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doned the European mode of life for the manners | tural beauty, being a collection of low, flat-roofed and customs of their ancestors. The Circassians pro- dwellings, built of dun-colored brick, with small doors fess Mahometanism, but are not very rigid observers and paper windows. It contains, however, some of the doctrines of the Koran. The Mingrelians call handsome churches, and an old citadel, which, from themselves Christians, but their religion is little more its lofty situation, presents a grand and imposing mass than ceremony. The Georgians are also Christians of ruins. Tiflis is famous for its baths, which are by profession. They build churches on the tops of formed from warm streams descending from the mountains, in almost inaccessible spots, and then leave neighboring hills. The Russians make this city their them to the birds and the influence of the seasons. head-quarters, and maintain here a large military force, They salute them in passing by, at three or four which is quartered upon the inhabitants. The popu leagues' distance, but hardly ever go near them. lation is about fifteen thousand. The other towns in Georgia are Signokh, Telav, Goree, and Elizabethpol, each containing three or four thousand inhabitants. Circassia has no towns, and Mingrelia only a few of the smaller size.

The largest city in the Caucasian countries is Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. It is boldly situated on the banks of the River Kur. It was founded in the eleventh century, but does not exhibit any architec

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PARTHIA was originally the name given to a province in the north-eastern part of the great Persian empire. At a late date, it was the designation of an extensive monarchy, which comprised many territories in addition to Parthia Proper.* This monarchy, in the height of its power, extended from the Oxus to the

* What precise portion of territory constituted Parthia Proper, it is not easy to learn from the ancient writers. Some geographers make this country the same with the modern Khorasan; others identify it with the more northern region of Bucharia, or Bokhara. We are told by Strabo, that the Parthians were formerly called Karduchi, according to which it might seem that they were the progenitors of the modern inhabitants of Koordistan. Almost all writers, however, agree in describing the Parthians as originally Scythians,

Euphrates, and from the Caspian to the Arabian Sea. The original Parthia has generally been de scribed as bounded north by Hyrcania, east by Aria. south by Carmania, and west by Media: on all sides it was surrounded by mountains. It is represented as generally a level country, well adapted to the breeding and use of horses. Hence the Parthian caval ry were very formidable to the armies of their enemies.

The country is supposed by some to have been first peopled by the Phetri, or Pathri, a tribe often mentioned in Scripture. The ancestry of this race has been traced to Pathrusim, the son of Mizraim. or Tartars. The name of Parthia is unknown to the Asatic writers. In the language of the ancient Scythians, it is said to mean exiles. Others derive the name from paraschad, that is, lowlands, which designation characterizes their origi nal country on the south-east shore of the Caspian. The name is still used to denote this region, as well as a word signifying highlands, to denote the contiguous elevated region farther back from the shore.


The early history of the Parthians, however, is equal- | ly obscure with that of their neighbors. When first known to the rest of the world, they were a hardy and warlike race, and were believed to be of Scythian origin. They had the reputation of being the most skilful horsemen and archers in the world. They fought only on horseback, and shot their arrows with unerring precision, even at full gallop, and with equal effect, whether advancing or retreating; so that their flight was as dangerous to an enemy as their attack. They retained this character down to a very late period.

The first historical fact known of the Parthians is, that they were subject to the Medes. They next fell under the Persian dominion, and then were conquered by Alexander the Great. At his death, and the division of his great empire, Parthia fell to the share of Seleucus Nicator, and was ruled by him and his successors till the reign of Antiochus, surnamed Theos, king of Syria, about two centuries and a half before Christ, when the independence of Parthia was asserted by Arsaces, one of the chiefs of that country, who headed an insurrection, and put the governor to death. The head of the Parthian tribes supported Arsaces in this undertaking, and formed a government similar to the feudal aristocracy of Europe during the middle ages. Arsaces was crowned king of Parthia, (B. C. 256.) He possessed, however, little more than a nominal authority, and the crown was elective, with the restriction that the king should always be chosen from the family of Arsaces. The anniversary of the Parthian independence was celebrated yearly by the people with extraordinary festivities.

Seleucus Callinicus, who succeeded Antiochus on the throne of Syria, attempted to quell the rebellion of the Parthians, but was defeated and taken prisoner by Arsaces, and finally died in captivity. The latter, being now firmly established in his dominions, reduced Hyrcania and some other territories under his power, but was at length killed in battle with the Cappadocians. He was succeeded by his son Arsaces II., who invaded Media, and subdued that country, while Antiochus the Great, its sovereign, was engaged in war with Egypt. This conquest, however, was soon lost, and the two monarchs concluded a treaty, by which Arsaces was secured in the possession of Parthia and Hyrcania, and bound himself to assist Antiochus in his wars with other nations.

Arsaces II. was succeeded by his son Priapatius, who reigned fifteen years, and left the crown to his son Phraates. This monarch conquered the Mardi, a tribe which had never submitted to the arms of any one but Alexander the Great. Mithridates next became king of Parthia, and extended his sway over the Bactrians, Medes, Persians, Elymæans, and other nations in the East. Demetrius Nicator, who then reigned in Syria, endeavored to recover these provinces; but his armies were defeated, and he was taken prisoner. Mithridates followed up his advantages, by conquering Babylonia and Mesopotamia, so that all the provinces between the Euphrates and the Ganges acknowledged his power. He died in the thirtyseventh year of his reign, leaving the throne to his son, Phraates II.

This prince was scarcely settled in his authority, when the Syrian king Antiochus Sidetes marched against him with a large army, and defeated him in three battles. The conquests of Mithridates were all


lost, and the Parthian kingdom was reduced to its original limits. The good fortune of Antiochus, however, did not continue long. His enormous army, of four hundred thousand men, being obliged to separate into various bodies, the inhabitants seized this occasion to rise against them. This was done so successfully that, it is said, the whole Syrian army was massacred in a single day, scarcely an individual escaping to carry home the news of the disaster.

Phraates was succeeded by his uncle, Artabanus, who was killed in a war with the Scythians. Pacorus I. succeeded him, and was the first Parthian monarch who entered into any connection with the Romans. During the early part of their independent dominion, the Parthians had been chiefly occupied by wars with the Eastern nomad tribes, which the fall of the Bactrian kingdom had set at liberty to attack the rich provinces of Southern Asia. These hordes were either subdued or incorporated with the Parthian monarchy. Scarcely had this danger been averted, when the Romans, being brought into contact with the Parthians by conquering Mithridates, king of Pontus, prepared to contend with them for the dominion of Asia.

Phraates III., of Parthia, took under his protection Tigranes, the son of Tigranes the Great, king of Armenia, who was then at war with the Romans. He gave him his daughter in marriage, and marched with an army, to place him on the throne of Armenia. But on the approach of the Romans, with Pompey at their head, he retreated, and soon after entered into a treaty with that general. Phraates was murdered by his sons, Mithridates and Orodes, and the former soon fell by his brother's hand, leaving Orodes sole master of the Parthian empire. In the reign of this monarch happened the memorable war with the Romans. The whole Roman empire had been divided between Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus, and the eastern provinces fell to the lot of the last. No sooner was Crassus invested with this authority, than he resolved to invade Parthia, for the purpose of enriching himself with the spoils of the inhabitants, who were reputed to be very wealthy.

This design of Crassus was strongly opposed by many of his friends at Rome, for the Parthians were then at peace with the Romans, and had strictly kept the treaty which had been made between the two nations. The passion of avarice, however, was so strong with the Roman triumvir, that nothing could dissuade him from his purpose. He left Rome with a great armament, (B. C. 55,) and proceeded through Greece and Asia Minor to Syria. He crossed the Euphrates, and began to ravage Mesopotamia. Several of the Greek towns in that quarter surrendered to him without delay; but instead of pushing his advantages he returned to Syria to winter, thus giving the Parthians time to collect their forces.


53 B. C. to A. D 50.

Defeat of Crassus - Parthian Conquests. CRASSUS passed the winter in amassing treasure from all quarters. A Parthian embassy was sent to complain of his acts of aggression, to which Crassus made a boastful reply, that he would "give his



answer in Seleucia." This was a suburb of Ctesiphon, the capital of the Parthian empire. The chief of the envoys smiled contemptuously, and, showing the palm of his hand, said, "Crassus, hairs will grow there before you see Seleucia." The presumptuous Roman, however, was determined to pursue his design of conquest. His soldiers, when they learned the strength of the enemy and their manner of fighting, were dispirited. The soothsayers announced evil signs in the victims; many of the confidential officers of Crassus advised him to pause, but in vain.

The army began its march toward Parthia. One of the allies of Crassus, the Armenian prince Artabazus, advised him to take the route of Armenia, which was a hilly country, and unfavorable to cavalry, in which the main strength of the Parthians lay; but the infatuated leader was deaf to all advice. At the passage of the Euphrates, a dreadful tempest affrighted the army. The thunder roared, the lightning flashed, and other ominous signs struck terror to the heart of the superstitious Romans; but Crassus continued his march. An Arab chief assured him that the Parthians were collecting all their valuable property, with the design of taking refuge in Hyrcania and Scythia; he, therefore, advised him to push on without delay. This was a stratagem to lead the Romans to their ruin; and it took full effect.

Crassus had been advised by the experienced officers in his army to keep along by the banks of the Euphrates, where a supply of water would always be at hand; but instead of following this prudent counsel, he trusted to the perfidious Arab, and, striking off from the river entered upon the wide plain of Mesopotamia. The Arab led him on; and when he had reached the spot which had been agreed upon between him and the Parthians, he left the Romans to their fate. The treachery of the Arab soon began to be evident. A scouting party of Roman horse fell in with the enemy, and were nearly all killed. This intelligence perplexed Crassus; but he continued his march, drawing up his infantry in a square, with the cavalry on the flanks. The enemy soon came in sight; but the greater part of them kept out of view of the Romans; and those who were seen had their arms covered, so as not to exhibit the appearance of warriors.

While the Romans were in suspense at this sight, on a sudden the Parthians sounded the war charge on their numerous kettle-drums; and when they imagined this unusual alarm had struck terror into the hearts of their enemy, they flung off their coverings, and appeared glittering in helms and corselets of steel; then, pouring in long files round the solid mass of the Romans, they discharged showers of arrows upon them, numerous camels being at hand laden with these weapons. The Roman skirmishers attempted in vain to drive them off. Crassus then directed his son to charge with his cavalry and light troops. The crafty Parthians, feigning a flight, drew them away, and when they were at a sufficient distance from the main army, turned and assailed them. They rode round and round the Romans, raising such a dust that they could not see to defend themselves. Great numbers were killed; but at length young Crassus, with a part of his cavalry, broke through the enemy, and reached a rising ground. But here he was again surrounded by the Parthians; and finding it impossible to escape, he made his shieldbearer kill him. The Parthians cut off his head, and set it on the point of a spear.

Crassus was advancing to the relief of his son, when the rolling of the Parthian drums was heard, and he saw them in possession of the head of his unfortunate son. This sight completely dispirited the Romans; and it was resolved to retreat that night. The wailing of the sick and wounded, who were left behind, informed the Parthians of what had taken place; but as it was not their custom to fight in the dark, they remained quiet till morning. They then took possession of the deserted camp of the Romans, slaughtered four thousand men whom they found there, and, pursuing the army, cut off the stragglers. The Romans reached the town of Carrhæ, where they had a garrison. Here the Parthian commander detained them by a pretended negotiation for peace; but it soon appeared that he was deceiving them, and the retreat was continued. The Romans were compelled to separate; and the party of Crassus, led astray by a treacherous guide, became entangled in a place full of marshes and ditches. Here Crassus finally fell into the hands of the Parthians, who at first pretended to treat him with respect, and brought a horse for him to mount. But they soon began to handle him roughly; and when he resisted, they killed him on the spot, (B. C. 53.)

The head and right hand of Crassus were cut off; and it is said that the Parthians, in mockery of the avarice which had induced him to make war upon them, poured melted gold down his throat. The Romans lost in this unjust and ill-fated expedition thirty thousand men, of whom twenty thousand were killed and ten thousand made prisoners. This was the most mortifying disaster which had attended the Roman arms for many years.

The victory over the Romans was gained by the generalship of an officer called by the Greek and Latin writers Surenas, though this appears to be a word signifying, in the Parthian language, commander-inchief. So distinguished an exploit acquired for this officer great popularity among his countrymen; and Orodes, jealous of his influence, caused him to be put to death. Pacorus, the king's favorite son, was then placed at the head of the army, and agreeably to his father's directions, invaded Syria; but he was defeated and driven out of that country by Cicero and Cassius, the Roman commanders, who had survived the overthrow of Crassus. We find no mention of the Parthians in history, from this period till the breaking out of the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey, when the latter sent ambassadors to solicit the aid of that nation against his rival. Orodes offered to grant this on condition that Syria should be delivered up to him; but Pompey would not consent to this. Julius Cæsar is said to have meditated a war against the Parthians; but his death delivered them from this danger. But not long after this, the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, being grievously oppressed by Mark Antony, rose up in arms, and having killed the tax-gatherer, they invited the Parthians to join them, and drive out the Romans. They very readily accepted the invitation, and crossed the Euphrates with a powerful army, under the command of Pacorus and Labienus, a Roman general of Pompey's party.

At first, this undertaking met with great success. The Parthians overran all Asia Minor, Phoenicia, Syria, and Judea. But they did not long enjoy their conquests, being completely overthrown by Ventidius, a general of Mark Antony. Pacorus was killed, and Orodes, distracted with grief, appointed Phraates, the


eldest, but most profligate of all his sons, to succeed him in the kingdom, admitting him, at the same time, to a share of the sovereign authority during his lifetime. The unnatural son, not satisfied with half the royal power, seized the other half by murdering his father. His reign was marked by great cruelty; and he put to death many of the nobility and the royal family, not sparing even his own son, lest the discontented Parthians should place him on the throne.

This bloodthirsty monarch carried on a successful war against Mark Antony. After the accession of Augustus to power, Phraates entered into a treaty of peace with him, and restored all the captives and Roman standards which had been taken in the wars of Crassus and Antony. He sent four of his sons, with their wives and children, as hostages to Rome; his other son, Phraatrus, remaining with him. The wife of the latter poisoned the king in order to place her husband on the throne. The Parthians, detesting the author of this horrible crime, rose in insurrection, and drove Phraatrus into banishment, where he died. The reigns immediately following were of short duration. Artabanus, one of the race of the Arsacidæ, who ruled in Media, was called to the Parthian throne. His cruelty rendered him odious to his subjects, and afforded an opportunity to the Roman emperor, Tiberius, of placing on the throne Tiridates, who was disposed to be more devoted to the Roman interests. But Artabanus afterward regained his crown, and from the period of his restoration he governed with great equity; so that, after a reign of thirty years, he died much regretted by his subjects.


A. D. 50 to 226.

Decline and Fall of the Parthian Empire

Government-Military Strength, &c.

AFTER this, Parthia was distracted with civil wars till A. D. 50, when Vologeses, the son of Gortarzes, a former king, established himself firmly on the throne. He carried on wars against the Romans, but with very indifferent success, and, at last, gladly consented to a renewal of the former treaties with that powerful people. From this time, the Parthian history affords nothing remarkable till the reign of the emperor Trajan, when Chosroes, king of Parthia, broke the treaty with Rome, by expelling the king of Armenia from that country, and placing his own son upon the throne. Trajan, who was glad of any plausible pretence for quarrelling with the Parthians, marched, with a strong army, into the East. His arrival in Armenia was so sudden and unexpected, that he reduced almost all the country without opposition, and took the new king prisoner. He then invaded Mesopotamia, and made himself master of that rich territory, which had never before been subject to Rome. Having thus gained possession of all the most valuable provinces of the Parthian empire, and perceiving that he could not preserve his conquests, without great expense and hazard, at such a distance from Italy, he appointed Parthanaspotes, one of the royal family of Parthia, king of that country, making it tributary to Rome. But, on the death of Trajan, the Parthians revolted, drove out the king, and recalled Chosroes, who had

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fled into Hyrcania. The emperor Adrian, who was then in the East, deemed it imprudent to engage in a new war with the Parthians, and contented himself with making the Euphrates the eastern boundary of the Roman empire.

After a long reign, Chosroes died, and was succeeded by his son Vologeses II., who immediately invaded Armenia and Syria. The Roman emperor Verus marched with an army into Syria, expelled the Parthians from that country, and, after a war of four years, reconquered all the provinces which had before submitted to Trajan. Revolts and wars followed at intervals. The emperor Severus captured Ctesiphon by assault, and seized the king's treasures, with his wives and children. But he had no sooner recrossed the Euphrates, than Vologeses recovered all his lost. provinces except Mesopotamia. These wars were very expensive to the Romans, and produced them no substantial advantage; for the inhabitants of the terri tories which they conquered were strongly attached to the family of Arsaces, and never failed to return to their ancient obedience as soon as the Roman armies were withdrawn.

The emperor Caracalla, whose name is infamous in Roman history, desirous of signalizing himself by some memorable exploit against the Parthians, sent a solemn embassy to Artabanus IV., desiring his daughter in marriage. The Parthian king was pleased with this proposal, trusting that such a connection would cement a lasting peace between the two powers. He therefore received the ambassadors with all possible marks of honor, and readily signified his desire for the alli


Caracalla, finding the Parthians totally unsuspicious of his treacherous design, sent a second embassy to the king, acquainting him of his intention to come in person, and solemnize the nuptials. Artabanus went to meet him, attended by the chief of the Parthian nobility, and his best troops, all unarmed, and arrayed in the most splendid habits. This peaceable train no sooner approached the Roman army, than the soldiers, on a given signal, fell upon the king's retinue, and made a most terrible slaughter of the unarmed multitude, Artabanus himself escaping with great difficulty. The treacherous Caracalla, having gained, by this exploit, a great booty, and, as he thought, no less glory, wrote a long and boasting letter to the senate, assuming the title of Parthicus for this infamous act, as he had before taken that of Germanicus, for massacring, in a similar manner, some of the German nobility.

Artabanus resolved to make the Romans pay dear for their inhuman treachery. He raised the most numerous army that had ever been known in Parthia, crossed the Euphrates, entered Syria, and wasted every thing with fire and sword. Caracalla had been put to death by the Romans before this invasion, and Macrinus, who succeeded him, marched against the Parthians with a strong force. A furious battle was fought, (A. D. 217,) which lasted two days, at the end of which both sides claimed the victory. Upwards of forty thousand men were killed, and the battle would have been renewed, with additional slaughter; but the Roman general, knowing that the animosity of the Parthians was directed against Caracalla in person, sent information to them that he was assassinated. This put a stop to hostilities, and a treaty of peace followed. The military strength of the Parthian empire was broken by this war, for the flower of the army

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had fallen. This gave the Persians a favorable oppor- | tocracy, while the conquered people were degraded tunity to revolt.

The Arsacidæ had never gained the affection of their Persian subjects, and, after the lapse of four centuries, the Parthians and Persians had not amalgamated, but the former continued to be an army of occupation, separated by habits, prejudices, and feelings, from the great body of the nation. At length, Ardeshir Babegan, called, by the Greeks, Artaxerxes, a native Persian, of the illustrious house of Sassan, who claimed a descent from the ancient line of Cyrus and Giamschid, raised the national standard of Persia, and drove the Parthians into the northern mountains and deserts, (A. D. 226.)

After Christianity had begun to spread, its progress was tolerated, if not encouraged in a direct manner, by the Parthian monarchs, who liberally afforded shelter to Christians flying from the persecutions of the pagans, and from those of their brethren who belonged to a different sect. But, after the Parthians were expelled from Persia, the religion of Zoroaster was restored, the progress of Christianity eastward was checked, and it was thrown back on the western world, leaving, unfortunately, too many marks of its having been brought into close contact with Oriental mysticism and superstition.

This was the end of the Parthian empire. But the fall of the imperial branch did not immediately involve that of the others. The ruling chiefs of Bactriana, Scythia, and Armenia, requested aid from the Romans against Ardeshir; but their strength, already on the decline, was unable to cope with the rising power of Persia; and, in the beginning of the fifth century, the two former submitted to the dominion of the White Huns of Sogdiana. The Armenian monarchs maintained themselves somewhat longer; their reign terminated A. D. 428; but the family continued to exist in Persia, where a branch of them once more attained to sovereign power under the title of the Samanees.

The Parthian empire was, in the height of its prosperity, one of the most powerful of all the Eastern monarchies. The ancient geographers mention a great number of cities in this empire. Ptolemy reckons twenty-five. Parthia Proper, however, seems to have had but one large city, named Hecatompylos, from its hundred gates. It was a splendid place, and, for some time, the capital of the empire. Afterward Ctesiphon became the winter and Ecbatana the summer residence of the Parthian monarchs.

This empire was a sort of feudal monarchy, composed of a number of kingdoms or principalities, all ruled by members of the same family. It formed the centre of a vast political system, maintaining relations with the Romans in the West, and with the Chinese in the East. The head of the empire received the proud title of King of Kings, which, indeed, was no empty boast. The king of Armenia held the second rank; the prince of Bactriana, whose rule extended over the countries between Persia and Hindostan, was the third in dignity; next followed the chief of the Massagetæ, whose dominions lay among the steppes of Southern Russia, and who exercised authority over the nomad tribes encamped between the Don and the Volga.

The Parthians were a nation of mounted warriors, sheathed in complete steel, and possessing a race of horses equally remarkable for strength and speed. They overran their Persian neighbors almost without opposition, and erected themselves into a military aris

into a mere herd of slaves. The invaders thus became the feudal lords of the vanquished, who remained attached to the soil in the character of serfs. The Parthian cavaliers may be compared to the knights of Western Europe. They formed the strength of the army, and bore down every thing before them, while the infantry was comparatively disregarded.

Of the domestic history of the Parthians, their manners, customs, &c., little information can be obtained. The most that we know of these people is what arises from their connection with the Persian empire. But, in Persian history, the Parthian dominion is little better than a blank. The cause of this is obvious. Religion and literature were closely connected in this country, and, under the sway of the Parthian monarchs, the doctrines of Zoroaster fell into great neglect. Firdusi passes over this period of history as one of which no trace had been preserved. He states that, on the death of Alexander the Great, the empire fell into confusion, and remained thus for two hundred years, gov erned by petty rulers, and distracted by internal wars. He adds that, so unstable was the authority of these contending chiefs, that Persia may be considered, during the whole of this time, as a nation without a sovereign. There appears, indeed, to be nothing to rescue this period from the reproach of being an era of barbarism.

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Hyrcania, lying on the south-west coast of the Caspian Sea, and already noticed in the geographical sketch of Persia, presents little of interest in its history. The inhabitants were Scythians, resembling the Parthians in their character and manners. At a remote date, they were independent, and had their own kings; but, in after times, they became subject to the Parthians, and afterward to the Persians. The country now belongs to Persia, bearing the names of Mazanderan and Ghilan. Zadracarta, or Hyrcania, was the capital.

Sogdiana has also been noticed in the geographical sketch of Persia. It corresponds to a portion of Independent Tartary in the region of Kokan. It was the northernmost of the provinces of the empire of Darius, and lay between the Oxus and Jaxartes. It had for the most part a sandy and thin soil. Separating the agricultural from the pastoral regions, it has always been occupied by both farmers and nomads. Alexander conquered this country, 330 B. C. Oxyantes, one of the leaders of the Sogdians, had secured his family in a castle built on a lofty rock. The Macedonians stormed and captured it. Roxana, the daughter of Oxyantes, one of the most beautiful women of Asia, was among the prisoners. Alexander fell in love with and married her. Upon the news of this, Oxyantes came to Bactria, where Alexander received him with attention. The son of Alexander and Roxana, Philip Aridaus, was chosen successor to his father on the throne.

After the breaking up of Alexander's empire,

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