The Median wars -- The last native dynasties of Egypt -- The Eastern world on the eve of the Macedonian conquest.
[Drawn by Boudier, from one of the sarcophagi of Sidon, now in the Museum of St. Irene. The vignette, which is by Faucher-Gudin, represents the sitting cyno-cephalus of Nectanebo I., now in the Egyptian Museum at the Vatican.]
Darius appears to have formed this project of conquest immediately after his first victories, when his initial attempts to institute satrapies had taught him not only the condition and needs of Asia Minor, but of the teaching the Scythians such a lesson as would prevent them from bearing down upon his right flank during his march, or upon his rear while engaged in a crucial struggle in the Hellenic peninsula. On the other hand, the geographical information possessed by the Persians with regard to the Danubian regions was of so vague a character, that Darius must have believed the Scythians to have been nearer to his line of operations, and their country less desolate than was really the case.* A flotilla, commanded by Ariaramnes, satrap of Cappadocia, ventured across the Black Sea in 515,** landed a few thousand men upon the opposite shore, and brought back prisoners who furnished those in command with the information they required.***
* The motives imputed to Darius by the ancients for making this expedition are the desire of avenging the disasters of the Scythian invasion, or of performing an exploit which should render him as famous as his predecessors in the eyes of posterity.
** The reconnaissance of Ariaramnes is intimately connected with the expedition itself in Ctesias, and could have preceded it by a few months only. If we take for the date of the latter the year 514-513, the date given in the Table of the Capitol, that of the former cannot be earlier than 515. Ariaramnes was not satrap of Cappadocia, for Cappadocia belonged then to the satrapy of Daskylion.
*** The supplementary paragraphs of the Inscription of Behistun speak of an expedition of Darius against the Sako, which is supposed to have had as its objective either the sea of Aral or the Tigris. Would it not be possible to suppose that the sea mentioned is the Pontus Euxinus, and to take the mutilated text of Behistun to be a description either of the campaign beyond the Danube, or rather of the preliminary reconnaissance of Ariaramnes a year before the expedition itself?
Darius, having learned what he could from these poor wretches, crossed the Bosphorus in 514, with a body of troops which tradition computed at 800,000, conquered the eastern coast of Thrace, and won his way in a series of conflicts as far as the Ister. The Ionian sailors built for him a bridge of boats, which he entrusted to their care, and he then started forward into the steppes in search of the enemy. The Scythians refused a pitched battle, but they burnt the pastures before him on every side, filled up the wells, carried off the cattle, and then slowly retreated into the interior, leaving Darius to face the vast extent of the steppes and the terrors of famine. Later tradition stated that he wandered for two months in these solitudes between the Ister and the Tanais; he had constructed on the banks of this latter river a series of earthworks, the remains of which were shown in the time of Herodotus, and had at length returned to his point of departure with merely the loss of a few sick men. The barbarians stole a march upon him, and advised the Greeks to destroy the bridge, retire within their cities, and abandon the Persians to their fate. The tyrant of the Ohersonnesus, Miltiades the Athenian, was inclined to follow their advice; but Histiasus, the governor of Miletus, opposed it, and eventually carried his point. Darius reached the southern bank without difficulty, and returned to Asia.*
* Ctesias limits the campaign beyond the Danube to a fifteen days' march; and Strabo places the crossing of the Danube near the mouth of that river, at the island of Peuke, and makes the expedition stop at the Dniester. Neither the line of direction of the Persian advance nor their farthest point reached is known. The eight forts which they were said to have built, the ruins of which were shown on the banks of the Oaros as late as the time of Herodotus, were probably tumuli similar to those now met with on the Russian steppes, the origin of which is ascribed by the people to persons celebrated in their history or traditions.
The Greek towns of Thrace thought themselves rid of him, and rose in revolt; but he left 80,000 men in Europe who, at first under Megabyzos, and then under Otanes, reduced them to subjection one after another, and even obliged Amyntas I., the King of Macedonia, to become a tributary of the empire. The expedition had not only failed to secure the submission of the Scythians, but apparently provoked reprisals on their part, and several of their bands penetrated ere long into the Chersonnesus. It nevertheless was not without solid result, for it showed that Darius, even if he could not succeed in subjugating the savage Danubian tribes, had but little to fear from them; it also secured for him a fresh province, that of Thrace, and, by the possession of Macedonia, brought his frontier into contact with Northern Greece. The overland route, in any case the more satisfactory of the two, was now in the hands of the invader.
Revolutions at Athens prevented him from setting out on his expedition as soon as he had anticipated. Hippias had been overthrown in 510, and having taken refuge at Sigoum, was seeking on all sides for some one to avenge him against his fellow-citizens. The satrap of Sardes, Arta-phernes, declined at first to listen to him, for he hoped that the Athenians themselves would appeal to him, without his being obliged to have recourse to their former tyrant. As a matter of fact, they sent him an embassy, and begged his help against the Spartans. He promised it on condition that they would yield the traditional homage of earth and water, and their delegates complied with his demand, though on their return to Athens they were disowned by the citizens (508). Artaphernes, disappointed in this direction, now entered into communications with Hippias, and such close relations soon existed between the two that the Athenians showed signs of uneasiness. Two years later they again despatched fresh deputies to Sardes to beg the satrap not to espouse the cause of their former ruler. For a reply the satrap summoned them to recall the exiles, and, on their refusing (506),* their city became thenceforward the ostensible objective of the Persian army and fleet. The partisans of Hippias within the town were both numerous and active; it was expected that they would rise and hand over the city as soon as their chief should land on a point of territory with a force sufficient to intimidate the opposing faction. Athens in the hands of Hippias, would mean Athens in the hands of the Persians, and Greece accessible to the Persian hordes at all times by the shortest route. Darius therefore prepared to make the attempt, and in order to guard against any mishap, he caused all the countries that he was about to attack to be explored beforehand. Spies attached to his service were sent to scour the coasts of the Peloponnesus and take note of all its features, the state of its ports, the position of the islands and the fortresses; and they penetrated as far as Italy, if we may believe the story subsequently told to Herodotus.**
* Herodotus fixes the date at the time when the Athenians first ostracised the principal partisans of the
Pisistratids, and amongst others Hipparchus, son of Charmes, i.e. in 507-6.
** Herodotus said that Darius sent spies with the physician Democedes of Crotona shortly before the Scythian expedition.
While he thus studied the territory from a distance, he did not neglect precautions nearer to hand, but ordered the Milesians to occupy in his name the principal stations of the AEgean between Ionia and Attica. Histiasus, whose loyalty had stood Darius in such good stead at the bridge over the Danube, did not, however, appear to him equal to so delicate a task: the king summoned him to Susa on some slight pretext, loaded him with honours, and replaced him by his nephew Aristagoras. Aristagoras at once attempted to justify the confidence placed in him by taking possession of Naxos; but the surprise that he had prepared ended in failure, discontent crept in among his men, and after a fruitless siege of four months he was obliged to withdraw (499).* His failure changed the tide of affairs. He was afraid that the Persians would regard it as a crime, and this fear prompted him to risk everything to save his fortune and his life. He retired from his office as tyrant, exhorted the Milesians, who were henceforth free to do so, to make war on the barbarians, and seduced from their allegiance the crews of the vessels just returned from Naxos, and still lying in the mouths of the Meander; the tyrants who commanded them were seized, some exiled, and some put to death. The AEolians soon made common cause with their neighbours the Ionians, and by the last days of autumn the whole of the AEgean littoral was under arms (499).**
* Herodotus attributes an unlikely act of treachery to Megabates the Persian, who was commanding the Iranian contingent attached to the Ionian troops.
** The Dorian cities took no part in the revolt -- at least Herodotus never mentions them among the confederates. The three Ionian cities of Ephesus, Kolophon, and Lebedos also seem to have remained aloof, and we know that the Ephesians were not present at the battle of Lade.
From the outset Aristagoras realised that they would be promptly overcome if Asiatic Hellas were not supported by Hellas in Europe. While the Lydian satrap was demanding reinforcements from his sovereign, Aristagoras therefore repaired to the Peloponnesus as a suppliant for help. Sparta, embroiled in one of her periodical quarrels with Argos, gave him an insolent refusal;* even Athens, where the revolution had for the moment relieved her from the fear of the Pisistratidaa and the terrors of a barbarian invasion, granted him merely twenty triremes -- enough to draw down reprisals on her immediately after their defeat, without sensibly augmenting the rebels' chances of success; to the Athenian contingent Bretria added five vessels, and this comprised his whole force. The leaders of the movement did not hesitate to assume the offensive with these slender resources. As early as the spring of 498, before Artaphernes had received reinforcements, they marched suddenly on Sardes. They burnt the lower town, but, as on many previous occasions, the citadel held out; after having encamped for several days at the foot of its rock, they returned to Ephesus laden with the spoil.**
* Aristagoras had with him a map of the world engraved on a bronze plate, which was probably a copy of the chart drawn up by Hecatseus of Miletus.
** Herodotus says that the Ionians on their return suffered a serious reverse near Ephesus. The author seems to have adopted some Lydian or Persian tradition hostile to the Ionians, for Charon of Lampsacus, who lived nearer to the time of these events, mentions only the retreat, and hints at no defeat. If the expedition had really ended in this disaster, it is not at all likely that the revolt would have attained the dimensions it did immediately afterwards.
This indeed was a check to their hostilities, and such an abortive attempt was calculated to convince them of their powerlessness against the foreign rule. None the less, however, when it was generally known that they had burnt the capital of Asia Minor, and had with impunity made the representative of the great king feel in his palace the smoke of the conflagration, the impression was such as actual victory could have produced. The cities which had hitherto hesitated to join them, now espoused their cause -- the ports of the Troad and the Hellespont, Lycia, the Carians, and Cyprus -- and their triumph would possibly have been secured had Greece beyond the AEgean followed the general movement and joined the coalition. Sparta, however, persisted in her indifference, and Athens took the opportunity of withdrawing from the struggle. The Asiatic Greeks made as good a defence as they could, but their resources fell far short of those of the enemy, and they could do no more than delay the catastrophe and save their honour by their bravery. Cyprus was the first to yield during the winter of 498-497. Its vessels, in conjunction with those of the Ionians, dispersed the fleet of the Phoenicians off Salamis, but the troops of their princes, still imbued with the old system of military tactics, could not sustain the charge of the Persian battalions; they gave way under the walls of Salamis, and their chief, Onesilus, was killed in a final charge of his chariotry.*
* The movement in Cyprus must have begun in the winter of 499-498, for Onesilus was already in the field when Darius heard of the burning of Sardes; and as it lasted for a year, it must have been quelled in the winter of 498-497.
His death effected the ruin of the Ionian cause in Cyprus, which on the continent suffered at the same time no less serious reverses. The towns of the Hellespont and of AEolia succumbed one after another; Kyme and Clazomenae next opened their gates; the Carians were twice beaten, once near the White Columns, and again near Labranda, and their victory at Pedasos suspended merely for an instant the progress of the Persian arms, so that towards the close of 497 the struggle was almost entirely concentrated round Miletus. Aristagoras, seeing that his cause was now desperate, agreed with his partisans that they should expatriate themselves. He fell fighting against the Edonians of Thrace, attempting to force the important town of Enneahodoi, near the mouth of the Strymon (496);* but his defection had not discouraged any one, and Histiseus, who had been sent to Sardes by the great king to negotiate the submission of the rebels, failed in his errand. Even when blockaded on the land side, Miletus could defy an attack so long as communication with the sea was not cut off.
* In Herodotus the town is not named, but a passage in Thucydides shows that it was Enneahodoi, afterwards Amphipolis, and that the death of Aristagoras took place thirty-two years before the Athenian defeat at Drabeskos, i.e. probably in 496.
[Illustration: 209.jpg A CYPRIOT CHARIOT]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the terra-cotta group in the New York Museum.
Darius therefore brought up the Phoenician fleet, reinforced it with the Cypriot contingents, and despatched the united squadrons to the Archipelago during the summer of 494. The confederates, even after the disasters of the preceding years, still possessed 353 vessels, most of them of 30 to 50 oars; they were, however, completely defeated near the small island of Lade, in the latter part of the summer, and Miletus, from that moment cut off from the rest of the world, capitulated a few weeks later. A small proportion of its inhabitants continued to dwell in the ruined city, but the greater number were carried away to Ampe, at the mouth of the Tigris, in the marshes of the Nar-Marratum.*
* The year 497, i.e. three years before the capture of the town, appears to be an unlikely date for the battle of Lade: Miletus must have fallen in the autumn or winter months following the defeat.
Caria was reconquered during the winter of 494-493, and by the early part of 493, Chios, Lesbos, Tenedos, the cities of the Chersonnesus and of Propontis -- in short, all which yet held out -- were reduced to obedience. Artaphernes reorganised his vanquished states entirely in the interest of Persia. He did not interfere with the constitutions of the several republics, but he reinstated the tyrants. He regulated and augmented the various tributes, prohibited private wars, and gave to the satrap the right of disposing of all quarrels at his own tribunal. The measures which he adopted had long after his day the force of law among the Asiatic Greeks, and it was by them they regulated their relations with the representatives of the great king.
If Darius had ever entertained doubts as to the necessity for occupying European Greece to ensure the preservation of peace in her Asiatic sister-country, the revolt of Ionia must have completely dissipated them. It was a question whether the cities which had so obstinately defied him for six long years, would ever resign themselves to servitude as long as they saw the peoples of their race maintaining their independence on the opposite shores of the AEgean, and while the misdeeds of which the contingents of Eretria and Athens had been guilty during the rebellion remained unpunished. A tradition, which sprang up soon after the event, related that on hearing of the burning of Sardes, Darius had bent his bow and let fly an arrow towards the sky, praying Zeus to avenge him on the Athenians: and at the same time he had commanded one of his slaves to repeat three times a day before him, at every meal, |Sire, remember the Athenians!|*
* The legend is clearly older than the time of Herodotus, for in the Persae of Eschylus the shade of Darius, when coming out of his tomb, cries to the old men, |Remember Athens and Greece!|
As a matter of fact, the intermeddling of these strangers between the sovereign and his subjects was at once a serious insult to the Achaemenids and a cause of anxiety to the empire; to leave it unpunished would have been an avowal of weakness or timidity, which would not fail to be quickly punished in Syria, Egypt, Babylon, and on the Scythian frontiers, and would ere long give rise to similar acts of revolt and interference. Darius, therefore, resumed his projects, but with greater activity than before, and with a resolute purpose to make a final reckoning with the Greeks, whatever it might cost him. The influence of his nephew Mardonius at first inclined him to adopt the overland route, and he sent him into Thrace with a force of men and a fleet of galleys sufficient to overcome all obstacles. Mardonius marched against the Greek colonies and native tribes which had throw off the yoke during the Ionian war, and reduced those who had still managed to preserve their independence. The Bryges opposed him with such determination, that summer was drawing to its close before he was able to continue his march. He succeeded, however, in laying hands on Macedonia, and obliged its king, Alexander, to submit to the conditions accepted by his father Amyntas; but at this juncture half of his fleet was destroyed by a tempest in the vicinity of Mount Athos, and the disaster, which took place just as winter was approaching, caused him to suspend his operations (492). He was recalled on account of his failure, and the command was transferred to Datis the Mede and to the Persian Artaphernes. Darius, however, while tentatively using the land routes through Greece for his expeditions, had left no stone unturned to secure for himself that much-coveted sea-way which would carry him straight into the heart of the enemy's position, and he had opened negotiations with the republics of Greece proper. Several of them had consented to tender him earth and water, among them being AEgina,* and besides this, the state of the various factions in Athens was such, that he had every reason to believe that he could count on the support of a large section of the population when the day came for him to disembark his force on the shores of Attica.
* Herodotus states that all the island-dwelling Greeks submitted to the great king. But Herodotus himself says later on that the people of Naxos, at all events, proved refractory.
[Illustration: 212a.jpg ALEXANDER I. OF MACEDON]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
[Illustration: 212b.jpg A PHOENICIAN GALLEY]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin of Byblos in the Cabinet des Medailles.
He therefore decided to direct his next expedition against Athens itself, and he employed the year 491 in concentrating his troops and triremes in Cilicia, at a sufficient distance from the European coast to ensure their safety from any sudden attack. In the spring of 490 the army recruited from among the most warlike nations of the empire -- the Persians, Medes, and Sakse -- went aboard the Phoenician fleet, while galleys built on a special model were used as transports for the cavalry. The entire convoy sailed safely out of the mouth of the Pyramos to the port of Samos, coasting the shores of Asia Minor, and then passing through the Cyclades, from Samos to Naxos, where they met with no opposition from the inhabitants, headed for Delos, where Datis offered a sacrifice to Apollo, whom he confounded with his god Mithra; finally they reached Eubaea, where Eretria and Carystos vainly endeavoured to hold their own against them. Eretria was reduced to ashes, as Sardes had been, and such of its citizens as had not fled into the mountains at the enemy's approach were sent into exile among the Kissians in the township of Arderikka. Hippias meanwhile had joined the Persians and had been taken into their confidence. While awaiting the result of the intrigues of his partisans in Athens, he had advised Datis to land on the eastern coast of Attica, in the neighbourhood of Marathon, at the very place from whence his father Pisistratus had set out forty years before to return to his country after his first exile. The position was well chosen for the expected engagement.
[Illustration: 214.jpg MAP OF MARATHON]
The bay and the strand which bordered it afforded an excellent station for the fleet, and the plain, in spite of its marshes and brushwood, was one of those rare spots where cavalry might be called into play without serious drawbacks. A few hours on foot would bring the bulk of the infantry up to the Acropolis by a fairly good road, while by the same time the fleet would be able to reach the roadstead of Phalerum. All had been arranged beforehand for concerted action when the expected rising should take place; but it never did take place, and instead of the friends whom the Persians expected, an armed force presented itself, commanded by the polemarch Callimachus and the ten strategi, among whom figured the famous Miltiades. At the first news of the disembarkation of the enemy, the republic had despatched the messenger Phidippides to Sparta to beg for immediate assistance, and in the mean time had sent forward all her able-bodied troops to meet the invaders. They comprised about 10,000 hoplites, accompanied, as was customary, by nearly as many more light infantry, who were shortly reinforced by 1000 Plataeans. They encamped in the valley of Avlona, around a small temple of Heracles, in a position commanding the roads into the interior, and from whence they could watch the enemy without exposing themselves to an unexpected attack.
[Illustration: 215.jpg THE BATTLE-FIELD OF MARATHON]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. Amedee Hauvette.
The two armies watched each other for a fortnight, Datis expecting a popular outbreak which would render an engagement unnecessary, Miltiades waiting patiently till the Lacedaemonians had come up, or till some false move on the part of his opponent gave him the opportunity of risking a decisive action. What took place at the end of this time is uncertain. Whether Datis grew tired of inaction, or whether he suddenly resolved to send part of his forces by sea, so as to land on the neighbouring shore of Athens, and Miltiades fell upon his rear when only half his men had got on board the fleet, is not known. At any rate, Miltiades, with the Plataeans on his left, set his battalions in movement without warning, and charged the enemy with a rush. The Persians and the Sakae broke the centre of the line, but the two wings, after having dispersed the assailants on their front, wheeled round upon them and overcame them: 6000 barbarians were left dead upon the field as against some 200 Athenians and Plataeans, but by dint of their valiant efforts the remainder managed to save the fleet with a loss of only seven galleys. Datis anchored that evening off the island of AEgilia, and at the same moment the victorious army perceived a signal hoisted on the heights of Pentelicus apparently to attract his attention; when he set sail the next morning and, instead of turning eastwards, proceeded to double Cape Sunion, Miltiades had no longer any doubt that treachery was at work, and returned to Athens by forced marches. Datis, on entering the roads of Phalerum, found the shore defended, and the army that he had left at Marathon encamped upon the Cynosarge. He cruised about for a few hours in sight of the shore, and finding no movement made to encourage him to land, he turned his vessels about and set sail for Ionia.
The material loss to the Persians was inconsiderable, for even the Cyclades remained under their authority; Miltiades, who endeavoured to retake them, met with a reverse before Paros, and the Athenians, disappointed by his unsuccessful attempt, made no further efforts to regain them. The moral effect of the victory on Greece and the empire was extraordinary. Up till then the Median soldiers had been believed to be the only invincible troops in the world; the sight of them alone excited dread in the bravest hearts, and their name was received everywhere with reverential awe. But now a handful of hoplites from one of the towns of the continent, and that not the most renowned for its prowess, without cavalry or bowmen, had rushed upon and overthrown the most terrible of all Oriental battalions, the Persians and the Sakae. Darius could not put up with such an affront without incurring the risk of losing his prestige with the people of Asia and Europe, who up till then had believed him all-powerful, and of thus exposing himself to the possibility of revolutions in recently subdued countries, such as Egypt, which had always retained the memory of her past greatness. In the interest of his own power, as well as to soothe his wounded pride, a renewed attack was imperative, and this time it must be launched with such dash and vigour that all resistance would be at once swept before it. Events had shown him that the influence of the Pisistratidae had not been strong enough to secure for him the opening of the gates of Athens, and that the sea route did not permit of his concentrating an adequate force of cavalry and infantry on the field of battle; he therefore reverted to the project of an expedition by the overland route, skirting the coasts of Thrace and Macedonia. During three years he collected arms, provisions, horses, men, and vessels, and was ready to commence hostilities in the spring of 487, when affairs in Egypt prevented him. This country had undeniably prospered under his suzerainty. It formed, with Cyrene and the coast of Libya, the sixth of his satrapies, to which were attached the neighbouring Nubian tribes of the southern frontier.* The Persian satrap, installed at the White Wall in the ancient palace of the Pharaohs, was supported by an army of 120,000 men, who occupied the three entrenched camps of the Saites -- Daphnae and Marea on the confines of the Delta, and Elephantine in the south.** Outside these military stations, where the authority of the great king was exercised in a direct manner, the ancient feudal organisation existed intact. The temples retained their possessions and their vassals, and the nobles within their principalities were as independent and as inclined to insurrection as in past times. The annual tribute, the heaviest paid by any province with the exception of Cossaea and Assyria, amounted only to 700 talents of silver. To this sum must be added the farming of the fishing in Lake Moeris, which, according to Herodotus,*** brought in one talent a day during the six months of the high Nile, but, according to Diodorus,**** during the whole year, as well as the 120,000 medimni of wheat required for the army of occupation, and the obligation to furnish the court of Susa with Libyan nitre and Nile water; the total of these impositions was far from constituting a burden disproportionate to the wealth of the Nile valley.
* The Nubian tribes, who are called Ethiopians by Herodotus and the cuneiform inscriptions, paid no regular tribute, but were obliged to send annually two chaenikes of pure gold, two hundred pieces of ebony, twenty elephants' tusks, and five young slaves, all under the name of a free gift.
** Herodotus states that in his own time the Persians, like the Saite Pharaohs, still had garrisons at Daphnae and at Elephantine.
*** Herodotus says that the produce sank to the value of a third of a talent a day during the six other months.
**** Diodorus Siculus says that the revenue produced by the fisheries in the Lake had been handed over by Moris to his wife for the expenses of her toilet.
[Illustration: 219.jpg DARIUS ON THE STELE OF THE ISTHMUS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the Description de l'Egypte.
Commerce brought in to it, in fact, at least as much money as the tribute took out of it. Incorporated with an empire which extended over three continents, Egypt had access to regions whither the products of her industry and her soil had never yet been carried. The produce of Ethiopia and the Sudan passed through her emporia on its way to attract customers in the markets of Tyre, Sidon, Babylon, and Susa, and the isthmus of Suez and Kosseir were the nearest ports through which Arabia and India could reach the Mediterranean. Darius therefore resumed the work of Necho, and beginning simultaneously at both extremities, he cut afresh the canal between the Nile and the Gulf of Suez. Trilingual stelae in Egyptian, Persian, and Medic were placed at intervals along its banks, and set forth to all comers the method of procedure by which the sovereign had brought his work to a successful end. In a similar manner he utilised the Wadys which wind between Koptos and the Red Sea, and by their means placed the cities of the Said in communication with the |Ladders of Incense,| Punt and the Sabaeans.*
* Several of the inscriptions engraved on the rocks of the Wady Hammamat show to what an extent the route was
frequented at certain times during the reign. They bear the dates of the 26th, 27th, 28th, 30th, and 36th years of Darius. The country of Saba (Sheba) is mentioned on one of the stelae of the isthmus.
He extended his favour equally to the commerce which they carried on with the interior of Africa; indeed, in order to ensure the safety of the caravans in the desert regions nearest to the Nile, he skilfully fortified the Great Oasis. He erected at Habit, Kushit, and other places, several of those rectangular citadels with massive walls of unburnt brick, which resisted every effort of the nomad tribes to break through them; and as the temple at Habit, raised in former times by the Theban Pharaohs, had become ruinous, he rebuilt it from its foundations.
[Illustration: 220.jpg WALLS OF THE FORTRESS OF DITSH-EL-QALAA]
Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving by Cailliaud. Dush is the Kushit of the hieroglyphs, the Kysis of Graeco-Roman times, and is situated on the southern border of the Great Oasis, about the latitude of Assuan.
He was generous in his gifts to the gods, and even towns as obscure as Edfu was then received from him grants of money and lands. The Egyptians at first were full of gratitude for the favours shown them, but the news of the defeat at Marathon, and the taxes with which the Susian court burdened them in order to make provision for the new war with Greece, aroused a deep-seated discontent, at all events amongst those who, living in the Delta, had had their patriotism or their interests most affected by the downfall of the Saite dynasty. It would appear that the priests of Buto, whose oracles exercised an indisputable influence alike over Greeks and natives, had energetically incited the people to revolt. The storm broke in 486, and a certain Khabbisha, who perhaps belonged to the family of Psammetichus, proclaimed himself king both at Sais and Memphis.*
* Herodotus does not give the name of the leader of the rebellion, but says that it took place in the fourth year after Marathon. A demotic contract in the Turin Museum bears the date of the third month of the second season of the thirty-fifth year of Darius I.: Khabbisha's rebellion therefore broke out between June and September, 486. Stern makes this prince to have been of Libyan origin. From the form of his name, Revillout has supposed that he was an Arab, and Birch was inclined to think that he was a Persian satrap who made a similar attempt to that of Aryandes. But nothing is really known of him or of his family previous to his insurrection against Darius.
[Illustration: 221.jpg THE GREAT TEMPLE OF DARIUS AT HABIT]
Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving by Cailliaud.
Darius did not believe the revolt to be of sufficient gravity to delay his plans for any length of time. He hastily assembled a second army, and was about to commence hostilities on the banks of the Nile simultaneously with those on the Hellespont, when he died in 485, in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. He was one of the great sovereigns of the ancient world -- the greatest without exception of those who had ruled over Persia. Cyrus and Cambyses had been formidable warriors, and the kingdoms of the Bast had fallen before their arms, but they were purely military sovereigns, and if their successor had not possessed other abilities than theirs, their empire would have shared the fate of that of the Medes and the Chaldaeans; it would have sunk to its former level as rapidly as it had risen, and the splendour of its opening years would have soon faded from remembrance. Darius was no less a general by instinct and training than they, as is proved by the campaigns which procured him his crown; but, after having conquered, he knew how to organise and build up a solid fabric out of the materials which his predecessors had left in a state of chaos; if Persia maintained her rule over the East for two entire centuries, it was due to him and to him alone. The question of the succession, with its almost inevitable popular outbreaks, had at once to be dealt with. Darius had had several wives, and among them, the daughter of Gobryas, who had borne him three children: Artabazanes, the eldest, had long been regarded as the heir-presumptive, and had probably filled the office of regent during the expedition in Scythia. But Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who had already been queen under Cambyses and Gaumata, was indignant at the thought of her sons bowing down before the child of a woman who was not of Achaemenian race, and at the moment when affairs in Egypt augured ill for the future, and when the old king, according to custom, had to appoint his successor, she intreated him to choose Khshayarsha, the eldest of her children, who had been borne to the purple, and in whose veins flowed the blood of Cyrus. Darius acceded to her request, and on his death, a few months after, Khshayarsha ascended the throne. His brothers offered no opposition, and the Persian nobles did homage to their new king. Khshayarsha, whom the Greeks called Xerxes, was at that time thirty-four years of age. He was tall, vigorous, of an imposing figure and noble countenance, and he had the reputation of being the handsomest man of his time, but neither his intelligence nor disposition corresponded to his outward appearance; he was at once violent and feeble, indolent, narrow-minded, and sensual, and was easily swayed by his courtiers and mistresses. The idea of a war had no attractions for him, and he was inclined to shirk it. His uncle Artabanus exhorted him to follow his inclination for peace, and he lent a favourable ear to his advice until his cousin Mardonius remonstrated with him, and begged him not to leave the disgrace of Marathon unpunished, or he would lower the respect attached to the name of Persia throughout the world. He wished, at all events, to bring Egyptian affairs to an issue before involving himself in a serious European war. Khabbisha had done his best to prepare a stormy reception for him. During a period of two years Khabbisha had worked at the extension of the entrenchments along the coast and at the mouths of the Nile, in order to repulse the attack that he foresaw would take place simultaneously with that on land, but his precautions proved fruitless when the decisive moment arrived, and he was completely crushed by the superior numbers of Xerxes.
[Illustration: 224.jpg Xerxes]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a daric in the Cabinet des Medailles.
The nomes of the Delta which had taken a foremost part in the rising were ruthlessly raided, the priests heavily fined, and the oracle of Buto deprived of its possessions as a punishment for the encouragement freely given to the rebels. Khabbisha disappeared, and his fate is unknown. Achaemenes, one of the king's brothers, was made satrap, but, as on previous occasions, the constitution of the country underwent no modification. The temples retained their inherited domains, and the nomes continued in the hands of their hereditary princes, without a suspicion crossing the mind of Xerxes that his tolerance of the priestly institutions and the local dynasties was responsible for the maintenance of a body of chiefs ever in readiness for future insurrection (483).*
* The only detailed information on this revolt furnished by the Egyptian monuments is given in the Stele of Ptolemy, the son of Lagos. An Apis, whose sarcophagus still exists, was buried by Khabbisha in the Serapoum in the second year of his reign, which proves that he was in possession of Memphis: the White Wall had perhaps been deprived of its garrison in order to reinforce the army prepared against Greece, and it was possibly thus that it fell into the hands of Khabbisha.
Order was once more restored, but he was not yet entirely at liberty to pursue his own plan of action. Classical tradition tells us, that on the occasion of his first visit to Babylon he had offended the religious prejudices of the Chaldaeans by a sacrilegious curiosity. He had, in spite of the entreaties of the priests, forced an entrance into the ancient burial-place of Bel-Etana, and had beheld the body of the old hero preserved in oil in a glass sarcophagus, which, however, was not quite full of the liquid. A notice posted up beside it, threatened the king who should violate the secret of the tomb with a cruel fate, unless he filled the sarcophagus to the brim, and Xerxes had attempted to accomplish this mysterious injunction, but all his efforts had failed. The example set by Egypt and the change of sovereign are sufficient to account for the behaviour of the Babylonians; they believed that the accession of a comparatively young monarch, and the difficulties of the campaign on the banks of the Nile, afforded them a favourable occasion for throwing off the yoke. They elected as king a certain Shamasherib, whose antecedents are unknown; but their independence was of short duration,* for Megabyzos, son of Zopyrus, who governed the province by hereditary right, forced them to disarm after a siege of a few months.
* This Shamasherib is mentioned only on a contract dated from his accession, which is preserved in the British Museum.
It would appear that Xerxes treated them with the greatest severity: he pillaged the treasury and temple of Bel, appropriated the golden statue which decorated the great inner hall of the ziggurat, and carried away many of the people into captivity (581). Babylon never recovered this final blow: the quarters of the town that had been pillaged remained uninhabited and fell into ruins; commerce dwindled and industry flagged. The counsellors of Xerxes had, no doubt, wished to give an object-lesson to the province by their treatment of Babylon, and thus prevent the possibility of a revolution taking place in Asia while its ruler was fully engaged in a struggle with the Greeks. Meanwhile all preparations were completed, and the contingents of the eastern and southern provinces concentrated at Kritalla, in Cappadocia, merely awaited the signal to set out. Xerxes gave the order to advance in the autumn of 481, crossed the Halys and took up his quarters at Sardes, while his fleet prepared to winter in the neighbouring ports of Phocae and Kyme.*
* Diodorus, who probably follows Ephorus, is the only writer who informs us of the place where the fleet was assembled.
Gathered together in that little corner of the world, were forces such as no king had ever before united under his command; they comprised 1200 vessels of various build, and probably 120,000 combatants, besides the rabble of servants, hucksters, and women which followed all the armies of that period. The Greeks exaggerated the number of the force beyond all probability. They estimated it variously at 800,000, at 3,000,000, and at 5,283,220 men; 1,700,000 of whom were able-bodied foot-soldiers, and 80,000 of them horsemen.*
* Herodotus records the epigram to the effect that 3,000,000 men attacked Thermopylae. Ctesias and Ephorus adopt the same figures; Iso-crates is contented with 700,000 combatants and 5,000,000 men in all.
[Illustration: 227.jpg A TRIREME IN MOTION]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin: the left portion is a free
reproduction of a photograph of the bas-relief of the Acropolis; the right, of the picture of Pozzo. The two partly overlap one another, and give both together the idea of a trireme going at full speed.
The troops which they could bring up to oppose these hordes were, indeed, so slender in number, when reckoned severally, that all hope of success seemed impossible. Xerxes once more summoned the Greeks to submit, and most of the republics appeared inclined to comply; Athens and Sparta alone refused, but from different motives. Athens knew that, after the burning of Sardes and the victory of Marathon, they could hope for no pity, and she was well aware that Persia had decreed her complete destruction; the Athenians were familiar with the idea of a struggle in which their very existence was at stake, and they counted on the navy with which Themistocles had just provided them to enable them to emerge from the affair with honour. Sparta was not threatened with the same fate, but she was at that time the first military state in Greece, and the whole of the Peloponnesus acknowledged her sway; in the event of her recognising the suzerainty of the barbarians, the latter would not fail to require of her the renunciation of her hegemony, and she would then be reduced to the same rank as her former rivals, Tegea and Argos. Athens and Sparta therefore united to repulse the common enemy, and the advantage that this alliance afforded them was so patent that none of the other states ventured to declare openly for the great king. Argos and Crete, the boldest of them, announced that they would observe neutrality; the remainder, Thessalians, Boeotians, and people of Corcyra, gave their support to the national cause, but did so unwillingly.
Xerxes crossed the Hellespont in the spring of 480, by two bridges of boats thrown across it between Abydos and Sestos; he then formed his force into three columns, and made his way slowly along the coast, protected on the left by the whole of his fleet from any possible attack by the squadrons of the enemy. The Greeks had three lines of defence which they could hold against him, the natural strength of which nearly compensated them for the inferiority of their forces; these were Mount Olympus, Mount OEta, and the isthmus of Corinth. The first, however, was untenable, owing to the ill will of the Thessalians; as a precautionary measure 10,000 hoplites were encamped upon it, but they evacuated the position as soon as the enemy's advance-guard came into sight. The natural barrier of OEta, less formidable than that of Olympus, was flanked by the Euboean straits on the extreme right, but the range was of such extent that it did not require to be guarded with equal vigilance along its whole length. The Spartans did not at first occupy it, for they intended to accumulate all the Greek forces, both troops and vessels, around the isthmus. At that point the neck of land was so narrow, and the sea so shut in, that the numbers of the invading force proved a drawback to them, and the advantage almost of necessity lay with that of the two adversaries who should be best armed and best officered. This plan of the Spartans was a wise one, but Athens, which was thereby sacrificed to the general good, refused to adopt it, and as she alone furnished almost half the total number of vessels, her decision had to be deferred to. A body of about 10,000 hoplites was therefore posted in the pass of Thermopylae under the command of Leonidas, while a squadron of 271 vessels disposed themselves near the promontory of Artemision, off the Euripus, and protected the right flank of the pass against a diversion from the fleet. Meanwhile Xerxes had been reinforced in the course of his march by the contingents from Macedonia, and had received the homage of the cities of Thessaly; having reached the defiles of the OEta and the Euboea, he began by attacking the Creeks directly in front, both fleets and armies facing one another. Leonidas succeeded in withstanding the assault on two successive days, and then the inevitable took place. A detachment of Persians, guided by the natives of the country, emerged by a path which had been left unguarded, and bore down upon the Greeks in the rear; a certain number managed to escape, but the bulk of the force, along with the 300 Spartans and their king, succumbed after a desperate resistance. As for the fleet, it had borne itself bravely, and had retained the ascendency throughout, in spite of the superiority of the enemy's numbers; on hearing the news of the glorious death of Leonidas, they believed their task ended for the time being, and retired with the Athenians in their wake, ready to sustain the attack should they come again to close quarters. The victorious side had suffered considerable losses in men and vessels, but they had forced the passage, and Central Greece now lay at their mercy. Xerxes received the submission of the Thebans, the Phocaeans, the Locrians, the Dorians, and of all who appealed to his clemency; then, having razed to the ground Plataea and Thespisae, the only two towns which refused to come to terms with him, he penetrated into Attica by the gorges of the Cithssron. The population had taken refuge in Salamis, AEgina, and Troezen. The few fanatics who refused to desist in their defence of the Acropolis, soon perished behind their ramparts; Xerxes destroyed the temple of Pallas by fire to avenge the burning of Sardes, and then entrenched his troops on the approaches to the isthmus, stationing his squadrons in the ports of Munychia, Phalerum, and the Piraeus, and suspended all hostilities while waiting to see what policy the Greeks would pursue. It is possible that he hoped that a certain number of them would intreat for mercy, and others being encouraged by their example to submit, no further serious battle would have to be fought. When he found that no such request was proffered, he determined to take advantage of the superiority of his numbers, and, if possible, destroy at one blow the whole of the Greek naval reserve; he therefore gave orders to his admirals to assume the offensive. The Greek fleet lay at anchor across the bay of Salamis. The left squadron of the Persians, leaving Munychia in the middle of the night, made for the promontory of Cynosura, landing some troops as it passed on the island of Psyttalia, on which it was proposed to fall back in case of accident, while the right division, sailing close to the coast of Attica, closed the entrance to the straits in the direction of Eleusis; this double movement was all but completed, when the Greeks were informed by fugitives of what was taking place, and the engagement was inevitable. They accepted it fearlessly. Xerxes, enthroned with his Immortals on the slopes of AEgialeos, could, from his exalted position, see the Athenians attack his left squadron: the rest of the allies followed them, and from afar these words were borne upon the breeze: |Go, sons of Greece, deliver your country, deliver your children, your wives, and the temples of the gods of your fathers and the tombs of your ancestors. A single battle will decide the fate of all you possess.| The Persians fought with their accustomed bravery, |but before long their numberless vessels, packed closely together in a restricted space, begin to hamper each other's movements, and their rams of brass collide; whole rows of oars are broken.| The Greek vessels, lighter and easier to manoeuvre than those of the Phoenicians, surround the latter and disable them in detail. |The surface of the sea is hidden with floating wreckage and corpses; the shore and the rocks are covered with the dead.| At length, towards evening, the energy of the barbarians beginning to flag, they slowly fell back upon the Piraeus, closely followed by their adversaries, while Aristides bore down upon Psyttalia with a handful of Athenians. |Like tunnies, like fish just caught in a net, with blows from broken oars, with fragments of spars, they fall upon the Persians, they tear them to pieces. The sea resounds from afar with groans and cries of lamentation. Night at length unveils her sombre face| and separates the combatants.*
* AEschylus gives the only contemporaneous account of the battle, and the one which Herodotus and all the historians after him have paraphrased, while they also added to it oral traditions.
[Illustration: 233.jpg PART OF THE BATTLEFIELD OF SALAMIS]
The advantage lay that day with the Greeks, but hostilities might be resumed on the morrow, and the resources of the Persians were so considerable that their chances of victory were not yet exhausted. Xerxes at first showed signs of wishing to continue the struggle; he repaired the injured vessels and ordered a dyke to be constructed, which, by uniting Salamis to the mainland, would enable him to oust the Athenians from their last retreat. But he had never exhibited much zest for the war; the inevitable fatigues and dangers of a campaign were irksome to his indolent nature, and winter was approaching, which he would be obliged to spend far from Susa, in the midst of a country wasted and trampled underfoot by two great armies. Mardonius, guessing what was passing in his sovereign's mind, advised him to take advantage of the fine autumn weather to return to Sardes; he proposed to take over from Xerxes the command of the army in Greece, and to set to work to complete the conquest of the Peloponnesus. He was probably glad to be rid of a sovereign whose luxurious habits were a hindrance to his movements. Xerxes accepted his proposal with evident satisfaction, and summarily despatching his vessels to the Hellespont to guard the bridges, he set out on his return journey by the overland route.
At the time of his departure the issue of the struggle was as yet unforeseen. Mardonius evacuated Attica, which was too poor and desolate a country to support so large an army, and occupied comfortable winter quarters in the rich plains of Thessaly, where he recruited his strength for a supreme effort in the spring. He had with him about 60,000 men, picked troops from all parts of Asia -- Medes, Sakae, Bactrians, and Indians, besides the regiment of the Immortals and the Egyptian veterans who had distinguished themselves by their bravery at Salamis; the heavy hoplites of Thebes and of the Boeotian towns, the Thessalian cavalry, and the battalions of Macedonia were also in readiness to join him as soon as called on. The whole of these troops, relieved from the presence of the useless multitude which had impeded its movements under Xerxes, and commanded by a bold and active general, were anxious to distinguish themselves, and the probabilities of their final success were great. The confederates were aware of the fact, and although resolved to persevere to the end, their maoeuvres betrayed an unfortunate indecision. Their fleet followed the Persian squadron bound for the Hellespont for several days, but on realising that the enemy were not planning a diversion against the Peloponnesus, they put about and returned to their various ports. The winter was passed in preparations on both sides. Xerxes, on his return to Sardes, had got together a fleet of 200 triremes and an army of 60,000 men, and had stationed them at Cape Mycale, opposite Samos, to be ready in case of an Ionian revolt, or perhaps to bear down upon any given point in the Peloponnesus when Mardonius had gained some initial advantage. The Lacaedemonians, on their part, seem to have endeavoured to assume the defensive both by land and sea; while their foot-soldiers were assembling in the neighbourhood of Corinth, their fleet sailed as far as Delos and there anchored, as reluctant to venture beyond as if it had been a question of proceeding to the Pillars of Hercules. Athens, which ran the risk of falling into the enemy's hands for the second time through these hesitations, evinced such marked displeasure that Mardonius momentarily attempted to take advantage of it. He submitted to the citizens, through Alexander, King of Macedon, certain conditions, the leniency of which gave uneasiness to the Spartans; the latter at once promised Athens all she wanted, and on the strength of their oaths she at once broke off the negotiations with the Persians. Mardonius immediately resolved on action: he left his quarters in Thessaly in the early days of May, reached Attica by a few quick marches, and spread his troops over the country before the Peloponnesians were prepared to resist. The people again took refuge in Salamis; the Persians occupied Athens afresh, and once more had recourse to diplomacy. This time the Spartans were alarmed to good purpose; they set out to the help of their ally, and from that moment Mardonius showed no further consideration in his dealing with Athens. He devastated the surrounding country, razed the city walls to the ground, and demolished and burnt the remaining houses and temples; he then returned to Boeotia, the plains of which were more suited to the movements of his squadrons, and took up a position in an entrenched camp on the right bank of the Asopos. The Greek army, under the command of Pausanias, King of Sparta, subsequently followed him there, and at first stationed themselves on the lower slopes of Mount Cithseron. Their force was composed of about 25,000 hoplites, and about as many more light troops, and was scarcely inferior in numbers to the enemy, but it had no cavalry of any kind. Several days passed in skirmishing without definite results, Mardonius fearing to let his Asiatic troops attack the heights held by the heavy Greek infantry, and Pausanias alarmed lest his men should be crushed by the Thessalian and Persian horse if he ventured down into the plains. Want of water at length obliged the Greeks to move slightly westwards, their right wing descending as far as the spring of Gargaphia, and their left to the bank of the Asopos. But this position facing east, exposed them so seriously to the attacks of the light Asiatic horse, that after enduring it for ten days they raised their camp and fell back in the night on Plataea. Unaccustomed to manouvre together, they were unable to preserve their distances; when day dawned, their lines, instead of presenting a continuous front, were distributed into three unequal bodies occupying various parts of the plain. Mardonius unhesitatingly seized his opportunity. He crossed the Asopos, ordered the Thebans to attack the Athenians, and with the bulk of his Asiatic troops charged the Spartan contingents. Here, as at Marathon, the superiority of equipment soon gave the Greeks the advantage: Mardonius was killed while leading the charge of the Persian guard, and, as is almost always the case among Orientals, his death decided the issue of the battle. The Immortals were cut to pieces round his dead body, while the rest took flight and sought refuge in their camp.
[Illustration: 238.jpg MAP]
[Illustration: 239.jpg THE BATTLE-FIELD OF PLATAEA]
Almost simultaneously the Athenians succeeded in routing the Boeotians. They took the entrenchments by assault, gained possession of an immense quantity of spoil, and massacred many of the defenders, but they could not prevent Artabazus from retiring in perfect order with 40,000 of his best troops protected by his cavalry. He retired successively from Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, reached Asia after suffering severe losses, and European Greece was freed for ever from the presence of the barbarians. While her fate was being decided at Platsae, that of Asiatic Greece was being fought out on the coast of Ionia. The entreaties of the Samians had at length encouraged Leotychidas and Xanthippus to take the initiative. The Persian generals, who were not expecting this aggressive movement, had distributed the greater part of their vessels throughout the Ionian ports, and had merely a small squadron left at their disposal at Mycale. Surprised by the unexpected appearance of the enemy, they were compelled to land, were routed, and their vessels burnt (479). This constituted the signal for a general revolt: Samos, Chios, and Lesbos affiliated themselves to the Hellenic confederation, and the cities of the littoral, which Sparta would have been powerless to protect for want of a fleet, concluded an alliance with Athens, whose naval superiority had been demonstrated by recent events. The towns of the Hellespont threw off the yoke as soon as the triremes of the confederates appeared within their waters, and Sestos, the only one of them prevented by its Persian garrison from yielding to the Athenians, succumbed, after a long siege, during the winter of 479-478. The campaign of 478 completed the deliverance of the Greeks. A squadron commanded by Pausanias roused the islands of the Carian coast and Cyprus itself, without encountering any opposition, and then steering northwards drove the Persians from Byzantium. The following winter the conduct of operations passed out of the hands of Sparta into those of Athens -- from the greatest military to the greatest naval power in Greece; and the latter, on assuming command, at once took steps to procure the means which would enable her to carry, out her task thoroughly. She brought about the formation of a permanent league between the Asiatic Greeks and those of the islands. Each city joining it preserved a complete autonomy as far as its internal affairs were concerned, but pledged itself to abide by the advice of Athens in everything connected with the war against the Persian empire, and contributed a certain quota of vessels, men, and money, calculated according to its resources, for the furtherance of the national cause. The centre of the confederation was fixed at Delos; the treasure held in common was there deposited under the guardianship of the god, and the delegates from the confederate states met there every year at the solemn festivals, Athens to audit the accounts of her administration, and the allies to discuss the interests of the league and to decide on the measures to be taken against the common enemy.
Oriental empires maintain their existence only on condition of being always on the alert and always victorious. They can neither restrict themselves within definite limits nor remain upon the defensive, for from the day when they desist from extending their area their ruin becomes inevitable; they must maintain their career of conquest, or they must cease to exist. This very activity which saves them from downfall depends, like the control of affairs, entirely on the ruling sovereign; when he chances to be too indolent or too incapable of government, he retards progress by his inertness or misdirects it through his want of skill, and the fate of the people is made thus to depend entirely on the natural disposition of the prince, since none of his subjects possesses sufficient authority to correct the mistakes of his master. Having conquered Asia, the Persian race, finding itself hemmed in by insurmountable obstacles -- the sea, the African and Arabian deserts, the mountains of Turkestan and the Caucasus, and the steppes of Siberia -- had only two outlets for its energy, Greece and India. Darius had led his army against the Greeks, and, in spite of the resistance he had encountered from them, he had gained ground, and was on the point of striking a crucial blow, when death cut short his career. The impetus that he had given to the militant policy was so great that Xerxes was at first carried away by it; but he was naturally averse to war, without individual energy and destitute of military genius, so that he allowed himself to be beaten where, had he possessed anything of the instincts of a commander, he would have been able to crush his adversary with the sheer weight of his ships and battalions. Even after Salamis, even after Plataea and Mycale, the resources of Hellas, split up as it was into fifty different republics, could hardly bear comparison with those of all Asia concentrated in the hands of one man: Xerxes must have triumphed in the end had he persevered in his undertaking, and utilised the inexhaustible amount of fresh material with which his empire could have furnished him. But to do that he would have had to take a serious view of his duties as a sovereign, as Cyrus and Darius had done, whereas he appears to have made use of his power merely for the satisfaction of his luxurious tastes and his capricious affections. During the winter following his return, and while he was reposing at Sardes after the fatigues of his campaign in Greece, he fell in love with the wife of Masistes, one of his brothers, and as she refused to entertain his suit, he endeavoured to win her by marrying his son Darius to her daughter Artayntas. He was still amusing himself with this ignoble intrigue during the year which witnessed the disasters of Plataea and Mycale, when he was vaguely entertaining the idea of personally conducting a fresh army beyond the AEgean: but the marriage of his son having taken place, he returned to Susa in the autumn, accompanied by the entire court, and from thenceforward he remained shut up in the heart of his empire. After his departure the war lost its general character, and deteriorated into a series of local skirmishes between the satraps in the vicinity of the Mediterranean and the members of the league of Delos. The Phoenician fleet played the principal part in the naval operations, but the central and eastern Asiatics -- Bactrians, Indians, Parthians, Arians, Arachosians, Armenians, and the people from Susa and Babylon -- scarcely took any part in the struggle. The Athenians at the outset assumed the offensive under the intelligent direction of Cimon. They expelled the Persian garrisons from Eion and Thrace in 476. They placed successively under their own hegemony all the Greek communities of the Asianic littoral. Towards 466, they destroyed a fleet anchored within the Gulf of Pamphylia, close to the mouth of the Eurymedon, and, as at Mycale, they landed and dispersed the force destined to act in concert with the squadron. Sailing from thence to Cyprus, they destroyed a second Phoenician fleet of eighty vessels, and returned to the Piraeus laden with booty. Such exploits were not devoid of glory and profit for the time being, but they had no permanent results. All these naval expeditions were indeed successful, and the islands and towns of the AEgean, and even those of the Black Sea and the southern coasts of Asia Minor, succeeded without difficulty in freeing themselves from the Persian yoke under the protection of the Athenian triremes; but their influence did not penetrate further inland than a few miles from the shore, beyond which distance they ran the risk of being cut off from their vessels, and the barbarians of the interior -- Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Pamphylians, and even most of the Lycians and Carians -- remained subject to the rule of the satraps. The territory thus liberated formed but a narrow border along the coast of the peninsula; a border rent and interrupted at intervals, constantly in peril of seizure by the enemy, and demanding considerable efforts every year for its defence. Athens was in danger of exhausting her resources in the performance of this ungrateful task, unless she could succeed in fomenting some revolution in the vast possessions of her adversary which should endanger the existence of his empire, or which, at any rate, should occupy the Persian soldiery in constantly recurring hostilities against the rebellious provinces. If none of the countries in the centre of Asia Minor would respond to their call, and if the interests of their commercial rivals, the Phoenicians, were so far opposed to their own as to compel them to maintain the conflict to the very end, Egypt, at any rate, always proud of her past glory and impatient of servitude, was ever seeking to rid herself of the foreign yoke and recover her independent existence under, the authority of her Pharaohs. It was not easy to come to terms with her and give her efficient help from Athens itself; but Cyprus, with its semi-Greek population hostile to the Achaemenids, could, if they were to take possession of it, form an admirable base of operations in that corner of the Mediterranean. The Athenians were aware of this from the outset, and, after their victory at the mouth of the Eurymedon, a year never elapsed without their despatching a more or less numerous fleet into Cypriot waters; by so doing they protected the AEgean from the piracy of the Phoenicians, and at the same time, in the event of any movement arising on the banks of the Nile, they were close enough to the Delta to be promptly informed of it, and to interfere to their own advantage before any repressive measures could be taken.
The field of hostilities having shifted, and Greece having now set herself to attempt the dismemberment of the Persian empire, we may well ask what has become of Xerxes. The little energy and intelligence he had possessed at the outset were absorbed by a life of luxury and debauchery. Weary of his hopeless pursuit of the wife of Masistes, he transferred his attentions to the Artayntas whom he had given in marriage to his son Darius, and succeeded in seducing her. The vanity of this unfortunate woman at length excited the jealously of the queen. Amestris believed herself threatened by the ascendency of this mistress; she therefore sent for the girl's mother, whom she believed guilty of instigating the intrigue, and, having cut off her breasts, ears, nose, lips, and torn out her tongue, she sent her back, thus mutilated, to her family. Masistes, wishing to avenge her, set out for Bactriana, of which district he was satrap: he could easily have incited the province to rebel, for its losses in troops during the wars in Europe had been severe, and a secret discontent was widespread; but Xerxes, warned in time, despatched horsemen in pursuit, who overtook and killed him. The incapacity of the king, and the slackness with which he held the reins of government', were soon so apparent as to produce intrigues at court: Artabanus, the chief captain of the guards, was emboldened by the state of affairs to attempt to substitute his own rule for that of the Achaemenids, and one night he assassinated Xerxes. His method of procedure was never exactly known, and several accounts of it were soon afterwards current. One of them related that he had as his accomplice the eunuch Aspamithres. Having committed the crime, both of them rushed to the chamber of Artaxerxes,* one of the sons of the sovereign, but still a child; they accused Darius, the heir to the throne, of the murder, and having obtained an order to seize him, they dragged him before his brother and stabbed him, while he loudly protested his innocence.
* Artaxerxes is the form commonly adopted by the Greek historians and by the moderns who follow them, but Ctcsias and others after him prefer Artoxerxes. The original form of the Persian name was Artakhshathra.
[Illustration: 247.jpg Artaxerxes]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a daric in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Other tales related that Artabanus had taken advantage of the free access to the palace which his position allowed him, to conceal himself one night within it, in company with his seven sons. Having murdered Xerxes, he convinced Artaxerxes of the guilt of his brother, and conducting him to the latter's chamber, where he was found asleep, Artabanus stabbed him on the spot, on the pretence that he was only feigning slumber.*
* Of the two principal accounts, the first is as old as Ctesias, who was followed in general outline by Ephorus, of whose account Diodorus Siculus preserves a summary
compilation; the second was circulated by Dinon, and has come down to us through the abbreviation of Pompeius Trogus. The remains of a third account are met with in Aristotle. AElian knew a fourth in which the murder was ascribed to the son of Xerxes himself.
The murderer at first became the virtual sovereign, and he exercised his authority so openly that later chronographers inserted his name in the list of the Achaemenids, between that of his victim and his protege; but at the end of six months, when he was planning the murder of the young prince, he was betrayed by Megabyzos and slain, together with his accomplices. His sons, fearing a similar fate, escaped into the country with some of the troops. They perished in a skirmish, sword in hand; but their prompt defeat, though it helped to establish the new king upon his throne, did not ensure peace, for the most turbulent provinces at the two extremes of the empire, Bactriana on the northeast and Egypt in the south-west, at once rose in arms. The Bactrians were led by Hystaspes, one of the sons of Xerxes, who, being older than Artaxerxes, claimed the throne; his pretensions were not supported by the neighbouring provinces, and two bloody battles soon sealed his fate (462).* The chastisement of Egypt proved a harder task. Since the downfall of the Saites, the eastern nomes of the Delta had always constituted a single fief, which the Greeks called the kingdom of Libya. Lords of Marea and of the fertile districts extending between the Canopic arm of the Nile, the mountains, and the sea, its princes probably exercised suzerainty over several of the Libyan tribes of Marmarica. Inaros, son of Psammetichus,** who was then the ruling sovereign, defied the Persians openly. The inhabitants of the Delta, oppressed by the tax-gatherers of Achaemenes,*** welcomed him with open arms, and he took possession of the country between the two branches of the Nile, probably aided by the Cyrenians; the Nile valley itself and Memphis, closely guarded by the Persian garrisons, did not, however, range themselves on his side.
* The date 462 is approximate, and is inferred from the fact that the war in Bactriana is mentioned in Ctesias between the war against the sons of Artabanus which must have occupied a part of 463, and the Egyptian rebellion which broke out about 462, as Diodorus Siculus points out, doubtless following Ephorus.
** The name of the father of Inaros is given us by the contemporary testimony of Thucydides.
*** Achomenes is the form given by Herodotus and by Diodorus Siculus, who make him the son of Darius I., appointed governor of Egypt after the repression of the revolt of Khabbisha. Ctesias calls him Achaemenides, and says that he was the son of Xerxes.
Meanwhile the satrap, fearing that the troops at his disposal were insufficient, had gone to beg assistance of his nephew. Artaxerxes had assembled an army and a fleet, and, in the first moment of enthusiasm, had intended to assume the command in person; but, by the advice of his counsellors, he was with little difficulty dissuaded from carrying this whim into effect, and he delegated the conduct of affairs to Achaemenes. The latter at first repulsed the Libyans (460), and would probably have soon driven them back into their deserts, had not the Athenians interfered in the fray. They gave orders to their fleet at Cyprus to support the insurgents by every means in their power, and their appearance on the scene about the autumn of 469 changed the course of affairs. Achaemenes was overcome at Papremis, and his army almost completely exterminated. Inaros struck him down with his own hand in the struggle; but the same evening he caused the body to be recovered, and sent it to the court of Susa, though whether out of bravado, or from respect to the Achaemenian race, it is impossible to say.*
* Diodorus Siculus says in so many words that the Athenians took part in the battle of Papremis; Thucydides and Herodotus do not speak of their being there, and several modern historians take this silence as a proof that their squadron arrived after the battle had been fought.
His good fortune did not yet forsake him. Some days afterwards, the Athenian squadron of Charitimides came up by chance with the Phoenician fleet, which was sailing to the help of the Persians, and had not yet received the news of the disaster which had befallen them at Papremis. The Greeks sunk thirty of the enemy's vessels and took twenty more, and, after this success, the allies believed that they had merely to show themselves to bring about a general rising of the fellahin, and effect the expulsion of the Persians from the whole of Egypt. They sailed up the river and forced Memphis after a few days' siege; but the garrison of the White Wall refused to surrender, and the allies were obliged to lay siege to it in the ordinary manner (459):* in the issue this proved their ruin. Artaxerxes raised a fresh force in Cilicia, and while completing his preparations, attempted to bring about a diversion in Greece. The strength of Pharaoh did not so much depend on his Libyan and Egyptian hordes, as on the little body of hoplites and the crews of the Athenian squadron; and if the withdrawal of the latter could be effected, the repulse of the others would be a certainty. Persian agents were therefore employed to beg the Spartans to invade Attica; but the remembrance of Salamis and Plataea was as yet too fresh to permit of the Lacedaemonians allying themselves with the common enemy, and their virtue on this occasion was proof against the darics of the Orientals.** The Egyptian army was placed in the field early in the year 456, under the leadership of Megabyzos, the satrap of Syria: it numbered, so it was said, some 300,000 men, and it was supported by 300 Phoenician vessels commanded by Artabazos.***
* The date of 459-8 for the arrival of the Athenians is concluded from the passage of Thucydides, who gives an account of the end of the war after the cruise of Tolmides in 455, in the sixth year of its course.
** Megabyzos opened these negotiations, and his presence at Sparta during the winter of 457-6 is noticed.
*** Ctesias here introduces the Persian admiral Horiscos, but Diodorus places Artabazos and Megabyzos side by side, as was the case later on in the war in Cyprus, one at the head of the fleet, the other of the army; it is probable that the historian from whom Diodorus copied, viz. Ephorus,
recognised the same division of leadership in the Egyptian campaign.
The allies raised the blockade of the White Wall as soon as he entered the Delta, and hastened to attack him; but they had lost their opportunity. Defeated in a desperate encounter, in which Charitimides was killed and Inaros wounded in the thigh, they barricaded themselves within the large island of Prosopitis, about the first fortnight in January of the year 455, and there sustained a regular siege for the space of eighteen months. At the end of that time Megabyzos succeeded in turning an arm of the river, which left their fleet high and dry, and, rather than allow it to fall into his hands, they burned their vessels, whereupon he gave orders to make the final assault. The bulk of the Athenian auxiliaries perished in that day's attack, the remainder withdrew with Inaros into the fortified town of Byblos, where Megabyzos, unwilling to prolong a struggle with a desperate enemy, permitted them to capitulate on honourable terms. Some of them escaped and returned to Cyrene, from whence they took ship to their own country; but the main body, to the number of 6000, were carried away to Susa by Megabyzos in order to receive the confirmation of the treaty which he had concluded. As a crowning stroke of misfortune, a reinforcement of fifty Athenian triremes, which at this juncture entered the Mendesian mouth of the Nile, was surrounded by the Phoenician fleet, and more than half of them destroyed. The fall of Prosopitis brought the rebellion to an end.*
* The accounts of these events given by Ctesias and Thucydides are complementary, and, in spite of their brevity, together form a whole which must be sufficiently near the truth. That of Ephorus, preserved in Diodorus, is derived from an author who shows partiality to the
Athenians, and who passes by everything not to their honour, while he seeks to throw the blame for the final disaster on the cowardice of the Egyptians. The summary of Aristodemus comes directly from that of Thucydides.
The nomes of the Delta were restored to order, and, as was often customary in Oriental kingdoms, the vanquished petty princes or their children were reinvested in their hereditary fiefs; even Libya was not taken from the family of Inaros, but was given to his son Thannyras and a certain Psammetichus. A few bands of fugitives, however, took refuge in the marshes of the littoral, in the place where the Saites in former times had sought a safe retreat, and they there proclaimed king a certain Amyrtgeus, who was possibly connected with the line of Amasis, and successfully defied the repeated attempts of the Persians to dislodge them.
The Greek league had risked the best of its forces in this rash undertaking, and had failed in its enterprise. It had cost the allies so dearly in men and galleys, that if the Persians had at once assumed the offensive, most of the Asiatic cities would have found themselves in a most critical situation; and Athens, then launched in a quarrel with the states of the Peloponnesus, would have experienced the greatest difficulty in succouring them. The feebleness of Artaxerxes, however, and possibly the intrigues at court and troubles in various other parts of the empire, prevented the satraps from pursuing their advantage, and when at length they meditated taking action, the opportunity had gone by. They nevertheless attempted to regain the ascendency over Cyprus; Artabazos with a Sidonian fleet cruised about the island, Megabyzos assembled troops in Cilicia, and the petty kings of Greek origin raised a cry of alarm. Athens, which had just concluded a truce with the Peloponnesians, at once sent two hundred vessels to their assistance under the command of Oimon (449). Cimon acted as though he were about to reopen the campaign in Egypt and despatched sixty of his triremes to King Amyrtceus, while he himself took Marion and blockaded Kition with the rest of his forces. The siege dragged on; he was perhaps about to abandon it, when he took to his bed and died. Those who succeeded him in the command were obliged to raise the blockade for want of provisions, but as they returned and were passing Salamis, they fell in with the Phoenician vessels which had just been landing the Cilician troops, and defeated them; they then disembarked, and, as at Mycale and Eurymedon, they gained a second victory in the open field, after which they joined the squadron which had been sent to Egypt, and sailed for Athens with the dead body of their chief. They had once more averted the danger of an attack on the AEgean, but that was all. The Athenian statesmen had for some time past realised that it was impossible for them to sustain a double conflict, and fight the battles of Greece against the common enemy, while half of the cities whose safety was secured by their heroic devotion were harassing them on the continent, but the influence of Cimon had up till now encouraged them to persist; on the death of Cimon, they gave up the attempt, and Callias, one of their leaders, repaired in state to Susa for the purpose of opening negotiations. The peace which was concluded on the occasion of this embassy might at first sight appear advantageous to their side. The Persian king, without actually admitting his reverses, accepted their immediate consequences. He recognised the independence of the Asiatic Creeks, of those at least who belonged to the league of Delos, and he promised that his armies on land should never advance further than three days' march from the AEgean littoral. On the seas, he forbade his squadrons to enter Hellenic waters from the Chelidonian to the Cyanaean rocks -- that is, from the eastern point of Lycia to the opening of the Black Sea: this prohibition did not apply to the merchant vessels of the contracting parties, and they received permission to traffic freely in each other's waters -- the Phoenicians in Greece, and the Greeks in Phonicia, Cilicia, and Egypt. And yet, when we consider the matter, Athens and Hellas were, of the two, the greater losers by this convention, which appeared to imply their superiority. Not only did they acknowledge indirectly that they felt themselves unequal to the task of overthrowing the empire, but they laid down their arms before they had accomplished the comparatively restricted task which they had set themselves to perform, that of freeing all the Greeks from the Iranian yoke: their Egyptian compatriots still remained Persian tributaries, in company with the cities of Cyrenaica, Pamphylia, and Cilicia, and, above all, that island of Cyprus in which they had gained some of their most signal triumphs. The Persians, relieved from a war which for a quarter of a century had consumed their battalions and squadrons, drained their finances, and excited their subjects to revolt, were now free to regain their former wealth and perhaps their vigour, could they only find generals to command their troops and guide their politics. Artaxerxes was incapable of directing this revival, and his inveterate weakness exposed him perpetually to the plotting of his satraps or to the intrigues of the women of his harem. The example of Artabanus, followed by that of Hystaspes, had shown how easy it was for an ambitious man to get rid secretly of a monarch or a prince and seriously endanger the crown. The members of the families who had placed Darius on the throne, possessed by hereditary right, or something little short of it, the wealthiest and most populous provinces -- Babylonia, Syria, Lydia, Phrygia, and the countries of the Halys -- and they were practically kings in all but name, in spite of the surveillance which the general and the secretary were supposed to exercise over their actions. Besides this, the indifference and incapacity of the ruling sovereigns had already tended to destroy the order of the administrative system so ably devised by Darius: the satrap had, as a rule, absorbed the functions of a general within his own province, and the secretary was too insignificant a personage to retain authority and independence unless he received the constant support of the sovereign. The latter, a tool in the hands of women and eunuchs, usually felt himself powerless to deal with his great vassals. His toleration went to all lengths if he could thereby avoid a revolt; when this was inevitable, and the rebels were vanquished, he still continued to conciliate them, and in most cases their fiefs and rights were preserved or restored to them, the monarch knowing that he could rid himself of them treacherously by poison or the dagger in the case of their proving themselves too troublesome. Megabyzos by his turbulence was a thorn in the side of Artaxerxes during the half of his reign. He had ended his campaign in Egypt by engaging to preserve the lives of Inaros and the 6000 Greeks who had capitulated at Byblos, and, in spite of the anger of the king, he succeeded in keeping his word for five years, but at the end of that time the demands of Amestris prevailed. She succeeded in obtaining from him some fifty Greeks whom she beheaded, besides Inaros himself, whom she impaled to avenge Achaemenes. Megabyzos, who had not recovered from the losses he had sustained in his last campaign against Cimon, at first concealed his anger, but he asked permission to visit his Syrian province, and no sooner did he reach it, than he resorted to hostilities. He defeated in succession Usiris and Menostates, the two generals despatched against him, and when force failed to overcome his obstinate resistance, the government condescended to treat with him, and swore to forget the past if he would consent to lay down arms. To this he agreed, and reappeared at court; but once there, his confidence nearly proved fatal to him. Having been invited to take part in a hunt, he pierced with his javelin a lion which threatened to attack the king: Artaxerxes called to mind an ancient law which punished by death any intervention of that kind, and he ordered that the culprit should be beheaded. Megabyzos with difficulty escaped this punishment through the entreaties of Amestris and of his wife Amytis; but he was deprived of his fiefs, and sent to Kyrta, on the shores of the Persian Gulf. After five years this exile became unbearable; he therefore spread the report that he was attacked by leprosy, and he returned home without any one venturing to hinder him, from fear of defiling themselves by contact with his person. Amestris and Amytis brought about his reconciliation with his sovereign; and thenceforward he regulated his conduct so successfully that the past was completely forgotten, and when he died, at the age of seventy-six years, Artaxerxes deeply regretted his loss.*
* These events are known to us only through Ctesias. Their date is uncertain, but there is no doubt that they occurred after Cimon's campaign in Cyprus and the conclusion of the peace of Callias.
Peace having been signed with Athens, and the revolt of Megabyzos being at an end, Artaxerxes was free to enjoy himself without further care for the future, and to pass his time between his various capitals and palaces.
[Illustration: 258.jpg VIEW OF THE ACHAEMENIAN RUINS OF ISTAKHR]
Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving of Flandin and Coste.
His choice lay between Susa and Persepolis, between Ecbatana and Babylon, according as the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter induced him to pass from the plains to the mountains, or from the latter to the plains. During his visits to Babylon he occupied one of the old Chaldaean palaces, but at Ecbatana he possessed merely the ancient residence of the Median kings, and the seraglio built or restored by Xerxes in the fashion of the times: at Susa and in Persia proper, the royal buildings were entirely the work of the Achaemenids, mostly that of Darius and Xerxes. The memory of Cyrus and of the kings to whom primitive Persia owed her organisation in the obscure century preceding her career of conquest, was piously preserved in the rude buildings of Pasargadae, which was regarded as a sacred city, whither the sovereigns repaired for coronation as soon as their predecessors had expired. But its lonely position and simple appointments no longer suited their luxurious and effeminate habits, and Darius had in consequence fixed his residence a few miles to the south of it, near to the village, which after its development became the immense royal city of Persepolis. He there erected buildings more suited to the splendour of his court, and found the place so much to his taste during his lifetime, that he was unwilling to leave it after death. He therefore caused his tomb to be cut in the steep limestone cliff which borders the plain about half a mile to the north-west of the town. It is an opening in the form of a Greek cross, the upper part of which contains a bas-relief in which the king, standing in front of the altar, implores the help of Ahura-mazda poised with extended wings above him; the platform on which the king stands is supported by two rows of caryatides in low relief, whose features and dress are characteristic of Persian vassals, while other personages, in groups of three on either side, are shown in the attitude of prayer. Below, in the transverse arms of the cross, is carved a flat portico with four columns, in the centre of which is the entrance to the funeral vault. Within the latter, in receptacles hollowed out of the rock, Darius and eight of his family were successively laid.
Xerxes caused a tomb in every way similar to be cut for himself near that of Darius, and in the course of years others were added close by.*
* The tomb of Darius alone bears an inscription. Darius III. was also buried there by command of Alexander.
[Illustration: 260.jpg THE TOMB OF DARIUS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the heliogravure by Marcel Dieulafoy.
Both the tombs and the palace are built in that eclectic style which characterises the Achaemenian period of Iranian art. The main features are borrowed from the architecture of those nations which were vassals or neighbours of the empire -- Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece; but these various elements have been combined and modified in such a manner as to form a rich and harmonious whole.
[Illustration: 261.jpg THE HILL OF THE ROYAL ACHAEMENIAN TOMBS AT NAKUSH-I-RUSTEM]
Drawn by Boudier, from the engraving of Flandin and Coste.
The core of the walls was of burnt bricks, similar to those employed in the Euphrates valley, but these were covered with a facing of enamelled tiles, disposed as a skirting or a frieze, on which figured those wonderful processions of archers, and the lions which now adorn the Louvre, while the pilasters at the angles, the columns, pillars, window-frames, and staircases were of fine white limestone or of hard bluish-grey marble.
[Illustration: 262.jpg ONE OF THE CAPITALS FROM SUSA]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken in the Louvre by Faucher-Gudin.
[Illustration: 262b.jpg FREIZE OF ARCHERS AT SUZA]
[Illustration: 263.jpg GENERAL RUINS OF PERSIPOLIS]
The doorways are high and narrow; the moulding which frames them is formed of three Ionic fillets, each projecting beyond the other, surmounted by a coved Egyptian lintel springing from a row of alternate eggs and disks. The framing of the doors is bare, but the embrasures are covered with bas-reliefs representing various scenes in which the king is portrayed fulfilling his royal functions -- engaged in struggles with evil genii which have the form of lions or fabulous animals, occupied in hunting, granting audiences, or making an entrance in state, shaded by an umbrella which is borne by a eunuch behind him. The columns employed in this style of architecture constitute its most original feature. The base of them usually consists of two mouldings, resting either on a square pedestal or on a cylindrical drum, widening out below into a bell-like curve, and sometimes ornamented with several rows of inverted leaves. The shafts, which have forty-eight perpendicular ribs cut on their outer surface, are perhaps rather tall in proportion to their thickness. They terminate in a group of large leaves, an evident imitation of the Egyptian palm-leaf capital, from which spring a sort of rectangular fluted die or abacus, flanked on either side with four rows of volutes curved in opposite directions, generally two at the base and two at the summit. The heads and shoulders of two bulls, placed back to back, project above the volutes, and take the place of the usual abacus of the capital. The dimensions of these columns, their gracefulness, and the distance at which they were placed from one another, prove that they supported not a stone architrave, but enormous beams of wood, which were inserted between the napes of the bulls' necks, and upon which the joists of the roof were superimposed. The palace of Persepolis, built by Darius after he had crushed the revolts which took place at the outset of his reign, was situated at the foot of a chain of rugged mountains which skirt the plain on its eastern side, and was raised on an irregularly shaped platform or terrace, which was terminated by a wall of enormous polygonal blocks of masonry. The terrace was reached by a double flight of steps, the lateral walls of which are covered with bas-reliefs, representing processions of satellites, slaves, and tributaries, hunting scenes, fantastic episodes of battle, and lions fighting with and devouring bulls. The area of the raised platform was not of uniform level, and was laid out in gardens, in the midst of which rose the pavilions that served as dwelling-places. The reception-rooms were placed near the top of the flight of steps, and the more important of them had been built under the two preceding kings. Those nearest to the edge of the platform were the propylae of Xerxes -- gigantic entrances whose gateways were guarded on either side by winged bulls of Assyrian type; beyond these was the apadana, or hall of honour, where the sovereign presided in state at the ordinary court ceremonies. To the east of the apadana, and almost in the centre of the raised terrace, rose the Hall of a Hundred Columns, erected by Darius, and used only on special occasions. Artaxerxes I. seems to have had a particular affection for Susa. It had found favour with his predecessors, and they had so frequently resided there, even after the building of Persepolis, that it had continued to be regarded as the real capital of the empire by other nations, whereas the Persian sovereigns themselves had sought to make it rather an impregnable retreat than a luxurious residence. Artaxerxes built there an apadana on a vaster scale than any hitherto designed.
[Illustration: 267.jpg THE PROPYLAEA OF XERXES I. AT PERSEPOLIS]
Drawn by Boudier, from the heliogravure of Marcel Dieulafoy.
It comprised three colonnades, which, taken together, formed a rectangle measuring 300 feet by 250 feet on the two sides, the area being approximately that of the courtyard of the Louvre. The central colonnade, which was the largest of the three, was enclosed by walls on three sides, but was open to the south. Immense festoons of drapery hung from the wooden entablature, and curtains, suspended from rods between the first row of columns, afforded protection from the sun and from the curiosity of the vulgar.
[Illustration: 268.jpg BAS-RELIEF OF THE STAIRCASE LEADING TO THE APADANA OF XERXES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Marcel Dieulafoy.
At the hour appointed for the ceremonies, the great king took his seat in solitary grandeur on the gilded throne of the Achaemenids; at the extreme end of the colonnade his eunuchs, nobles, and guards ranged themselves in silence on either side, each in the place which etiquette assigned to him. Meanwhile the foreign ambassadors who had been honoured by an invitation to the audience -- Greeks from Thebes, Sparta, or Athens; Sakae from the regions of the north; Indians, Arabs, nomad chiefs from mysterious Ethiopia-ascended in procession the flights of steps which led from the town to the palace, bearing the presents destined for its royal master.
[Illustration: 269.jpg THE KING ON HIS THRONE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Plandin and Coste.
Having reached the terrace, the curtains of the apadana were suddenly parted, and in the distance, through a vista of columns, they perceived a motionless figure, resplendent with gold and purple, before whom they fell prostrate with their faces to the earth. The heralds were the bearers of their greetings, and brought back to them a gracious or haughty reply, as the case may be. When they rose from the ground, the curtains had closed, the kingly vision was eclipsed, and the escort which had accompanied them into the palace conducted them back to the town, dazzled with the momentary glimpse of the spectacle vouchsafed to them.
[Illustration: 270.jpg A VIEW OF THE APADANA OF SUSA, RESTORED]
Drawn by Boudier, from the restoration by Marcel Dieulafoy.
The Achaeemenian monarchs were not regarded as gods or as sons of gods, like the Egyptian Pharaohs, and the Persian religion forbade their ever becoming so, but the person of the king was hedged round with such ceremonial respect as in other Oriental nations was paid only to the gods: this was but natural, for was he not a despot, who with a word or gesture could abase the noblest of his subjects, and determine the well-being or misery of his people? His dress differed from that of his nobles only by the purple dye of its material and the richness of the gold embroideries with which it was adorned, but he was distinguished from all others by the peculiar felt cap, or kidaris, which he wore, and the blue-and-white band which encircled it like a crown; the king is never represented without his long sceptre with pommelled handle, whether he be sitting or standing, and wherever he went he was attended by his umbrella- and fan-bearers. The prescriptions of court etiquette were such as to convince his subjects and persuade himself that he was sprung from a nobler race than that of any of his magnates, and that he was outside the pale of ordinary humanity. The greater part of his time was passed in privacy, where he was attended only by the eunuchs appointed to receive his orders; and these orders, once issued, were irrevocable, as was also the king's word, however much he might desire to recall a promise once made. His meals were, as a rule, served to him alone; he might not walk on foot beyond the precincts of the palace, and he never showed himself in public except on horseback or in his chariot, surrounded by his servants and his guards. The male members of the royal family and those belonging to the six noble houses enjoyed the privilege of approaching the king at any hour of the day or night, provided he was not in the company of one of his wives. These privileged persons formed his council, which he convoked on important occasions, but all ordinary business was transacted by means of the scribes and inferior officials, on whom devolved the charge of the various departments of the government. A vigorous ruler, such as Darius had proved himself, certainly trusted no one but himself to read the reports sent in by the satraps, the secretaries, and the generals, or to dictate the answers required by each; but Xerxes and Artaxerxes delegated the heaviest part of such business to their ministers, and they themselves only fulfilled such state functions as it was impossible to shirk -- the public administration of justice, receptions of ambassadors or victorious generals, distributions of awards, annual sacrifices, and state banquets: they were even obliged, in accordance with an ancient and inviolable tradition, once a year to set aside their usual sober habits and drink to excess on the day of the feast of Mithra. Occasionally they would break through their normal routine of life to conduct in person some expedition of small importance, directed against one of the semi-independent tribes of Iran, such as the Cadusians, but their most glorious and frequent exploits were confined to the chase. They delighted to hunt the bull, the wild boar, the deer, the wild ass, and the hare, as the Pharaohs or Assyrian kings of old had done; and they would track the lion to his lair and engage him single-handed; in fact, they held a strict monopoly in such conflicts, a law which punished with death any huntsman who had the impertinence to interpose between the monarch and his prey being only abolished by Artaxerxes. A crowd of menials, slaves, great nobles, and priests filled the palace; grooms, stool-bearers, umbrella- and fan-carriers, havasses, |Immortals,| bakers, perfumers, soldiers, and artisans formed a retinue so numerous as to require a thousand bullocks, asses, and stags to be butchered every day for its maintenance; and when the king made a journey in full state, this enormous train looked like an army on the march. The women of the royal harem lived in seclusion in a separate wing of the palace, or in isolated buildings erected in the centre of the gardens. The legitimate wives of the sovereign were selected from the ladies of the royal house, the sisters or cousins of the king, and from the six princely Persian families; but their number were never very large, usually three or four at most.*
* Cambyses had had three wives, including his two sisters Atossa and Roxana. Darius had four wives -- two daughters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystone, Parmys daughter of Srnerdis, and a daughter of Otanes.
The concubines, on the other hand, were chosen from all classes of society, and were counted by hundreds.
[Illustration: 273.jpg PROCESSIONAL DISPLAY OF TRIBUTE BROUGHT TO THE KING OF PERSIA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from plates in Flandin and Coste.
They sang or played on musical instruments at the state banquets of the court, they accompanied their master to the battle-field or the chase, and probably performed the various inferior domestic duties in the interior of the harem, such as spinning, weaving, making perfumes, and attending to the confectionery and cooking. Each of the king's wives had her own separate suite of apartments and special attendants, and occupied a much higher position than a mere concubine; but only one was actually queen and had the right to wear the crown, and this position belonged of right to a princess of Achae-menian race. Thus Atossa, daughter of Cyrus, was queen successively to Cambyses, Gaumata, and Darius; Amestris to Xerxes; and Damaspia to Artaxerxes. Besides the influence naturally exerted by the queen over the mind of her husband, she often acquired boundless authority in the empire, in spite of her secluded life.*
* Thus Atossa induced Darius to designate Xerxes as his heir-apparent.
Her power was still further increased when she became a widow, if the new king happened to be one of her own sons. In such circumstances she retained the external attributes of royalty, sitting at the royal table whenever the king deigned to dine in the women's apartments, and everywhere taking precedence of the young queen; she was attended by her own body of eunuchs, of whom, as well as of her private revenues, she had absolute control. Those whom the queen-mother took under her protection escaped punishment, even though they richly deserved it, but the object of her hatred was doomed to perish in the end, either by poison treacherously administered, or by some horrible form of torture, being impaled, suffocated in ashes, tortured in the trough, or flayed alive. Artaxerxes reigned for forty-two years, spending his time between the pleasures of the chase and the harem; no serious trouble disturbed his repose after his suppression of the revolt under Megabyzos, but on his death in 424 B.C. there was a renewal of the intrigues and ambitious passions which had stained with bloodshed the opening years of his reign. The legitimate heir, Xerxes II., was assassinated, after a reign of forty-five days, by Secudianus (Sogdianus), one of his illegitimate brothers, and the cortege which was escorting the bodies of his parents conveyed his also to the royal burying-place at Persepolis. Meanwhile Secudianus became suspicious of another of his brothers, named Ochus, whom Artaxerxes had caused to marry Parysatis, one of the daughters of Xerxes, and whom he had set over the important province of Hyrcania. Ochus received repeated summonses to appear in his brother's presence to pay him homage, and at last obeyed the mandate, but arrived at the head of an army. The Persian nobility rose at his approach, and one by one the chief persons of the state declared themselves in his favour: first Arbarius, commander of the cavalry; then Arxanes, the satrap of Egypt; and lastly, the eunuch Artoxares, the ruler of Armenia. These three all combined in urging Ochus to assume the Edaris publicly, which he, with feigned reluctance, consented to do, and proceeded, at the suggestion of Parysatis, to open negotiations with Secudianus, offering to divide the regal power with him. Secudianus accepted the offer, against the advice of his minister Menostanes, and gave himself up into the hands of the rebels. He was immediately seized and cast into the ashes, where he perished miserably, after a reign of six months and fifteen days.
On ascending the throne, Ochus assumed the name of Darius. His confidential advisers were three eunuchs, who ruled the empire in his name -- Artoxares, who had taken such a prominent part in the campaign which won him the crown, Artibarzanes, and Athoos; but the guiding spirit of his government was, in reality, his wife, the detestable Parysatis. She had already borne him two children before she became queen; a daughter, Amestris, and a son, Arsaces, who afterwards became king under the name of Artaxerxes. Soon after the accession of her husband, she bore him a second son, whom she named Cyrus, in memory of the founder of the empire, and a daughter, Artoste; several other children were born subsequently, making thirteen in all, but these all died in childhood, except one named Oxendras. Violent, false, jealous, and passionately fond of the exercise of power, Parysatis hesitated at no crime to rid herself of those who thwarted her schemes, even though they might be members of her own family; and, not content with putting them out of the way, she delighted in making them taste her hatred to the full, by subjecting them to the most skilfully graduated refinements of torture; she deservedly left behind her the reputation of being one of the most cruel of all the cruel queens, whose memory was a terror not only to the harems of Persia, but to the whole of the Eastern world. The numerous revolts which broke out soon after her husband's accession, furnished occasions for the revelation of her perfidious cleverness. All the malcontents of the reign of Artaxerxes, those who had been implicated in the murder of Xerxes II., or who had sided with Secudianus, had rallied round a younger brother of Darius, named Arsites, and one of them, Artyphios, son of Megabyzos, took the field in Asia Minor. Being supported by a large contingent of Greek mercenaries, he won two successive victories at the opening of the campaign, but was subsequently defeated, though his forces still remained formidable. But Persian gold accomplished what Persian bravery had failed to achieve, and prevailed over the mercenaries so successfully that all deserted him with the exception of three Milesians.
[Illustration: 276.jpg Darius II.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the coins in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Artyphios and Arsites, thus discouraged, committed the imprudence of capitulating on condition of receiving a promise that their lives should be spared, and that they should be well treated; but Parysatis persuaded her husband to break his plighted word, and they perished in the ashes. Their miserable fate did not discourage the satrap of Lydia, Pissuthnes, who was of Achaemenian race: he entered the lists in 418 B.C., with the help of the Athenians. The relations between the Persian empire and Greece had continued fairly satisfactory since the peace of 449 B.C., and the few outbreaks which had taken place had not led to any widespread disturbance. The Athenians, absorbed in their quarrel with Sparta, preferred to close their eyes to all side issues, lest the Persians should declare war against them, and the satraps of Asia Minor, fully alive to the situation, did not hesitate to take advantage of any pretext for recovering a part of the territory they coveted: it was thus that they had seized Colophon about 430 B.C., and so secured once more a port on the AEgean. Darius despatched to oppose Pissuthnes a man of noble birth, named Tissaphernes, giving him plenary power throughout the whole of the peninsula, and Tissaphernes endeavoured to obtain by treachery the success he would with difficulty have won on the field of battle: he corrupted by his darics Lycon, the commander of the Athenian contingent, and Pissuthnes, suddenly abandoned by his best auxiliaries, was forced to surrender at discretion. He also was suffocated in the ashes, and Darius bestowed his office on Tissaphernes.
But the punishment of Pissuthnes did not put an end to the troubles: his son Amorges roused Caria to revolt, and with the title of king maintained his independence for some years longer. While these incidents were taking place, the news of the disasters in Sicily reached the East: as soon as it was known in Susa that Athens had lost at Syracuse the best part of her fleet and the choicest of her citizens, the moment was deemed favourable to violate the treaty and regain control of the whole of Asia Minor. Two noteworthy men were at that time set over the western satrapies, Tissaphernes ruling at Sardes, and Tiribazus over Hellespontine Phrygia. These satraps opened negotiations with Sparta at the beginning of 412 B.C., and concluded a treaty with her at Miletus itself, by the terms of which the Peloponnesians recognised the suzerainty of Darius over all the territory once held by his ancestors in Asia, including the cities since incorporated into the Athenian league. They hoped shortly to be strong enough to snatch from him what they now ceded, and to set free once more the Greeks whom they thus condemned to servitude after half a century of independence, but their expectations were frustrated. The towns along the coast fell one after another into the power of Tissaphernes, Amorges was taken prisoner in lassos, and at the beginning of 411 B.C. there remained to the Athenians in Ionia and Caria merely the two ports of Halicarnassus and Notium, and the three islands of Cos, Samos, and Lesbos: from that time the power of the great king increased from year to year, and weighed heavily on the destinies of Greece. Meanwhile Darius II. was growing old, and intrigues with regard to the succession were set on foot. Two of his sons put forward claims to the throne: Arsaces had seniority in his favour, but had been born when his father was still a mere satrap; Cyrus, on the contrary, had been born in the purple, and his mother Parysatis was passionately devoted to him.* Thanks to her manouvres, he was practically created viceroy of Asia Minor in 407 B.C., with such abundant resources of men and money at his disposal, that he was virtually an independent sovereign. While he was consolidating his power in the west, his mother endeavoured to secure his accession to the throne by intriguing at the court of the aged king; if her plans failed, Cyrus was prepared to risk everything by an appeal to arms.
* Cyrus was certainly not more than seventeen years old in 407 B.C., evening admitting that he was born immediately after his father's accession in 424-3 B.C.
[Illustration: 279.jpg CYRUS THE YOUNGER]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the coins in the Cabinet des Medailles.
He realised that the Greeks would prove powerful auxiliaries in such a contingency; and as soon as he had set up his court at Sardes, he planned how best to conciliate their favour, or at least to win over those whose support was likely to be most valuable. Athens, as a maritime power, was not in a position to support him in an enterprise which especially required the co-operation of a considerable force of heavily armed infantry. He therefore deliberately espoused the cause of the Peloponnesians, and the support he gave them was not without its influence on the issue of the struggle: the terrible day of AEgos Potamos was a day of triumph for him as much as for the Lacedaemonians (405 B.C.).
His intimacy with Lysander, however, his constant enlistments of mercenary troops, and his secret dealings with the neighbouring provinces, had already aroused suspicion, and the satraps placed under his orders, especially Tissaphernes, accused him to the king of treason. Darius summoned him to Susa to explain his conduct (405 B.C.), and he arrived just in time to be present at his father's death (404), but too late to obtain his designation as heir to the throne through the intervention of his mother, Parysatis; Arsaces inherited the crown, and assumed the name of Artaxerxes.
[Illustration: 280.jpg ARTAXERXES MNEMON]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles. This coin, which was struck at Mallos, in Cilicia, bears as a counter-mark the figure of a bull and the name of the city of Issus.
Cyrus entered the temple of Pasargadae surreptitiously during the coronation ceremony, with the intention of killing his brother at the foot of the altar; but Tissaphernes, warned by one of the priests, denounced him, and he would have been put to death on the spot, had not his mother thrown her arms around him and prevented the executioner from fulfilling his office. Having with difficulty obtained pardon and been sent back to his province, he collected thirty thousand Greeks and a hundred thousand native troops, and, hastily leaving Sardes (401 B.C.), he crossed Asia Minor, Northern Syria, and Mesopotamia, encountered the royal army at Cunaxa, to the north of Babylon, and rashly met his end at the very moment of victory. He was a brave, active, and generous prince, endowed with all the virtues requisite to make a good Oriental monarch, and he had, moreover, learnt, through contact with the Greeks, to recognise the weak points of his own nation, and was fully determined to remedy them: his death, perhaps, was an irreparable misfortune for his country. Had he survived and supplanted the feeble Artaxerxes, it is quite possible that he might have confirmed and strengthened the power of Persia, or, at least, temporarily have arrested its decline. Having lost their leader, his Asiatic followers at once dispersed; but the mercenaries did not lose heart, and, crossing Asia and Armenia, gained at length the shores of the Black Sea. Up to that time the Greeks had looked upon Persia as a compact state, which they were sufficiently powerful to conquer by sea and hold in check by land, but which they could not, without imprudence, venture to attack within its own frontiers. The experience of the Ten Thousand was a proof to them that a handful of men, deprived of their proper generals, without guides, money, or provisions, might successfully oppose the overwhelming forces of the great king, and escape from his clutches without any serious difficulty. National discords prevented them from at once utilising the experience they thus acquired, but the lesson was not lost upon the court of Susa. The success of Lysander had been ensured by Persian subsidies, and now Sparta hesitated to fulfil the conditions of the treaty of Miletus; the Lacedaemonians demanded liberty once more for the former allies of Athens, fostered the war in Asia in order to enforce their claims, and their king Agesilaus, penetrating to the very heart of Phrygia, would have pressed still further forward in the tracks of the Ten Thousand, had not an opportune diversion been created in his rear by the bribery of the Persians. Athens once more flew to arms: her fleet, in conjunction with the Phoenicians, took possession of Cythera; the Long Walls were rebuilt at the expense of the great king, and Sparta, recalled by these reverses to a realisation of her position, wisely abandoned her inclination for distant enterprises. Asia Minor was reconquered, and Persia passed from the position of a national enemy to that of the friend and arbiter of Greece; but she did so by force of circumstances only, and not from having merited in any way the supremacy she attained. Her military energy, indeed, was far from being exhausted; but poor Artaxerxes, bewildered by the rivalries between his mother and his wives, did not know how to make the most of the immense resources still at his disposal, and he met with repeated checks as soon as he came face to face with a nation and leaders who refused to stoop to treachery. He had no sooner recovered possession of the AEgean littoral than Egypt was snatched from his grasp by a new Pharaoh who had arisen in the Nile valley. The peace had not been seriously disturbed in Egypt during the forty years which had elapsed since the defeat of Inarus. Satrap had peaceably succeeded satrap in the fortress of Memphis; the exhaustion of Libya had pre-vented any movement on the part of Thannyras; the aged Amyrtaeus had passed from the scene, and his son, Pausiris, bent his neck submissively to the Persian yoke. More than once, however, unexpected outbursts had shown that the fires of rebellion were still smouldering. A Psammetichus, who reigned about 445 B.C. in a corner of the Delta, had dared to send corn and presents to the Athenians, then at war with Artaxerxes I., and the second year of Darius II. had been troubled by a sanguinary sedition, which, however, was easily suppressed by the governor then in power; finally, about 410 B.C., a king of Egypt had, not without some show of evidence, laid himself open to the charge of sending a piratical expedition into Phoenician waters, an Arab king having contributed to the enterprise.*
* The revolt mentioned by Ctesias has nothing to do with the insurrection of the satrap of Egypt which is here referred to, the date of which is furnished by the Syncellus.
It was easy to see, moreover, from periodical revolts -- such as that of Megabyzos in Syria, those of Artyphios and Arsites, of Pissuthnes and Amorges in Asia Minor -- with what impunity the wrath of the great king could be defied: it was not to be wondered at, therefore, that, about 405 B.C., an enemy should appear in the heart of the Delta in the person of a grandson and namesake of Amyrtaeus. He did not at first rouse the whole country to revolt, for Egyptian troops were still numbered in the army of Artaxerxes at the battle of Cunaxa in 401 B.C.; but he succeeded in establishing a regular native government, and struggled so resolutely against the foreign domination that the historians of the sacred colleges inscribed his name on the list of the Pharaohs. He is there made to represent a whole dynasty, the XXVIIIth which lasted six years, coincident with the six years of his reign. It was due to a Mendesian dynasty, however, whose founder was Nephorites, that Egypt obtained its entire freedom, and was raised once more to the rank of a nation. This dynasty from the very outset adopted the policy which had proved so successful in the case of the Saites three centuries previously, and employed it with similar success. Egypt had always been in the position of a besieged fortress, which needed, for its complete security, that its first lines of defence should be well in advance of its citadel: she must either possess Syria or win her as an ally, if she desired to be protected against all chance of sudden invasion. Nephorites and his successors, therefore, formed alliances beyond the isthmus, and even on the other side of the Mediterranean, with Cyprus, Caria, and Greece, in one case to purchase support, and in another to re-establish the ancient supremacy exercised by the Theban Pharaohs.*
* This is, at any rate, the idea given of him by Egyptian tradition in the time of the Ptolemies, as results from a passage in the Demotic Rhapsody, where his reign is mentioned.
Every revolt against the Persians, every quarrel among the satraps, helped forward their cause, since they compelled the great king to suspend his attacks against Egypt altogether or to prosecute them at wide intervals: the Egyptians therefore fomented such quarrels, or even, at need, provoked them, and played their game so well that for a long time they had to oppose only a fraction of the Persian forces. Like the Saite Pharaohs before them, they were aware how little reliance could be placed on native troops, and they recruited their armies at great expense from the European Greeks. This occurred at the time when mercenary forces were taking the place of native levies throughout Hellas, and war was developing into a lucrative trade for those who understood how to conduct it: adventurers, greedy for booty, flocked to the standards of the generals who enjoyed the best reputation for kindness or ability, and the generals themselves sold their services to the highest bidder. The Persian kings took large advantage of this arrangement to procure troops: the Pharaohs imitated their example, and in the years which followed, the most experienced captains, Iphicrates, Chabrias, and Timotheus, passed from one camp to another, as often against the will as with the consent of their fatherland. The power of Sparta was at her zenith when Nephorites ascended the throne, and she was just preparing for her expedition to Phrygia. The Pharaoh concluded an alliance with the Lacedomonians, and in 396 B.C. sent to Agesilaus a fleet laden with arms, corn, and supplies, which, however, was intercepted by Conon, who was at that moment cruising in the direction of Rhodes in command of the Persian squadron. This misadventure and the abrupt retreat of the Spartans from Asia Minor cooled the good will of the Egyptian king towards his allies. Thinking that they had abandoned him, and that he was threatened with an imminent attack on the shore of the Delta, he assembled, probably at Pelusium, the forces he had apparently intended for a distant enterprise.
Matters took longer to come to a crisis than he had expected. The retreat of Agesilaus had not pacified the AEgean satrapies; after the disturbance created by Cyrus the Younger, the greater number of the native tribes -- Mysians, Pisidians, people of Pontus and Paphlagonia -- had shaken off the Persian yoke, and it was a matter of no small difficulty to reduce them once more to subjection. Their incessant turbulence gave Egypt time to breathe and to organise new combinations. Cyprus entered readily into her designs. Since the subjugation of that island in 445 B.C., the Greek cities had suffered terrible oppression at the hands of the great king. Artaxerxes I., despairing of reducing them to obedience, depended exclusively for support on the Phoenician inhabitants of the island, who, through his favour, regained so much vigour that in the space of less than two generations they had recovered most of the ground lost during the preceding centuries: Semitic rulers replaced the Achaean tyrants at Salamis, and in most of the other cities, and Citium became what it had been before the rise of Salamis, the principal commercial centre in the island. Evagoras, a descendant of the ancient kings, endeavoured to retrieve the Grecian cause: after driving out of Salamis Abdemon, its Tyrian ruler, he took possession of all the other towns except Citium and Amathus. This is not the place to recount the brilliant part played by Evagoras, in conjunction with Conon, during the campaigns against the Spartans in the Peloponnesian war. The activity he then displayed and the ambitious designs he revealed soon drew upon him the dislike of the Persian governors and their sovereign; and from 391 B.C. he was at open war with Persia. He would have been unable, single-handed, to maintain the struggle for any length of time, but Egypt and Greece were at his back, ready to support him with money or arms. Hakoris had succeeded Nephorites I. in 393 B.C.,* and had repulsed an attack of Artaxerxes between 390 and 386.**
* The length of the reign of Nephorites I. is fixed at six years by the lists of Manetho; the last-known date of his reign is that of his fourth year, on a mummy-bandage preserved in the Louvre.
** This war is alluded to by several ancient authors in passages which have been brought together and explained by Judeah; but unfortunately the detailed history of the events is not known.
He was not unduly exalted by his success, and had immediately taken wise precautions in view of a second invasion. After safeguarding his western frontier by concluding a treaty with the Libyans of Barca, he entered into an alliance with Evagoras and the Athenians.
[Illustration: 287.jpg HAKORIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
He sent lavish gifts of corn to the Cypriots, as well as munitions of war, ships, and money while Athens sent them several thousand men under the command of Chabrias; not only did an expedition despatched against them under Autophradates fail miserably, but Evagoras seized successively Citium and Amathus, and, actually venturing across the sea, took Tyre by assault and devastated Phoenicia and Cilicia. The princes of Asia Minor were already preparing for revolt, and one of them, Hecatomnus of Caria, had openly joined the allies, when Sparta suddenly opened negotiations with Persia: Antalcidas presented himself at Susa to pay homage before the throne of the great king. The treaty of Miletus had brought the efforts of Athens to naught, and sold the Asiatic Greeks to their oppressors: the peace obtained by Antalcidas effaced the results of Salamis and Platsae, and laid European Greece prostrate at the feet of her previously vanquished foes. An order issuing from the centre of Persia commanded the cities of Greece to suspend hostilities and respect each other's liberties; the issuing of such an order was equivalent to treating them as vassals whose quarrels it is the function of the suzerain to repress, but they nevertheless complied with the command (387 B.C.), Artaxerxes, relieved from anxiety for the moment, as to affairs on the AEgean, was now free to send his best generals into the rebel countries, and such was the course his ministers recommended. Evagoras was naturally the first to be attacked. Cyprus was, in fact, an outpost of Egypt; commanding as she did the approach by sea, she was in a position to cut the communications of any army, which, issuing from Palestine, should march upon the Delta. Artaxerxes assembled three hundred thousand foot-soldiers and three hundred triremes under the command of Tiribazus, and directed the whole force against the island. At first the Cypriot cruisers intercepted the convoys which were bringing provisions for this large force, and by so doing reduced the invaders to such straits that sedition broke out in their camp; but Evagoras was defeated at sea off the promontory of Citium, and his squadron destroyed. He was not in any way discouraged by this misfortune, but leaving his son, Pnytagoras, to hold the barbarian forces in check, he hastened to implore the help of the Pharaoh (385 B.C.). But Hakoris was too much occupied with securing his own immediate safety to risk anything in so desperate an enterprise. Evagoras was able to bring back merely an insufficient subsidy; he shut himself up in Salamis, and there maintained the conflict for some years longer. Meanwhile Hakoris, realising that the submission of Cyprus would oppose his flank to attack, tried to effect a diversion in Asia Minor, and by entering into alliance with the Pisidians, then in open insurrection, he procured for it a respite, of which he himself took advantage to prepare for the decisive struggle. The peace effected by Antalcidas had left most of the mercenary soldiers of Greece without employment. Hakoris hired twenty thousand of them, and the Phoenician admirals, still occupied in blockading the ports of Cyprus, failed to intercept the vessels which brought him these reinforcements. It was fortunate for Egypt that they did so, for the Pharaoh died in 381 B.C., and his successors, Psamuthis IL, Mutis, and Nephorites IL, each occupied the throne for a very short time, and the whole country was in confusion for rather more than two years (381-379 B.c.) during the settlement of the succession.*
* Hakoris reigned thirteen years, from 393 to 381 B.C. The reigns of the three succeeding kings occupied only two years and four months between them, from the end of 381 to the beginning of 378. Muthes or Mutis, who is not mentioned in all the lists of Manetho, seems to have his counterpart in the Demotic Rhapsody. Wiedemann has inverted the order usually adopted, and proposed the following series: Nephorites I., Muthes, Psamuthis, Hakoris, Nephorites II. The discovery at Karnak of a small temple where Psamuthis mentions Hakoris as his predecessor shows that on this point at least Manetho was well informed.
The turbulent disposition of the great feudatory nobles, which had so frequently brought trouble upon previous Pharaohs during the Assyrian wars, was no less dangerous in this last century of Egyptian independence; it caused the fall of the Mendesian dynasty in the very face of the enemy, and the prince of Sebennytos, Nakht-har-habit, Nectanebo I., was raised to the throne by the military faction. According to a tradition current in Ptolemaic times, this sovereign was a son of Nephorites I., who had been kept out of his heritage by the jealousy of the gods; whatever his origin, the people had no cause to repent of having accepted him as their king. He began his reign by suppressing the slender subsidies which Evagoras had continued to receive from his predecessors, and this measure, if not generous, was at least politic. For Cyprus was now virtually in the power of the Persians, and the blockade of a few thousand men in Salamis did not draught away a sufficiently large proportion of their effective force to be of any service to Egypt: the money which had hitherto been devoted to the Cypriots was henceforth reserved for the direct defence of the Nile valley. Evagoras obtained unexpectedly favourable conditions: Artaxerxes conceded to him his title of king and the possession of his city (383 B.C.), and turned his whole attention to Nectanebo, the last of his enemies who still held out.
Nectanebo had spared no pains in preparing effectively to receive his foe. He chose as his coadjutor the Athenian Chabrias, whose capacity as a general had been manifested by recent events, and the latter accepted this office although he had received no instructions from his government to do so, and had transformed the Delta into an entrenched camp. He had fortified the most vulnerable points along the coast, had built towers at each of the mouths of the river to guard the entrance, and had selected the sites for his garrison fortresses so judiciously that they were kept up long after his time to protect the country. Two of them are mentioned by name: one, situated below Pelusium, called the Castle of Chabrias; the other, not far from Lake Mareotis, which was known as his township.*
* Both are mentioned by Strabo; the exact sites of these two places are not yet identified. Diodorus Siculus, describing the defensive preparations of Egypt, does not state expressly that they were the work of Chabrias, but this fact seems to result from a general consideration of the context.
[Illustration: 291.jpg PHARNABAZUS]
Drawn by faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
The Persian generals endeavoured to make their means of attack proportionate to the defences of the enemy. Acre was the only port in Southern Syria large enough to form the rendezvous for a fleet, where it might be secure from storms and surprises of the enemy. This was chosen as the Persian headquarters, and formed the base of their operations. During three years they there accumulated supplies of food and military stores, Phoenician and Creek vessels, and both foreign and native troops. The rivalries between the military commanders, Tithraustes, Datames, and Abrocomas, and the intrigues of the court, had on several occasions threatened the ruin of the enterprise, but Pharnabazus, who from the outset had held supreme command, succeeded in ridding himself of his rivals, and in the spring of 374 B.C. was at length ready for the advance. The expedition consisted of two hundred thousand Asiatic troops, and twenty thousand Greeks, three hundred triremes, two hundred galleys of thirty oars, and numerous transports. Superiority of numbers was on the side of the Persians, and that just at the moment when Nectanebo lost his most experienced general. Artaxerxes had remonstrated with the Athenians for permitting one of their generals to serve in Egypt, in spite of their professed friendship for himself, and, besides insisting on his recall, had requested for himself the services of the celebrated Iphicrates. The Athenians complied with his demand, and while summoning Chabrias to return to Athens, despatched Iphicrates to Syria, where he was placed in command of the mercenary troops. Pharnabazus ordered a general advance in May, 374 B.C.,* but when he arrived before Pelusium, he perceived that he was not in a position to take the town by storm; not only had the fortifications been doubled, but the banks of the canals had been cut and the approaches inundated. Iphicrates advised him not to persevere in attempting a regular siege: he contended that it would be more profitable to detach an expeditionary force towards some less well-protected point on the coast, and there to make a breach in the system of defence which protected the enemies' front.
* As Kenrick justly observes, |the Persian and Athenian generals committed the same mistake which led to the defeat of Saint Louis and the capture of his army in 1249 A.D., and which Bonaparte avoided in his campaign of 1798.| Anyhow, it seems that the fault must be laid on Pharnabazus alone, and that Iphicrates was entirely blameless.
Three thousand men were despatched with all secrecy to the mouth of the Mendesian branch of the Nile, and there disembarked unexpectedly before the forts which guarded the entrance. The garrison, having imprudently made a sortie in face of the enemy, was put to rout, and pursued so hotly that victors and vanquished entered pell-mell within the walls.
[Illustration: 293.jpg ARTAXERXES II.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a silver stater in the Cabinet des Medailles.
After this success victory was certain, if the Persians pursued their advantage promptly and pushed forward straight into the heart of the Delta; the moment was the more propitious for such a movement, since Nectanebo had drained Memphis of troops to protect his frontier. Iphicrates, having obtained this information from one of the prisoners, advised Pharnabazus to proceed up the Nile with the fleet, and take the capital by storm before the enemy should have time to garrison it afresh; the Persian general, however, considered the plan too hazardous, and preferred to wait until the entire army should have joined him. Iphicrates offered to risk the adventure with his body of auxiliary troops only, but was suspected of harbouring some ambitious design, and was refused permission to advance. Meanwhile these delays had given the Egyptians time to recover from their first alarm; they boldly took the offensive, surrounded the position held by Pharnabazus, and were victorious in several skirmishes. Summer advanced, the Nile rose more rapidly than usual, and soon the water encroached upon the land; the invaders were obliged to beat a retreat before it, and fall back towards Syria. Iphicrates, disgusted at the ineptitude and suspicion of his Asiatic colleagues, returned secretly to Greece: the remains of the army were soon after disbanded, and Egypt once more breathed freely. The check received by the Persian arms, however, was not sufficiently notorious to shake that species of supremacy which Artaxerxes had exercised in Greece since the peace of 387. Sparta, Thebes, and Athens vied with each other in obtaining an alliance with him as keenly as if he had been successful before Pelusium. Antalcidas reappeared at Susa in 372 B.C. to procure a fresh act of intervention; Pelopidas and Ismenias, in 367, begged for a rescript similar to that of Antalcidas; and finally Athens sent a solemn embassy to entreat for a subsidy. It seemed as if the great king had become a kind of supreme arbiter for Greece, and that all the states hitherto leagued against him now came in turn to submit their mutual differences for his decision. But this arbiter who thus imposed his will on states beyond the borders of his empire was never fully master within his own domains. Of gentle nature and pliant disposition, inclined to clemency rather than to severity, and, moreover, so lacking in judgment as a general that he had almost succumbed to an attack by the Cadusians on the only occasion that he had, in a whim of the moment, undertaken the command of an army in person, Artaxerxes busied himself with greater zeal in religious reforms than in military projects. He introduced the rites of Mithra and Anahita into the established religion of the state, but he had not the energy necessary to curb the ambitions of his provincial governors. Asia Minor, whose revolts followed closely on those of Egypt, rose in rebellion against him immediately after the campaign on the Nile, Ariobarzanes heading the rebellion in Phrygia, Datames and Aspis that in Cilicia and Cappadocia, and both defying his power for several years. When at length they succumbed through treachery, the satraps of the Mediterranean district, from the Hellespont to the isthmus of Suez, formed a coalition and simultaneously took the field: the break-up of the empire would have been complete had not Persian darics been lavishly employed once more in the affair. Meanwhile Nectanebo had died in 361,* and had been succeeded by Tachos.**
* The lists of Manetho assign ten or eighteen years to his reign. A sarcophagus in Vienna bears the date of his fifteenth year, and the great inscription of Edfu speaks of gifts he made to the temple in this town in the eighteenth year of his reign. The reading eighteen is therefore preferable to the reading ten in the lists of Manetho; if the very obscure text of the Demotic Rhapsody really applies the number nine or ten to the length of the reign, this reckoning must be explained by some mystic calculations of the priests of the Ptolemaic epoch.
** The name of this king, written by the Greeks Teos or Tachos, in accordance with the pronunciation of different Egyptian dialects, has been discovered in hieroglyphic writing on the external wall of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak.
The new Pharaoh deemed the occasion opportune to make a diversion against Persia and to further secure his own safety: he therefore offered his support to the satraps, who sent Eheomitres as a delegate to discuss the terms of an offensive and defensive alliance. Having inherited from Nectanebo a large fleet and a full treasury, Tachos entrusted to the ambassador 500 talents of silver, and gave him fifty ships, with which he cruised along the coast of Asia Minor towards Leuke. His accomplices were awaiting him there, rejoicing at the success of his mission, but he himself had no confidence in the final issue of the struggle, and merely sought how he might enter once more into favour with the Persian court; he therefore secured his safety by betraying his associates. He handed over the subsidies and the Egyptian squadron to Orontes, the satrap of Daskylium, and then seizing the insurgent chiefs sent them in chains to Susa. These acts of treachery changed the complexion of affairs; the league suddenly dissolved after the imprisonment of its leaders, and Arta-xerxes re-established his authority over Asia Minor.
[Illustration: 296.jpg DATAMES III.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Egypt became once more the principal object of attack, and by the irony of fate Pharaoh had himself contributed to enrich the coffers and reinforce the fleet of his foes. In spite of this mischance, however, circumstances were so much in his favour that he ventured to consider whether it would not be more advantageous to forestall the foe by attacking him, rather than passively to await an onslaught behind his own lines. He had sought the friendship of Athens,* and, though it had not been granted in explicit terms, the republic had, nevertheless, permitted Ghabrias to resume his former post at his side.
* The memory of this embassy has been preserved for us by a decree of the Athenian assembly, unfortunately much mutilated, which has been assigned to various dates between 362 and 358 B.C. M. Paul Foucart has shown that the date of the decree must be referred to one of three archon-ships -- the archonship of Callimedes, 360-59; that of Eucharistus, 359-8; or that of Cephisodotus, 358-7^ Without entering into a discussion of the other evidence on the subject, it seems to me probable that the embassy may be most conveniently assigned to the archonship of Callimedes, towards the end of 360 B.C., at the moment when Chabrias had just arrived in Egypt, and was certain to endeavour to secure the help of Athens for the king he served.
Chabrias exhorted him to execute his project, and as he had not sufficient money to defray the expenses of a long campaign outside his own borders, the Athenian general instructed him how he might procure the necessary funds. He suggested to him that, as the Egyptian priests were wealthy, the sums of money annually assigned to them for the sacrifices and maintenance of the temples would be better employed in the service of the state, and counselled him to reduce or even to suppress most of the sacerdotal colleges. The priests secured their own safety by abandoning their personal property, and the king graciously deigned to accept their gifts, and then declared to them that in future, as long as the struggle against Persia continued, he should exact from them nine-tenths of their sacred revenues. This tax would have sufficed for all requirements if it had been possible to collect it in full, but there is no doubt that very soon the priests must have discovered means of avoiding part of the payment, for it was necessary to resort to other expedients. Chabrias advised that the poll and house taxes should be increased; that one obol should be exacted for each |ardeb| of corn sold, and a tithe levied on the produce of all ship-building yards, manufactories, and manual industries. Money now poured into the treasury, but a difficulty arose which demanded immediate solution. Egypt possessed very little specie, and the natives still employed barter in the ordinary transactions of life, while the foreign mercenaries refused to accept payment in kind or uncoined metal; they demanded good money as the price of their services. Orders were issued to the natives to hand over to the royal exchequer all the gold and silver in their possession, whether wrought or in ingots, the state guaranteeing gradual repayment through the nomarchs from the future product of the poll-tax, and the bullion so obtained was converted into specie for the payment of the auxiliary troops. These measures, though winning some unpopularity for Tachos, enabled him to raise eighty thousand native troops and ten thousand Greeks, to equip a fleet of two hundred vessels, and to engage the best generals of the period. His eagerness to secure the latter, however, was injurious to his cause. Having already engaged Chabrias and obtained the good will of Athens, he desired also to gain the help of Agesilaus and the favourable opinion of the Lacedaemonians. Though now eighty years old, Agesilaus was still under the influence of cupidity and vanity; the promise of being placed in supreme command enticed him, and he set sail with one thousand hoplites. A disappointment awaited him at the moment of his disembarkation: Tachos gave him command of the mercenary troops only, reserving for himself the general direction of operations, and placing the whole fleet under the orders of Chabrias. The aged hero, having vented his indignation by indulging a more than ordinary display of Spartan rudeness, allowed himself to be appeased by abundant presents, and assumed the post assigned to him. But soon after a more serious subject of disagreement arose between him and his ally; Agesilaus was disposed to think that Tachos should remain quietly on the banks of the Nile, and leave to his generals the task of conducting the campaign. The ease with which mercenary leaders passed from one camp to the other, according to the fancy of the moment, was not calculated to inspire the Egyptian Pharaoh with confidence: he refused to comply with the wishes of Agesilaus, and, entrusting the regency to one of his relatives, proceeded to invade Syria. He found the Persians unprepared: they shut themselves up in their strongholds, and the Pharaoh confided to his cousin Nectanebo, son of the regent, the task of dislodging them. The war dragged on for some time; discontent crept in among the native levies, and brought treachery in its train. The fiscal measures which had been adopted had exasperated the priests and the common people; complaints, at first only muttered in fear, found bold expression as soon as the expeditionary force had crossed the frontier.
[Illustration: 299.jpb NECTANEBO I]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
The regent secretly encouraged the malcontents, and wrote to his son warning him of what was going on, and advised him to seize the crown. Nectanebo could easily have won over the Egyptian troops to his cause, but their support would have proved useless as long as the Greeks did not pronounce in his favour, and Chabrias refused to break his oaths. Agesilaus, however, was not troubled by the same scruples. His vanity had been sorely wounded by the Pharaoh: after being denied the position which was, he fancied, his by right, his short stature, his ill-health, and native coarseness had exposed him to the unseemly mockery of the courtiers. Tachos, considering his ability had been over-estimated, applied to him, it is said, the fable of the mountain bringing forth a mouse; to which he had replied, |When opportunity offers, I will prove to him that I am the lion.| When Tachos requested him to bring the rebels to order, he answered ironically that he was there to help the Egyptians, not to attack them; and before giving his support to either of the rival claimants, he should consult the Ephors. The Ephors enjoined him to act in accordance with the welfare of his country, and he thereupon took the side of Nectanebo, despite the remonstrances of Chabrias. Tachos, deserted by his veterans, fled to Sidon, and thence to Susa, where Artaxerxes received him hospitably and without reproaching him (359 B.C.); but the news of his fall was not received on the banks of the Nile with as much rejoicing as he had anticipated. The people had no faith in any revolution in which the Greeks whom they detested took the chief part, and the feudal lords refused to acknowledge a sovereign whom they had not themselves chosen; they elected one of their number -- the prince of Mendes -- to oppose Nectanebo. The latter was obliged to abandon the possessions won by his predecessor, and return with his army to Egypt: he there encountered the forces of his enemy, which, though as yet undisciplined, were both numerous and courageous. Agesilaus counselled an immediate attack before these troops had time to become experienced in tactics, but he no longer stood well at court; the prince of Mendes had endeavoured to corrupt him, and, though he had shown unexpected loyalty, many, nevertheless, suspected his good faith. Nectanebo set up his headquarters at Tanis, where he was shortly blockaded by his adversary. It is well known how skilfully the Egyptians handled the pick-axe, and how rapidly they could construct walls of great strength; the circle of entrenchments was already near completion, and provisions were beginning to fail, when Agesilaus received permission to attempt a sortie. He broke through the besieging lines under cover of the night, and some days later won a decisive victory (359 B.C.). Nectanebo would now have gladly kept the Spartan general at his side, for he was expecting a Persian attack; but Agesilaus, who had had enough of Egypt and its intrigues, deserted his cause, and shortly afterwards died of exhaustion on the coast near Cyrene. The anticipated Persian invasion followed shortly after, but it was conducted without energy or decision. Artaxerxes had entrusted the conduct of the expedition to Tachos, doubtless promising to reinstate him in his former power as satrap or vassal king of Egypt, but Tachos died before he could even assume his post,* and the discords which rent the family of the Persian king prevented the generals who replaced him from taking any effective action.
* AElian narrates, probably following Dinon, that Tachos died of dysentery due to over-indulgence at dinner.
The aged Artaxerxes had had, it was reported, one hundred and fifteen sons by the different women in his harem, but only three of those by his queen Statira were now living -- Darius, Ariaspes, and Ochus. Darius, the eldest of the three, had been formally recognised as heir-apparent -- perhaps at the time of the disastrous war against the Cadusians* -- but the younger brother, Ochus, who secretly aspired to the throne, had managed to inspire him with anxiety with regard to the succession, and incited him to put the aged king out of the way. Contemporary historians, ill informed as to the intrigues in the palace, whose effects they noted without any attempt to explore their intricacies, invented several stories to account for the conduct of the young prince. Some assigned as the reason of his conspiracy a romantic love-affair. They said that Cyrus the Younger had had an Ionian mistress named Aspasia, who, after the fatal battle of Cunaxa, had been taken into the harem of the conqueror, and had captivated him by her beauty. Darius conceived a violent passion for this damsel, and his father was at first inclined to give her up to him, but afterwards, repenting of his complaisance, consecrated her to the service of Mithra, a cult which imposed on her the obligation of perpetual chastity. Darius, exasperated by this treatment, began to contemplate measures of vengeance, but, being betrayed by his brother Ochus, was put to death with his whole family.**
* Pompeius Trogus asserts that such co-regencies were contrary to Persian law; we have seen above that, on the contrary, they were obligatory when the sovereign was setting out on a campaign.
** This is the version of the story given by Dinon and accepted by Pompoius Trogus. A chronological calculation easily demonstrates its unlikelihood. It follows from the evidence given by Justin himself that Artaxerxes died of grief soon after the execution of his son; but, on the other hand, that the battle of Cunaxa took place in 400 B.C.: Aspasia must then have been fifty or sixty years old when Darius fell in love with her.
By the removal of this first obstacle the crafty prince found himself only one step nearer success, for his brother Ariaspes was acknowledged as heir-apparent: Ochus therefore persuaded him that their father, convinced of the complicity of Ariaspes in the plot imputed to Darius, intended to put him to an ignominious death, and so worked upon him that he committed suicide to escape the executioner. A bastard named Arsames, who might possibly have aspired to the crown, was assassinated by Ochus. This last blow was too much for Artaxerxes, and he died of grief after a reign of forty-six years (358 B.C.).* Ochus, who immediately assumed the name of Artaxerxes, began his reign by the customary massacre: he put to death all the princes of the royal family,** and having thus rid himself of all the rival claimants to the supreme power, he hastened on preparations for the war with Egypt which had been interrupted by his father's death and his own accession.
* This is the length attributed by Plutarch to this reign, and which is generally accepted. It was narrated in after- days that the king kept the fact of his father's death hidden for ten months, but it is impossible to tell how much truth there is in this statement, which was accepted by Dinon.
** According to the author followed by Pompeius Trogus, the princesses themselves were involved in this massacre. This is certainly an exaggeration, for we shall shortly see that Darius III., the last king of Persia, was accounted to be the grandson of Darius II.; the massacre can only have involved the direct heirs of Artaxerxes.
The necessity for restoring Persian dominion on the banks of the Nile was then more urgent than at any previous time. During the half-century which had elapsed since the recovery of her independence, Egypt had been a perpetual source of serious embarrassment to the great king. The contemporaries of Amyrtseus, whether Greeks or barbarians, had at first thought that his revolt was nothing more than a local rising, like many a previous one which had lasted but a short time and had been promptly suppressed. But when it was perceived that the native dynasties had taken a hold upon the country, and had carried on a successful contest with Persia, in spite of the immense disproportion in their respective resources; when not only the bravest soldiers of Asia, but the best generals of Greece, had miserably failed in their attacks on the frontier of the Delta, Phoenicia and Syria began to think whether what was possible in Africa might not also be possible in Asia. From that time forward, whenever a satrap or vassal prince meditated revolt, it was to Egypt that he turned as a natural ally, and from Egypt he sought the means to carry out his project; however needy the Pharaoh of that day might be, he was always able to procure for such a suitor sufficient money, munitions of war, ships, and men to enable him to make war against the empire. The attempt made by Ochus failed, as all previous attempts had done: the two adventurers who commanded the forces of Nectanebo, the Athenian Diophantes and Lamius of Sparta, inflicted a disastrous defeat on the imperial troops, and forced them to beat a hasty retreat. This defeat was all the more serious in its consequences because of the magnitude of the efforts which had been made: the king himself was in command of the troops, and had been obliged to turn his back precipitately on the foe. The Syrian provinces, which had been in an unsettled condition ever since the invasion under Tachos, flew to arms; nine petty kings of Cyprus, including Evagoras II., nephew of the famous prince of that name, refused to pay tribute, and Artabazus roused Asia Minor to rebellion. The Phoenicians still hesitated; but the insolence of their satrap, the rapacity of the generals who had been repulsed from Egypt, and the lack of discipline in the Persian army forced them to a decision. In a convention summoned at Tripoli, the representatives of the Phoenician cities conferred on Tennes, King of Sidon, the perilous honour of conducting the operations of the confederate army, and his first act was to destroy the royal villa in the Lebanon, and his next to burn the provisions which had been accumulated in various ports in view of the Egyptian war (351-350 B.C.).
[Illustration: 305.jpg evagoras ii. of salamis]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Ochus imagined at the outset that his generals would soon suppress these rebellions, and, in fact, Idrieus, tyrant of Caria, supported by eight thousand mercenaries under the Athenian Phocion, overcame the petty tyrants of Cyprus without much difficulty; but in Asia Minor, Artabazus, supported by Athens and Thebes, held at bay the generals sent to oppose him, and Tennes won a signal victory in Syria. He turned for support to Egypt, and Nectanebo, as might be expected, put Greek troops at his disposal to the number of four thousand, commanded by one of his best generals, Mentor of Ehodes: Belesys, the satrap of Syria, and Mazseus, satrap of Cilicia, suffered a total defeat. Ochus, exasperated at their want of success, called out every available soldier, three hundred thousand Asiatics and ten thousand Greeks; the Sidonians, on their side, dug a triple trench round their city, raised their ramparts, and set fire to their ships, to demonstrate their intention of holding out to the end. Unfortunately, their king, Tennes, was not a man of firm resolution. Hitherto he had lived a life of self-indulgence, surrounded by the women of his harem, whom he had purchased at great cost in Ionia and Greece, and had made it the chief object of his ambition to surpass in magnificence the most ostentatious princes of Cyprus, especially Nicocles of Salamis, son of Evagoras. The approach of Ochus confused his scanty wits; he endeavoured to wipe out his treachery towards his suzerain by the betrayal of his own subjects. He secretly despatched his confidential minister, a certain Thessalion, to the Persian camp, promising to betray Sidon to the Persian king, and to act as his guide into Egypt on condition of having his life preserved and his royal rank guaranteed to him. Ochus had already agreed to these conditions, when an impulse of vanity on his part nearly ruined the whole arrangement. Thessalion, not unreasonably doubting the king's good faith, had demanded that he should swear by his right hand to fulfil to the letter all the clauses of the treaty; whereupon Ochus, whose dignity was offended by this insistence, gave orders for the execution of the ambassador. But as the latter was being dragged away, he cried out that the king could do as he liked, but that if he disdained the help of Tennes, he would fail in his attacks both upon Phonicia and Egypt. These words produced a sudden reaction, and Thessalion obtained all that he demanded. When the Persians had arrived within a few days' march of Sidon, Tennes proclaimed that a general assembly of the Phoenician deputies was to be held, and under pretext of escorting the hundred leading men of his city to the appointed place of meeting, led them into the enemy's camp, where they were promptly despatched by the javelins of the soldiery. The Sidonians, deserted by their king, were determined to carry on the struggle, in the expectation of receiving succour from Egypt; but the Persian darics had already found their way into the hands of the mercenary troops, and the general whom Nectanebo had lent them, declared that his men considered the position desperate, and that he should surrender the city at the first summons. The Sidonians thereupon found themselves reduced to the necessity of imploring the mercy of the conqueror, and five hundred of them set out to meet him as suppliants, carrying olive branches in their hands. Bub Ochus was the most cruel monarch who had ever reigned in Persia -- the only one, perhaps, who was really bloodthirsty by nature; he refused to listen to the entreaties of the suppliants, and, like the preceding hundred delegates, they were all slain. The remaining citizens, perceiving that they could not hope for pardon, barricaded themselves in their houses, to which they set fire with their own hands; forty thousand persons perished in the flames, and so great was the luxury in the appointments of the private houses, that large sums were paid for the right to dig for the gold and silver ornaments buried in the ruins. The destruction of the city was almost as complete as in the days of Esarhaddon. When Sidon had thus met her fate, the Persians had no further reason for sparing its king, Tennes, and he was delivered to the executioner; whereupon the other Phoenician kings, terrified by his fate, opened their gates without a struggle.
Once more the treachery of a few traitors had disconcerted the plans of the Pharaoh, and delivered the outposts of Egypt into the hands of the enemy: but Ochus renewed his preparations with marvellous tenacity, and resolved to neglect nothing which might contribute to his final success. His victories had confirmed the cities of the empire in their loyalty, and they vied with one another in endeavouring to win oblivion for their former hesitation by their present zeal: |What city, or what nation of Asia did not send embassies to the sovereign? what wealth did they not lavish on him, whether the natural products of the soil, or the rare and precious productions of art? Did he not receive a quantity of tapestry and woven hangings, some of purple, some of diverse colours, others of pure white? many gilded pavilions, completely furnished, and containing an abundant supply of linen and sumptuous beds? chased silver, wrought gold, cups and bowls, enriched with precious stones, or valuable for the perfection and richness of their work? He also received untold supplies of barbarian and Grecian weapons, and still larger numbers of draught cattle and of sacrificial victims, bushels of preserved fruits, bales and sacks full of parchments or books, and all kinds of useful articles? So great was the quantity of salted meats which poured in from all sides, that from a distance the piles might readily be mistaken for rows of hillocks or high mounds.| The land-force was divided into three corps, each under a barbarian and a Greek general. It advanced along the sea coast, following the ancient route pursued by the armies of the Pharaohs, and as it skirted the marshes of Sirbonis, some detachments, having imprudently ventured over the treacherous soil, perished to a man. When the main force arrived in safety before Pelusium, it found Nectanebo awaiting it behind his ramparts and marshes. He had fewer men than his adversary, his force numbering only six thousand Egyptians, twenty thousand Libyans, and the same number of Greeks; but the remembrance of the successes won by himself and his predecessors with inferior numbers inspired him with confidence in the issue of the struggle. His fleet could not have ventured to meet in battle the combined squadrons of Cyprus and Phoenicia, but, on the other hand, he had a sufficient number of flat-bottomed boats to prevent any adversary from entering the mouths of the Nile. The weak points along his Mediterranean seaboard and eastern frontier were covered by strongholds, fortifications, and entrenched camps: in short, his plans were sufficiently well laid to ensure success in a defensive war, if the rash ardour of his Greek mercenaries had not defeated his plans. Five thousand of these troops were in occupation of Pelusium, under command of Philophron. Some companies of Thebans, who were serving under Lacrates in the Persian army, crossed a deep canal which separated them from the city, and provoked the garrison to risk an encounter in the open field. Philophron, instead of treating their challenge with indifference, accepted it, and engaged in a combat which lasted till nightfall. On the following day, Lacrates, having drawn off the waters of the canal and thrown a dyke across it, led his entire force up to the glacis of the fortifications, dug some trenches, and brought up a line of battering-rams. He would soon have effected a breach, but the Egyptians understood how to use the spade as well as the lance, and while the outer wall was crumbling, they improvised behind it a second wall, crowned with wooden turrets. Nectanebo, who had come up with thirty thousand native, five thousand Greek troops, and half the Libyan contingent, observed the vicissitudes of the siege from a short distance, and by his presence alone opposed the advance of the bulk of the Persian army. Weeks passed by, the time of the inundation was approaching, and it seemed as if this policy of delay would have its accustomed success, when an unforeseen incident decided in a moment the fate of Egypt. Among the officers of Ochus was a certain Nicostratus of Argos, who on account of his prodigious strength was often compared to Heracles, and who out of vanity dressed himself up in the traditional costume of that hero, the lion's skin and the club. Having imbibed, doubtless, the ideas formerly propounded by Iphicrates, Nicostratus forced some peasants, whose wives and children he had seized as hostages, to act as his guides, and made his way up one of the canals which traverse the marshes of Menzaleh: there he disembarked his men in the rear of Nectanebo, and took up a very strong position on the border of the cultivated land. This enterprise, undertaken with a very insufficient force, was an extremely rash one; if the Egyptian generals had contented themselves with harassing Nicostratus without venturing on engaging him in a pitched battle, they would speedily have forced him to re-embark or to lay down his arms. Unfortunately, however, five thousand mercenaries, who formed the garrison of one of the neighbouring towns, hastened to attack him under the command of Clinias of Cos, and suffered a severe defeat. As a result, the gates of the town were thrown open to the enemy, and if the Persians, encouraged by the success of this forlorn hope, had followed it up boldly, Nectanebo would have run the risk of being cut off from his troops which were around Pelusium, and of being subsequently crushed. He thought it wiser to retreat towards the apex of the Delta, but this very act of prudence exposed him to one of those accidental misfortunes which are wont to occur in armies formed of very diverse elements. While he was concentrating his reserves at Memphis, the troops of the first line thought that, by leaving them exposed to the assaults of the great king, he was deliberately sacrificing them. Pelusium capitulated to Lacrates; Mentor of Ehodes pushed forward and seized Bubastis, and the other cities in the eastern portion of the Delta, fearing to bring upon themselves the fate of Sidon, opened their gates to the Persians after a mere show of resistance. The forces which had collected at Memphis thereupon disbanded, and Nectanebo, ruined by these successive disasters, collected his treasures and fled to Ethiopia. The successful issue of the rash enterprise of Nicostratus had overthrown the empire of the Pharaohs, and re-established the Persian empire in its integrity (342 B.C.).*
* The complete history of this war is related by Diodorus Siculus, who generally follows the narrative of Theopompus. The chronology is still sufficiently uncertain to leave some doubt as to the exact date of each event; I have followed that arrangement which seems to accord best with the general history of the period. The following table may be drawn up of the last Egyptian dynasties as far as they can be restored at present: --
[Illustration: 312.jpg TABLE OF THE LAST EGYPTIAN DYNASTIES]
Egypt had prospered under the strong rule of its last native Pharaohs. Every one of them, from Amyrtous down to Nectanebo, had done his best to efface all traces of the Persian invasions and restore to the country the appearance which it had presented before the days of its servitude; even kings like Psamutis and Tachos, whose reign had been of the briefest, had, like those who ruled for longer periods, constructed or beautified the monuments of the country. The Thebaid was in this respect a special field of their labours. The island of Philae, exposed to the ceaseless attacks of the Ethiopians, had been reduced to little more than a pile of ruins.
[Illustration: 313.jpg SMALL TEMPLE OF NECTANEBO, AT THE SOUTHERN EXTREMITY OF PHILAE]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato.
Nectanebo II. erected a magnificent gate there, afterwards incorporated into the first pylon of the temple built by the Ptolemies, and one at least of the buildings that still remain, the charming rectangular kiosk, the pillars of which, with their Hathor capitals, rise above the southern extremity of the island and mark the spot at which the Ethiopian pilgrims first set foot on the sacred territory of the bountiful Isis. Nectanebo I. restored the sanctuaries of Nekhabit at El-Kab, and of Horus at Edfu, in which latter place he has left an admirable naos which delights the modern traveller by its severe proportions and simplicity of ornament, while Nectanebo II. repaired the ancient temple of Minu at Coptos; in short, without giving a detailed list of what was accomplished by each of these later Pharaohs, it may be said that there are few important sites in the valley of the Nile where some striking evidence of their activity may not still be discovered even after the lapse of so many centuries.
[Illustration: 314.jpg NAOS OF NECTANEBO IN THE TEMPLE AT EDFU]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato.
It will be sufficient to mention Thebes, Memphis, Sebennytos, Bubastis, Pahabit, Patumu, and Tanis. Nor did the Theban oases, including that of Amon himself, escape their zeal, for the few Europeans who have visited them in modern times have observed their cartouches there.
[Illustration: 315.jpg GREAT GATE OF NECTANEBO AT KARNAK]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato.
Moreover, in spite of the brief space of time within which they were carried out, the majority of these works betray no signs of haste or slipshod execution; the craftsmen employed on them seem to have preserved in their full integrity all the artistic traditions of earlier times, and were capable of producing masterpieces which will bear comparison with those of the golden age. The Eastern gate, erected at Karnak in the time of Nectanebo II., is in no way inferior either in purity of proportion or in the beauty of its carvings to what remains of the gates of Amenothes III.
[Illustration: 316.jpg fragment of a Naos of THE time of nectanebo II. in the Bologna Museum]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Flinders Petrie.
The sarcophagus of Nectanebo I. is carved and decorated with a perfection of skill which had never been surpassed in any age, and elsewhere, on all the monuments which bear the name of this monarch the hieroglyphics have been designed and carved with as much care as though each one of them had been a precious cameo.*
* The sarcophagus was for a long time preserved near the mosque of Ibn-Tulun, and was credited with peculiar virtues by the superstitious inhabitants of Cairo.
The basalt torso of Nectanebo II., which attracts so much admiration in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris for accuracy of proportion and delicacy of modelling, deserves to rank with the finest statues of the ancient empire. The men's heads are veritable portraits, in which such details as a peculiar conformation of the skull, prominent cheekbones, deep-set eyes, sunken cheeks, or the modelling of the chin, have all been observed and reproduced with a fidelity and keenness of observation which we fail to find in such works of the earlier artists as have come down to us. These later sculptors display the same regard for truth in their treatment of animals, and their dog-headed divinities; their dogs, lions, and sphinxes will safely bear comparison with the most lifelike presentments of these creatures to be found among the remains of the Memphite or Theban eras. Egypt was thus in the full tide of material prosperity when it again fell under the Persian yoke, and might have become a source of inexhaustible wealth to Ochus had he known how to secure acceptance of his rule, as Darius, son of Hystaspes, had done in the days of Amasis.
[Illustration: 317.jpg ONE OF THE LIONS IN THE VATICAN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Flinders Petrie.
The violence of his temperament, however, impelled him to a course of pitiless oppression, and his favourite minister, the eunuch Bagoas, seems to have done his best to stimulate his master's natural cruelty. In the days when they felt themselves securely protected from his anger by their Libyan and Greek troops, the fellahin had freely indulged in lampoons at the expense of their Persian suzerain; they had compared him to Typhon on account of his barbarity, and had nicknamed him |the Ass,| this animal being in their eyes a type of everything that is vile. On his arrival at Memphis, Ochus gave orders that an ass should be installed in the temple of Phtah, and have divine honours paid to it; he next had the bull Apis slaughtered and served up at a set banquet which he gave to his friends on taking possession of the White Wall. The sacred goat of Mendes suffered the same fate as the Apis, and doubtless none of the other sacred animals were spared. Bagoas looted the temples in the most systematic way, despatched the sacred books to Persia, razed the walls of the cities to the ground, and put every avowed partisan of the native dynasty to the sword. After these punitive measures had been carried out, Ochus disbanded his mercenaries and returned to Babylon, leaving Pherendates in charge of the reconquered province.*
* It seems that a part of the atrocities committed by Ochus and Bagoas soon came to be referred to the time of the |Impure| and to that of Cambyses.
The downfall of Egypt struck terror into the rebellious satraps who were in arms elsewhere. Artabazus, who had kept Asia Minor in a ferment ever since the time of Artaxerxes II., gave up the struggle of his own accord and took refuge in Macedonia. The petty kings of the cities on the shores of the Hellespont and the AEgean submitted themselves in order to regain favour, or if, like Hermias of Atarnasa, the friend of Aristotle, they still resisted, they were taken prisoners and condemned to death. The success of Ochus was a reality, but there was still much to be done before things were restored to the footing they had occupied before the crisis. We know enough of the course of events in the western provinces to realise the pitch of weakness to which the imbecility of Darius II. and his son Artaxerxes II. had reduced the empire of Darius and Xerxes, but it is quite certain that the disastrous effects of their misgovernment were not confined to the shores of the Mediterranean, but were felt no less acutely in the eastern and central regions of the empire. There, as on the Greek frontiers, the system built up at the cost of so much ingenuity by Darius was gradually being broken down with each year that passed, and the central government could no longer make its power felt at the extremities of the empire save at irregular intervals, when its mandates were not intercepted or nullified in transmission. The functions of the |Eyes| and |Ears| of the king had degenerated into a mere meaningless formality, and were, more often than not, dispensed with altogether. The line of demarcation between the military and civil power had been obliterated: not only had the originally independent offices of satrap, general, and secretary ceased to exist in each separate province, but, in many instances, the satrap, after usurping the functions of his two colleagues, contrived to extend his jurisdiction till it included several provinces, thus establishing himself as a kind of viceroy. Absorbed in disputes among themselves, or in conspiracies against the Achsemenian dynasty, these officials had no time to look after the well-being of the districts under their control, and the various tribes and cities took advantage of this to break the ties of vassalage. To take Asia Minor alone, some of the petty kings of Bithynia, Paphlagonia, and certain districts of Cappadocia or the mountainous parts of Phrygia still paid their tribute intermittently, and only when compelled to do so; others, however, such as the Pisidians, Lycaonians, a part of the Lycians, and some races of Mount Taurus, no longer dreamed of doing so. The three satrapies on the shores of the Caspian, which a hundred years before had wedged themselves in between that sea and the Euxine, were now dissolved, all trace of them being lost in a confused medley of kingdoms and small states, some of which were ready enough to acknowledge the supremacy of Persia, while others, such as the Gordiseans, Taochi, Chalybes, Colchi, Mosynoki, and Tibarenians, obeyed no rule but their own.
[Illustration: 321.jpg MAP OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE]
All along the Caspian, the Cadusians and Amardians, on either side of the chain of mountains bordering the Iranian plateau, defied all the efforts made to subdue them.* India and the Sakse had developed from the condition of subjects into that of friendly allies, and the savage hordes of Gedrosia and the Paropamisus refused to recognise any authority at all.**
* They appear in the history of every epoch as the
irreconcilable foes of the great king, enemies against whom even the most peacefully disposed sovereigns were compelled to take the field in person.
** The Sakae fought at Arbela, but only as allies of the Persians. The Indians who are mentioned with them came from the neighbourhood of Cabul; most of the races who had formerly figured in Darius' satrapy of India had become independent by the time Alexander penetrated into the basin of the Indus.
The whole empire needed to be reconquered and reorganised bit by bit if it was to exercise that influence in the world to which its immense size entitled it, and the question arose whether the elements of which it consisted would lend themselves to any permanent reorganisation or readjustment.
The races of the ancient Eastern world, or, at any rate, that portion of them which helped to make its history, either existed no longer or had sunk into their dotage. They had worn each other out in the centuries of their prime, Chaldaeans and Assyrians fighting against Cossaeans or Elamites, Egyptians against Ethiopians and against Hittites, Urartians, Armaeans, the peoples of Lebanon and of Damascus, the Phoenicians, Canaanites and Jews, until at last, with impoverished blood and flagging energies, they were thrown into conflict with younger and more vigorous nations. The Medes had swept away all that still remained of Assyria and Urartu; the Persians had overthrown the Medes, the Lydians, and the Chaldaeans, till Egypt alone remained and was struck down by them in her turn. What had become of these conquered nations during the period of nearly two hundred years that the Achaemenians had ruled over them? First, as regards Elam, one of the oldest and formerly the most powerful of them all. She had been rent into two halves, each of them destined to have a different fate. In the mountains, the Uxians, Mardians, Elymasans, and Cossaeans -- tribes who had formerly been the backbone of the nation -- had relapsed into a semi-barbarous condition, or rather, while the rest of the world had progressed in civilization and refinement, they had remained in a state of stagnation, adhering obstinately to the customs of their palmy days: just as they had harried the Chaldaeans or Assyrians in the olden times, so now they harried the Persians; then, taking refuge in their rocky fastnesses, they lived on the proceeds of their forays, successfully resisting all attempts made to dislodge them. The people of the plains, on the other hand, kept in check from the outset by the presence of the court at Susa, not only promptly resigned themselves to their fate, but even took pleasure in it, and came to look upon themselves as in some sort the masters of Asia. Was it not to their country, to the very spot occupied by the palace of their king, that, for nearly two hundred years, satraps, vassal kings, the legates of foreign races, ambassadors of Greek republics -- in a word, all the great ones of this world -- came every year to render homage, and had not the treasures which these visitors brought with them been expended, in part at any rate, on their country? The memory of their former prosperity paled before the splendours of their new destiny, and the glory of their ancestors suffered eclipse. The names of the national kings, the story of their Chaldaean and Syrian conquests, the trophies of their victories over the great generals of Nineveh, the horrors of their latest discords and of the final catastrophe were all forgotten; even the documents which might have helped to recall them lay buried in the heart of the mound which served as a foundation for the palace of the Achgernenides. Beyond the vague consciousness of a splendid past, the memory of the common people was a blank, and when questioned by strangers they could tell them nothing save legends of the gods or the exploits of mythical heroes; and from them the Greeks borrowed their Memnon, that son of Tithonus and Eos who rushed to the aid of Priam with his band of Ethiopians, and whose prowess had failed to retard by a single day the downfall of Troy. Further northwards, the Urartians and peoples of ancient Nairi, less favoured by fortune, lost ground with each successive generation, yielding to the steady pressure of the Armenians. In the time of Herodotus they were still in possession of the upper basins of the Euphrates and Araxus, and, in conjunction with the Matieni and Saspires, formed a satrapy -- the eighteenth -- the boundaries of which coincided pretty closely with those of the kingdom ruled over by the last kings of Van in the days of Assur-bani-pal; the Armenians, on their side, constituted the thirteenth satrapy, between Mount Taurus and the Lower Arsanias.
[Illustration: 325.jpg COINS OF THE SATRAPS WITH ARAMAEAN INSCRIPTIONS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from coins in the Cabinet des Medailles
The whole face of their country had undergone a profound change since that time: the Urartians, driven northwards, became intermingled with the tribes on the slopes of the Caucasus, while the Armenians, carried along towards the east, as though by some resistless current, were now scaling the mountainous bulwark of Ararat, and slowly but surely encroaching on the lower plains of the Araxes. These political changes had been almost completed by the time of Ochus, and Urartu had disappeared from the scene, but an Armenia now flourished in the very region where Urartu had once ruled, and its princes, who were related to the family of the Achaemenides, wielded an authority little short of regal under the modest name of satraps. Thanks to their influence, the religions and customs of Iran were introduced into the eastern borders of Asia Minor. They made their way into the valleys of the Iris and the Halys, into Cappadocia and the country round Mount Taurus, and thither they brought with them the official script of the empire, the Persian and Aramaean cuneiform which was employed in public documents, in inscriptions, and on coins. The centre of the peninsula remained very much the same as it had been in the period of the Phrygian supremacy, but further westward Hellenic influences gradually made themselves felt.
[Illustration: 326.jpg A LYCIAN TOMB]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a woodcut in Bonndorff.
The arts of Greece, its manners, religious ideals, and modes of thought, were slowly displacing civilisations of the Asianic type, and even in places like Lycia, where the language successfully withstood the Greek invasion, the life of the nations, and especially of their rulers, became so deeply impregnated with Hellenism as to differ but little from that in the cities on the Ionic, AEolian, or Doric seaboard. The Lycians still adhered to the ancient forms which characterised their funerary architecture, but it was to Greek sculptors, or pupils from the Grecian schools, that they entrusted the decoration of the sides of their sarcophagi and of their tombs.
[Illustration: 327b.jpg STATUE OF MAUSOLUS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph of the original in the British Museum.
[Illustration: 327a.jpg COIN OF A LYCIAN KING]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a silver stater in the Cabinet des Medailles. The king in question was named Deneveles, and is only known by the coins bearing his superscription. He flourished about 395 B.C.
Their kings minted coins many of which are reckoned among the masterpieces of antique engraving; and if we pass from Lycia to the petty states of Caria, we come upon one of the greatest triumphs of Greek art -- that huge mausoleum in which the inconsolable Artemisia enclosed the ashes and erected the statue of her husband. The Asia Minor of Egyptian times, with its old-world dynasties, its old-world names, and old-world races, had come to be nothing more than an historic memory; even that martial world, in which the Assyrian conquerors fought so many battles from the Euphrates to the Black Sea, was now no more, and its neighbours and enemies of former days had, for the most part, disappeared from the land of the living.
[Illustration: 328.jpg LYCIAN SARCOPHAGUS DECORATED WITH GREEK CARVINGS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photogravure published by Hamdy-Beg and Th. Reinach.
The Lotanu were gone, the Khati were gone, and gone, too, were Carchemish, Arpad, and Qodshu, much of thSec.ir domain having been swallowed up again by the desert for want of hands to water and till it; even Assyria itself seemed but a shadow half shrouded in the mists of oblivion. Sangara, Nisibis, Resaina, and Edessa still showed some signs of vigour, but on quitting the slopes of the Masios and proceeding southwards, piles of ruins alone marked the sites of those wealthy cities through which the Ninevite monarchs had passed in their journeyings towards Syria. Here wide tracts of arid and treeless country were now to be seen covered with aromatic herbage, where the Scenite Arabs were wont to pursue the lion, wild ass, ostrich, bustard, antelope, and gazelle; a few abandoned forts, such as Korsorte, Anatho, and Is (Hit) marked the halting-places of armies on the banks of the Euphrates. In the region of the Tigris, the descendants of Assyrian captives who, like the Jews, had been set free by Cyrus, had rebuilt Assur, and had there grown wealthy by husbandry and commerce,* but in the district of the Zab solitude reigned supreme.** Calah and Nineveh were alike deserted, and though their ruins still littered the sites where they had stood, their names were unknown in the neighbouring villages. Xenophon, relying on his guides, calls the former place Larissa, the second Mespila.***
* This seems to be indicated by a mutilated passage in the Cylinder of Gyrus, where Assur is mentioned in the list of towns and countries whose inhabitants were sent back to their homes by Cyrus after the capture of Babylon. Xenophon calls it Esense, this being, possibly, a translation of the name given to it by its inhabitants. Nothing could be more natural than for exiles to call the villages founded by them on their return |new.| The town seems to have been a large and wealthy one.
** Xenophon calls this country Media, a desert region which the Ten Thousand took six days to cross.
*** The name Larissa is, possibly, a corruption of some name similar to that of the city of Larsam in Chaldaea; Mespila may be a generic term. [Mespila is Muspula, |the low ground| at the foot of Kouyunjik; Larissa probably Al Resen or Res-eni, between Kouyunjik and Nebi Yunus. -- Ed.]
Already there were historians who took the ziggurat at Nineveh to be the burial-place of Sardanapalus. They declared that Cyrus had pulled it down in order to strengthen his camp during the siege of the town, and that formerly it had borne an epitaph afterwards put into verse by the poet Choerilus of Iassus: |I reigned, and so long as I beheld the light of the sun, I ate, I drank, I loved, well knowing how brief is the life of man, and to how many vicissitudes it is liable.| Many writers, remembering the Assyrian monument at Anchiale in Cilicia, were inclined to place the king's tomb there. It was surmounted by the statue of a man -- according to one account, with his hands crossed upon his breast, according to another, in the act of snapping his fingers -- and bore the following inscription in Chaldaic letters: |I, Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, founded Anchiale and Tarsus in one day, but now am dead.| Thus ten centuries of conquests and massacre had passed away like a vapour, leaving nothing but a meagre residue of old men's tales and moral axioms.
In one respect only does the civilisation of the Euphrates seem to have fairly held its own. Cossaea, though it had lost its independence, had lost but little of its wealth; its former rebellions had done it no great injury, and its ancient cities were still left standing, though shorn of their early splendour. Uru, it is true, numbered but few citizens round its tottering sanctuaries, but Uruk maintained a school of theologians and astronomers no less famous throughout the East than those of Borsippa. The swamps, however, which surrounded it possessed few attractions, and Greek travellers rarely ventured thither. They generally stopped at Babylon, or if they ventured off the beaten track, it was only to visit the monuments of Nebuchadrezzar, or the tombs of the early kings in its immediate neighbourhood. Babylon was, indeed, one of the capitals of the empire -- nay, for more than half a century, during the closing years of Artaxerxes I., in the reign of Darius II., and in the early days of Artaxerxes IL, it had been the real capital; even under Ochus, the court spent the winter months there, and resorted thither in quest of those resources of industry and commerce which Susa lacked. The material benefits due to the presence of the sovereign seem to have reconciled the city to its subject condition; there had been no seditious movement there since the ill-starred rising of Shamasherib, which Xerxes had quelled with ruthless severity. The Greek mercenaries or traders who visited it, though prepared for its huge size by general report, could not repress a feeling of astonishment as they approached it. First of all there was the triple wall of Nebuchadrezzar, with its moats, its rows of towers, and its colossal gateways. Unlike the Greek cities, it had been laid out according to a regular plan, and formed a perfect square, inside which the streets crossed one another at right angles, some parallel to the Euphrates, others at right angles to it; every one of the latter terminated in a brazen gate opening through the masonry of the quay, and giving access to the river. The passengers who crowded the streets included representatives of all the Asiatic races, the native Babylonians being recognisable by their graceful dress, consisting of a linen tunic falling to the feet, a fringed shawl, round cap, and heavy staff terminating in a knob. From this ever-changing background stood out many novel features calculated to stimulate Greek curiosity, such as the sick persons exposed at street-corners in order that they might beg the passers-by to prescribe for them, the prostitution of her votaries within the courts of the goddess Mylitta, and the disposal of marriageable girls by auction: Herodotus, however, regretted that this latter custom had fallen into abeyance. And yet to the attentive eye of a close observer even Babylon must have furnished many unmistakable symptoms of decay. The huge boundary wall enclosed too large an area for the population sheltered behind it; whole quarters were crumbling into heaps of ruins, and the flower and vegetable gardens were steadily encroaching on spaces formerly covered with houses. Public buildings had suffered quite as much as private dwellings from the Persian wars. Xerxes had despoiled the temples, and no restoration had been attempted since his time. The ziggurat of Bel lay half buried already beneath piles of rubbish; the golden statues which had once stood within its chambers had disappeared, and the priests no longer carried on their astronomical observations on its platform.*
* Herodotus merely mentions that Xerxes had despoiled the temple; Strabo tells us that Alexander wished to restore it, but that it was in such a state of dilapidation that it would have taken ten thousand men two months merely to remove the rubbish.
The palaces of the ancient kings were falling to pieces from lack of repairs, though the famous hanging gardens in the citadel were still shown to strangers. The guides, of course, gave them out to be a device of Semiramis, but the well-informed knew that they had been constructed by Nebuchadrezzar for one of his wives the daughter of Oyaxares, who pined for the verdure of her native mountains. |They were square in shape, each side being four hundred feet long; one approached them by steps leading to terraces placed one above the other, the arrangement of the whole, resembling that of an amphitheatre. Each terrace rested on pillars which, gradually increasing in size, supported the weight of the soil and its produce. The loftiest pillar attained a height of fifty feet; it reached to the upper part of the garden, its capital being on a level with the balustrades of the boundary wall. The terraces were covered with a layer of soil of sufficient depth for the roots of the largest trees; plants of all kinds that delight the eye by their shape or beauty were grown there. One of the columns was hollowed from top to bottom; it contained hydraulic engines which pumped up quantities of water, no part of the mechanism being visible from the outside.| Many travellers were content to note down only such marvels as they considered likely to make their narratives more amusing, but others took pains to collect information of a more solid character, and before they had carried their researches very far, were at once astounded and delighted with the glimpses they obtained of Chaldaean genius. No doubt, they exaggerated when they went so far as to maintain that all their learning came to them originally from Babylon, and that the most famous scholars of Greece, Pherecydes of Scyros, Democritus of Abdera, and Pythagoras,* owed the rudiments of philosophy, mathematics, physics, and astrology to the school of the Magi.
* The story which asserts that Pythagoras served under Nergilos, King of Assyria, is probably based on some similarity of names: thus among the Greek kings of Cyprus, and in the time of Assur-bani-pal, we find one whose name would recall that of Pythagoras, if the accuracy of the reading were beyond question.
Yet it is not surprising that they should have believed this to be the case, when increasing familiarity with the priestly seminaries revealed to them the existence of those libraries of clay tablets in which, side by side with theoretic treatises dating from two thousand years back and more, were to be found examples of applied mechanics, observations, reckonings, and novel solutions of problems, which generations of scribes had accumulated in the course of centuries. The Greek astronomers took full advantage of these documents, but it was their astrologers and soothsayers who were specially indebted to them. The latter acknowledged their own inferiority the moment they came into contact with their Euphratean colleagues, and endeavoured to make good their deficiencies by taking lessons from the latter or persuading them to migrate to Greece. A hundred years later saw the Babylonian Berosus opening at Cos a public school of divination by the stars. From thenceforward |Chaldaean| came to be synonymous with |astrologer| or |sorcerer,| and Chaldaean magic became supreme throughout the world at the very moment when Chaldaea itself was in its death-throes.
Nor was its unquestioned supremacy in the black art the sole legacy that Chaldaea bequeathed to the coming generations: its language survived, and reigned for centuries afterwards in the regions subjugated by its arms. The cultivated tongue employed by the scribes of Nineve and Babylon in the palmy days of their race, had long become a sort of literary dialect, used in writings of a lofty character and understood by a select few, but unintelligible to the common people. The populace in town or country talked an Aramaic jargon, clumsier and more prolix than Assyrian, but easier to understand. We know how successfully the Aramaeans had managed to push their way along the Euphrates and into Syria towards the close of the Hittite supremacy: their successive encroachments had been favoured, first by the Assyrian, later by the Chaldaean conquests, and now they had become sole possessors of the ancient Naharaina, the plains of Cilicia, the basin of the Orontes, and the country round Damascus; but the true home of the Aramaeans was in Syria rather than in the districts of the Lower Euphrates. Even in the time of the Sargonids their alphabet had made so much headway that at Nineveh itself and at Calah it had come into everyday use; when Chaldaean supremacy gave way to that of the Persians, its triumph -- in the western provinces, at any rate -- was complete, and it became the recognised vehicle of the royal decrees: we come upon it in every direction, on the coins issued by the satraps of Asia Minor, on the seals of local governors or dynasts, on inscriptions or stelae in Egypt, in the letters of the scribes, and in the rescripts of the great king. From Nisib to Baphia, between the Tigris and the Mediterranean, it gradually supplanted most of the other dialects -- Semitic or otherwise -- which had hitherto prevailed. Phoenician held its ground in the seaports, but Hebrew gave way before it, and ended by being restricted to religious purposes, as a literary and liturgical language. It was in the neighbourhood of Babylon itself that the Judaean exiles had, during the Captivity, adopted the Aramaic language, and their return to Canaan failed to restore either the purity of their own language or the dignity and independence of their religious life. Their colony at Jerusalem possessed few resources; the wealthier Hebrews had, for the most part, remained in Chaldaea, leaving the privilege of repopulating the holy city to those of their brethren who were less plenteously endowed with this world's goods. These latter soon learned to their cost that Zion was not the ideal city whose |gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the wealth of the nations;| far from |sucking the milk of nations and the breast of kings,|* their fields produced barely sufficient to satisfy the more pressing needs of daily life. |Ye have sown much, and bring in little,| as Jahveh declared to them |ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.|**
* An anonymous prophet in Isa. lx.11-16.
** Hagg. i.6.
They quickly relinquished the work of restoration, finding themselves forgotten by all -- their Babylonian brethren included -- in the midst of the great events which were then agitating the world, the preparations for the conquest of Egypt, the usurpation of the pseudo-Smerdis, the accession of Darius, the Babylonian and Median insurrections. Possibly they believed that the Achaemenides had had their day, and that a new Chaldaean empire, with a second Nebuchadrezzar at its head, was about to regain the ascendency. It would seem that the downfall of Nadintav-bel inspired them with new faith in the future and encouraged them to complete their task: in the second year of Darius, two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, arose in their midst and lifted up their voices.
[Illustration: 337.jpg CHALDEAN SEAL WITH ARAMAIC INSCRIPTION]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photogravure published in Menant.
Zerubbabel, a prince of the royal line, governed Judah in the Persian interest, and with him was associated the high priest Joshua, who looked after the spiritual interests of the community: the reproaches of the two prophets aroused the people from their inaction, and induced them to resume their interrupted building operations. Darius, duly informed of what was going on by the governor of Syria, gave orders that they were not to be interfered with, and four years later the building of the temple was completed.*
* Ezra iv.-vi.; the account given by Josephus of the two expeditions of Zerubbabel seems to have been borrowed partly from the canonical book, partly from the Apocryphal writing known as the 1st Book of Esdras.
For nearly a century after this the little Jewish republic remained quiescent. It had slowly developed until it had gradually won back a portion of the former territories of Benjamin and Judah, but its expansion southwards was checked by the Idumaeans, to whom Nebuchadrezzar had years before handed over Hebron and Acrabattene (Akrabbim) as a reward for the services they had rendered.
On the north its neighbours were the descendants of those Aramaean exiles whom Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esar-haddon, kings of Assyria, had, on various occasions, installed around Samaria in Mount Ephraim. At first these people paid no reverence to the |God of the land,| so that Jahveh, in order to punish them, sent lions, which spread carnage in their ranks. Then the King of Assyria allotted them an Israelitish priest from among his prisoners, who taught them |the law| of Jahveh, and appointed other priests chosen from the people, and showed them how to offer up sacrifices on the ancient high places.*
* Kings xvii.24-40. There do not seem to have been the continual disputes between the inhabitants of Judaea and Samaria before the return of Nehemiah, which the compilers of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah seem to have believed.
Thus another Israel began to rise up again, and, at first, the new Judah seems to have been on tolerably friendly terms with it: the two communities traded and intermarried with one another, the Samaritans took part in the religious ceremonies, and certain of their leaders occupied a court in the temple at Jerusalem. The alliance, however, proved dangerous to the purity of the faith, for the proselytes, while they adopted Jahveh and gave Him that supreme place in their devotions which was due to |the God of the land,| had by no means entirely forsworn their national superstitions, and Adrammelek, Nergal, Tartak, Anammelek, and other deities still found worshippers among them. Judah, which in the days of its independence had so often turned aside after the gods of Canaan and Moab, was in danger of being led away by the idolatrous practices of its new neighbours; intermarriage with the daughters of Moab and Ammon, of Philistia and Samaria, was producing a gradual degeneracy: the national language was giving way before the Aramaean; unless some one could be found to stem the tide of decadence and help the people to remount the slope which they were descending, the fate of Judah was certain. A prophet -- the last of those whose predictions have survived to our time -- stood forth amid the general laxity and called the people to account for their transgressions, in the name of the Eternal, but his single voice, which seemed but a feeble echo of the great prophets of former ages, did not meet with a favourable hearing. Salvation came at length from the Jews outside Judah, the naturalised citizens of Babylon, a well-informed and wealthy body, occupying high places in the administration of the empire, and sometimes in the favour of the sovereign also, yet possessed by an ardent zeal for the religion of their fathers and a steadfast faith in the vitality of their race. One of these, a certain Nehemiah, was employed as cupbearer to Artaxerxes II. He was visited at Susa by some men of Judah whose business had brought them to that city and inquired of them how matters fared in Jerusalem. Hanani, one of his visitors, replied that |the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.| Nehemiah took advantage of a moment when the king seemed in a jovial mood to describe the wretched state of his native land in moving terms: he obtained leave to quit Susa and authority to administer the city in which his fathers had dwelt.*
* Nehemiah i., ii.
This took place in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, about 385 B.C. Nehemiah at once made his way to Jerusalem with such escort as befitted his dignity, and the news of his mission, and, apparently, the sentiments of rigid orthodoxy professed by him from the beginning, provoked the resentment of the neighbouring potentates against him: Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, chief of the Samaritans, and Geshem the Bedawin did their best to thwart him in the execution of his plans. He baffled their intrigues by his promptitude in rebuilding the walls, and when once he had rendered himself safe from any sudden attack, he proceeded with the reforms which he deemed urgent. His tenure of office lasted twelve years -- from 384 to 373 B.C. -- and during the whole of that time he refused to accept any of the dues to which he was entitled, and which his predecessors had received without scruple. Ever since their return from exile, the common people had been impoverished and paralysed by usury. The poor had been compelled to mortgage their fields and their vineyards in order to pay the king's taxes; then, when their land was gone, they had pledged their sons and their daughters; the moneyed classes of the new Israel thus absorbed the property of their poorer brethren, and reduced the latter to slavery. Nehemiah called the usurers before him and severely rebuking them for their covetousness, bade them surrender the interest and capital of existing debts, and restore the properties which had fallen into their hands owing to their shameful abuse of wealth, and release all those of their co-religionists whom they had enslaved in default of payment of their debts.* His high place in the royal favour doubtless had its effect on those whose cupidity suffered from his zeal, and prevented external enemies from too openly interfering in the affairs of the community: by the time he returned to the court, in 372 B.C., after an absence of twelve years, Jerusalem and its environs had to some extent regained the material prosperity of former days. The part played by Nehemiah was, however, mainly political, and the religious problem remained in very much the same state as before. The high priests, who alone possessed the power of solving it, had fallen in with the current that was carrying away the people, and -- latterly, at any rate -- had become disqualified through intermarriage with aliens: what was wanted was a scribe deeply versed in sacred things to direct them in the right way, and such a man could be found only in Babylonia, the one country in which the study of the ancient traditions still flourished. A certain Ezra, son of Seraiah, presented himself in 369 B.C., and, as he was a man of some standing, Artaxerxes not only authorised him to go himself, but to take with him a whole company of priests and Levites and families formerly attached to the service of the temple.** The books containing the Law of God and the history of His people had, since the beginning of the captivity, undergone alterations which had profoundly modified their text and changed their spirit.
* Neh. v.
** Neh. xiii.6: |in the two and thirtieth year of
Artaxerxes, King of Babylon, I went unto the king.|
This work of revision, begun under the influence of Ezekiel, and perhaps by his own followers, had, since his time, been carried on without interruption, and by mingling the juridical texts with narratives of the early ages collected from different sources, a lengthy work had been produced, very similar in composition and wording to the five Books of Moses and the Book of Joshua as we now possess them.* It was this version of the Revelation of Jahveh that Ezra brought with him from Babylon in order to instruct the people of Judah, and the first impressions received by him at the end of his journey convinced him that his task would be no light one, for the number of mixed marriages had been so great as to demoralise not only the common people, but even the priests and leading nobles as well. Nevertheless, at a general assembly** of the people he succeeded in persuading them to consent to the repudiation of alien wives.
* This is the priestly revision presupposed by recent critics; here again, in order to keep within the prescribed limits of space, I have been compelled to omit much that I should have liked to add in regard to the nature of this work and the spirit in which it was carried out.
** Ezra, vii.-xi., where the dates given do not form part of the work as written by Ezra, but have been introduced later by the editor of the book as it now stands.
But this preliminary success would have led to nothing unless he could secure formal recognition of the rigorous code of which he had constituted himself the champion, and protracted negotiations were necessary before he could claim a victory on this point as well as on the other. At length, about 367 B.C., more than a year after his arrival, he gained his point, and the covenant between Jahveh and His people was sealed with ceremonies modelled on those which had attended the promulgation of Deuteronomy in the time of Josiah. On the first day of the seventh month, a little before the autumn festival, the people assembled at Jerusalem in |the broad place which was before the water gate.| Ezra mounted a wooden pulpit, and the chief among the priests sat beside him. He |opened the book in the sight of all the people... and... all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered 'Amen, amen!' with the lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.| Then began the reading of the sacred text. As each clause was read, the Levites stationed here and there among the people interpreted and explained its provisions in the vulgar tongue, so as to make their meaning clear to all. The prolix enumeration of sins and their expiation, and threats expressed in certain chapters, produced among the crowd the same effect of nervous terror as had once before been called forth by the precepts and maledictions of Deuteronomy. The people burst into tears, and so vehement were their manifestations of despair, that all the efforts of Ezra and his colleagues were needed to calm them. Ezra took advantage of this state of fervour to demand the immediate application of the divine ordinances. And first of all, it was |found written in the law, how that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the children of Israel should dwell in booths.| For, seven days Jerusalem was decked with leaves; tabernacles of olive, myrtle, and palm branches rose up on all sides, on the roofs of houses, in courtyards, in the courts of the temple, at the gates of the city. Then, on the 27th day of the same month, the people put on mourning in order to confess their own sins and the sins of their fathers. Finally, to crown the whole, Ezra and his followers required the assembly to swear a solemn oath that they would respect |the law of Moses,| and regulate their conduct by it.* After the first enthusiasm was passed, a reaction speedily set in. Many even among the priests thought that Ezra had gone too far in forbidding marriage with strangers, and that the increase of the tithes and sacrifices would lay too heavy a burden on the nation. The Gentile women reappeared, the Sabbath was no longer observed either by the Israelites or aliens; Eliashib, son of the high priest Joiakim, did not even deprive Tobiah the Ammonite of the chamber in the temple which he had formerly prepared for him, and things were almost imperceptibly drifting back into the same state as before the reformation, when Nehemiah returned from Susa towards the close of the reign of Artaxerxes. He lost no time in re-establishing respect for the law, and from henceforward opposition, if it did not entirely die out, ceased to manifest itself in Jerusalem.**
* Neh. viii., ix., with an interpolation in ver.9 of chap, viii., inserted in order to identify Nehemiah with the representative of the Persian government.
** Neh. xiii.
Elsewhere, however, among the Samaritans, Indumaeans, and Philistines, it continued as keen as ever, and the Jews themselves were imprudent enough to take part in the political revolutions that were happening around them in their corner of the empire. Their traditions tell how they were mixed up in the rising of the Phoenician cities against Ochus, and suffered the penalty; when Sidon capitulated, they were punished with the other rebels, the more recalcitrant among them being deported into Hyrcania.
Assyria was nothing more than a name, Babylon and Phoenicia were growing weaker every day; the Jews, absorbed in questions of religious ethics, were deficient in material power, and had not as yet attained sufficient moral authority to exercise an influence over the eastern world: the Egypt indestructible had alone escaped the general shipwreck, and seemed fated to survive her rivals for a long time. Of all these ancient nations it was she who appealed most strongly to the imagination of the Greeks: Greek traders, mercenaries, scholars, and even tourists wandered freely within her borders, and accounts of the strange and marvellous things to be found there were published far and wide in the writings of Hecataeus of Miletus, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, and Hellanicus of Lesbos. As a rule, they entered the country from the west, as European tourists and merchants still do; but Eakotis, the first port at which they touched, was a mere village, and its rocky Pharos had no claim to distinction beyond the fact that it had been mentioned by Homer. From hence they followed the channel of the Canopic arm, and as they gradually ascended, they had pointed out to them Anthylla, Arkandrupolis, and Gyna> copolis, townships dependent on Naucratis, lying along the banks, or situated some distance off on one of the minor canals; then Naucratis itself, still a flourishing place, in spite of the rebellions in the Delta and the suppressive measures of the Persians. All this region seemed to them to be merely an extension of Greece under the African sky: to their minds the real Egypt began at Sais, a few miles further eastwards. Sais was full in memories of the XXVIth dynasty; there they had pointed out to them the tombs of the Pharaohs in the enclosure of Nit, the audience hall in which Psammetichus II. received the deputation of the Eleians, the prison where the unfortunate Apries had languished after his defeat. The gateways of the temple of Nit seemed colossal to eyes accustomed to the modest dimensions of most Greek sanctuaries; these were, moreover, the first great monuments that the strangers had seen since they landed, and the novelty of their appearance had a good deal to do with the keenness of the impression produced. The goddess showed herself in hospitable guise to the visitors; she welcomed them all, Greek or Persian, at her festivals, and initiated them into several of her minor rites, without demanding from them anything beyond tolerance on certain points of doctrine.
[Illustration: 346.jpg FOUNTAIN AND SCHOOL OF THE MOTHER OF LITTLE MOHAMAD]
Her dual attributes as wielder of the bow and shuttle had inspired the Greeks with the belief that she was identical with that one of their own goddesses who most nearly combined in her person this complex mingling of war and industry: in her they Fountain and School of the Mother of Little Mohammed worshipped the prototype of their own Pallas. On the evening of the 17th day of Thoth, Herodotus saw the natives, rich and poor, placing on the fronts of their dwellings large flat lamps filled with a mixture of salt and oil which they kept alight all night in honour of Osiris and of the dead.*
* In my opinion it is not the festivals of Athyr that are here referred to, but those of the month of Thoth, when, as the inscriptions show, it was the practice to light the new fire, according to the ritual, after first extinguishing the fire of the previous year, not only in the temple of the god, but in all the houses of the city.
He made his way into the dwelling of the ineffable god, and there, unobserved among the crowd, he witnessed scenes from the divine life represented by the priests on the lake by the light of torches, episodes of his passion, mourning, and resurrection. The priests did not disclose their subtler mysteries before barbarian eyes, nor did they teach the inner meaning of their dogmas, but the little they did allow him to discern filled the traveller with respect and wonder, recalling sometimes by their resemblance to them the mysteries in which he was accustomed to take part in his own country. Then, as now, but little attention was paid to the towns in the centre and east of the Delta; travellers endeavoured to visit one or two of them as types, and collected as much information as they could about the remainder. Herodotus and his rivals attached little importance to those details of landscape which possess so much attraction for the modern tourist. They bestowed no more than a careless glance on the chapels scattered up and down the country like the Mohammedan shrines at the present day, and the waters extending on all sides beneath the acacias and palm trees during the inundation, or the fellahin trotting along on their little asses beside the pools, did not strike them as being of sufficient interest to deserve passing mention in an account of their travels.
[Illustration: 348.jpg MODERN MOHAMMEDAN SHEKHS TOMBS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gautier.
They passed by the most picturesque villages with indifference, and it was only when they reached some great city, or came upon some exceptionally fine temple or eccentric deity, that their curiosity was aroused. Mendes worshipped its patron god in the form of a live ram,* and bestowed on all members of the same species some share of the veneration it lavished on the divine animal. The inhabitants of Atarbekhis,** on the island of Prosopitis, gave themselves up to the worship of the bull.
* Herodotus says that both the goats and the god were named Mendes in Egyptian, but he is here confusing ordinary goats with the special goat which was supposed to contain the soul of Osiris. It was the latter that the Egyptians named after the god himself, Bainibdiduit, i.e. the soul of the master of the city of Diduit.
** The old explanation of this name as the City of Hathor has been rightly rejected as inconsistent with one of the elementary rules of hieroglyphic grammar. The name, when properly divided into its three constituent parts, means literally the Castle of horus the Sparrow-hawk, or Hat-har- baki
When one of these animals died in the neighbourhood they buried it, leaving one horn above the earth in order to mark the spot, and once every year the boats of Atarbekhis made a tour round the island to collect the skeletons or decaying bodies, in order that they might be interred in a common burying-place.
[Illustration: 349.jpg PART OF THE INUNDATION IN A PALM GROVE]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gautier.
The people of Busiris patronised a savage type of religion. During the festival of Isis they gave themselves up to fierce conflicts, their fanatical fury even infecting strangers who chanced to be present. The Carians also had hit upon a means of outdoing the extravagance of the natives themselves: like the Shiite Mohammedans of the present day at the festival of the Hassanen, they slashed their faces with knives amidst shrieks and yells. At Papremis a pitched battle formed part of the religious observances: it took place, however, under certain special conditions. On the evening of the festival of Anhurit, as the sun went down, a number of priests performed a hasty sacrifice in the temple, while the remainder of the local priesthood stationed themselves at the gate armed with heavy cudgels. When the ceremony was over, the celebrants placed the statue of the god on a four-wheeled car as though about to take it away to some other locality, but their colleagues at the gate opposed its departure and barred the way. It was at this juncture that the faithful intervened; they burst in the door and set upon the priests with staves, the latter offering a stout resistance. The cudgels were heavy, the arms that wielded them lusty, and the fight lasted a long time, yet no one was ever killed in the fray -- at least, so the priests averred -- and I am at a loss to understand why Herodotus, who was not a native of Papremis, should have been so unkind as to doubt their testimony.*
* The god whom the Greeks identified with their Ares was Anhurit, as is proved by one of the Leyden Papyri. So, too, in modern times at Cairo, it used to be affirmed that no Mohammedan who submitted to the doseh was ever seriously injured by the hoofs of the horse which trampled over the bodies extended on the ground.
[Illustration: 350.jpg EPHEMERAL HOVELS OF CLAY OR DRIED BRICKS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Haussoullier.
It is nearly always in connection with some temple or religious festival that he refers to the towns of the Delta, and, indeed, in most of the minor cities of Egypt, just as in those of modern Italy there is little to interest visitors except the religious monuments or ceremonies. Herodotus went to Tanis or Mendes as we go to Orvieto or Loretto, to admire the buildings or pay our devotions at a famous shrine. More often than not the place was nothing in itself, consisting merely of a fortified enclosure, a few commonplace houses occupied by the wealthy inhabitants or by government officials, and on mounds of ancient debris, the accumulation of centuries, a number of ephemeral hovels built of clay, or dried bricks, divided into irregular blocks by winding alleys. The whole local interest was centred in the sanctuary and its inmates, human and divine. The traveller made his way in as best he could, went into ecstasies over the objects that were shown to him, and as soon as he had duly gone the rounds, set out for the next place on his list, deeming himself lucky if he happened to arrive during one of the annual fairs, such as that of Bubastis, for instance. Bands of pilgrims flocked in from all parts of Egypt; the river craft were overflowing with men and women, who converted the journey into one long carnival. Every time the vessel put in to land, the women rushed on shore, amid the din of castanets and flutes, and ran hither and thither challenging the women of the place with abuse to dance against them with uplifted garments. To the foreigners there was little to distinguish the festival of Bastit from many other Egyptian ceremonies of the kind; it consisted of a solemn procession, accompanied by the singing of hymns and playing of harps, dancing and sacrifices, but for weeks before and after it the town was transformed into one vast pleasure-ground. The people of Bubastis took a certain pride in declaring that more wine was drunk in it during a single day than during the rest of the whole year. Buto enjoyed exceptional popularity among the Greeks in Egypt. Its patron goddess, the Isis who took refuge amid the pools in a moving thicket of reeds and lotus, in order that she might protect her son Horus from the jealousy of Typhon, reminded them of the story of Latona and the cycle of the Delian legends; they, visited her in crowds, and her oracle became to most of them what that of Delos was to their brethren in Europe. At Buto they found a great temple, similar to all Egyptian temples, a shrine in which the statues of the goddess continued her mysterious existence, and, in the midst of the sacred lake, the little island of Khemmis, which was said to float hither and thither upon the waters. Herodotus did not venture to deny this absolutely, but states that he had never seen it change its position or even stir: perhaps his incredulity may have been quickened by the fact that this miracle had already been inquired into by Hecatasus of Miletus, an author who was his pet aversion. The priests of Buto declared that their prophets had foretold everything that had happened for a long time past, and for each event they had a version which redounded to the credit of their goddess: she had shown Pheron how he might recover his sight, had foretold how long the reign of Mykerinos would last, had informed Psammetichus that he would be saved by men of brass rising out of the sea, and had revealed to Cambyses that he should die in a town named Ecbatana. Her priests had taken an active part in the revolt of Khabbisha against Darius, and had lost a goodly portion of their treasure and endowments for their pains. They still retained their prestige, however, in spite of the underhand rivalry of the oracle of Zeus Ammon. The notaries of the Libyan deity could bring forward miracles even more marvellous than those credited to the Egyptian Latona, and in the case of many of the revolutions which had taken place on the banks of the Nile, a version of the legend in his honour was circulated side by side with the legends of Buto. The latter city lay on the very outskirts of one of those regions which excited the greatest curiosity among travellers, the almost inaccessible Bucolicum, where, it was said, no rebel ever failed to find a safe refuge from his alien pursuers. The Egyptians of the marshes were a very courageous race, but savage, poor, and ill fed. They drank nothing but beer, and obtained their oil not from the olive, but from the castor-oil plant,* and having no corn, lived on the seeds or roots of the lotus, or even on the stalks of the papyrus, which they roasted or boiled.
* It seems, moreover, that this custom was not confined to the Delta; Herodotus, in contrasting the custom of Bucolicum with that of the rest of Egypt, was evidently thinking of Sais, Memphis, and other great cities in which he had resided, where foreign olive oil obtained from Greece or Syria was generally used.
Fish was their staple article of food, and this they obtained in considerable quantity from Lake Menzaleh, the lagoons along the coast, and the canals or pools left by the inundation. But little was known of their villages or monuments, and probably they were not worth the trouble of a visit after those of the cities of the plain: endless stories were told of feats of brigandage and of the mysterious hiding-places which these localities offered to every outlaw, one of the most celebrated being the isle of Elbo, where the blind Anysis defied the power of Ethiopia for thirty years, and in which the first Amyrtasus found refuge. With the exception of a few merchants or adventurers who visited them with an eye to gain, most travellers coming from or returning to Asia avoided their territory, and followed the military road along the Pelusiac arm of the Nile from Pehisium to Daphno or Zalu, and from Daphnae or Zalu to Bubastis. A little below Kerkasoron, near the apex of the Delta, the pyramids stood out on the horizon, looking insignificant at first, but afterwards so lofty that, during the period of inundation, when the whole valley, from the mountains of Arabia to those of Libya, was nothing but one vast river, a vessel seemed to sail in their shadow for a long time before it reached their base. The traveller passed Heliopolis on his left with its temple of the Sun, next the supposed sources of the Northern Nile, the quarries of the Red Mountain, and then entering at length the Nile itself, after a journey of some hours, came to anchor by the quays of Memphis.
To the Greeks of that time, Memphis was very much what Cairo is to us, viz. the typical Oriental city, the quintessence and chief representative of ancient Egypt. In spite of the disasters which had overwhelmed it during the last few centuries, it was still a very beautiful city, ranking with Babylon as one of the largest in the world. Its religious festivals, especially those in honour of Apis, attracted numberless pilgrims to it at certain seasons of the year, and hosts of foreigners, recruited from every imaginable race of the old continent, resorted to it for purposes of trade. Most of the nationalities who frequented it had a special quarter, which was named after them; the Phoenicians occupied the Tyrian Camp, the Greeks and Carians the Hellenic Wall and Carian Wall, and there were Oaromemphites or Hellenomemphites side by side with the native inhabitants. A Persian garrison was stationed within the White Wall, ready to execute the satrap's orders in the event of rebellion, and could have held out for a long time even after the rest of the country had fallen into the hands of the insurgents. Animals which one would scarcely have expected to find in the streets of a capital, such as cows, sheep, and goats, wandered about unheeded in the most crowded thoroughfares; for the common people, instead of living apart from their beasts, as the Greeks did, stabled them in their own houses. Nor was this the only custom which must have seemed strange in the eyes of a newly arrived visitor, for the Egyptians might almost have been said to make a point of doing everything differently from other nation's. The baker, seen at the kneading-trough inside his shop, worked the dough with his foot; on the other hand, the mason used no trowel in applying his mortar, and the poorer classes scraped up handfuls of mud mixed with dung when they had occasion to repair the walls of their hovels. In Greece, even the very poorest retired to their houses and ate with closed doors; the Egyptians felt no repugnance at eating and drinking in the open air, declaring that unbecoming and improper acts should be performed in secret, but seemly acts in public. The first blind alley they came to, a recess between two hovels, the doorstep of a house or temple, any of these seemed to them a perfectly natural place to dine in. Their bill of fare was not a sumptuous one. A sort of flat pancake somewhat bitter in taste, and made -- not of corn or barley -- but of spelt, a little oil, an onion or a leek, with an occasional scrap of meat or poultry, washed down by a jug of beer or wine; there was nothing here to tempt the foreigner, and, besides, it would not have been thought right for him to invite himself. A Greek who lived on the flesh of the cow was looked upon as unclean in the highest degree; no Egyptian would have thought of using the same pot or knife with him, or of kissing him on the mouth by way of greeting. Moreover, Egyptian etiquette did not tolerate the same familiarities as the Greek: two friends on catching sight of one another paused before they met, bowed, then clasped one another round the knees or pretended to do so. Young people gave way to an old man, or, if seated, rose to let him pass. The traveller recalled the fact that the Spartans behaved in the same way, and approved this mark of deference; but nothing in his home-life had prepared him for the sight of respectable women coming and going as they pleased, without escort and unveiled, carrying burdens on their shoulders (whereas the men carried them on their heads), going to market, keeping stalls or shops, while their husbands or fathers stayed comfortably at home, wove cloth, kneaded the potter's clay or turned the wheel, and worked at their trades; no wonder that they were ready to believe that the man was the slave, and the wife the mistress of the family. Some historians traced the origin of these customs back to Osiris, others only as far as Sesostris: Sesostris was the last resource of Greek historians when they got into difficulties. The city was crowded with monuments; there was the temple of the Phoenician Astarte, in which priests of Syrian descent had celebrated the mysteries of the great goddess ever since the days of the XVIIIth dynasty; then there was the temple of Ra, the temple of Amon, the temple of Tamu, the temple of Bastit, and the temple of Isis.*
* This list is taken mainly from one of the mutilated letters found on the back of the Sallier Papyrus. The Phoenician Astarte, called a foreign Aphrodite by Herodotus, was regarded by the Egyptians as a counterpart of Bastit, lady of Onkhtoui.
The temple of Phtah, as yet intact, provided the visitor with a spectacle scarcely less admirable than that offered by the temple of the Theban Amon at Karnak. The kings had modified the original plan as each thought best, one adding obelisks or colossal statues, another a pylon, a third a pillared hall. Completed in this way by the labours of a score of dynasties, it formed, as it were, a microcosm of Egyptian history, in which each image, inscription and statue, aroused the attention of the curious. They naturally desired to learn who were the strangely dressed races shown struggling in a battle scene, the name of the king who had conquered them, and the reasons which had led him to construct this or that part of a monument, and there were plenty of busybodies ready to satisfy, as far as they could, the curiosity of visitors. Interpreters were at hand who bartered such information as they possessed, and the modern traveller who has had occasion to employ the services of a dragoman will have no difficulty in estimating the value of intelligence thus hawked about in ancient times. Priests of the lower class, doorkeepers and sacristans were trained to act as ciceroni, and knew the main outlines of the history of the temple in which they lived. Menes planned it, Moeris added the northern propylae, Ehampsinitus those on the west, Psammetichus the south, Asychis those on the east, the most noteworthy of them all. A native of Memphis, born at the foot of the pyramids, had been familiar with the names of Menes and Cheops from childhood; he was consequently apt to attribute to them everything of importance achieved by the Pharaohs of the old days. Menes had built the temple, Menes had founded the city, Menes had created the soil on which the city stood, and preserved it from floods by his dykes. The thoughtful traveller would assent, for had he not himself observed the action of the mud; a day's journey from the coast one could not let down a plummet without drawing it up covered with a blackish slime, a clear proof that the Nile continued to gain upon the sea. Menes, at all events, had really existed; but as to Asychis, Moris, Proteus, Pheron, and most of the characters glibly enumerated by Herodotus, it would be labour lost to search for their names among the inscriptions; they are mere puppets of popular romance, some of their names, such as Piraui or Pruti, being nothing more than epithets employed by the story-tellers to indicate in general terms the heroes of their tales. We can understand how strangers, placed at the mercy of their dragoman, were misled by this, and tempted to transform each title into a man, taking Pruti and Piraui to be Pharaoh Proteus and Pharaoh Pheron, each of them celebrated for his fabulous exploits. The guides told Herodotus, and Herodotus retails to us, as sober historical facts, the remedy employed by this unhistorical Pheron in order to recover his sight; the adventures of Paris and Helen at the court of Proteus,* and the droll tricks played by a thief at the expense of the simple Ehampsinitus.
* Some dragomans identified the Helen of the Homeric legend with the |foreign Aphrodite| who had a temple in the Tyrian quarter at Memphis, and who was really a Semitic divinity.
[Illustration: 359.jpg THE STEP PYRAMID SEEN FROM THE GROVE OP PALM TREES TO THE NORTH OF SAQQARAH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Haussoullier.
The excursions made by the Greek traveller in the environs of Memphis were very similar to those taken by modern visitors to Cairo: on the opposite bank of the Nile there was Heliopolis with its temple of Ra, then there were the quarries of Turah, which had been worked from time immemorial, yet never exhausted, and from which the monuments he had been admiring, and the very Pyramids themselves had been taken stone by stone.*
* These are |the quarries in the Arabian Mountain,| mentioned by Herodotus without indication of the local name.
The Sphinx probably lay hidden beneath the sand, and the nearest Pyramids, those at Saqqarah, were held in small esteem by visitors;* they were told as they passed by that the step Pyramid was the most ancient of all, having been erected by Uenephes, one of the kings of the first dynasty, and they asked no further questions.
* Herodotus does not mention it, nor does any other writer of the Greek period.
Their whole curiosity was reserved for the three giants at Gizeh and their inmates, Cheops, Chephren, Mykerinos, and the fair Nitokris with the rosy cheeks. Through all the country round, at Heliopolis, and even in the Fayum itself, they heard the same names that had been dinned into their ears at Memphis; the whole of the monuments were made to fit into a single cycle of popular history, and what they learned at one place completed, or seemed to complete, what they had learned at another.
I cannot tell whether many of them cared to stray much beyond Lake Moris: the repressive measures of Ochus had, as it would appear, interrupted for a time the regular trade which, ever since the Saite kings of the XXVIth dynasty, had been carried on by the Greeks with the Oases, by way of Abydos. A stranger who ventured as far as the Thebaid would have found himself in the same plight as a European of the last century who undertook to reach the first cataract. Their point of departure -- Memphis or Cairo -- was very much the same; their destinations -- Elephantine and Assuan -- differed but little. They employed the same means of transport, for, excepting the cut of the sails, the modern dahabeah is an exact counterpart of the pleasure and passenger boats shown on the monuments. Lastly, they set out at the same time of year, in November or December, after the floods had subsided. The same length of time was required for the trip; it took a month to reach Assuan from Cairo if the wind-were favourable, and if only such stoppages were made as were strictly necessary for taking in fresh provisions. Pococke, having left Cairo on the 6th of December, 1737, about midday, was at Akhmim by the 17th. He set sail again on the 18th, stayed at Thebes from the 13th of January, 1738, till the 17th, and finally moored at Assuan on the evening of January 20th, making in all forty-five days, fourteen of which were spent at various stopping-places. If the diary of a Greek excursionist or tourist had come down to us, we should probably find in it entries of a very similar kind.* The departure from Memphis would take place in November or December; ten or twelve days later the traveller would find himself at Panopolis;** from Panopolis to Elephantine, stopping at Coptos and Thebes, would take about a month, allowing time for a stay at Thebes, and returning to Memphis in February or March.
* Herodotus fixes twenty days for the voyage from Sais to Elephantine. This period of time must be probably correct, since at the present day dahabeahs constantly run from Cairo to the second cataract and back in two months, including stoppages of ten days to a fortnight for seeing the monuments. The twenty days of Herodotus represent the minimum duration of the voyage, without taking into account the stoppages and accidents which often delay sailing vessels on the Nile. Nine days, which Herodotus gives as the time for reaching Thebes, is not sufficient, if the voyage is undertaken in the usual way, stopping every evening for the night; but it would be possible if the navigation were uninterrupted day and night. This is now rarely done, but it might have been frequent in ancient times, especially in the service of the State.
** It would seem clear that Herodotus stopped at Panopolis and had communications with the people of the town. [Panopolis or Khemmis is the present Ekhmim. -- Tr.]
[Illustration: 362a.jpg LONG STRINGS OF LADEN VESSELS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gautier.
The greater part of the time was employed in getting from one point to another, and the necessity of taking advantage of a favourable wind in going up the river, often obliged the travellers to neglect more than one interesting locality.
[Illustration: 302b.jpg THE VAST SHEET OF WATER IN THE MIDDAY HEAT]
The Greek was not so keenly alive to the picturesqueness of the scenes through which he passed as the modern visitor, and in the account of his travels he took no note of the long lines of laden boats going up or down stream, nor of the vast sheet of water glowing in the midday sun, nor of the mountains honeycombed with tombs and quarries, at the foot of which he would be sailing day after day. What interested him above all things was information with regard to the sources of the immense river itself, and the reasons for its periodic inundation, and, according to the mental attitude impressed on him by his education, he accepted the mythological solution offered by the natives, or he sought for a more natural one in the physical lore of his own savants: thus he was told that the Nile took its rise at Elephantine, between the two rocks called Krophi and Mophi, and in showing them to him his informant would add that Psammetichus I. had attempted to sound the depth of the river at this point, but had failed to fathom it. At the few places where the pilot of the barque put in to port, the population showed themselves unfriendly, and refused to hold any communication with the Greeks.
[Illustration: 363.jpg the mountains honeycombed with tombs AND Quarries]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gautier.
The interpreters, who were almost all natives of the Delta, were not always familiar with the people and customs of the Said, and felt almost as completely foreign at Thebes as did their employers. Their office was confined to translating the information furnished by the inhabitants when the latter were sufficiently civilised to hold communication with the travellers. What most astonished Herodotus at Panopolis was the temple and the games held in honour, so he believed, of Perseus, the son of Danae. These exercises terminated in an attempt to climb a regular |greasy pole| fixed in the ground, and strengthened right and left by three rows of stays attached to the mast at different heights; as for Perseus, he was the ithyphallic god of the locality, Minu himself, one of whose epithets -- Pehresu, the runner -- was confounded by the Greek ear with the name of the hero. The dragomans, enlarging on this mistaken identity, imagined that the town was the birthplace of Danaos and Lyncseus; that Perseus, returning from Libya with the head of Medusa, had gone out of his way to visit the cradle of his family, and that he had instituted the games in remembrance of his stay there. Thebes had become the ghost of its former self; the Persian governors had neglected the city, and its princesses and their ministers were so impoverished that they were unable to keep up its temples and palaces. Herodotus scarcely mentions it, and we can hardly wonder at it: he had visited the still flourishing Memphis, where the temples were cared for and were filled with worshippers. What had Thebes to show him in the way of marvels which he had not already seen, and that, too, in a better state of preservation? His Theban ciceroni also told him the same stories that he had heard in Lower Egypt, and he states that their information agreed in the main with that which he had received at Memphis and Heliopolis, which made it unnecessary to repeat it at length. Two or three things only appeared to him worthy of mention. His admiration was first roused by the 360 statues of the high priests of Amon which had already excited the wonder of his rival Hecataeus; he noted that all these personages were, without exception, represented as mere men, each the son of another man, and he took the opportunity of ridiculing the vanity of his compatriots, who did not hesitate to inscribe the name of a god at the head of their genealogies, removed by some score of generations only from their own. On the other hand, the temple servitors related to him how two Theban priestesses, carried off by the Phoenicians and sold, one in Libya and the other in Greece, had set up the first oracles known in those two countries: Herodotus thereupon remembered the story he had heard in Epirus of two black doves which had flown away from Thebes, one towards the Oasis of Ammon, the other in the direction of Dodona; the latter had alighted on an old beech tree, and in a human voice had requested that a temple consecrated to Zeus should be founded on the spot.*
* This indicates a confusion in the minds of the Egyptian dragomans with the two brooding birds of Osiris, Isis and Nephthys, considered as Zarait, that is to say, as two birds of a different species, according to the different traditions either vultures, rooks, or doves.
Herodotus is quite overcome with joy at the thought that Greek divination could thus be directly traced to that of Egypt, for like most of his contemporaries, he felt that the Hellenic cult was ennobled by the fact of its being derived from the Egyptian. The traveller on the Nile had to turn homewards on reaching Elephantine, as that was the station of the last Persian garrison. Nubia lay immediately beyond the cataract, and the Ethiopians at times crossed the frontier and carried their raids as far as Thebes. Elephantine, like Assuan at the present day, was the centre of a flourishing trade. Here might be seen Kushites from Napata or Meroe, negroes from the Upper Nile and the Bahr el-Ghazal, and Ammonians, from all of whom the curious visitor might glean information while frequenting the bazaars. The cataract was navigable all the year round, and the natives in its vicinity enjoyed the privilege of piloting freight boats through its difficult channel. It took four days to pass through it, instead of the three, or even two, which suffice at the present day. Above it, the Nile spread out and resembled a lake dotted over with islands, several of which, such as Phike and Biggeh, contained celebrated temples, which were as much frequented by the Ethiopians as by the Egyptians.
Correctly speaking, it was not Egypt herself that the Greeks saw, but her external artistic aspect and the outward setting of Egyptian civilisation. The vastness of her monuments, the splendour of her tombs, the pomp of her ceremonies, the dignity and variety of her religious formulas, attracted their curiosity and commanded their respect: the wisdom of the Egyptians had passed into a proverb with them, as it had with the Hebrews. But if they had penetrated behind the scenes, they would have been obliged to acknowledge that beneath this attractive exterior there was hopeless decay. As with all creatures when they have passed their prime, Egypt had begun to grow old, and was daily losing her elasticity and energy. Her spirit had sunk into a torpor, she had become unresponsive to her environment, and could no longer adapt herself to the form she had so easily acquired in her youth: it was as much as she could do to occupy fully the narrower limits to which she had been reduced, and to maintain those limits unbroken. The instinct which made her shrink from the intrusion of foreign customs and ideas, or even mere contact with nations of recent growth, was not the mere outcome of vanity. She realised that she maintained her integrity only by relying on the residue of her former solidarity and on the force of custom. The slightest disturbance of the equilibrium established among her members, instead of strengthening her, would have robbed her of the vigour she still possessed, and brought about her dissolution.
[Illustration: 367.jpg DARIUS III.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coin in the Cabinet des Medailles.
She owed whatever activity she possessed to impulses imparted to her by the play of her ancient mechanism -- a mechanism so stable in its action, and so ingeniously constructed, that it had still a reserve of power within it sufficient to keep the whole in motion for centuries, provided there was no attempt to introduce new wheels among the old. She had never been singularly distinguished for her military qualities; not that she was cowardly, and shrank from facing death, but because she lacked energy and enthusiasm for warlike enterprise. The tactics and armaments by which she had won her victories up to her prime, had at length become fetters which she was no longer inclined to shake off, and even if she was still able to breed a military caste, she was no longer able to produce armies fit to win battles without the aid of mercenaries. In order to be successful in the field, she had to associate with her own troops recruits from other countries -- Libyans, Asiatics, and Greeks, who served to turn the scale. The Egyptians themselves formed a compact body in this case, and bearing down upon the enemy already engaged by the mercenaries, broke through his ranks by their sheer weight, or, if they could not accomplish this, they stood their ground bravely, taking to flight only when the vacancies in their ranks showed them that further resistance was impossible. The machinery of government, like the organisation of their armies, had become antiquated and degenerate.
[Illustration: 368.jpg AN ELEPHANT ARMED FOR WAR]
Drawn by Boudier, from a little terra-cotta group from Myrrhina now in the Louvre. This object dates from the time of the kings of Pergamos, and the soldier round whom the elephant winds his trunk in order to dash him to the ground is a Gaul of Asia Minor.
The nobility were as turbulent as in former times, and the royal authority was as powerless now as of old to assert itself in the absence of external help, or when treason was afoot among the troops. Religion alone maintained its ascendency, and began to assume to itself the loyalty once given to the Pharaoh, and the devotion previously consecrated to the fatherland. The fellahin had never fully realised the degradation involved in serving a stranger, and what they detested in the Persian king was not exactly the fact that he was a Persian. Their national pride, indeed, always prompted them to devise some means of connecting the foreign monarch with their own solar line, and to transform an Achaemenian king into a legitimate Pharaoh. That which was especially odious to them in a Cambyses or an Ochus was the disdain which such sovereigns displayed for their religion, and the persecution to which they subjected the immortals. They accustomed themselves without serious repining to have no longer one of their own race upon the throne, and to behold their cities administered by Asiatics, but they could not understand why the foreigner preferred his own gods, and would not admit Amon, Phtah, Horus, and Ra to the rank of supreme deities. Ochus had, by his treatment of the Apis and the other divine animals, put it out of his power ever to win their good will. His brutality had made an irreconcilable enemy of that state which alone gave signs of vitality among the nations of the decaying East. This was all the more to be regretted, since the Persian empire, in spite of the accession of power which it had just manifested, was far from having regained the energy which had animated it, not perhaps in the time of Darius, but at all events under the first Xerxes. The army and the wealth of the country were doubtless still intact -- an army and a revenue which, in spite of all losses, were still the largest in the world -- but the valour of the troops was not proportionate to their number. The former prowess of the Persians, Medians, Bactrians, and other tribes of Iran showed no degeneracy: these nations still produced the same race of brave and hardy foot-soldiers, the same active and intrepid horsemen; but for a century past there had not been the improvements either in the armament of the troops or in the tactics of the generals which were necessary to bring them up to the standard of excellence of the Greek army. The Persian king placed great faith in extraordinary military machines. He believed in the efficacy of chariots armed with scythes; besides this, his relations with India had shown him what use his Oriental neighbours made of elephants, and having determined to employ these animals, he had collected a whole corps of them, from which he. hoped great things. In spite of the addition of these novel recruits, it was not on the Asiatic contingents that he chiefly relied in the event of war, but on the mercenaries who' were hired at great expense, and who formed the chief support of his power. From the time of Artaxerxes II. onwards, it was the Greek hoplites and peltasts who had always decided the issue of the Persian battles. The expeditions both by land and sea had been under the conduct of Athenian or Spartan generals -- Conon, Chabrias, Iphi-crates, Agesilas, Timotheus, and their pupils; and again also it was to the Greeks -- to the Rhodian Mentor and to, Memnon -- that Ochus had owed his successes. The older nations -- Egypt, Syria, Chaldaea, and Elam -- had all had their day of supremacy; they had declined in the course of centuries, and Assyria had for a short time united them under her rule. On the downfall of Assyria, the Iranians had succeeded to her heritage, and they had built up a single empire comprising all the states which had preceded them in Western Asia; but decadence had fallen upon them also, and when they had been masters for scarcely two short centuries, they were in their turn threatened with destruction. Their rule continued to be universal, not by reason of its inherent vigour, but on account of the weakness of their subjects and neighbours, and a determined attack on any of the frontiers of the empire would doubtless have resulted in its overthrow.
Greece herself was too demoralised to cause Darius any grave anxiety. Not only had she renounced all intention of attacking the great king in his own domain, as in the days of the Athenian hegemony, when she could impose her own conditions of peace, but her perpetual discords had yielded her an easy prey to Persia, and were likely to do so more and more. The Greek cities chose the great king as the arbiter in their quarrels; they vied with each other in obtaining his good will, his subsidies in men and vessels, and his darics: they armed or disarmed at his command, and the day seemed at hand when they would become a normal dependency of Persia, little short of a regular satrapy like Asiatic Hellas. One chance of escape from such a fate remained to them -- if one or other of them, or some neighbouring state, could acquire such an ascendency as to make it possible to unite what forces remained to them under one rule. Macedonia in particular, having hitherto kept aloof from the general stream of politics, had at this juncture begun to shake off its lethargy, and had entered with energy into the Hellenic concert under the auspices of its king, Philip. Bagoas recognised the danger which threatened his people in the person of this ambitious sovereign, and did not hesitate to give substantial support to the adversaries of the Macedonian prince; Chersobleptes of Thrace and the town of Perinthus receiving from him such succour as enabled them to repulse Philip successfully (340). Unfortunately, while Bagoas was endeavouring to avert danger in this quarter, his rivals at court endeavoured to prejudice the mind of the king against him, and their intrigues were so successful that he found himself ere long condemned to the alternative of murdering his sovereign or perishing himself. He therefore poisoned Ochus, to avoid being assassinated or put to the torture, and placed on the throne Arses, the youngest of the king's sons, while he caused the remaining royal children to be put to death (336).* Egypt hailed this tragic end as a mark of the vengeance of the gods whom Ochus had outraged. A report was spread that the eunuch was an Egyptian, that he had taken part in the murder of the Apis under fear of death, but that when he was sure of his own safety he had avenged the sacrilege. As soon as the poison had taken effect, it was said he ate a portion of the dead body and threw the remainder to the cats: he then collected the bones and made them into whistles and knife-handles.**
* Plutarch calls the successor of Ochus Oarses, which recalls the name which Dinon gives to Artaxerxes II. Diodorus says that Bagoas destroyed the whole family of Ochus, but he is mistaken. Arrian mentions a son of Ochus about 330, and several other members of the royal Achaemenian race are known to have been living in the time of Alexander.
** The body of the enemy thrown to the cats to be devoured is a detail added by the popular imagination, which crops up again in the Tale of Satni Khamois.
Ochus had astonished his contemporaries by the rapidity with which he had re-established the integrity of the empire; they were pleased to compare him with the heroes of his race, with Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius. But to exalt him to such a level said little for their moral or intellectual perceptions, since in spite of his victories he was merely a despot of the ordinary type; his tenacity degenerated into brutal obstinacy, his severity into cruelty, and if he obtained successes, they were due rather to his generals and his ministers than to his own ability. His son Arses was at first content to be a docile instrument in the hands of Bagoas; but when the desire for independence came to him with the habitual exercise of power, and he began to chafe at his bonds, the eunuch sacrificed him to his own personal safety, and took his life as he had done that of his father in the preceding year (336). So many murders following each other in rapid succession had considerably reduced the Achsemenian family, and Bagoas for a moment was puzzled where to find a king: he at length decided in favour of Codomannos, who according to some was a great-grandson of Darius II., but according to others was not of the royal line, but had in his youth been employed as a courier. He had distinguished himself in the hostilities against the Casduians, and had been nominated satrap of Armenia by Ochus as a reward for his bravery. He assumed at his accession the name of Darius; brave, generous, clement, and possessed with an ardent desire to do right, he was in every way the superior of his immediate predecessors, and he deserved to have reigned at a time when the empire was less threatened. Bagoas soon perceived that his new protege, whose conduct he had reckoned on directing as he pleased, intended to govern for himself, and he therefore attempted to get rid of him; Bagoas was, however, betrayed by his accomplices, and compelled to drink the poison which he had prepared for Darius. These revolutions had distracted the attention of the court of Susa from the events which were taking place on the shores of the AEgean, and Philip had taken advantage of them to carry into effect the designs against Persia which he had been long meditating. After having been victorious against the Greeks, he had despatched an army of ten thousand men into Asia under the command of Parmenion and Attains (336). We may ask if it were not he who formed the project of universal conquest which was so soon to be associated with the name of his son Alexander. He was for the moment content to excite revolt among the cities of the AEgean littoral, and restore to them that liberty of which they had been deprived for nearly a century. He himself followed as soon as these lost children of Greece had established themselves firmly in Asia. The story of his assassination on the eve of his departure is well known (336), and of the difficulties which compelled Alexander to suspend the execution of the plans which his father had made. Darius attempted to make use of the respite thus afforded him by fortune; he adopted the usual policy of liberally bribing one part of Greece to take up arms against Macedonia -- a method which was at first successful. While Alexander was occupied in the destruction of Thebes, the Rhodian general Memnon, to whom had been entrusted the defence of Asia Minor, forced the invaders to entrench themselves in the Troad. If the Persian fleet had made its appearance in good time, and had kept an active watch over the straits, the advance-guard of the Macedonians would have succumbed to the enemy before the main body of the troops had succeeded in joining them in Asia, and it was easy to foretell what would have been the fate of an enterprise inaugurated by such a disaster. Persia, however, had not yet learnt to seize the crucial moment for action: her vessels were still arming when the enemy made their appearance on the European shore of Hellespont, and Alexander had ample time to embark and disembark the whole of his army without having to draw his sword from the scabbard. He was accompanied by about thirty thousand foot soldiers and four thousand five hundred horse; the finest troops commanded by the best generals of the time -- Parmenion, his two sons Nikanor and Philotas, Crater, Clitos, Antigonus, and others whose names are familiar to us all; a larger force than Memnon and his subordinates were able to bring up to oppose him, at all events at the opening of the campaign, during the preliminary operations which determined the success of the enterprise.
The first years of the campaign seem like a review of the countries and nations which in bygone times had played the chief part in Oriental history. An engagement at the fords of the Granicus, only a few days after the crossing of the Hellespont, placed Asia Minor at the mercy of the invader (334). Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and Lycia tendered their submission, Miletus and Halicarnassus being the only towns to offer any resistance. In the spring of 333, Phrygia followed the general movement, in company with Cappadocia and Cilicia; these represented the Hittite and Asianic world, the last representatives of which thus escaped from the influences of the East and passed under the Hellenic supremacy.
[Illustration: 376.jpg THE BATTLEFIELD OF ISSUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Lortet.
At the foot of the Amanus, Alexander came into conflict not only with the generals of Darius, but with the great king himself. The Amanus, and the part of the Taurus which borders on the Euphrates valley, had always constituted the line of demarcation between the domain of the races of the Asianic peninsula and that of the Semitic peoples.
[Illustration: 377.jpg A BAS-RELIEF ON A SIDONIAN SARCOPHAGUS]
A second battle near the Issus, at the entrance to the Cilician gates, cleared the ground, and gave the conqueror time to receive the homage of the maritime provinces. Both Northern and Coele-Syria submitted to him from Samosata to Damascus.
[Illustration: 379.jpg THE ISTHMUS OF TYRE AT THE PRESENT DAY]
Drawn by Boudier, from a sketch by Lortet.
The less important towns of Phonicia, such as Arvad, Byblos, Sidon, and those of Cyprus, followed their example; but Tyre closed its gates, and trusted to its insular position for the preservation of its independence, as it had done of old in the time of Sennacherib and of Nebuchadrezzar. It was not so much a scrupulous feeling of loyalty which emboldened her to take this step, as a keen realisation of what her conquest by the Macedonian would entail. It was entirely-owing to Persia that she had not succumbed in all parts of the Eastern Mediterranean in that struggle with Greece which had now lasted for centuries: Persia had not only arrested the progress of Hellenic colonisation in Cyprus, but had given a fresh impulse to that of Tyre, and Phoenician influence had regained its ascendency over a considerable part of the island. The surrender of Tyre, therefore, would be equivalent to a Greek victory, and would bring about the decay of the city; hence its inhabitants preferred hostilities, and they were prolonged in desperation over a period of seven months. At the end of that time Alexander succeeded in reducing the place by constructing a dyke or causeway, by means of which he brought his machines of war up to the foot of the ramparts, and filled in the channel which separated the town from the mainland; the island thus became a peninsula, and Tyre henceforth was reduced to the rank of an ordinary town, still able to maintain her commercial activity, but having lost her power as an independent state (332). Phoenicia being thus brought into subjection, Judaea and Samaria yielded to the conqueror without striking a blow, though the fortress of Gaza followed the example set by Tyre, and for the space of two months blocked the way to the Delta. Egypt revolted at the approach of her liberator, and the rising was so unanimous as to dismay the satrap Mazakes, who capitulated at the first summons. Alexander passed the winter on the banks of the Nile. Finding that the ancient capitals of the country -- Thebes, Sais, and even Memphis itself -- occupied positions which were no longer suited to the exigencies of the times, he founded opposite to the island of Pharos, in the township of Eakotis, a city to which he gave his own name. The rapid growth of the prosperity of Alexandria showed how happy the founder had been in the choice of its site: in less than half a century from the date of its foundation, it had eclipsed all the other capitals of the Eastern Mediterranean, and had become the centre of African Hellenism. While its construction was in progress, Alexander, having had opportunities of studying the peculiarities and characteristics of the Egyptians, had decided to perform the one act which would conciliate the good feeling of the natives, and secure for him their fidelity during his wars in the East: he selected from among their gods the one who was also revered by the Greeks, Zeus-Amnion, and repaired to the Oasis that he might be adopted by the deity. As a son of the god, he became a legitimate Pharaoh, an Egyptian like themselves, and on returning to Memphis he no longer hesitated to adopt the pschent crown with the accompanying ancient rites. He returned to Asia early in the year 331, and crossed the Euphrates. Darius had attempted to wrest Asia Minor from his grasp, but Antigonus, the governor of Phrygia, had dispersed the troops despatched for this purpose in 332, and Alexander was able to push forward fearlessly into those regions beyond the Euphrates, where the Ten Thousand had pursued their victorious march before him. He crossed the Tigris about the 20th of September, and a week later fell in with his rival in the very heart of Assyria, not far from, the village of Gaugamela, where he took up a position which had been previously studied, and was particularly suited for the evolutions of cavalry.
[Illustration: 382.jpg THE BATTLE OF ARBELA, FROM THE MOSAIC OF HERCULANUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
At the Granicus and near Issus, the Greek element had played an important part among the forces which contested the field; on this occasion, however, the great king was accompanied by merely two or three thousand mercenaries, while, on the other hand, the whole of Asia seemed to have roused herself for a last effort, and brought forward her most valiant troops to oppose the disciplined ranks of the Macedonians. Persians, Susians, Medes, Armenians, Iranians from Bactriana, Sakae, and Indians were all in readiness to do their best, and were accompanied by every instrument of military warfare employed in Oriental tactics; chariots armed with scythes, the last descendants of the chariotry which had dominated all the battle-fields from the time of the XVIIIth Theban dynasty down to the latest Sargonids, and, employed side by side with these relics of a bygone day, were Indian elephants, now for the first time brought into use against European battalions. These picked troops sold their lives dearly, but the perfection of the Macedonian arms, and, above all, the superiority of the tactics employed by their generals, carried the day; the evening of the 30th of September found Darius in flight, and the Achaemenian empire crushed by the furious charges of Alexander's squadrons. Babylon fell into their hands a few days later, followed by Susa, and in the spring of 330, Ecbatana; and shortly after Darius met his end on the way to Media, assassinated by the last of his generals.
With his death, Persia sank back into the obscurity from which Cyrus had raised her rather more than two centuries previously. With the exception of the Medes, none of the nations which had exercised the hegemony of the East before her time, not even Assyria, had had at their disposal such a wealth of resources and had left behind them so few traces of their power. A dozen or so of palaces, as many tombs, a few scattered altars and stelae, remains of epics preserved by the Greeks, fragments of religious books, often remodelled, and issuing in the Avesta -- when we have reckoned up all that remains to us of her, what do we find to compare in interest and in extent with the monuments and wealth of writings bequeathed to us by Egypt and Chaldaea? The Iranians received Oriental civilisation at a time when the latter was in its decline, and caught the spirit of decadence in their contact with it. In succeeding to the patrimony of the nations they conquered, they also inherited their weakness; in a few years they had lost all the vigour of their youth, and were barely able to maintain the integrity of the empire they had founded. Moreover, the great peoples to whom they succeeded, although lacking the vigour necessary for the continuance of their independent existence, had not yet sunk so low as to acquiesce in their own decay, and resign themselves to allowing their national life to be absorbed is that of another power: they believed that they would emerge from the crisis, as they had done from so many others, with fresh strength, and, as soon as an occasion presented itself, they renewed the war against their Iranian suzerain. Prom, the first to the latest of the sovereigns bearing the name of Darius, the history of the Achaemenids in an almost uninterrupted series of internal wars and provincial revolts. The Greeks of Ionia, the Egyptians, Chaldaeans, Syrians, and the tribes of Asia Minor, all rose one after another, sometimes alone, sometimes in concert; some carrying on hostilities for not more than two or three years; others, like Egypt, maintaining them for more than half a century. They were not discouraged by the reprisals which followed each of these rebellions; they again had recourse to arms as soon as there seemed the least chance of success, and they renewed the struggle till from sheer exhaustion the sword fell from their hand. Persia was worn out by this perpetual warfare, in which at the same time each of her rivals expended the last relics of their vitality, and when Macedonia entered on the scene, both lords and vassals were reduced to such a state of prostration, that it was easy to foretell their approaching end. The old Oriental world was in its death-throes; but before it passed away, the successful audacity of Alexander had summoned Greece to succeed to its inheritance.