and Ameretat of vegetation and of water. They were represented in human form, either masculine as Vohu-mano and Asha-vahista,* or feminine as Spenta-armaiti, the daughter and spouse of Ahura-mazda, who became the mother of the first man, Gayomaretan, and, through Gayomaretan, ancestress of the whole human race.
* The image of Asha-vahista is known to us from coins of the Indo-Scythian kings of Bactriana. Vohu-mano is described as a young man.
[Illustration: 017a.jpg ATAR THE GOD OF FIRE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin of King Kanishka, published by Percy Gardner.
[Illustration: 017b.jpg AURVATASPA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from coin published by Percy Gardner.
[Illustration: 017c.jpg MITHRA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin of King Huvishka, published by Percy Gardner.
Sometimes Ahura-mazda is himself included among the Amesha-spentas, thus bringing their number up to seven; sometimes his place is taken by a certain Sraosha (obedience to the law), the first who offered sacrifice and recited the prayers of the ritual. Subordinate to these great spirits were the Yazatas, scattered by thousands over creation, presiding over the machinery of nature and maintaining it in working order. Most of them received no special names, but many exercised wide authority, and several were accredited by the people with an influence not less than that of the greater deities themselves. Such Were the regent of the stars -- Tishtrya, the bull with golden horns, Sirius, the sparkling one; Mao, the moon-god; the wind, Vato; the atmosphere, Vayu, the strongest of the strong, the warrior with golden armour, who gathers the storm and hurls it against the demon; Atar, fire under its principal forms, divine fire, sacred fire, and earthly fire; Vere-thraghna, the author of war and giver of victory; Aurva-taspa, the son of the waters, the lightning born among the clouds; and lastly, the spirit of the dawn, the watchful Mithra, |who, first of the celestial Yazatas, soars above Mount Hara,* before the immortal sun with his swift steeds, who, first in golden splendour, passes over the beautiful mountains and casts his glance benign on the dwellings of the Aryans.|**
* Hara is Haroberezaiti, or Elburz, the mountain over which the sun rises, |around which many a star revolves, where there is neither night nor darkness, no wind of cold or heat, no sickness leading to a thousand kinds of death, nor infection caused by the Daovas, and whose summit is never reached by the clouds.|
** This is the Mithra whose religion became so powerful in Alexandrian and Roman times. His sphere of action is defined in the Bundehesh.
Mithra was a charming youth of beautiful countenance, his head surrounded with a radiant halo. The nymph Anahita was adored under the form of one of the incarnations of the Babylonian goddess Mylitta, a youthful and slender female, with well-developed breasts and broad hips, sometimes represented clothed in furs and sometimes nude.* Like the foreign goddess to whom she was assimilated, she was the dispenser of fertility and of love; the heroes of antiquity, and even Ahura-mazda himself, had vied with one another in their worship of her, and she had lavished her favours freely on all.**
* The popularity of these two deities was already well established at the period we are dealing with, for Herodotus mentions Mithra and confuses him with Anahita.
** Her name Ardvi-Sura Anahita seems to signify the lofty and immaculate power.
The less important Yazatas were hardly to be distinguished from the innumerable multitude of Fravashis. The Fravasliis are the divine types of all intelligent beings. They were originally brought into being by Ahura-mazda as a distinct species from the human, but they had allowed themselves to be entangled in matter, and to be fettered in the bodies of men, in order to hasten the final destruction of the demons and the advent of the reign of good.*
* The legend of the descent of the Fravashis to dwell among men is narrated in the Bundehesh.
[Illustration: 018.jpg MYLITTA-ANAHITA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Loftus
[Illustration: 018a.jpg NANA-ANAHITA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin of King Huvishka, published by Percy Gardner.
Once incarnate, a Fravasliis devotes himself to the well-being of the mortal with whom he is associated; and when once more released from the flesh, he continues the struggle against evil with an energy whose efficacy is proportionate to the virtue and purity displayed in life by the mortal to whom he has been temporarily joined. The last six days of the year are dedicated to the Fravashis. They leave their heavenly abodes at this time to visit the spots which were their earthly dwelling-places, and they wander through the villages inquiring, |Who wishes to hire us? Who will offer us a sacrifice? Who will make us their own, welcome us, and receive us with plenteous offerings of food and raiment, with a prayer which bestows sanctity on him who offers it?| And if they find a man to hearken to their request, they bless him: |May his house be blessed with herds of oxen and troops of men, a swift horse and a strongly built chariot, a man who knoweth how to pray to God, a chieftain in the council who may ever offer us sacrifices with a hand filled with food and raiment, with a prayer which bestows sanctity on him who offers it!| Ahura-mazda created the universe, not by the work of his hands, but by the magic of his word, and he desired to create it entirely free from defects. His creation, however, can only exist by the free play and equilibrium of opposing forces, to which he gives activity: the incompatibility of tendency displayed by these forces, and their alternations of growth and decay, inspired the Iranians with the idea that they were the result of two contradictory principles, the one beneficent and good, the other adverse to everything emanating from the former.*
* Spiegel, who at first considered that the Iranian dualism was derived from polytheism, and was a preliminary stage in the development of monotheism, held afterwards that a rigid monotheism had preceded this dualism. The classical writers, who knew Zoroastrianism at the height of its glory, never suggested that the two principles might be derived from a superior principle, nor that they were subject to such a principle. The Iranian books themselves nowhere definitely affirm that there existed a single principle distinct from the two opposing principles.
In opposition to the god of light, they necessarily formed the idea of a god of darkness, the god of the underworld, who presides over death, Angro-mainyus. The two opposing principles reigned at first, each in his own domain, as rivals, but not as irreconcilable adversaries: they were considered as in fixed opposition to each other, and as having coexisted for ages without coming into actual conflict, separated as they were by the intervening void. As long as the principle of good was content to remain shut up inactive in his barren glory, the principle of evil slumbered unconscious in a darkness that knew no beginning; but when at last |the spirit who giveth increase| -- Spento-mainyus -- determined to manifest himself, the first throes of his vivifying activity roused from inertia the spirit of destruction and of pain, Angro-mainyus. The heaven was not yet in existence, nor the waters, nor the earth, nor ox, nor fire, nor man, nor demons, nor brute beasts, nor any living thing, when the evil spirit hurled himself upon the light to quench it for ever, but Ahura-mazda had already called forth the ministers of his will -- Amesha-spentas, Yazatas, Fravashis -- and he recited the prayer of twenty-one words in which all the elements of morality are summed up, the Ahuna-vairya: |The will of the Lord is the rule of good. Let the gifts of Vohu-mano be bestowed on the works accomplished, at this moment, for Mazda. He makes Ahura to reign, he who protects the poor.| The effect of this prayer was irresistible: |When Ahura had pronounced the first part of the formula, Zanak Minoi, the spirit of destruction, bowed himself with terror; at the second part he fell upon his knees; and at the third and last he felt himself powerless to hurt the creatures of Ahura-mazda.|*
* Theopompus was already aware of this alternation of good and bad periods. According to the tradition enshrined in the first chapter of the Bundehesh, it was the result of a sort of compact agreed upon at the beginning by Ahura-mazda and Angro-mainyus. Ahura-mazda, rearing to be overcome if he entered upon the struggle immediately, but sure of final victory if he could gain time, proposed to his adversary a truce of nine thousand years, at the expiration of which the battle should begin. As soon as the compact was made, Angro- mainyus realised that he had been tricked into taking a false step, but it was not till after three thousand years that he decided to break the truce and open the conflict.
The strife, kindled at the beginning of time between the two gods, has gone on ever since with alternations of success and defeat; each in turn has the victory for a regular period of three thousand years; but when these periods are ended, at the expiration of twelve thousand years, evil will be finally and for ever defeated. While awaiting this blessed fulness of time, as Spento-mainyus shows himself in all that is good and beautiful, in light, virtue, and justice, so Angro-mainyus is to be perceived in all that is hateful and ugly, in darkness, sin, and crime. Against the six Amesha-spentas he sets in array six spirits of equal power -- Akem-mano, evil thought; Andra, the devouring fire, who introduces discontent and sin wherever he penetrates; Sauru, the flaming arrow of death, who inspires bloodthirsty tyrants, who incites men to theft and murder; Naongaithya, arrogance and pride; Tauru, thirst; and Zairi, hunger.*
* The last five of these spirits are enumerated in the Vendidad, and the first, Akem-mano, is there replaced by Nasu, the chief spirit of evil.
To the Yazatas he opposed the Daevas, who never cease to torment mankind, and so through all the ranks of nature he set over against each good and useful creation a counter-creation of rival tendency. |'Like a fly he crept into' and infected 'the whole universe.' He rendered the world as dark at full noonday as in the darkest night. He covered the soil with vermin, with his creatures of venomous bite and poisonous sting, with serpents, scorpions, and frogs, so that there was not a space as small as a needle's point but swarmed with his vermin. He smote vegetation, and of a sudden the plants withered.... He attacked the flames, and mingled them with smoke and dimness. The planets, with their thousands of demons, dashed against the vault of heaven and waged war on the stars, and the universe became darkened like a space which the fire blackens with its smoke.| And the conflict grew ever keener over the world and over man, of whom the evil one was jealous, and whom he sought to humiliate.
[Illustration: 022.jpg ONE OF THE BAD GENII, SUBJECT TO ANGRO-MAINYUS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken from the original bas-relief in glazed tiles in the Louvre.
[Illustration: 023.jpg THE KING STRUGGLING AGAINST AN EVIL GENIUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph in Marcel Dieulafoy.
The children of Angro-mainyus disguised themselves under those monstrous forms in which the imagination of the Chaldaeans had clothed the allies of Mummu-Tiamat, such as lions with bulls' heads, and the wings and claws of eagles, which the Achaemenian king combats on behalf of his subjects, boldly thrusting them through with his short sword. Aeshma of the blood-stained lance, terrible in wrath, is the most trusted leader of these dread bands,* the chief of twenty other Daevas of repulsive aspect -- Asto-vidhotu, the demon of death, who would devote to destruction the estimable Fravashis;** Apaosha, the enemy of Tishtrya the wicked black horse, the bringer of drought, who interferes with the distribution of the fertilising waters; and Buiti, who essayed to kill Zoroaster at his birth.***
* The name Aeshma means anger. He is the Asmodeus, Aeshmo- daevo, of Rabbinic legends.
** The name of this demon signifies He who separates the bones.
*** The Greater Bundehesh connects the demon Buiti with the Indian Buddha, and J. Darmestefer seems inclined to accept this interpretation. In this case we must either admit that the demon Buiti is of relatively late origin, or that he has, in the legend of Zoroaster, taken the place of a demon whose name resembled his own closely enough to admit of the assimilation.
The female demons, the Bruges, the Incubi (Yatus), the Succubi (Pairika), the Peris of our fairy tales, mingled familiarly with mankind before the time of the prophet, and contracted with them fruitful alliances, but Zoroaster broke up their ranks, and prohibited them from becoming incarnate in any form but that of beasts; their hatred, however, is still unquenched, and their power will only be effectually overthrown at the consummation of time. It is a matter of uncertainty whether the Medes already admitted the possibility of a fresh revelation, preparing the latest generations of mankind for the advent of the reign of good. The traditions enshrined in the sacred books of Iran announce the coming of three prophets, sons of Zoroaster -- Ukhshyatereta, Ukhshyatnemo, and Saoshyant* -- who shall bring about universal salvation.
* The legend ran that they had been conceived in the waters of the lake Kansu. The name Saoshyant signifies the useful one, the saviour; Ukshyate-reta, he who malces the good increase; Ukshyatnemo, he who makes prayer increase.
Saoshyant, assisted by fifteen men and fifteen pure women, who have already lived on earth, and are awaiting their final destiny in a magic slumber, shall offer the final sacrifice, the virtue of which shall bring about the resurrection of the dead. |The sovereign light shall accompany him and his friends, when he shall revivify the world and ransom it from old age and death, from corruption and decay, and shall render it eternally living, eternally growing, and master of itself.| The fatal conflict shall be protracted, but the champions of Saoshyant shall at length obtain the victory. |Before them shall bow Aeshma of the blood-stained lance and of ominous renown, and Saoshyant shall strike down the she-demon of the unholy light, the daughter of darkness. Akem-mano strikes, but Vohu-mano shall strike him in his turn; the lying word shall strike, but the word of truth shall strike him in his turn; Haurvatat and Ameretafc shall strike down hunger and thirst; Haurvatat and Ameretat shall strike down terrible hunger and terrible thirst.| Angro-mainyus himself shall be paralysed with terror, and shall be forced to confess the supremacy of good: he shall withdraw into the depths of hell, whence he shall never again issue forth, and all the reanimated beings devoted to the Mazdean law shall live an eternity of peace and contentment.
Man, therefore, incessantly distracted between the two principles, laid wait for by the Baevas, defended by the Yazatas, must endeavour to act according to law and justice in the condition in which fate has placed him. He has been raised up here on earth to contribute as far as in him lies to the increase of life and of good, and in proportion as he works for this end or against it, is he the ashavan, the pure, the faithful one on earth and the blessed one in heaven, or the anashavan, the lawless miscreant who counteracts purity. The highest grade in the hierarchy of men belongs of right to the Mage or the athravan, to the priest whose voice inspires the demons with fear, or the soldier whose club despatches the impious, but a place of honour at their side is assigned to the peasant, who reclaims from the power of Angro-mainyus the dry and sterile fields. Among the places where the earth thrives most joyously is reckoned that |where a worshipper of Ahura-mazda builds a house, with a chaplain, with cattle, with a wife, with sons, with a fair flock; where man grows the most corn, herbage, and fruit trees; where he spreads water on a soil without water, and drains off water where there is too much of it.| He who sows corn, sows good, and promotes the Mazdean faith; |he nourishes the Mazdean religion as fifty men would do rocking a child in the cradle, five hundred women giving it suck from their breasts.* When the corn was created the Daevas leaped, when it sprouted the Daevas lost courage, when the stem set the Daevas wept, when the ear swelled the Daevas fled. In the house where corn is mouldering the Daevas lodge, but when the corn sprouts, one might say that a hot iron is being turned round in their mouths.| And the reason of their horror is easily divined: |Whoso eats not, has no power either to accomplish a valiant work of religion, or to labour with valour, or yet to beget children valiantly; it is by eating that the universe lives, and it dies from not eating.| The faithful follower of Zoroaster owes no obligation towards the impious man or towards a stranger,** but is ever bound to render help to his coreligionist.
* The original text says in a more enigmatical fashion, |he nourishes the religion of Mazda as a hundred feet of men and a thousand breasts of women might do.|
** Charity is called in Parsee language, asho-dad the gift to a pious man, or the gift of piety, and the pious man, the ashavan, is by definition the worshipper of Ahura-mazda alone.
He will give a garment to the naked, and by so doing will wound Zemaka, the demon of winter. He will never refuse food to the hungry labourer, under pain of eternal torments, and his charity will extend even to the brute beasts, provided that they belong to the species created by Ahura-mazda: he has duties towards them, and their complaints, heard in heaven, shall be fatal to him later on if he has provoked them. Asha-vahista will condemn to hell the cruel man who has ill-treated the ox, or allowed his flocks to suffer; and the killing of a hedgehog is no less severely punished -- for does not a hedgehog devour the ants who steal the grain? The dog is in every case an especially sacred animal -- the shepherd's dog, the watchdog, the hunting-dog, even the prowling dog. It is not lawful to give any dog a blow which renders him impotent, or to slit his ears, or to cut his foot, without incurring grave responsibilities in this world and in the next; it is necessary to feed the dog well, and not to throw bones to him which are too hard, nor have his food served hot enough to burn his tongue or his throat. For the rest, the faithful Zoroastrian was bound to believe in his god, to offer to him the orthodox prayers and sacrifices, to be simple in heart, truthful, the slave of his pledged word, loyal in his very smallest acts. If he had once departed from the right way, he could only return to it by repentance and by purification, accompanied by pious deeds: to exterminate noxious animals, the creatures of Angro-mainyus and the abode of his demons, such as the frog, the scorpion, the serpent or the ant, to clear the sterile tracts, to restore impoverished land, to construct bridges over running water, to distribute implements of husbandry to pions men, or to build them a house, to give a pure and healthy maiden in marriage to a just man, -- these were so many means of expiation appointed by the prophet.* Marriage was strictly obligatory,** and seemed more praiseworthy in proportion as the kinship existing between the married pair was the closer: not only was the sister united in marriage to her brother, as in Egypt, but the father to his daughter, and the mother to her son, at least among the Magi.
* A passage in the Vendidad even enumerates how many noisome beasts must be slain to accomplish one full work of expiation -- |to kill 1000 serpents of those who drag themselves upon the belly, and 2000 of the other species, 1000 land frogs or 2000 water frogs, 1000 ants who steal the grain,| and so on.
** The Vendidad says, |And I tell thee, O Spitama Zarathustra, the man who has a wife is above him who lives in continency;| and, as we have seen in the text, one of these forms of expiation consisted in |marrying to a worthy man a young girl who has never known a man| (Vendidad, 14, Sec.15). Herodotus of old remarked that one of the chief merits in an Iranian was to have many children: the King of Persia encouraged fecundity in his realm, and awarded a prize each year to that one of his subjects who could boast the most numerous progeny.
Polygamy was also encouraged and widely practised: the code imposed no limit on the number of wives and concubines, and custom was in favour of a man's having as many wives as his fortune permitted him to maintain. On the occasion of a death, it was forbidden to burn the corpse, to bury it, or to cast it into a river, as it would have polluted the fire, the earth, or the water -- an unpardonable offence. The corpse could be disposed of in different ways. The Persians were accustomed to cover it with a thick layer of wax, and then to bury it in the ground: the wax coating obviated the pollution which direct contact would have brought upon the soil. The Magi, and probably also strict devotees, following their example, exposed the corpse in the open air, abandoning it to the birds or beasts of prey. It was considered a great misfortune if these respected the body, for it was an almost certain indication of the wrath of Ahura-mazda, and it was thought that the defunct had led an evil life. When the bones had been sufficiently stripped of flesh, they were collected together, and deposited either in an earthenware urn or in a stone ossuary with a cover, or in a monumental tomb either hollowed out in the heart of the mountain or in the living rock, or raised up above the level of the ground. Meanwhile the soul remained in the neighbourhood for three days, hovering near the head of the corpse, and by the recitation of prayers it experienced, according to its condition of purity or impurity, as much of joy or sadness as the whole world experiences. When the third night was past, the just soul set forth across luminous plains, refreshed by a perfumed breeze, and its good thoughts and words and deeds took shape before it |under the guise of a young maiden, radiant and strong, with well-developed bust, noble mien, and glorious face, about fifteen years of age, and as beautiful as the most beautiful;| the unrighteous soul, on the contrary, directed its course towards the north, through a tainted land, amid the squalls of a pestilential hurricane, and there encountered its past ill deeds, under the form of an ugly and wicked young woman, the ugliest and most wicked it had ever seen. The genius Rashnu Razishta, the essentially truthful, weighed its virtues or vices in an unerring balance, and acquitted or Condemned it on the impartial testimony of its past life. On issuing from the judgment-hall, the soul arrived at the approach to the bridge Cinvaut, which, thrown across the abyss of hell, led to paradise. The soul, if impious, was unable to cross this bridge, but was hurled down into the abyss, where it became the slave of Angro-mainyus. If pure, it crossed the bridge without difficulty by the help of the angel Sraosha, and was welcomed by Vohu-mano, who conducted it before the throne of Ahura-mazda, in the same way as he had led Zoroaster, and assigned to it the post which it should occupy until the day of the resurrection of the body.*
* All this picture of the fate of the soul is taken from the Vendidad, where the fate of the just is described, and in the Yasht, where the condition of faithful and impious souls respectively is set forth on parallel lines. The classical authors teach us nothing on this subject, and the little they actually say only proves that the Persians believed in the immortality of the soul. The main outlines of the picture here set forth go back to the times of the Achaemenids and the Medes, except the abstract conception of the goddess who leads the soul of the dead as an incarnation of his good or evil deeds.
The religious observances enjoined on the members of the priestly caste were innumerable and minute. Ahura-mazda and his colleagues had not, as was the fashion among the Assyrians and Egyptians, either temples or tabernacles, and though they were represented sometimes under human or animal forms, and even in some cases on bas-reliefs, yet no one ever ventured to set up in their sanctuaries those so-called animated or prophetic statues to which the majority of the nations had rendered or were rendering their solicitous homage. Altars, however, were erected on the tops of hills, in palaces, or in the centre of cities, on which fires were kindled in honour of the inferior deities or of the supreme god himself.
[Illustration: 031.jpg THE TWO IRANIAN ALTAKRAT NAKHSH-I-RUSTEM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a heliogravure in Marcel Dieulafoy.
Two altars were usually set up together, and they are thus found here and there among the ruins, as at Nakhsh-i-Kustem, the necropolis of Persepolis, where a pair of such altars exist; these are cut, each out of a single block, in a rocky mass which rises some thirteen feet above the level of the surrounding plain. They are of cubic form and squat appearance, looking like towers flanked at the four corners by supporting columns which are connected by circular arches; above a narrow moulding rises a crest of somewhat triangular projections; the hearth is hollowed out on the summit of each altar.*
* According to Perrot and Chipiez, |it is not impossible that these altars were older than the great buildings of Persepolis, and that they were erected for the old Persian town which Darius raised to the position of capital.|
At Meshed-i-Murgab, on the site of the ancient Pasargadas, the altars have disappeared, but the basements on which they were erected are still visible, as also the flight of eight steps by which they were approached. Those altars on which burned, a perpetual fire were not left exposed to the open air: they would have run too great a risk of contracting impurities, such as dust borne by the wind, flights of birds, dew, rain, or snow. They were enclosed in slight structures, well protected by walls, and attaining in some cases considerable dimensions, or in pavilion-shaped edifices of stone adorned with columns.
[Illustration: 032.jpg THE TWO IRANIAN ALTARS OF MURGAB]
Drawn by Boudier, from Plandin and Coste.
The sacrificial rites were of long duration, and frequent, and were rendered very complex by interminable manual acts, ceremonial gestures, and incantations.
[Illustration: 032b.jpg THE OCCUPATIONS OF ANI IN THE ELYSIAN FIELDS]
In cases where the altar was not devoted to maintaining a perpetual fire, it was kindled when necessary with small twigs previously barked and purified, and was subsequently fed with precious woods, preferably cypress or laurel;* care was taken not to quicken the flame by blowing, for the human breath would have desecrated the fire by merely passing over it; death was the punishment for any one who voluntarily committed such a heinous sacrilege. The recognised offering consisted of flowers, bread, fruit, and perfumes, but these were often accompanied, as in all ancient religions, by a bloody sacrifice; the sacrifice of a horse was considered the most efficacious, but an ox, a cow, a sheep, a camel, an ass, or a stag was frequently offered: in certain circumstances, especially when it was desired to conciliate the favour of the god of the underworld, a human victim, probably as a survival of very ancient rites was preferred.**
* Pausanias, who witnessed the cult as practised at Hierocaesarsea, remarked the curious colour of the ashes heaped upon the altar.
* Most modern writers deny the authenticity of Herodotus' account, because a sacrifice of this kind is opposed to the spirit of the Magian religion, which is undoubtedly the case, as far as the latest form of the religion is
concerned; but the testimony of Herodotus is so plain that the fact itself must be considered as indisputable. We may note that the passage refers to the foundation of a city; and if we remember how persistent was the custom of human sacrifice among ancient races at the foundation of
buildings, we shall be led to the conclusion that the ceremony described by the Greek historian was a survival of a very ancient usage, which had not yet fallen entirely into desuetude at the Achaemenian epoch.
[Illustration: 033.jpg THE SACRED FIRE BURNING ON THE ALTAR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the impression of a Persian intaglio.
The king, whose royal position made him the representative of Ahura-mazda on earth, was, in fact, a high priest, and was himself able to officiate at the altar, but no one else could dispense with the mediation of the Magi. The worshippers proceeded in solemn procession to the spot where the ceremony was to take place, and there the priest, wearing the tiara on his head, recited an invocation in a slow and mysterious voice, and implored the blessings of heaven on the king and nation. He then slaughtered the victim by a blow on the head, and divided it into portions, which he gave back to the offerer without reserving any of them, for Ahura-mazda required nothing but the soul; in certain cases, the victim was entirely consumed by fire, but more frequently nothing but a little of the fat and some of the entrails were taken to feed and maintain the flame, and sometimes even this was omitted.* Sacrifices were of frequent occurrence. Without mentioning the extraordinary occasions on which a king would have a thousand bulls slain at one time,** the Achaemenian kings killed each day a thousand bullocks, asses, and stags: sacrifice under such circumstances was another name for butchery, the object of which was to furnish the court with a sufficient supply of pure meat. The ceremonial bore resemblance in many ways to that still employed by the modern Zoroastrians of Persia and India.
* A relic of this custom may be discerned in the expiatory sacrifice decreed in the Vendidad: |He shall sacrifice a thousand head of small cattle, and he shall place their entrails devoutly on the fire, with libations.|
** The number 1000 seems to have had some ritualistic significance, for it often recurs in the penances imposed on the faithful as expiation for their sins: thus it was enjoined to slay 1000 serpents, 1000 frogs, 1000 ants who steal the grain, 1000 head of small cattle, 1000 swift horses, 1000 camels, 1000 brown oxen.
The officiating priest covered his mouth with the bands which fell from his mitre, to prevent the god from being polluted by his breath; he held in his hand the baresman, or sacred bunch of tamarisk, and prepared the mysterious liquor from the haoma plant.* He was accustomed each morning to celebrate divine service before the sacred fire, not to speak of the periodic festivals in which he shared the offices with all the members of his tribe, such as the feast of Mithra, the feast of the Fravashis,** the feast commemorating the rout of Angro-mainyus,*** the feast of the Saksea, during which the slaves were masters of the house.****
* The drink mentioned by the author of the De Iside, which was extracted from the plant Omomi, and which the Magi offered to the god of the underworld, is certainly the haoma. The rite mentioned by the Greek author, which appears to be an incantation against Ahriman, required, it seems, a potion in which the blood of a wolf was a necessary ingredient: this questionable draught was then carried to a place where the sun's rays never shone, and was there sprinkled on the ground as a libation.
** Menander speaks of this festival as conducted in his own times, and tells us that it was called Eurdigan; modern authorities usually admit that it goes back to the times of the Achaemenids or even beyond.
*** Agathias says that every worshipper of Ahura-mazda is enjoined to kill the greatest possible number of animals created by Angro-mainyus, and bring to the Magi the fruits of his hunting. Herodotus had already spoken of this destruction of life as one of the duties incumbent on every Persian, and this gives probability to the view of modern writers that the festival went back to the Achaemenian epoch.
**** The festival of the Sakoa is mentioned by Ctesias. It was also a Babylonian festival, and most modern authorities conclude from this double use of the name that the festival was borrowed from the Babylonians by the Persians, but this point is not so certain as it is made out to be, and at any rate the borrowing must have taken place very early, for the festival was already well established in the Achaemenian period.
All the Magi were not necessarily devoted to the priesthood; but those only became apt in the execution of their functions who had been dedicated to them from infancy, and who, having received the necessary instruction, were duly consecrated. These adepts were divided into several classes, of which three at least were never confounded in their functions -- the sorcerers, the interpreters of dreams, and the most venerated sages -- and from these three classes were chosen the ruling body of the order and its supreme head. Their rule of life was strict and austere, and was encumbered with a thousand observances indispensable to the preservation of perfect purity in their persons, their altars, their victims, and their sacrificial vessels and implements. The Magi of highest rank abstained from every form of living thing as food, and the rest only partook of meat under certain restrictions. Their dress was unpretentious, they wore no jewels, and observed strict fidelity to the marriage vow;* and the virtues with which they were accredited obtained for them, from very early times, unbounded influence over the minds of the common people as well as over those of the nobles: the king himself boasted of being their pupil, and took no serious step in state affairs without consulting Ahura-mazda or the other gods by their mediation. The classical writers maintain that the Magi often cloaked monstrous vices under their apparent strictness, and it is possible that this was the case in later days, but even then moral depravity was probably rather the exception than the rule among them:*** the majority of the Magi faithfully observed the rules of honest living and ceremonial purity enjoined on them in the books handed down by their ancestors.
* Clement of Alexandria assures us that they were strictly celibate, but besides the fact that married Magi are mentioned several times, celibacy is still considered by Zoroastrians an inferior state to that of marriage.
** In the Greek period, a spurious epitaph of Darius, son of Hystaspes, was quoted, in which the king says of himself, |I was the pupil of the Magi.|
*** These accusations are nearly all directed against their incestuous marriages: it seems that the classical writers took for a refinement of debauchery what really was before all things a religious practice.
There is reason to believe that the Magi were all-powerful among the Medes, and that the reign of Astyages was virtually the reign of the priestly caste; but all the Iranian states did not submit so patiently to their authority, and the Persians at last proved openly refractory. Their kings, lords of Susa as well as of Pasargadse, wielded all the resources of Elam, and their military power must have equalled, if it did not already surpass, that of their suzerain lords. Their tribes, less devoted to the manner of living of the Assyrians and Chaldaeans, had preserved a vigour and power of endurance which the Medes no longer possessed; and they needed but an ambitious and capable leader, to rise rapidly from the rank of subjects to that of rulers of Iran, and to become in a short time masters of Asia. Such a chief they found in Cyrus,* son of Cambyses; but although no more illustrious name than his occurs in the list of the founders of mighty empires, the history of no other has suffered more disfigurement from the imagination of his own subjects or from the rancour of the nations he had conquered.**
* The original form of the name is Kuru, Kurush, with a long o, which forces us to reject the proposed connection with the name of the Indian hero Kuru, in which the u is short. Numerous etymologies of the name Cyrus have been proposed. The Persians themselves attributed to it the sense of the Sun.
** We possess two entirely different versions of the history of the origin of Cyrus, but one, that of Herodotus, has reached us intact, while that of Ctesias is only known to us in fragments from extracts made by Nicolas of Damascus, and by Photius. Spiegel and Duncker thought to recognise in the tradition followed by Ctesias one of the Persian accounts of the history of Cyrus, but Bauer refuses to admit this hypothesis, and prefers to consider it as a romance put together by the author, according to the taste of his own times, from facts partly different from those utilised by Herodotus, and partly borrowed from Herodotus himself: but it should very probably be regarded as an account of Median origin, in which the founder of the Persian empire is portrayed in the most unfavourable light. Or perhaps it may be regarded as the form of the legend current among the Pharnaspids who established themselves as satraps of Dascylium in the time of the Achaemenids, and to whom the royal house of Cappadocia traced its origin. It is almost certain that the account given by Herodotus represents a Median version of the legend, and, considering the important part played in it by Harpagus, probably that version which was current among the descendants of that nobleman. The historian Dinon, as far as we can judge from the extant fragments of his work, and from the abridgment made by Trogus Pompeius, adopted the narrative of Ctesias, mingling with it, however, some details taken from Herodotus and the romance of Xenophon, the Cyropodia.
The Medes, who could not forgive him for having made them subject to their ancient vassals, took delight in holding him up to scorn, and not being able to deny the fact of his triumph, explained it by the adoption of tortuous and despicable methods. They would not even allow that he was of royal birth, but asserted that he was of ignoble origin, the son of a female goatherd and a certain Atradates,* who, belonging to the savage clan of the Mardians, lived by brigandage. Cyrus himself, according to this account, spent his infancy and early youth in a condition not far short of slavery, employed at first in sweeping out the exterior portions of the palace, performing afterwards the same office in the private apartments, subsequently promoted to the charge of the lamps and torches, and finally admitted to the number of the royal cupbearers who filled the king's goblet at table.
* According to one of the historians consulted by Strabo, Cyrus himself, and not his father, was called Atradates.
[Illustration: 039.jpg A ROYAL HUNTING-PARTY IN HUN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the silver vase in the Museum of the Hermitage.
When he was at length enrolled in the bodyguard,* he won distinction by his skill in all military exercises, and having risen from rank to rank, received command of an expedition against the Cadusians.
* The tradition reproduced by Dinon narrated that Cyrus had begun by serving among the Kavasses, the three hundred staff-bearers who accompanied the sovereign when he appeared in public, and that he passed next into the royal body- guard, and that once having attained this rank, he passed rapidly through all the superior grades of the military profession.
On the march he fell in with a Persian groom named OEbaras,* who had been cruelly scourged for some misdeed, and was occupied in the transportation of manure in a boat: in obedience to an oracle the two united their fortunes, and together devised a vast scheme for liberating their compatriots from the Median yoke.
* This OEbaras whom Ctesias makes the accomplice of Cyrus, seems to be an antedated forestallment of theoebaras whom the tradition followed by Herodotus knows as master of the horse under Darius, and to whom that king owed his elevation to the throne.
How Atradates secretly prepared the revolt of the Mardians; how Cyrus left his camp to return to the court at Ecbatana, and obtained from Astyages permission to repair to his native country under pretext of offering sacrifices, but in reality to place himself at the head of the conspirators; how, finally, the indiscretion of a woman revealed the whole plot to a eunuch of the harem, and how he warned Astyages in the middle of his evening banquet by means of a musician or singing-girl, was frequently narrated by the Median bards in their epic poems, and hence the story spread until it reached in later times even as far as the Greeks.*
* According to Ctesias, it was a singing-girl who revealed the existence of the plot to Astyages; according to Dinon, it was the bard Angares. Windischmann has compared this name with that of the Vedic guild of singers, the Angira.
Astyages, roused to action by the danger, abandons the pleasures of the chase in which his activity had hitherto found vent, sets out on the track of the rebel, wins a preliminary victory on the Hyrba, and kills the father of Cyrus: some days after, he again overtakes the rebels, at the entrance to the defiles leading to Pasargadse, and for the second time fortune is on the point of declaring in his favour, when the Persian women, bringing back their husbands and sons to the conflict, urge them on to victory. The fame of their triumph having spread abroad, the satraps and provinces successfully declared for the conqueror; Hyrcania, first, followed by the Parthians, the Sakae, and the Bactrians: Astyages was left almost alone, save for a few faithful followers, in the palace at Ecbatana. His daughter Amytis and his son-in-law Spitamas concealed him so successfully on the top of the palace, that he escaped discovery up to the moment when Cyrus was on the point of torturing his grandchildren to force them to reveal his hiding-place: thereupon he gave himself up to his enemies, but was at length, after being subjected to harsh treatment for a time, set at liberty and entrusted with the government of a mountain tribe dwelling to the south-east of the Caspian Sea, that of the Barcanians. Later on he perished through the treachery of OEbaras, and his corpse was left unburied in the desert, but by divine interposition relays of lions were sent to guard it from the attacks of beasts of prey: Cyrus, acquainted with this miraculous circumstance, went in search of the body and gave it a magnificent burial.* Another legend asserted, on the contrary, that Cyrus was closely connected with the royal line of Cyaxares; this tradition was originally circulated among the great Median families who attached themselves to the Achaemenian dynasty.**
* The passage in Herodotus leads Marquart to believe that the murder of Astyages formed part of the primitive legend, but was possibly attributed to Cambysos, son of Cyrus, rather than to OEbaras, the companion of the conqueror's early years.
** This is the legend as told to Herodotus in Asia Minor, probably by the members of the family of Harpagus, which the Greek historian tried to render credible by interpreting the miraculous incidents in a rationalising manner.
[Illustration: 042.jpg REMAINS OF THE PALACE OF ECBATANA]
Drawn by Boudier, from Coste and Flandin.
According to this legend Astyages had no male heirs, and the sceptre would have naturally descended from him to his daughter Mandane and her sons. Astyages was much alarmed by a certain dream concerning his daughter: he dreamt that water gushed forth so copiously from her womb as to flood not only Ecbatana, but the whole of Asia, and the interpreters, as much terrified as himself, counselled him not to give Mandane in marriage to a Persian noble of the race of the Achaemenids, named Cambyses; but a second dream soon troubled the security into which this union had lulled him: he saw issuing from his daughter's womb a vine whose branches overshadowed Asia, and the interpreters, being once more consulted, predicted that a grandson was about to be born to him whose ambition would cost him his crown. He therefore bade a certain nobleman of his court, named Harpagus -- he whose descendants preserved this version of the story of Cyrus -- to seize the infant and put it to death as soon as its mother should give it birth; but the man, touched with pity, caused the child to be exposed in the woods by one of the royal shepherds. A bitch gave suck to the tiny creature, who, however, would soon have succumbed to the inclemency of the weather, had not the shepherd's wife, being lately delivered of a still-born son, persuaded her husband to rescue the infant, whom she nursed with the same tenderness as if he had been her own child. The dog was, as we know, a sacred animal among the Iranians: the incident of the bitch seems, then, to have been regarded by them as an indication of divine intervention, but the Greeks were shocked by the idea, and invented an explanation consonant with their own customs. They supposed that the woman had borne the name of Spako: Spako signifying bitch in the language of Media.*
* Herodotus asserts that the child's foster-mother was called in Greek Kyno, in Median Spalco, which comes to the same thing, for spaha means bitch in Median. Further on he asserts that the parents of the child heard of the name of his nurse with joy, as being of good augury; |and, in order that the Persians might think that Cyrus had been preserved alive by divine agency, they spread abroad the report that Cyrus had been suckled by a bitch. And thus arose the fable commonly accepted.| Trogus Pompeius received the original story probably through Dinon, and inserted it in his book.
Cyrus grew to boyhood, and being accepted by Mandane as her son, returned to the court; his grandfather consented to spare his life, but, to avenge himself on Harpagus, he caused the limbs of the nobleman's own son to be served up to him at a feast. Thenceforth Harpagus had but one idea, to overthrow the tyrant and transfer the crown to the young prince: his project succeeded, and Cyrus, having overcome Astyages, was proclaimed king by the Medes as well as by the Persians. The real history of Cyrus, as far as we can ascertain it, was less romantic. We gather that Kurush, known to us as Cyrus, succeeded his father Cambyses as ruler of Anshan about 559 or 558 B.C.,* and that he revolted against Astyages in 553 or 552 B.C.,** and defeated him. The Median army thereupon seizing its own leader, delivered him into the hands of the conqueror: Ecbatana was taken and sacked, and the empire fell at one blow, or, more properly speaking, underwent a transformation (550 B.C.). The transformation was, in fact, an internal revolution in which the two peoples of the same race changed places. The name of the Medes lost nothing of the prestige which it enjoyed in foreign lands, but that of the Persians was henceforth united with it, and shared its renown: like Astyages and his predecessors, Cyrus and his successors reigned equally over the two leading branches of the ancient Iranian stock, but whereas the former had been kings of the Medes and Persians, the latter became henceforth kings of the Persians and Medes.***
* The length of Cyrus' reign is fixed at thirty years by Ctesias, followed by Dinon and Trogus Pompeius, but at twenty-nine years by Herodotus, whose computation I here follow. Hitherto the beginning of his reign has been made to coincide with the fall of Astyages, which was consequently placed in 569 or 568 B.C., but the discovery of the Annals of Nabonidus obliges us to place the taking of Ecbatana in the sixth year of the Babylonian king, which corresponds to the year 550 B.C., and consequently to hold that Cyrus reckoned his twenty-nine years from the moment when he succeeded his father Cambyses.
** The inscription on the Rassam Cylinder of Abu-Habba, seems to make the fall of the Median king, who was suzerain of the Scythians of Harran, coincide with the third year of Nabonidus, or the year 553-2 B.C. But it is only the date of the commencement of hostilities between Cyrus and Astyages which is here furnished, and this manner of interpreting the text agrees with the statement of the Median traditions handed down by the classical authors, that three combats took place between Astyages and Cyrus before the final victory of the Persians.
*** This equality of the two peoples is indicated by the very terms employed by Darius, whom he speaks of them, in the Great Inscription of Behistun. He says, for example, in connection with the revolt of the false Smerdis, that |the deception prevailed greatly in the land, in Persia and Media as well as in the other provinces,| and further on, that |the whole people rose, and passed over from Cambyses to him, Persia and Media as well as the other countries.| In the same way he mentions |the army of Persians and Medes which was with him,| and one sees that he considered Medes and Persians to be on exactly the same footing.
The change effected was so natural that their nearest neighbours, the Chaldaeans, showed no signs of uneasiness at the outset. They confined themselves to the bare registration of the fact in their annals at the appointed date, without comment, and Nabonidus in no way deviated from the pious routine which it had hitherto pleased him to follow. Under a sovereign so good-natured there was little likelihood of war, at all events with external foes, but insurrections were always breaking out in different parts of his territory, and we read of difficulties in Khume in the first year of his reign, in Hamath in his second year, and troubles in Plionicia in the third year, which afforded an opportunity for settling the Tyrian question. Tyre had led a far from peaceful existence ever since the day when, from sheer apathy, she had accepted the supremacy of Nebuchadrezzar.*
* All these events are known through the excerpt from Menander preserved to us by Josephus in his treatise Against Apion.
Baal II. had peacefully reigned there for ten years (574-564), but after his death the people had overthrown the monarchy, and various suffetes had followed one another rapidly -- Eknibaal ruled two months, Khelbes ten months, the high priest Abbar three months, the two brothers Mutton and Gerastratus six years, all of them no doubt in the midst of endless disturbances; whereupon a certain Baalezor restored the royal dignity, but only to enjoy it for the space of one year. On his death, the inhabitants begged the Chaldaeans to send them, as a successor to the crown, one of those princes whom, according to custom, Baal had not long previously given over as hostages for a guarantee of his loyalty, and Nergal-sharuzur for this purpose selected from their number Mahar-baal, who was probably a son of Ithobaal (558-557).* When, at the end of four years, the death of Mahar-baal left the throne vacant (554-553), the Tyrians petitioned for his brother Hirom, and Nabonidus, who was then engaged in Syria, came south as far as Phoenicia and installed the prince.**
* The fragment of Menander does not give the Babylonian king's name, but a simple chronological calculation proves him to have been Nergal-sharuzur.
** Annals of Nabonidus, where mention is made of a certain Nabu-makhdan-uzur -- but the reading of the name is uncertain -- who seems to be in revolt against the Chaldaeans. Floigl has very ingeniously harmonised the dates of the Annals with those obtained from the fragment of Menander, and has thence concluded that the object of the expedition of the third year was the enthroning of Hirom which is mentioned in the fragment, and during whose fourteenth year Cyrus became King of Babylon.
This took place at the very moment when Cyrus was preparing his expedition against Astyages; and the Babylonian monarch took advantage of the agitation into which the Medes were thrown by this invasion, to carry into execution a project which he had been planning ever since his accession. Shortly after that event he had had a dream, in which Marduk, the great lord, and Sin, the light of heaven and earth, had appeared on either side of his couch, the former addressing him in the following words: |Nabonidus, King of Babylon, with the horses of thy chariot bring brick, rebuild E-khul-khul, the temple of Harran, that Sin, the great lord, may take up his abode therein.| Nabonidus had respectfully pointed out that the town was in the hands of the Scythians, who were subjects of the Medes, but the god had replied: |The Scythian of whom thou speakest, he, his country and the kings his protectors, are no more.| Cyrus was the instrument of the fulfilment of the prophecy. Nabonidus took possession of Harran without difficulty, and immediately put the necessary work in hand. This was, indeed, the sole benefit that he derived from the changes which were taking place, and it is probable that his inaction was the result of the enfeebled condition of the empire. The country over which he ruled, exhausted by the Assyrian conquest, and depopulated by the Scythian invasions, had not had time to recover its forces since it had passed into the hands of the Chaldaeans; and the wars which Nebuchadrezzar had been obliged to undertake for the purpose of strengthening his own power, though few in number and not fraught with danger, had tended to prolong the state of weakness into which it had sunk. If the hero of the dynasty who had conquered Egypt had not ventured to measure his strength with the Median princes, and if he had courted the friendship not only of the warlike Cyaxares but of the effeminate Astyages, it would not be prudent for Nabonidus to come into collision with the victorious new-comers from the heart of Iran. Chaldsea doubtless was right in avoiding hostilities, at all events so long as she had to bear the brunt of them alone, but other nations had not the same motives for exercising prudence, and Lydia was fully assured that the moment had come for her to again take up the ambitious designs which the treaty of 585 had forced her to renounce. Alyattes, relieved from anxiety with regard to the Medes, had confined his energies to establishing firmly his kingdom in the regions of Asia Minor extending westwards from the Halys and the Anti-Taurus. The acquisition of Colophon, the destruction of Smyrna, the alliance with the towns of the littoral, had ensured him undisputed possession of the valleys of the Caicus and the Hermus, but the plains of the Maeander in the south, and the mountainous districts of Mysia in the north, were not yet fully brought under his sway. He completed the occupation of the Troad and Mysia about 584, and afterwards made of the entire province an appanage for Adramyttios, who was either his son or his brother.*
* The doings of Alyattes in Troas and in Mysia are vouched for by the anecdote related by Plutarch concerning this king's relations with Pittakos. The founding of Adramyttium is attributed to him by Stephen of Byzantium, after Aristotle, who made Adramyttios the brother of Croesus. Radat gives good reasons for believing that Adramyttios was brother to Alyattes and uncle to Crosus, and the same person as Adramys, the son of Sadyattes, according to Xanthus of Lydia. Radet gives the year 584 for the date of these events.
He even carried his arms into Bithynia, where, to enforce his rule, he built several strongholds, one of which, called Alyatta, commanded the main road leading from the basin of the Rhyndacus to that of the Sangarius, skirting the spurs of Olympus.* He experienced some difficulty in reducing Caria, and did not finally succeed in his efforts till nearly the close of his reign in 566. Adramyttios was then dead, and his fief had devolved on his eldest surviving brother or nephew, Crosus, whose mother was by birth a Carian. This prince had incurred his father's displeasure by his prodigality, and an influential party desired that he should be set aside in favour of his brother Pantaleon, the son of Alyattes by an Ionian. Croesus, having sown his wild oats, was anxious to regain his father's favour, and his only chance of so doing was by distinguishing himself in the coming war, if only money could be found for paying his mercenaries. Sadyattes, the richest banker in Lydia, who had already had dealings with all the members of the royal family, refused to make him a loan, but Theokharides of Priene advanced him a thousand gold staters, which enabled Crosus to enroll his contingent at Bphesus, and to be the first to present himself at the rallying-place for the troops.**
* Radet places the operations in Bithynia before the Median war, towards 594 at the latest. I think that they are more probably connected with those in Mysia, and that they form part of the various measures taken after the Median war to achieve the occupation of the regions west of the Halys.
** A mutilated extract from Xanthus of Lydia in Suidas seems to carry these events back to the time of the war against Priene, towards the beginning of the reign. The united evidence of the accompanying circumstances proves that they belong to the time of the old age of Alyattes, and makes it very likely that they occurred in 566, the date proposed by Radet for the Carian campaign.
Caria was annexed to the kingdom, but the conditions under which the annexation took place are not known to us;* and Croesus contributed so considerably to the success of the campaign, that he was reinstated in popular favour. Alyattes, however, was advancing in years, and was soon about to rejoin his adversaries Cyaxares and Nebuchadrezzar in Hades. Like the Pharaohs, the kings of Lydia were accustomed to construct during their lifetime the monuments in which they were to repose after death. Their necropolis was situated not far from Sardes, on the shores of the little lake Gygaea; it was here, close to the resting-place of his ancestors and their wives, that Alyattes chose the spot for his tomb,** and his subjects did not lose the opportunity of proving to what extent he had gained their affections.
* The fragment of Nicolas of Damascus does not speak of the result of the war, but it was certainly favourable, for Herodotus counts the Carians among Croesus' subjects.
** The only one of these monuments, besides that of Alyattes, which is mentioned by the ancients, belonged to one of the favourites of Gyges, and was called the Tomb of the Courtesan. Strabo, by a manifest error, has applied this name to the tomb of Alyattes.
[Illustration: 050.jpg THE TUMULUS OF ALYATTES AND THE ENTRANCE TO THE PASSAGE]
Drawn by Boudier, from the sketch by Spiegolthal.
His predecessors had been obliged to finish their work at their own expense and by forced labour;* but in the case of Alyattes the three wealthiest classes of the population, the merchants, the craftsmen, and the courtesans, all united to erect for him an enormous tumulus, the remains of which still rise 220 feet above the plains of the Hermus.
* This, at least, seems to be the import of the passage in Clearchus of Soli, where that historian gives an account of the erection of the Tomb of the Courtesan.
[Illustration: 051.jpg ONE OF THE LYDIAN ORNAMENTS IN THE LOUVRE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph.
The sub-structure consisted of a circular wall of great blocks of limestone resting on the solid rock, and it contained in the centre a vault of grey marble which was reached by a vaulted passage. A huge mound of red clay and yellowish earth was raised above the chamber, surmounted by a small column representing a phallus, and by four stelae covered with inscriptions, erected at the four cardinal points. It follows the traditional type of burial-places in use among the old Asianic races, but it is constructed with greater regularity than most of them; Alyattes was laid within it in 561, after a glorious reign of forty-nine years.*
* Herodotus gave fifty-seven years' length of reign to Alyattes, whilst the chronographers, who go back as far as Xanthus of Lydia, through Julius Africanus, attribute to him only forty-nine; historians now prefer the latter figures, at least as representing the maximum length of reign.
[Illustration: 052.jpg MOULD FOR JEWELLERY OF LYDIAN ORIGIN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph.
It was wholly due to him that Lydia was for the moment raised to the level of the most powerful states which then existed on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. He was by nature of a violent and uncontrolled temper, and during his earlier years he gave way to fits of anger, in which he would rend the clothes of those who came in his way or would spit in their faces, but with advancing years his character became more softened, and he finally earned the reputation of being a just and moderate sovereign. The little that we know of his life reveals an energy and steadfastness of purpose quite unusual; he proceeded slowly but surely in his undertakings, and if he did not succeed in extending his domains as far as he had hoped at the beginning of his campaigns against the Medes, he at all events never lost any of the provinces he had acquired. Under his auspices agriculture flourished, and manufactures attained a degree of perfection hitherto unknown.
[Illustration: 053.jpg A LYDIAN FUNERY COUCH]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Choisy.
None of the vases in gold, silver, or wrought-iron, which he dedicated and placed among the treasures of the Greek temples, has come down to us, but at rare intervals ornaments of admirable workmanship are found in the Lydian tombs. Those now in the Louvre exhibit, in addition to human figures somewhat awkwardly treated, heads of rams, bulls, and griffins of a singular delicacy and faithfulness to nature. These examples reveal a blending of Grecian types and methods of production with those of Egypt or Chaldaea, the Hellenic being predominant,* and the same combination of heterogeneous elements must have existed in the other domains of industrial art -- -in the dyed and embroidered stuffs,** the vases,*** and the furniture.****
* The ornaments, of which we have now no specimens, but only the original moulds cut in serpentine, betray imitation of Assyria and Chaldaea.
** The custom of clothing themselves in dyed and embroidered stuffs was one of the effeminate habits with which the poet Xenophanes reproached the Ionians as having been learned from their Lydian neighbours.
*** M. Perrot points out that one of the vases discovered by G. Dennis at Bintepe is an evident imitation of the Egyptian and Phoenician chevroned glasses. The shape of the vase is one of those found represented, with the same decoration, on Egyptian monuments subsequent to the Middle Empire, where the chevroned lines seem to be derived from the undulations of ribbon-alabaster.
**** The stone funerary couches which have been discovered in Lydian tombs are evidently copied from pieces of wooden furniture similarly arranged and decorated.
[Illustration: 054a.jpg LYDIAN COIN BEARING A RUNNING FOX]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a specimen in the Cabinet des Medailles: a stater of electrum weighing 14.19 grammes.
[These illustrations are larger than the original pieces. -- Tr.]
[Illustration: 054b.jpg LYDIAN COIN WITH A HARE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Lydia, inheriting the traditions of Phrygia, and like that state situated on the border of two worlds, allied moreover with Egypt as well as Babylon, and in regular communication with the Delta, borrowed from each that which fell in with her tastes or seemed likely to be most helpful to her in her commercial relations. As the country produced gold in considerable quantities, and received still more from extraneous sources, the precious metal came soon to be employed as a means of exchange under other conditions than those which had hitherto prevailed. Besides acting as commission agents and middle-men for the disposal of merchandise at Sardes, Ephesus, Miletus, Clazomenaa, and all the maritime cities, the Lydians performed at the same time the functions of pawnbrokers, money-changers, and bankers, and they were ready to make loans to private individuals as well as to kings. Obliged by the exigencies of their trade to cut up the large gold ingots into sections sufficiently small to represent the smallest values required in daily life, they did not at first impress upon these portions any stamp as a guarantee of the exact weight or the purity of the metal; they were estimated like the tabonu of the Egyptians, by actual weighing on the occasion of each business transaction.
[Illustration: 055.jpg LYDIAN COINS WITH A LION AND LION'S HEAD]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
The idea at length occurred to them to impress each of these pieces with a common stamp, serving, like the trade-marks employed by certain guilds of artisans, to testify at once to their genuineness and their exact weight: in a word, they were the inventors of money. The most ancient coinage of their mint was like a flattened sphere, more or less ovoid, in form: it consisted at first of electrum, and afterwards of smelted gold, upon which parallel striae or shallow creases were made by a hammer. There were two kinds of coinage, differing considerably from each other; one consisted of the heavy stater, weighing about 14.20 grammes, perhaps of Phoenician origin, the other of the light stater, of some 10.80 grammes in weight, which doubtless served as money for the local needs of Lydia: both forms were subdivided into pieces representing respectively the third, the sixth, the twelfth, and the twenty-fourth of the value of the original.
[Illustration: 056a.jpg COIN BEARING HEAD OF MOUFLON GOAT]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
[Illustration: 056b.jpg MONEY OF CROESUS]
The stamp which came to be impressed upon the money was in relief, and varied with the banker; * when political communities began to follow the example of individuals, it also bore the name of the city where it was minted.
* [The best English numismatists do not agree with M. Babelon's |banker| theory. Cf. Barclay V. Head, Historia Nummorum, p. xxxiv. -- -Tr.]
The type of impression once selected, was little modified for fear of exciting mistrust among the people, but it was more finely executed and enlarged so as to cover one of the faces, that which we now call the obverse. Several subjects entered into the composition of the design, each being impressed by a special punch: thus in the central concavity we find the figure of a running fox, emblem of Apollo Bassareus, and in two similar depressions, one above and the other below the central, appear a horse's or stag's head, and a flower with four petals. Later on the design was simplified, and contained only one, or at most two figures -- a hare squatting under a tortuous climbing plant, a roaring lion crouching with its head turned to the left, the grinning muzzle of a lion, the horned profile of an antelope or mouflon sheep: rosettes and flowers, included within a square depression, were then used to replace the stria and irregular lines of the reverse. These first efforts were without inscriptions; it was not long, however, before there came to be used, in addition to the figures, legends, from which we sometimes learn the name of the banker; we read, for instance, |I am the mark of Phannes,| on a stater of electrum struck at Ephesus, with a stag grazing on the right. We are ignorant as to which of the Lydian kings first made use of the new invention, and so threw into circulation the gold and electrum which filled his treasury to overflowing. The ancients say it was Gyges, but the Gygads of their time cannot be ascribed to him; they were, without any doubt, simply ingots marked with the stamp of the banker of the time, and were attributed to Gyges either out of pure imagination or by mistake.*
* The gold of Gyges is known to us through a passage in Pollux. Fr. Lenormant attributed to Gyges the coins which Babelon restores to the banks of Asia Minor. Babelon sees in the Gygads only |ingots of gold, struck possibly in the name of Gyges, capable of being used as coin, doubtless representing a definitely fixed weight, but still lacking that ultimate perfection which characterises the coinage of civilised peoples: from the standpoint of circulation in the market their shape was defective and inconvenient; their subdivision did not extend to such small fractions as to make all payments easy; they were too large and too dear for easy circulation through many hands.|
The same must be said of the pieces of money which have been assigned to his successors, and, even when we find on them traces of writing, we cannot be sure of their identification; one legend which was considered to contain the name of Sadyattes has been made out, without producing conviction, as involving, instead, that of Clazomenae. There is no certainty until after the time of Alyattes, that is, in the reign of Croesus. It is, as a fact, to this prince that we owe the fine gold and silver coins bearing on the obverse a demi-lion couchant confronting a bull treated similarly.* The two creatures appear to threaten one another, and the introduction of the lion recalls a tradition regarding the city of Sardes; it may represent the actual animal which was alleged to have been begotten by King Meles of one of his concubines, and which he caused to be carried solemnly round the city walls to render them impregnable.
Croesus did not succeed to the throne of his father without trouble. His enemies had not laid down their arms after the Carian campaign, and they endeavoured to rid themselves of him by all the means in use at Oriental courts. The Ionian mother of his rival furnished the slave who kneaded the bread with poison, telling her to mix it with the dough, but the woman revealed the intended crime to her master, who at once took the necessary measures to frustrate the plot; later on in life he dedicated in the temple of Delphi a statue of gold representing the faithful bread-maker.** The chief of the rival party seems to have been Sadyattes, the banker from whom Croesus had endeavoured to borrow money at the beginning of his career, but several of the Lydian nobles, whose exercise of feudal rights had been restricted by the growing authority of the Mermnado, either secretly or openly gave their adhesion to Pantaleon, among them being Glaucias of Sidene; the Greek cities, always ready to chafe at authority, were naturally inclined to support a claimant born of a Greek mother, and Pindarus the tyrant of Ephesus, and grandson of the Melas who had married the daughter of Gyges, joined the conspirators.
* Lenormant ascribed an issue of coins without inscriptions to the kings Ardys, Sadyattes, and Alyattes, but this has since been believed not to have been their work.
** Herodotus mentions the statue of the bread-maker, giving no reason why Crosus dedicated it. The author quoted by Plutarch would have it that in revenge he made his half- brothers eat the poisoned bread.
[Illustration: 059.jpg VIEW OF THE SITE AND RUINS OF EPHESUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
As soon as Alyattes was dead, Crosus, who was kept informed by his spies of their plans, took action with a rapidity which disconcerted his adversaries. It is not known what became of Pantaleon, whether he was executed or fled the country, but his friends were tortured to death or had to purchase their pardon dearly. Sadyattes was stretched on a rack and torn with carding combs.* Glaucias, besieged in his fortress of Sidene, opened its gates after a desperate resistance; the king demolished the walls, and pronounced a solemn curse on those who should thereafter rebuild them. Pindarus, summoned to surrender, refused, but as he had not sufficient troops to defend the entire city, he evacuated the lower quarters, and concentrated all his forces on the defence of the citadel; he refused to open negotiations until after the fall of a tower at the moment when a practicable breach had been made, and succeeded in obtaining an honourable capitulation for himself and his people by a ruse.
* The history of Sadyattes and of his part in the conspiracy results from points of agreement which have been established between various passages in Herodotus and in Nicolas of Damascus, where the person is sometimes named and sometimes not.
He dedicated the town to Artemis, and by means of a rope connected the city walls with the temple, which stood nearly a mile away in the suburbs, and then entreated for peace in the name of the goddess. Croesus was amused at the artifice, and granted favourable conditions to the inhabitants, but insisted on the expulsion of the tyrant. The latter bowed before the decree, and confiding the care of his children and possessions to his friend Pasicles, left for the Peloponnesus with his retinue. Bphesus up to this time had been a kind of allied principality, whose chiefs, united to the royal family of Lydia by marriages from generation to generation, recognised the nominal suzerainty of the reigning king rather than his effective authority. It was in fact a species of protectorate, which, while furthering the commercial interests of Lydia, satisfied at the same time the passion of the Greek cities for autonomy. Croesus, encouraged by his first success, could not rest contented with such a compromise. He attacked, successively, Miletus and the various Ionian, AEolian, and Dorian communities of the littoral, and brought them all under his sway, promising on their capitulation that their local constitutions should be respected if they became direct dependencies of his empire. He placed garrisons in such towns as were strategically important for him to occupy, but everywhere else he razed to the ground the fortresses and ramparts which might afford protection to his enemies in case of rebellion, compelling the inhabitants to take up their abode on the open plain where they could not readily defend themselves.* The administration of the affairs of each city was entrusted to either a wealthy citizen, or an hereditary tyrant, or an elected magistrate, who was held responsible for its loyalty; the administrator paid over the tribute to the sovereign's treasurers, levied the specified contingent and took command of it in time of war, settled any quarrels which might occur, and was empowered, when necessary, to exile turbulent and ambitious persons whose words or actions appeared to him to be suspicious. Croesus treated with generosity those republics which tendered him loyal obedience, and affected a special devotion to their gods. He gave a large number of ex-voto offerings to the much-revered sanctuary of Bran-chidse, in the territory of Miletus; he dedicated some golden heifers at the Artemision of Ephesus, and erected the greater number of the columns of that temple at his own expense.**
* He treated thus the Ephesians and the Ilians.
** The fragments of columns brought from this temple by Wood and preserved in the British Museum have on one of the bases the remains of an inscription confirming the testimony of Herodotus.
At one time in his career he appears to have contemplated extending his dominion over the Greek islands, and planned, as was said, the equipment of a fleet, but he soon acknowledged the imprudence of such a project, and confined his efforts to strengthening his advantageous position on the littoral by contracting alliances with the island populations and with the nations of Greece proper.*
* He seems to have been deterred from his project by a sarcastic remark made, as some say, by Pittakos the Mitylenian, or according to others, by Bias of Priene.
Following the diplomacy of his ancestors, he began by devoting himself to the gods of the country, and took every pains to gain the good graces of Apollo of Delphi. He dispensed his gifts with such liberality that neither his contemporaries nor subsequent generations grew weary of admiring it. On one occasion he is said to have sacrificed three thousand animals, and burnt, moreover, on the pyre the costly contents of a palace -- couches covered with silver and gold, coverlets and robes of purple, and golden vials. His subjects were commanded to contribute to the offering, and he caused one hundred and seventeen hollow half-bricks to be cast of the gold which they brought him for this purpose. These bricks were placed in regular layers within the treasury at Delphi where the gifts of Lydia from the time of Alyattes were deposited, and the top of the pile was surmounted by a lion of fine gold of such a size that the pedestal and statue together were worth L1,200,000 of our present money. These, however, formed only a tithe of his gifts; many of the objects dedicated by him were dispersed half a century (548 B.C.) later when the temple was burnt, and found their way into the treasuries of the Greek states which enjoyed the favour of Apollo -- among them being an enormous gold cup sent to Clazomeme, and four barrels of silver and two bowls, one of silver and one of gold, sent to the Corinthians. The people at Delphi, as well as their god, participated in the royal largesse, and Croesus distributed to them the sum of two staters per head. No doubt their gratitude led them by degrees to exaggerate the total of the benefits showered upon them, especially as time went on and their recollection of the king became fainter; but even when we reduce the number of the many gifts which they attributed to him, we are still obliged to acknowledge that they surpassed anything hitherto recorded, and that they produced throughout the whole of Greece the effect that Croesus had desired. The oracle granted to him and to the Lydians the rights of citizenship in perpetuity, the privilege of priority in consulting it before all comers, precedence for his legates over other foreign embassies, and a place of honour at the games and at all religious ceremonies. It was, in fact, the admission of Lydia into the Hellenic concert, and the offerings which Croesus showered upon the sanctuaries of lesser fame -- that of Zeus at Dodona, of Amphiaraos at Oropos, of Trophonios at Lebadsea, on the oracle of Abee in Phocis, and on the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes -- secured a general approval of the act. Political alliances contracted with the great families of Athens, the Alcmonidae and Eupatridae,* with the Cypselidae of, Corinth,** and with the Heraclidae of Sparta,*** completed the policy of bribery which Croesus had inaugurated in the sacerdotal republics, with the result that, towards 548, being in the position of uncontested patron of the Greeks of Asia, he could count upon the sympathetic neutrality of the majority of their compatriots in Europe, and on the effective support of a smaller number of them in the event of his being forced into hostilities with one or other of his Asiatic rivals.
* Traditions as to Crcesus' relations with Alcrnseon are preserved by Herodotus. The king compelled the inhabitants of Lampsacus, his vassals, to release the elder Miltiades, whom they had taken prisoner, and thus earned the gratitude of the Eupatridae.
** Alyattes had been the ally of Periander, as is proved by an anecdote in Herodotus. This friendship continued under Crosus, for after the fall of the monarchy, when the special treasuries of Lydia were suppressed, the ex-voto offerings of the Lydian kings were deposited in the treasury of Corinth.
*** According to Theopompus, the Lacedaemonians, wishing to gild the face of the statue of the Amyclsean, Apollo, and finding no gold in Greece, consulted the Delphian
prophetess: by her advice they sent to Lydia to buy the precious metal from Croesus.
This, however, constituted merely one side of his policy, and the negotiations which he carried on with his western neighbours were conducted simultaneously with his wars against those of the east. Alyattes had asserted his supremacy over the whole of the country on the western side of the Halys, but it was of a very vague kind, having no definite form, and devoid of practical results as far as several of the districts in the interior were concerned. Croesus made it a reality, and in less than ten years all the peoples contained within it, the Lycians excepted -- Mysians, Phrygians, Mariandynians, Paphlagonians, Thynians, Bithynians, and Pamphylians -- had rendered him homage. In its constitution his empire in no way differed from those which at that time shared the rule of Western Asia; the number of districts administered directly by the sovereign were inconsiderable, and most of the states comprised in it preserved their autonomy. Phrygia had its own princes, who were descendants of Midas,* and in the same way Caria and Mysia also retained theirs; but these vassal lords paid tribute and furnished contingents to their liege of Sardes, and garrisons lodged in their citadels as well as military stations or towns founded in strategic positions, such as Prusa** in Bithynia, Cibyra, Hyda, Grimenothyrae, and Temenothyrae,*** kept strict watch over them, securing the while free circulation for caravans or individual merchants throughout the whole country. Croesus had achieved his conquest just as Media was tottering to its fall under the attacks of the Persians.
* This is proved by the history of the Prince Adrastus in Herodotus. Herodotus probably alluded to this colonisation by Crcesus, when he said that the Mysians of Olympus were descendants of Lydian colonists.
** Strabo merely says that the Kibyrates were descended from the Lydians who dwelt in Cabalia; since Croesus was, as far as we know, the only Lydian king who ever possessed this part of Asia, Radet, with good reason, concludes that Kibyra was colonised by him.
*** Radet has given good reasons for believing that at least some of these towns were enlarged and fortified by Croesus.
Their victory placed the Lydian king in a position of great perplexity, since it annulled the treaties concluded after the eclipse of 585, and by releasing him from the obligations then contracted, afforded him an opportunity of extending the limits within which his father had confined himself. Now or never was the time for crossing the Halys in order to seize those mineral districts with which his subjects had so long had commercial relations; on the other hand, the unexpected energy of which the Persians had just given proof, their bravery, their desire for conquest, and the valour of their leader, all tended to deter him from the project: should he be victorious, Cyrus would probably not rest contented with tke annexation of a few unimportant districts or the imposition of a tribute, but would treat his adversary as he had Astyages, and having dethroned him, would divide Lydia into departments to be ruled by one or other of his partisans. Warlike ideas, nevertheless, prevailed at the court of Sardes, and, taking all into consideration, we cannot deny that they had reason on their side. The fall of Ecbatana had sealed the fate of Media proper, and its immediate dependencies had naturally shared the fortunes of the capital; but the more distant provinces still wavered, and they would probably attempt to take advantage of the change of rule to regain their liberty. Cyrus, obliged to take up arms against them, would no longer have his entire forces at his disposal, and by attacking him at that juncture it might be possible to check his power before it became irresistible. Having sketched out his plan of campaign, Croesus prepared to execute it with all possible celerity. Egypt and Chaldaea, like himself, doubtless felt themselves menaced; he experienced little difficulty in persuading them to act in concert with him in face of the common peril, and he obtained from both Amasis and Nabonidus promises of effective co-operation. At the same time he had recourse to the Greek oracles, and that of Delphi was instrumental in obtaining for him a treaty of alliance and friendship with Sparta. Negotiations had been carried on so rapidly, that by the end of 548 all was in readiness for a simultaneous movement; Sparta was equipping a fleet, and merely awaited the return of the favourable season to embark her contingent; Egypt had already despatched hers, and her Cypriot vassals were on the point of starting, while bands of Thracian infantry were marching to reinforce the Lydian army. These various elements represented so considerable a force of men, that, had they been ranged on a field of battle, Cyrus would have experienced considerable difficulty in overcoming them. An unforeseen act of treachery obliged the Lydians to hasten their preparations and commence hostilities before the moment agreed on. Eurybatos, an Ephesian, to whom the king had entrusted large sums of money for the purpose of raising mercenaries in the Peloponnesus, fled with his gold into Persia, and betrayed the secret of the coalition. The Achaemenian sovereign did not hesitate to forestall the attack, and promptly assumed the offensive. The transport of an army from Ecbatana to the middle course of the Halys would have been a long and laborious undertaking, even had it kept within the territory of the empire; it would have necessitated crossing the mountain groups of Armenia at their greatest width, and that at a time when the snow was still lying deep upon the ground and the torrents were swollen and unfordable. The most direct route, which passed through Assyria and the part of Mesopotamia south of the Masios, lay for the most part in the hands of the Chaldaeans, but their enfeebled condition justified Cyrus's choice of it, and he resolved, in the event of their resistance, to cut his way through sword in hand. He therefore bore down upon Arbela by the gorges of Rowandiz in the month Nisan, making as though he were bound for Karduniash; but before the Babylonians had time to recover from their alarm at this movement, he crossed the river not far from Nineveh and struck into Mesopotamia. He probably skirted the slopes of the Masios, overcoming and killing in the month Iyyar some petty king, probably the ruler of Armenia,* and debouched into Cappadocia. This province was almost entirely in the power of the enemy; Nabonidus had despatched couriers by the shortest route in order to warn his ally, and if necessary to claim his promised help.
* Ploigl, who was the first to refer a certain passage in the Annals of Nabonidus to the expedition against Croesus, restored Is[parda] as the name of the country mentioned, and saw even the capture of Sardes in the events of the month Iyyar, in direct contradiction to the Greek tradition. The connection between the campaign beyond the Tigris and the Lydian war seems to me incontestable, but the Babylonian chronicler has merely recorded the events which affected Babylonia. Cyrus' object was both to intimidate Nabonidus and also to secure possession of the most direct, and at the same time the easiest, route: by cutting across Mesopotamia, he avoided the difficult marches in the mountainous districts of Armenia. Perhaps we should combine, with the information of the Annals, the passage of Xenophon, where it is said that the Armenians refused tribute and service to the King of Persia: Cyrus would have punished the rebels on his way, after crossing the Euphrates.
Croesus, when he received them, had with him only the smaller portion of his army, the Lydian cavalry, the contingents of his Asiatic subjects, and a few Greek veterans, and it would probably have been wiser to defer the attack till after the disembarkation of the Lacedaemonians; but hesitation at so critical a moment might have discouraged his followers, and decided his fate before any action had taken place. He therefore collected his troops together, fell upon the right bank of the Halys,* devastated the country, occupied Pteria and the neighbouring towns, and exiled the inhabitants to a distance. He had just completed the subjection of the White Syrians when he was met by an emissary from the Persians; Cyrus offered him his life, and confirmed his authority on condition of his pleading for mercy and taking the oath of vassalage.** Croesus sent a proud refusal, which was followed by a brilliant victory, after which a truce of three months was concluded between the belligerents.***
* On this point Herodotus tells a current story of his time: Thaies had a trench dug behind the army, which was probably encamped in one of the bends made by the Halys; he then diverted the stream into this new bed, with the result that the Lydians found themselves on the right bank of the river without having had the trouble of crossing it.
** Nicolas of Damascus records that Cyrus, after the capture of Sardes, for a short time contemplated making Croesus a vassal king, or at least a satrap of Lydia.
*** We have two very different accounts of this campaign, viz. that of Herodotus, and that of Polyonus. According to Herodotus, Croesus gave battle only once in Pteria, with indecisive result, and on the next day quietly retired to his kingdom, thinking that Cyrus would not dare to pursue him. According to Polyonus, Croesus, victorious in a first engagement owing to a more or less plausible military stratagem, consented to a truce, but on the day after was completely defeated, and obliged to return to his kingdom with a routed army. Herodotus' account of the fall of Croesus and of Sardes, borrowed partly from a good written source, Xanthus or Charon of Lampsacus, partly from the tradition of the Harpagidse, seems to have for its object the soothing of the vanity both of the Persians and of the Lydians, since, if the result of the war could not be contested, the issue of the battle was at least left uncertain. If he has given a faithful account, no one can understand why Croesus should have retired and ceded White Syria to a rival who had never conquered him. The account given by Polysenus, in spite of the improbability of some of its details, comes from a well-informed author: the defeat of the Lydians in the second battle explains the retreat of Crcesus, who is without excuse in Herodotus' version of the affair. Pompeius Trogus adopted a version similar to that of Polysenus.
Cyrus employed the respite in attempting to win over the Greek cities of the littoral, which he pictured to himself as nursing a bitter hatred against the Mermnadae; but it is to be doubted if his emissaries succeeded even in wresting a declaration of neutrality from the Milesians; the remainder, Ionians and AEolians, all continued faithful to their oaths.* On the resumption of hostilities, the tide of fortune turned, and the Lydians were crushed by the superior forces of the Persians and the Medes; Crcesus retired under cover of night, burning the country as he retreated, to prevent the enemy from following him, and crossed the Halys with the remains of his battalions. The season was already far advanced; he thought that the Persians, threatened in the rear by the Babylonian troops, would shrink from the prospect of a winter campaign, and he fell back upon Sardes without further lingering in Phrygia. But Nabonidus did not feel himself called upon to show the same devotion that his ally had evinced towards him, or perhaps the priests who governed in his name did not permit him to fulfil his engagements.**
* Herodotus makes the attempted corruption of the Ionians to date from the beginning of the war, even before Cyrus took the field.
** The author followed by Pompeius Trogus has alone preserved the record of this treaty. The fact is important as explaining Croesus' behaviour after his defeat, but Schubert goes too far when he re-establishes on this ground an actual campaign of Cyrus against Babylon: Radet has come back to the right view in seeing only a treaty made with Nabonidus.
As soon as peace was proposed, he accepted terms, without once considering the danger to which the Lydians were exposed by his defection. The Persian king raised his camp as soon as all fear of an attack to rearward was removed, and, falling upon defenceless Phrygia, pushed forward to Sardes in spite of the inclemency of the season. No movement could have been better planned, or have produced such startling results. Croesus had disbanded the greater part of his feudal contingents, and had kept only his body-guard about him, the remainder of his army -- natives, mercenaries, and allies -- having received orders not to reassemble till the following spring. The king hastily called together all his available troops, both Lydians and foreigners, and confronted his enemies for the second time. Even under these unfavourable conditions he hoped to gain the advantage, had his cavalry, the finest in the world, been able to take part in the engagement. But Cyrus had placed in front of his lines a detachment of camels, and the smell of these animals so frightened the Lydian horses that they snorted and refused to charge.*
* Herodotus' mention of the use of camels is confirmed, with various readings, by Xenophon, by Polysenus, and by AElian; their employment does not necessarily belong to a legendary form of the story, especially if we suppose that the camel, unknown before in Asia Minor, was first introduced there by the Persian army. The site of the battle is not precisely known. According to Herodotus, the fight took place in the great plain before Sardes, which is crossed by several small tributaries of the Hermus, amongst others the Hyllus. Radet recognises that the Hyllus of Herodotus is the whole or part of the stream now called the Kusu-tchai, and he places the scene of action near the township of Adala, which would correspond with Xenophon's Thymbrara. This continues to be the most likely hypothesis. After the battle Croesus would have fled along the Hermus towards Sardes. Xenophon's story is a pure romance.
Croesus was again worsted on the confines of the plain of the Hermus, and taking refuge in the citadel of Sardes, he despatched couriers to his allies in Greece and Egypt to beg for succour without delay. The Lacedaemonians hurried on the mobilisation of their troops, and their vessels were on the point of weighing anchor, when the news arrived that Sardes had fallen in the early days of December, and that Croesus himself was a prisoner.* How the town came to be taken, the Greeks themselves never knew, and their chroniclers have given several different accounts of the event.**
* Radet gives the date of the capture of Sardes as about November 15, 546; but the number and importance of the events occurring between the retreat of Croesus and the decisive catastrophe -- the negotiations with Babylon, the settling into winter quarters, the march of Cyrus across Phrygia -- must have required a longer time than Radet allots to them in his hypothesis, and I make the date a month later.
** Ctesias and Xenophon seem to depend on Herodotus, the former with additional fabulous details concerning his OEbaras, Cyrus' counsellor, which show the probable origin of his additions. Polysenus had at his disposal a different story, the same probably that he used for his account of the campaign in Cappadocia, for in it can be recognised the wish to satisfy, within possible limits, the pride of the Lydians: here again the decisive success is preceded by a check given to Cyrus and a three months' truce.
The least improbable is that found in Herodotus. The blockade had lasted, so he tells us, fourteen days, when Cyrus announced that he would richly reward the first man to scale the walls. Many were tempted by his promises, but were unsuccessful in their efforts, and their failure had discouraged all further attempts, when a Mardian soldier, named Hyreades, on duty at the foot of the steep slopes overlooking the Tmolus, saw a Lydian descend from rock to rock in search of his helmet which he had lost, and regain the city by the same way without any great difficulty. He noted carefully the exact spot, and in company with a few comrades climbed up till he reached the ramparts; others followed, and taking the besieged unawares, they opened the gates to the main body of the army.*
* About three and a half centuries later Sardes was captured in the same way by one of the generals of Antiochus the Great.
Croesus could not bear to survive the downfall of his kingdom: he erected a funeral pyre in the courtyard of his palace, and took up his position on it, together with his wives, his daughters, and the noblest youths of his court, surrounded by his most precious possessions. He could cite the example of more than one vanquished monarch of the ancient Asiatic world in choosing such an end, and one of the fabulous ancestors of his race, Sandon-Herakles, had perished after this fashion in the midst of the flames. Was the sacrifice carried out? Everything leads us to believe that it was, but popular feeling could not be resigned to the idea that a prince who had shown such liberality towards the gods in his prosperity should be abandoned by them in the time of his direst need. They came to believe that the Lydian monarch had expiated by his own defeat the crime by the help of which his ancestor Gyges had usurped the throne. Apollo had endeavoured to delay the punishment till the next generation, that it might fall on the son of his votary, but he had succeeded in obtaining from fate a respite of three years only. Even then he had not despaired, and had warned Croesus by the voice of the oracles. They had foretold him that, in crossing the Halys, the Lydians ^would destroy a great empire, and that their power would last till the day when a mule should sit upon the throne of Media. Croesus, blinded by fate, could not see that Cyrus, who was of mixed race, Persian by his father and Median by his mother, was the predicted mule. He therefore crossed the Halys, and a great empire fell, but it was his own. At all events, the god might have desired to show that to honour his altars and adorn his temple was in itself, after all, the best of treasures. |When Sardes, suffering the vengeance of Zeus, was conquered by the army of the Persians, the god of the golden sword, Apollo, was the guardian of Croesus. When the day of despair arrived, the king could not resign himself to tears and servitude; within the brazen-walled court he erected a funeral pyre, on which, together with his chaste spouse and his bitterly lamenting daughters of beautiful locks, he mounted; he raised his hands towards the depths of the ether and cried: 'Proud fate, where is the gratitude of the gods, where is the prince, the child of Leto? Where is now the house of Alyattes?... The ancient citadel of Sardes has fallen, the Pactolus of golden waves runs red with blood; ignominiously are the women driven from their well-decked chambers! That which was once my hated foe is now my friend, and the sweetest thing is to die!' Thus he spoke, and ordered the softly moving eunuch* to set fire to the wooden structure.
* The word translated |softly moving eunuch| is here perhaps a proper name: the slave whose duty it was to kindle the pyre was called Abrobatas in the version of the story chosen by Bacchylides, while that adopted by the potter whose work is reproduced on the opposite page, calls him Euthymos.
The maidens shrieked and threw their arms around their mother, for the death before them was that most hated by mortals. But just when the sparkling fury of the cruel fire had spread around, Zeus, calling up a black-flanked cloud, extinguished the yellow flame.
Nothing is incredible of that which the will of the gods has decreed: Apollo of Delos, seizing the old man, bore him, together with his daughters of tender feet, into the Hyperborean land as a reward for his piety, for no mortal had sent richer offerings to the illustrious Pytho!|
[Illustration: 075.jpg CIMESUS ON HIS PYRE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph of the original in the Museum of the Louvre.
This miraculous ending delighted the poets and inspired many fine lines, but history could with difficulty accommodate itself to such a materialistic intervention of a divine being, and sought a less fabulous solution. The legend which appeared most probable to the worthy Herodotus did not even admit that the Lydian king took his own life; it was Cyrus who condemned him, either with a view of devoting the first-fruits of his victory to the immortals, or to test whether the immortals would save the rival whose piety had been so frequently held up to his admiration. The edges of the pyre had already taken light, when the Lydian king sighed and thrice repeated the name of Solon. It was a tardy recollection of a conversation in which the Athenian sage had stated, without being believed, that none can be accounted truly happy while they still live. Cyrus, applying it to himself, was seized with remorse or pity, and commanded the bystanders to quench the fire, but their efforts were in vain. Thereupon Croesus implored the pity of Apollo, and suddenly the sky, which up till then had been serene and clear, became overcast; thick clouds collected, and rain fell so heavily that the burning pile was at once extinguished.*
* The story told by Nicolas of Damascus comes down probably from Xanthus of Lydia, but with many additions borrowed directly from Herodotus and rhetorical developments by the author himself. Most other writers who tell the story depend for their information, either directly or indirectly, on Herodotus: in later times it was supposed that the Lydian king was preserved from the flames by the use of some talisman such as the Ephesian letters.
Well treated by his conqueror, the Lydian king is said to have become his friend and most loyal counsellor; he accepted from him the fief of Barene in Media, often accompanied him in his campaigns, and on more than one occasion was of great service to him by the wise advice which he gave.
We may well ask what would have taken place had he gained the decisive victory over Cyrus that he hoped. Chaldaea possessed merely the semblance of her former greatness and power, and if she still maintained her hold over Mesopotamia, Syria, Phoenicia, and parts of Arabia, it was because these provinces, impoverished by the Assyrian conquest, and entirely laid waste by the Scythians, had lost the most energetic elements of their populations, and felt themselves too much enfeebled to rise against their suzerain. Egypt, like Chaldaea, was in a state of decadence, and even though her Pharaohs attempted to compensate for the inferiority of their native troops by employing foreign mercenaries, their attempts at Asiatic rule always issued in defeat, and just as the Babylonian sovereigns were unable to reduce them to servitude, so they on their part were powerless to gain an advantage over the sovereigns of Babylon. Hence Lydia, in her youth and vigour, would have found little difficulty in gaining the ascendency over her two recent allies, but beyond that she could not hope to push her success; her restricted territory, sparse population, and outlying position would always have debarred her from exercising any durable dominion over them, and though absolute mistress of Asia Minor, the countries beyond the Taurus were always destined to elude her grasp. If the Achaemenian, therefore, had confined himself, at all events for the time being, to the ancient limits of his kingdom, Egypt and Chaldaea would have continued to vegetate each within their respective area, and the triumph of Croesus would, on the whole, have caused but little change in the actual balance of power in the East.
The downfall of Croesus, on the contrary, marked a decisive era in the world's history. His army was the only one, from the point of numbers and organisation, which was a match for that of Cyrus, and from the day of its dispersion it was evident that neither Egypt nor Chaldaea had any chance of victory on the battle-field. The subjection of Babylon and Harran, of Hamath, Damascus, Tyre and Sidon, of Memphis and Thebes, now became merely a question of time, and that not far distant; the whole of Asia, and that part of Africa which had been the oldest cradle of human civilisation, were now to pass into the hands of one man and form a single empire, for the benefit of the new race which was issuing forth in irresistible strength from the recesses of the Iranian table-land. It was destined, from the very outset, to come into conflict with an older, but no less vigorous race than itself, that of the Greeks, whose colonists, after having swarmed along the coasts of the Mediterranean, were now beginning to quit the seaboard and penetrate wherever they could into the interior.
[Illustration: 078.jpg A PERSIAN KING FIGHTING WITH GREEKS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an intaglio reproduced in the Antiquites du Bosphore cimmerien.
They had been on friendly terms with that dynasty of the Meramadae who had shown reverence for the Hellenic gods; they had, as a whole, disdained to betray Croesus, or to turn upon him when he was in difficulties beyond the Halys; and now that he had succumbed to his fate, they considered that the ties which had bound them to Sardes were broken, and they were determined to preserve their independence at all costs. This spirit of insubordination would have to be promptly dealt with and tightly curbed, if perpetual troubles in the future were to be avoided. The Asianic peoples soon rallied round their new master -- Phrygians, Mysians, the inhabitants on the shores of the Black Sea, and those of the Pamphylian coast;* even Cilicia, which had held its own against Chaldaea, Media, and Lydia, was now brought under the rising power, and its kings were henceforward obedient to the Persian rule.**
* None of the documents actually say this, but the general tenor of Herodotus' account seems to show clearly that, with the exception of the Greek cities of the Carians and Lycians, all the peoples who had formed part of the Lydian dominion under Croesus submitted, without any appreciable resistance, after the taking of Sardes.
** Herodotus mentions a second Syennesis king of Cilicia forty years later at the time of the Ionian revolt.
The two leagues of the Ionians and AEolians had at first offered to recognise Cyrus as their suzerain under the same conditions as those with which Croesus had been satisfied; but he had consented to accept it only in the case of Miletus, and had demanded from the rest an unconditional surrender. This they had refused, and, uniting in a common cause perhaps for the first time in their existence, they had resolved to take up arms. As the Persians possessed no fleet, the Creeks had nothing to fear from the side of the AEgean, and the severity of the winter prevented any attack being made from the land side till the following spring. They meanwhile sought the aid of their mother-country, and despatched an embassy to the Spartans; the latter did not consider it prudent to lend them troops, as they would have done in the case of Croesus, but they authorised Lakrines, one of their principal citizens, to demand of the great king that he should respect the Hellenic cities, under pain of incurring their enmity.
[Illustration: 080.jpg THE PRESENT SITE OF MILETUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
Cyrus was fully occupied with the events then taking place in the eastern regions of Iran; Babylon had not ventured upon any move after having learned the news of the fall of Sardes, but the Bactrians and the Sakae had been in open revolt during the whole of the year that he had been detained in the extreme west, and a still longer absence might risk the loss of his prestige in Media, and even in Persia itself.*
* The tradition followed by Ctesias maintained that the submission of the eastern peoples was an accomplished fact when the Lydian war began. That adopted by Herodotus placed this event after the fall of Croesus; at any rate, it showed that fear of the Bactrians and the Sakae, as well as of the Babylonians and Egyptians was the cause that hastened Cyrus' retreat.
The threat of the Lacedaaemonians had little effect upon him; he inquired as to what Sparta and Greece were, and having been informed, he ironically begged the Lacedaemonian envoy to thank his compatriots for the good advice with which they had honoured him; |but,| he added, |take care that I do not soon cause you to babble, not of the ills of the Ionians, but of your own.| He confided the government of Sardes to one of his officers, named Tabalos, and having entrusted Paktyas, one of the Lydians who had embraced his cause, with the removal of the treasures of Croesus to Persia, he hastily set out for Ecbatana. He had scarcely accomplished half of his journey when a revolt broke out in his rear; Paktyas, instead of obeying his instructions, intrigued with the Ionians, and, with the mercenaries he had hired from them, besieged Tabalos in the citadel of Sardes. If the place capitulated, the entire conquest would have to be repeated; fortunately it held out, and its resistance gave Cyrus time to send its governor reinforcements, commanded by Mazares the Median. As soon as they approached the city, Paktyas, conscious that he had lost the day, took refuge at Kyme. Its inhabitants, on being summoned to deliver him up, refused, but helped him to escape to Mytilene, where the inhabitants of the island attempted to sell him to the enemy for a large sum of money. The Kymaeans saved him a second time, and conveyed him to the temple of Athene Poliarchos at Chios. The citizens, however, dragged him from his retreat, and delivered him over to the Median general in exchange for Atarneus, a district of Mysia, the possession of which they were disputing with the Lesbians.* Paktyas being a prisoner, the Lydians were soon recalled to order, and Mazares was able to devote his entire energies to the reduction of the Greek cities; but he had accomplished merely the sack of Priene,** and the devastation of the suburbs of Magnesia on the aeander, when he died from some illness.
* A passage which has been preserved of Charon of Lampsacus sums up in a few words the account given by Herodotus of the adventures of Paktyas, but without mentioning the treachery of the islanders: he confines himself to saying Cyrus caught the fugitive after the latter had successively left Chios and Mytilene.
** Herodotus attributes the taking of this city to the Persian Tabules, who is evidently the Tabalos of Herodotus.
The Median Harpagus, to whom tradition assigns so curious a part as regards Astyages and the infant Cyrus, succeeded him as governor of the ancient Lydian kingdom, and completed the work which he had begun. The first two places to be besieged were Phocaea and Teos, but their inhabitants preferred exile to slavery; the Phocaeans sailed away to found Marseilles in the western regions of the Mediterranean, and the people of Teos settled along the coast of Thracia, near to the gold-mines of the Pangseus, and there built Abdera on the site of an ancient Clazomenian colony. The other Greek towns were either taken by assault or voluntarily opened their gates, so that ere long both Ionians and AEolians were, with the exception of the Samians, under Persian rule. The very position of the latter rendered them safe from attack; without a fleet they could not be approached, and the only people who could have furnished Cyrus with vessels were the Phoenicians, who were not as yet under his power. The rebellion having been suppressed in this quarter, Harpagus made a descent into Caria; the natives hastened to place themselves under the Persian yoke, and the Dorian colonies scattered along the coast, Halicarnas-sus, Cnidos, and the islands of Cos and Rhodes, followed their examples, but Lycia refused to yield without a struggle.
[Illustration: 083.jpg A LYCIAN CITY UPON ITS INACCESSIBLE ROCK]
The rock and tombs of Tlos, drawn by Boudier, from the view in Fellows.
Its steep mountain chains, its sequestered valleys, its towns and fortresses perched on inaccessible rocks, all rendered it easy for the inhabitants to carry on a successful petty warfare against the enemy. The inhabitants of Xanthos, although very inferior in numbers, issued down into the plain and disputed the victory with the invaders for a considerable time; at length their defeat and the capitulation of their town induced the remainder of the Lycians to lay down arms, and brought about the final pacification of the peninsula. It was parcelled out into several governorships, according to its ethnographical affinities; as for instance, the governorship of Lydia, that of Ionia, that of Phrygia,* and others whose names are unknown to us. Harpagus appeared to have resided at Sardes, and exercised vice-regal functions over the various districts, but he obtained from the king an extensive property in Lycia and in Caria, which subsequently caused these two provinces to be regarded as an appanage of his family.
* Herodotus calls a certain Mitrobates satrap of Daskylion; he had perhaps been already given this office by Cyrus. Orcetes had been made governor of Ionia and Lydia by Cyrus.
While thus consolidating his first conquest, Cyrus penetrated into the unknown regions of the far East. Nothing would have been easier for him than to have fallen upon Babylon and overthrown, as it were by the way, the decadent rule of Nabonidus; but the formidable aspect which the empire still presented, in spite of its enfeebled condition, must have deceived him, and he was unwilling to come into conflict with it until he had made a final reckoning with the restless and unsettled peoples between the Caspian and the slopes on the Indian side of the table-land of Iran. As far as we are able to judge, they were for the most part of Iranian extraction, and had the same religion, institutions, and customs as the Medes and Persians. Tradition had already referred the origin of Zoroaster, and the scene of his preaching, to Bactriana, that land of heroes whose exploits formed the theme of Persian epic song. It is not known, as we have already had occasion to remark, by what ties it was bound to the empire of Cyaxares, nor indeed if it ever had been actually attached to it. We do not possess, unfortunately, more than almost worthless scraps of information on this part of the reign of Cyrus, perhaps the most important period of it, since then, for the first time, peoples who had been hitherto strangers to the Asiatic world were brought within its influence. If Ctesias is to be credited, Bactriana was one of the first districts to be conquered. Its inhabitants were regarded as being among the bravest of the East, and furnished the best soldiers. They at first obtained some successes, but laid down arms on hearing that Cyrus had married a daughter of Astyages.* This tradition was prevalent at a time when the Achaemenians were putting forward the theory that they, and Cyrus before them, were the legitimate successors of the old Median sovereigns; they welcomed every legend which tended to justify their pretensions, and this particular one was certain to please them, since it attributed the submission of Bactriana not to a mere display of brute force, but to the recognition of an hereditary right. The annexation of this province entailed, as a matter of course, that of Margiana, of the Khoramnians,** and of Sogdiana. Cyrus constructed fortresses in all these districts, the most celebrated being that of Kyropolis, which commanded one of the principal fords of the Iaxartes.***
* This is the campaign which Ctesias places before the Lydian war, but which Herodotus relegates to a date after the capture of Sardes.
** Ctesias must have spoken of the submission of these peoples, for a few words of a description which he gave of the Khoramnians have been preserved to us.
*** Tomaschek identifies Kyra or Kyropolis with the present Ura-Tepe, but distinguishes it from the Kyreskhata of Ptolemy, to which he assigns a site near Usgent.
The steppes of Siberia arrested his course on the north, but to the east, in the mountains of Chinese Turkestan, the Sakas, who were renowned for their wealth and bravery, did not escape his ambitious designs. The account which has come down to us of his campaigns against them is a mere romance of love and adventure, in which real history plays a very small part. He is said to have attacked and defeated them at the first onset, taking their King Amorges prisoner; but this capture, which Cyrus considered a decisive advantage, was supposed to have turned the tide of fortune against him. Sparethra, the wife of Amorges, rallied the fugitives round her, defeated the invaders in several engagements, and took so many of their men captive, that they were glad to restore her husband to her in exchange for the prisoners she had made. The struggle finally ended, however, in the subjection of the Sakae; they engaged to pay tribute, and thenceforward constituted the advance-guard of the Iranians against the Nomads of the East. Cyrus, before quitting their neighbourhood, again ascended the table-land, and reduced Ariana, Thatagus, Harauvati, Zaranka, and the country of Cabul; and we may well ask if he found leisure to turn southwards beyond Lake Hamun and reach the shores of the Indian Ocean. One tradition, of little weight, relates that, like Alexander at a later date, he lost his army in the arid deserts of Gedrosia; the one fact that remains is that the conquest of Gedrosia was achieved, but the details of it are lost. The period covered by his campaigns was from five to six years, from 545 to 539, but Cyrus returned from these expeditions into the unknown only to plan fresh undertakings. There remained nothing now to hinder him from marching against the Chaldaeans, and the discord prevailing at Babylon added to his chance of success. Nabonidus's passion for archaeology had in no way lessened since the opening of his reign. The temple restorations prompted by it absorbed the bulk of his revenues. He made excavations in the sub-structures of the most ancient sanctuaries, such as Larsam, Uruk, Uru, Sippar, and Nipur; and when his digging was rewarded by the discovery of cylinders placed there by his predecessors, his delight knew no bounds. Such finds constituted the great events of his life, in comparison with which the political revolutions of Asia and Africa diminished in importance day by day. It is difficult to tell whether this indifference to the weighty affairs of government was as complete as it appears to us at this distance of time. Certain facts recorded in the official chronicles of that date go to prove that, except in name and external pomp, the king was a nonentity. The real power lay in the hands of the nobles and generals, and Bel-sharuzur, the king's son, directed affairs for them in his father's name. Nabonidus meanwhile resided in a state of inactivity at his palace of Tima, and it is possible that his condition may have really been that of a prisoner, for he never left Tima to go to Babylon, even on the days of great festivals, and his absence prevented the celebration of the higher rites of the national religion, with the procession of Bel and its accompanying ceremonies, for several consecutive years. The people suffered from these quarrels in high places; not only the native Babylonians or Kalda, who were thus deprived of their accustomed spectacles, and whose piety was scandalised by these dissensions, but also the foreign races dispersed over Mesopotamia, from the confluence of the Khabur to the mouths of the Euphrates. Too widely scattered or too weak to make an open declaration of their independence, their hopes and their apprehensions were alternately raised by the various reports of hostilities which reached their ears. The news of the first victories of the Persians aroused in the exiled Jews the idea of speedy deliverance, and Cyrus clearly appeared to them as the hero chosen by Jahveh to reinstate them in the country, of their forefathers.
The number of the Jewish exiles, which perhaps at first had not exceeded 20,000* had largely increased in the half-century of their captivity, and even if numerically they were of no great importance, their social condition entitled them to be considered as the elite of all Israel.
* The body of exiles of 597 consisted of ten thousand persons, of whom seven thousand belonged to the wealthy, and one thousand to the artisan class, while the remainder consisted of people attached to the court (2 Kings xxiv.14- 16). In the body of 587 are reckoned three thousand and twenty-three inhabitants of Judah, and eight hundred and thirty-two dwellers in Jerusalem. But the body of exiles of 581 numbers only seven hundred and forty-five persons (Jer. lii.30). These numbers are sufficiently moderate to be possibly exact, but they are far from being certain.
There had at first been the two kings, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, their families, the aristocracy of Judah, the priests and pontiff of the temple, the prophets, the most skilled of the artisan class and the soldiery. Though distributed over Babylon and the neighbouring cities, we know from authentic sources of only one of their settlements, that of Tell-Abib on the Chebar* though many of the Jewish colonies which flourished thereabouts in Roman times could undoubtedly trace their origin to the days of the captivity; one legend found in the Talmud affirmed that the synagogue of Shafyathib, near Nehardaa, had been built by King Jehoiachin with stones brought from the ruins of the temple at Jerusalem. These communities enjoyed a fairly complete autonomy, and were free to administer their own affairs as they pleased, provided that they paid their tribute or performed their appointed labours without complaint. The shekhs, or elders of the family or tribe, who had played so important a part in their native land, still held their respective positions; the Chaldaeans had permitted them to retain all the possessions which they had been able to bring with them into exile, and recognised them as the rulers of their people, who were responsible to their conquerors for the obedience of those under them, leaving them entire liberty to exercise their authority so long as they maintained order and tranquillity among their subordinates.**
* Ezek. iii.15. The Chebar or Kebar has been erroneously identified with the Khabur; cuneiform documents show that it was one of the canals near Nipur.
** Cf. the assemblies of these chiefs at the house of Ezekiel and their action (viii.1; xiv.1; xx.1).
How the latter existed, and what industries they pursued in order to earn their daily bread, no writer of the time has left on record. The rich plain of the Euphrates differed so widely from the soil to which they had been accustomed in the land of Judah, with its bare or sparsely wooded hills, slopes cultivated in terraces, narrow and ill-watered wadys, and tortuous and parched valleys, that they must have felt themselves much out of their element in their Chaldaean surroundings. They had all of them, however, whether artisans, labourers, soldiers, gold-workers, or merchants, to earn their living, and they succeeded in doing so, following meanwhile the advice of Jeremiah, by taking every precaution that the seed of Israel should not be diminished.* The imagination of pious writers of a later date delighted to represent the exiled Jews as giving way to apathy and vain regrets: |By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps. For there they that led us captive required of us songs, and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?|**
* Jer. xxix.1-7.
** Ps. cxxxvii.1-4.
This was true of the priests and scribes only. A blank had been made in their existence from the moment when the conqueror had dragged them from the routine of daily rites which their duties in the temple service entailed upon them. The hours which had been formerly devoted to their offices were now expended in bewailing the misfortunes of their nation, in accusing themselves and others, and in demanding what crime had merited this punishment, and why Jahveh, who had so often shown clemency to their forefathers, had not extended His forgiveness to them. It was, however, by the long-suffering of God that His prophets, and particularly Ezekiel, were allowed to make known to them the true cause of their downfall. The more Ezekiel in his retreat meditated upon their lot, the more did the past appear to him as a lamentable conflict between divine justice and Jewish iniquity. At the time of their sojourn in Egypt, Jahveh had taken the house of Jacob under His protection, and in consideration of His help had merely demanded of them that they should be faithful to Him. |Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.| The children of Israel, however, had never observed this easy condition, and this was the root of their ills; even before they were liberated from the yoke of Pharaoh, they had betrayed their Protector, and He had thought to punish them: |But I wrought for My name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them.... So I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes, and showed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them. Moreover also I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them... but the house of Israel rebelled against Me.| As they had acted in Egypt, so they acted at the foot of Sinai, and again Jahveh could not bring Himself to destroy them; He confined Himself to decreeing that none of those who had offended Him should enter the Promised Land, and He extended His goodness to their children. But these again showed themselves no wiser than their fathers; scarcely had they taken possession of the inheritance which had fallen to them, |a land flowing with milk and honey... the glory of all lands,| than when they beheld |every high hill and every thick tree... they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering, there also they made their sweet savour, and they poured out there their drink offerings.| Not contented with profaning their altars by impious ceremonies and offerings, they further bowed the knee to idols, thinking in their hearts, |We will be as the nations, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.| |As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I be King over you.|*
1 Ezek. xx.
However just the punishment, Bzekiel did not believe that it would last for ever. The righteousness of God would not permit future generations to be held responsible for ever for the sins of generations past and present. |What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion to use this proverb any more in Israel! Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die. But if a man be just... he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.| Israel, therefore, was master of his own destiny. If he persisted in erring from the right way, the hour of salvation was still further removed from him; if he repented and observed the law, the Divine anger would be turned away. |Therefore... O house of Israel... cast away from you all your transgressions wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth... wherefore turn yourselves and live.| 1 There were those who objected that it was too late to dream of regeneration and of hope in the future: |Our bones are dried up and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.| The prophet replied that the Lord had carried him in the spirit and set him down in the midst of a plain strewn with bones. |So I prophesied... and as I prophesied there was a noise... and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And I beheld, and lo, there were sinews upon them, and flesh came up and skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them. Then said (the Lord) unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then He said unto me... these bones are the whole house of Israel.... Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.... And I will put My Spirit in you and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land; and ye shall know that I the Lord hath spoken it and performed it, saith the Lord.|
A people raised from such depths would require a constitution, a new law to take the place of the old, from the day when the exile should cease. Ezekiel would willingly have dispensed with the monarchy, as it had been tried since the time of Samuel with scarcely any good results. For every Hezekiah or Josiah, how many kings of the type of Ahaz or Manasseh had there been! The Jews were nevertheless still so sincerely attached to the house of David, that the prophet judged it inopportune to exclude it from his plan for their future government. He resolved to tolerate a king, but a king of greater piety and with less liberty than the compiler of the Book of Deuteronomy had pictured to himself, a servant of the servants of God, whose principal function should be to provide the means of worship. Indeed, the Lord Himself was the only Sovereign whom the prophet fully accepted, though his concept of Him differed greatly from that of his predecessors: from that, for instance, of Amos -- the Lord God who would do nothing without revealing |His secret unto His servants the prophets;| or of Hosea -- who desired |mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.| The Jahveh of Ezekiel no longer admitted any intercourse with the interpreters of His will. He held |the son of man| at a distance, and would consent to communicate with him only by means of angels who were His messengers. The love of His people was, indeed, acceptable to Him, but He preferred their reverence and fear, and the smell of the sacrifice offered according to the law was pleasing to His nostrils. The first care of the returning exiles, therefore, would be to build Him a house upon the holy mountain. Ezekiel called to mind the temple of Solomon, in which the far-off years of his youth were spent, and mentally rebuilt it on the same plan, but larger and more beautiful; first the outer court, then the inner court and its chambers, and lastly the sanctuary, the dimensions of which he calculates with scrupulous care: |And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits; and the sides of the entrance were five cubits on the one side and five cubits on the other side: and he measured the length thereof, forty cubits; and the breadth, twenty cubits| -- and so forth, with a wealth of technical details often difficult to be understood. And as a building so well proportioned should be served by a priesthood worthy of it, the sons of Zadok only were to bear the sacerdotal office, for they alone had preserved their faith unshaken; the other Levites were to fill merely secondary posts, for not only had they shared in the sins of the nation, but they had shown a bad example in practising idolatry. The duties and prerogatives of each one, the tithes and offerings, the sacrifices, the solemn festivals, the preparation of the feasts, -- all was foreseen and prearranged with scrupulous exactitude. Ezekiel was, as we have seen, a priest; the smallest details were as dear to him as the noblest offices of his calling, and the minute ceremonial instructions as to the killing and cooking of the sacrificial animals appeared to him as necessary to the future prosperity of his people as the moral law. Towards the end, however, the imagination of the seer soared above the formalism of the sacrificing priest; he saw in a vision waters issuing out of the very threshold of the divine house, flowing towards the Dead Sea through a forest of fruit trees, |whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail.| The twelve tribes of Israel, alike those of whom a remnant still existed as well as those which at different times had become extinct, were to divide the regenerated land by lot among them -- Dan in the extreme north, Reuben and Judah in the south; and they would unite to found once more, around Mount Sion, that new Jerusalem whose name henceforth was to be Jahveh-shammah, |The Lord is there.|*
* Ezek. xlvii., xlviii. The image of the river seems to be borrowed from the vessel of water of Chaldaean mythology.
The influence of Ezekiel does not seem to have extended beyond a restricted circle of admirers. Untouched by his preaching, many of the exiles still persisted in their worship of the heathen gods; most of these probably became merged in the bulk of the Chaldaean population, and were lost, as far as Israel was concerned, as completely as were the earlier exiles of Ephraim under Tiglath-pileser III. and Sargon. The greater number of the Jews, however, remained faithful to their hopes of future greatness, and applied themselves to discerning in passing events the premonitory signs of deliverance. |Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been before Thee, O Lord.... Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.|* The condition of the people improved after the death of Nebuchadrezzar. Amil-marduk took Jehoiachin out of the prison in which he had languished for thirty years, and treated him with honour:** this was not as yet the restoration that had been promised, but it was the end of the persecution.
* An anonymous prophet, about 570, in Isa. xxvi.17, 20, 21.
** 2 Kings xxv.27-30; cf. Jer. lii.31-34.
A period of court intrigues followed, during which the sceptre of Nebuchadrezzar changed hands four times in less than seven years; then came the accession of the peaceful and devout Nabonidus, the fall of Astyages, and the first victories of Cyrus. Nothing escaped the vigilant eye of the prophets, and they began to proclaim that the time was at hand, then to predict the fall of Babylon, and to depict the barbarians in revolt against her, and Israel released from the yoke by the all-powerful will of the Persians. |Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations before him, and I will loose the loins of kings; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee and make the rugged places plain: I will break in pieces the doors of brass, rend in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I am the Lord which call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My chosen, I have called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.|* Nothing can stand before the victorious prince whom Jahveh leads: |Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.|** |O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldaeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones and grind meal: remove thy veil, strip off the train, uncover the leg, pass through the rivers. They nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen.... Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldaeans: for thou shalt no more be called the lady of kingdoms.|***
* Second Isaiah, in Isa. xlv.1-4.
** Second Isaiah, in Isa. xlvi.1, 2.
*** Second Isaiah, in Isa. xlvii.1-5.
The task which Cyrus had undertaken was not so difficult as we might imagine. Not only was he hailed with delight by the strangers who thronged Babylonia, but the Babylonians themselves were weary of their king, and the majority of them were ready to welcome the Persian who would rid them of him, as in old days they hailed the Assyrian kings who delivered them from their Chaldaean lords. It is possible that towards the end of his reign Nabonidus partly resumed the supreme power;* but anxious for the future, and depending but little on human help, he had sought a more powerful aid at the hands of the gods. He had apparently revived some of the old forgotten cults, and had applied to their use revenues which impoverished the endowment of the prevalent worship of his own time. As he felt the growing danger approach, he remembered those towns of secondary grade -- Uru, Uruk, Larsam, and Eridu -- all of which, lying outside Nebuchadrezzar's scheme of defence, would be sacrificed in the case of an invasion: he had therefore brought away from them the most venerated statues, those in which the spirit of the divinity was more particularly pleased to dwell, and had shut them up in the capital, within the security of its triple rampart.**
* This seems to follow from the part which he plays in the final crisis, as told in the Cylinder of Cyrus and in the Annals.
** The chronicler adds that the gods of Sippar, Kutha, and Borsippa were not taken to Babylon; and indeed, these cities being included within the lines of defence of the great city, their gods were as well defended from the enemy as if they had been in Babylon itself.
This attempt to concentrate the divine powers, accentuating as it did the supremacy of Bel-Marduk over his compeers, was doubtless flattering to his pride and that of his priests, but was ill received by the rest of the sacerdotal class and by the populace. All these divine guests had not only to be lodged, but required to be watched over, decked, fed, and feted, together with their respective temple retinues; and the prestige and honour of the local Bel, as well as his revenues, were likely to suffer in consequence. The clamour of the gods in the celestial heights soon re-echoed throughout the land; the divinities complained of their sojourn at Babylon as of a captivity in E-sagilla; they lamented over the suppression of their daily sacrifices, and Marduk at length took pity on them. He looked upon the countries of Sumir and Akkad, and saw their sanctuaries in ruins and their towns lifeless as corpses; |he cast his eyes over the surrounding regions; he searched them with his glance and sought out a prince, upright, after his own heart, who should take his hands. He proclaimed by name Cyrus, King of Anshan, and he called him by his name to universal sovereignty.| Alike for the people of Babylon and for the exiled Jew, and also doubtless for other stranger-colonies, Cyrus appeared as a deliverer chosen by the gods; his speedy approach was everywhere expected, if not with the same impatience, at least with an almost joyful resignation. His plans were carried into action in the early months of 538, and his habitual good fortune did not forsake him at this decisive moment of his career. The immense citadel raised by Nebuchadrezzar in the midst of his empire, in anticipation of an attack by the Medes, was as yet intact, and the walls rising one behind another, the moats, and the canals and marshes which protected it, had been so well kept up or restored since his time, that their security was absolutely complete; a besieging army could do little harm -- it needed a whole nation in revolt to compass its downfall. A whole nation also was required for its defence, but the Babylonians were not inclined to second the efforts of their sovereign. Nabonidus concentrated his troops at the point most threatened, in the angle comprised near Opis between the Medic wall and the bend of the Tigris, and waited in inaction the commencement of the attack. It is supposed that Cyrus put two bodies of troops in motion: one leaving Susa under his own command, took the usual route of all Blamite invasions in the direction of the confluence of the Tigris and the Diyala; the other commanded by Gobryas, the satrap of Gutium, followed the course of the Adhem or the Diyala, and brought the northern contingents to the rallying-place. From what we know of the facts as a whole, it would appear that the besieging force chose the neighbourhood of the present Bagdad to make a breach in the fortifications. Taking advantage of the months when the rivers were at their lowest, they drew off the water from the Diyala and the Tigris till they so reduced the level that they were able to cross on foot; they then cut their way through the ramparts on the left bank, and rapidly transported the bulk of their forces into the very centre of the enemy's position. The principal body of the Chaldaean troops were still at Opis, cut off from the capital; Cyrus fell upon them, overcame them on the banks of the Zalzallat in the early days of Tammuz, urging forward Gobryas meanwhile upon Babylon itself.* On the 14th of Tammuz, Nabonidus evacuated Sippar, which at once fell into the hands of the Persian outposts; on the 16th Gobryas entered Babylon without striking a blow, and Nabonidus surrendered himself a prisoner.**
* For the strategic interpretation of the events of this campaign I have generally adopted the explanations of Billerbeck. Herodotus' account with regard to the river Gyndes is probably a reminiscence of alterations made in the river-courses at the time of the attack in the direction of Bagdad.
** The Cylinder of Cyrus, 1.17, expressly says so: |Without combat or battle did Marduk make him enter Babylon,| The Annals of Nabonidus confirm this testimony of the official account.
The victorious army had received orders to avoid all excesses which would offend the people; they respected the property of the citizens and of the temples, placed a strong detachment around E-sagilla to protect it from plunder, and no armed soldier was allowed within the enclosure until the king' had determined on the fate of the vanquished. Cyrus arrived after a fortnight had elapsed, on the 3rd of March-esvan, and his first act was one of clemency. He prohibited all pillage, granted mercy to the inhabitants, and entrusted the government of the city to Gobryas. Bel-sharuzur, the son of Nabonidus, remained to be dealt with, and his energetic nature might have been the cause of serious difficulties had he been allowed an opportunity of rallying the last partisans of the dynasty around him. Gobryas set out to attack him, and on the 11th of March-esvan succeeded in surprising and slaying him. With him perished the last hope of the Chaldaeans, and the nobles and towns, still hesitating on what course to pursue, now vied with each other in their haste to tender submission. The means of securing their good will, at all events for the moment, was clearly at hand, and it was used without any delay: their gods were at once restored to them. This exodus extended over nearly two months, during March-esvan and Adar, and on its termination a proclamation of six days of mourning, up to the 3rd of Nisan, was made for the death of Bel-sharuzur, and as an atonement for the faults of Nabonidus, after which, on the 4th of Nisan, the notables of the city were called together in the temple of Nebo to join in the last expiatory ceremonies. Cyrus did not hesitate for a moment to act as Tiglath-pileser III. and most of the Sargonids had done; he |took the hands of Bel,| and proclaimed himself king of the country, but in order to secure the succession, he associated his son Cambyses with himself as King of Babylon. Mesopotamia having been restored to order, the provinces in their turn transferred their allegiance to Persia; |the kings enthroned in their palaces, from the Upper Sea to the Lower, those of Syria and those who dwell in tents, brought their weighty tribute to Babylon and kissed the feet of the suzerain.| Events had followed one another so quickly, and had entailed so little bloodshed, that popular imagination was quite disconcerted: it could not conceive that an empire of such an extent and of so formidable an appearance should have succumbed almost without a battle, and three generations had not elapsed before an entire cycle of legends had gathered round the catastrophe. They related how Cyrus, having set out to make war, with provisions of all kinds for his household, and especially with his usual stores of water from the river Choaspes, the only kind of which he deigned to drink, had reached the banks of the Gyndes. While seeking for a ford, one of the white horses consecrated to the sun sprang into the river, and being overturned by the current, was drowned before it could be rescued. Cyrus regarded this accident as a personal affront, and interrupted his expedition to avenge it. He employed his army during one entire summer in digging three hundred and sixty canals, and thus caused the principal arm of the stream to run dry, and he did not resume his march upon Babylon till the following spring, when the level of the water was low enough to permit of a woman crossing from one bank to the other without wetting her knees. The Babylonians at first attempted to prevent the blockade of the place, but being repulsed in their sorties, they retired within the walls, much to Cyrus's annoyance, for they were provisioned for several years. He therefore undertook to turn the course of the Euphrates into the Bahr-i-Nejif, and having accomplished it, he crept into the centre of the city by the dry bed of the river. If the Babylonians had kept proper guard, the Persians would probably have been surrounded and caught like fish in a net; but on that particular day they were keeping one of their festivals, and continued their dancing and singing till they suddenly found the streets alive with the enemy.
Babylon suffered in no way by her servitude, and far from its being a source of unhappiness to her, she actually rejoiced in it; she was rid of Nabonidus, whose sacrilegious innovations had scandalised her piety, and she possessed in Cyrus a legitimate sovereign since he had |taken the hands of Bel.| It pleased her to believe that she had conquered her victor rather than been conquered by him, and she accommodated herself to her Persian dynasty after the same fashion that she had in turn accustomed herself to Cossaean or Elamite, Ninevite or Chaldaean dynasties in days gone by. Nothing in or around the city was changed, and she remained what she had been since the fall of Assyria, the real capital of the regions situated between the Mediterranean and the Zagros. It seems that none of her subjects -- whether Syrians, Tyrians, Arabs, or Idumaeans -- attempted to revolt against their new master, but passively accepted him, and the Persian dominion extended uncontested as far as the isthmus of Suez; Cyprus even, and such of the Phoenicians as were still dependencies of Egypt, did homage to her without further hesitation. The Jews alone appeared only half satisfied, for the clemency shown by Cyrus to their oppressors disappointed their hopes and the predictions of their prophets. They had sung in anticipation of children killed before their fathers' eyes, of houses pillaged, of women violated, and Babylon, the glory of the empire and the beauty of Chaldaean pride, utterly destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrha when overthrown by Jahveh. |It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And wolves shall cry in their castles, and jackals in the pleasant palaces.|*
* The table of the last kings of Ptolemy and the monuments, is given below: --
[Illustration: 105.jpg TABLE OF THE LAST KINGS OF PTOLEMY]
Cyrus, however, was seated on the throne, and the city of Nebuchadrezzar, unlike that of Sargon and Sennacherib, still continued to play her part in the world's history. The revenge of Jerusalem had not been as complete as that of Samaria, and her sons had to content themselves with obtaining the cessation of their exile. It is impossible to say whether they had contributed to the downfall of Nabonidus otherwise than by the fervency of their prayers, or if they had rendered Cyrus some service either in the course of his preparations or during his short campaign. They may have contemplated taking up arms in his cause, and have been unable to carry the project into execution owing to the rapidity with which events took place. However this may be, he desired to reward them for their good intentions, and in the same year as his victory, he promulgated a solemn edict, in which he granted them permission to return to Judah and to rebuild not only their city, but the temple of their God. The inhabitants of the places where they were living were charged to furnish them with silver, gold, materials, and cattle, which would be needed by those among them who should claim the benefits of the edict; they even had restored to them, by order of the king, what remained in the Babylonian treasury of the vessels of gold and silver which had belonged to the sanctuary of Jahveh. The heads of the community received the favour granted to them from such high quarters, without any enthusiasm. Now that they were free to go, they discovered that they were well off at Babylon. They would have to give up their houses, their fields, their business, their habits of indifference to politics, and brave the dangers of a caravan journey of three or four months' duration, finally encamping in the midst of ruins in an impoverished country, surrounded by hostile and jealous neighbours; such a prospect was not likely to find favour with many, and indeed it was only the priests, the Levites, and the more ardent of the lower classes who welcomed the idea of the return with a touching fervour. The first detachment organised their departure in 536, under the auspices of one of the princes of the royal house, named Shauash-baluzur (Sheshbazzar), a son of Jehoiachin.* It comprised only a small number of families, and contained doubtless a few of the captives of Nebuchadrezzar who in their childhood had seen the temple standing and had been present at its destruction.
* The name which is written Sheshbazzar in the Hebrew text of the Book of Ezra (i.9, 11; v.14, 16) is rendered Sasabalassaros in Lucian's recension of the Septuagint, and this latter form confirms the hypothesis of Hoonacker, which is now universally accepted, that it corresponds to the Babylonian Shamash-abaluzur. It is known that Shamash becomes Shauash in Babylonian; thus Saosdukhinos comes from Shamash-shumukin: similarly Shamash-abaluzur has become Shauash-abaluzur. Imbert has recognised Sheshbazzar, Shauash-abaluzur in the Shenazzar mentioned in 1 Chron. iii.8, as being one of the sons of Jeconiah, and this
identification has been accepted by several recent
historians of Israel. It should be remembered that Shauash- abaluzur and Zerubbabel have long been confounded one with the other.
The returning exiles at first settled in the small towns of Judah and Benjamin, and it was not until seven months after their arrival that they summoned courage to clear the sacred area in order to erect in its midst an altar of sacrifice.*
* The history of this first return from captivity is summarily set forth in Ezra i.; cf. v.13-17; vi.3-5, 15. Its authenticity has been denied: with regard to this point and the questions relating to Jewish history after the exile, the modifications which have been imposed on the original plan of this work have obliged me to suppress much detail in the text and the whole of the bibliography in the notes.
They formed there, in the land of their fathers, a little colony, almost lost among the heathen nations of former times -- Philistines, Idumasans, Moabites, Ammonites, and the settlers implanted at various times in what had been the kingdom of Israel by the sovereigns of Assyria and Chaldaea. Grouped around the Persian governor, who alone was able to protect them from the hatred of their rivals, they had no hope of prospering, or even of maintaining their position, except by exhibiting an unshaken fidelity to their deliverers. It was on this very feeling that Cyrus mainly relied when he granted them permission to return to their native hills, and he was actuated as much by a far-seeing policy as from the promptings of instinctive generosity. It was with satisfaction that he saw in that distant province, lying on the frontier of the only enemy yet left to him in the old world, a small band, devoted perforce to his interests, and whose very existence depended entirely on that of his empire. He no doubt extended the same favour to the other exiles in Chaldaea who demanded it of him, but we do not know how many of them took advantage of the occasion to return to their native countries, and this exodus of the Jews still remains, so far as we know, a unique fact. The administration continued the same as it had been under the Chaldaeans; Aramaean was still the official language in the provincial dependencies, and the only change effected was the placing of Persians at the head of public offices, as in Asia Minor, and allowing them a body of troops to support their authority.*
* The presence of Persian troops in Asia Minor is proved by the passage in Herodotus where he says that Orotes had with him 1000 Persians as his body-guard.
One great state alone remained of all those who had played a prominent part in the history of the East. This was Egypt; and the policy which her rulers had pursued since the development of the Iranian power apparently rendered a struggle with it inevitable. Amasis had taken part in all the coalitions which had as their object the perpetuation of the balance of the powers in Western Asia; he had made a treaty with Croesus, and it is possible that his contingents had fought in the battles before Sardes; Lydia having fallen, he did all in his power to encourage Nabonidus in his resistance. As soon as he found himself face to face with Cyrus, he understood that a collision was imminent, and did his best in preparing to meet it. Even if Cyrus had forgotten the support which had been freely given to his rivals, the wealth of Egypt was in itself sufficient to attract the Persian hordes to her frontiers.
A century later, the Egyptians, looking back on the past with a melancholy retrospection, confessed that |never had the valley been more flourishing or happier than under Amasis; never had the river shown itself more beneficent to the soil, nor the soil more fertile for mankind, and the inhabitated towns might be reckoned at 20,000 in number.| The widespread activity exhibited under Psammetichus II., and Apries, was redoubled under the usurper, and the quarries of Turah,* Silsileh,** Assuan, and even those of Hammamat, were worked as in the palmy days of the Theban dynasties. The island of Philae, whose position just below the cataract attracted to it the attention of the military engineers, was carefully fortified and a temple built upon it, the materials of which were used later on in the masonry of the sanctuary of Ptolemaic times. Thebes exhibited a certain outburst of vitality under the impulse given by Ankhnasnofiribri and by Shashonqu, the governor of her palace;*** two small chapels, built in the centre of the town, still witness to the queen's devotion to Amon, of whom she was the priestess. Wealthy private individuals did their best to emulate their sovereign's example, and made for themselves at Shekh Abd-el-Gurnah and at Assassif those rock-hewn tombs which rival those of the best periods in their extent and the beauty of their bas-reliefs.****
* A stele of his forty-fourth year still exists in the quarries of the Mokattam.
** According to Herodotus, it was from the quarries of Elephantine that Amasis caused to be brought the largest blocks which he used in the building of Sais.
*** Her tomb still exists at Deir el-Medineh, and the sarcophagus, taken from the tomb in 1833, is now in the British Museum.
**** The most important of these tombs is that of Petenit, the father of Shashonqu, who was associated with
Ankhnasnofiribri in the government of Thebes.
Most of the cities of the Said were in such a state of decadence that it was no longer possible to restore to them their former prosperity, but Abydos occupied too important a place in the beliefs connected with the future world, and attracted too many pilgrims, to permit of its being neglected. The whole of its ancient necropolis had been rifled by thieves during the preceding centuries, and the monuments were nearly as much buried by sand as in our own times.
[Illustration: 111.jpg AN OSIRIS STRETCHED FULL LENGTH ON THE GROUND]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Mariette. The monument is a statuette measuring only 15 centimetres in length; it has been reproduced to give an idea of the probable form of the statue seen by Herodotus.
The dismantled fortress now known as the Shunet ez-Zebib served as the cemetery for the ibises of Thoth, and for the stillborn children of the sacred singing-women, while the two Memnonia of Seti and Ramses, now abandoned by their priests, had become mere objects of respectful curiosity, on which devout Egyptians or passing travellers -- Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Cypriots, Carians, and Greeks from Ionia and the isles -- came to carve their names.*
* The position occupied by the graffiti on certain portions of the walls show that in these places in the temple of Seti there was already a layer of sand varying from one to three metres in depth.
Amasis confided the work of general restoration to one of the principal personages of his court, Pefzaaunit, Prince of Sais, who devoted his attention chiefly to two buildings -- the great sanctuary of Osiris, which was put into good condition throughout, and the very ancient necropolis of Omm-el-Graab, where lay hidden the alquhah, one of the sepulchres of the god; he restored the naos, the table of offerings, the barques, and the temple furniture, and provided for the sacred patrimony by an endowment of fields, vineyards, palm groves, and revenues, so as to ensure to the sanctuary offerings in perpetuity. It was a complete architectural resurrection. The nomes of Middle Egypt, which had suffered considerably during the Ethiopian and Assyrian wars, had some chance of prosperity now that their lords were relieved from the necessity of constantly fighting for some fresh pretender. Horu, son of Psam-metichus, Prince of the Oleander nome, rebuilt the ancient sanctuary of Harshafaitu at Heracleopolis, and endowed it with a munificence which rivalled that of Pefzaaunifc at Abydos. The king himself devoted his resources chiefly to works at Memphis and in the Delta. He founded a temple of Isis at Memphis, which Herodotus described as extending over an immense area and being well worth seeing; unfortunately nothing now remains of it, nor of the recumbent colossus, sixty feet in length, which the king placed before the court of Phtah, nor of the two gigantic statues which he raised in front of the temple, one on each side of the door.
[Illustration: 112.jpg THE TWO GODDESSES OF LAW; ANI ADORING OSIRIS] THE TRIAL OF THE CONSCIENCE; TOTH AND THE FEATHER OF THE LAW.
Besides these architectural works, Amasis invested the funerary ceremonies of the Apis-bulls with a magnificence rarely seen before his time, and the official stelae which he carved to the memory of the animals who died in his reign exhibit a perfection of style quite unusual. His labours at Memphis, however, were eclipsed by the admirable work which he accomplished at Sais. The propylae which he added to the temple of Nit |surpassed most other buildings of the same kind, as much by their height and extent, as by the size and quality of the materials;| he had, moreover, embellished them by a fine colonnade, and made an approach to them by an avenue of sphinxes.
[Illustration: 113.jpg AMASIS IN ADORATION BEFORE THE BULL APIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken in the Louvre.
In other parts of the same building were to be seen two superb obelisks, a recumbent figure similar to that at Memphis, and a monolithic naos of rose granite brought from the quarries of Elephantine. Amasis had a special predilection for this kind of monument. That which he erected at Thmuis is nearly twenty-three feet in height,* and the Louvre contains another example, which though smaller still excites the admiration of the modern visitor.**
* The exact measurements are 23 1/2 ft. in height, 12 ft.9 ins. in width, and 10 ft.6 ins. in depth. The naos of Saft el-Hinneh must have been smaller, but it is impossible to determine its exact dimensions.
** It measures 9 ft.7 ins. in height, 3 ft.1 in. in width, and 3 ft.8 ins.
[Illustration: 114.jpg THE NAOS OF AMASIS AT THMUIS]
Drawn by Boudier, from the sketch of Burton.
The naos of Sais, which amazed Herodotus, was much larger than either of the two already mentioned, or, indeed, than any known example. Tradition states that it took two thousand boatmen three years to convey it down from the first cataract. It measured nearly thirty feet high in the interior, twenty-four feet in depth, and twelve feet in breadth; even when hollowed out to contain the emblem of the god, it still weighed nearly 500,000 kilograms. It never reached its appointed place in the sanctuary. The story goes that |the architect, at the moment when the monument had been moved as far as a certain spot in the temple, heaved a sigh, oppressed with the thought of the time expended on its transport and weary of the arduous work. Amasis overheard the sigh, and taking it as an omen, he commanded that the block should be dragged no further. Others relate that one of the overseers in charge of the work was crushed to death by the monument, and for this reason it was left standing on the spot,| where for centuries succeeding generations came to contemplate it.*
* The measurements given by Herodotus are so different from those of any naos as yet discovered, that I follow Kenrick in thinking that Herodotus saw the monument of Amasis lying on its side, and that he took for the height what was really the width in depth. It had been erected in the nome of Athribis, and afterwards taken to Alexandria about the Ptolemaic era; it was discovered under water in one of the ports of the town at the beginning of this century, and Drovetti, who recovered it, gave it to the Museum of the Louvre in 1825.
Amasis, in devoting his revenues to such magnificent works, fully shared the spirit of the older Pharaohs, and his labours were nattering to the national vanity, even though many lives were sacrificed in their accomplishment; but the glory which they reflected on Egypt did not have the effect of removing the unpopularity in which Tie was personally held. The revolution which overthrew Apries had been provoked by the hatred of the native party towards the foreigners; he himself had been the instrument by which it had been accomplished, and it would have been only natural that, having achieved a triumph in spite of the Greeks and the mercenaries, he should have wished to be revenged on them, and have expelled them from his dominions. But, as a fact, nothing of the kind took place, and Amasis, once crowned, forgot the wrongs he had suffered as an aspirant to the royal dignity; no sooner was he firmly seated on the throne, than he recalled the strangers, and showed that he had only friendly intentions with regard to them. His predecessors had received them into favour, he, in fact, showed a perfect infatuation for them, and became as complete a Greek as it was possible for an Egyptian to be. His first care had been to make a treaty with the Dorians of Oyrene, and he displayed so much tact in dealing with them, that they forgave him for the skirmish of Irasa, and invited him to act as arbitrator in their dissensions. A certain Arkesilas II. had recently succeeded the Battos who had defeated the Egyptian troops, but his suspicious temper had obliged his brothers to separate themselves from him, and they had founded further westwards the independent city of Barca. On his threatening to evict them, they sent a body of Libyans against him. Fighting ensued, and he was beaten close to the town of Leukon. He lost 7000 hoplites in the engagement, and the disaster aroused so much ill-feeling against him that Laarchos, another of his brothers, strangled him. Laarchos succeeded him amid the acclamations of the soldiery; but not long after, Eryxo and Polyarchos, the wife and brother-in-law of his victim, surprised and assassinated him in his turn. The partisans of Laarchos then had recourse to the Pharaoh, who showed himself disposed to send them help; but his preparations were suspended owing to the death of his mother. Polyarchos repaired to Egypt before the royal mourning was ended, and pleaded his cause with such urgency that he won over the king to his side; he obtained the royal investiture for his sister's child, who was still a minor, Battos III., the lame, and thus placed Oyrene in a sort of vassalage to the Egyptian crown.*
* Herodotus narrates these events without mentioning Amasis, and Nicolas of Damascus adopted Herodotus' account with certain modifications taken from other sources. The intervention of Amasis is mentioned only by Plutarch and by Polyaanus; but the record of it had been handed down to them by some more ancient author -- perhaps by Akesandros; or perhaps, in the first instance, by Hellanicos of Lesbos, who gave a somewhat detailed account of certain points in Egyptian history. The passage of Herodotus is also found incorporated in accounts of Cyrenian origin: his informants were interested in recalling deeds which reflected glory on their country, like the defeat of Apries at Irasa, but not in the memory of events so humiliating for them as the sovereign intervention of Pharaoh only a few years after this victory. And besides, the merely pacific success which Amasis achieved was not of a nature to leave a profound mark on the Egyptian mind. It is thus easy to explain how it was that Herodotus makes no allusion to the part played by Egypt in this affair.
The ties which connected the two courts were subsequently drawn closer by marriage; partly from policy and partly from a whim, Amasis espoused a Cyrenian woman named Ladike, the daughter, according to some, of Arkesilas or of Battos, according to others, of a wealthy private individual named Kritobulos.* The Greeks of Europe and Asia Minor fared no less to their own satisfaction at his hand than their compatriots in Africa; following the example of his ally Croesus, he entered into relations with their oracles on several occasions, and sent them magnificent presents. The temple of Delphi having been burnt down in 548, the Athenian family of the Alcmaeonides undertook to rebuild it from the ground for the sum of three hundred talents, of which one-fourth was to be furnished by the Delphians. When these, being too poor to pay the sum out of their own resources, made an appeal to the generosity of other friendly powers, Amasis graciously offered them a thousand talents of Egyptian alum, then esteemed the most precious of all others. Alum was employed in dyeing, and was an expensive commodity in the markets of Europe; the citizens of Delphi were all the more sensible of Pharaoh's generosity, since the united Greeks of the Nile valley contributed only twenty minae of the same mineral as their quota. Amasis erected at Cyrene a statue of his wife Ladike, and another of the goddess Neit, gilded from head to foot, and to these he added his own portrait, probably painted on a wooden panel.**
* The very fact of the marriage is considered by Wiedemann as a pure legend, but there is nothing against its
authenticity; the curious story of the relations of the woman with Amasis told by the Cyrenian commentators is the only part which need be rejected.
** The text of Herodotus can only mean a painted panel similar to those which have been found on the mummies of the Graeco-Roman era in the Fayum.
He gave to Athene of Lindos two stone statues and a corselet of linen of marvellous fineness;* and Hera of Samos received two wooden statues, which a century later Herodotus found still intact. The Greeks flocked to Egypt from all quarters of the world in such considerable numbers that the laws relating to them had to be remodelled in order to avoid conflicts with the natives.
* It seems that one of these statues is that which, after being taken to Constantinople, was destroyed in a fire in 476 A.D. Fragments of the corselet still existed in the first century of our era, but inquisitive persons used to tear off pieces to see for themselves whether, as Herodotus assures us, each thread was composed of three hundred and sixty-five strands, every one visible with the naked eye.
The townships founded a century earlier along the Pelusiac arm of the Nile had increased still further since the time of Necho, and to their activity was attributable the remarkable prosperity of the surrounding region. But the position which they occupied on the most exposed side of Egypt was regarded as permanently endangering the security of the country: her liberty would be imperilled should they revolt during a war with the neighbouring empire, and hand over the line of defence which was garrisoned by them to the invader. Amasis therefore dispossessed their inhabitants, and transferred them to Memphis and its environs. The change benefited him in two ways, for, while securing himself from possible treason, he gained a faithful guard for himself in the event of risings taking place in his turbulent capital. While he thus distributed these colonists of ancient standing to his best interests, he placed those of quite recent date in the part of the Delta furthest removed from Asia, where surveillance was most easy, in the triangle, namely, lying to the west of Sais, between the Canopic branch of the Nile, the mountains, and the sea-coast. The Milesians had established here some time previously, on a canal connected with the main arm of the river, the factory of Naucratis, which long remained in obscurity, but suddenly developed at the beginning of the XXVIth dynasty, when Sais became the favourite residence of the Pharaohs. This town Amasis made over to the Greeks so that they might make it the commercial and religious centre of their communities in Egypt.
[Illustration: 120.jpg THE PRESENT SITE OF NAUCRATIS]
Reduced by Faucher-Gudin from the plan published by Petrie. The site of the Hellenion is marked A, the modern Arab village B, the temenos of Hera and Apollo E, that of the Dioskuri F, and that of Aphrodite G.
Temples already existed there, those of Apollo and Aphrodite, together with all the political and religious institutions indispensable to the constitution of an Hellenic city; but the influx of immigrants was so large and rapid, that, after the lapse of a few years, the entire internal organism and external aspect of the city were metamorphosed. New buildings rose from the ground with incredible speed -- the little temple of the Dioskuri, the protectors of the sailor, the temple of the Samian Hera, that of Zeus of AEgina, and that of Athene;* ere long the great temenos, the Hellenion, was erected at the public expense by nine AEolian, Ionian, and Dorian towns of Asia Minor, to serve as a place of assembly for their countrymen, as a storehouse, as a sanctuary, and, if need be, even as a refuge and fortress, so great was its area and so thick its walls.**
* The temple of Athene, the Nit of the Saite nome, is as yet known only by an inscription in Pctrie.
** The site has been rediscovered by Petrie at the southern extremity of and almost outside the town; the walls were about 48 feet thick and 39 feet high, and the rectangular area enclosed by them could easily contain fifty thousand men.
It was not possible for the constitution of Naucratis to be very homogeneous, when a score of different elements assisted in its composition. It appears to have been a compromise between the institutions of the Dorians and those of the Ionians. Its supreme magistrates were called timuchi, but their length of office and functions are alike unknown to us. The inspectors of the emporia and markets could be elected only by the citizens of the nine towns, and it is certain that the chief authority was not entirely in the hands either of the timuchi or the inspectors; perhaps each quarter of the town had its council taken from among the oldest residents. A prytanasum was open to all comers where assemblies and banquets were held on feast-days; here were celebrated at the public expense the festivals of Dionysos and Apollo Komasos. Amasis made the city a free port, accessible at all times to whoever should present themselves with peaceable intent, and the privileges which he granted naturally brought about the closing of all the other seaports of Egypt. When a Greek ship, pursued by pirates, buffeted by storms, or disabled by an accident at sea, ran ashore at some prohibited spot on the coast, the captain had to appear before the nearest magistrate, in order to swear that he had not violated the law wilfully, but from the force of circumstances. If his excuse appeared reasonable, he was permitted to make his way to the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile; but when the state of the wind or tide did not allow of his departure, his cargo was transferred to boats of the locality, and sent to the Hellenic settlement by the canals of the Delta. This provision of the law brought prosperity to Naucratis; the whole of the commerce of Egypt with the Greek world passed through her docks, and in a few years she became one of the wealthiest emporia of the Mediterranean. The inhabitants soon overflowed the surrounding country, and covered it with villas and townships. Such merchants as refused to submit to the rule of their own countrymen found a home in some other part of the valley which suited them, and even Upper Egypt and the Libyan desert were subject to their pacific inroads. The Milesians established depots in the ancient city of Abydos;* the Cypriots and Lesbians, and the people of Ephesus, Chios, and Samos, were scattered over the islands formed by the network of canals and arms of the Nile, and delighted in giving them the names of their respective countries;** Greeks of diverse origin settled themselves at Neapolis, not far from Panopolis; and the Samians belonging to the AEschrionian tribe penetrated as far as the Great Oasis; in fact, there was scarcely a village where Hellenic traders were not found, like the bakals of to-day, selling wine, perfumes, oil, and salted provisions to the natives, practising usury in all its forms, and averse from no means of enriching themselves as rapidly as possible.
* In Stephen of Byzantium the name of the town is said to be derived from that of the Milesian Abydos who founded it, probably on the testimony of Aristagoras. Letronne has seen that the historian meant a factory established by the Milesians probably in the reign of Amasis, at the terminus of the route leading to the Great Oasis.
** The compiler confines himself to stating that there were in the Nile islands called Ephesus, Chios, Samos, Lesbos, Cyprus, and so on; the explanation I have given in the text accounts for this curious fact quite simply.
Those who returned to their mother-country carried thither strange tales, which aroused the curiosity and cupidity of their fellow-citizens; and philosophers, merchants, and soldiers alike set out for the land of wonders in pursuit of knowledge, wealth, or adventures. Amasis, ever alert upon his Asiatic frontier, and always anxious to strengthen himself in that quarter against a Chaldaean or Persian invasion, welcomed them with open arms: those who remained in the country obtained employment about his person, while such as left it not to return, carried away with them the memory of his kindly treatment, and secured for him in Hellas alliances of which he might one day stand in need. The conduct of Amasis was politic, but it aroused the ill-feeling of his subjects against him. Like the Jews under Hezekiah, the Babylonians under Nabonidus, and all other decadent races threatened by ruin, they attributed their decline, not to their own vices, but to the machinations of an angry god, and they looked on favours granted to strangers as a sacrilege. Had not the Greeks brought their divinities with them? Did they not pervert the simple country-folk, so that they associated the Greek religion with that of their own country? Money was scarce; Amasis had been obliged to debit the rations and pay of his mercenaries to the accounts of the most venerated Egyptian temples -- those of Sais, Heliopolis, Bubastis, and Memphis; and each of these institutions had to rebate so much per cent. on their annual revenues in favour of the barbarians, and hand over to them considerable quantities of corn, cattle, poultry, stuffs, woods, perfumes, and objects of all kinds. The priests were loud in their indignation, the echo of which still rang in the ears of the faithful some centuries later, and the lower classes making common cause with their priests, a spirit of hatred was roused among the populace as bitter as that which had previously caused the downfall of Apries. As the fear of the army prevented this feeling from manifesting itself in a revolt, it found expression in the secret calumnies which were circulated against the king, and misrepresented the motives of all his actions. Scores of malicious stories were repeated vilifying his character. It was stated that before his accession he was much addicted to eating and drinking, but that, suffering from want of money, he had not hesitated in procuring what he wished for by all sorts of means, the most honest of which had been secret theft. When made king, he had several times given way to intoxication to such an extent as to be incapable of attending to public business; his ministers were then obliged to relate moral tales to him to bring him to a state of reason. Many persons having taunted him with his low extraction, he had caused a statue of a divinity to be made out of a gold basin in which he was accustomed to wash his feet, and he had exposed it to the adoration of the faithful. When it had been worshipped by them for some time, he revealed the origin of the idol, and added |that it had been with himself as with the foot-pan.... If he were a private person formerly, yet now he had come to be their king, and so he bade them honour and reverence him.| Towards the middle and end of his reign he was as much detested as he had been beloved at the outset.
He had, notwithstanding, so effectively armed Egypt that the Persians had not ventured to risk a collision with her immediately after their conquest of Babylon. Cyrus had spent ten years in compassing the downfall of Nabonidus, and, calculating that that of Amasis would require no less a period of time, he set methodically to work on the organisation of his recently acquired territory; the cities of Phoenicia acknowledged him as their suzerain, and furnished him with what had hitherto been a coveted acquisition, a fleet. These preliminaries had apparently been already accomplished, when the movements of the barbarians suddenly made his presence in the far East imperative. He hurried thither, and was mysteriously lost to sight (529). Tradition accounts for his death in several ways. If Xenophon is to be credited, he died peaceably on his bed, surrounded by his children, and edifying those present by his wisdom and his almost superhuman resignation.*
* A similar legend, but later in date, told how Cyrus, when a hundred years old, asked one day to see his friends. He was told that his son had had them all put to death: his grief at the cruelty of Cambyses caused his death in a few days.
Berosus tells us that he was killed in a campaign against the Daliae; Ctesias states that, living been wounded in a skirmish with the AEerbikes, one of the savage tribes of Bactriana, he succumbed to his injuries three days after the engagement. According to the worthy Herodotus, he asked the hand of Tomyris, Queen of the Massagetse, in marriage, and was refused with disdain. He declared war against her to avenge his wounded vanity, set out to fight with her beyond the Araxes, in the steppes of Turkestan, defeated the advance-guard of cavalry, and took prisoner the heir to the crown, Spargapises, who thereupon ran himself through with his sword. |Then Tomyris collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him (Cyrus) battle.| Of all the combats in which barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest. The following, as I understand, was the manner of it: -- First, the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other; then, when their quivers were empty, they closed and fought hand to hand with lances and daggers; and thus they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground. At length the Massagetse prevailed. The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed. Search was made among the slain by order of the queen for the body of Cyrus; and when it was found, she took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corse, |I live and have conquered thee in fight, and yet by thee am I ruined, for thou tookest my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give thee thy fill of blood.| The engagement was not as serious as the legend would have us believe, and the growth of the Persian power was in no way affected, by it. It cost Cyrus his life, but his army experienced no serious disaster, and his men took the king's body and brought it to Pasargadae. He had a palace there, the remains of which can still be seen on the plain of Murgab. The edifice was unpretentious, built upon a rectangular plan, with two porches of four columns on the longer sides, a lateral chamber at each of the four angles, and a hypostyle hall in the centre, divided lengthways by two rows of columns which supported the roof. The walls were decorated with bas-reliefs, and wherever the inscriptions have not been destroyed, we can read in cuneiform characters in the three languages which thenceforward formed the official means of communication of the empire -- Persian, Medic, and Chaldaean -- the name, title, and family of the royal occupant. Cyrus himself is represented in a standing posture on the pilasters, wearing a costume in which Egyptian and Assyrian features are curiously combined. He is clothed from neck to ankle in the close-fitting fringed tunic of the Babylonian and Mnevite sovereigns; his feet are covered with laced boots, while four great wings, emblems of the supreme power, overshadow his shoulders and loins, two of them raised in the air, the others pointing to the earth; he wears on his head the Egyptian skull-cap, from which rises one of the most complicated head-dresses of the royal wardrobe of the Pharaohs. The monarch raises his right hand with the gesture of a man speaking to an assembled people, and as if repeating the legend traced above his image: |I am Cyrus, the king, the Achaemenian.| He was buried not far off, in the monumental tomb which he had probably built for himself in a square enclosure, having a portico on three of its sides; a small chamber, with a ridge roof, rises from a base composed of six receding steps, so arranged as to appear of unequal height.
[Illustration: 128.jpg CYRUS THE ACHAEMENIAN]
Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph by Dieulafoy.
The doorway is narrow, and so low that a man of medium statue finds some difficulty in entering. It is surmounted by a hollow moulding, quite Egyptian in style, and was closed by a two-leaved stone door. The golden coffin rested on a couch of the same metal, covered with precious stuffs; and a circular table, laden with drinking-vessels and ornaments enriched with precious stones, completed the furniture of the chamber. The body of the conqueror remained undisturbed on this spot for two centuries under the care of the priests; but while Alexander was waging war on the Indian frontier, the Greek officers, to whom he had entrusted the government of Persia proper, allowed themselves to be tempted by the enormous wealth which the funerary chapel was supposed to contain.
[Illustration: 129.jpg THE TOMB OP CYRUS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the heliogravure of Dieulafoy.
They opened the coffin, broke the couch and the table, and finding them too heavy to carry away easily, they contented themselves with stealing the drinking-vessels and jewels. Alexander on his return visited the place, and caused the entrance to be closed with a slight wall of masonry; he intended to restore the monument to its former splendour, but he himself perished shortly after, and what remained of the contents probably soon disappeared. After the death of Cyrus, popular imagination, drawing on the inexhaustible materials furnished by his adventurous career, seemed to delight in making him the ideal of all a monarch should be; they attributed to him every virtue -- gentleness, bravery, moderation, justice, and wisdom. There is no reason to doubt that he possessed the qualities of a good general -- activity, energy, and courage, together with the astuteness and the duplicity so necessary to success in Asiatic conquest -- but he does not appear to have possessed in the same degree the gifts of a great administrator. He made no changes in the system of government which from the time of Tiglath-pileser III. onwards had obtained among all Oriental sovereigns; he placed satraps over the towns and countries of recent acquisition, at Sardes and Babylon, in Syria and Palestine, but without clearly defining their functions or subjecting them to a supervision sufficiently strict to ensure the faithful performance of their duties. He believed that he was destined to found a single empire in which all the ancient empires were to be merged, and he all but carried his task to a successful close: Egypt alone remained to be conquered when he passed away.
His wife Kassandane, a daughter of Pharnaspes, and an Achaemenian like himself, had borne him five children; two sons, Cambyses* and Smerdis,** and three daughters, Atossa, Roxana, and Artystone.***
* The Persian form of the name rendered Kambyses by the Greeks was Kabuziya or Kambuziya. Herodotus calls him the son of Kassandane, and the tradition which he has preserved is certainly authentic. Ctesias has erroneously stated that his mother was Amytis, the daughter of Astyages, and Dinon, also erroneously, the Egyptian women Nitetis; Diodorus Siculus and Strabo make him the son of Meroe.
** The original form was Bardiya or Barziya, |the laudable,| and the first Greek transcript known, in AEschylus, is Mardos, or, in the scholiasts on the passage, Merdias, which has been corrupted into Marphios by Hellanikos and into Merges by Pompeius Trogus. The form Smerdis in Herodotus, and in the historians who follow him, is the result of a mistaken assimilation of the Persian name with the purely Greek one of Smerdis or Smerdies.
*** Herodotus says that Atossa was the daughter of
Kassandane, and the position which she held during three reigns shows that she must have been so; Justi, however, calls her the daughter of Amytis. A second daughter is mentioned by Herodotus, the one whom Cambyses killed in Egypt by a kick; he gives her no name, but she is probably the same as the Roxana who according to Ctesias bore a headless child. The youngest, Artystone, was the favourite wife of Darius. Josephus speaks of a fourth daughter of Cyrus called Meroe, but without saying who was the mother of this princess.
Cambyses was probably born about 558, soon after his father's accession, and he was his legitimate successor, according to the Persian custom which assigned the crown to the eldest of the sons born in the purple. He had been associated, as we have seen, in the Babylonian regal power immediately after the victory over Nabonidus, and on the eve of his departure for the fatal campaign against the Massagetse his father, again in accordance with the Persian law, had appointed him regent. A later tradition, preserved by Ctesias, relates that on this occasion the territory had been divided between the two sons: Smerdis, here called Tanyoxarkes, having received as his share Bactriana, the Khoramnians, the Parthians, and the Carmanians, under the suzerainty of his brother. Cambyses, it is clear, inherited the whole empire, but intrigues gathered round Smerdis, and revolts broke out in the provinces, incited, so it was said, whether rightly or wrongly, by his partisans.* The new king was possessed of a violent, merciless temper, and the Persians subsequently emphasised the fact by saying that Cyrus had been a father to them, Cambyses a master. The rebellions were repressed with a vigorous hand, and finally Smerdis disappeared by royal order, and the secret of his fate was so well kept, that it was believed, even by his mother and sisters, that he was merely imprisoned in some obscure Median fortress.**
* Herodotus speaks of peoples subdued by Cambyses in Asia, and this allusion can only refer to a revolt occurring after the death of Cyrus, before the Egyptian expedition; these troubles are explicitly recorded in Xenophon.
** The inscription of Behistun says distinctly that Cambyses had his brother Bardiya put to death before the Egyptian expedition; on the other hand, Herodotus makes the murder occur during the Egyptian expedition and Ctesias after this expedition. Ctesias' version of the affair adds that Cambyses, the better to dissimulate his crime, ordered the murderer Sphendadates to pass himself off as Tanyoxarkes, as there was a great resemblance between the two: Sphendadates -- the historian goes on to say -- was exiled to Bactriana, and it was not until five years afterwards that the mother of the two princes heard of the murder and of the
substitution. These additions to the story are subsequent developments suggested by the traditional account of the Pseudo-Smerdis. In recent times several authorities have expressed the opinion that all that is told us of the murder of Smerdis and about the Pseudo-Smerdis is merely a legend, invented by Darius or those about him in order to justify his usurpation in the eyes of the people: the Pseudo-Smerdis would be Smerdis himself, who revolted against Cambyses, and was then, after he had reigned a few months, assassinated by Darius. Winckler acknowledges |that certainty is impossible in such a case;| and, in reality, all ancient tradition is against his hypothesis, and it is best to accept Herodotus' account, with all its contradictions, until contemporaneous documents enable us to decide what to accept and what to reject in it.
The ground being cleared of his rival, and affairs on the Scythian frontier reduced to order, Cambyses took up the projects against Egypt at the exact point at which his predecessor had left them. Amasis, who for ten years had been expecting an attack, had taken every precaution in his power against it, and had once more patiently begun to make overtures of alliance with the Hellenic cities; those on the European continent did not feel themselves so seriously menaced as to consider it to their interest to furnish him with any assistance, but the Greeks of the independent islands, with their chief, Poly crates, tyrant of Samos, received his advances with alacrity. Polycrates had at his disposal a considerable fleet, the finest hitherto seen in the waters of the AEgean, and this, combined with the Egyptian navy, was not any too large a force to protect the coasts of the Delta, now that the Persians had at their disposition not only the vessels of the AEolian and Ionian cities, but those of Phoenicia and Cyprus. A treaty was concluded, bringing about an exchange of presents and amenities between the two princes which lasted as long as peace prevailed, but was ruptured at the critical moment by the action of Polycrates, though not actually through his own fault. The aristocratic party, whose chiefs were always secretly plotting his overthrow, had given their adherence to the Persians, and their conduct became so threatening about the time of the death of Cyras, that Polycrates had to break his engagements with Egypt in order to avert a catastrophe.*
* Herodotus laid the blame for the breach of the treaty to the King of Egypt, and attributed to his fear of the constant good fortune of Polycrates. The lattor's accession to power is fixed at about the year 540 by some, by others in the year 537, or in the year 533-2; his negotiations with Amasis must be placed somewhere during the last fifteen years of the Pharaoh.
He made a treaty with the Persian king, and sent a squadron of forty galleys to join the fleet then being equipped in the Phoenician ports.*
* Herodotus records two opposing traditions: one that the Samians joined in the Egyptian campaign, the other that they went only as far as the neighbourhood of Karpathos.
Amasis, therefore, when war at last broke out, found himself left to face the enemy alone. The struggle was inevitable, and all the inhabitants of the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean had long foreseen its coming. Without taking into consideration the danger to which the Persian empire and its Syrian provinces were exposed by the proximity of a strong and able power such as Egypt, the hardy and warlike character of Cambyses would naturally have prompted him to make an attempt to achieve what his predecessors, the warrior-kings of Nineveh and Babylon, had always failed to accomplish successfully. Policy ruled his line of action, and was sufficient to explain it, but popular imagination sought other than the very natural causes which had brought the most ancient and most recent of the great empires of the world into opposition; romantic reasons were therefore invented to account for the great drama which was being enacted, and the details supplied varied considerably, according as the tradition was current in Asia or Africa. It was said that a physician lent to Cyrus by Amasis, to treat him for an affection of the eyes, was the cause of all the evil. The unfortunate man, detained at Susa and chafing at his exile, was said to have advised Cambyses to ask for the daughter of Pharaoh in marriage, hoping either that Amasis would grant the request, and be dishonoured in the eyes of his subjects for having degraded the solar race by a union with a barbarian, or that he would boldly refuse, and thus arouse the hatred of the Persians against himself. Amasis, after a slight hesitation, substituted Nitetis, a daughter of Apries, for his own child. It happened that one day in sport Cambyses addressed the princess by the name of her supposed father, whereupon she said, |I perceive, O king, that you have no suspicion of the way in which you have been deceived by Amasis; he took me, and having dressed me up as his own daughter, sent me to you. In reality I am the daughter of Apries, who was his lord and master until the day that he revolted, and, in concert with the rest of the Egyptians, put his sovereign to death.| The deceit which Cambyses thus discovered had been put upon him irritated him so greatly as to induce him to turn his arms against Egypt. So ran the Persian account of the tale, but on the banks of the Nile matters were explained otherwise. Here it was said that it was to Cyrus himself that Nitetis had been married, and that she had borne Cambyses to him; the conquest had thus been merely a revenge of the legitimate heirs of Psammetichus upon the usurper, and Cambyses had ascended the throne less as a conqueror than as a Pharaoh of the line of Apries. It was by this childish fiction that the Egyptians in their decadence consoled themselves before the stranger for their loss of power. Always proud of their ancient prowess, but incapable of imitating the deeds of their forefathers, they none the less pretended that they could neither be vanquished nor ruled except by one of themselves, and the story of Nitetis afforded complete satisfaction to their vanity. If Cambyses were born of a solar princess, Persia could not be said to have imposed a barbarian king upon Egypt, but, on the contrary, that Egypt had cleverly foisted her Pharaoh upon Persia, and through Persia upon half the universe.
One obstacle still separated the two foes -- the desert and the marshes of the Delta. The distance between the outposts of Pelusium and the fortress of AEnysos* on the Syrian frontier was scarcely fifty-six miles, and could be crossed by an army in less than ten days.** Formerly the width of this strip of desert had been less, but the Assyrians, and after them the Chaldaeans, had vied with each other in laying waste the country, and the absence of any settled population now rendered the transit difficult. Cambyses had his head-quarters at Gaza, at the extreme limit of his own dominions,*** but he was at a loss how to face this solitary region without incurring the risk of seeing half his men buried beneath its sands, and his uncertainty was delaying his departure when a stroke of fortune relieved him from his difficulty.
* The AEnysos of Herodotus is now Khan Yunes.
** In 1799, Napoleon's army left Kattiyeh on the 18th of Pluviose, and was at Gaza on the 7th of Ventose, after remaining from the 21st to the 30th of Pluviose before El- Arish besieging that place.
*** This seems to follow from the tradition, according to which Cambyses left his treasures at Gaza during the Egyptian campaign, and the town was thence called Gaza, |the treasury.| The etymology is false, but the fact that suggested it is probably correct, considering the situation of Gaza and the part it must necessarily play in an invasion of Egypt.
Phanes of Halicarnassus, one of the mercenaries in the service of Egypt, a man of shrewd judgment and an able soldier, fell out with Amasis for some unknown reason, and left him to offer his services to his rival. This was a serious loss for Egypt, since Phanes possessed considerable authority over the mercenaries, and was better versed in Egyptian affairs than any other person. He was pursued and taken within sight of the Lycian coast, but he treated his captors to wine and escaped from them while they were intoxicated. He placed Cambyses in communication with the shekh of the scattered tribes between Syria and the Delta. The Arab undertook to furnish the Persian king with guides, as one of his predecessors had done in years gone by for Esar-haddon, and to station relays of camels laden with water along the route that the invading army was to follow. Having taken these precautions, Cambyses entrusted the cares of government and the regulation of his household to Oropastes,* one of the Persian magi, and gave the order to march forward.
* Herodotus calls this individual Patizeithes, and Dionysius of Miletus, who lived a little before Herodotus, gives Panzythes as a variant of this name: the variant passed into the Syncellus as Pauzythes, but the original form
Patikhshayathiya is a title signifying viceroy, regent, or minister, answering to the modern Persian Padishah: Herodotus, or the author he quotes, has taken the name of the office for that of the individual. On the other hand, Pompeius Trogus, who drew his information from good sources, mentions, side by side with Cometes or Gaumata, his brother Oropastes, whose name Ahura-upashta is quite correct, and may mean, Him whom Ahura helps. It is generally admitted that Pompeius Trogus, or rather Justin, has inverted the parts they played, and that his Cometes is the Pseudo- Smerdis, and not, as he says, Oropastes; it was, then, the latter who was the usurper's brother, and it is his name of Oropastes which should be substituted for that of the Patizeithes of Herodotus.
[Illustration: 138.jpg Psammetichus III. ]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the original in the Louvre.
On arriving at Pelusium, he learned that his adversary no longer existed. Amasis had died after a short illness, and was succeeded by his son Psammetichus III.
This change of command, at the most critical moment, was almost in itself, a disaster. Amasis, with his consummate experience of men and things, his intimate knowledge of the resources of Egypt, his talents as a soldier and a general, his personal prestige, his Hellenic leanings, commanded the confidence of his own men and the respect of foreigners; but what could be expected of his unknown successor, and who could say whether he were equal to the heavy task which fate had assigned to him? The whole of the Nile valley was a prey to gloomy presentiment.*
* Psammetichus III. has left us very few monuments, which is accounted for by the extreme shortness of his reign. For the same reason doubtless several writers of classical times have ignored his existence, and have made the conquest of Egypt take place under Amasis. Ctesias calls the Pharaoh Amyrtseus, and gives the same name to those who rebelled against the Persians in his own time, and he had an account of the history of the conquest entirely different from that of Herodotus.
Egypt was threatened not only, as in the previous century, by the nations of the Tigris and Euphrates, but all Asia, from the Indus to the Hellespont, was about to fall on her to crush her. She was destitute of all human help and allies, and the gods themselves appeared to have forsaken her. The fellahin, inspired with vague alarm, recognised evil omens in all around them. Rain is rare in the Thebaid, and storms occur there only twice or three times in a century: but a few days after the accession of Psammetichus, a shower of fine rain fell at Thebes, an event, so it was stated with the exaggeration characteristic of the bearers of ill news, which had never before occurred.*
* The inhabitants of the Said have, up to our own time, always considered rain in the valley as an ill-omened event. They used to say in the beginning of the nineteenth century, when speaking of Napoleon's expedition, |We knew that misfortune threatened us, because it rained at Luxor shortly before the French came.| Wilkinson assures us that rain is not so rare at Thebes as Herodotus thought: he speaks of five or six showers a year, and of a great storm on an average every ten years. But even he admits that it is confined to the mountain district, and does not reach the plain: I never heard of rain at Luxor during the six winters that I spent in Upper Egypt.
Pharaoh hastened to meet the invader with all the men, chariots, and native bowmen at his disposal, together with his Libyan and Cyrenoan auxiliaries, and the Ionians, Carians, and Greeks of the isles and mainland. The battle took place before Pelusium, and was fought on both sides with brave desperation, since defeat meant servitude for the Egyptians, and for the Persians, cut off by the desert from possible retreat, captivity or annihilation. Phanes had been obliged to leave his children behind him, and Pharaoh included them in his suite, to serve, if needful, as hostages. The Carians and Ionians, who felt themselves disgraced by the defection of their captain, called loudly for them just before the commencement of the action. They were killed immediately in front of the lines, their father being a powerless onlooker; their blood was thrown into a cask half full of wine, and the horrible mixture was drunk by the soldiers, who then furiously charged the enemy's battalions. The issue of the struggle was for a long time doubtful, but the Egyptians were inferior in numbers; towards evening their lines gave way and the flight began.* All was not, however, lost, if Psammetichus had but followed the example of Taharqa, and defended the passage of the various canals and arms of the river, disputing the ground inch by inch with the Persians, and gaining time meanwhile to collect a fresh army. The king lost his presence of mind, and without attempting to rally what remained of his regiments, he hastened to take refuge within the White Wall. Cambyses halted a few days to reduce Pelusium,** and in the mean time sent a vessel of Mitylene to summon Memphis to capitulate: the infuriated populace, as soon as they got wind of the message, massacred the herald and the crew, and dragged their bleeding limbs through the streets.
* According to Herodotus, eighty years later the battle- field used to be shown covered with bones, and it was said that the Egyptians could be distinguished from the Persians by the relative hardness of their skulls.
** Polysenus hands down a story that Cambyses, in order to paralyse the resistance of the besieged, caused cats, dogs, ibises, and other sacred animals to march at the head of his attacking columns: the Egyptians would not venture to use their arms for fear of wounding or killing some of their gods.
The city held out for a considerable time; when at length she opened her gates, the remaining inhabitants of the Said who had hesitated up to then, hastened to make their submission, and the whole of Egypt as far as Philae became at one stroke a Persian province. The Libyans did not wait to be summoned to bring their tribute; Cyrene and Barca followed their example, but their offerings were so small that the conqueror's irritation was aroused, and deeming himself mocked, he gave way to his anger, and instead of accepting them, he threw them to his soldiers with his own hand (B.C.525).*
* The question as to the year in which Egypt was subdued by Cambyses has long divided historians: I still agree with those who place the conquest in the spring of 525.
This sudden collapse of a power whose exalted position had defied all attacks for centuries, and the tragic fate of the king who had received his crown merely to lose it, filled contemporary beholders with astonishment and pity. It was said that, ten days after the capitulation of Memphis, the victorious king desired out of sport to test the endurance of his prisoner. Psammetichus beheld his daughter and the daughters of his nobles pass before him, half naked, with jars on their shoulders, and go down to the Nile to fetch water from the river like common slaves; his son and two thousand young men of the same age, in chains and with ropes round their necks, also defiled before him on their way to die as a revenge for the murder of the Mitylenians; yet he never for a moment lost his royal imperturbability. But when one of his former companions in pleasure chanced to pass, begging for alms and clothed in rags, Psammetichus suddenly broke out into weeping, and lacerated his face in despair. Cambyses, surprised at this excessive grief in a man who up till then had exhibited such fortitude, demanded the reason of his conduct. |Son of Cyrus,| he replied, |the misfortunes of my house are too unparalleled to weep over, but not the affliction of my friend. When a man, on the verge of old age, falls from luxury and abundance into extreme poverty, one may well lament his fate.| When the speech was reported to Cambyses, he fully recognised the truth of it. Croesus, who was also present, shed tears, and the Persians round him were moved with pity. Cambyses, likewise touched, commanded that the son of the Pharaoh should be saved, but the remission of the sentence arrived too late. He at all events treated Pharaoh himself with consideration, and it is possible that he might have replaced him on the throne, under an oath of vassalage, had he not surprised him in a conspiracy against his own life. He thereupon obliged him to poison himself by drinking bulls' blood, and he confided the government of the Nile valley to a Persian named Aryandes.
No part of the ancient world now remained unconquered except the semi-fabulous kingdom of Ethiopia in the far-off south. Cities and monarchies, all the great actors of early times, had been laid in the dust one after another -- Tyre, Damascus, Carchemish, Urartu, Elam, Assyria, Jerusalem, Media, the Lydians, Babylon, and finally Egypt; and the prey they had fought over so fiercely and for so many centuries, now belonged in its entirety to one master for the first time as far as memory could reach back into the past. Cambyses, following in the footsteps of Cyrus, had pursued his victorious way successfully, but it was another matter to consolidate his conquests and to succeed in governing within the limits of one empire so many incongruous elements -- the people of the Caucasus and those of the Nile valley, the Greeks of the AEgean and the Iranians, the Scythians from beyond the Oxus and the Semites of the banks of the Euphrates or of the Mediterranean coast; and time alone would show whether this heritage would not fall to pieces as quickly as it had been built up. The Asiatic elements of the empire appeared, at all events for the moment, content with their lot, and Babylon showed herself more than usually resigned; but Egypt had never accepted the yoke of the stranger willingly, and the most fortunate of her Assyrian conquerors had never exercised more than a passing supremacy over her. Cambyses realised that he would never master her except by governing her himself for a period of several years, and by making himself as Egyptian as a Persian could be without offending his own subjects at home. He adopted the titles of the Pharaohs, their double cartouche, their royal costume, and their solar filiation; as much to satisfy his own personal animosity as to conciliate the Egyptian priests, he repaired to Sais, violated the tomb of Amasis, and burnt the mummy after offering it every insult.*
* Herodotus gives also a second account, which declares that Cambyses thus treated the body, not of Amasis, but of some unknown person whom he took for Amasis. The truth of the story is generally contested, for the deed would have been, as Herodotus himself remarks, contrary to Persian ideas about the sanctity of fire. I think that by his cruel treatment of the mummy, Cambyses wished to satisfy the hatred of the natives against the Greek-loving king, and so render himself more acceptable to them. The destruction of the mummy entailing that of the soul, his act gave the Saitic population a satisfaction similar to that experienced by the refined cruelty of those who, a few centuries ago, killed their enemies when in a state of deadly sin, and so ensure not only their dismissal from this world, but also their condemnation in the next.
[Illustration: 145.jpg THE NAOPHOROS STATUETTE OF THE VATICAN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph: the head and hands are a restoration of the eighteenth century, in the most inappropriate Graeco-Roman style.
He removed his troops from the temple of Nit, which they had turned into a barrack to the horror of the faithful, and restored at his own expense the damage they had done to the building. He condescended so far as to receive instruction in the local religion, and was initiated in the worship of the goddess by the priest Uzaharrisniti. This was, after all, a pursuance of the policy employed by his father towards the Babylonians, and the projects which he had in view necessitated his gaining the confidence of the people at all costs. Asia having no more to offer him, two almost untried fields lay open to his ambition -- Africa and Europe -- the Greek world and what lay beyond it, the Carthaginian world and Ethiopia. The necessity of making a final reckoning with Egypt had at the outset summoned him to Africa, and it was therefore in that continent that he determined to carry on his conquests. Memphis was necessarily the base of his operations, the only point from which he could direct the march of his armies in a westerly or southerly direction, and at the same time keep in touch with the rest of his empire, and he would indeed have been imprudent had he neglected anything which could make him acceptable to its inhabitants. As soon as he felt he had gained their sympathies, he despatched two expeditions, one to Carthage and one to Ethiopia. Cyrene had spontaneously offered him her homage; he now further secured it by sending thither with all honour Ladike, the widow of Amasis, and he apparently contemplated taking advantage of the good will of the Cyrenians to approach Carthage by sea. The combined fleets of Ionia and Phonicia were without doubt numerically sufficient for this undertaking, but the Tyrians refused to serve against their own colonies, and he did not venture to employ the Greeks alone in waters which were unfamiliar to them. Besides this, the information which he obtained from those about him convinced him that the overland route would enable him to reach his destination more surely if more slowly; it would lead him from the banks of the Nile to the Oases of the Theban desert, from there to the Ammonians, and thence by way of the Libyans bordering on the Syrtes and the Liby-phoenicians. He despatched an advance-guard of fifty thousand men from Thebes to occupy the Oasis of Ammon and to prepare the various halting-places for the bulk of the troops. The fate of these men has never been clearly ascertained. They crossed the Oasis of El-Khargeh and proceeded to the north-west in the direction of the oracle. The natives afterwards related that when they had arrived halfway, a sudden storm of wind fell upon them, and the entire force was buried under mounds of sand during a halt. Cambyses was forced to take their word; in spite of all his endeavours, no further news of his troops was forthcoming, except that they never reached the temple, and that none of the generals or soldiers ever again saw Egypt (524). The expedition to Ethiopia was not more successful. Since the retreat of Tanuatamanu, the Pharaohs of Napata had severed all direct relations with Asia; but on being interfered with by Psammetichus I. and II., they had repulsed the invaders, and had maintained their frontier almost within sight of Philae.* In Nubia proper they had merely a few outposts stationed in the ruins of the towns of the Theban period -- at Derr, at Pnubsu, at Wady-Halfa, and at Semneh; the population again becoming dense and the valley fertile to the south of this spot. Kush, like Egypt, was divided into two regions -- To-Qonusit, with its cities of Danguru,** Napata, Asta-muras, and Barua; and Alo,*** which extended along the White and the Blue Nile in the plain of Sennaar: the Asmakh, the descendants of the Mashauasha emigrants of the time of Psammetichus I., dwelt on the southern border of Alo.
* The northern boundary of Ethiopia is given us
approximately by the lists of temples in the inscriptions of Harsiatef and of Nastosenen: Pnubsu is mentioned several times as receiving gifts from the king, which carries the permanent dominion of the Ethiopian kings as far as the second cataract.
** Now Old Dongola.
*** Berua is the Meroe of Strabo, Astaboras the modern Ed- Dameir, and Alo the kingdom of Aloah of the mediaeval Arab geographers.
[Illustration: 147.jpg ETHIOPIAN GKOUP]
Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph by Berghoff.
A number of half-savage tribes, Maditi and Bohrehsa, were settled to the right and to the left of the territory watered by the Nile, between Darfur, the mountains of Abyssinia, and the Red Sea; and the warlike disposition of the Ethiopian kings found in these tribes an inexhaustible field for obtaining easy victories and abundant spoil. Many of these sovereigns -- Pionkhi, Alaru, Harsiatef, Nastosenen -- whose respective positions in the royal line are still undetermined, specially distinguished themselves in these struggles, but the few monuments they have left, though bearing witness to their military enterprise and ability, betray their utter decadence in everything connected with art, language, and religion. The ancient Egyptian syllabary, adapted to the needs of a barbarous tongue, had ended by losing its elegance; architecture was degenerating, and sculpture slowly growing more and more clumsy in appearance. Some of the work, however, is not wanting in a certain rude nobility -- as, for instance, the god and goddess carved side by side in a block of grey granite. Ethiopian worship had become permeated with strange superstitions, and its creed was degraded, in spite of the strictness with which the priests supervised its application and kept watch against every attempt to introduce innovations. Towards the end of the seventh century some of the families attached to the temple of Am on at Napata had endeavoured to bring about a kind of religious reform; among other innovations they adopted the practice of substituting for the ordinary sacrifice, new rites, the chief feature of which was the offering of the flesh of the victim raw, instead of roasted with fire. This custom, which was doubtless borrowed from the negroes of the Upper Nile, was looked upon as a shameful heresy by the orthodox. The king repaired in state to the temple of Anion, seized the priests who professed these seditious beliefs, and burnt them alive.
[Illustration: 148.jpg Encampment de Bacharis]
The use of raw meat, nevertheless, was not discontinued, and it gained such ground in the course of ages that even Christianity was unable to suppress it; up to the present time, the brinde, or piece of beef cut from the living animal and eaten raw, is considered a delicacy by the Abyssinians.
The isolation of the Ethiopians had rather increased than lowered their reputation among other nations. Their transitory appearance on the battle-fields of Asia had left a deep impression on the memories of their opponents. The tenacity they had displayed during their conflict with Assyria had effaced the remembrance of their defeat. Popular fancy delighted to extol the wisdom of Sabaco,* and exalted Taharqa to the first rank among the conquerors of the old world; now that Kush once more came within the range of vision, it was invested with a share of all these virtues, and the inquiries Cambyses made concerning it were calculated to make him believe that he was about to enter on a struggle with a nation of demigods rather than of men. He was informed that they were taller, more beautiful, and more vigorous than all other mortals, that their age was prolonged to one hundred and twenty years and more, and that they possessed a marvellous fountain whose waters imparted perpetual youth to then-bodies. There existed near their capital a meadow, perpetually furnishing an inexhaustible supply of food and drink; whoever would might partake of this |Table of the Sun,| and eat to his fill.**
* The eulogy bestowed on him by Herodotus shows the esteem in which he was held even in the Saite period; later on he seems to have become two persons, and so to have given birth to the good Ethiopian king Aktisanes.
** Pausanias treats it as a traveller's tale. Heeren thought that he saw in Herodotus' account a reference to intercourse by signs, so frequent in Africa. The |Table of the Sun| would thus have been a kind of market, whither the natives would come for their provisions, using exchange to procure them. I am inclined rather to believe the story to be a recollection, partly of the actual custom of placing meats, which the first comer might take, on the tombs in the necropolis, partly of the mythical |Meadow of Offerings| mentioned in the funerary texts, to which the souls of the dead and the gods alike had access. This divine region would have transferred to our earth by some folk-tale, like the judgment of the dead, the entrance into the solar bark, and other similar beliefs.
Gold was so abundant that it was used for common purposes, even for the chains of their prisoners; but, on the other hand, copper was rare and much prized. Canibyses despatched some spies chosen from among the Ichthyophagi of the Bed Sea to explore this region, and acting on the report they brought back, he left Memphis at the head of an army and a fleet.* The expedition was partly a success and partly a failure. It followed the Nile valley as far as Korosko, and then struck across the desert in the direction of Napata;** but provisions ran short before a quarter of the march had been achieved, and famine obliged the invaders to retrace their steps after having endured terrible sufferings.***
* Herodotus' text speaks of an army only, but the accounts of the wars between Ethiopia and Egypt show that the army was always accompanied by the necessary fleet.
** It is usually thought that the expedition marched by the side of the Nile as far as Napata; to support this theory the name of a place mentioned in Pliny is quoted, Cambusis at the third cataract, which is supposed to contain the name of the conqueror. This town, which is sometimes mentioned by the classical geographers, is called Kambiusit in the Ethiopie texts, and the form of the name makes its
connection with the history of Cambyses easy. I think it follows, from the text of Herodotus, that the Persians left the grassy land, the river-valley, at a given moment, to enter the sand, i.e. the desert. Now this is done to-day at two points -- near Korosko to rejoin the Nile at Abu-Hammed, and near Wady-Halfah to avoid the part of the Nile called the |Stony belly,| Batn el-Hagar. The Korosko route, being the only one suitable for the transit of a body of troops, and also the only route known to Herodotus, seems, I think, likely to be the one which was followed in the present instance; at all events, it fits in best with the fact that Cambyses was obliged to retrace his steps hurriedly, when he had accomplished hardly a fifth of the journey.
*** Many modern historians are inclined to assume that Cambyses' expedition was completely successful, and that its result was the overthrow of the ancient kingdom of Nepata and the foundation of that of Meroe. Cambyses would have given the new town which he built there the name of his sister Meroe. The traditions concerning Cambusis and Meroe belong to the Alexandrine era, and rest only on chance similarities of sound. With regard to the Ethiopian province of the Persian empire and to the Ethiopian neighbours of Egypt whom Cambyses subdued, the latter are not necessarily Ethiopians of Napata. Herodotus himself says that the Ethiopians dwelt in the country above Elephantine, and that half of what he calls the island of Takhompso was inhabited by Ethiopians: the subjugated Ethiopians and their country plainly correspond with the Dodekaschenos of the Graeco-Roman era.
Cambyses had to rest content with the acquisition of those portions of Nubia adjoining the first cataract -- the same, in fact, that had been annexed to Egypt by Psammetichus I. and II. (523). The failure of this expedition to the south, following so closely on the disaster which befell that of the west, had a deplorable effect on the mind of Cambyses. He had been subject, from childhood, to attacks of epilepsy, during which he became a maniac and had no control over his actions. These reverses of fortune aggravated the disease, and increased the frequency and length of the attacks.*
* Recent historians admit neither the reality of the illness of Cambyses nor the madness resulting from it, but consider them Egyptian fables, invented out of spite towards the king who had conquered and persecuted them.
The bull Apis had died shortly before the close of the Ethiopian campaign, and the Egyptians, after mourning for him during the prescribed number of weeks, were bringing his successor with rejoicings into the temple of Phtah, when the remains of the army re-entered Memphis. Cambyses, finding the city holiday-making, imagined that it was rejoicing over his misfortunes. He summoned the magistrates before him, and gave them over to the executioner without deigning to listen to their explanations. He next caused the priests to be brought to him, and when they had paraded the Apis before him, he plunged his dagger into its flank with derisive laughter: |Ah, evil people! So you make for yourselves divinities of flesh and blood which fear the sword! It is indeed a fine god that you Egyptians have here; I will have you to know, however, that you shall not rejoice overmuch at having deceived me!| The priests were beaten as impostors, and the bull languished from its wound and died in a few days*1 its priests buried it, and chose another in its place without the usual ceremonies, so as not to exasperate the anger of the tyrant,** but the horror evoked by this double sacrilege raised passions against Cambyses which the ruin of the country had failed to excite.
* Later historians improved upon the account of Herodotus, and it is said in the De Iside, that Cambyses killed the Apis and threw him to the dogs. Here there is probably a confusion between the conduct of Cambyses and that
attributed to the eunuch Bagoas nearly two centuries later, at the time of the second conquest of Egypt by Ochus.
** Mariette discovered in the Serapseum and sent to the Louvre fragments of the epitaph of an Apis buried in Epiphi in the sixth year of Cambyses, which had therefore died a few months previously. This fact contradicts the inference from the epitaph of the Apis that died in the fourth year of Darius, which would have been born in the fifth year of Cambyses, if we allow that there could not have been two Apises in Egypt at once. This was, indeed, the usual rule, but a comparison of the two dates shows that here it was not followed, and it is therefore simplest, until we have further evidence, to conclude that at all events in cases of violence, such as sacrilegious murder, there could have been two Apises at once, one discharging his functions, and the other unknown, living still in the midst of the herds.
The manifestations of this antipathy irritated him to such an extent that he completely changed his policy, and set himself from that time forward to act counter to the customs and prejudices of the Egyptians. They consequently regarded his memory with a vindictive hatred. The people related that the gods had struck him with madness to avenge the murder of the Apis, and they attributed to him numberless traits of senseless cruelty, in which we can scarcely distinguish truth from fiction. It was said that, having entered the temple of Phtah, he had ridiculed the grotesque figure under which the god was represented, and had commanded the statues to be burnt. On another occasion he had ordered the ancient sepulchres to be opened, that he might see what was the appearance of the mummies. The most faithful members of his family and household, it was said, did not escape his fury. He killed his own sister Roxana, whom he had married, by a kick in the abdomen; he slew the son of Prexaspes with an arrow; he buried alive twelve influential Persians; he condemned Croesus to death, and then repented, but punished the officers who had failed to execute the sentence pronounced against the Lydian king.*
* The whole of this story of Croesus is entirely fabulous.
He had no longer any reason for remaining in Egypt, since he had failed in his undertakings; yet he did not quit the country, and through repeated delays his departure was retarded a whole year. Meanwhile his long sojourn in Africa, the report of his failures, and perhaps whispers of his insanity, had sown the seeds of discontent in Asia; and as Darius said in after-years, when recounting these events, |untruth had spread all over the country, not only in Persia and Media, but in other provinces.| Cambyses himself felt that a longer absence would be injurious to his interests; he therefore crossed the isthmus in the spring of 521, and was making his way through Northern Syria, perhaps in the neighbourhood of Hamath,* when he learned that a revolution had broken out, and that its rapid progress threatened the safety of his throne and life.
* Herodotus calls the place where Cambyses died Agbatana (Ecbatana). Pliny says that the town of Carmel was thus named at first; but the place here mentioned cannot well have been in that direction. It has been identified with Batansea in the country between the Orontes and the Euphrates, but the most likely theory is the one suggested by a passage in Stephen of Byzantium, that the place in question is the large Syrian city of Hamath. Josephus makes him die at Damascus.
Tradition asserted that a herald appeared before him and proclaimed aloud, in the hearing of the whole army, that Cambyses, son of Cyrus, had ceased to reign, and summoned whoever had till that day obeyed him to acknowledge henceforth Smerdis, son of Cyrus, as their lord. Cambyses at first believed that his brother had been spared by the assassins, and now, after years of concealment, had at length declared himself; but he soon received proofs that his orders had been faithfully accomplished, and it is said that he wept at the remembrance of the fruitless crime. The usurper was Gaumata, one of the Persian Magi, whose resemblance to Smerdis was so remarkable that even those who were cognisant of it invariably mistook the one for the other,* and he was brother to that Oropastes to whom Cambyses had entrusted the administration of his household before setting out for Egypt.**
* Greek tradition is unanimous on this point, but the inscription of Behistun does not mention it.
** The inscription of Behistun informs us that the usurper's name was Gaumata. Pompeius Trogus alone, probably following some author who made use of Charon of Lampsacus, handed down this name in the form Cometes or Gometes, which his abbreviator Justin carelessly applied to the second brother. Ctesias gives the Mage the name Sphendadates, which answers to the Old Persian Spentodata, |he who is given by the Holy One,| i.e. by Ahura-mazda. The supporters of the Mage gave him this name, as an heroic champion of the Mazdoan faith who had destroyed such sanctuaries as were illegal, and identified him with Spentodata, son of Wistaspa.
Both of them were aware of the fate of Smerdis; they also knew that the Persians were ignorant of it, and that every one at court, including the mother and sisters of the prince, believed that he was still alive. Gaumata headed a revolt in the little town of Pasyauvada on the 14th of Viyakhna, in the early days of March, 521, and he was hailed by the common people from the moment of his appearance. Persia, Media, and the Iranian provinces pronounced in his favour, and solemnly enthroned him three months later, on the 9th of Garmapada; Babylon next accepted him, followed by Elam and the regions of the Tigris. Though astounded at first by such a widespread defection, Cambyses soon recovered his presence of mind, and was about to march forward at the head of the troops who were still loyal to him, when he mysteriously disappeared. Whether he was the victim of a plot set on foot by those about him, is not known. The official version of the story given by Darius states that he died by his own hand, and it seems to insinuate that it was a voluntary act, but another account affirms that he succumbed to an accident;* while mounting his horse, the point of his dagger pierced his thigh in the same spot in which he had stabbed the Apis of the Egyptians. Feeling himself seriously wounded, he suddenly asked the name of the place where he was lying, and was told it was |Agbatana| (Ecbatana). |Now, long before this, the oracle of Buto had predicted that he should end his days in Agbatana, and he, believing it to be the Agbatana in Media where were his treasures, understood that he should die there in his old age; whereas the oracle meant Agbatana in Syria. When he heard the name, he perceived his error. He understood what the god intended, and cried, 'It is here, then, that Cambyses, son of Cyrus, must perish!'| He expired about three weeks after, leaving no posterity and having appointed no successor.**
* It has been pointed out, for the purpose of harmonising the testimony of Herodotus with that of the inscription of Behistun, that although the latter speaks of the death of Cambyses by his own hand, it does not say whether that death was voluntary or accidental.
** The story of a person whose death has been predicted to take place in some well-known place, and who has died in some obscure spot of the same name, occurs several times in different historians, e.g. in the account of the Emperor Julian, and in that of Henry III. of England, who had been told that he would die in Jerusalem, and whose death took place in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster. Ctesias has preserved an altogether different tradition -- that Cambyses on his return from Babylon wounded himself while carving a piece of wood for his amusement, and died eleven days after the accident.
What took place in the ensuing months still remains an enigma to us. The episode of Gaumata has often been looked on as a national movement, which momentarily restored to the Medes the supremacy of which Cyrus had robbed them; but it was nothing of the sort. Gaumata was not a Mede by birth: he was a Persian, born in Persia, in the township of Pisyauvada, at the foot of Mount Ara-kadrish, and the Persians recognised and supported him as much as did the Medes. It has also been thought that he had attempted to foment a religious revolution,* and, as a matter of fact, he destroyed several temples in a few months.
* Most of the ancient writers shared this opinion, and have been followed therein by many modern writers. Rawlinson was the first to show that Gaumata's movement was not Median, and that he did not in the least alter the position of the Persians in the empire: but he allows the Magian usurpation to have been the prelude to a sort of religious reform.
Here, however, the reform touched less upon a question of belief than on one of fact. The unity of the empire presupposed the unity of the royal fire, and where-ever that fire was burning another could not be lighted without sacrilege in the eyes of the faithful. The pyres that Gaumata desired to extinguish were, no doubt, those which the feudal families had maintained for their separate use in defiance of the law, and the measure which abolished them had a political as well as a religious side. The little we can glean of the line of action adopted by Smerdis does not warrant the attribution to him of the vast projects which some modern writers credit him with. He naturally sought to strengthen himself on the throne, which by a stroke of good fortune he had ascended, and whatever he did tended solely to this end. The name and the character that he had assumed secured him the respect and fidelity of the Iranians: |there was not one, either among the Medes or the Persians, nor among the members of the Achaemenian race, who dreamed of disputing his power| in the early days of his reign. The important thing in his eyes was, therefore, to maintain among his subjects as long as possible the error as to his identity. He put to death all, whether small or great, who had been in any way implicated in the affairs of the real Smerdis, or whom he suspected of any knowledge of the murder. He withdrew from public life as far as practicable, and rarely allowed himself to be seen. Having inherited the harem of his predecessors, together with their crown, he even went so far as to condemn his wives to a complete seclusion. He did not venture to hope, nor did those in his confidence, that the truth would not one day be known, but he hoped to gain, without loss of time, sufficient popularity to prevent the revelation of the imposture from damaging his prospects. The seven great houses which he had dispossessed would, in such a case, refuse to rally round him, and it was doubtless to lessen their prestige that he extinguished their pyres; but the people did not trouble themselves as to the origin of their sovereign, if he showed them his favour and took proper precautions to secure their good will. He therefore exempted the provinces from taxes and military service for a period of three years. He had not time to pursue this policy, and if we may believe tradition, the very precautions which he took to conceal his identity became the cause of his misfortunes. In the royal harem there were, together with the daughters of Cyrus, relatives of all the Persian nobility, and the order issued to stop all their communications with the outer world had excited suspicion: the avowals which had escaped Cambyses before the catastrophe were now called to mind, and it was not long before those in high places became convinced that they had been the dupes of an audacious imposture. A conspiracy broke out, under the leadership of the chiefs of the seven clans, among whom was numbered Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who was connected, according to a genealogy more or less authentic, with the family of the Achaemenides:* the conspirators surprised Gaumata in his palace of Sikayauvatish, which was situated in the district of Nisaya, not far from Ecbatana, and assassinated him on the 10th of Bagayadish, 521 B.C.
* The passage in the Behistun inscription, in which Darius sets forth his own genealogy, has received various
interpretations. That of Oppert seems still the most probable, that the text indicates two parallel branches of Achaemenides, which nourished side by side until Cambyses died and Darius ascended the throne. Such a genealogy, however, appears to be fictitious, invented solely for the purpose of connecting Darius with the ancient royal line, with which in reality he could claim no kinship, or only a very distant connection.
[Illustration: 159.jpg DARIUS, SON OF HYSTASPES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from M. Dieulafoy.
The exact particulars of this scene were never known, but popular imagination soon supplied the defect, furnishing a full and complete account of all that took place. In the first place, Phaedime, daughter of Otanes, one of the seven, furnished an authentic proof of the fraud which had been perpetrated. Her father had opportunely recalled the marvellous resemblance between Smerdis and the Magian, and remembered at the same time that the latter had been deprived of his ears in punishment for some misdeed: he therefore sent certain instructions to Phffidime, who, when she made the discovery, at the peril of her life, that her husband had no ears, communicated the information to the disaffected nobles. The conspirators thereupon resolved to act without delay; but when they arrived at the palace, they were greeted with an extraordinary piece of intelligence. The Magi, disquieted by some vague rumours which were being circulated against them, had besought Prexaspes to proclaim to the people that the reigning monarch was indeed Smerdis himself. But Prexaspes, instead of making the desired declaration, informed the multitude that the son of Cyrus was indeed dead, for he himself had murdered him at the bidding of Cambyses, and, having made this confession, he put himself to death, in order to escape the vengeance of the Magi. This act of Prexaspes was an additional inducement to the conspirators to execute their purpose. The guard stationed at the gates of the palace dared not refuse admission to so noble a company, and when the throne-room was reached and the eunuchs forbade further advance, the seven boldly drew their swords and forced their way to the apartment occupied by the two Magi. The usurpers defended themselves with bravery, but succumbed at length to the superior number of their opponents, after having wounded two of the conspirators. Gobryas pinioned Gaumata with his arms, and in such a way that Darius hesitated to make the fatal thrust for fear of wounding his comrade; but the latter bade him strike at all hazards, and by good fortune the sword did not even graze him. The crime accomplished, the seven conspirators agreed to choose as king that member of their company whose horse should first neigh after sunrise: a stratagem of his groom caused the election to fall on Darius. As soon as he was duly enthroned, he instituted a festival called the |magophonia,| or |massacre of the Magi,| in commemoration of the murder which had given him the crown.
His first care was to recompense the nobles to whom he owed his position by restoring to them the privileges of which they had been deprived by the pseudo-Smerdis, namely, the right of free access to the king, as well as the right of each individual to a funeral pyre; but the usurper had won the affection of the people, and even the inhabitants of those countries which had been longest subject to the Persian sway did not receive the new sovereign favourably. Darius found himself, therefore, under the necessity of conquering his dominions one after the other.*
* The history of the early part of the reign of Darius is recorded in the great inscription which the king caused to be cut in three languages on the rocks of Behistun. The order of the events recorded in it is not always easy to determine. I have finally adopted, with some modifications, the arrangement of Marquart, which seems to me to give the clearest |conspectus| of these confused wars.
The Persian empire, like those of the Chaldaeans and Medes, had consisted hitherto of nothing but a fortuitous collection of provinces under military rule, of vassal kingdoms, and of semi-independent cities and tribes; there was no fixed division of authority, and no regular system of government for the outlying provinces. The governors assigned by Cyrus and Cambyses to rule the various provinces acquired by conquest, were actual viceroys, possessing full control of an army, and in some cases of a fleet as well, having at their disposal considerable revenues both in money and in kind, and habituated, owing to their distance from the capital, to settle pressing questions on their own responsibility, subject only to the necessity of making a report to the sovereign when the affair was concluded, or when the local resources were insufficient to bring it to a successful issue. For such free administrators the temptation must have been irresistible to break the last slender ties which bound them to the empire, and to set themselves up as independent monarchs. The two successive revolutions which had taken place in less than a year, convinced such governors, and the nations over which they bore rule, that the stately edifice erected by Cyrus and Cambyses was crumbling to pieces, and that the moment was propitious for each of them to carve out of its ruins a kingdom for himself; the news of the murder, rapidly propagated, sowed the seeds of revolt in its course -- in Susiana, at Babylon, in Media, in Parthia, in Margiana, among the Sattagydes, in Asia Minor, and even in Egypt itself* -- which showed itself in some places in an open and undisguised form, while in others it was contemptuously veiled under the appearance of neutrality, or the pretence of waiting to see the issue of events.
* In the Behistun Inscription, it is stated that
insurrections broke out in all these countries while Darius was at Babylon; that is to say, while he was occupied in besieging that city, as is evident from the order of the events narrated.
The first to break out into open rebellion were the neighbouring countries of Elam and Chaldaea: the death of Smerdis took place towards the end of September, and a fortnight later saw two rebel chiefs enthroned -- a certain Athrina at Susa, and a Nadinta-bel at Babylon.* Athrina, the son of Umbadaranma, was a scion of the dynasty dispossessed by the successors of Sargon in the preceding century, but nevertheless he met with but lukewarm assistance from his own countrymen;** he was taken prisoner before a month had passed, and sent to Darius, who slew him with his own hand.
* The latest known document of the pseudo-Smerdis is dated the 1st of Tisri at Babylon, and the first of Nebuchadrezzar III. are dated the 17th and 20th of the same month. The revolt of Babylon, then, must be placed between the 1st and 17th of Tisri; that is, either at the end of September or the beginning of October, 521 B.C.
** The revolt cannot have lasted much more than six weeks, for on the 26th of Athriyadiya following, that is to say, at the beginning of December, Darius had already joined issue with the Babylonians on the banks of the Tigris.
Babylon was not so easily mastered. Her chosen sovereign claimed to be the son of Nabonidus, and had, on ascending the throne, assumed the illustrious name of Nebuchadrezzar; he was not supported, moreover, by only a few busybodies, but carried the whole population with him. The Babylonians, who had at first welcomed Cyrus so warmly, and had fondly imagined that they had made him one of themselves, as they had made so many of their conquerors for centuries past, soon realised their mistake. The differences of language, manners, spirit, and religion between themselves and the Persians were too fundamental to allow of the naturalisation of the new sovereign, and of the acceptance by the Achaemenides of that fiction of a double personality to which Tiglath-pileser III., Shalmaneser, and even Assur-bani-pal had submitted. Popular fancy grew weary of Cyrus, as it had already grown weary in turn of all the foreigners it had at first acclaimed -- whether Elamite, Kalda, or Assyrian -- and by a national reaction the self-styled son of Nabonidus enjoyed the benefit of a devotion proportionately as great as the hatred which had been felt twenty years before for his pretended sire. The situation might become serious if he were given time to consolidate his power, for the loyalty of the ancient provinces of the Chaldaean empire was wavering, and there was no security that they would not feel inclined to follow the example of the capital as soon as they should receive news of the sedition. Darius, therefore, led the bulk of his forces to Babylon without a day's more delay than was absolutely necessary, and the event proved that he had good reason for such haste. Nebuchadrezzar III. had taken advantage of the few weeks which had elapsed since his accession, to garrison the same positions on the right bank of the Tigris, as Nabonidus had endeavoured to defend against Cyrus at the northern end of the fortifications erected by his ancestor. A well-equipped flotilla patrolled the river, and his lines presented so formidable a front that Darius could not venture on a direct attack. He arranged his troops in two divisions, which he mounted partly on horses, partly on camels, and eluding the vigilance of his adversary by attacking him simultaneously on many sides, succeeded in gaining the opposite bank of the river. The Chaldaeans, striving in vain to drive him back into the stream, were at length defeated on the 27th of Athriyadiya, and they retired in good order on Babylon. Six days later, on the 2nd of Anamaka, they fought a second battle at Zazanu, on the bank of the Euphrates, and were again totally defeated. Nebuchadrezzar escaped with a handful of cavalry, and hastened to shut himself up in his city. Darius soon followed him, but if he cherished a hope that the Babylonians would open their gates to him without further resistance, as they had done to Cyrus, he met with a disappointment, for he was compelled to commence a regular siege and suspend all other operations, and that, too, at a moment when the provinces were breaking out into open insurrection on every hand.*
* The account given by Darius seems to imply that no interval of time elapsed between the second defeat of Nebuchadrezzar III. and the taking of Babylon, so that several modern historians have rejected the idea of an obstinate resistance. Herodotus, however, speaks of the long siege the city sustained, and the discovery of tablets dated in the first and even the second year of Nebuchadrezzar III. shows that the siege was prolonged into the second year of this usurper, at least until the month of Nisan (March- April), 520 B.C. No evidence can be drawn from the tablets dated in the reign of Darius, for the oldest yet discovered, which is dated in the month Sebat (Jan.-Feb.), in the year of his accession, and consequently prior to the second year of Nebuchadrezzar, comes from Abu-habba. On the other hand, the statement that all the revolts broke out while Darius was |at Babylon| does not allow of the supposition that all the events recorded before his departure for Media could have been compressed into the space of three or four months. It seems, therefore, more probable that the siege lasted till 519 B.C., as it can well have done if credit be given to the mention of |twenty-one months at least| by Herodotus; perhaps the siege was brought to an end in the May of that year, as calculated by Marquart.
[Illustration: 166.jpg DARIUS PIERCING A REBEL WITH HIS LANCE BEFORE A GROUP OF FOUR PRISONERS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the impression of an intaglio at St. Petersburg.
The attempt of the Persian adventurer Martiya to stir up the Susians to revolt in his rear failed, thanks to the favourable disposition of the natives, who refused to recognise in him Ummanish, the heir of their national princes. Media, however, yielded unfortunately to the solicitations of a certain Fravartish, who had assumed the personality of Khshatrita of the race of Cyaxares, and its revolt marked almost the beginning of a total break-up of the empire. The memory of Astyages and Cyaxares had not yet faded so completely as to cause the Median nobles to relinquish the hope of reasserting the supremacy of Media; the opportunity for accomplishing this aim now seemed all the more favourable, from the fact that Darius had been obliged to leave this province almost immediately after the assassination of the Usurper, and to take from it all the troops that he could muster for the siege of Babylon. Several of the nomadic tribes still remained faithful to him, but all the settled inhabitants of Media ranged themselves under the banner of the pretender, and the spirit of insurrection spread thereupon into Armenia and Assyria. For one moment there was a fear lest it should extend to Asia Minor also, where Orcetes, accustomed, in the absence of Cambyses, to act as an autonomous sovereign, displayed little zeal in accommodating himself to the new order of things. There was so much uncertainty as to the leanings of the Persian guard of Orcetes, that Darius did not venture to degrade the satrap officially, but despatched Bagseus to Sardes with precise instructions, which enabled him to accomplish his mission by degrees, so as not to risk a Lydian revolt. His first act was to show the guard a rescript by which they were relieved from attendance on Orcetes, and |thereupon they immediately laid down their spears.| Emboldened by their ready obedience, Bagseus presented to the secretary a second letter, which contained his instructions: |The great king commands those Persians who are in Sardes to kill Orestes.| |Whereupon,| it is recorded, |they drew their swords and slew him.|*
* The context of Herodotus indicates that the events narrated took place shortly after the accession of Darius. Further on Herodotus mentions, as contemporaneous with the siege of Babylon, events which took place after the death of Orcetes; it is probable, therefore, that the scene described by Herodotus occurred in 520 B.C. at the latest.
A revolt in Asia Minor was thus averted, at a time when civil war continued to rage in the centre of Iran. The situation, however, continued critical. Darius could not think of abandoning the siege of Babylon, and of thus both losing the fruits of his victories and seeing Nebuchadrezzar reappear in Assyria or Susiana. On the other hand, his army was a small one, and he would incur great risks in detaching any of his military chiefs for a campaign against the Mede with an insufficient force. He decided, however, to adopt the latter course, and while he himself presided over the blockade, he simultaneously despatched two columns -- one to Media, under the command of the Persian Vidarna, one of the seven; the other to Armenia, under the Armenian Dadarshish. Vidarna, encountered Khshatrita near Marush, in the mountainous region of the old Namri, on the 27th of Anamaka, and gave him battle; but though he claimed the victory, the result was so indecisive that he halted in Kambadene, at the entrance to the gorges of the Zagros mountains, and was there obliged to await reinforcements before advancing further. Dadarshish, on his side, gained three victories over the Armenians -- one near Zuzza on the 8th of Thuravahara, another at Tigra ten days later, and the third on the 2nd of Thaigarshish, at a place not far from Uhyama -- but he also was compelled to suspend operations and remain inactive pending the arrival of fresh troops. Half the year was spent in inaction on either side, for the rebels had not suffered less than their opponents, and, while endeavouring to reorganise their forces, they opened negotiations with the provinces of the north-east with the view of prevailing on them to join their cause. Darius, still detained before Babylon, was unable to recommence hostilities until the end of 520 B.C. He sent Vaumisa to replace Dadarshish as the head of the army in Armenia, and the new general distinguished himself at the outset by winning a decisive victory on the 15th of Anamaka, near Izitush in Assyria; but the effect which he hoped to secure from this success was neutralised almost immediately by grievous defections. Sagartia, in the first place, rose in rebellion at the call of a pretended descendant of Oyaxares, named Chitrantakhma; Hyrcania, the province governed by Hystaspes, the father of Darius, followed suit and took up the cause of Khshatrita, and soon after Margiana broke out into revolt at the instigation of a certain Frada. Even Persia itself deserted Darius, and chose another king instead of a sovereign whom no one seemed willing to acknowledge. Many of the mountain tribes could not yet resign themselves to the belief that the male line of Cyrus had become extinct with the death of Cambyses. The usurpation of Gaumata and the accession of Darius had not quenched their faith in the existence of Smerdis: if the Magian were an impostor, it did not necessarily follow that Smerdis had been assassinated, and when a certain Vahyazdata rose up in the town of Tarava in the district of Yautiya, and announced himself as the younger son of Cyrus, they received him with enthusiastic acclamations. A preliminary success gained by Hystaspes at Vispauzatish, in Parthia, on the 22nd of Viyakhna, 519 B.C., prevented the guerilla bands of Hyrcania from joining forces with the Medes, and some days later the fall of Babylon at length set Darius free to utilise his resources to the utmost. The long resistance of Nebuchadrezzar furnished a fruitful theme for legend: a fanciful story was soon substituted for the true account of the memorable siege he had sustained. Half a century later, when his very name was forgotten, the heroism of his people continued to be extolled beyond measure. When Darius arrived before the ramparts he found the country a desert, the banks of the canals cut through, and the gardens and pleasure-houses destroyed. The crops had been gathered and the herds driven within the walls of the city, while the garrison had reduced by a massacre the number of non-combatants, the women having all been strangled, with the exception of those who were needed to bake the bread. At the end of twenty months the siege seemed no nearer to its close than at the outset, and the besiegers were on the point of losing heart, when at length Zopyrus, one of the seven, sacrificed himself for the success of the blockading army. Slitting his nose and ears, and lacerating his back with the lash of a whip, he made his way into the city as a deserter, and persuaded the garrison to assign him a post of danger under pretence of avenging the ill-treatment he had received from his former master. He directed some successful sallies on points previously agreed upon, and having thus lulled to rest any remaining feelings of distrust on the part of the garrison, he treacherously opened to the Persians the two gates of which he was in charge; three thousand Babylonians were impaled, the walls were razed to the ground, and the survivors of the struggle were exiled and replaced by strange colonists.* The only authentic fact about this story is the length of the siege. Nebuchadrezzar was put to death, and Darius, at length free to act, hastened to despatch one of his lieutenants, the Persian Artavardiya, against Vahyazdata, while he himself marched upon the Medes with the main body of the royal army.**
* Ctesias places the siege of Babylon forty years later, under Xerxes I.; according to him, it was Megabysus, son of Zopyrus, who betrayed the city. Polysenus asserts that the stratagem of Zopyrus was adopted in imitation of a Sakian who dwelt beyond the Oxus. Latin writers transferred the story to Italy, and localised it at Gabii: but the Roman hero, Sextus Tarquinius, did not carry his devotion to the point of mutilating himself.
** Beldstun Inscr.: |Then I sent the army of the Persians and Medes which was with me. One named Artavardiya, a Persian, my servant, I made their general; the rest of the Persian army went to Media with me.|
The rebels had hitherto been confronted by the local militia, brave but inexperienced troops, with whom they had been able to contend on a fairly equal footing: the entry into the field of the veteran regiments of Cyrus and Cambyses changed the aspect of affairs, and promptly brought the campaign to a successful issue. Darius entered Media by the defiles of Kerend, reinforced Vidarna in Kambadcne, and crushed the enemy near the town of Kundurush, on the 20th of Adukanish, 519 B.C. Khshatrita fled towards the north with some few horsemen, doubtless hoping to reach the recesses of Mount Elburz, and to continue there the struggle; but he was captured at Baga and carried to Ecbatana. His horrible punishment was proportionate to the fear he had inspired: his nose, ears, and tongue were cut off, and his eyes gouged out, and in this mutilated condition he was placed in chains at the gate of the palace, to demonstrate to his former subjects how the Achaemenian' king could punish an impostor. When the people had laid this lesson sufficiently to heart, Khshatrita was impaled; many of his principal adherents were ranged around him and suffered the same fate, while the rest were decapitated as an example. Babylon and Media being thus successfully vanquished, the possession of the empire was assured to Darius, whatever might happen in other parts of his territory, and henceforth the process of repressing disaffection went on unchecked. Immediately after the decisive battle of Kundurush, Vaumisa accomplished the pacification of Armenia by a victory won near Autiyara, and Artavardiya defeated Vahyazdata for the first time at Eakha in Persia. Vahyazdata had committed the mistake of dividing his forces and sending a portion of them to Arachosia. Vivana, the governor of this province, twice crushed the invaders, and almost at the same time the Persian Dadardish of Bactriana was triumphing over Frada and winning Margiana back to allegiance. For a moment it seemed as if the decisive issue of the struggle might be prolonged for months, since it was announced that the appearance of a new pseudo-Smerdis on the scene had been followed by the advent of a second pseudo-Nebuchadrezzar in Chaldaea. Darius left only a weak garrison at Babylon when he started to attack Khshatrita: a certain Arakha, an Armenian by birth, presenting himself to the Babylonian people as the son of Nabonidus, caused himself to be proclaimed king in December, 519 B.C.; but the city was still suffering so severely from the miseries of the long siege, that it was easy for the Mede Vindafra to reduce it promptly to submission after a month or six weeks of semi-independence. This was the last attempt at revolt. Chitran-takhma expiated his crimes by being impaled, and Hystaspes routed the Hyrcanian battalions at Patigrabana in Parthia: Artavardiya having defeated Vahyazdata, near Mount Paraga, on the 6th of Garmapada, 618 B.C., besieged him in his fortress of Uvadeshaya, and was not long in effecting his capture. The civil war came thus to an end.
It had been severe, but it had brought into such prominence the qualities of the sovereign that no one henceforth dared to dispute his possession of the crown. A man of less energetic character and calm judgment would have lost his head at the beginning of the struggle, when almost every successive week brought him news of a fresh rebellion -- in Susiana, Babylon, Media, Armenia, Assyria, Margiana, Hyrcania, and even Persia itself, not to speak of the intrigues in Asia Minor and Egypt; he would have scattered his forces to meet the dangers on all sides at once, and would assuredly have either succumbed in the struggle, or succeeded only by chance after his fate had trembled in the balance for years. Darius, however, from the very beginning knew how to single out the important points upon which to deal such vigorous blows as would ensure him the victory with the least possible delay. He saw that Babylon, with its numerous population, its immense wealth and prestige, and its memory of recent supremacy, was the real danger to his empire, and he never relaxed his hold on it until it was subdued, leaving his generals to deal with the other nations, the Medes included, and satisfied if each of them could but hold his adversary in check without gaining any decided advantage over him. The event justified his decision. When once Babylon had fallen, the remaining rebels were no longer a source of fear; to defeat Khshatrita was the work of a few weeks only, and the submission of the other provinces followed as a natural consequence on the ruin of Media.*
* Mention of some new wars is made towards the end of the inscription, but the text here is so mutilated that the sense can no longer be easily determined.
[Illustration: 174.jpg REBELS BROUGHT TO DARIUS BY AHURA-MAZD] This is the scene depicted on the rock of Behistun.
After consummating his victories, Darius caused an inscription in commemoration of them to be carved on the rocks in the pass of Bagistana [Behistun], one of the most frequented routes leading from the basin of the Tigris to the tableland of Iran.
[Illustration: 175.jpg THE ROCKS OF BEHISTUN]
Drawn by Boudier, from Flandin and Coste.
There his figure is still to be seen standing, with his foot resting on the prostrate body of an enemy, and his hand raised in the attitude of one addressing an audience, while nine figures march in file to meet him, their arms tied behind their backs, and cords round their necks, representing all the pretenders whom he had fought and put to death -- Athrina, Nadinta-bel, Khshatrita, Vahyazdata, Arakha, and Chitrantakhma; an inscription, written in the three official languages of the court, recounts at full length his mighty deeds. The drama did not, however, come to a close with the punishment of Vahyazdata, for though no tribe or chieftain remained now in open revolt, many of those who had taken no active share in the rebellion had, by their conduct during the crisis, laid themselves open to grave suspicions, and it seemed but prudent to place them under strict surveillance or to remove them from office altogether. Orotes had been summarily despatched, and his execution did not disturb the peace of Asia Minor; but Aryandes, to whose rule Cambyses had entrusted the valley of the Nile, displayed no less marked symptoms of disaffection, and deserved the same fate. Though he had not ventured to usurp openly the title of king, he had arrogated to himself all the functions and rights of royalty, and had manifested as great an independence in his government as if he had been an actual Pharaoh. The inhabitants of Gyrene did not approve of the eagerness displayed by their tyrant Arkesilas III. to place himself under the Persian yoke: after first expelling and then recalling him, they drove him away a second time, and at length murdered him at Barca, whither he had fled for refuge. Pheretimo came to Egypt to seek the help of Aryandes, just as Laarchos had formerly implored the assistance of Amasis, and represented to him that her son had fallen a victim to his devotion to his suzerain. It was a good opportunity to put to ransom one of the wealthiest countries of Africa; so the governor sent to the Cyrenaica all the men and vessels at his disposal. Barca was the only city to offer any resistance, and the Persian troops were detained for nine months motionless before its walls, and the city then only succumbed through treachery. Some detachments forced their way as far as the distant town of Euesperides,* and it is possible that Aryandes dreamt for a moment of realising the designs which Cambyses had formed against Carthage. Insufficiency of supplies stayed the advance of his generals; but the riches of their ally, Cyrene, offered them a strong temptation, and they were deliberating how they might make this wealth their own before returning to Memphis, and were, perhaps, on the point of risking the attempt, when they received orders to withdraw. The march across the desert proved almost fatal to them. The Libyans of Marmarica, attracted by the spoils with which the Persian troops were laden, harassed them incessantly, and inflicted on them serious losses; they succeeded, however, in arriving safely with their prisoners, among whom were the survivors of the inhabitants of Barca. At this time the tide of fortune was setting strongly in favour of Darius: Aryandes, anxious to propitiate that monarch, despatched these wretched captives to Persia as a trophy of his success, and Darius sent them into Bactriana, where they founded a new Barca.**
* This is the town which later on under the Lagidae received the name of Berenice, and which is now called Benghazi.
** It is doubtless to these acts of personal authority on the part of Aryandes that Darius alludes in the Behistun Inscription, when he says, |While I was before Babylon, the following provinces revolted against me -- Persia and Susiana, the Medes and Assyria, and the Egyptians...|
But this tardy homage availed him nothing. Darius himself visited Egypt and disembarrassed himself of 'his troublesome subject by his summary execution, inflicted, some said, because he had issued coins of a superior fineness to those of the royal mint,* while, according to others, it was because he had plundered Egypt and so ill-treated the Egyptians as to incite them to rebellion.
* It is not certain that Aryandes did actually strike any coinage in his own name, and perhaps Herodotus has only repeated a popular story current in Egypt in his days. If this money actually existed, its coinage was but a pretext employed by Darius; the true motive of the condemnation of Aryandes was certainly an armed revolt, or a serious presumption of revolutionary intentions.
After the suppression of this rival, Darius set himself to win the affection of his Egyptian province, or, at least, to render its servitude bearable. With a country so devout and so impressed with its own superiority over all other nations, the best means of accomplishing his object was to show profound respect for its national gods and its past glory. Darius, therefore, proceeded to shower favours on the priests, who had been subject to persecution ever since the disastrous campaign in Ethiopia. Cambyses had sent into exile in Elam the chief priest of Sais -- that Uza-harrisniti who had initiated him into the sacred rites; Darius gave permission to this important personage to return to his native land, and commissioned him to repair the damage inflicted by the madness of the son of Cyrus. Uzaharrisniti, escorted back with honour to his native city, re-established there the colleges of sacred scribes, and restored to the temple of Nit the lands and revenues which had been confiscated. Greek tradition soon improved upon the national account of this episode, and asserted that Darius took an interest in the mysteries of Egyptian theology, and studied the sacred books, and that on his arrival at Memphis in 517 B.C., immediately after the death of an Apis, he took part publicly in the general mourning, and promised a reward of a hundred talents of gold to whosoever should discover the successor of the bull. According to a popular story still current when Herodotus travelled in Egypt, the king visited the temple of Pthah before leaving Memphis, and ordered his statue to be erected there beside that of Sesostris. The priests refused to obey this command, for, said they, |Darius has not equalled the deeds of Sesostris: he has not conquered the Scythians, whom Sesostris overcame.| Darius replied that |he hoped to accomplish as much as Sesostris had done, if he lived as long as Sesostris,| and so conciliated the patriotic pride of the priests. The Egyptians, grateful for his moderation, numbered him among the legislators whose memory they revered, by the side of Menes, Asykhis, Bocchoris, and Sabaco.
The whole empire was now obedient to the will of one man, but the ordeal from which it had recently escaped showed how loosely the elements of it were bound together, and with what facility they could be disintegrated. The system of government in force hitherto was that introduced into Assyria by Tiglath-pileser III., which had proved so eminently successful in the time of Sargon and his descendants; Babylon and Ecbatana had inherited it from Nineveh, and Persepolis had in turn adopted it from Ecbatana and Babylon. It had always been open to objections, of which by no means the least was the great amount of power and independence accorded by it to the provincial governors; but this inconvenience had been little felt when the empire was of moderate dimensions, and when no province permanently annexed to the empire lay at any very great distance from the capital for the time being. But this was no longer the case, now that Persian rule extended over nearly the whole of Asia, from the Indus to the Thracian Bosphorus, and over a portion of Africa also. It must have seemed far from prudent to set governors invested with almost regal powers over countries so distant that a decree despatched from the palace might take several weeks to reach its destination. The heterogeneity of the elements in each province was a guarantee of peace in the eyes of the sovereign, and Darius carefully abstained from any attempt at unification: not only did he allow vassal republics, and tributary kingdoms and nations to subsist side by side, but he took care that each should preserve its own local dynasty, language, writing, customs, religion, and peculiar legislation, besides the right to coin money stamped with the name of its chief or its civic symbol. The Greek cities of the coast maintained their own peculiar constitutions which they had enjoyed under the Mernmadas; Darius merely required that the chief authority among them should rest in the hands of the aristocratic party, or in those of an elective or hereditary tyrant whose personal interest secured his fidelity. The Carians,* Lycians,** Pamphylians, and Cilicians*** continued under the rule of their native princes, subject only to the usual obligations. of the corvee, taxation, and military service as in past days; the majority of the barbarous tribes which inhabited the Taurus and the mountainous regions in the centre of Asia Minor were even exempted from all definite taxes, and were merely required to respect the couriers, caravans, and armies which passed through their territory.
* Herodotus cites among the commanders of the Persian fleet three Carian dynasts, Histiseus, Pigres, and Damasithymus, besides the famous Artemisia of Halicarnassus.
** In Herodotus where a dynast named Kyberniskos, son of Sika, is mentioned among the commanders of the fleet. The received text of Herodotus needs correction, and we should read Kybernis, son of Kossika, some of whose coins are still in existence.
*** The Cilician contingent in the fleet of Xerxes at Salamis was commanded by Syennesis himself, and Cilicia never had a satrap until the time of Cyrus the younger.
[Illustration: 181.jpg MAP OF THE ARCHAEMENIAN STRAPIES]
Native magistrates and kings still bore sway in Phoenicia* and Cyprus, and the shekhs of the desert preserved their authority over the marauding and semi-nomadic tribes of Idumasa, Nabatsea, Moab, and Ammon, and the wandering Bedawin on the Euphrates and the Khabur. Egypt, under Darius, remained what she had been under the Saitic and Ethiopian dynasties, a feudal state governed by a Pharaoh, who, though a foreigner, was yet reputed to be of the solar race; the land continued to be divided unequally into diverse principalities, Thebes still preserving its character as a theocracy under the guidance of the pallacide of Amon and her priestly counsellors, while the other districts subsisted under military chieftains. Our information concerning the organisation of the central and eastern provinces is incomplete, but it is certain that here also the same system prevailed. In the years of peace which succeeded the troubled opening of his reign, that is, from 519 to 515 B.C.,** Darius divided the whole empire into satrapies, whose number varied at different periods of his reign from twenty to twenty-three, and even twenty-eight.***
* Three kings, viz. the kings of Sidon, Tyre, and Arvad, bore commands in the Phoenician fleet of Xerxes.
** Herodotus states that this dividing of the empire into provinces took place immediately after the accession of Darius, and this mistake is explained by the fact that he ignores almost entirely the civil wars which filled the earliest years of the reign. His enumeration of twenty satrapies comprises India and omits Thrace, which enables us to refer the drawing up of his list to a period before the Scythian campaign, viz. before 514 B.C. Herodotus very probably copied it from the work of Hecatseus of Miletus, and consequently it reproduces a document contemporary with Darius himself.
*** The number twenty is, as has been remarked, that given by Herodotus, and probably by Hecataeus of Miletus. The great Behistun Inscription enumerates twenty-three countries, and the Inscription of Nakhsh-i-Rustem gives twenty-eight.
Persia proper was not included among these, for she had been the cradle of the reigning house, and the instrument of conquest.*
* In the great Behistun Inscription Darius mentions Persia first of all the countries in his possession. In the Inscription E of Persepolis he omits it entirely, and in that of Nakhsh-i-Rustem he does not include it in the general catalogue.
The Iranian table-land, and the parts of India or regions beyond the Oxus which bordered on it, formed twelve important vice-royalties -- Media, Hyrcania, Parthia, Zaranka, Aria, Khorasmia, Bactriana, Sogdiana, Gandaria, and the country of the Sakae -- reaching from the plains of Tartary almost to the borders of China, the country of the Thatagus in the upper basin of the Elmend, Arachosia, and the land of Maka on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Ten satrapies were reckoned in the west -- Uvaya, Elam, in which lay Susa, one of the favourite residences of Darius; Babirus (Babylon) and Chaldaea; Athura, the ancient kingdom of Assyria; Arabaya, stretching from the Khabur to the Litany, the Jordan, and the Orontes; Egypt, the peoples of the sea, among whom were reckoned the Phoenicians, Cilicians, and Cypriots, and the islanders of the AEgean; Yauna, which comprised Lycia, Caria, and the Greek colonies along the coast; Sparda, with Phrygia and Mysia; Armenia; and lastly, Katpatuka or Cappadocia, which lay on both sides of the Halys from the Taurus to the Black Sea. If each of these provinces had been governed, as formerly, by a single individual, who thus became king in all but name and descent, the empire would have run great risk of a speedy dissolution. Darius therefore avoided concentrating the civil and military powers in the same hands. In each province he installed three officials independent of each other, but each in direct communication with himself -- a satrap, a general, and a secretary of state. The satraps were chosen from any class in the nation, from among the poor as well as from among the wealthy, from foreigners as well as from Persians;* but the most important satrapies were bestowed only on persons allied by birth** or marriage with the Achaemenids,*** and, by preference, on the legitimate descendants of the six noble houses. They were not appointed for any prescribed period, but continued in office during the king's pleasure. They exercised absolute authority in all civil matters, and maintained a court, a body-guard,**** palaces and extensive parks, or paradises, where they indulged in the pleasures of the chase; they controlled the incidence of taxation,^ administered justice, and possessed the power of life and death.
* Herodotus mentions a satrap chosen from among the Lydians, Pactyas, and another satrap of Greek extraction, Xenagoras of Halicarnassus.
** The most characteristic instance is that of Hystaspes, who was satrap of Persia under Oambyses, and of Parthia and Hyrcania under his own son. One of the brothers of Darius, Artaphernes, was satrap of Sardes, and three of the king's sons, Achemenes, Ariabignes, and Masistes, were satraps of Egypt, Ionia, and Bactriana respectively.
*** To understand how well established was the custom of bestowing satrapies on those only who were allied by marriage to the royal house, it is sufficient to recall the fact that, later on, under Xerxes I., when Pausanias, King of Sparta, had thoughts of obtaining the position of satrap in Greece, he asked for the hand of an Achaemenian princess.
**** We know, for example, that Orcotes, satrap of Sardes under Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius, had a body-guard of 1000 Persians.
^ Thus, Artaphernes, satrap of Sardes, had a cadastral survey made of the territory of the Ionians, and by the results of this survey he regulated the imposition of taxes, |which from that time up to the present day are exacted according to his ordinance.|
Attached to each satrap was a secretary of state, who ostensibly acted as his chancellor, but whose real function was to exercise a secret supervision over his conduct and report upon it to the imperial ministers.* The Persian troops, native militia and auxiliary forces quartered in the province, were placed under the orders, moreover, of a general, who was usually hostile to the satrap and the secretary.** These three officials counterbalanced each other, and held each other mutually in check, so that a revolt was rendered very difficult, if not impossible. All three were kept in constant communication with the court by relays of regular couriers, who carried their despatches on horseback or on camels, from one end of Asia to the other, in the space of a few weeks.***
* The role played by the secretary is clearly indicated by the history of Orotes, satrap of Sardes.
** While Darius appoints his brother Artaphernes satrap of Lydia, he entrusts the command of the army and the fleet to Otanes, son of Sisamnes. Similarly several generals are met with at the side of Artaphernes in the Ionic revolt.
*** Xenophon compares their speed in travelling to the flight of birds. A good example of the use of the camel for the postal service is cited by Strabo, on the occasion of the death of Philotas and the execution of Parmenion under Alexander.
The most celebrated of the post-roads was that which ran from Sardes to Susa through Lydia and Phrygia, crossing the Halys, traversing Cappadocia and Cilicia, and passing through Armenia and across the Euphrates, until at length, after passing through Matiene and the country of the Cossaeans, it reached Elam. This main route was divided into one hundred and eleven stages, which were performed by couriers on horseback and partly in ferry-boats, in eighty-four days. Other routes, of which we have no particular information, led to Egypt, Media, Bactria, and India,* and by their means the imperial officials in the capital were kept fully informed of all that took place in the most distant parts of the empire. As an extra precaution, the king sent out annually certain officers, called his |eyes| or his |ears,|** who appeared on the scene when they were least expected, and investigated the financial or political situation, reformed abuses in the administration, and reprimanded or even suspended the government officials; they were accompanied by a body of troops to support their decisions, whose presence invested their counsels with the strongest sanction.*** An unfavourable report, a slight irregularity, a mere suspicion, even, was sufficient to disqualify a satrap. Sometimes he was deposed, often secretly condemned to death without a trial, and the execution of the judgment was committed even to his own servants.
* Ctesias at the end of his work describes the route leading from Ephesus to Bactriana and India. It is probable that the route described by Isidorus of Charax in his Stathma Parthica already existed in the times of the Achaemenids, and was traversed by their postal couriers.
** Mention of the Eye of the king occurs in Herodotus, in AEschylus, and in Plutarch, of the Ear in Xenophon; cf. the Persian proverb, according to which |The king has many eyes and many ears.|
*** Xenophon affirms that these inspections were still held in his day.
[Illustration: 186.jpg Street Vender of Curios] After the Painting by Gerome.
A messenger would arrive unexpectedly, and remit to the guards an order charging them to put their chief to death -- an order which was promptly executed at the mere sight of the royal decree.
This reform in the method of government was displeasing to the Persian nobles, whose liberty of action it was designed to curtail, and they took their revenge in sneering at the obedience they could not refuse to render. Cyrus, they said, had been a father, Cambyses a master, but Darius was only a pedler greedy of gain. The chief reason for this division of the empire into provinces was, indeed, fiscal rather than political: to arrange the incidence of taxation in his province, to collect the revenue in due time and forward the total amount to the imperial treasury, formed the fundamental duty of a satrap, to which all others had to yield. Persia proper was exempt from the payment of any fixed sum, its inhabitants being merely required to offer presents to the king whenever he passed through their districts. These semi-compulsory gifts were proportioned to the fortunes of the individual contributors; they might consist merely of an ox or a sheep, a little milk or cheese, some dates, a handful of flour, or some vegetables. The other provinces, after being subjected to a careful survey, were assessed partly in money, partly in kind, according to their natural capacity or wealth. The smallest amount of revenue raised in any province amounted to 170 talents of silver -- the sum, for instance, collected from Arachosia with its dependencies Gedrosia and Grandara; while Egypt yielded a revenue of 700 talents, and the amount furnished by Babylon, the wealthiest province of all, amounted to 1000 talents. The total revenue of the empire reached the enormous sum of.L3,311,997, estimated by weight of silver, which is equivalent to over L26,000,000 of modern English money, if the greater value of silver in antiquity is taken into consideration. In order to facilitate the collection of the revenue, Darius issued the gold and silver coins which are named after him. On the obverse side these darics are stamped with a figure of the sovereign, armed with the bow or javelin. They were coined on the scale of 3000 gold darics to one talent, each daric weighing normally.2788 oz. troy, and being worth exactly 20 silver drachmae or Medic shekels; so that the relative value of the two metals was approximately 1 to 13 1/2|.
[Illustration: 188.jpg daric of darius, SON OF HYSTASPES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a specimen in the Bibliotheque Nationale.
The most ancient type of daric was thick and irregular in shape, and rudely stamped, but of remarkable fineness, the amount of alloy being never more than three per cent. The use of this coinage was nowhere obligatory, and it only became general in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, where it met the requirements of international traffic and political relations, and in the payment of the army and the navy. In the interior, the medium of exchange used in wholesale and retail commercial transactions continued to be metals estimated by weight, and the kings of Persia themselves preferred to store their revenues in the shape of bullion; as the metal was received at the royal treasury it was melted and poured into clay moulds, and was minted into money only gradually, according to the whim or necessity of the moment.*
* Arrian relates that Alexander found 50,000 talents' weight of silver in the treasury at Susa; other hoards quite as rich were contained in the palaces of Persepolis and Pasargadae.
Taxes in kind were levied even more largely than in money, but the exact form they assumed in the different regions of the empire has not yet been ascertained. The whole empire was divided into districts, which were charged with the victualling of the army and the court, and Babylon alone bore a third of the charges under this head. We learn elsewhere that Egypt was bound to furnish corn for the 120,000 men of the army of occupation, and that the fisheries of the Fayum yielded the king a yearly revenue of 240 talents. The Medes furnished similarly 100,000 sheep, 4000 mules, and 3000 horses; the Armenians, 30,000 foals; the Cilicians, 365 white horses, one for each day in the year; the Babylonians, 500 youthful eunuchs; and any city or town which produced or manufactured any valuable commodity was bound to furnish a regular supply to the sovereign. Thus, Chalybon provided wine; Libya and the Oases, salt; India, dogs, with whose support four large villages in Babylonia were charged; the AEolian Assos, cheese; and other places, in like manner, wool, wines, dyes, medicines, and chemicals. These imperial taxes, though they seem to us somewhat heavy, were not excessive, but taken by themselves they give us no idea of the burdens which each province had to resign itself to bear. The state provided no income for the satraps; their maintenance and that of their suite were charged on the province, and they made ample exactions on the natives. The province of Babylon was required to furnish its satrap daily with an ardeb of silver; Egypt, India, Media, and Syria each provided a no less generous allowance for its governor, and the poorest provinces were not less heavily burdened. The satraps required almost as much to satisfy their requirements as did the king; but for the most part they fairly earned their income, and saved more to their subjects than they extorted from them. They repressed brigandage, piracy, competition between the various cities, and local wars; while quarrels, which formerly would have been settled by an appeal to arms, were now composed before their judgment-seats, and in case of need the rival factions were forcibly compelled to submit to their decisions. They kept up the roads, and afforded complete security to travellers by night and day; they protected industries and agriculture, and, in accordance with the precepts of their religious code, they accounted it an honourable task to break up waste land or replant deserted sites. Darius himself did not disdain to send congratulations to a satrap who had planted trees in Asia Minor, and laid out one of those wooded parks in which the king delighted to refresh himself after the fatigues of government, by the exercise of walking or in the pleasures of the chase. In spite of its defects, the system of government inaugurated by Darius secured real prosperity to his subjects, and to himself a power far greater than that enjoyed by any of his predecessors. It rendered revolts on the part of the provincial governors extremely difficult, and enabled the court to draw up a regular budget and provide for its expenses without any undue pressure on its subjects; in one point only was it defective, but that point was a cardinal one, namely, in the military organisation. Darius himself maintained, for his personal protection, a bodyguard recruited from the Persians and the Medes. It was divided into three corps, consisting respectively of 2000 cavalry, 2000 infantry of noble birth, armed with lances whose shafts were ornamented below with apples of gold or silver -- whence their name of melophori -- and under them the 10,000 |immortals,| in ten battalions, the first of which had its lances ornamented with golden pomegranates. This guard formed the nucleus of the standing army, which could be reinforced by the first and second grades of Persian and Median feudal nobility at the first summons. Forces of varying strength garrisoned the most important fortresses of the empire, such as Sardes, Memphis, Elephantine, Daphnae, Babylon, and many others, to hold the restless natives in check. These were, indeed, the only regular troops on which the king could always rely. Whenever a war broke out which demanded no special effort, the satraps of the provinces directly involved summoned the military contingents of the cities and vassal states under their control, and by concerted action endeavoured to bring the affair to a successful issue without the necessity of an appeal to the central authority. If, on the contrary, troubles arose which threatened the welfare of the whole empire, and the sovereign felt called upon to conduct the campaign in person, he would mobilise his guard, and summon the reserves from several provinces or even from all of them. Veritable hordes of recruits then poured in, but these masses of troops, differing from each other in their equipment and methods of fighting, in disposition and in language, formed a herd of men rather than an army. They had no cohesion or confidence in themselves, and their leaders, unaccustomed to command such enormous numbers, suffered themselves to be led rather than exercise authority as guides. Any good qualities the troops may have possessed were neutralised by lack of unity in their methods of action, and their actual faults exaggerated this defect, so that, in spite of their splendid powers of endurance and their courage under every ordeal, they ran the risk of finding themselves in a state of hopeless inferiority when called upon to meet armies very much smaller, but composed of homogenous elements, all animated with the same spirit and drilled in the same school.
By continual conquests, the Persians were now reduced to only two outlets for their energies, in two opposite directions -- in the east towards India, in the west towards Greece. Everywhere else their advance was arrested by the sea or other obstacles almost as impassable to their heavily armed battalions: to the north the empire was bounded by the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and the Siberian steppes; to the south, by the Indian Ocean, the sandy table-land of Arabia, and the African deserts. At one moment, about 512 B.C., it is possible that they pushed forward towards the east.*
* India is not referred to in the Behistun Inscription, but is mentioned in one of the Inscriptions of Persepolis, and in that of Nakhsh-i-Rustem. The campaign in which it was subjugated must be placed about 512 B.C.
[Illustration: 192.jpg FUNERAL OFFERINGS.]
From the Iranian plateau they beheld from afar the immense plain of the Hapta Hindu (or the Punjab). Darius invaded this territory, and made himself master of extensive districts which he formed into a new satrapy, that of India, but subsequently, renouncing all idea of pushing eastward as far as the Granges, he turned his steps towards the southeast. A fleet, constructed at Peukela and placed under the command of a Greek admiral, Scylax of Caryanda, descended the Indus by order of the king;* subjugating the tribes who dwelt along the banks as he advanced, Scylax at length reached the ocean, on which he ventured forth, undismayed by the tides, and proceeded in a westerly direction, exploring, in less than thirty months, the shores of Gedrosia and Arabia.
* Scylax published an account of his voyage which was still extant in the time of Aristotle. Hugo Berger questions the authenticity of the circumnavigation of Arabia, as that of the circumnavigation of Africa under Necho.
Once on the threshold of India, the Persians saw open before them a brilliant and lucrative career: the circumstances which prevented them from following up this preliminary success are unknown -- perhaps the first developments of nascent Buddhism deterred them -- but certain it is that they arrested their steps when they had touched merely the outskirts of the basin of the Indus, and retreated at once towards the west. The conquest of Lydia, and subsequently of the Greek cities and islands along the coast of the AEgean, had doubtless enriched the empire by the acquisition of active subject populations, whose extraordinary aptitude in the arts of peace as well as of war might offer incalculable resources to a sovereign who should know how to render them tractable and rule them wisely. Not only did they possess the elements of a navy as enterprising and efficacious as that of the Phoenicians, but the perfection of their equipment and their discipline on land rendered them always superior to any Asiatic army, in whatever circumstances, unless they were crushed by overwhelming numbers. Inquisitive, bold, and restless, greedy of gain, and inured to the fatigues and dangers of travel, the Greeks were to be encountered everywhere -- in Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, Babylon, and even Persia itself; and it was a Greek, we must remember, whom the great king commissioned to navigate the course of the Indus and the waters of the Indian Ocean. At the same time, the very ardour of their temperament, and their consequent pride, their impatience of all regular control, their habitual proneness to civic strife, and to sanguinary quarrels with the inhabitants of the neighbouring cities, rendered them the most dangerous subjects imaginable to govern, and their loyalty very uncertain. Moreover, their admission as vassals of the Persian empire had not altered their relations with European Greece, and commercial transactions between the opposite shores of the AEgean, inter-marriages, the travels of voyagers, movements of mercenaries, and political combinations, went on as freely and frequently under the satraps of Sardes as under the Mermnadas. It was to Corinth, Sparta, and Athens that the families banished by Cyrus after his conquest fled for refuge, and every time a change of party raised a new tyrant to power in one of the AEolian, Ionian, or Doric communities, the adherents of the deposed ruler rushed in similar manner to seek shelter among their friends across the sea, sure to repay their hospitality should occasion ever require it. Plots and counterplots were formed between the two shores, without any one paying much heed to the imperial authority of Persia, and the constant support which the subject Greeks found among their free brethren was bound before long to rouse the anger of the court at Susa. When Polycrates, foreseeing the fall of Amasis, placed himself under the suzerainty of Cambyses, the Corinthians and Spartans came to besiege him in Samos without manifesting any respect for the great king. They failed in this particular enterprise,* but later on, after Oroetes had been seized and put to death, it was to the Spartans that the successor of Polycrates, Maaandrios, applied for help to assert his claim to the possession of the tyranny against Syloson, brother of Polycrates and a personal friend of Darius.**
* The date of the death of Polycrates must be placed between that of the conquest of Egypt and that of the revolt of Gaumata, either in 524 or 523 B.C.
** The reinstatement of Syloson may be placed in 516 B.C., about the time when Darius was completing the reorganisation of the empire and preparing to attack Greece.
This constant intervention of the foreigner was in evident contradiction to the spirit which had inspired the reorganisation of the empire. Just when efforts were being made to strengthen the imperial power and ensure more effective obedience from the provincials by the institution of satrapies, it was impossible to put up with acts of unwarrantable interference, which would endanger the prestige of the sovereign and the authority of his officers. Conquest presented the one and only natural means of escape from the difficulties of the present situation and of preventing their recurrence; when satraps should rule over the European as well as over the Asiatic coasts of the AEgean, all these turbulent Greeks would be forced to live at peace with one another and in awe of the sovereign, as far as their fickle nature would allow. It was not then, as is still asserted, the mere caprice of a despot which brought upon the Greek world the scourge of the Persian wars, but the imperious necessity of security, which obliges well-organised empires to subjugate in turn all the tribes and cities which cause constant trouble on its frontiers. Darius, who was already ruler of a good third of the Hellenic world, from Trebizond to Barca, saw no other means of keeping what he already possessed, and of putting a stop to the incessant fomentation of rebellion in his own territories, than to conquer the mother-country as he had conquered the colonies, and to reduce to subjection the whole of European Hellas.