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the efforts of his expiring son. After Sohrab's death | pents, that no attempt had ever been made to cross it. he burnt his tents and all his goods, and carried the This, however, was the route which Isfundear detercorpse to Seistan, where it was interred. The mother, mined to take, accompanied by only sixty chosen men. on receiving intelligence of this catastrophe, set fire to He despatched a chief by the longer route, with the her palace, meaning to perish in the flames-but was army and heavy baggage, directing him to watch as prevented by her attendants. She became quite fran- he approached the city for a signal of fire, and to make tic; now her chief joy was to clothe herself in the the attack the moment he saw it. bloody garment of her son, to kiss the forehead of his favorite horse, to draw his bow, to wield his lance, his sword and his mace. At last, to use the words of the poet, "She died, and her soul fled to that of her heroic son."


600 to 529 B. C.

Gushtasp-The Worship of Fire-Adventures of Isfundear-Foundation of the Empire of Cyrus.

Isfundear and his sixty attendants were dressed as merchants, and carried with them a load of marketable commodities. They passed the desert in safety, and entered Ruendeh without exciting suspicion. They caused a report to be circulated, that a wealthy merchant, attended by a number of friends, had escaped from the tyranny of Gushtasp. This, according to design, soon reached the ear of Arjasp, who sent for Isfundear, that he might view his merchandise. The disguised prince attended, made an offering of some No suspicion fell upon him, and, at length, he saw the rich jewels, and was assured of favor and protection. Persian army approach the city. In the darkness of the night he made the signal. The troops without THE reign of Gushtasp owes its chief celebrity to its immediately made an attack upon the walls, while the being the period when the Persians were converted prince and his companions rushed to assail the palace. to the worship of fire. Zoroaster, who, it is believed, So sudden and unexpected was the assault, that everyeffected this change in the religion of his country, is thing was thrown into confusion, and no resistance called a prophet, or an impostor, as the events of his was made. When the prince approached the king, life are described from ancient Persian or Mahometan he exclaimed, "You miscreant Turk! I am Isfunsources. The former writers pretend that he was a dear, Prince of Persia!" Arjasp fled, terrified at most holy and enlightened man. The latter assert the name, but was soon overtaken and slain; all his that he was an astrologer, who, under the deception of brothers met the same fate. The sister of Isfundear the devil, became the teacher of a new and impious was released and restored to her father, to whom the doctrine. All agree that he lived in the time of Gush-victorious prince also sent the throne of Arjasp, with tasp, and led him, either by his magical arts or holy an immense booty. These exploits are highly embelmiracles, to become a zealous and powerful propagator lished in Persian romance. The seven stages by of his doctrine. The royal bigot not only built fire- which Isfundear made his way to Ruendeh are each temples in every part of his kingdom, but compelled marked by some formidable obstacle. The first is his subjects to worship in them. The doctrines of defended by two savage wolves; the second, by two Zoroaster spread rapidly over the whole country. The enormous lions; the third, by a dragon with seven king ordered twelve thousand cow-hides to be tanned heads; the fourth, by a ghoul or demon; the fifth, by a fine, that the precepts of his new faith might be writ- griffin; the sixth, by a perpetual fountain of immense ten upon them. These parchments were deposited in height; and the seventh, by a great lake surrounded a vault hewn out of the rock at Persepolis. Holy men by lofty mountains. were appointed to guard them, and it was commanded that the profane should be kept at a distance from the sacred records.

The first consequence of this change of religion was a war with Arjasp, King of Tartary, who wrote a letter to Gushtasp, warning him against the error into which he had fallen, and threatening him with an invasion if he refused to return to the religion of his ancestors. The Persian king was indignant at this letter, and hostilities immediately ensued. Isfundear, the son of Gushtasp, commanded the Persian army, and gave the Tartars a complete overthrow. But being driven into rebellion by the intrigues at court, he was thrown into prison by his father. When the Tartar king heard of this, he took up arms again, invaded Persia, defeated Gushtasp, and made his daughter prisoner.


These legends may serve to give the reader an idea of the ancient Persian history, as it is told by native writers. None of these accounts are to be found in the writings of the Greeks, whose knowledge of Persian affairs, previous to the time of Alexander, appears to have been very scanty and indistinct. conquest of Persia by Cyrus the Great forms one of the most important eras in the annals of this nation. Attempts have been made to reconcile the accounts of Cyrus, as given by Herodotus, with those relating to Kei Khosrou, in the work of Firdusi.

The Persian sovereign called Kai Kobad by Firdusi has been thought identical with the Dejoces of Media. The Kai Koos of Firdusi is supposed to be the same with Cyaxares, or Astyages; but the perplexing fictions with which the genius of the poet has invested the history of this period, render everything obscure. Gushtasp, in despair at this loss, not only gave The coincidence of the reigns of Kai Koos and CyaxIsfundear his liberty, but promised to resign his crown ares rests upon a single fact,—a total eclipse of the to him if he succeeded in releasing his sister. The sun, which took place during an engagement between prince agreed to the terms, collected an army, defeated the Medes and the Lydians. This is supposed to be Arjasp, and prepared to pursue him to his capital, the same phenomenon that, according to Firdusi, struck Ruendeh, or the Brazen City, so named from the the army of Kai Koos with a sudden blindness, in a strength of its walls. Three routes led to this city; battle with the magicians of Mazenderan. the shortest was over a desert so wild and barren, and It is impossible to say with certainty which of the so infested by ferocious animals and poisonous ser- kings of Persian history is the Cyrus of the Greeks. The



Persians, according to Heeren, were originally a highland people, and led a pastoral life. They were classed into ten tribes, of which the Pasargada were the ruling horde. Their government was a patriarchal one, the vestiges of which may be traced throughout their whole history.

Cyrus seems to have been made acquainted with the prophecies of Isaiah concerning him. Soon after his accession to the throne of Babylon, he issued a decree for the return of the Jews to their own country. They were not, however, permitted to rebuild the temple till the expiration of seventy years, when Darius Hystaspes granted them that privilege.

Cyrus now made war on the Massagetæ, a nation living in the north of Asia. Here he was defeated and slain by the people, under command of their queen Tomyris, 529 B. C. The enraged sovereign caused the head of the conqueror to be cut off and plunged into a leathern bag filled with human blood, saying, "Though I am alive, and have conquered you, yet you have undone me by taking my son. I will, however, satiate you with blood." This speech, savage as it may seem, still shows the tender feelings of a mother, and a just estimate of the character of a conqueror, whose work is the same in all ages - the shedding of human blood.

Cyrus is considered the great hero of Persian history, and his name is cherished to the present day. It is said, that there was a tomb erected to his memory, at Pasargadæ, near the city of Persepolis. Two

The revolution effected by Cyrus was, according to this view, like most other important revolutions of Asia, the effort of a great pastoral people, who, impelled by necessity and favored by circumstance, forsook their own seats in search of more peaceful and permanent abodes, and drove out some previously successful invader. Cyrus was, probably, a chief of the Pasargadæ, elected leader of the Persian hordes, and by their assistance became a powerful conqueror, at a time when the Median and Babylonian kingdoms were on the decline. On their ruins he founded the Persian empire, which rapidly increased till his dominions extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus and the Oxus. The Greek histories of Cyrus are derived chiefly from Herodotus and Xenophon. The latter writer is represented by Plato as having given in his work his own conceptions of what should constitute a just prince, rather than a true account of Cyrus. Cicero also affirms that Xenophon's work was drawn up ex-hundred years after the death of Cyrus, Alexander pressly as a model of government, and was not intended as a true history. Herodotus founds the Persian empire upon the destruction of the Medes. Xenophon unites the Medes and Persians in the conquest of Babylon. Other discrepancies occur in the narratives of these two writers which we should in vain attempt to reconcile. Amid these contradictory views, we can only be sure of certain leading facts. The supremacy of the Medes over the Persian principalities was probably first established in the reign of Kai Koos, early in the sixth century, B. C. His son, or successor, Astyages, called also Ahasuerus, a name given to several other oriental monarchs, reconciled the Persians to his authority by giving his daughter in marriage to Cambyses, of the royal tribe of the Pasargadæ From this union was born Cyrus, or Khosrou, in Persian, signifying the sun. Before his accession to the throne, he had been intrusted with Cambyses - Conquest of Egypt - The False

the command of the Persian armies, and had carried on successful wars against Lydia and other countries in Western Asia.

Uniting with Cyaxares II. or Darius, king of Media, Cyrus marched against Babylionia, and, after a siege of two years, took its capital. Darius became king of Babylon, where he reigned in great pomp and splendor for a short period. He was then succeeded by Cyrus, who proceeded to consolidate his immense conquests. Hence arose the Persian empire, which extended, during this reign, from the Indus on the

east to Greece on the west.

When Cyrus came to the throne, he found many Jews in a state of captivity at Babylon. Among these was the prophet Daniel, whom he treated with respect and favor. The prophet Isaiah had spoken of Cyrus, long before his birth, as destined to fulfil the high purposes of Heaven. The following passage is supposed to refer to him :

"I will go before thee and level mountains –

I will burst asunder the folding doors of brass
And split in twain the bars of iron.
Even I will give thee the dark treasures
And the hidden wealth of secret places,
That thou mayest know that I, the Lord,
Who call thee by thy name, am God of Israel."

visited his sepulchre at this place, and offered sacrifices to his shade. He opened the tomb, expecting to find great treasures; but a rotten shield, two Scythian bows, and a Persian cimeter, were the only relics. Within the sepulchre was the following inscription: "O man, whoever thou art, and whencesoever thou comest, I am Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire envy me not the little earth that covers my body."


529 to 521 B. C.



CYRUS left two sons, Cambyses and Smerdis. The former succeeded him, 529 B. C. He began his reign by making war upon Egypt. He invaded that country with a powerful army, captured Pelusium, and, being aided by local information furnished by a Greek deserter, he overthrew Psammenitus, the king of Egypt, and subdued the whole country. fierce hostility to the sacerdotal caste, which he inherited from his father, made him a persecutor of the Egyptian priests, who, in revenge, have portrayed him as the worst of tyrants. He next determined upon an invasion of Ethiopia. He sent spies into that country, in the character of ambassadors. These carried presents from Cambyses, and were directed to inquire respecting the marvellous" table of the sun." This was said to be a plain near the chief city of the Ethiopians, covered to the height of several feet with the roasted flesh of all sorts of animals, and free for every one to eat. Some of the ancient geographers call this a supernatural production of the earth.

The Ethiopian prince easily detected the design of the pretended ambassadors. He sent back a message, advising Cambyses to be content with his own dominions, and not to covet the possessions of another. He




sent him, also, in return for the presents, his own | Darius Hystaspes, one of the seven, had a groom bow, saying, "When Cambyses can bend this bow as who managed his horse so cunningly, as to cause him I can, let him attack me." The Persian king, highly to neigh as soon as he had arrived at the place of renincensed by this message, ordered his army to march, dezvous. All the others immediately saluted Darius though quite unprovided for such an expedition as king of Persia, 521 B. C. "Never reflecting," says Herodotus, "that he was about to visit the extremities of the earth." He left no part of his forces behind, except his Greek auxiliaries, on whom he depended to keep the country in awe. Arriving at Thebes, in Upper Egypt, he detached from this army 50,000 men to march against the Ammonians, with orders to ravage their country, and burn the temple of Jupiter Ammon.


521 to 500 B. C.

to Scythia.

By the help of guides, the Persian army reached Darius I.- Capture of Babylon - Expedition the city of Oasis, seven days' march from Thebes. What became of them afterwards was never known. Herodotus, who received the story from the Ammonians, relates that, "after they had left Oasis, they halted to take some repast, when a strong south wind arose and overwhelmed them beneath a mountain of sand." Perhaps the Egyptians, intending the destruction of their enemies, conducted them into the vast solitudes of Libya, and abandoned them in the night. Being unable to find their way out of the desert, they perished from heat and thirst.

Cambyses, in the mean time, advanced with his main army against the Ethiopians. He soon began to feel the fatal effects of his improvident haste. His scanty stores of provision were consumed. The army then fed on the beasts of burden, and, at length, on the roots and herbs which the uncultivated soil could supply. Cambyses had yet the indiscretion to advance, till his troops were reduced, amidst sands and deserts, to the dreadful expedient of devouring one another. The whole army was decimated, every tenth man, selected by lot, being slain and prepared as food for his companions. At last, the king, finding it impossible to proceed, marched back with the wreck of his army, defeated without seeing the face of an enemy.

The next design of Cambyses was to carry his arms into Western Africa, against the Carthaginians; but the Phoenician mariners on whom he depended for the transportation of his army, refused to serve against a people whom they regarded as their brethren. To secure his throne, he had taken the cruel precaution of putting his brother Smerdis to death; but he was now alarmed by hearing that a usurper, under his brother's name, had seized the crown. He immediately gave orders for his army to take up their march for Persia; but, while mounting his horse, his sword slipped from the scabbard, and gave him a mortal wound in the thigh. He died at Ecbatana, in Syria, B. C. 521.

THE long and successful reign of Darius was marked by events which exercised a powerful influence over the destinies of Persia. Not less a legislator than a conqueror, he divided the empire into nineteen satrapies, on each of which was imposed a fixed tribute. The duties of the satraps appear to have been at first confined to the collection of imposts, the improvement of agriculture, and the execution of the royal orders. They were purely civil governors, although, by an abuse of their powers, they afterwards acquired military command. An efficient system of checks upon these officers was imposed by Darius. Periodical visits were paid to each district by royal commissioners, or by the king himself; and an establishment of couriers was formed for transmitting edicts to every quarter of the empire. The army was distributed into commands, formed on the principle of decimal division a system which has ever since prevailed. Greek mercenaries were taken into pay, and, on occasion of great wars, recourse was had to a general conscription.

The Babylonians broke out into rebellion against Darius, and expecting the speedy vengeance of the king, who mustered his army on the first news of the revolt, they prepared to sustain a long siege, and resorted to a horrible expedient. "Of all the women in Babylon," says Herodotus, "each man reserved his mother and one other female of his household; the rest were collected together and strangled." The king advanced and laid siege to the city. The Babylonians, confiding in their preparations and the strength of their walls, treated the besiegers with contempt. They even amused themselves with dancing on the ramparts. More than a year and a half was wasted before the walls, and Darius, at last, began to despair of taking the city, when the enterprise was accomplished by a stratagem of Zopyrus, one of his chief officers.

The false Smerdis was sustained upon the throne by a faction of the Magi, or Persian priests. But This person cut off his own nose and ears, and Otanes, a nobleman of high rank, suspecting the otherwise mutilated his person in an extraordinary deceit, was enabled to detect it by means of his and cruel manner. He then deserted to the Babydaughter, who, having been the wife of Cambyses, lonians, and pretended that he had received this barwas retained in the usurper's harem. He commu- barous treatment from Darius for advising him to nicated the intelligence to six other chiefs, and a con- raise the siege. The Babylonians could not hesitate spiracy was formed, which succeeded in overthrow- to believe a story accompanied by such convincing ing the impostor, who was put to death, with a multi-proofs. They received Żopyrus, and gave him the tude of the Magi, his supporters. The conspirators command of a body of troops. With these he sallied then deliberated respecting the fittest form of govern- out of the city, attacked the Persians, and cut off ment, and, having decided that an absolute monarchy several detachments, according to a plan which had was the best, the whole seven agreed to meet on horse- been agreed upon between him and Darius. In this back at sunrise, without the city, and that the crown manner, he raised his character with the Babylonians, should be given to him whose horse should neigh first. | and at length his credit became so far established that



he was entrusted with the command of all their forces. The city being thus entirely in his power, he was enabled by artful manoeuvres to deliver it up to Darius. Thus Babylon fell a second time into the hands of its enemies. Three thousand of the most distinguished inhabitants were crucified, the walls of the city were lowered, and the gates taken away. The Babylonians, from this time forth, were prohibited from bearing arms; and they were encouraged to pass their time in singing, and playing on instruments, and other effeminate occupations.

After the subjugation of Babylon, Darius marched against the Scythians, under the pretence of reveng ing their former invasion of Media. His army is said to have amounted to 700,000 men. He arrived at Chalcedon, on the Bosphorus, opposite Byzantium, where Constantinople now stands. Here a bridge had been constructed for his army by the ingenuity of Mandrocles, a Samian. Near this spot Darius ordered the erection of two columns, on one of which was inscribed in Assyrian, and on the other in Greek characters, the names of the nations which attended

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HAVING crossed the Bosphorus with his immense army, Darius marched through Scythia, eastward, to the River Tanais, now the Don. The Scythian army retreated regularly before him at the distance of a day's march, filling up the wells and destroying the produce of the fields, their families and cattle being previously sent to the northern frontier. Darius proceeded in his march, crossed the Tanais, and penetrated as far as the Oasis, supposed to be the Volga. Here he constructed eight fortresses, the remains of which were visible in the time of Herodotus. The Scythians treated with contempt the demands of Darius, who required of them to submit to him as the "Great King," and to make the usual offerings of earth and water. They despatched to him a messen

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ger bearing the enigmatical gifts of a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows, which were thus interpreted: "Persians, unless you can fly in the air like birds, hide yourselves under ground like mice, or swim in the water like frogs, you will not escape the Scythian arrows." Darius was struck with the force of this barbarian eloquence, and finding his provisions nearly exhausted, and his army weary and dispirited, was compelled to abandon his rash enterprise and re


The undertakings of Darius in the east were more fortunate. He ordered a fleet to be equipped at Caspatyra, a city on the River Indus, and placed under the command of Scylax, a Greek mariner of Cara, with orders to proceed down the river and sail westward till he should come to Persia. Scylax accomplished a voyage which had never before his time been performed. He sailed down the Indus to the Arabian Sea, crossed the Persian Gulf, and coasted along the barren shore of Arabia, to the Straits of Babelmandel, entered the Red Sea, and, after thirty months' navigation, reached Egypt. The information which he obtained in this voyage induced Darius to invade India with a large army, and several of its rich provinces were added to his empire.

In the mean time, the Greeks of Asia Minor had revolted; but Darius quickly suppressed the rebellion, and treated the revolted cities with great severity. Miletus was completely destroyed, and the king resolved to extend his vengeance to the Greek allies of those who had resisted his authority. He collected a large naval and military force, which he placed under


the command of his son-in-law, Mardonius. The Persians crossed the Hellespont, and marched through Thrace into Macedonia, which was made a Persian province. All the neighboring countries submitted, but the fleet was shattered in a storm while doubling Mount Athos, and the army was soon afterward attacked, unexpectedly, by the barbarous Thracian tribes, who killed many of the soldiers, and severely wounded Mardonius himself. A second expedition was sent to Greece under the command of Datis and Artaphernes, who forced a passage into the northern part of that country, and threatened Athens when they were totally defeated by the Athenians, led by Miltiades, at the memorable battle of Marathon, 490 B. C. This event will be more particularly described in the history of Greece.

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To avenge this disgrace, Darius resolved to invade Greece in person; but an insurrection of the Egyptians, and disputes among his children respecting the succession, retarded his preparations, and before his army were ready to march, the whole design was frustrated by his death.

This monarch is supposed to be the king of Persia who showed such distinguished favor to the Jews, by aiding them in rebuilding Jerusalem and restoring the sacred vessels of the temple, which had been carried away by Nebuchadnezzar. Josephus states as follows: "Darius, the son of Hytaspes, while he was a private man, had made a vow to Heaven, that if he came to be king, he would send all the vessels of God which were in Babylon, to the temple at Jerusalem. He also ordered the rulers of Syria and Phoenicia to cut down and carry cedar-trees from Lebanon to Jerusalem, and to lend their aid in building the city. Likewise he commanded that all the captives returning to Judea should be free, and he prohibited his

deputies and governors from laying any taxes on the Jews. And he sent the vessels, and fulfilled all that Cyrus had intended for the restoration of Jerusalem."

Xerxes succeeded Darius, his father, 485 B. C. His first exploit was the suppression of a rebellion in Egypt, which he performed so effectually that the subjugation of that country was rendered more complete than by the original conquest of Cambyses. He then employed three years in making preparations for an invasion of Greece. His army, if we may believe Herodotus, amounted to five millions. The dresses and arms of the soldiers are described in the following manner: The Persians wore on their heads woollen tiaras. Their dress was a parti-colored tunic, adorned with plates of steel in imitation of the scales of fishes. They bore a shield, called gerra. Their spears were short, their bows large, with arrows made of reeds. On the right side they wore a dagger. The Assyrians had brazen helmets of a barbarous form; their arms resembled those of the Egyptians. They had also clubs pointed with iron, and linen cuirasses, which would resist the edge of a sabre. The Arabians wore long, folding vests, which they called zyra; their bows were long, flexible, and crooked. The Ethiopians were clad in skins of panthers and lions; their bows were of palm, four cubits long; their arrows were short, and made of reeds; instead of iron, they were pointed with a stone, with which they used to cut their seals. They had spears armed with the horns of goats, shaped like the iron of a lance, and also knotty clubs. It was the custom of these people, when they went to war, to daub one half the body with gypsum and the other half with vermilion.

The cavalry of this army amounted to 80,000, exclusive of camels and chariots. One body of these

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This contrivance is precisely the same with the South American lasso.

is thus described by Herodotus. "The Sagartii were | thus entangling their enemy, easily put him to death." 8000 in number. These people led a pastoral life, were originally of Persian descent, and spoke the Persian language. They had no offensive weapons except their daggers. Their principal dependence in battle was upon cords made of twisted hide. These cords, having a noose at the end, they throw out, and,

To this immense army was attached a fleet of 1200 ships. Xerxes, having numbered his forces of every description, proceeded to make a formal review of the whole armament at Abydos, on the Hellespont. A

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