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Title: Darius the Great - Makers of History
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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 Makers of History

 Darius the Great







 Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
 eight hundred and fifty, by


 in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
 of New York.

 Copyright, 1878, by JACOB ABBOTT.



In describing the character and the action of the personages whose
histories form the subjects of this series, the writer makes no
attempt to darken the colors in which he depicts their deeds of
violence and wrong, or to increase, by indignant denunciations, the
obloquy which heroes and conquerors have so often brought upon
themselves, in the estimation of mankind, by their ambition, their
tyranny, or their desperate and reckless crimes. In fact, it seems
desirable to diminish, rather than to increase, the spirit of
censoriousness which often leads men so harshly to condemn the errors
and sins of others, committed in circumstances of temptation to which
they themselves were never exposed. Besides, to denounce or vituperate
guilt, in a narrative of the transactions in which it was displayed,
has little influence in awakening a healthy sensitiveness in the
conscience of the reader. We observe, accordingly, that in the
narratives of the sacred Scriptures, such denunciations are seldom
found. The story of Absalom's undutifulness and rebellion, of David's
adultery and murder, of Herod's tyranny, and all other narratives of
crime, are related in a calm, simple, impartial, and forbearing
spirit, which leads us to condemn the sins, but not to feel a
pharisaical resentment and wrath against the sinner.

This example, so obviously proper and right, the writer of this series
has made it his endeavor in all respects to follow.


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. CAMBYSES                                              13

   II. THE END OF CAMBYSES                                   38

  III. SMERDIS THE MAGIAN                                    59

   IV. THE ACCESSION OF DARIUS                               82

    V. THE PROVINCES                                         99

   VI. THE RECONNOITERING OF GREECE                         123

  VII. THE REVOLT OF BABYLON                                144

 VIII. THE INVASION OF SCYTHIA                              167

   IX. THE RETREAT FROM SCYTHIA                             189

    X. THE STORY OF HISTIÆUS                                210

   XI. THE INVASION OF GREECE                               233

  XII. THE DEATH OF DARIUS                                  264




 DARIUS CROSSING THE BOSPORUS                    _Frontispiece._


 PHÆDYMA FEELING FOR SMERDIS'S EARS                          69

 THE INDIAN GOLD HUNTERS                                    121


 MAP OF GREECE                                              232

 THE INVASION OF GREECE                                     256





B.C. 530-524

Cyrus the Great.--His extended conquests.--Cambyses and
Smerdis.--Hystaspes and Darius.--Dream of Cyrus.--His anxiety and
fears.--Accession of Cambyses.--War with Egypt.--Origin of the war
with Egypt.--Ophthalmia.--The Egyptian physician.--His plan of
revenge.--Demand of Cyrus.--Stratagem of the King of Egypt.--Resentment
of Cassandane.--Threats of Cambyses.--Future conquests.--Temperament
and character of Cambyses.--Impetuosity of Cambyses.--Preparations for
the Egyptian war.--Desertion of Phanes.--His narrow escape.--Information
given by Phanes.--Treaty with the Arabian king.--Plan for providing
water.--Account of Herodotus.--A great battle.--Defeat of the
Egyptians.--Inhuman conduct of Cambyses.--His treatment of
Psammenitus.--The train of captive maidens.--The young men.--Scenes
of distress and suffering.--Composure of Psammenitus.--Feelings of the
father.--His explanation of them.--Cambyses relents.--His treatment of
the body of Amasis.--Cambyses's desecrations.--The sacred bull
Apis.--Cambyses stabs the sacred bull.--His mad expeditions.--The sand
storm.--Cambyses a wine-bibber.--Brutal act of Cambyses.--He is deemed

About five or six hundred years before Christ, almost the whole of the
interior of Asia was united in one vast empire. The founder of this
empire was Cyrus the Great. He was originally a Persian; and the whole
empire is often called the Persian monarchy, taking its name from its
founder's native land.

Cyrus was not contented with having annexed to his dominion all the
civilized states of Asia. In the latter part of his life, he conceived
the idea that there might possibly be some additional glory and power
to be acquired in subduing certain half-savage regions in the north,
beyond the Araxes. He accordingly raised an army, and set off on an
expedition for this purpose, against a country which was governed by a
barbarian queen named Tomyris. He met with a variety of adventures on
this expedition, all of which are fully detailed in our history of
Cyrus. There is, however, only one occurrence that it is necessary to
allude to particularly here. That one relates to a remarkable dream
which he had one night, just after he had crossed the river.

To explain properly the nature of this dream, it is necessary first to
state that Cyrus had two sons. Their names were Cambyses and Smerdis.
He had left them in Persia when he set out on his expedition across
the Araxes. There was also a young man, then about twenty years of
age, in one of his capitals, named Darius. He was the son of one of
the nobles of Cyrus's court. His father's name was Hystaspes.
Hystaspes, besides being a noble of the court, was also, as almost all
nobles were in those days, an officer of the army. He accompanied
Cyrus in his march into the territories of the barbarian queen, and
was with him there, in camp, at the time when this narrative

Cyrus, it seems, felt some misgivings in respect to the result of his
enterprise; and, in order to insure the tranquillity of his empire
during his absence, and the secure transmission of his power to his
rightful successor in case he should never return, he established his
son Cambyses as regent of his realms before he crossed the Araxes,
and delivered the government of the empire, with great formality, into
his hands. This took place upon the frontier, just before the army
passed the river. The mind of a father, under such circumstances,
would naturally be occupied, in some degree, with thoughts relating to
the arrangements which his son would make, and to the difficulties he
would be likely to encounter in managing the momentous concerns which
had been committed to his charge. The mind of Cyrus was undoubtedly so
occupied, and this, probably, was the origin of the remarkable dream.

His dream was, that Darius appeared to him in a vision, with vast
wings growing from his shoulders. Darius stood, in the vision, on the
confines of Europe and Asia, and his wings, expanded either way,
overshadowed the whole known world. When Cyrus awoke and reflected on
this ominous dream, it seemed to him to portend some great danger to
the future security of his empire. It appeared to denote that Darius
was one day to bear sway over all the world. Perhaps he might be even
then forming ambitious and treasonable designs. Cyrus immediately sent
for Hystaspes, the father of Darius; when he came to his tent, he
commanded him to go back to Persia, and keep a strict watch over the
conduct of his son until he himself should return. Hystaspes received
this commission, and departed to execute it; and Cyrus, somewhat
relieved, perhaps, of his anxiety by this measure of precaution, went
on with his army toward his place of destination.

Cyrus never returned. He was killed in battle; and it would seem that,
though the import of his dream was ultimately fulfilled, Darius was
not, at that time, meditating any schemes of obtaining possession of
the throne, for he made no attempt to interfere with the regular
transmission of the imperial power from Cyrus to Cambyses his son. At
any rate, it was so transmitted. The tidings of Cyrus's death came to
the capital, and Cambyses, his son, reigned in his stead.

The great event of the reign of Cambyses was a war with Egypt, which
originated in the following very singular manner:

It has been found, in all ages of the world, that there is some
peculiar quality of the soil, or climate, or atmosphere of Egypt which
tends to produce an inflammation of the eyes. The inhabitants
themselves have at all times been very subject to this disease, and
foreign armies marching into the country are always very seriously
affected by it. Thousands of soldiers in such armies are sometimes
disabled from this cause, and many are made incurably blind. Now a
country which produces a disease in its worst form and degree, will
produce also, generally, the best physicians for that disease. At any
rate, this was supposed to be the case in ancient times; and
accordingly, when any powerful potentate in those days was afflicted
himself with ophthalmia, or had such a case in his family, Egypt was
the country to send to for a physician.

Now it happened that Cyrus himself, at one time in the course of his
life, was attacked with this disease, and he dispatched an embassador
to Amasis, who was then king of Egypt, asking him to send him a
physician. Amasis, who, like all the other absolute sovereigns of
those days, regarded his subjects as slaves that were in all respects
entirely at his disposal, selected a physician of distinction from
among the attendants about his court, and ordered him to repair to
Persia. The physician was extremely reluctant to go. He had a wife and
family, from whom he was very unwilling to be separated; but the
orders were imperative, and he must obey. He set out on the journey,
therefore, but he secretly resolved to devise some mode of revenging
himself on the king for the cruelty of sending him.

He was well received by Cyrus, and, either by his skill as a
physician, or from other causes, he acquired great influence at the
Persian court. At last he contrived a mode of revenging himself on the
Egyptian king for having exiled him from his native land. The king had
a daughter, who was a lady of great beauty. Her father was very
strongly attached to her. The physician recommended to Cyrus to send
to Amasis and demand this daughter in marriage. As, however, Cyrus was
already married, the Egyptian princess would, if she came, be his
concubine rather than his wife, or, if considered a wife, it could
only be a secondary and subordinate place that she could occupy. The
physician knew that, under these circumstances, the King of Egypt
would be extremely unwilling to send her to Cyrus, while he would yet
scarcely dare to refuse; and the hope of plunging him into extreme
embarrassment and distress, by means of such a demand from so powerful
a sovereign, was the motive which led the physician to recommend the

Cyrus was pleased with the proposal, and sent, accordingly, to make
the demand. The king, as the physician had anticipated, could not
endure to part with his daughter in such a way, nor did he, on the
other hand, dare to incur the displeasure of so powerful a monarch by
a direct and open refusal. He finally resolved upon escaping from the
difficulty by a stratagem.

There was a young and beautiful captive princess in his court named
Nitetis. Her father, whose name was Apries, had been formerly the King
of Egypt, but he had been dethroned and killed by Amasis. Since the
downfall of her family, Nitetis had been a captive; but, as she was
very beautiful and very accomplished, Amasis conceived the design of
sending her to Cyrus, under the pretense that she was the daughter
whom Cyrus had demanded. He accordingly brought her forth, provided
her with the most costly and splendid dresses, loaded her with
presents, ordered a large retinue to attend her, and sent her forth to

Cyrus was at first very much pleased with his new bride. Nitetis
became, in fact, his principal favorite; though, of course, his other
wife, whose name was Cassandane, and her children, Cambyses and
Smerdis, were jealous of her, and hated her. One day, a Persian lady
was visiting at the court, and as she was standing near Cassandane,
and saw her two sons, who were then tall and handsome young men, she
expressed her admiration of them, and said to Cassandane, "How proud
and happy you must be!" "No," said Cassandane; "on the contrary, I am
very miserable; for, though I am the mother of these children, the
king neglects and despises me. All his kindness is bestowed on this
Egyptian woman." Cambyses, who heard this conversation, sympathized
deeply with Cassandane in her resentment. "Mother," said he, "be
patient, and I will avenge you. As soon as I am king, I will go to
Egypt and turn the whole country upside down."

In fact, the tendency which there was in the mind of Cambyses to look
upon Egypt as the first field of war and conquest for him, so soon as
he should succeed to the throne, was encouraged by the influence of
his father; for Cyrus, although he was much captivated by the charms
of the lady whom the King of Egypt had sent him, was greatly incensed
against the king for having practiced upon him such a deception.
Besides, all the important countries in Asia were already included
within the Persian dominions. It was plain that if any future progress
were to be made in extending the empire, the regions of Europe and
Africa must be the theatre of it. Egypt seemed the most accessible and
vulnerable point beyond the confines of Asia; and thus, though Cyrus
himself, being advanced somewhat in years, and interested, moreover,
in other projects, was not prepared to undertake an enterprise into
Africa himself, he was very willing that such plans should be
cherished by his son.

Cambyses was an ardent, impetuous, and self-willed boy, such as the
sons of rich and powerful men are very apt to become. They imbibe, by
a sort of sympathy, the ambitious and aspiring spirit of their
fathers; and as all their childish caprices and passions are generally
indulged, they never learn to submit to control. They become vain,
self-conceited, reckless, and cruel. The conqueror who founds an
empire, although even his character generally deteriorates very
seriously toward the close of his career, still usually knows
something of moderation and generosity. His son, however, who inherits
his father's power, seldom inherits the virtues by which the power
was acquired. These truths, which we see continually exemplified all
around us, on a small scale, in the families of the wealthy and the
powerful, were illustrated most conspicuously, in the view of all
mankind, in the case of Cyrus and Cambyses. The father was prudent,
cautious, wise, and often generous and forbearing. The son grew up
headstrong, impetuous, uncontrolled, and uncontrollable. He had the
most lofty ideas of his own greatness and power, and he felt a supreme
contempt for the rights, and indifference to the happiness of all the
world besides. His history gives us an illustration of the worst which
the principle of hereditary sovereignty can do, as the best is
exemplified in the case of Alfred of England.

Cambyses, immediately after his father's death, began to make
arrangements for the Egyptian invasion. The first thing to be
determined was the mode of transporting his armies thither. Egypt is a
long and narrow valley, with the rocks and deserts of Arabia on one
side, and those of Sahara on the other. There is no convenient mode of
access to it except by sea, and Cambyses had no naval force sufficient
for a maritime expedition.

While he was revolving the subject in his mind, there arrived in his
capital of Susa, where he was then residing, a deserter from the army
of Amasis in Egypt. The name of this deserter was Phanes. He was a
Greek, having been the commander of a body of Greek troops who were
employed by Amasis as auxiliaries in his army. He had had a quarrel
with Amasis, and had fled to Persia, intending to join Cambyses in the
expedition which he was contemplating, in order to revenge himself on
the Egyptian king. Phanes said, in telling his story, that he had had
a very narrow escape from Egypt; for, as soon as Amasis had heard that
he had fled, he dispatched one of his swiftest vessels, a galley of
three banks of oars, in hot pursuit of the fugitive. The galley
overtook the vessel in which Phanes had taken passage just as it was
landing in Asia Minor. The Egyptian officers seized it and made Phanes
prisoner. They immediately began to make their preparations for the
return voyage, putting Phanes, in the mean time, under the charge of
guards, who were instructed to keep him very safely. Phanes, however,
cultivated a good understanding with his guards, and presently invited
them to drink wine with him. In the end, he got them intoxicated, and
while they were in that state he made his escape from them, and then,
traveling with great secrecy and caution until he was beyond their
reach, he succeeded in making his way to Cambyses in Susa.

Phanes gave Cambyses a great deal of information in respect to the
geography of Egypt, the proper points of attack, the character and
resources of the king, and communicated, likewise, a great many other
particulars which it was very important that Cambyses should know. He
recommended that Cambyses should proceed to Egypt by land, through
Arabia; and that, in order to secure a safe passage, he should send
first to the King of the Arabs, by a formal embassy, asking permission
to cross his territories with an army, and engaging the Arabians to
aid him, if possible, in the transit. Cambyses did this. The Arabs
were very willing to join in any projected hostilities against the
Egyptians; they offered Cambyses a free passage, and agreed to aid his
army on their march. To the faithful fulfillment of these stipulations
the Arab chief bound himself by a treaty, executed with the most
solemn forms and ceremonies.

The great difficulty to be encountered in traversing the deserts which
Cambyses would have to cross on his way to Egypt was the want of
water. To provide for this necessity, the king of the Arabs sent a
vast number of camels into the desert, laden with great sacks or bags
full of water. These camels were sent forward just before the army of
Cambyses came on, and they deposited their supplies along the route at
the points where they would be most needed. Herodotus, the Greek
traveler, who made a journey into Egypt not a great many years after
these transactions, and who wrote subsequently a full description of
what he saw and heard there, gives an account of another method by
which the Arab king was said to have conveyed water into the desert,
and that was by a canal or pipe, made of the skins of oxen, which he
laid along the ground, from a certain river of his dominions, to a
distance of twelve days' journey over the sands! This story Herodotus
says he did not believe, though elsewhere in the course of his history
he gravely relates, as true history, a thousand tales infinitely more
improbable than the idea of a leathern pipe or hose like this to serve
for a conduit of water.

By some means or other, at all events, the Arab chief provided
supplies of water in the desert for Cambyses's army, and the troops
made the passage safely. They arrived, at length, on the frontiers of
Egypt.[A] Here they found that Amasis, the king, was dead, and
Psammenitus, his son, had succeeded him. Psammenitus came forward to
meet the invaders. A great battle was fought. The Egyptians were
routed. Psammenitus fled up the Nile to the city of Memphis, taking
with him such broken remnants of his army as he could get together
after the battle, and feeling extremely incensed and exasperated
against the invader. In fact, Cambyses had now no excuse or pretext
whatever for waging such a war against Egypt. The monarch who had
deceived his father was dead, and there had never been any cause of
complaint against his son or against the Egyptian people. Psammenitus,
therefore, regarded the invasion of Egypt by Cambyses as a wanton and
wholly unjustifiable aggression, and he determined, in his own mind,
that such invaders deserved no mercy, and that he would show them
none. Soon after this, a galley on the river, belonging to Cambyses,
containing a crew of two hundred men, fell into his hands. The
Egyptians, in their rage, tore these Persians all to pieces. This
exasperated Cambyses in his turn, and the war went on, attended by the
most atrocious cruelties on both sides.

[Footnote A: For the places mentioned in this chapter, and the track
of Cambyses on his expedition, see the map at the commencement of this

In fact, Cambyses, in this Egyptian campaign, pursued such a career of
inhuman and reckless folly, that people at last considered him insane.
He began with some small semblance of moderation, but he proceeded, in
the end, to the perpetration of the most terrible excesses of violence
and wrong.

As to his moderation, his treatment of Psammenitus personally is
almost the only instance that we can record. In the course of the war,
Psammenitus and all his family fell into Cambyses's hands as captives.
A few days afterward, Cambyses conducted the unhappy king without the
gates of the city to exhibit a spectacle to him. The spectacle was
that of his beloved daughter, clothed in the garments of a slave, and
attended by a company of other maidens, the daughters of the nobles
and other persons of distinction belonging to his court, all going
down to the river, with heavy jugs, to draw water. The fathers of all
these hapless maidens had been brought out with Psammenitus to
witness the degradation and misery of their children. The maidens
cried and sobbed aloud as they went along, overwhelmed with shame and
terror. Their fathers manifested the utmost agitation and distress.
Cambyses stood smiling by, highly enjoying the spectacle. Psammenitus
alone appeared unmoved. He gazed on the scene silent, motionless, and
with a countenance which indicated no active suffering; he seemed to
be in a state of stupefaction and despair. Cambyses was disappointed,
and his pleasure was marred at finding that his victim did not feel
more acutely the sting of the torment with which he was endeavoring to
goad him.

When this train had gone by, another came. It was a company of young
men, with halters about their necks, going to execution. Cambyses had
ordered that for every one of the crew of his galley that the
Egyptians had killed, ten Egyptians should be executed. This
proportion would require two thousand victims, as there had been two
hundred in the crew. These victims were to be selected from among the
sons of the leading families; and their parents, after having seen
their delicate and gentle daughters go to their servile toil, were now
next to behold their sons march in a long and terrible array to
execution. The son of Psammenitus was at the head of the column. The
Egyptian parents who stood around Psammenitus wept and lamented aloud,
as one after another saw his own child in the train. Psammenitus
himself, however, remained as silent and motionless, and with a
countenance as vacant as before. Cambyses was again disappointed. The
pleasure which the exhibition afforded him was incomplete without
visible manifestations of suffering in the victim for whose torture it
was principally designed.

After this train of captives had passed, there came a mixed collection
of wretched and miserable men, such as the siege and sacking of a city
always produces in countless numbers. Among these was a venerable man
whom Psammenitus recognized as one of his friends. He had been a man
of wealth and high station; he had often been at the court of the
king, and had been entertained at his table. He was now, however,
reduced to the last extremity of distress, and was begging of the
people something to keep him from starving. The sight of this man in
such a condition seemed to awaken the king from his blank and
death-like despair. He called his old friend by name in a tone of
astonishment and pity, and burst into tears.

Cambyses, observing this, sent a messenger to Psammenitus to inquire
what it meant. "He wishes to know," said the messenger, "how it
happens that you could see your own daughter set at work as a slave,
and your son led away to execution unmoved, and yet feel so much
commiseration for the misfortunes of a stranger." We might suppose
that any one possessing the ordinary susceptibilities of the human
soul would have understood without an explanation the meaning of this,
though it is not surprising that such a heartless monster as Cambyses
did not comprehend it. Psammenitus sent him word that he could not
help weeping for his friend, but that his distress and anguish on
account of his children were too great for tears.

The Persians who were around Cambyses began now to feel a strong
sentiment of compassion for the unhappy king, and to intercede with
Cambyses in his favor. They begged him, too, to spare Psammenitus's
son. It will interest those of our readers who have perused our
history of Cyrus to know that Croesus, the captive king of Lydia,
whom they will recollect to have been committed to Cambyses's charge
by his father, just before the close of his life, when he was setting
forth on his last fatal expedition, and who accompanied Cambyses on
this invasion of Egypt, was present on this occasion, and was one of
the most earnest interceders in Psammenitus's favor. Cambyses allowed
himself to be persuaded. They sent off a messenger to order the
execution of the king's son to be stayed; but he arrived too late. The
unhappy prince had already fallen. Cambyses was so far appeased by the
influence of these facts, that he abstained from doing Psammenitus or
his family any further injury.

He, however, advanced up the Nile, ravaging and plundering the country
as he went on, and at length, in the course of his conquests, he
gained possession of the tomb in which the embalmed body of Amasis was
deposited. He ordered this body to be taken out of its sarcophagus,
and treated with every mark of ignominy. His soldiers, by his orders,
beat it with rods, as if it could still feel, and goaded it, and cut
it with swords. They pulled the hair out of the head by the roots, and
loaded the lifeless form with every conceivable mark of insult and
ignominy. Finally, Cambyses ordered the mutilated remains that were
left to be burned, which was a procedure as abhorrent to the ideas and
feelings of the Egyptians as could possibly be devised.

Cambyses took every opportunity to insult the religious, or as,
perhaps, we ought to call them, the superstitious feelings of the
Egyptians. He broke into their temples, desecrated their altars, and
subjected every thing which they held most sacred to insult and
ignominy. Among their objects of religious veneration was the sacred
bull called Apis. This animal was selected from time to time, from the
country at large, by the priests, by means of certain marks which they
pretended to discover upon its body, and which indicated a divine and
sacred character. The sacred bull thus found was kept in a magnificent
temple, and attended and fed in a most sumptuous manner. In serving
him, the attendants used vessels of gold.

Cambyses arrived at the city where Apis was kept at a time when the
priests were celebrating some sacred occasion with festivities and
rejoicings. He was himself then returning from an unsuccessful
expedition which he had made, and, as he entered the town, stung with
vexation and anger at his defeat, the gladness and joy which the
Egyptians manifested in their ceremonies served only to irritate him,
and to make him more angry than ever. He killed the priests who were
officiating. He then demanded to be taken into the edifice to see the
sacred animal, and there, after insulting the feelings of the
worshipers in every possible way by ridicule and scornful words, he
stabbed the innocent bull with his dagger. The animal died of the
wound, and the whole country was filled with horror and indignation.
The people believed that this deed would most assuredly bring down
upon the impious perpetrator of it the judgments of heaven.

Cambyses organized, while he was in Egypt, several mad expeditions
into the surrounding countries. In a fit of passion, produced by an
unsatisfactory answer to an embassage, he set off suddenly, and
without any proper preparation, to march into Ethiopia. The provisions
of his army were exhausted before he had performed a fifth part of the
march. Still, in his infatuation, he determined to go on. The soldiers
subsisted for a time on such vegetables as they could find by the way;
when these failed, they slaughtered and ate their beasts of burden;
and finally, in the extremity of their famine, they began to kill and
devour one another; then, at length, Cambyses concluded to return. He
sent off, too, at one time, a large army across the desert toward the
Temple of Jupiter Ammon, without any of the necessary precautions for
such a march. This army never reached their destination, and they
never returned. The people of the Oasis said that they were overtaken
by a sand storm in the desert, and were all overwhelmed.


There was a certain officer in attendance on Cambyses named
Prexaspes. He was a sort of confidential friend and companion of the
king; and his son, who was a fair, and graceful, and accomplished
youth, was the king's cup-bearer, which was an office of great
consideration and honor. One day Cambyses asked Prexaspes what the
Persians generally thought of him. Prexaspes replied that they
thought and spoke well of him in all respects but one. The king
wished to know what the exception was. Prexaspes rejoined, that it
was the general opinion that he was too much addicted to wine.
Cambyses was offended at this reply; and, under the influence of the
feeling, so wholly unreasonable and absurd, which so often leads men
to be angry with the innocent medium through which there comes to
them any communication which they do not like, he determined to
punish Prexaspes for his freedom. He ordered his son, therefore, the
cup-bearer, to take his place against the wall on the other side of
the room. "Now," said he, "I will put what the Persians say to the
test." As he said this, he took up a bow and arrow which were at his
side, and began to fit the arrow to the string. "If," said he, "I do
not shoot him exactly through the heart, it shall prove that the
Persians are right. If I do, then they are wrong, as it will show
that I do not drink so much as to make my hand unsteady." So saying,
he drew the bow, the arrow flew through the air and pierced the poor
boy's breast. He fell, and Cambyses coolly ordered the attendants to
open the body, and let Prexaspes see whether the arrow had not gone
through the heart.

These, and a constant succession of similar acts of atrocious and
reckless cruelty and folly, led the world to say that Cambyses was



B.C. 523-522

Cambyses's profligate conduct.--He marries his own
sisters.--Consultation of the Persian judges.--Their
opinion.--Smerdis.--Jealousy of Cambyses.--The two magi.--Cambyses
suspicious.--He plans an invasion of Ethiopia.--Island of
Elephantine.--The Icthyophagi.--Classes of savage nations.--Embassadors
sent to Ethiopia.--The presents.--The Ethiopian king detects the
imposture.--The Ethiopian king's opinion of Cambyses's presents.--The
Ethiopian bow.--Return of the Icthyophagi.--Jealousy of Cambyses.--He
orders Smerdis to be murdered.--Cambyses grows more cruel.--Twelve
noblemen buried alive.--Cambyses's cruelty to his sister.--Her
death.--The venerable Croesus.--His advice to Cambyses.--Cambyses's
rage at Croesus.--He attempts to kill him.--The declaration of the
oracle.--Ecbatane, Susa, and Babylon.--Cambyses returns
northward.--He enters Syria.--A herald proclaims Smerdis.--The herald
seized.--Probable explanation.--Rage of Cambyses.--Cambyses mortally
wounded.--His remorse and despair.--Cambyses calls his nobles about
him.--His dying declaration.--Death of Cambyses.--His dying declaration

Among the other acts of profligate wickedness which have blackened
indelibly and forever Cambyses's name, he married two of his own
sisters, and brought one of them with him to Egypt as his wife. The
natural instincts of all men, except those whose early life has been
given up to the most shameless and dissolute habits of vice, are
sufficient to preserve them from such crimes as these. Cambyses
himself felt, it seems, some misgivings when contemplating the first
of these marriages; and he sent to a certain council of judges, whose
province it was to interpret the laws, asking them their opinion of
the rightfulness of such a marriage. Kings ask the opinion of their
legal advisers in such cases, not because they really wish to know
whether the act in question is right or wrong, but because, having
themselves determined upon the performance of it, they wish their
counselors to give it a sort of legal sanction, in order to justify
the deed, and diminish the popular odium which it might otherwise

The Persian judges whom Cambyses consulted on this occasion understood
very well what was expected of them. After a grave deliberation, they
returned answer to the king that, though they could find no law
allowing a man to marry his sister, they found many which authorized a
king of Persia to do whatever he thought best. Cambyses accordingly
carried his plan into execution. He married first the older sister,
whose name was Atossa. Atossa became subsequently a personage of great
historical distinction. The daughter of Cyrus, the wife of Darius, and
the mother of Xerxes, she was the link that bound together the three
most magnificent potentates of the whole Eastern world. How far these
sisters were willing participators in the guilt of their incestuous
marriages we can not now know. The one who went with Cambyses into
Egypt was of a humane, and gentle, and timid disposition, being in
these respects wholly unlike her brother; and it may be that she
merely yielded, in the transaction of her marriage, to her brother's
arbitrary and imperious will.

Besides this sister, Cambyses had brought his brother Smerdis with
him into Egypt. Smerdis was younger than Cambyses, but he was superior
to him in strength and personal accomplishments. Cambyses was very
jealous of this superiority. He did not dare to leave his brother in
Persia, to manage the government in his stead during his absence, lest
he should take advantage of the temporary power thus committed to his
hands, and usurp the throne altogether. He decided, therefore, to
bring Smerdis with him into Egypt, and to leave the government of the
state in the hands of a regency composed of two _magi_. These magi
were public officers of distinction, but, having no hereditary claims
to the crown, Cambyses thought there would be little danger of their
attempting to usurp it. It happened, however, that the name of one of
these magi was Smerdis. This coincidence between the magian's name and
that of the prince led, in the end, as will presently be seen, to very
important consequences.

The uneasiness and jealousy which Cambyses felt in respect to his
brother was not wholly allayed by the arrangement which he thus made
for keeping him in his army, and so under his own personal observation
and command. Smerdis evinced, on various occasions, so much strength
and skill, that Cambyses feared his influence among the officers and
soldiers, and was rendered continually watchful, suspicious, and
afraid. A circumstance at last occurred which excited his jealousy
more than ever, and he determined to send Smerdis home again to
Persia. The circumstance was this:

After Cambyses had succeeded in obtaining full possession of Egypt, he
formed, among his other wild and desperate schemes, the design of
invading the territories of a nation of Ethiopians who lived in the
interior of Africa, around and beyond the sources of the Nile. The
Ethiopians were celebrated for their savage strength and bravery.
Cambyses wished to obtain information respecting them and their
country before setting out on his expedition against them, and he
determined to send spies into their country to obtain it. But, as
Ethiopia was a territory so remote, and as its institutions and
customs, and the language, the dress, and the manners of its
inhabitants were totally different from those of all the other nations
of the earth, and were almost wholly unknown to the Persian army, it
was impossible to send Persians in disguise, with any hope that they
could enter and explore the country without being discovered. It was
very doubtful, in fact, whether, if such spies were to be sent, they
could succeed in reaching Ethiopia at all.

Now there was, far up the Nile, near the cataracts, at a place where
the river widens and forms a sort of bay, a large and fertile island
called Elephantine, which was inhabited by a half-savage tribe called
the Icthyophagi. They lived mainly by fishing on the river, and,
consequently, they had many boats, and were accustomed to make long
excursions up and down the stream. Their name was, in fact, derived
from their occupation. It was a Greek word, and might be translated
"Fishermen."[B] The manners and customs of half-civilized or savage
nations depend entirely, of course, upon the modes in which they
procure their subsistence. Some depend on hunting wild beasts, some on
rearing flocks and herds of tame animals, some on cultivating the
ground, and some on fishing in rivers or in the sea. These four
different modes of procuring food result in as many totally diverse
modes of life: it is a curious fact, however, that while a nation of
hunters differs very essentially from a nation of herdsmen or of
fishermen, though they may live, perhaps, in the same neighborhood
with them, still, all nations of hunters, however widely they may be
separated in geographical position, very strongly resemble one another
in character, in customs, in institutions, and in all the usages of
life. It is so, moreover, with all the other types of national
constitution mentioned above. The Greeks observed these
characteristics of the various savage tribes with which they became
acquainted, and whenever they met with a tribe that lived by fishing,
they called them Icthyophagi.

[Footnote B: Literally, _fish-eaters_.]

Cambyses sent to the Icthyophagi of the island of Elephantine,
requiring them to furnish him with a number of persons acquainted with
the route to Ethiopia and with the Ethiopian language, that he might
send them as an embassy. He also provided some presents to be sent as
a token of friendship to the Ethiopian king. The presents were,
however, only a pretext, to enable the embassadors, who were, in fact,
spies, to go to the capital and court of the Ethiopian monarch in
safety, and bring back to Cambyses all the information which they
should be able to obtain.

The presents consisted of such toys and ornaments as they thought
would most please the fancy of a savage king. There were some purple
vestments of a very rich and splendid dye, and a golden chain for the
neck, golden bracelets for the wrists, an alabaster box of very
precious perfumes, and other similar trinkets and toys. There was also
a large vessel filled with wine.

The Icthyophagi took these presents, and set out on their expedition.
After a long and toilsome voyage and journey, they came to the country
of the Ethiopians, and delivered their presents, together with the
message which Cambyses had intrusted to them. The presents, they said,
had been sent by Cambyses as a token of his desire to become the
friend and ally of the Ethiopian king.

The king, instead of being deceived by this hypocrisy, detected the
imposture at once. He knew very well, he said, what was the motive of
Cambyses in sending such an embassage to him, and he should advise
Cambyses to be content with his own dominions, instead of planning
aggressions of violence, and schemes and stratagems of deceit against
his neighbors, in order to get possession of theirs. He then began to
look at the presents which the embassadors had brought, which,
however, he appeared very soon to despise. The purple vest first
attracted his attention. He asked whether that was the true, natural
color of the stuff, or a false one. The messengers told him that the
linen was dyed, and began to explain the process to him. The mind of
the savage potentate, however, instead of being impressed, as the
messengers supposed he would have been through their description, with
a high idea of the excellence and superiority of Persian art, only
despised the false show of what he considered an artificial and
fictitious beauty. "The beauty of Cambyses's dresses," said he, "is as
deceitful, it seems, as the fair show of his professions of
friendship." As to the golden bracelets and necklaces, the king looked
upon them with contempt. He thought that they were intended for
fetters and chains, and said that, however well they might answer
among the effeminate Persians, they were wholly insufficient to
confine such sinews as he had to deal with. The wine, however, he
liked. He drank it with great pleasure, and told the Icthyophagi that
it was the only article among all their presents that was worth

In return for the presents which Cambyses had sent him, the King of
the Ethiopians, who was a man of prodigious size and strength, took
down his bow and gave it to the Icthyophagi, telling them to carry it
to Cambyses as a token of his defiance, and to ask him to see if he
could find a man in all his army who could bend it. "Tell Cambyses,"
he added, "that when his soldiers are able to bend such bows as that,
it will be time for him to think of invading the territories of the
Ethiopians; and that, in the mean time, he ought to consider himself
very fortunate that the Ethiopians were not grasping and ambitious
enough to attempt the invasion of his."

When the Icthyophagi returned to Cambyses with this message, the
strongest men in the Persian camp were of course greatly interested in
examining and trying the bow. Smerdis was the only one that could be
found who was strong enough to bend it; and he, by the superiority to
the others which he thus evinced, gained great renown. Cambyses was
filled with jealousy and anger. He determined to send Smerdis back
again to Persia. "It will be better," thought he to himself, "to incur
whatever danger there may be of his exciting revolt at home, than to
have him present in my court, subjecting me to continual mortification
and chagrin by the perpetual parade of his superiority."

His mind was, however, not at ease after his brother had gone.
Jealousy and suspicion in respect to Smerdis perplexed his waking
thoughts and troubled his dreams. At length, one night, he thought he
saw Smerdis seated on a royal throne in Persia, his form expanded
supernaturally to such a prodigious size that he touched the heavens
with his head. The next day, Cambyses, supposing that the dream
portended danger that Smerdis would be one day in possession of the
throne, determined to put a final and perpetual end to all these
troubles and fears, and he sent for an officer of his court,
Prexaspes--the same whose son he shot through the heart with an arrow,
as described in the last chapter--and commanded him to proceed
immediately to Persia, and there to find Smerdis, and kill him. The
murder of Prexaspes's son, though related in the last chapter as an
illustration of Cambyses's character, did not actually take place till
after Prexaspes returned from this expedition.

Prexaspes went to Persia, and executed the orders of the king by the
assassination of Smerdis. There are different accounts of the mode
which he adopted for accomplishing his purpose. One is, that he
contrived some way to drown him in the sea; another, that he poisoned
him; and a third, that he killed him in the forests, when he was out
on a hunting excursion. At all events, the deed was done, and
Prexaspes went back to Cambyses, and reported to him that he had
nothing further to fear from his brother's ambition.

In the mean time, Cambyses went on from bad to worse in his
government, growing every day more despotic and tyrannical, and
abandoning himself to fits of cruelty and passion which became more
and more excessive and insane. At one time, on some slight
provocation, he ordered twelve distinguished noblemen of his court to
be buried alive. It is astonishing that there can be institutions and
arrangements in the social state which will give one man such an
ascendency over others that such commands can be obeyed. On another
occasion, Cambyses's sister and wife, who had mourned the death of her
brother Smerdis, ventured a reproach to Cambyses for having destroyed
him. She was sitting at table, with some plant or flower in her hand,
which she slowly picked to pieces, putting the fragments on the table.
She asked Cambyses whether he thought the flower looked fairest and
best in fragments, or in its original and natural integrity. "It
looked best, certainly," Cambyses said, "when it was whole." "And
yet," said she, "you have begun to take to pieces and destroy our
family, as I have destroyed this flower." Cambyses sprang upon his
unhappy sister, on hearing this reproof, with the ferocity of a tiger.
He threw her down and leaped upon her. The attendants succeeded in
rescuing her and bearing her away; but she had received a fatal
injury. She fell immediately into a premature and unnatural sickness,
and died.

These fits of sudden and terrible passion to which Cambyses was
subject, were often followed, when they had passed by, as is usual in
such cases, with remorse and misery; and sometimes the officers of
Cambyses, anticipating a change in their master's feelings, did not
execute his cruel orders, but concealed the object of his blind and
insensate vengeance until the paroxysm was over. They did this once in
the case of Croesus. Croesus, who was now a venerable man,
advanced in years, had been for a long time the friend and faithful
counselor of Cambyses's father. He had known Cambyses himself from
his boyhood, and had been charged by his father to watch over him and
counsel him, and aid him, on all occasions which might require it,
with his experience and wisdom. Cambyses, too, had been solemnly
charged by his father Cyrus, at the last interview that he had with
him before his death, to guard and protect Croesus, as his father's
ancient and faithful friend, and to treat him, as long as he lived,
with the highest consideration and honor.

Under these circumstances, Croesus considered himself justified in
remonstrating one day with Cambyses against his excesses and his
cruelty. He told him that he ought not to give himself up to the
control of such violent and impetuous passions; that, though his
Persian soldiers and subjects had borne with him thus far, he might,
by excessive oppression and cruelty, exhaust their forbearance and
provoke them to revolt against him, and that thus he might suddenly
lose his power, through his intemperate and inconsiderate use of it.
Croesus apologized for offering these counsels, saying that he felt
bound to warn Cambyses of his danger, in obedience to the injunctions
of Cyrus, his father.

Cambyses fell into a violent passion at hearing these words. He told
Croesus that he was amazed at his presumption in daring to offer him
advice, and then began to load his venerable counselor with the
bitterest invectives and reproaches. He taunted him with his own
misfortunes, in losing, as he had done, years before, his own kingdom
of Lydia, and then accused him of having been the means, through his
foolish counsels, of leading his father, Cyrus, into the worst of the
difficulties which befell him toward the close of his life. At last,
becoming more and more enraged by the reaction upon himself of his own
angry utterance, he told Croesus that he had hated him for a long
time, and for a long time had wished to punish him; "and now," said
he, "you have given me an opportunity." So saying, he seized his bow,
and began to fit an arrow to the string. Croesus fled. Cambyses
ordered his attendants to pursue him, and when they had taken him, to
kill him. The officers knew that Cambyses would regret his rash and
reckless command as soon as his anger should have subsided, and so,
instead of slaying Croesus, they concealed him. A few days after,
when the tyrant began to express his remorse and sorrow at having
destroyed his venerable friend in the heat of passion, and to mourn
his death, they told him that Croesus was still alive. They had
ventured, they said, to save him, till they could ascertain whether it
was the king's real and deliberate determination that he must die. The
king was overjoyed to find Croesus still alive, but he would not
forgive those who had been instrumental in saving him. He ordered
every one of them to be executed.

Cambyses was the more reckless and desperate in these tyrannical
cruelties because he believed that he possessed a sort of charmed
life. He had consulted an oracle, it seems, in Media, in respect to
his prospects of life, and the oracle had informed him that he would
die at Ecbatane. Now Ecbatane was one of the three great capitals of
his empire, Susa and Babylon being the others. Ecbatane was the most
northerly of these cities, and the most remote from danger. Babylon
and Susa were the points where the great transactions of government
chiefly centered, while Ecbatane was more particularly the private
residence of the kings. It was their refuge in danger, their retreat
in sickness and age. In a word, Susa was their seat of government,
Babylon their great commercial emporium, but Ecbatane was their home.

And thus as the oracle, when Cambyses inquired in respect to the
circumstances of his death, had said that it was decreed by the fates
that he should die at Ecbatane, it meant, as he supposed, that he
should die in peace, in his bed, at the close of the usual period
allotted to the life of man. Considering thus that the fates had
removed all danger of a sudden and violent death from his path, he
abandoned himself to his career of vice and folly, remembering only
the substance of the oracle, while the particular form of words in
which it was expressed passed from his mind.

At length Cambyses, after completing his conquests in Egypt, returned
to the northward along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, until he
came into Syria. The province of Galilee, so often mentioned in the
sacred Scriptures, was a part of Syria. In traversing Galilee at the
head of the detachment of troops that was accompanying him, Cambyses
came, one day, to a small town, and encamped there. The town itself
was of so little importance that Cambyses did not, at the time of his
arriving at it, even know its name. His encampment at the place,
however, was marked by a very memorable event, namely, he met with a
herald here, who was traveling through Syria, saying that he had been
sent from Susa to proclaim to the people of Syria that Smerdis, the
son of Cyrus, had assumed the throne, and to enjoin upon them all to
obey no orders except such as should come from him!

Cambyses had supposed that Smerdis was dead. Prexaspes, when he had
returned from Susa, had reported that he had killed him. He now,
however, sent for Prexaspes, and demanded of him what this
proclamation could mean. Prexaspes renewed, and insisted upon, his
declaration that Smerdis was dead. He had destroyed him with his own
hands, and had seen him buried. "If the dead can rise from the grave,"
added Prexaspes, "then Smerdis may perhaps, raise a revolt and appear
against you; but not otherwise."

Prexaspes then recommended that the king should send and seize the
herald, and inquire particularly of him in respect to the government
in whose name he was acting. Cambyses did so. The herald was taken and
brought before the king. On being questioned whether it was true that
Smerdis had really assumed the government and commissioned him to make
proclamation of the fact, he replied that it was so. He had not seen
Smerdis himself, he said, for he kept himself shut up very closely in
his palace; but he was informed of his accession by one of the magians
whom Cambyses had left in command. It was by him, he said, that he had
been commissioned to proclaim Smerdis as king.

Prexaspes then said that he had no doubt that the two magians whom
Cambyses had left in charge of the government had contrived to seize
the throne. He reminded Cambyses that the name of one of them was
Smerdis, and that probably that was the Smerdis who was usurping the
supreme command. Cambyses said that he was convinced that this
supposition was true. His dream, in which he had seen a vision of
Smerdis, with his head reaching to the heavens, referred, he had no
doubt, to the magian Smerdis, and not to his brother. He began
bitterly to reproach himself for having caused his innocent brother to
be put to death; but the remorse which he thus felt for his crime, in
assassinating an imaginary rival, soon gave way to rage and resentment
against the real usurper. He called for his horse, and began to mount
him in hot haste, to give immediate orders, and make immediate
preparations for marching to Susa.

As he bounded into the saddle, with his mind in this state of
reckless desperation, the sheath, by some accident or by some
carelessness caused by his headlong haste, fell from his sword, and
the naked point of the weapon pierced his thigh. The attendants took
him from his horse, and conveyed him again to his tent. The wound, on
examination, proved to be a very dangerous one, and the strong
passions, the vexation, the disappointment, the impotent rage, which
were agitating the mind of the patient, exerted an influence extremely
unfavorable to recovery. Cambyses, terrified at the prospect of death,
asked what was the name of the town where he was lying. They told him
it was Ecbatane.

He had never thought before of the possibility that there might be
some other Ecbatane besides his splendid royal retreat in Media; but
now, when he learned that was the name of the place where he was then
encamped, he felt sure that his hour was come, and he was overwhelmed
with remorse and despair.

He suffered, too, inconceivable pain and anguish from his wound. The
sword had pierced to the bone, and the inflammation which had
supervened was of the worst character. After some days, the acuteness
of the agony which he at first endured passed gradually away, though
the extent of the injury resulting from the wound was growing every
day greater and more hopeless. The sufferer lay, pale, emaciated, and
wretched, on his couch, his mind, in every interval of bodily agony,
filling up the void with the more dreadful sufferings of horror and

At length, on the twentieth day after his wound had been received, he
called the leading nobles of his court and officers of his army about
his bedside, and said to them that he was about to die, and that he
was compelled, by the calamity which had befallen him, to declare to
them what he would otherwise have continued to keep concealed. The
person who had usurped the throne under the name of Smerdis, he now
said, was not, and could not be, his brother Smerdis, the son of
Cyrus. He then proceeded to give them an account of the manner in
which his fears in respect to his brother had been excited by his
dream, and of the desperate remedy that he had resorted to in ordering
him to be killed. He believed, he said, that the usurper was Smerdis
the magian, whom he had left as one of the regents when he set out on
his Egyptian campaign. He urged them, therefore, not to submit to his
sway, but to go back to Media, and if they could not conquer him and
put him down by open war, to destroy him by deceit and stratagem, or
in any way whatever by which the end could be accomplished. Cambyses
urged this with so much of the spirit of hatred and revenge beaming in
his hollow and glassy eye as to show that sickness, pain, and the
approach of death, which had made so total a change in the wretched
sufferer's outward condition, had altered nothing within.

Very soon after making this communication to his nobles, Cambyses

It will well illustrate the estimate which those who knew him best,
formed of this great hero's character, to state, that those who heard
this solemn declaration did not believe one word of it from beginning
to end. They supposed that the whole story which the dying tyrant had
told them, although he had scarcely breath enough left to tell it, was
a fabrication, dictated by his fraternal jealousy and hate. They
believed that it was really the true Smerdis who had been proclaimed
king, and that Cambyses had invented, in his dying moments, the story
of his having killed him, in order to prevent the Persians from
submitting peaceably to his reign.



B.C. 520

Usurpation of the magians.--Circumstances favoring it.--Murder of
Smerdis not known.--He is supposed to be alive.--Precautions taken
by Smerdis.--Effect of Cambyses's measures.--Opinion in regard to
Smerdis.--Acquiescence of the people.--Dangerous situation of
Smerdis.--Arrangement with Patizithes.--Smerdis lives in
retirement.--Special grounds of apprehension.--Cambyses's
wives.--Smerdis appropriates them.--Phædyma.--Measures of
Otanes.--Otanes's communications with his daughter.--Her
replies.--Phædyma discovers the deception.--Otanes and the six
nobles.--Arrival of Darius.--Secret consultations.--Various
opinions.--Views of Darius.--Apology for a falsehood.--Opinion of
Gobryas.--Uneasiness of the magi.--Situation of Prexaspes.--Measures
of the magi.--An assembly of the people.--Decision of Prexaspes.--His
speech from the tower.--Death of Prexaspes.--The conspirators.--The
omen.--The conspirators enter the palace.--Combat with the
magi.--Flight of Smerdis.--Smerdis is killed.--Exultation of the
conspirators.--General massacre of the magians.

Cambyses and his friends had been right in their conjectures that it
was Smerdis the magian who had usurped the Persian throne. This
Smerdis resembled, it was said, the son of Cyrus in his personal
appearance as well as in name. The other magian who had been
associated with him in the regency when Cambyses set out from Persia
on his Egyptian campaign was his brother. His name was Patizithes.
When Cyrus had been some time absent, these magians, having in the
mean time, perhaps, heard unfavorable accounts of his conduct and
character, and knowing the effect which such wanton tyranny must have
in alienating from him the allegiance of his subjects, conceived the
design of taking possession of the empire in their own name. The great
distance of Cambyses and his army from home, and his long-continued
absence, favored this plan. Their own position, too, as they were
already in possession of the capitals and the fortresses of the
country, aided them; and then the name of Smerdis, being the same
with that of the brother of Cambyses, was a circumstance that greatly
promoted the success of the undertaking. In addition to all these
general advantages, the cruelty of Cambyses was the means of
furnishing them with a most opportune occasion for putting their plans
into execution.

The reader will recollect that, as was related in the last chapter,
Cambyses first sent his brother Smerdis home, and afterward, when
alarmed by his dream, he sent Prexaspes to murder him. Now the return
of Smerdis was publicly and generally known, while his assassination
by Prexaspes was kept a profound secret. Even the Persians connected
with Cambyses's court in Egypt had not heard of the perpetration of
this crime, until Cambyses confessed it on his dying bed, and even
then, as was stated in the last chapter, they did not believe it. It
is not probable that it was known in Media and Persia; so that, after
Prexaspes accomplished his work, and returned to Cambyses with the
report of it, it was probably generally supposed that his brother was
still alive, and was residing somewhere in one or another of the royal

Such royal personages were often accustomed to live thus, in a state
of great seclusion, spending their time in effeminate pleasures within
the walls of their palaces, parks, and gardens. When the royal
Smerdis, therefore, secretly and suddenly disappeared, it would be
very easy for the magian Smerdis, with the collusion of a moderate
number of courtiers and attendants, to take his place, especially if
he continued to live in retirement, and exhibited himself as little as
possible to public view. Thus it was that Cambyses himself, by the
very crimes which he committed to shield himself from all danger of a
revolt, opened the way which specially invited it, and almost insured
its success. Every particular step that he took, too, helped to
promote the end. His sending Smerdis home; his waiting an interval,
and then sending Prexaspes to destroy him; his ordering his
assassination to be secret--these, and all the other attendant
circumstances, were only so many preliminary steps, preparing the way
for the success of the revolution which was to accomplish his ruin. He
was, in a word, his own destroyer. Like other wicked men, he found, in
the end, that the schemes of wickedness which he had malignantly aimed
at the destruction of others, had been all the time slowly and surely
working out his own.

The people of Persia, therefore, were prepared by Cambyses's own acts
to believe that the usurper Smerdis was really Cyrus's son, and, next
to Cambyses, the heir to the throne. The army of Cambyses, too, in
Egypt, believed the same. It was natural that they should do so for
they placed no confidence whatever in Cambyses's dying declarations;
and since intelligence, which seemed to be official, came from Susa
declaring that Smerdis was still alive, and that he had actually taken
possession of the throne, there was no apparent reason for doubting
the fact. Besides, Prexaspes, as soon as Cambyses was dead, considered
it safer for him to deny than to confess having murdered the prince.
He therefore declared that Cambyses's story was false, and that he had
no doubt that Smerdis, the monarch in whose name the government was
administered at Susa, was the son of Cyrus, the true and rightful heir
to the throne. Thus all parties throughout the empire acquiesced
peaceably in what they supposed to be the legitimate succession.

In the mean time, the usurper had placed himself in an exceedingly
dizzy and precarious situation, and one which it would require a
great deal of address and skillful management to sustain. The plan
arranged between himself and his brother for a division of the
advantages which they had secured by their joint and common cunning
was, that Smerdis was to enjoy the ease and pleasure, and Patizithes
the substantial power of the royalty which they had so stealthily
seized. This was the safest plan. Smerdis, by living secluded, and
devoting himself to retired and private pleasures, was the more likely
to escape public observation; while Patizithes, acting as his prime
minister of state, could attend councils, issue orders, review troops,
dispatch embassies, and perform all the other outward functions of
supreme command, with safety as well as pleasure. Patizithes seems to
have been, in fact, the soul of the whole plan. He was ambitious and
aspiring in character, and if he could only himself enjoy the actual
exercise of royal power, he was willing that his brother should enjoy
the honor of possessing it. Patizithes, therefore, governed the realm,
acting, however, in all that he did, in Smerdis's name.

Smerdis, on his part, was content to take possession of the palaces,
the parks, and the gardens of Media and Persia, and to live in them
in retired and quiet luxury and splendor. He appeared seldom in
public, and then only under such circumstances as should not expose
him to any close observation on the part of the spectators. His
figure, air, and manner, and the general cast of his countenance, were
very much like those of the prince whom he was attempting to
personate. There was one mark, however, by which he thought that there
was danger that he might be betrayed, and that was, his ears had been
cut off. This had been done many years before, by command of Cyrus, on
account of some offense of which he had been guilty. The marks of the
mutilation could, indeed, on public occasions, be concealed by the
turban, or helmet, or other head-dress which he wore; but in private
there was great danger either that the loss of the ears, or the
studied effort to conceal it, should be observed. Smerdis was,
therefore, very careful to avoid being seen in private, by keeping
himself closely secluded. He shut himself up in the apartments of his
palace at Susa, within the citadel, and never invited the Persian
nobles to visit him there.

Among the other means of luxury and pleasure which Smerdis found in
the royal palaces, and which he appropriated to his own enjoyment,
were Cambyses's wives. In those times, Oriental princes and
potentates--as is, in fact, the case at the present day, in many
Oriental countries--possessed a great number of wives, who were bound
to them by different sorts of matrimonial ties, more or less
permanent, and bringing them into relations more or less intimate with
their husband and sovereign. These wives were in many respects in the
condition of slaves: in one particular they were especially so,
namely, that on the death of a sovereign they descended, like any
other property, to the heir, who added as many of them as he pleased
to his own seraglio. Until this was done, the unfortunate women were
shut up in close seclusion on the death of their lord, like mourners
who retire from the world when suffering any great and severe

The wives of Cambyses were appropriated by Smerdis to himself on his
taking possession of the throne and hearing of Cambyses's death. Among
them was Atossa, who has already been mentioned as the daughter of
Cyrus, and, of course, the sister of Cambyses as well as his wife. In
order to prevent these court ladies from being the means, in any way,
of discovering the imposture which he was practicing, the magian
continued to keep them all closely shut up in their several separate
apartments, only allowing a favored few to visit him, one by one, in
turn, while he prevented their having any communication with one

The name of one of these ladies was Phædyma. She was the daughter of a
Persian noble of the highest rank and influence, named Otanes. Otanes,
as well as some other nobles of the court, had observed and reflected
upon the extraordinary circumstances connected with the accession of
Smerdis to the throne, and the singular mode of life that he led in
secluding himself, in a manner so extraordinary for a Persian monarch,
from all intercourse with his nobles and his people. The suspicions of
Otanes and his associates were excited, but no one dared to
communicate his thoughts to the others. At length, however, Otanes,
who was a man of great energy as well as sagacity and discretion,
resolved that he would take some measures to ascertain the truth.

He first sent a messenger to Phædyma, his daughter, asking of her
whether it was really Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, who received her when
she went to visit the king. Phædyma, in return, sent her father word
that she did not know, for she had never seen Smerdis, the son of
Cyrus, before the death of Cambyses. She therefore could not say, of
her own personal knowledge, whether the king was the genuine Smerdis
or not. Otanes then sent to Phædyma a second time, requesting her to
ask the queen Atossa. Atossa was the sister of Smerdis the prince, and
had known him from his childhood. Phædyma sent back word to her father
that she could not speak to Atossa, for she was kept closely shut up
in her own apartments, without the opportunity to communicate with any
one. Otanes then sent a third time to his daughter, telling her that
there was one remaining mode by which she might ascertain the truth,
and that was, the next time that she visited the king, to feel for his
ears when he was asleep. If it was Smerdis the magian, she would find
that he had none. He urged his daughter to do this by saying that, if
the pretended king was really an impostor, the imposture ought to be
made known, and that she, being of noble birth, ought to have the
courage and energy to assist in discovering it. To this Phædyma
replied that she would do as her father desired, though she knew that
she hazarded her life in the attempt. "If he has no ears," said she,
"and if I awaken him in attempting to feel for them, he will kill me;
I am sure that he will kill me on the spot."

The next time that it came to Phædyma's turn to visit the king, she
did as her father had requested. She passed her hand very cautiously
beneath the king's turban, and found that his ears had been cut off
close to his head. Early in the morning she communicated the knowledge
of the fact to her father.


Otanes immediately made the case known to two of his friends, Persian
nobles, who had, with him, suspected the imposture, and had consulted
together before in respect to the means of detecting it. The question
was, what was now to be done. After some deliberation, it was agreed
that each of them should communicate the discovery which they had
made to one other person, such as each should select from among the
circle of his friends as the one on whose resolution, prudence, and
fidelity he could most implicitly rely. This was done, and the number
admitted to the secret was thus increased to six. At this juncture it
happened that Darius, the son of Hystaspes, the young man who has
already been mentioned as the subject of Cyrus's dream, came to
Susa. Darius was a man of great prominence and popularity. His
father, Hystaspes, was at that time the governor of the province of
Persia, and Darius had been residing with him in that country. As
soon as the six conspirators heard of his arrival, they admitted him
to their councils, and thus their number was increased to seven.

They immediately began to hold secret consultations for the purpose of
determining how it was best to proceed, first binding themselves by
the most solemn oaths never to betray one another, however their
undertaking might end. Darius told them that he had himself discovered
the imposture and usurpation of Smerdis, and that he had come from
Persia for the purpose of slaying him; and that now, since it appeared
that the secret was known to so many, he was of opinion that they
ought to act at once with the utmost decision. He thought there would
be great danger in delay.

Otanes, on the other hand, thought that they were not yet ready for
action. They must first increase their numbers. Seven persons were too
few to attempt to revolutionize an empire. He commended the courage
and resolution which Darius displayed, but he thought that a more
cautious and deliberate policy would be far more likely to conduct
them to a safe result.

Darius replied that the course which Otanes recommended would
certainly ruin them. "If we make many other persons acquainted with
our plans," said he, "there will be some, notwithstanding all our
precautions, who will betray us, for the sake of the immense rewards
which they well know they would receive in that case from the king.
No," he added, "we must act ourselves, and alone. We must do nothing
to excite suspicion, but must go at once into the palace, penetrate
boldly into Smerdis's presence, and slay him before he has time to
suspect our designs."

"But we can not get into his presence," replied Otanes. "There are
guards stationed at every gate and door, who will not allow us to
pass. If we attempt to kill them, a tumult will be immediately raised,
and the alarm given, and all our designs will thus be baffled."

"There will be little difficulty about the guards," said Darius. "They
know us all, and, from deference to our rank and station, they will
let us pass without suspicion, especially if we act boldly and
promptly, and do not give them time to stop and consider what to do.
Besides, I can say that I have just arrived from Persia with
important dispatches for the king, and that I must be admitted
immediately into his presence. If a falsehood must be told, so let it
be. The urgency of the crisis demands and sanctions it."

It may seem strange to the reader, considering the ideas and habits of
the times, that Darius should have even thought it necessary to
apologize to his confederates for his proposal of employing falsehood
in the accomplishment of their plans; and it is, in fact, altogether
probable that the apology which he is made to utter is his
historian's, and not his own.

The other conspirators had remained silent during this discussion
between Darius and Otanes; but now a third, whose name was Gobryas,
expressed his opinion in favor of the course which Darius recommended.
He was aware, he said, that, in attempting to force their way into the
king's presence and kill him by a sudden assault, they exposed
themselves to the most imminent danger; but it was better for them to
die in the manly attempt to bring back the imperial power again into
Persian hands, where it properly belonged, than to acquiesce any
further in its continuance in the possession of the ignoble Median
priests who had so treacherously usurped it.

To this counsel they all finally agreed, and began to make
arrangements for carrying their desperate enterprise into execution.

In the mean time, very extraordinary events were transpiring in
another part of the city. The two magi, Smerdis the king and
Patizithes his brother, had some cause, it seems, to fear that the
nobles about the court, and the officers of the Persian army, were not
without suspicions that the reigning monarch was not the real son of
Cyrus. Rumors that Smerdis had been killed by Prexaspes, at the
command of Cambyses, were in circulation. These rumors were
contradicted, it is true, in private, by Prexaspes, whenever he was
forced to speak of the subject; but he generally avoided it; and he
spoke, when he spoke at all, in that timid and undecided tone which
men usually assume when they are persisting in a lie. In the mean
time, the gloomy recollections of his past life, the memory of his
murdered son, remorse for his own crime in the assassination of
Smerdis, and anxiety on account of the extremely dangerous position in
which he had placed himself by his false denial of it, all conspired
to harass his mind with perpetual restlessness and misery, and to
make life a burden.

In order to do something to quiet the suspicions which the magi feared
were prevailing, they did not know how extensively, they conceived the
plan of inducing Prexaspes to declare in a more public and formal
manner what he had been asserting timidly in private, namely, that
Smerdis had not been killed. They accordingly convened an assembly of
the people in a court-yard of the palace, or perhaps took advantage of
some gathering casually convened, and proposed that Prexaspes should
address them from a neighboring tower. Prexaspes was a man of high
rank and of great influence, and the magi thought that his public
espousal of their cause, and his open and decided contradiction of the
rumor that he had killed Cambyses's brother, would fully convince the
Persians that it was really the rightful monarch that had taken
possession of the throne.

But the strength even of a strong man, when he has a lie to carry,
soon becomes very small. That of Prexaspes was already almost
exhausted and gone. He had been wavering and hesitating before, and
this proposal, that he should commit himself so formally and solemnly,
and in so public a manner, to statements wholly and absolutely
untrue, brought him to a stand. He decided, desperately, in his own
mind, that he would go on in his course of falsehood, remorse, and
wretchedness no longer. He, however, pretended to accede to the
propositions of the magi. He ascended the tower, and began to address
the people. Instead, however, of denying that he had murdered Smerdis,
he fully confessed to the astonished audience that he had really
committed that crime; he openly denounced the reigning Smerdis as an
impostor, and called upon all who heard him to rise at once, destroy
the treacherous usurper, and vindicate the rights of the true Persian
line. As he went on, with vehement voice and gestures, in this speech,
the utterance of which he knew sealed his own destruction, he became
more and more excited and reckless. He denounced his hearers in the
severest language if they failed to obey his injunctions, and
imprecated upon them, in that event, all the curses of Heaven. The
people listened to this strange and sudden phrensy of eloquence in
utter amazement, motionless and silent; and before they or the
officers of the king's household who were present had time even to
consider what to do, Prexaspes, coming abruptly to the conclusion of
his harangue, threw himself headlong from the parapet of the tower,
and came down among them, lifeless and mangled, on the pavement below.

Of course, all was now tumult and commotion in the court-yard, and it
happened to be just at this juncture that the seven conspirators came
from the place of their consultation to the palace, with a view of
executing their plans. They were soon informed of what had taken
place. Otanes was now again disposed to postpone their attempt upon
the life of the king. The event which had occurred changed, he said,
the aspect of the subject, and they must wait until the tumult and
excitement should have somewhat subsided. But Darius was more eager
than ever in favor of instantaneous action. He said that there was not
a moment to be lost; for the magi, so soon as they should be informed
of the declarations and of the death of Prexaspes, would be alarmed,
and would take at once the most effectual precautions to guard against
any sudden assault or surprise.

These arguments, at the very time in which Darius was offering them
with so much vehemence and earnestness, were strengthened by a very
singular sort of confirmation; for while the conspirators stood
undetermined, they saw a flock of birds moving across the sky, which,
on their more attentively regarding them, proved to be seven hawks
pursuing two vultures. This they regarded an omen, intended to signify
to them, by a divine intimation, that they ought to proceed. They
hesitated, therefore, no longer.

They went together to the outer gates of the palace. The action of the
guards who were stationed there was just what Darius had predicted
that it would be. Awed by the imposing spectacle of the approach of
seven nobles of the highest distinction, who were advancing, too, with
an earnest and confident air, as if expecting no obstacle to their
admission, they gave way at once, and allowed them to enter. The
conspirators went on until they came to the inner apartments, where
they found eunuchs in attendance at the doors. The eunuchs resisted,
and demanded angrily why the guards had let the strangers in. "Kill
them," said the conspirators, and immediately began to cut them down.
The magi were within, already in consternation at the disclosures of
Prexaspes, of which they had just been informed. They heard the tumult
and the outcries of the eunuchs at the doors, and seized their arms,
the one a bow and the other a spear. The conspirators rushed in. The
bow was useless in the close combat which ensued, and the magian who
had taken it turned and fled. The other defended himself with his
spear for a moment, and wounded severely two of his assailants. The
wounded conspirators fell. Three others of the number continued the
unequal combat with the armed magian, while Darius and Gobryas rushed
in pursuit of the other.

The flying magian ran from one apartment to another until he reached a
dark room, into which the blind instinct of fear prompted him to rush,
in the vain hope of concealment. Gobryas was foremost; he seized the
wretched fugitive by the waist, and struggled to hold him, while the
magian struggled to get free. Gobryas called upon Darius, who was
close behind him, to strike. Darius, brandishing his sword, looked
earnestly into the obscure retreat, that he might see where to strike.

"Strike!" exclaimed Gobryas. "Why do you not strike?"

"I can not see," said Darius, "and I am afraid of wounding you."

"No matter," said Gobryas, struggling desperately all the time with
his frantic victim. "Strike quick, if you kill us both."

Darius struck. Gobryas loosened his hold, and the magian fell upon the
floor, and there, stabbed again through the heart by Darius's sword,
almost immediately ceased to breathe.

They dragged the body to the light, and cut off the head. They did the
same with the other magian, whom they found that their confederates
had killed when they returned to the apartments where they had left
them contending. The whole body of the conspirators then, except the
two who were wounded, exulting in their success, and wild with the
excitement which such deeds always awaken, went forth into the streets
of the city, bearing the heads upon pikes as the trophies of their
victory. They summoned the Persian soldiers to arms, and announced
every where that they had ascertained that the king was a priest and
an impostor, and not their legitimate sovereign, and that they had
consequently killed him. They called upon the people to kill the
magians wherever they could find them, as if the whole class were
implicated in the guilt of the usurping brothers.

The populace in all countries are easily excited by such denunciations
and appeals as these. The Persians armed themselves, and ran to and
fro every where in pursuit of the unhappy magians, and before night
vast numbers of them were slain.



B.C. 520

Confusion at Susa.--No heir to the throne.--Five days'
interregnum.--Provisional government.--Consultation of the
confederates.--Otanes in favor of a republic.--Otanes's
republic.--Principles of representation.--Large assemblies.--Nature
of ancient republics.--Nature of a representative
republic.--Megabyzus.--He opposes the plan of Otanes.--Speech of
Megabyzus.--He proposes an oligarchy.--Speech of Darius.--He advocates
a monarchy.--Four of the seven confederates concur with Darius.--Otanes
withdraws.--Agreement made by the rest.--Singular mode of deciding
which should be the king.--The groom Oebases.--His method of making
Darius's horse neigh.--Probable truth or falsehood of this
account.--Ancient statesmen.--Their character and position.--The
conspirators governed, in their decision, by superstitious
feelings.--The conspirators do homage to Darius.--The equestrian

For several days after the assassination of the magi the city was
filled with excitement, tumults, and confusion. There was no heir, of
the family of Cyrus, entitled to succeed to the vacant throne, for
neither Cambyses, nor Smerdis his brother, had left any sons. There
was, indeed, a daughter of Smerdis, named Parmys, and there were also
still living two daughters of Cyrus. One was Atossa, whom we have
already mentioned as having been married to Cambyses, her brother, and
as having been afterward taken by Smerdis the magian as one of his
wives. These princesses, though of royal lineage, seem neither of them
to have been disposed to assert any claims to the throne at such a
crisis. The mass of the community were stupefied with astonishment at
the sudden revolution which had occurred. No movement was made toward
determining the succession. For five days nothing was done.

During this period, all the subordinate functions of government in
the provinces, cities, and towns, and among the various garrisons and
encampments of the army, went on, of course, as usual, but the general
administration of the government had no head. The seven confederates
had been regarded, for the time being, as a sort of provisional
government, the army and the country in general, so far as appears,
looking to them for the means of extrication from the political
difficulties in which this sudden revolution had involved them, and
submitting, in the mean time, to their direction and control. Such a
state of things, it was obvious, could not long last; and after five
days, when the commotion had somewhat subsided, they began to consider
it necessary to make some arrangements of a more permanent character,
the power to make such arrangements as they thought best resting with
them alone. They accordingly met for consultation.

Herodotus the historian,[C] on whose narrative of these events we have
mainly to rely for all the information respecting them which is now
to be attained, gives a very minute and dramatic account of the
deliberations of the conspirators on this occasion. The account is, in
fact, too dramatic to be probably true.

[Footnote C: An account of Herodotus, and of the circumstances under
which he wrote his history, which will aid the reader very much in
forming an opinion in respect to the kind and degree of confidence
which it is proper to place in his statements, will be found in the
first chapter of our history of Cyrus the Great.]

Otanes, in this discussion, was in favor of establishing a republic.
He did not think it safe or wise to intrust the supreme power again to
any single individual. It was proved, he said, by universal
experience, that when any one person was raised to such an elevation
above his fellow-men, he became suspicious, jealous, insolent, and
cruel. He lost all regard for the welfare and happiness of others, and
became supremely devoted to the preservation of his own greatness and
power by any means, however tyrannical, and to the accomplishment of
the purposes of his own despotic will. The best and most valuable
citizens were as likely to become the victims of his oppression as the
worst. In fact, tyrants generally chose their favorites, he said, from
among the most abandoned men and women in their realms, such
characters being the readiest instruments of their guilty pleasures
and their crimes. Otanes referred very particularly to the case of
Cambyses as an example of the extreme lengths to which the despotic
insolence and cruelty of a tyrant could go. He reminded his colleagues
of the sufferings and terrors which they had endured while under his
sway, and urged them very strongly not to expose themselves to such
terrible evils and dangers again. He proposed, therefore, that they
should establish a republic, under which the officers of government
should be elected, and questions of public policy be determined, in
assemblies of the people.

It must be understood, however, by the reader, that a republic, as
contemplated and intended by Otanes in this speech, was entirely
different from the mode of government which that word denotes at the
present day. They had little idea, in those times, of the principle of
representation, by which the thousand separate and detached
communities of a great empire can choose _delegates_, who are to
deliberate, speak, and act for them in the assemblies where the great
governmental decisions are ultimately made. By this principle of
representation, the people can really all share in the exercise of
power. Without it they can not, for it is impossible that the people
of a great state can ever be brought together in one assembly; nor,
even if it were practicable to bring them thus together, would it be
possible for such a concourse to deliberate or act. The action of any
assembly which goes beyond a very few hundred in numbers, is always,
in fact, the action exclusively of the small knot of leaders who call
and manage it. Otanes, therefore, as well as all other advocates of
republican government in ancient times, meant that the supreme power
should be exercised, not by the great mass of the people included
within the jurisdiction in question, but by such a portion of certain
privileged classes as could be brought together in the capital. It was
such a sort of republic as would be formed in this country if the
affairs of the country at large, and the municipal and domestic
institutions of all the states, were regulated and controlled by laws
enacted, and by governors appointed, at great municipal meetings held
in the city of New York.

This was, in fact, the nature of all the republics of ancient times.
They were generally small, and the city in whose free citizens the
supreme power resided, constituted by far the most important portion
of the body politic. The Roman republic, however, became at one period
very large. It overspread almost the whole of Europe; but, widely
extended as it was in territory, and comprising innumerable states
and kingdoms within its jurisdiction, the vast concentration of power
by which the whole was governed, vested entirely and exclusively in
noisy and tumultuous assemblies convened in the Roman forum.

Even if the idea of a representative system of government, such as is
adopted in modern times, and by means of which the people of a great
and extended empire can exercise, conveniently and efficiently, a
general sovereignty held in common by them all, had been understood in
ancient times, it is very doubtful whether it could, in those times,
have been carried into effect, for want of certain facilities which
are enjoyed in the present age, and which seem essential for the safe
and easy action of so vast and complicated a system as a great
representative government must necessarily be. The regular transaction
of business at public meetings, and the orderly and successful
management of any extended system of elections, requires a great deal
of writing; and the general circulation of newspapers, or something
exercising the great function which it is the object of newspapers to
fulfill, that of keeping the people at large in some degree informed
in respect to the progress of public affairs, seems essential to the
successful working of a system of representative government comprising
any considerable extent of territory.

However this may be, whether a great representative system would or
would not have been practicable in ancient times if it had been tried,
it is certain that it was never tried. In all ancient republics, the
sovereignty resided, essentially, in a privileged class of the people
of the capital. The territories governed were provinces, held in
subjection as dependencies, and compelled to pay tribute; and this was
the plan which Otanes meant to advocate when recommending a republic,
in the Persian council.

The name of the second speaker in this celebrated consultation was
Megabyzus. He opposed the plan of Otanes. He concurred fully, he said,
in all that Otanes had advanced in respect to the evils of a monarchy,
and to the oppression and tyranny to which a people were exposed whose
liberties and lives were subject to the despotic control of a single
human will. But in order to avoid one extreme, it was not necessary to
run into the evils of the other. The disadvantages and dangers of
popular control in the management of the affairs of state were
scarcely less than those of a despotism. Popular assemblies were
always, he said, turbulent, passionate, capricious. Their decisions
were controlled by artful and designing demagogues. It was not
possible that masses of the common people could have either the
sagacity to form wise counsels, or the energy and steadiness to
execute them. There could be no deliberation, no calmness, no secrecy
in their consultations. A populace was always governed by excitements,
which spread among them by a common sympathy; and they would give way
impetuously to the most senseless impulses, as they were urged by
their fear, their resentment, their exultation, their hate, or by any
other passing emotion of the hour.

Megabyzus therefore disapproved of both a monarchy and a republic. He
recommended an oligarchy. "We are now," said he, "already seven. Let
us select from the leading nobles in the court and officers of the
army a small number of men, eminent for talents and virtue, and thus
form a select and competent body of men, which shall be the depository
of the supreme power. Such a plan avoids the evils and inconveniences
of both the other systems. There can be no tyranny or oppression
under such a system; for, if any one of so large a number should be
inclined to abuse his power, he will be restrained by the rest. On the
other hand, the number will not be so large as to preclude prudence
and deliberation in counsel, and the highest efficiency and energy in
carrying counsels into effect."

When Megabyzus had completed his speech, Darius expressed his opinion.
He said that the arguments of those who had already spoken appeared
plausible, but that the speakers had not dealt quite fairly by the
different systems whose merits they had discussed, since they had
compared a good administration of one form of government with a bad
administration of another. Every thing human was, he admitted, subject
to imperfection and liable to abuse; but on the supposition that each
of the three forms which had been proposed were equally well
administered, the advantage, he thought, would be strongly on the side
of monarchy. Control exercised by a single mind and will was far more
concentrated and efficient than that proceeding from any conceivable
combination. The forming of plans could be, in that case, more secret
and wary, and the execution of them more immediate and prompt. Where
power was lodged in many hands, all energetic exercise of it was
paralyzed by the dissensions, the animosities and the contending
struggles of envious and jealous rivals. These struggles, in fact,
usually resulted in the predominance of some one, more energetic or
more successful than the rest, the aristocracy or the democracy
running thus, of its own accord, to a despotism in the end, showing
that there were natural causes always tending to the subjection of
nations of men to the control of one single will.

Besides all this, Darius added, in conclusion, that the Persians had
always been accustomed to a monarchy, and it would be a very dangerous
experiment to attempt to introduce a new system, which would require
so great a change in all the habits and usages of the people.

Thus the consultation went on. At the end of it, it appeared that four
out of the seven agreed with Darius in preferring a monarchy. This was
a majority, and thus the question seemed to be settled. Otanes said
that he would make no opposition to any measures which they might
adopt to carry their decision into effect, but that he would not
himself be subject to the monarchy which they might establish. "I do
not wish," he added, "either to govern others or to have others
govern me. You may establish a kingdom, therefore, if you choose, and
designate the monarch in any mode that you see fit to adopt, but he
must not consider me as one of his subjects. I myself, and all my
family and dependents, must be wholly free from his control."

This was a very unreasonable proposition, unless, indeed, Otanes was
willing to withdraw altogether from the community to which he thus
refused to be subject; for, by residing within it, he necessarily
enjoyed its protection, and ought, therefore, to bear his portion of
its burdens, and to be amenable to its laws. Notwithstanding this,
however, the conspirators acceded to the proposal, and Otanes

The remaining six of the confederates then proceeded with their
arrangements for the establishment of a monarchy. They first agreed
that one of their own number should be the king, and that on
whomsoever the choice should fall, the other five, while they
submitted to his dominion, should always enjoy peculiar privileges and
honors at his court. They were at all times to have free access to the
palaces and to the presence of the king, and it was from among their
daughters alone that the king was to choose his wives. These and some
other similar points having been arranged, the manner of deciding
which of the six should be the king remained to be determined. The
plan which they adopted, and the circumstances connected with the
execution of it, constitute, certainly, one of the most extraordinary
of all the strange transactions recorded in ancient times. It is
gravely related by Herodotus as sober truth. How far it is to be
considered as by any possibility credible, the reader must judge,
after knowing what the story is.

They agreed, then, that on the following morning they would all meet
on horseback at a place agreed upon beyond the walls of the city, and
that the one whose horse should neigh first should be the king! The
time when this ridiculous ceremony was to be performed was sunrise.

As soon as this arrangement was made the parties separated, and each
went to his own home. Darius called his groom, whose name was
OEbases, and ordered him to have his horse ready at sunrise on the
next morning, explaining to him, at the same time, the plan which had
been formed for electing the king. "If that is the mode which is to be
adopted," said Oebases, "you need have no concern, for I can
arrange it very easily so as to have the lot fall upon you." Darius
expressed a strong desire to have this accomplished, if it were
possible, and Oebases went away.

The method which Oebases adopted was to lead Darius's horse out to
the ground that evening, in company with another, the favorite
companion, it seems, of the animal. Now the attachment of the horse to
his companion is very strong, and his recollection of localities very
vivid, and Oebases expected that when the horse should approach the
ground on the following morning, he would be reminded of the company
which he enjoyed there the night before, and neigh. The result was as
he anticipated. As the horsemen rode up to the appointed place, the
horse of Darius neighed the first, and Darius was unanimously
acknowledged king.

In respect to the credibility of this famous story, the first thought
which arises in the mind is, that it is utterly impossible that sane
men, acting in so momentous a crisis, and where interests so vast and
extended were at stake, could have resorted to a plan so childish and
ridiculous as this. Such a mode of designating a leader, seriously
adopted, would have done discredit to a troop of boys making
arrangements for a holiday; and yet here was an empire extending for
thousands of miles through the heart of a vast continent, comprising,
probably, fifty nations and many millions of people, with capitals,
palaces, armies, fleets, and all the other appointments and machinery
of an immense dominion, to be appropriated and disposed of absolutely,
and, so far as they could see, forever. It seems incredible that men
possessing such intelligence, and information, and extent of view as
we should suppose that officers of their rank and station would
necessarily acquire, could have attempted to decide such a momentous
question in so ridiculous and trivial a manner. And yet the account is
seriously recorded by Herodotus as sober history, and the story has
been related again and again, from that day to this, by every
successive generation of historians, without any particular question
of its truth.

And it may possibly be that it is true. It is a case in which the
apparent improbability is far greater than the real. In the first
place, it would seem that, in all ages of the world, the acts and
decisions of men occupying positions of the most absolute and exalted
power have been controlled, to a much greater degree, by caprice and
by momentary impulse, than mankind have generally supposed. Looking up
as we do to these vast elevations from below, they seem invested with
a certain sublimity and grandeur which we imagine must continually
impress the minds of those who occupy them, and expand and strengthen
their powers, and lead them to act, in all respects, with the
circumspection, the deliberation, and the far-reaching sagacity which
the emergencies continually arising seem to require. And this is, in
fact, in some degree the case with the statesmen and political leaders
raised to power under the constitutional governments of modern times.
Such statesmen are clothed with their high authority, in one way or
another, by the combined and deliberate action of vast masses of men,
and every step which they take is watched, in reference to its
influence on the condition and welfare of these masses, by many
millions; so that such men live and act under a continual sense of
responsibility, and they appreciate, in some degree, the momentous
importance of their doings. But the absolute and independent
sovereigns of the Old World, who held their power by conquest or by
inheritance, though raised sometimes to very vast and giddy
elevations, seem to have been unconscious, in many instances, of the
dignity and grandeur of their standing, and to have considered their
acts only as they affected their own personal and temporary interests.
Thus, though placed on a great elevation, they took only very narrow
and circumscribed views; they saw nothing but the objects immediately
around them; and they often acted, accordingly, in the most frivolous
and capricious manner.

It was so, undoubtedly, with these six conspirators. In deciding which
of their number should be king, they thought nothing of the interests
of the vast realms, and of the countless millions of people whose
government was to be provided for. The question, as they considered
it, was doubtless merely which of them should have possession of the
royal palaces, and be the center and the object of royal pomp and
parade in the festivities and celebrations of the capital.

And in the mode of decision which they adopted, it may be that some
degree of superstitious feeling mingled. The action and the voices of
animals were considered, in those days, as supernatural omens,
indicating the will of heaven. These conspirators may have expected,
accordingly, in the neighing of the horse, a sort of divine
intimation in respect to the disposition of the crown. This idea is
confirmed by the statement which the account of this transaction
contains, that immediately after the neighing of Darius's horse, it
thundered, although there were no clouds in the sky from which the
thunder could be supposed naturally to come. The conspirators, at all
events, considered it solemnly decided that Darius was to be king.
They all dismounted from their horses and knelt around him, in
acknowledgment of their allegiance and subjection.

It seems that Darius, after he became established on his throne,
considered the contrivance by which, through the assistance of his
groom, he had obtained the prize, not as an act of fraud which it was
incumbent on him to conceal, but as one of brilliant sagacity which he
was to avow and glory in. He caused a magnificent equestrian statue to
be sculptured, representing himself mounted on his neighing horse.
This statue he set up in a public place with this inscription:




B.C. 520

Intaphernes.--He is denied admittance to Darius.--Intaphernes's cruelty
to the two guards.--Darius's apprehensions.--Intaphernes and family
arrested.--They are condemned to die.--Alternative offered to
Intaphernes's wife.--Her strange decision.--Death of Intaphernes.--The
provinces.--The governors.--Their independence.--Power of the
governors.--Oretes, governor of Sardis.--Conversation between Oretes
and Mitrobates.--Polycrates.--Dominion of Polycrates.--Letter of
Amasis.--Suggestion of Amasis.--Adopted by Polycrates.--Polycrates
throws away his ring.--Its singular recovery.--Predictions of
Amasis.--Their fulfillment.--Letter of Oretes.--His hypocrisy.--The
pretended treasure.--Fears of Polycrates's daughter.--Oretes murders
Polycrates.--He commits other murders.--Oretes destroys Darius's
messenger.--Darius is incensed.--Plan of Darius for punishing
Oretes.--His proposal.--Commission of Bagæus.--His plan.--Oretes
beheaded.--Divisions of Darius's empire.--Tribute of the satrapies.--The
white horses.--The gold of India.--Mode of gathering it.--The wonderful
ants.--Their prodigious size.

Several of the events and incidents which occurred immediately after
the accession of Darius to the throne, illustrate in a striking manner
the degree in which the princes and potentates of ancient days were
governed by caprice and passionate impulse even in their public acts.
One of the most remarkable of these was the case of Intaphernes.

Intaphernes was one of the seven conspirators who combined to depose
the magian and place Darius on the throne. By the agreement which they
made with each other before it was decided which should be the king,
each of them was to have free access to the king's presence at all
times. One evening, soon after Darius became established on his
throne, Intaphernes went to the palace, and was proceeding to enter
the apartment of the king without ceremony, when he was stopped by two
officers, who told him that the king had retired. Intaphernes was
incensed at the officers' insolence, as he called it. He drew his
sword, and cut off their noses and their ears. Then he took the bridle
off from his horse at the palace gate, and tied the officers together;
and then, leaving them in this helpless and miserable condition, he
went away.

The officers immediately repaired to the king, and presented
themselves to him, a frightful spectacle, wounded and bleeding, and
complaining bitterly of Intaphernes as the author of the injuries
which they had received. The king was at first alarmed for his own
safety. He feared that the conspirators had all combined together to
rebel against his authority, and that this daring insult offered to
his personal attendants, in his very palace, was the first outbreak of
it. He accordingly sent for the conspirators one by one, to ask of
them whether they approved of what Intaphernes had done. They promptly
disavowed all connection with Intaphernes in the act, and all approval
of it, and declared their determination to adhere to the decision that
they had made, by which Darius had been placed on the throne.

Darius then, after taking proper precautions to guard against any
possible attempts at resistance, sent soldiers to seize Intaphernes,
and also his son, and all of his family, relatives, and friends who
were capable of bearing arms; for he suspected that Intaphernes had
meditated a rebellion, and he thought that, if so, these men would
most probably be his accomplices. The prisoners were brought before
him. There was, indeed, no proof that they were engaged in any plan of
rebellion, nor even that any plan of rebellion whatever had been
formed; but this circumstance afforded them no protection. The
liberties and the lives of all subjects were at the supreme and
absolute disposal of these ancient kings. Darius thought it possible
that the prisoners had entertained, or might entertain, some
treasonable designs, and he conceived that he should, accordingly,
feel safer if they were removed out of the way. He decreed, therefore,
that they must all die.

While the preparations were making for the execution, the wife of
Intaphernes came continually to the palace of Darius, begging for an
audience, that she might intercede for the lives of her friends.
Darius was informed of this, and at last, pretending to be moved with
compassion for her distress, he sent her word that he would pardon one
of the criminals for her sake, and that she might decide which one it
should be. His real motive in making this proposal seems to have been
to enjoy the perplexity and anguish which the heart of a woman must
suffer in being compelled thus to decide, in a question of life and
death, between a husband and a son.

The wife of Intaphernes did not decide in favor of either of these.
She gave the preference, on the other hand, to a brother. Darius was
very much surprised at this result, and sent a messenger to her to
inquire how it happened that she could pass over and abandon to their
fate her husband and her son, in order to save the life of her
brother, who was certainly to be presumed less near and dear to her.
To which she gave this extraordinary reply, that the loss of her
husband and her son might perhaps be repaired, since it was not
impossible that she might be married again, and that she might have
another son; but that, inasmuch as both her father and mother were
dead, she could never have another brother. The death of her present
brother would, therefore, be an irreparable loss.

The king was so much pleased with the novelty and unexpectedness of
this turn of thought, that he gave her the life of her son in addition
to that of her brother. All the rest of the family circle of
relatives and friends, together with Intaphernes himself, he ordered
to be slain.

Darius had occasion to be so much displeased, too, shortly after his
accession to the throne, with the governor of one of his provinces,
that he was induced to order him to be put to death. The circumstances
connected with this governor's crime, and the manner of his execution,
illustrate very forcibly the kind of government which was administered
by these military despots in ancient times. It must be premised that
great empires, like that over which Darius had been called to rule,
were generally divided into provinces. The inhabitants of these
provinces, each community within its own borders, went on, from year
to year, in their various pursuits of peaceful industry, governed
mainly, in their relations to each other, by the natural sense of
justice instinctive in man, and by those thousand local institutions
and usages which are always springing up in all human communities
under the influence of this principle. There were governors stationed
over these provinces, whose main duty it was to collect and remit to
the king the tribute which the province was required to furnish him.
These governors were, of course, also to suppress any domestic
outbreak of violence, and to repel any foreign invasion which might
occur. A sufficient military force was placed at their disposal to
enable them to fulfill these functions. They paid these troops, of
course, from sums which they collected in their provinces under the
same system by which they collected the tribute. This made them, in a
great measure, independent of the king in the maintenance of their
armies. They thus intrenched themselves in their various capitals at
the head of these troops, and reigned over their respective dominions
almost as if they were kings themselves. They had, in fact, very
little connection with the supreme monarch, except to send him the
annual tribute which they had collected from their people, and to
furnish, also, their quota of troops in case of a national war. In the
time of our Savior, Pilate was such a governor, intrusted by the
Romans with the charge of Judea, and Matthew was one of the tax
gatherers employed to collect the tribute.

Of course, the governors of such provinces, as we have already said,
were, in a great measure, independent of the king. He had, ordinarily,
no officers of justice whose jurisdiction could control, peacefully,
such powerful vassals. The only remedy in most cases, when they were
disobedient and rebellious, was to raise an army and go forth to make
war upon them, as in the case of any foreign state. This was attended
with great expense, and trouble, and hazard. The governors, when
ambitious and aspiring, sometimes managed their resources with so much
energy and military skill as to get the victory over their sovereign
in the contests in which they engaged with them, and then they would
gain vast accessions to the privileges and powers which they exercised
in their own departments; and they would sometimes overthrow their
discomfited sovereign entirely, and take possession of his throne
themselves in his stead.

Oretes was the name of one of these governors in the time of Darius.
He had been placed by Cyrus, some years before, in charge of one of
the provinces into which the kingdom of Lydia had been divided. The
seat of government was Sardis.[D] He was a capricious and cruel
tyrant, as, in fact, almost all such governors were. We will relate
an account of one of the deeds which he performed some time before
Darius ascended the throne, and which sufficiently illustrates his

[Footnote D: For the position of Sardis, and of other places mentioned
in this chapter, see the map at the commencement of the volume, and
also that at the commencement of chapter xi.]

He was one day sitting at the gates of his palace in Sardis, in
conversation with the governor of a neighboring territory who had come
to visit him. The name of this guest was Mitrobates. As the two
friends were boasting to one another, as such warriors are accustomed
to do, of the deeds of valor and prowess which they had respectively
performed, Mitrobates said that Oretes could not make any great
pretensions to enterprise and bravery so long as he allowed the Greek
island of Samos, which was situate at a short distance from the Lydian
coast, to remain independent, when it would be so easy to annex it to
the Persian empire. "You are afraid of Polycrates, I suppose," said
he. Polycrates was the king of Samos.

Oretes was stung by this taunt, but, instead of revenging himself on
Mitrobates, the author of it, he resolved on destroying Polycrates,
though he had no reason other than this for any feeling of enmity
toward him.

Polycrates, although the seat of his dominion was a small island in
the Ægean Sea, was a very wealthy, and powerful, and prosperous
prince. All his plans and enterprises had been remarkably successful.
He had built and equipped a powerful fleet, and had conquered many
islands in the neighborhood of his own. He was projecting still wider
schemes of conquests, and hoped, in fact, to make himself the master
of all the seas.

A very curious incident is related of Polycrates, which illustrates
very strikingly the childish superstition which governed the minds of
men in those ancient days. It seems that in the midst of his
prosperity, his friend and ally, the King of Egypt--for these events,
though narrated here, occurred before the invasion of Egypt by
Cambyses--sent to him a letter, of which the following is the purport.

     "_Amasis, king of Egypt, to Polycrates._

     "It always gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to hear
     of the prosperity of a friend and ally, unless it is too
     absolutely continuous and uninterrupted. Something like an
     alternation of good and ill fortune is best for man; I have
     never known an instance of a very long-continued course of
     unmingled and uninterrupted success that did not end, at
     last, in overwhelming and terrible calamity. I am anxious,
     therefore, for you, and my anxiety will greatly increase if
     this extraordinary and unbroken prosperity should continue
     much longer. I counsel you, therefore, to break the current
     yourself, if fortune will not break it. Bring upon yourself
     some calamity, or loss, or suffering, as a means of averting
     the heavier evils which will otherwise inevitably befall
     you. It is a general and substantial welfare only that can
     be permanent and final."

Polycrates seemed to think there was good sense in this suggestion. He
began to look around him to see in what way he could bring upon
himself some moderate calamity or loss, and at length decided on the
destruction of a very valuable signet ring which he kept among his
treasures. The ring was made with very costly jewels set in gold, and
was much celebrated both for its exquisite workmanship and also for
its intrinsic value. The loss of this ring would be, he thought, a
sufficient calamity to break the evil charm of an excessive and
unvaried current of good fortune. Polycrates, therefore, ordered one
of the largest vessels in his navy, a fifty-oared galley, to be
equipped and manned, and, embarking in it with a large company of
attendants, he put to sea. When he was at some distance from the
island, he took the ring, and in the presence of all his attendants,
he threw it forth into the water, and saw it sink, to rise, as he
supposed, no more.

But Fortune, it seems, was not to be thus outgeneraled. A few days
after Polycrates had returned, a certain fisherman on the coast took,
in his nets, a fish of very extraordinary size and beauty; so
extraordinary, in fact, that he felt it incumbent on him to make a
present of it to the king. The servants of Polycrates, on opening the
fish for the purpose of preparing it for the table, to their great
astonishment and gratification, found the ring within. The king was
overjoyed at thus recovering his lost treasure; he had, in fact,
repented of his rashness in throwing it away, and had been bitterly
lamenting its loss. His satisfaction and pleasure were, therefore,
very great in regaining it; and he immediately sent to Amasis an
account of the whole transaction, expecting that Amasis would share in
his joy.

Amasis, however, sent word back to him in reply, that he considered
the return of the ring in that almost miraculous manner as an
extremely unfavorable omen. "I fear," said he, "that it is decreed by
the Fates that you must be overwhelmed, at last, by some dreadful
calamity, and that no measures of precaution which you can adopt will
avail to avert it. It seems to me, too," he added, "that it is
incumbent on me to withdraw from all alliance and connection with you,
lest I should also, at last, be involved in your destined

Whether this extraordinary story was true, or whether it was all
fabricated after the fall of Polycrates, as a dramatic embellishment
of his history, we can not now know. The result, however, corresponded
with these predictions of Amasis, if they were really made; for it was
soon after these events that the conversation took place at Sardis
between Oretes and Mitrobates, at the gates of the palace, which led
Oretes to determine on effecting Polycrates's destruction.

In executing the plans which he thus formed, Oretes had not the
courage and energy necessary for an open attack on Polycrates, and he
consequently resolved on attempting to accomplish his end by treachery
and stratagem.

The plan which he devised was this: He sent a messenger to Polycrates
with a letter of the following purport:

     "_Oretes, governor of Sardis, to Polycrates of Samos._

     "I am aware, sire, of the plans which you have long been
     entertaining for extending your power among the islands and
     over the waters of the Mediterranean, until you shall have
     acquired the supreme and absolute dominion of the seas. I
     should like to join you in this enterprise. You have ships
     and men, and I have money. Let us enter into an alliance
     with each other. I have accumulated in my treasuries a large
     supply of gold and silver, which I will furnish for the
     expenses of the undertaking. If you have any doubt of my
     sincerity in making these offers, and of my ability to
     fulfill them, send some messenger in whom you have
     confidence, and I will lay the evidence before him."

Polycrates was much pleased at the prospect of a large accession to
his funds, and he sent the messenger, as Oretes had proposed. Oretes
prepared to receive him by filling a large number of boxes nearly full
with heavy stones, and then placing a shallow layer of gold or silver
coin at the top. These boxes were then suitably covered and secured,
with the fastenings usually adopted in those days, and placed away in
the royal treasuries. When the messenger arrived, the boxes were
brought out and opened, and were seen by the messenger to be full, as
he supposed, of gold and silver treasure. The messenger went back to
Polycrates, and reported that all which Oretes had said was true; and
Polycrates then determined to go to the main land himself to pay
Oretes a visit, that they might mature together their plans for the
intended campaigns. He ordered a fifty-oared galley to be prepared to
convey him.

His daughter felt a presentiment, it seems, that some calamity was
impending. She earnestly entreated her father not to go. She had had a
dream, she said, about him, which had frightened her excessively, and
which she was convinced portended some terrible danger. Polycrates
paid no attention to his daughter's warnings. She urged them more and
more earnestly, until, at last, she made her father angry, and then
she desisted. Polycrates then embarked on board his splendid galley,
and sailed away. As soon as he landed in the dominions of Oretes, the
monster seized him and put him to death, and then ordered his body to
be nailed to a cross, for exhibition to all passers by, as a public
spectacle. The train of attendants and servants that accompanied
Polycrates on this expedition were all made slaves, except a few
persons of distinction, who were sent home in a shameful and
disgraceful manner. Among the attendants who were detained in
captivity by Oretes was a celebrated family physician, named
Democedes, whose remarkable and romantic adventures will be the
subject of the next chapter.

Oretes committed several other murders and assassinations in this
treacherous manner, without any just ground for provocation. In these
deeds of violence and cruelty, he seems to have acted purely under the
influence of that wanton and capricious malignity which the possession
of absolute and irresponsible power so often engenders in the minds of
bad men. It is doubtful, however, whether these cruelties and crimes
would have particularly attracted the attention of Darius, so long as
he was not himself directly affected by them. The central government,
in these ancient empires, generally interested itself very little in
the contentions and quarrels of the governors of the provinces,
provided that the tribute was efficiently collected and regularly

A case, however, soon occurred, in Oretes's treacherous and bloody
career, which arrested the attention of Darius and aroused his ire.
Darius had sent a messenger to Oretes, with certain orders, which, it
seems, Oretes did not like to obey. After delivering his dispatches
the bearer set out on his return, and was never afterward heard of.
Darius ascertained, to his own satisfaction at least, that Oretes had
caused his messenger to be waylaid and killed, and that the bodies
both of horse and rider had been buried, secretly, in the solitudes of
the mountains, in order to conceal the evidences of the deed.

Darius determined on punishing this crime. Some consideration was,
however, required, in order to determine in what way his object could
best be effected. The province of Oretes was at a great distance from
Susa, and Oretes was strongly established there, at the head of a
great force. His guards were bound, it is true, to obey the orders of
Darius, but it was questionable whether they would do so. To raise an
army and march against the rebellious governor would be an expensive
and hazardous undertaking, and perhaps, too, it would prove that such
a measure was not necessary. All things considered, Darius determined
to try the experiment of acting, by his own direct orders, upon the
troops and guards in Oretes's capital, with the intention of resorting
subsequently to an armed force of his own, if that should be at last

He accordingly called together a number of his officers and nobles,
selecting those on whose resolution and fidelity he could most
confidently rely, and made the following address to them:

"I have an enterprise which I wish to commit to the charge of some one
of your number who is willing to undertake it, which requires no
military force, and no violent measures of any kind, but only wisdom,
sagacity, and courage. I wish to have Oretes, the governor of Sardis,
brought to me, dead or alive. He has perpetrated innumerable crimes,
and now, in addition to all his other deeds of treacherous violence,
he has had the intolerable insolence to put to death one of my
messengers. Which of you will volunteer to bring him, dead or alive,
to me?"

This proposal awakened a great enthusiasm among the nobles to whom it
was addressed. Nearly thirty of them volunteered their services to
execute the order. Darius concluded to decide between these
competitors by lot. The lot fell upon a certain man named Bagæus, and
he immediately began to form his plans and make his arrangements for
the expedition.

He caused a number of different orders to be prepared, beginning with
directions of little moment, and proceeding to commands of more and
more weighty importance, all addressed to the officers of Oretes's
army and to his guards. These orders were all drawn up in writing with
great formality, and were signed by the name of Darius, and sealed
with his seal; they, moreover, named Bagæus as the officer selected by
the king to superintend the execution of them. Provided with these
documents, Bagæus proceeded to Sardis, and presented himself at the
court of Oretes. He presented his own personal credentials, and with
them some of his most insignificant orders. Neither Oretes nor his
guards felt any disposition to disobey them. Bagæus, being thus
received and recognized as the envoy of the king, continued to present
new decrees and edicts, from time to time, as occasions occurred in
which he thought the guards would be ready to obey them, until he
found the habit, on their part, of looking to him as the
representative of the supreme power sufficiently established; for
their disposition to obey him was not merely tested, it was
strengthened by every new act of obedience. When he found, at length,
that his hold upon the guards was sufficiently strong, he produced his
two final decrees, one ordering the guards to depose Oretes from his
power, and the other to behead him. Both the commands were obeyed.

The events and incidents which have been described in this chapter
were of no great importance in themselves, but they illustrate, more
forcibly than any general description would do the nature and the
operation of the government exercised by Darius throughout the vast
empire over which he found himself presiding.

Such personal and individual contests and transactions were not all
that occupied his attention. He devoted a great deal of thought and of
time to the work of arranging, in a distinct and systematic manner,
the division of his dominions into provinces, and to regulating
precisely the amount of tribute to be required of each, and the modes
of collecting it. He divided his empire into twenty great districts,
each of which was governed by a ruler called a _satrap_. He fixed the
amount of tribute which each of these districts was to pay, making it
greater or less as the soil and the productions of the country varied
in fertility and abundance. In some cases this tribute was to be paid
in gold, in others in silver, and in others in peculiar commodities,
natural to the country of which they were required. For example, one
satrapy, which comprised a country famous for its horses, was obliged
to furnish one white horse for every day in the year. This made three
hundred and sixty annually, that being the number of days in the
Persian year. Such a supply, furnished yearly, enabled the king soon
to have a very large troop of white horses; and as the horses were
beautifully caparisoned, and the riders magnificently armed, the body
of cavalry thus formed was one of the most splendid in the world.

The satrapies were numbered from the west toward the east. The western
portion of Asia Minor constituted the first, and the East Indian
nations the twelfth and last. The East Indians had to pay their
tribute in ingots of gold. Their country produced gold.

As it is now forever too late to separate the facts from the fiction
of ancient history, and determine what is to be rejected as false and
what received as true, our only resource is to tell the whole story
just as it comes down to us, leaving it to each reader to decide for
himself what he will believe. In this view of the subject, we will
conclude this chapter by relating the manner in which it was said in
ancient times that these Indian nations obtained their gold.

The gold country was situated in remote and dreary deserts, inhabited
only by wild beasts and vermin, among which last there was, it seems,
a species of ants, which were of enormous size, and wonderful
fierceness and voracity, and which could run faster than the fleetest
horse or camel. These ants, in making their excavations, would bring
up from beneath the surface of the ground all the particles of gold
which came in their way, and throw them out around their hills. The
Indians then would penetrate into these deserts, mounted on the
fleetest camels that they could procure, and leading other camels, not
so fleet, by their sides. They were provided, also, with bags for
containing the golden sands. When they arrived at the ant hills, they
would dismount, and, gathering up the gold which the ants had
discarded, would fill their bags with the utmost possible dispatch,
and then mount their camels and ride away. The ants, in the mean time,
would take the alarm, and begin to assemble to attack them; but as
their instinct prompted them to wait until considerable numbers were
collected before they commenced their attack, the Indians had time to
fill their bags and begin their flight before their enemies were
ready. Then commenced the chase, the camels running at their full
speed, and the swarms of ants following, and gradually drawing nearer
and nearer. At length, when nearly overtaken, the Indians would
abandon the camels that they were leading, and fly on, more swiftly,
upon those which they rode. While the ants were busy in devouring the
victims thus given up to them, the authors of all the mischief would
make good their escape, and thus carry off their gold to a place of
safety. These famous ants were bigger than foxes!




B.C. 519

The reconnoitering party.--The physician Democedes.--Story of
Democedes.--His boyhood.--Democedes at Ægina.--At Athens.--At the court
of Polycrates.--Democedes a captive.--He is sent to Darius.--Democedes
is cast into prison.--His wretched condition.--Darius sprains his
ankle.--The Egyptian physicians baffled.--Sufferings of Darius.--He
sends for Democedes.--Democedes's denial.--He treats the sprain
successfully.--Darius's recovery.--The golden fetters.--Democedes
released.--Honors conferred on him.--Atossa cured by Democedes.--His
conditions.--Atossa with Darius.--She suggests the invasion of
Greece.--The exploring party.--Democedes appointed guide.--Designs of
Democedes.--Darius baffled.--The expedition sets out.--City of
Sidon.--The sea voyage.--The Grecian coasts examined.--Arrival at
Tarentum.--Suspicions of the authorities.--The Persians seized.--Escape
of Democedes.--Release of the Persians.--Tumult at Crotona.--Conduct
of Democedes.--The expedition returns.--Misfortunes.--Cillus.--Arrival
at Susa.--Reception by Darius.

The great event in the history of Darius--the one, in fact, on account
of which it was, mainly, that his name and his career have been so
widely celebrated among mankind, was an attempt which he made, on a
very magnificent scale, for the invasion and conquest of Greece.
Before commencing active operations in this grand undertaking, he sent
a reconnoitering party to examine and explore the ground. This
reconnoitering party met with a variety of extraordinary adventures in
the course of its progress, and the history of it will accordingly
form the subject of this chapter.

The guide to this celebrated reconnoitering party was a certain Greek
physician named Democedes. Though Democedes was called a Greek, he
was, really, an Italian by birth. His native town was Crotona, which
may be found exactly at the ball of the foot on the map of Italy. It
was by a very singular series of adventures that he passed from this
remote village in the west, over thousands of miles by land and sea,
to Susa, Darius's capital. He began by running away from his father
while he was still a boy. He said that he was driven to this step by
the intolerable strictness and cruelty of his father's government.
This, however, is always the pretext of turbulent and ungovernable
young men, who abandon their parents and their homes when the favors
and the protection necessary during their long and helpless infancy
have been all received, and the time is beginning to arrive for making
some return.

Democedes was ingenious and cunning, and fond of roving adventure. In
running away from home, he embarked on board a ship, as such
characters generally do at the present day, and went to sea. After
meeting with various adventures, he established himself in the island
of Ægina, in the Ægean sea, where he began to practice as a physician,
though he had had no regular education in that art. In his practice he
evinced so much medical skill, or, at least, exercised so much
adroitness in leading people to believe that he possessed it, as to
give him very soon a wide and exalted reputation. The people of Ægina
appointed him their physician, and assigned him a large salary for
his services in attending upon the sick throughout the island. This
was the usual practice in those days. A town, or an island, or any
circumscribed district of country, would appoint a physician as a
public officer, who was to devote his attention, at a fixed annual
salary, to any cases of sickness which might arise in the community,
wherever his services were needed, precisely as physicians serve in
hospitals and public institutions in modern times.

Democedes remained at Ægina two years, during which time his celebrity
increased and extended more and more, until, at length, he received an
appointment from the city of Athens, with the offer of a greatly
increased salary. He accepted the appointment, and remained in Athens
one year, when he received still more advantageous offers from
Polycrates, the king of Samos, whose history was given so fully in the
last chapter.

Democedes remained for some time in the court of Polycrates, where he
was raised to the highest distinction, and loaded with many honors. He
was a member of the household of the king, enjoyed his confidence in a
high degree, and attended him, personally, on all his expeditions. At
last, when Polycrates went to Sardis, as is related in the last
chapter, to receive the treasures of Oretes, and concert with him the
plans for their proposed campaigns, Democedes accompanied him as
usual; and when Polycrates was slain, and his attendants and followers
were made captive by Oretes, the unfortunate physician was among the
number. By this reverse, he found that he had suddenly fallen from
affluence, ease, and honor, to the condition of a neglected and
wretched captive in the hands of a malignant and merciless tyrant.

Democedes pined in this confinement for a long time; when, at length,
Oretes himself was killed by the order of Darius, it might have been
expected that the hour of his deliverance had arrived. But it was not
so; his condition was, in fact, made worse, and not better by it; for
Bagæus, the commissioner of Darius, instead of inquiring into the
circumstances relating to the various members of Oretes's family, and
redressing the wrongs which any of them might be suffering, simply
seized the whole company, and brought them all to Darius in Susa, as
trophies of his triumph, and tokens of the faithfulness and efficiency
with which he had executed the work that Darius had committed to his
charge. Thus Democedes was borne away, in hopeless bondage, thousands
of miles farther from his native land than before, and with very
little prospect of being ever able to return. He arrived at Susa,
destitute, squalid, and miserable. His language was foreign, his rank
and his professional skill unknown, and all the marks which might
indicate the refinement and delicacy of the modes of life to which he
had been accustomed were wholly disguised by his present destitution
and wretchedness. He was sent with the other captives to the prisons,
where he was secured, like them, with fetters and chains, and was soon
almost entirely forgotten.

He might have taken some measures for making his character, and his
past celebrity and fame as a physician known; but he did not dare to
do this, for fear that Darius might learn to value his medical skill,
and so detain him as a slave for the sake of his services. He thought
that the chance was greater that some turn of fortune, or some
accidental change in the arrangements of government might take place,
by which he might be set at liberty, as an insignificant and worthless
captive, whom there was no particular motive for detaining, than if
he were transferred to the king's household as a slave, and his value
as an artisan--for medical practice was, in those days, simply an
art--were once known. He made no effort, therefore, to bring his true
character to light, but pined silently in his dungeon, in rags and
wretchedness, and in a mental despondency which was gradually sinking
into despair.

About this time, it happened that Darius was one day riding furiously
in a chase, and coming upon some sudden danger, he attempted to leap
from his horse. He fell and sprained his ankle. He was taken up by the
attendants, and carried home. His physicians were immediately called
to attend to the case. They were Egyptians. Egypt was, in fact,
considered the great seat and centre of learning and of the arts in
those days, and no royal household was complete without Egyptian

The learning and skill, however, of the Egyptians in Darius's court
were entirely baffled by the sprain. They thought that the joint was
dislocated, and they turned and twisted the foot with so much
violence, in their attempts to restore the bones to their proper
position, as greatly to increase the pain and the inflammation.
Darius spent a week in extreme and excruciating suffering. He could
not sleep day nor night, but tossed in continual restlessness and
anguish on his couch, made constantly worse instead of better by every
effort of his physicians to relieve him.

At length somebody informed him that there was a Greek physician among
the captives that came from Sardis, and recommended that Darius should
send for him. The king, in his impatience and pain, was ready for any
experiment which promised the least hope of relief, and he ordered
that Democedes should be immediately summoned. The officers
accordingly went to the prison and brought out the astonished captive,
without any notice or preparation, and conducted him, just as he was,
ragged and wretched, and shackled with iron fetters upon his feet,
into the presence of the king. The fetters which such captives wore
were intended to allow them to walk, slowly and with difficulty, while
they impeded the movements of the feet so as effectually to prevent
any long or rapid flight, or any escape at all from free pursuers.

Democedes, when questioned by Darius, denied at first that he
possessed any medical knowledge or skill. Darius was, however, not
deceived by these protestations. It was very customary, in those days
of royal tyranny, for those who possessed any thing valuable to
conceal the possession of it: concealment was often their only
protection. Darius, who was well aware of this tendency, did not
believe the assurances of Democedes, and in the irritation and
impatience caused by his pain, he ordered the captive to be taken out
and put to the torture, in order to make him confess that he was
really a physician.

Democedes yielded without waiting to be actually put to the test. He
acknowledged at once, for fear of the torture, that he had had some
experience in medical practice, and the sprained ankle was immediately
committed to his charge. On examining the case, he thought that the
harsh and violent operations which the Egyptian physicians had
attempted were not required. He treated the inflamed and swollen joint
in the gentlest manner. He made fomenting and emollient applications,
which soothed the pain, subdued the inflammation, and allayed the
restlessness and the fever. The royal sufferer became quiet and calm,
and in a short time fell asleep.

In a word, the king rapidly recovered; and, overwhelmed with gratitude
toward the benefactor whose skill had saved him from such suffering,
he ordered that, in place of his single pair of iron fetters, he
should have two pairs of fetters of gold!

It might at first be imagined that such a strange token of regard as
this could be intended only as a jest and an insult; but there is no
doubt that Darius meant it seriously as a compliment and an honor. He
supposed that Democedes, of course, considered his condition of
captivity as a fixed and permanent one; and that his fetters were not,
in themselves, an injustice or disgrace, but the necessary and
unavoidable concomitant of his lot, so that the sending of golden
fetters to a slave was very naturally, in his view, like presenting a
golden crutch to a cripple. Democedes received the equivocal donation
with great good nature. He even ventured upon a joke on the subject to
the convalescent king. "It seems, sire," said he "that in return for
my saving your limb and your life, you double my servitude. You have
given me two chains instead of one."

The king, who was now in a much better humor to be pleased than when,
writhing in anguish, he had ordered Democedes to be put to the
torture, laughed at this reply, and released the captive from the
bonds entirely. He ordered him to be conducted by the attendants to
the apartments of the palace, where the wives of Darius and the other
ladies of the court resided, that they might see him and express their
gratitude. "This is the physician," said the eunuchs, who introduced
him, "that cured the king." The ladies welcomed him with the utmost
cordiality, and loaded him with presents of gold and silver as he
passed through their apartments. The king made arrangements, too,
immediately, for providing him with a magnificent house in Susa, and
established him there in great luxury and splendor, with costly
furniture and many attendants, and all other marks of distinction and
honor. In a word, Democedes found himself, by means of another
unexpected change of fortune, suddenly elevated to a height as lofty
as his misery and degradation had been low. He was, however, a captive

The Queen Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who has already been
mentioned as the wife of Cambyses and of Smerdis the magian, was one
of the wives of Darius. Her sister Antystone was another. A third was
Phædyma, the daughter of Otanes, the lady who had been so
instrumental, in connection with Atossa, in the discovery of the
magian imposture. It happened that, some time after the curing of
Darius's sprain, Atossa herself was sick. Her malady was of such a
nature, that for some time she kept it concealed, from a feeling of
delicacy.[E] At length, terrified by the danger which threatened her,
she sent for Democedes, and made her case known to him. He said that
he could cure her, but she must first promise to grant him, if he did
so, a certain favor which he should ask. She must promise beforehand
to grant it, whatever it might be. It was nothing, he said, that
should in any way compromise her honor.

[Footnote E: It was a tumor of the breast, which became, at length, an
open ulcer, and began to spread and enlarge in a very formidable

Atossa agreed to these conditions, and Democedes undertook her case.
Her malady was soon cured; and when she asked him what was the favor
which he wished to demand, he replied,

"Persuade Darius to form a plan for the invasion of Greece, and to
send me, with a small company of attendants, to explore the country,
and obtain for him all the necessary preliminary information. In this
way I shall see my native land once more."

Atossa was faithful in her promise. She availed herself of the first
favorable opportunity, when it became her turn to visit the king, to
direct his mind, by a dexterous conversation, toward the subject of
the enlargement of his empire. He had vast forces and resources, she
said, at his command, and might easily enter upon a career of conquest
which would attract the admiration of the world. Darius replied that
he had been entertaining some views of that nature. He had thought, he
said, of attacking the Scythians: these Scythians were a group of
semi-savage nations on the north of his dominions. Atossa represented
to him that subduing the Scythians would be too easy a conquest, and
that it would be a far nobler enterprise, and more worthy of his
talents and his vast resources, to undertake an expedition into
Europe, and attempt the conquest of Greece. "You have all the means at
your command essential for the success of such an undertaking, and you
have in your court a man who can give you, or can obtain for you, all
the necessary information in respect to the country, to enable you to
form the plan of your campaigns."

The ambition of Darius was fired by these suggestions. He began
immediately to form projects and schemes. In a day or two he organized
a small party of Persian officers of distinction, in whom he had great
confidence, to go on an exploring tour into Greece. They were provided
with a suitable company of attendants, and with every thing necessary
for their journey, and Democedes was directed to prepare to go with
them as their guide. They were to travel simply as a party of Persian
noblemen, on an excursion of curiosity and pleasure, concealing their
true design; and as Democedes their guide, though born in Italy, was
in all important points a Greek, and was well acquainted with the
countries through which they were to pass, they supposed that they
could travel every where without suspicion. Darius charged the
Persians to keep a diligent watch over Democedes, and not to allow
him, on any account to leave them, but to bring him back to Susa
safely with them on their return.

As for Democedes, he had no intention whatever of returning to Persia,
though he kept his designs of making his escape entirely concealed.
Darius, with seeming generosity, said to him, while he was making his
preparations, "I recommend to you to take with you all your private
wealth and treasures, to distribute, for presents, among your friends
in Greece and Italy. I will bestow more upon you here on your return."
Democedes regarded this counsel with great suspicion. He imagined that
the king, in giving him this permission, wished to ascertain, by
observing whether he would really take with him all his possessions,
the existence of any secret determination in his mind not to come back
to Susa. If this were Darius's plan, it was defeated by the sagacious
vigilance and cunning of the physician. He told the king, in reply,
that he preferred to leave his effects in Persia, that they might be
ready for his use on his return. The king then ordered a variety of
costly articles to be provided and given to Democedes, to be taken
with him and presented to his friends in Greece and Italy. They
consisted of vessels of gold and silver, pieces of Persian armor of
beautiful workmanship, and articles of dress, expensive and splendid.
These were all carefully packed, and the various other necessary
preparations were made for the long journey.

At length the expedition set out. They traveled by land westward,
across the continent, till they reached the eastern shores of the
Mediterranean Sea. The port at which they arrived was Sidon, the city
so often mentioned in the Scriptures as a great pagan emporium of
commerce. The city of Sidon was in the height of its glory at this
time, being one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean for
all the western part of Asia. Caravans of travelers came to it by
land, bringing on the backs of camels the productions of Arabia,
Persia, and all the East; and fleets of ships by sea, loaded with the
corn, and wine, and oil of the Western nations.

At Sidon the land journey of the expedition was ended. Here they
bought two large and splendid ships, galleys of three banks of oars,
to convey them to Greece. These galleys were for their own personal
accommodation. There was a third vessel, called a transport, for the
conveyance of their baggage, which consisted mainly of the packages of
rich and costly presents which Darius had prepared. Some of these
presents were for the friends of Democedes, as has been already
explained, and others had been provided as gifts and offerings from
the king himself to such distinguished personages as the travelers
might visit on their route. When the vessels were ready, and the
costly cargo was on board, the company of travelers embarked, and the
little fleet put to sea.

The Grecian territories are endlessly divided and indented by the
seas, whose irregular and winding shores form promontories,
peninsulas, and islands without number, which are accessible in every
part by water. The Persian explorers cruised about among these coasts
under Democedes's guidance, examining every thing, and noting
carefully all the information which they could obtain, either by
personal observation or by inquiring of others, which might be of
service to Darius in his intended invasion. Democedes allowed them to
take their own time, directing their course, however, steadily, though
slowly, toward his own native town of Crotona. The expedition landed
in various places, and were every where well received. It was not for
the interest of Democedes that they should yet be intercepted. In
fact, the name and power of Darius were very much feared, or, at
least, very highly respected in all the Grecian territory, and the
people were little inclined to molest a peaceful party of Persians
traveling like ordinary tourists, and under the guidance, too, of a
distinguished countryman of their own, whose name was, in some degree,
a guarantee for the honesty and innocence of their intentions. At
length, however, after spending some time in the Grecian seas, the
little squadron moved still farther west, toward the coast of Italy,
and arrived finally at Tarentum. Tarentum was the great port on the
Grecian side of Italy. It was at the head of the spacious bay which
sets up between the heel and the ball of the foot of the boot-shaped
peninsula. Crotona, Democedes's native town, to which he was now
desirous to return, was southwest of Tarentum, about two hundred miles
along the shore.[F]

[Footnote F: For the situation of these places, see the map at the
commencement of chapter xi.]

It was a very curious and extraordinary circumstance that, though the
expedition had been thus far allowed to go and come as its leaders
pleased, without any hinderance or suspicion, yet now, the moment that
they touched a point from which Democedes could easily reach his home,
the authorities on shore, in some way or other, obtained some
intimation of the true character of their enterprise. The Prince of
Tarentum seized the ships. He made the Persians themselves prisoners
also, and shut them up; and, in order effectually to confine the
ships, he took away the helms from them, so that they could not be
steered, and were thus entirely disabled. The expedition being thus,
for the time at least, broken up, Democedes said, coolly, that he
would take the opportunity to make a little excursion along the coast,
and visit his friends at Crotona!

It was another equally suspicious circumstance in respect to the
probability that this seizure was the result of Democedes's
management, that, as soon as he was safely away, the Prince of
Tarentum set his prisoners at liberty, releasing, at the same time,
the ships from the seizure, and sending the helms on board. The
Persians were indignant at the treatment which they had received, and
set sail immediately along the coast toward Crotona in pursuit of
Democedes. They found him in the market-place in Crotona, haranguing
the people, and exciting, by his appearance and his discourse, a great
and general curiosity. They attempted to seize him as a fugitive, and
called upon the people of Crotona to aid them, threatening them with
the vengeance of Darius if they refused. A part of the people were
disposed to comply with this demand, while others rallied to defend
their townsman. A great tumult ensued; but, in the end, the party of
Democedes was victorious. He was not only thus personally rescued,
but, as he informed the people that the transport vessel which
accompanied the expedition contained property that belonged to him,
they seized that too, and gave it up to Democedes, saying to the
Persians that, though they must give up the transport, the galleys
remained at their service to convey them back to their own country
whenever they wished to go.

The Persians had now no other alternative but to return home. They
had, it is true, pretty nearly accomplished the object of their
undertaking; but, if any thing remained to be done, they could not now
attempt it with any advantage, as they had lost their guide, and a
great portion of the effects which had been provided by Darius to
enable them to propitiate the favor of the princes and potentates into
whose power they might fall. They accordingly began to make
preparations for sailing back again to Sidon, while Democedes
established himself in great magnificence and splendor in Crotona.
When, at length, the Persians were ready to sail, Democedes wished
them a very pleasant voyage, and desired them to give his best
respects to Darius, and inform him that he could not return at present
to Persia, as he was making arrangements to be married!

The disasters which had befallen these Persian reconnoiterers thus far
were only the beginning of their troubles. Their ships were driven by
contrary winds out of their course, and they were thrown at last upon
the coast of Iapygia, a country occupying the heel of Italy. Here they
were seized by the inhabitants and made slaves. It happened that there
was living in this wild country at that time a man of wealth and of
cultivation, who had been exiled from Tarentum on account of some
political offenses. His name was Cillus. He heard the story of these
unhappy foreigners, and interested himself in their fate. He thought
that, by rescuing them from their captivity and sending them home, he
should make Darius his friend, and secure, perhaps, his aid in
effecting his own restoration to his native land. He accordingly paid
the ransom which was demanded for the captives, and set them free. He
then aided them in making arrangements for their return to Persia, and
the unfortunate messengers found their way back at last to the court
of Darius, without their guide, without any of the splendid
appointments with which they had gone forth, but stripped of every
thing, and glad to escape with their lives.

They had some cause to fear, too, the anger of Darius, for the
insensate wrath of a tyrant is awakened as often by calamity as by
crime. Darius, however, was in this instance graciously disposed. He
received the unfortunate commissioners in a favorable manner. He took
immediate measures for rewarding Cillus for having ransomed them. He
treasured up, too, the information which they had obtained respecting
Greece, though he was prevented by circumstances, which we will
proceed to describe, from immediately putting into execution his plans
of invasion and conquest there.



B.C. 516-514

City of Babylon.--The captive Jews.--Wickedness of the
Babylonians.--Causes of discontent.--Preparations of the Babylonians
for revolt.--Their secrecy.--Time chosen for revolt.--Story of
Syloson.--Syloson's red cloak.--He gives it to Darius.--Syloson goes
to Susa.--Interview with Darius.--Request of Syloson.--Darius grants
it.--Citadel of Samos.--Measures of Mæandrius.--Hypocrisy
of Mæandrius.--His brother Charilaus.--Reproaches of
Charilaus.--Character of Mæandrius.--Attack of Charilaus.--Slaughter
of the Samians.--Revolt of Babylon.--Insults and jeers of the
Babylonians.--Ancient mode of warfare.--Modern warfare.--Taunt of the
Babylonians.--Fabricating prodigies.--The mule of Zopyrus.--Interview
with Darius.--Desperate plan of Zopyrus.--He mutilates
himself.--Darius's astonishment.--Final arrangements.--Zopyrus
leaves the Persian camp.--Success of Zopyrus's stratagem.--His
piteous story.--The three victories.--Zopyrus intrusted with power
in Babylon.--Zopyrus admits the Persians.--Fall of Babylon.

The city of Babylon, originally the capital of the Assyrian empire,
was conquered by Cyrus, the founder of the Persian monarchy, when he
annexed the Assyrian empire to his dominions. It was a vast and a very
magnificent and wealthy city; and Cyrus made it, for a time, one of
his capitals.

When Cyrus made this conquest of Babylon, he found the Jews in
captivity there. They had been made captive by Nebuchadnezzar, a
previous king of Babylon, as is related in the Scriptures. The holy
prophets of Judea had predicted that after seventy years the captives
should return, and that Babylon itself should afterward be destroyed.
The first prediction was fulfilled by the victory of Cyrus. It
devolved on Darius to execute the second of these solemn and
retributive decrees of heaven.

Although Darius was thus the instrument of divine Providence in the
destruction of Babylon, he was unintentionally and unconsciously so.
In the terrible scenes connected with the siege and the storming of
the ill-fated city, it was the impulse of his own hatred and revenge
that he was directly obeying; he was not at all aware that he was, at
the same time, the messenger of the divine displeasure. The wretched
Babylonians, in the storming and destruction of their city, were
expiating a double criminality. Their pride, their wickedness, their
wanton cruelty toward the Jews, had brought upon them the condemnation
of God, while their political treason and rebellion, or, at least,
what was considered treason and rebellion aroused the implacable
resentment of their king.

The Babylonians had been disposed to revolt even in the days of Cyrus.
They had been accustomed to consider their city as the most noble and
magnificent capital in the world, and they were displeased that Cyrus
did not make it the seat and center of his empire. Cyrus preferred
Susa; and Babylon, accordingly, though he called it one of his
capitals, soon fell to the rank of a provincial city. The nobles and
provincial leaders that remained there began accordingly to form plans
for revolting from the Persian dominion, with a view of restoring
their city to its ancient position and renown.

They had a very favorable opportunity for maturing their plans, and
making their preparations for the execution of them during the time of
the magian usurpation; for while the false Smerdis was on the throne,
being shut up and concealed in his palace at Susa, the affairs of the
provinces were neglected; and when Darius and his accomplices
discovered the imposture and put Smerdis to death, there was
necessarily required, after so violent a revolution, a considerable
time before the affairs of the empire demanding attention at the
capital could be settled, so as to allow the government to turn their
thoughts at all toward the distant dependencies. The Babylonians
availed themselves of all these opportunities to put their city in the
best condition for resisting the Persian power. They strengthened
their defenses, and accumulated great stores of provisions, and took
measures for diminishing that part of the population which would be
useless in war. These measures were all concerted and carried into
effect in the most covert and secret manner; and the tidings came at
last to Susa that Babylon had openly revolted, before the government
of Darius was aware even of the existence of any disaffection.

The time which the Babylonians chose for their rebellion at last was
one when the movable forces which Darius had at command were at the
west, engaged in a campaign on the shores of Asia Minor. Darius had
sent them there for the purpose of restoring a certain exile and
wanderer named Syloson to Samos, and making him the monarch of it.
Darius had been induced thus to interpose in Syloson's behalf by the
following very extraordinary circumstances.

Syloson was the brother of Polycrates, whose unhappy history has
already been given. He was exiled from Samos some time before Darius
ascended the throne, and he became, consequently, a sort of soldier of
fortune, serving, like other such adventurers, wherever there was the
greatest prospect of glory and pay. In this capacity he followed the
army of Cambyses into Egypt in the memorable campaign described in the
first chapter of this volume. It happened, also, that Darius himself,
who was then a young noble in the Persian court, and yet of no
particular distinction, as there was then no reason to imagine that he
would ever be elevated to the throne, was also in Cambyses's army, and
the two young men became acquainted with one another there.

While the army was at Memphis, an incident occurred in which these two
personages were actors, which, though it seemed unimportant at the
time, led, in the end, to vast and momentous results. The incident was

Syloson had a very handsome red cloak, which, as he appeared in it one
day, walking in the great square at Memphis, strongly attracted the
admiration of Darius. Darius asked Syloson if he would sell him the
cloak. Syloson said that he would not sell it, but would give it to
him. He thought, probably, that Darius would decline receiving it as a
present. If he did entertain that idea, it seems he was mistaken.
Darius praised him for his generosity, and accepted the gift.

Syloson was then sorry that he had made so inconsiderate an offer, and
regretted very much the loss of his cloak. In process of time, the
campaign of Cambyses in Egypt was ended, and Darius returned to
Persia, leaving Syloson in the west. At length the conspiracy was
formed for dethroning Smerdis the magian, as has already been
described, and Darius was designated to reign in his stead. As the
news of the young noble's elevation spread into the western world, it
reached Syloson. He was much pleased at receiving the intelligence,
and he saw immediately that there was a prospect of his being able to
derive some advantage, himself, from the accession of his old
fellow-soldier to the throne.

He immediately proceeded to Susa. He applied at the gates of the
palace for admission to the presence of the king. The porter asked him
who he was. He replied that he was a Greek who had formerly done
Darius a service, and he wished to see him. The porter carried the
message to the king. The king could not imagine who the stranger
should be. He endeavored in vain to recall to mind any instance in
which he had received a favor from a Greek. At length he ordered the
attendant to call the visitor in.

Syloson was accordingly conducted into the king's presence. Darius
looked upon him, but did not know him. He directed the interpreters to
inquire what the service was which he had rendered the king, and when
he had rendered it. The Greek replied by relating the circumstance of
the cloak. Darius recollected the cloak, though he had forgotten the
giver. "Are you, indeed," said he, "the man who made me that present?
I thought then that you were very generous to me, and you shall see
that I do not undervalue the obligation now. I am at length,
fortunately, in a situation to requite the favor, and I will give you
such an abundance of gold and silver as shall effectually prevent your
being sorry for having shown a kindness to Darius Hystaspes."

Syloson thanked the king in reply, but said that he did not wish for
gold and silver. Darius asked him what reward he did desire. He
replied that he wished Samos to be restored to him: "Samos," said he,
"was the possession of my brother. When he went away from the island,
he left it temporarily in the hands of Mæandrius, an officer of his
household. It still remains in the possession of this family, while I,
the rightful heir, am a homeless wanderer and exile, excluded from my
brother's dominions by one of his slaves."

Darius immediately determined to accede to Syloson's request. He
raised an army and put it under the command of Otanes, who, it will be
recollected, was one of the seven conspirators that combined to
dethrone Smerdis the magian. He directed Otanes to accompany Syloson
to Samos, and to put him in possession of the island. Syloson was
particularly earnest in his request that no unnecessary violence
should be used, and no blood shed, or vindictive measures of any kind
adopted. Darius promised to comply with these desires, and gave his
orders to Otanes accordingly.

Notwithstanding this, however, the expedition resulted in the almost
total destruction of the Samian population, in the following manner.
There was a citadel at Samos, to which the inhabitants retired when
they learned that Otanes had embarked his troops in ships on the
coast, and was advancing toward the island. Mæandrius was vexed and
angry at the prospect of being deprived of his possessions and his
power; and, as the people hated him on account of his extortion and
tyranny, he hated them in return, and cared not how much suffering his
measures might be the means of bringing upon them. He had a
subterranean and secret passage from the citadel to the shore of the
sea, where, in a secluded cove, were boats or vessels ready to take
him away. Having made these arrangements to secure his own safety, he
proceeded to take such a course and adopt such measures as should tend
most effectually to exasperate and offend the Persians, intending to
escape, himself, at the last moment, by this subterranean retreat,
and to leave the inhabitants of the island at the mercy of their
infuriated enemies.

He had a brother whom he had shut up in a dungeon, and whose mind,
naturally depraved, and irritated by his injuries, was in a state of
malignant and furious despair. Mæandrius had pretended to be willing
to give up the island to the Persians. He had entered into
negotiations with them for this purpose, and the Persians considered
the treaty as in fact concluded. The leaders and officers of the army
had assembled, accordingly, before the citadel in a peaceful attitude,
waiting merely for the completion of the forms of surrender, when
Charilaus, Mæandrius's captive brother, saw them, by looking out
between the bars of his window, in the tower in which he was confined.
He sent an urgent message to Mæandrius, requesting to speak to him.
Mæandrius ordered the prisoner to be brought before him. The haggard
and wretched-looking captive, rendered half insane by the combined
influence of the confinement he had endured, and of the wild
excitement produced by the universal panic and confusion which reigned
around him, broke forth against his brother in the boldest and most
violent invectives. He reproached him in the most bitter terms for
being willing to yield so ingloriously, and without a struggle, to an
invading foe, whom he might easily repel. "You have courage and energy
enough, it seems," said he, "to make war upon an innocent and
defenseless brother, and to keep him for years in chains and in a
dungeon, but when an actual enemy appears, though he comes to despoil
you of all your possessions, and to send you into hopeless exile, and
though, if you had the ordinary courage and spirit of a man, you could
easily drive him away, yet you dare not face him. If you are too
cowardly and mean to do your duty yourself, give me your soldiers, and
I will do it for you. I will drive these Persians back into the sea
with as much pleasure as it would give me to drive you there!"

Such a nature as that of Mæandrius can not be stung into a proper
sense of duty by reproaches like these. There seem to have been in his
heart no moral sensibilities of any kind, and there could be, of
course, no compunctions for the past, and no awakening of new and
better desires for the future. All the effect which was produced upon
his mind by these bitter denunciations was to convince him that to
comply with his brother's request would be to do the best thing now in
his power for widening, and extending, and making sure the misery and
mischief which were impending. He placed his troops, therefore, under
his brother's orders; and while the infuriated madman sallied forth at
the head of them to attack the astonished Persians on one side of the
citadel, Mæandrius made his escape through the under-ground passage on
the other. The Persians were so exasperated at what appeared to them
the basest treachery, that, as soon as they could recover their arms
and get once more into battle array, they commenced a universal
slaughter of the Samians. They spared neither age, sex, nor condition;
and when, at last, their vengeance was satisfied, and they put the
island into Syloson's hands, and withdrew, he found himself in
possession of an almost absolute solitude.


It was while Otanes was absent on this enterprise, having with him a
large part of the disposable forces of the king, that the Babylonians
revolted. Darius was greatly incensed at hearing the tidings.
Sovereigns are always greatly incensed at a revolt on the part of
their subjects. The circumstances of the case, whatever they may be,
always seem to them to constitute a peculiar aggravation of the
offense. Darius was indignant that the Babylonians had attempted to
take advantage of his weakness by rebelling when his armies were
away. If they had risen when his armies were around him, he would
have been equally indignant with them for having dared to brave his

He assembled all the forces at his disposal, and advanced to Babylon.
The people of the city shut their gates against him, and derided him.
They danced and capered on the walls, making all sorts of gestures
expressive of contempt and defiance, accompanied with shouts and
outcries of ridicule and scorn. They had great confidence in the
strength of their defenses, and then, besides this, they probably
regarded Darius as a sort of usurper, who had no legitimate title to
the throne, and who would never be able to subdue any serious
resistance which might be offered to the establishment of his power.
It was from these considerations that they were emboldened to be
guilty of the folly of taunting and insulting their foes from the city

Such incidents as this, of personal communications between masses of
enemies on the eve of a battle, were very common in ancient warfare,
though impossible in modern times. In those days, when the missiles
employed were thrown chiefly by the strength of the human arm alone,
the combatants could safely draw near enough together for each side to
hear the voices and to see the gesticulations of the other. Besiegers
could advance sufficiently close to a castle or citadel to parley
insultingly with the garrison upon the walls, and yet be safe from the
showers of darts and arrows which were projected toward them in
return. But all this is now changed. The reach of cannon, and even of
musketry, is so long, that combatants, approaching a conflict, are
kept at a very respectful distance apart, until the time arrives in
which the actual engagement is to begin. They reconnoiter each other
with spy-glasses from watch-towers on the walls, or from eminences in
the field, but they can hold no communication except by a formal
embassy, protected by a flag of truce, which, with its white and
distant fluttering, as it slowly advances over the green fields, warns
the gunners at the battery or on the bastion to point their artillery
another way.

The Babylonians, on the walls of their city, reproached and taunted
their foes incessantly. "Take our advice," said they, "and go back
where you came from. You will only lose your time in besieging
Babylon. When mules have foals, you will take the city, and not till

The expression "when mules have foals" was equivalent in those days to
our proverbial phrase, "when the sky falls," being used to denote any
thing impossible or absurd, inasmuch as mules, like other hybrid
animals, do not produce young. It was thought in those times
absolutely impossible that they should do so; but it is now well known
that the case is not impossible, though very rare.

It seems to have added very much to the interest of an historical
narrative in the minds of the ancient Greeks, to have some prodigy
connected with every great event; and, in order to gratify this
feeling, the writers appear in some instances to have fabricated a
prodigy for the occasion, and in others to have elevated some unusual,
though by no means supernatural circumstance, to the rank and
importance of one. The prodigy connected with this siege of Babylon
was the foaling of a mule. The mule belonged to a general in the army
of Darius, named Zopyrus. It was after Darius had been prosecuting the
siege of the city for a year and a half, without any progress
whatever toward the accomplishment of his end. The army began to
despair of success. Zopyrus, with the rest, was expecting that the
siege would be indefinitely prolonged, or, perhaps, absolutely
abandoned, when his attention was strongly attracted to the phenomenon
which had happened in respect to the mule. He remembered the taunt of
the Babylonian on the wall, and it seemed to him that the whole
occurrence portended that the time had now arrived when some way might
be devised for the capture of the city.

Portents and prophecies are often the causes of their own fulfillment,
and this portent led Zopyrus to endeavor to devise some means to
accomplish the end in view. He went first, however, to Darius, to
converse with him upon the subject, with a view of ascertaining how
far he was really desirous of bringing the siege to a termination. He
wished to know whether the object was of sufficient importance in
Darius's mind to warrant any great sacrifice on his own part to effect

He found that it was so. Darius was extremely impatient to end the
siege and to capture the city; and Zopyrus saw at once that, if he
could in any way be the means of accomplishing the work, he should
entitle himself, in the highest possible degree, to the gratitude of
the king.

He determined to go himself into Babylon as a pretended deserter from
Darius, with a view to obtaining an influence and a command within the
city, which should enable him afterward to deliver it up to the
besiegers; and, in order to convince the Babylonians that his
desertion was real, he resolved to mutilate himself in a manner so
dreadful as would effectually prevent their imagining that the
injuries which he suffered were inflicted by any contrivance of his
own. He accordingly cut off his hair and his ears, and mutilated his
face in a manner too shocking to be here detailed, inflicting injuries
which could never be repaired. He caused himself to be scourged, also,
until his whole body was covered with cuts and contusions. He then
went, wounded and bleeding as he was, into the presence of Darius, to
make known his plans.

Darius expressed amazement and consternation at the terrible
spectacle. He leaped from his throne and rushed toward Zopyrus,
demanding who had dared to maltreat one of his generals in such a
manner. When Zopyrus replied that he had himself done the deed, the
king's astonishment was greater than before. He told Zopyrus that he
was insane. Some sudden paroxysm of madness had come over him. Zopyrus
replied that he was not insane; and he explained his design. His plan,
he said, was deliberately and calmly formed, and it should be steadily
and faithfully executed. "I did not make known my design to you," said
he, "before I had taken the preliminary steps, for I knew that you
would prevent my taking them. It is now too late for that, and nothing
remains but to reap, if possible, the advantage which may be derived
from what I have done."

He then arranged with Darius the plans which he had formed, so far as
he needed the co-operation of the king in the execution of them. If he
could gain a partial command in the Babylonian army, he was to make a
sally from the city gates on a certain day, and attack a portion of
the Persian army, which Darius was to leave purposely exposed, in
order that he might gain credit with the Babylonians by destroying
them. From this he supposed that the confidence which the Babylonians
would repose in him would increase, and he might consequently receive
a greater command. Thus he might, by acting in concert with Darius
without, gradually gain such an ascendency within the city as finally
to have power to open the gates and let the besiegers in. Darius was
to station a detachment of a thousand men near a certain gate, leaving
them imperfectly armed, on the tenth day after Zopyrus entered the
city. These Zopyrus was to destroy. Seven days afterward, two thousand
more were to be stationed in a similar manner at another point; and
these were also to be destroyed by a second sally. Twenty days after
this, four thousand more were to be similarly exposed. Thus seven
thousand innocent and defenseless men would be slaughtered, but that,
as Zopyrus said, would be "of no consequence." The lives of men were
estimated by heroes and conquerors in those days only at their
numerical value in swelling the army roll.

These things being all arranged, Zopyrus took leave of the King to go
to Babylon. As he left the Persian camp, he began to run, looking
round behind him continually, as if in flight. Some men, too,
pretended to pursue him. He fled toward one of the gates of the city.
The sentinels on the walls saw him coming. When he reached the gate,
the porter inside of it talked with him through a small opening, and
heard his story. The porter then reported the case to the superior
officers, and they commanded that the fugitive should be admitted.
When conducted into the presence of the magistrates, he related a
piteous story of the cruel treatment which he had received from
Darius, and of the difficulty which he had experienced in making his
escape from the tyrant's hands. He uttered, too, dreadful imprecations
against Darius, and expressed the most eager determination to be
revenged. He informed the Babylonians, moreover, that he was well
acquainted with all Darius's plans and designs, and with the
disposition which he had made of his army; and that, if they would, in
a few days, when his wounds should have in some measure healed, give
him a small command, he would show them, by actual trial, what he
could do to aid their cause.

They acceded to this proposition, and furnished Zopyrus, at the end of
ten days, with a moderate force. Zopyrus, at the head of this force,
sallied forth from the gate which had been previously agreed upon
between him and Darius, and fell upon the unfortunate thousand that
had been stationed there for the purpose of being destroyed. They were
nearly defenseless, and Zopyrus, though his force was inferior, cut
them all to pieces before they could be re-enforced or protected, and
then retreated safely into the city again. He was received by the
Babylonians with the utmost exultation and joy. He had no difficulty
in obtaining, seven days afterward, the command of a larger force,
when, sallying forth from another gate, as had been agreed upon by
Darius, he gained another victory, destroying, on this occasion, twice
as many Persians as before. These exploits gained the pretended
deserter unbounded fame and honor within the city. The populace
applauded him with continual acclamations; and the magistrates invited
him to their councils, offered him high command, and governed their
own plans and measures by his advice. At length, on the twentieth day,
he made his third sally, at which time he destroyed and captured a
still greater number than before. This gave him such an influence and
position within the city, in respect to its defense, that he had no
difficulty in getting intrusted with the keys of certain gates--those,
namely, by which he had agreed that the army of Darius should be

When the time arrived, the Persians advanced to the attack of the city
in that quarter, and the Babylonians rallied as usual on the walls to
repel them. The contest had scarcely begun before they found that the
gates were open, and that the columns of the enemy were pouring in.
The city was thus soon wholly at the mercy of the conqueror. Darius
dismantled the walls, carried off the brazen gates, and crucified
three thousand of the most distinguished inhabitants; then
establishing over the rest a government of his own, he withdrew his
troops and returned to Susa. He bestowed upon Zopyrus, at Susa, all
possible rewards and honors. The marks of his wounds and mutilations
could never be effaced, but Darius often said that he would gladly
give up twenty Babylons to be able to efface them.



B.C. 513

Darius's authority fully established throughout his
dominions.--The Scythians.--Ancient account of them.--Pictures of
savage life.--Their diversity.--Social instincts of man.--Their
universality.--Moral sentiments of mankind.--Religious
depravity.--Advice of Artabanus.--Emissaries sent forward.--The
petition of Oebazus.--Darius's wanton cruelty.--Place of
rendezvous.--The fleet of galleys.--Darius's march through Asia
Minor.--Monuments.--Arrival at the Bosporus.--The bridge of
boats.--Reward of Mandrocles.--The group of statuary.--The Cyanean
Islands.--Darius makes an excursion to them.--The two
monuments.--Inscriptions on them.--The troops cross the
bridge.--Movements of the fleet.--The River Tearus.--Its wonderful
sources.--The cairn.--Primitive mode of census-taking.--Instinctive
feeling of dependence on a supernatural power.--Strange religious
observance.--Arrival at the Danube.--Orders to destroy the
bridge.--Counsel of the Grecian general.--The bridge is
preserved.--Guard left to protect it.--Singular mode of
reckoning.--Probable reason for employing it.--Darius's determination
to return before the knots should be all untied.

In the reigns of ancient monarchs and conquerors, it often happened
that the first great transaction which called forth their energies was
the suppression of a rebellion within their dominions, and the second,
an expedition against some ferocious and half-savage nations beyond
their frontiers. Darius followed this general example. The suppression
of the Babylonian revolt established his authority throughout the
whole interior of his empire. If that vast, and populous, and wealthy
city was found unable to resist his power, no other smaller province
or capital could hope to succeed in the attempt. The whole empire of
Asia, therefore, from the capital at Susa, out to the extreme limits
and bounds to which Cyrus had extended it, yielded without any further
opposition to his sway. He felt strong in his position, and being
young and ardent in temperament, he experienced a desire to exercise
his strength. For some reason or other, he seems to have been not
quite prepared yet to grapple with the Greeks, and he concluded,
accordingly, first to test his powers in respect to foreign invasion
by a war upon the Scythians. This was an undertaking which required
some courage and resolution; for it was while making an incursion into
the country of the Scythians that Cyrus, his renowned predecessor, and
the founder of the Persian empire, had fallen.

The term Scythians seems to have been a generic designation, applied
indiscriminately to vast hordes of half-savage tribes occupying those
wild and inhospitable regions of the north, that extended along the
shores of the Black and Caspian Seas, and the banks of the Danube. The
accounts which are given by the ancient historians of the manners and
customs of these people, are very inconsistent and contradictory; as,
in fact, the accounts of the characters of savages, and of the habits
and usages of savage life, have always been in every age. It is very
little that any one cultivated observer can really know, in respect to
the phases of character, the thoughts and feelings, the sentiments,
the principles and the faith, and even the modes of life, that prevail
among uncivilized aborigines living in forests, or roaming wildly over
uninclosed and trackless plains. Of those who have the opportunity to
observe them, accordingly, some extol, in the highest degree, their
rude but charming simplicity, their truth and faithfulness, the
strength of their filial and conjugal affection, and their superiority
of spirit in rising above the sordid sentiments and gross vices of
civilization. They are not the slaves, these writers say, of appetite
and passion. They have no inordinate love of gain; they are patient in
enduring suffering, grateful for kindness received, and inflexibly
firm in their adherence to the principles of honor and duty. Others,
on the other hand, see in savage life nothing but treachery, cruelty,
brutality, and crime. Man in his native state, as they imagine, is but
a beast, with just intelligence enough to give effect to his
depravity. Without natural affection, without truth, without a sense
of justice, or the means of making law a substitute for it, he lives
in a scene of continual conflict, in which the rights of the weak and
the defenseless are always overborne by brutal and tyrannical power.

The explanation of this diversity is doubtless this, that in savage
life, as well as in every other state of human society, all the
varieties of human conduct and character are exhibited; and the
attention of each observer is attracted to the one or to the other
class of phenomena, according to the circumstances in which he is
placed when he makes his observations, or the mood of mind which
prevails within him when he records them. There must be the usual
virtues of social life, existing in a greater or less degree, in all
human communities; for such principles as a knowledge of the
distinction of right and wrong, the idea of property and of individual
rights, the obligation resting on every one to respect them, the sense
of justice, and of the ill desert of violence and cruelty, are all
_universal instincts of the human soul_, as universal and as essential
to humanity as maternal or filial affection, or the principle of
conjugal love. They were established by the great Author of nature as
constituent elements in the formation of man. Man could not continue
to exist, as a gregarious animal, without them. It would accordingly
be as impossible to find a community of men without these moral
sentiments generally prevalent among them, as to find vultures or
tigers that did not like to pursue and take their prey, or deer
without a propensity to fly from danger. The laws and usages of
civilized society are the expression and the result of these
sentiments, not the origin and foundation of them; and violence,
cruelty, and crime are the exceptions to their operation, very few, in
all communities, savage or civilized, in comparison with the vast
preponderance of cases in which they are obeyed.

This view of the native constitution of the human character, which it
is obvious, on very slight reflection, must be true, is not at all
opposed, as it might at first appear to be, by the doctrine of the
theological writers in the Christian Church in respect to the native
depravity of man; for the depravity here referred to is a religious
depravity, an alienation of the heart from God, and a rebellious and
insubmissive spirit in respect to his law. Neither the Scriptures nor
the theological writers who interpret them ever call in question the
universal existence and prevalence of those instincts that are
essential to the social welfare of man.

But we must return to the Scythians.

The tribes which Darius proposed to attack occupied the countries
north of the Danube. His route, therefore, for the invasion of their
territories would lead him through Asia Minor, thence across the
Hellespont or the Bosporus into Thrace, and from Thrace across the
Danube. It was a distant and dangerous expedition.

Darius had a brother named Artabanus. Artabanus was of opinion that
the enterprise which the king was contemplating was not only distant
and dangerous, but that the country of the Scythians was of so little
value that the end to be obtained by success would be wholly
inadequate to compensate for the exertions, the costs, and the hazards
which he must necessarily incur in the prosecution of it. But Darius
was not to be dissuaded. He thanked his brother for his advice, but
ordered the preparations for the expedition to go on.

He sent emissaries forward, in advance, over the route that his army
was destined to take, transmitting orders to the several provinces
which were situated on the line of his march to prepare the way for
the passage of his troops. Among other preparations, they were to
construct a bridge of boats across the Bosporus at Chalcedon. This
work was intrusted to the charge and superintendence of an engineer of
Samos named Mandrocles. The people of the provinces were also to
furnish bodies of troops, both infantry and cavalry, to join the army
on its march.

The soldiers that were enlisted to go on this remote and dangerous
expedition joined the army, as is usual in such cases, some willingly,
from love of adventure, or the hope of opportunities for plunder, and
for that unbridled indulgence of appetite and passion which soldiers
so often look forward to as a part of their reward; others from hard
compulsion, being required to leave friends and home, and all that
they held dear, under the terror of a stern and despotic edict which
they dared not disobey. It was even dangerous to ask for exemption.

As an instance of this, it is said that there was a Persian named
Oebazus, who had three sons that had been drafted into the army.
Oebazus, desirous of not being left wholly alone in his old age,
made a request to the king that he would allow one of the sons to
remain at home with his father. Darius appeared to receive this
petition favorably. He told Oebazus that the request was so very
modest and considerate that he would grant more than he asked. He
would allow all three of his sons to remain with him. Oebazus
retired from the king's presence overjoyed at the thought that his
family was not to be separated at all. Darius ordered his guards to
kill the three young men, and to send the dead bodies home, with a
message to their father that his sons were restored to him, released
forever from all obligation to serve the king.

The place of general rendezvous for the various forces which were to
join in the expedition, consisting of the army which marched with
Darius from Susa, and also of the troops and ships which the maritime
provinces of Asia Minor were to supply on the way, was on the shores
of the Bosporus, at the point where Mandrocles had constructed the
bridge.[G] The people of Ionia, a region situated in Asia Minor, on
the shores of the Ægean Sea, had been ordered to furnish a fleet of
galleys, which they were to build and equip, and then send to the
bridge. The destination of this fleet was to the Danube. It was to
pass up the Bosporus into the Euxine Sea, now called the Black Sea,
and thence into the mouth of the river. After ascending the Danube to
a certain point, the men were to land and build a bridge across that
river, using, very probably, their galleys for this purpose. In the
mean time, the army was to cross the Bosporus by the bridge which had
been erected there by Mandrocles, and pursue their way toward the
Danube by land, through the kingdom of Thrace. By this arrangement, it
was supposed that the bridge across the Danube would be ready by the
time that the main body of the army arrived on the banks of the river.
The idea of thus building in Asia Minor a bridge for the Danube, in
the form of a vast fleet of galleys, to be sent round through the
Black Sea to the mouths of the river, and thence up the river to its
place of destination, was original and grand. It strikingly marks the
military genius and skill which gave the Greeks so extended a fame,
for it was by the Greeks that the exploit was to be performed.

[Footnote G: For the track of Darius on this expedition, see the map
at the commencement of this volume.]

Darius marched magnificently through Asia Minor, on his way to the
Bosporus, at the head of an army of seventy thousand men. He moved
slowly, and the engineers and architects that accompanied him built
columns and monuments here and there, as he advanced, to commemorate
his progress. These structures were covered with inscriptions, which
ascribed to Darius, as the leader of the enterprise, the most
extravagant praise. At length the splendid array arrived at the place
of rendezvous on the Bosporus, where there was soon presented to view
a very grand and imposing scene.

The bridge of boats was completed, and the Ionian fleet, consisting of
six hundred galleys, was at anchor near it in the stream. Long lines
of tents were pitched upon the shore, and thousands of horsemen and of
foot soldiers were drawn up in array, their banners flying, and their
armor glittering in the sun, and all eager to see and to welcome the
illustrious sovereign who had come, with so much pomp and splendor, to
take them under his command. The banks of the Bosporus were
picturesque and high, and all the eminences were crowded with
spectators, to witness the imposing magnificence of the spectacle.

Darius encamped his army on the shore, and began to make the
preparations necessary for the final departure of the expedition. He
had been thus far within his own dominions. He was now, however, to
pass into another quarter of the globe, to plunge into new and unknown
dangers, among hostile, savage, and ferocious tribes. It was right
that he should pause until he had considered well his plans, and
secured attention to every point which could influence success.

He first examined the bridge of boats. He was very much pleased with
the construction of it. He commended Mandrocles for his skill and
fidelity in the highest terms, and loaded him with rewards and honors.
Mandrocles used the money which Darius thus gave him in employing an
artist to form a piece of statuary which should at once commemorate
the building of the bridge and give to Darius the glory of it. The
group represented the Bosporus with the bridge thrown over it, and the
king on his throne reviewing his troops as they passed over the
structure. This statuary was placed, when finished, in a temple in
Greece, where it was universally admired. Darius was very much pleased
both with the idea of this sculpture on the part of Mandrocles, and
with the execution of it by the artist. He gave the bridge builder new
rewards; he recompensed the artist, also, with similar munificence. He
was pleased that they had contrived so happy a way of at the same time
commemorating the bridging of the Bosporus and rendering exalted honor
to him.

The bridge was situated about the middle of the Bosporus; and as the
strait itself is about eighteen miles long, it was nine miles from the
bridge to the Euxine Sea. There is a small group of islands near the
mouth of this strait, where it opens into the sea, which were called
in those days the Cyanean Islands. They were famed in the time of
Darius for having once been floating islands, and enchanted. Their
supernatural properties had disappeared, but there was one attraction
which still pertained to them. They were situated beyond the limits of
the strait, and the visitor who landed upon them could take his
station on some picturesque cliff or smiling hill, and extend his view
far and wide over the blue waters of the Euxine Sea.

Darius determined to make an excursion to these islands while the
fleet and the army were completing their preparations at the bridge.
He embarked, accordingly, on board a splendid galley, and, sailing
along the Bosporus till he reached the sea, he landed on one of the
islands. There was a temple there, consecrated to one of the Grecian
deities. Darius, accompanied by his attendants and followers, ascended
to this temple, and, taking a seat which had been provided for him
there, he surveyed the broad expanse of water which extended like an
ocean before him, and contemplated the grandeur of the scene with the
greatest admiration and delight.

At length he returned to the bridge, where he found the preparations
for the movement of the fleet and of the army nearly completed. He
determined, before leaving the Asiatic shores, to erect a monument to
commemorate his expedition, on the spot from which he was to take his
final departure. He accordingly directed two columns of white marble
to be reared, and inscriptions to be cut upon them, giving such
particulars in respect to the expedition as it was desirable thus to
preserve. These inscriptions contained his own name in very
conspicuous characters as the leader of the enterprise; also an
enumeration of the various nations that had contributed to form his
army, with the numbers which each had furnished. There was a record of
corresponding particulars, too, in respect to the fleet. The
inscriptions were the same upon the two columns, except that upon the
one it was written in the Assyrian tongue, which was the general
language of the Persian empire, and upon the other in the Greek. Thus
the two monuments were intended, the one for the Asiatic, and the
other for the European world.

At length the day of departure arrived. The fleet set sail, and the
immense train of the army put itself in motion to cross the
bridge.[H] The fleet went on through the Bosporus to the Euxine, and
thence along the western coast of that sea till it reached the mouths
of the Danube. The ships entered the river by one of the branches
which form the delta of the stream, and ascended for two days. This
carried them above the ramifications into which the river divides
itself at its mouth, to a spot where the current was confined to a
single channel, and where the banks were firm. Here they landed, and
while one part of the force which they had brought were occupied in
organizing guards and providing defenses to protect the ground, the
remainder commenced the work of arranging the vessels of the fleet,
side by side, across the stream, to form the bridge.

[Footnote H: See Frontispiece.]

In the mean time, Darius, leading the great body of the army, advanced
from the Bosporus by land. The country which the troops thus traversed
was Thrace. They met with various adventures as they proceeded, and
saw, as the accounts of the expedition state, many strange and
marvelous phenomena. They came, for example, to the sources of a very
wonderful river, which flows west and south toward the Ægean Sea. The
name of the river was the Tearus. It came from thirty-eight springs,
all issuing from the same rock, some hot and some cold. The waters of
the stream which was produced by the mingling of these fountains were
pure, limpid, and delicious, and were possessed of remarkable
medicinal properties, being efficacious for the cure of various
diseases. Darius was so much pleased with this river, that his army
halted to refresh themselves with its waters, and he caused one of his
monuments to be erected on the spot, the inscription of which
contained not only the usual memorials of the march, but also a
tribute to the salubrity of the waters of this magical stream.

At one point in the course of the march through Thrace, Darius
conceived the idea of varying the construction of his line of
monuments by building a cairn. A cairn is a heap of stones, such as is
reared in the mountains of Scotland and of Switzerland by the
voluntary additions of every passer by, to commemorate a spot marked
as the scene of some accident or disaster. As each guide finishes the
story of the incident in the hearing of the party which he conducts,
each tourist who has listened to it adds his stone to the heap, until
the rude structure attains sometimes to a very considerable size.
Darius, fixing upon a suitable spot near one of his encampments,
commanded every soldier in the army to bring a stone and place it on
the pile. A vast mound rose rapidly from these contributions, which,
when completed, not only commemorated the march of the army, but
denoted, also, by the immense number of the stones entering into the
composition of the pile, the countless multitude of soldiers that
formed the expedition.

There was a story told to Darius, as he was traversing these regions,
of a certain king, reigning over some one of the nations that occupied
them, who wished to make an enumeration of the inhabitants of his
realm. The mode which he adopted was to require every man in his
dominions to send him an arrow head. When all the arrow heads were in,
the vast collection was counted by the official arithmeticians, and
the total of the population was thus attained. The arrow heads were
then laid together in a sort of monumental pile. It was, perhaps, this
primitive mode of census-taking which suggested to Darius the idea of
his cairn.

There was a tribe of barbarians through whose dominions Darius passed
on his way from the Bosporus to the Danube, that observed a custom in
their religious worship, which, though in itself of a shocking
character, suggests reflections of salutary influence for our own
minds. There is a universal instinct in the human heart, leading it
strongly to feel the need of help from an unseen and supernatural
world in its sorrows and trials; and it is almost always the case that
rude and savage nations, in their attempts to obtain this spiritual
aid, connect the idea of personal privation and suffering on their
part, self inflicted if necessary, as a means of seeking it. It seems
as if the instinctive conviction of personal guilt, which associates
itself so naturally and so strongly in the minds of men with all
conceptions of the unseen world and of divine power, demands something
like an expiation as an essential prerequisite to obtaining audience
and acceptance with the King of Heaven. The tribe of savages above
referred to manifested this feeling by a dreadful observance. Once in
every five years they were accustomed to choose by lot, with solemn
ceremonies, one of their number, to be sent as a legate or embassador
to their god. The victim, when chosen, was laid down upon the ground
in the midst of the vast assembly convened to witness the rite, while
officers designated for the purpose stood by, armed with javelins.
Other men, selected for their great personal strength, then took the
man from the ground by the hands and feet, and swinging him to and fro
three times to gain momentum, they threw him with all their force into
the air, and the armed men, when he came down, caught him on the
points of their javelins. If he was killed by this dreadful
impalement, all was right. He would bear the message of the wants and
necessities of the tribe to their god, and they might reasonably
expect a favorable reception. If, on the other hand, he did not die,
he was thought to be rejected by the god as a wicked man and an
unsuitable messenger. The unfortunate convalescent was, in such cases,
dismissed in disgrace, and another messenger chosen.

The army of Darius reached the banks of the Danube at last, and they
found that the fleet of the Ionians had attained the point agreed upon
before them, and were awaiting their arrival. The vessels were soon
arranged in the form of a bridge across the stream, and as there was
no enemy at hand to embarrass them, the army soon accomplished the
passage. They were now fairly in the Scythian country, and
immediately began their preparations to advance and meet the foe.
Darius gave orders to have the bridge broken up, and the galleys
abandoned and destroyed, as he chose rather to take with him the whole
of his force, than to leave a guard behind sufficient to protect this
shipping. These orders were about to be executed, when a Grecian
general, who was attached to one of the bodies of troops which were
furnished from the provinces of Asia Minor, asked leave to speak to
the king. The king granted him an audience, when he expressed his
opinion as follows:

"It seems to me to be more prudent, sire, to leave the bridge as it
is, under the care of those who have constructed it, as it may be that
we shall have occasion to use it on our return. I do not recommend the
preservation of it as a means of securing a retreat, for, in case we
meet the Scythians at all, I am confident of victory; but our enemy
consists of wandering hordes who have no fixed habitation, and their
country is entirely without cities or posts of any kind which they
will feel any strong interest in defending, and thus it is possible
that we may not be able to find any enemy to combat. Besides, if we
succeed in our enterprise as completely as we can desire, it will be
important, on many accounts, to preserve an open and free
communication with the countries behind us."

The king approved of this counsel, and countermanded his orders for
the destruction of the bridge. He directed that the Ionian forces that
had accompanied the fleet should remain at the river to guard the
bridge. They were to remain thus on guard for two months, and then, if
Darius did not return, and if they heard no tidings of him, they were
at liberty to leave their post, and to go back, with their galleys, to
their own land again.

Two months would seem to be a very short time to await the return of
an army going on such an expedition into boundless and trackless
wilds. There can, however, scarcely be any accidental error in the
statement of the time, as the mode which Darius adopted to enable the
guard thus left at the bridge to keep their reckoning was a very
singular one, and it is very particularly described. He took a cord,
it is said, and tied sixty knots in it. This cord he delivered to the
Ionian chiefs who were to be left in charge of the bridge, directing
them to untie one of the knots every day. When the cord should
become, by this process, wholly free, the detachment were also at
liberty. They might thereafter, at any time, abandon the post
intrusted to them, and return to their homes.

We can not suppose that military men, capable of organizing a force of
seventy thousand troops for so distant an expedition, and possessed of
sufficient science and skill to bridge the Bosporus and the Danube,
could have been under any necessity of adopting so childish a method
as this as a real reliance in regulating their operations. It must be
recollected, however, that, though the commanders in these ancient
days were intelligent and strong-minded men, the common soldiers were
but children both in intellect and in ideas; and it was the custom of
all great commanders to employ outward and visible symbols to
influence and govern them. The sense of loneliness and desertion which
such soldiers would naturally feel in being left in solitude on the
banks of the river, would be much diminished by seeing before them a
marked and definite termination to the period of their stay, and to
have, in the cord hanging up in their camp, a visible token that the
remnant of time that remained was steadily diminishing day by day;
while, in the mean time, Darius was fully determined that, long before
the knots should be all untied, he would return to the river.



B.C. 513

Motive for Darius's invasion.--The foundation of government.--Darius
without justification in invading Scythia.--Alarm of the
Scythians.--Condition of the tribes.--Men metamorphosed into
wolves.--Story of the Amazons.--Adventures of the Amazons.--Two of
them captured.--The corps of cavaliers.--Their maneuvers.--Success
of the cavaliers.--Matrimonial alliances.--The Amazons rule their
husbands.--They establish a separate tribe.--The Scythians send an
embassy to the neighboring tribes.--Habits of the Scythians.--Their
mode of warfare.--Message to Indathyrsus.--His reply.--The Scythian
cavalry.--Their attacks on the Persians.--Braying of the Persian
asses.--Scythians sent to the bridge.--Agreement with the
Ionians.--The Scythians change their policy.--The Scythians' strange
presents.--Various interpretations.--Opinions of the Persian
officers.--The Scythians draw up their forces.--The armies prepare
for battle.--Hunting the hare.--The Persians resolve to
retreat.--Stratagem and secret flight.--Surrender of the
camp.--Difficulties of the retreat.--The bridge partially
destroyed.--Darius arrives at the Danube.--The bridge repaired.--The
army returns to Asia.

The motive which dictated Darius's invasion of Scythia seems to have
been purely a selfish and domineering love of power. The attempts of a
stronger and more highly civilized state to extend its dominion over a
weaker and more lawless one, are not, however, necessarily and always
of this character. Divine Providence, in making men gregarious in
nature, has given them an instinct of organization, which is as
intrinsic and as essential a characteristic of the human soul as
maternal love or the principle of self-preservation. The right,
therefore, of organizations of men to establish law and order among
themselves, and to extend these principles to other communities around
them, so far as such interpositions are really promotive of the
interests and welfare of those affected by them, rests on precisely
the same foundation as the right of the father to govern the child.
This foundation is the existence and universality of an instinctive
principle implanted by the Creator in the human heart; a principle
which we are bound to submit to, both because it is a fundamental and
constituent element in the very structure of man, and because its
recognition and the acknowledgment of its authority are absolutely
essential to his continued existence. Wherever law and order,
therefore, among men do not exist, it may be properly established and
enforced by any neighboring organization that has power to do it, just
as wherever there is a group of children they may be justly controlled
and governed by their father. It seems equally unnecessary to invent a
fictitious and wholly imaginary _compact_ to justify the jurisdiction
in the one case as in the other.

If the Scythians, therefore, had been in a state of confusion and
anarchy, Darius might justly have extended his own well-regulated and
settled government over them, and, in so doing, would have promoted
the general good of mankind. But he had no such design. It was a
desire for personal aggrandizement, and a love of fame and power,
which prompted him. He offered it as a pretext to justify his
invasion, that the Scythians, in former years, had made incursions
into the Persian dominions; but this was only a pretext. The
expedition was a wanton attack upon neighbors whom he supposed unable
to resist him, simply for the purpose of adding to his own already
gigantic power.

When Darius commenced his march from the river, the Scythians had
heard rumors of his approach. They sent, as soon as they were aware of
the impending danger, to all the nations and tribes around them, in
order to secure their alliance and aid. These people were all
wandering and half-savage tribes, like the Scythians themselves,
though each seems to have possessed its own special and distinctive
mark of barbarity. One tribe were accustomed to carry home the heads
of the enemies which they had slain in battle, and each one, impaling
his own dreadful trophy upon a stake, would set it up upon his
house-top, over the chimney, where they imagined that it would have
the effect of a charm, and serve as a protection for the family.
Another tribe lived in habits of promiscuous intercourse, like the
lower orders of animals; and so, as the historian absurdly states,
being, in consequence of this mode of life, all connected together by
the ties of consanguinity, they lived in perpetual peace and good
will, without any envy, or jealousy, or other evil passion. A third
occupied a region so infested with serpents that they were once driven
wholly out of the country by them. It was said of these people that,
once in every year, they were all metamorphosed into wolves, and,
after remaining for a few days in this form, they were transformed
again into men. A fourth tribe painted their bodies blue and red, and
a fifth were cannibals.

The most remarkable, however, of all the tales related about these
northern savages was the story of the Sauromateans and their Amazonian
wives. The Amazons were a nation of masculine and ferocious women, who
often figure in ancient histories and legends. They rode on horseback
astride like men, and their courage and strength in battle were such
that scarcely any troops could subdue them. It happened, however, upon
one time, that some Greeks conquered a body of them somewhere upon the
shores of the Euxine Sea, and took a large number of them prisoners.
They placed these prisoners on board of three ships, and put to sea.
The Amazons rose upon their captors and threw them overboard, and thus
obtained possession of the ships. They immediately proceeded toward
the shore, and landed, not knowing where they were. It happened to be
on the northwestern coast of the sea that they landed. Here they
roamed up and down the country, until presently they fell in with a
troop of horses. These they seized and mounted, arming themselves, at
the same time, either with the weapons which they had procured on
board the ships, or fabricated, themselves, on the shore. Thus
organized and equipped, they began to make excursions for plunder, and
soon became a most formidable band of marauders. The Scythians of the
country supposed that they were men, but they could learn nothing
certain respecting them. Their language, their appearance, their
manners, and their dress were totally new, and the inhabitants were
utterly unable to conceive who they were, and from what place they
could so suddenly and mysteriously have come.

At last, in one of the encounters which took place, the Scythians took
two of these strange invaders prisoners. To their utter amazement,
they found that they were women. On making this discovery, they
changed their mode of dealing with them, and resolved upon a plan
based on the supposed universality of the instincts of their sex.
They enlisted a corps of the most handsome and vigorous young men that
could be obtained, and after giving them instructions, the nature of
which will be learned by the result, they sent them forth to meet the

The corps of Scythian cavaliers went out to seek their female
antagonists with designs any thing but belligerent. They advanced to
the encampment of the Amazons, and hovered about for some time in
their vicinity, without, however, making any warlike demonstrations.
They had been instructed to show themselves as much as possible to the
enemy, but by no means to fight them. They would, accordingly, draw as
near to the Amazons as was safe, and linger there, gazing upon them,
as if under the influence of some sort of fascination. If the Amazons
advanced toward them, they would fall back, and if the advance
continued, they would retreat fast enough to keep effectually out of
the way. Then, when the Amazons turned, they would turn too, follow
them back, and linger near them, around their encampment, as before.

The Amazonians were for a time puzzled with this strange demeanor, and
they gradually learned to look upon the handsome horsemen at first
without fear, and finally even without hostility. At length, one day,
one of the young horsemen, observing an Amazon who had strayed away
from the rest, followed and joined her. She did not repel him. They
were not able to converse together, as neither knew the language of
the other. They established a friendly intercourse, however, by looks
and signs, and after a time they separated, each agreeing to bring one
of their companions to the place of rendezvous on the following day.

A friendly intercommunication being thus commenced, the example spread
very rapidly; matrimonial alliances began to be formed, and, in a
word, a short time only elapsed before the two camps were united and
intermingled, the Scythians and the Amazons being all paired together
in the most intimate relations of domestic life. Thus, true to the
instincts of their sex, the rude and terrible maidens decided, when
the alternative was fairly presented to them, in favor of husbands and
homes, rather than continuing the life they had led, of independence,
conflict, and plunder. It is curious to observe that the means by
which they were won, namely, a persevering display of admiration and
attentions, steadily continued, but not too eagerly and impatiently
pressed, and varied with an adroit and artful alternation of advances
and retreats, were precisely the same as those by which, in every age,
the attempt is usually made to win the heart of woman from hatred and
hostility to love.

We speak of the Amazonians as having been won; but they were, in fact,
themselves the conquerors of their captors, after all; for it
appeared, in the end, that in the future plans and arrangements of the
united body, they ruled their Scythian husbands, and not the Scythians
them. The husbands wished to return home with their wives, whom, they
said, they would protect and maintain in the midst of their countrymen
in honor and in peace. The Amazons, however, were in favor of another
plan. Their habits and manners were such, they said, that they should
not be respected and beloved among any other people. They wished that
their husbands, therefore, would go home and settle their affairs, and
afterward return and join their wives again, and then that all
together should move to the eastward, until they should find a
suitable place to settle in by themselves. This plan was acceded to by
the husbands, and was carried into execution; and the result was the
planting of a new nation, called the Sauromateans, who thenceforth
took their place among the other barbarous tribes that dwelt upon the
northern shores of the Euxine Sea.

Such was the character of the tribes and nations that dwelt in the
neighborhood of the Scythian country. As soon as Darius had passed the
river, the Scythians sent embassadors to all their people, proposing
to them to form a general alliance against the invader. "We ought to
make common cause against him," said they; "for if he subdues one
nation, it will only open the way for an attack upon the rest. Some of
us are, it is true, more remote than others from the immediate danger,
but it threatens us all equally in the end."

The embassadors delivered their message, and some of the tribes
acceded to the Scythian proposals. Others, however, refused. The
quarrel, they said, was a quarrel between Darius and the Scythians
alone, and they were not inclined to bring upon themselves the
hostility of so powerful a sovereign by interfering. The Scythians
were very indignant at this refusal; but there was no remedy, and they
accordingly began to prepare to defend themselves as well as they
could, with the help of those nations that had expressed a willingness
to join them.

The habits of the Scythians were nomadic and wandering, and their
country was one vast region of verdant and beautiful, and yet, in a
great measure, of uncultivated and trackless wilds. They had few towns
and villages, and those few were of little value. They adopted,
therefore, the mode of warfare which, in such a country and for such a
people, is always the wisest to be pursued. They retreated slowly
before Darius's advancing army, carrying off or destroying all such
property as might aid the king in respect to his supplies. They
organized and equipped a body of swift horsemen, who were ordered to
hover around Darius's camp, and bring intelligence to the Scythian
generals of every movement. These horsemen, too, were to harass the
flanks and the rear of the army, and to capture or destroy every man
whom they should find straying away from the camp. By this means they
kept the invading army continually on the alert, allowing them no
peace and no repose, while yet they thwarted and counteracted all the
plans and efforts which the enemy made to bring on a general battle.

As the Persians advanced in pursuit of the enemy, the Scythians
retreated, and in this retreat they directed their course toward the
countries occupied by those nations that had refused to join in the
alliance. By this artful management they transferred the calamity and
the burden of the war to the territories of their neighbors. Darius
soon found that he was making no progress toward gaining his end. At
length he concluded to try the effect of a direct and open challenge.

He accordingly sent embassadors to the Scythian chief, whose name was
Indathyrsus, with a message somewhat as follows:

"Foolish man! how long will you continue to act in this absurd and
preposterous manner? It is incumbent on you to make a decision in
favor of one thing or the other. If you think that you are able to
contend with me, stop, and let us engage. If not, then acknowledge me
as your superior, and submit to my authority."

The Scythian chief sent back the following reply:

"We have no inducement to contend with you in open battle on the
field, because you are not doing us any injury, nor is it at present
in your power to do us any. We have no cities and no cultivated fields
that you can seize or plunder. Your roaming about our country,
therefore, does us no harm, and you are at liberty to continue it as
long as it gives you any pleasure. There is nothing on our soil that
you can injure, except one spot, and that is the place where the
sepulchres of our fathers lie. If you were to attack that spot--which
you may perhaps do, if you can find it--you may rely upon a battle. In
the mean time, you may go elsewhere, wherever you please. As to
acknowledging your superiority, we shall do nothing of the kind. We
defy you."

Notwithstanding the refusal of the Scythians to give the Persians
battle, they yet made, from time to time, partial and unexpected
onsets upon their camp, seizing occasions when they hoped to find
their enemies off their guard. The Scythians had troops of cavalry
which were very efficient and successful in these attacks. These
horsemen were, however, sometimes thrown into confusion and driven
back by a very singular means of defense. It seems that the Persians
had brought with them from Europe, in their train, a great number of
asses, as beasts of burden, to transport the tents and the baggage of
the army. These asses were accustomed, in times of excitement and
danger, to set up a very terrific braying. It was, in fact, all that
they could do. Braying at a danger seems to be a very ridiculous mode
of attempting to avert it, but it was a tolerably effectual mode,
nevertheless, in this case at least; for the Scythian horses, who
would have faced spears and javelins, and the loudest shouts and
vociferations of human adversaries without any fear, were appalled and
put to flight at hearing the unearthly noises which issued from the
Persian camp whenever they approached it. Thus the mighty monarch of
the whole Asiatic world seemed to depend for protection against the
onsets of these rude and savage troops on the braying of his asses!

       *       *       *       *       *

While these things were going on in the interior of the country, the
Scythians sent down a detachment of their forces to the banks of the
Danube, to see if they could not, in some way or other, obtain
possession of the bridge. They learned here what the orders were which
Darius had given to the Ionians who had been left in charge, in
respect to the time of their remaining at their post. The Scythians
told them that if they would govern themselves strictly by those
orders, and so break up the bridge and go down the river with their
boats as soon as the two months should have expired, they should not
be molested in the mean time. The Ionians agreed to this. The time was
then already nearly gone, and they promised that, so soon as it should
be fully expired, they would withdraw.

The Scythian detachment sent back word to the main army acquainting
them with these facts, and the army accordingly resolved on a change
in their policy. Instead of harassing and distressing the Persians as
they had done, to hasten their departure, they now determined to
improve the situation of their enemies, and encourage them in their
hopes, so as to protract their stay. They accordingly allowed the
Persians to gain the advantage over them in small skirmishes, and they
managed, also, to have droves of cattle fall into their hands, from
time to time, so as to supply them with food. The Persians were quite
elated with these indications that the tide of fortune was about to
turn in their favor.

While things were in this state, there appeared one day at the Persian
camp a messenger from the Scythians, who said that he had some
presents from the Scythian chief for Darius. The messenger was
admitted, and allowed to deliver his gifts. The gifts proved to be a
bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. The Persians asked the bearer
of these strange offerings what the Scythians meant by them. He
replied that he had no explanations to give. His orders were, he said,
to deliver the presents and then return; and that they must,
accordingly, find out the meaning intended by the exercise of their
own ingenuity.

When the messenger had retired, Darius and the Persians consulted
together, to determine what so strange a communication could mean.
They could not, however, come to any satisfactory decision. Darius
said that he thought the three animals might probably be intended to
denote the three kingdoms of nature to which the said animals
respectively belonged, viz., the earth, the air, and the water; and as
the giving up of weapons was a token of submission, the whole might
mean that the Scythians were now ready to give up the contest, and
acknowledge the right of the Persians to supreme and universal

The officers, however, did not generally concur in this opinion. They
saw no indications, they said, of any disposition on the part of the
Scythians to surrender. They thought it quite as probable that the
communication was meant to announce to those who received it threats
and defiance, as to express conciliation and submission. "It may
mean," said one of them, "that, unless you can fly like a bird into
the air, or hide like a mouse in the ground, or bury yourselves, like
the frog, in morasses and fens, you can not escape our arrows."

There was no means of deciding positively between these contradictory
interpretations, but it soon became evident that the former of the two
was very far from being correct; for, soon after the present was
received, the Scythians were seen to be drawing up their forces in
array, as if preparing for battle. The two months had expired, and
they had reason to suppose that the party at the bridge had withdrawn,
as they had promised to do. Darius had been so far weakened by his
harassing marches, and the manifold privations and sufferings of his
men, that he felt some solicitude in respect to the result of a
battle, now that it seemed to be drawing near, although such a trial
of strength had been the object which he had been, from the beginning,
most eager to secure.

The two armies were encamped at a moderate distance from each other,
with a plain, partly wooded, between them. While in this position, and
before any hostile action was commenced by either party, it was
observed from the camp of Darius that suddenly a great tumult arose
from the Scythian lines. Men were seen rushing in dense crowds this
way and that over the plain, with shouts and outcries, which, however,
had in them no expression of anger or fear, but rather one of gayety
and pleasure. Darius demanded what the strange tumult meant. Some
messengers were sent out to ascertain the cause, and on their return
they reported that the Scythians were hunting a hare, which had
suddenly made its appearance. The hare had issued from a thicket, and
a considerable portion of the army, officers and soldiers, had
abandoned their ranks to enjoy the sport of pursuing it, and were
running impetuously, here and there, across the plain, filling the air
with shouts of hilarity.

"They do indeed despise us," said Darius, "since, on the eve of a
battle, they can lose all thoughts of us and of their danger, and
abandon their posts to hunt a hare!"

That evening a council of war was held. It was concluded that the
Scythians must be very confident and strong in their position, and
that, if a general battle were to be hazarded, it would be very
doubtful what would be the result. The Persians concluded unanimously,
therefore, that the wisest plan would be for them to give up the
intended conquest, and retire from the country. Darius accordingly
proceeded to make his preparations for a secret retreat.

He separated all the infirm and feeble portion of the army from the
rest, and informed them that he was going that night on a short
expedition with the main body of the troops, and that, while he was
gone, they were to remain and defend the camp. He ordered the men to
build the camp fires, and to make them larger and more numerous than
common, and then had the asses tied together in an unusual situation,
so that they should keep up a continual braying. These sounds, heard
all the night, and the light of the camp fires, were to lead the
Scythians to believe that the whole body of the Persians remained, as
usual, at the encampment, and thus to prevent all suspicion of their

Toward midnight, Darius marched forth in silence and secrecy, with all
the vigorous and able-bodied forces under his command, leaving the
weary, the sick, and the infirm to the mercy of their enemies. The
long column succeeded in making good their retreat, without exciting
the suspicions of the Scythians. They took the route which they
supposed would conduct them most directly to the river.

When the troops which remained in the camp found, on the following
morning, that they had been deceived and abandoned, they made signals
to the Scythians to come to them, and, when they came, the invalids
surrendered themselves and the camp to their possession. The Scythians
then, immediately, leaving a proper guard to defend the camp, set out
to follow the Persian army. Instead, however, of keeping directly upon
their track, they took a shorter course, which would lead them more
speedily to the river. The Persians, being unacquainted with the
country, got involved in fens and morasses, and other difficulties of
the way, and their progress was thus so much impeded that the
Scythians reached the river before them.

They found the Ionians still there, although the two months had fully
expired. It is possible that the chiefs had received secret orders
from Darius not to hasten their departure, even after the knots had
all been untied; or perhaps they chose, of their own accord, to await
their sovereign's return. The Scythians immediately urged them to be
gone. "The time has expired," they said, "and you are no longer under
any obligation to wait. Return to your own country, and assert your
own independence and freedom, which you can safely do if you leave
Darius and his armies here."

The Ionians consulted together on the subject, doubtful, at first,
what to do. They concluded that they would not comply with the
Scythian proposals, while yet they determined to pretend to comply
with them, in order to avoid the danger of being attacked. They
accordingly began to take the bridge to pieces, commencing on the
Scythian side of the stream. The Scythians, seeing the work thus going
on, left the ground, and marched back to meet the Persians. The
armies, however, fortunately for Darius, missed each other, and the
Persians arrived safely at the river, after the Scythians had left it.
They arrived in the night, and the advanced guard, seeing no
appearance of the bridge on the Scythian side, supposed that the
Ionians had gone. They shouted long and loud on the shore, and at
length an Egyptian, who was celebrated for the power of his voice,
succeeded in making the Ionians hear. The boats were immediately
brought back to their positions, the bridge was reconstructed, and
Darius's army recrossed the stream.

The Danube being thus safely crossed, the army made the best of its
way back through Thrace, and across the Bosporus into Asia, and thus
ended Darius's great expedition against the Scythians.



B.C. 504

Histiæus at the bridge on the Danube.--Darius's anxiety.--Darius's
gratitude.--Scythia abandoned.--Darius sends for Histiæus.--Petition
of Histiæus.--Histiæus organizes a colony.--The Pæonians.--Baseness
of the Pæonian chiefs.--Their stratagem.--The Pæonian
maiden.--Multiplicity of her avocations.--Darius and the maiden.--He
determines to make the Pæonians slaves.--Capture of the
Pæonians.--Megabyzus discovers Histiæus's city.--Histiæus
sent for.--Darius revokes his gift.--Histiæus goes to
Susa.--Artaphernes.--Island of Naxos.--Civil war there.--Action of
Aristagoras.--Co-operation of Artaphernes.--Darius consulted.--His
approval.--Preparations.--Sailing of the expedition.--Plan of the
commander.--Difficulty in the fleet.--Cruel discipline.--Dissension
between the commanders.--The expedition fails.--Chagrin of
Aristagoras.--He resolves to revolt.--Position of Histiæus.--His
uneasiness.--Singular mode of communication.--Its success.--Revolt
of Aristagoras.--Feigned indignation of Histiæus.--The Ionian
rebellion.--Its failure.--Death of Histiæus.

The nature of the government which was exercised in ancient times by a
royal despot like Darius, and the character of the measures and
management to which he was accustomed to resort to gain his political
ends, are, in many points, very strikingly illustrated by the story of

Histiæus was the Ionian chieftain who had been left in charge of the
bridge of boats across the Danube when Darius made his incursion into
Scythia. When, on the failure of the expedition, Darius returned to
the river, knowing, as he did, that the two months had expired, he
naturally felt a considerable degree of solicitude lest he should find
the bridge broken up and the vessels gone, in which case his situation
would be very desperate, hemmed in, as he would have been, between the
Scythians and the river. His anxiety was changed into terror when his
advanced guard arrived at the bank and found that no signs of the
bridge were to be seen. It is easy to imagine what, under these
circumstances, must have been the relief and joy of all the army, when
they heard friendly answers to their shouts, coming, through the
darkness of the night, over the waters of the river, assuring them
that their faithful allies were still at their posts, and that they
themselves would soon be in safety.

Darius, though he was governed by no firm and steady principles of
justice, was still a man of many generous impulses. He was grateful
for favors, though somewhat capricious in his modes of requiting them.
He declared to Histiæus that he felt under infinite obligations to him
for his persevering fidelity, and that, as soon as the army should
have safely arrived in Asia, he would confer upon him such rewards as
would evince the reality of his gratitude.

On his return from Scythia, Darius brought back the whole of his army
over the Danube, thus abandoning entirely the country of the
Scythians; but he did not transport the whole body across the
Bosporus. He left a considerable detachment of troops, under the
command of one of his generals, named Megabyzus, in Thrace, on the
European side, ordering Megabyzus to establish himself there, and to
reduce all the countries in that neighborhood to his sway. Darius
then proceeded to Sardis, which was the most powerful and wealthy of
his capitals in that quarter of the world. At Sardis, he was, as it
were, at home again, and he accordingly took an early opportunity to
send for Histiæus, as well as some others who had rendered him special
services in his late campaign, in order that he might agree with them
in respect to their reward. He asked Histiæus what favor he wished to

Histiæus replied that he was satisfied, on the whole, with the
position which he already enjoyed, which was that of king or governor
of Miletus, an Ionian city, south of Sardis, and on the shores of the
Ægean Sea.[I] He should be pleased, however, he said, if the king
would assign him a certain small territory in Thrace, or, rather, on
the borders between Thrace and Macedonia, near the mouth of the River
Strymon. He wished to build a city there. The king immediately granted
this request, which was obviously very moderate and reasonable. He did
not, perhaps, consider that this territory, being in Thrace, or in its
immediate vicinity, came within the jurisdiction of Megabyzus, whom
he had left in command there, and that the grant might lead to some
conflict between the two generals. There was special danger of
jealousy and disagreement between them, for Megabyzus was a Persian,
and Histiæus was a Greek.

[Footnote I: For these places, see the map at the commencement of the
next chapter.]

Histiæus organized a colony, and, leaving a temporary and provisional
government at Miletus, he proceeded along the shores of the Ægean Sea
to the spot assigned him, and began to build his city. As the locality
was beyond the Thracian frontier, and at a considerable distance from
the head-quarters of Megabyzus, it is very probable that the
operations of Histiæus would not have attracted the Persian general's
attention for a considerable time, had it not been for a very
extraordinary and peculiar train of circumstances, which led him to
discover them. The circumstances were these:

There was a nation or tribe called the Pæonians, who inhabited the
valley of the Strymon, which river came down from the interior of the
country, and fell into the sea near the place where Histiæus was
building his city. Among the Pæonian chieftains there were two who
wished to obtain the government of the country, but they were not
quite strong enough to effect their object. In order to weaken the
force which was opposed to them, they conceived the base design of
betraying their tribe to Darius, and inducing him to make them
captives. If their plan should succeed, a considerable portion of the
population would be taken away, and they could easily, they supposed,
obtain ascendency over the rest. In order to call the attention of
Darius to the subject, and induce him to act as they desired, they
resorted to the following stratagem. Their object seems to have been
to lead Darius to undertake a campaign against their countrymen, by
showing him what excellent and valuable slaves they would make.

These two chieftains were brothers, and they had a very beautiful
sister; her form was graceful and elegant, and her countenance lovely.
They brought this sister with them to Sardis when Darius was there.
They dressed and decorated her in a very careful manner, but yet in a
style appropriate to the condition of a servant; and then, one day,
when the king was sitting in some public place in the city, as was
customary with Oriental sovereigns, they sent her to pass along the
street before him, equipped in such a manner as to show that she was
engaged in servile occupations. She had a jar, such as was then used
for carrying water, poised upon her head, and she was leading a horse
by means of a bridle hung over her arm. Her hands, being thus not
required either for the horse or for the vessel, were employed in
spinning, as she walked along, by means of a distaff and spindle.

The attention of Darius was strongly attracted to the spectacle. The
beauty of the maiden, the novelty and strangeness of her costume, the
multiplicity of her avocations, and the ease and grace with which she
performed them, all conspired to awaken the monarch's curiosity. He
directed one of his attendants to follow her and see where she should
go. The attendant did so. The girl went to the river. She watered her
horse, filled her jar and placed it on her head, and then, hanging the
bridle on her arm again, she returned through the same streets, and
passed the king's palace as before, spinning as she walked along.

The interest and curiosity of the king was excited more than ever by
the reappearance of the girl and by the report of his messenger. He
directed that she should be stopped and brought into his presence. She
came; and her brothers, who had been watching the whole scene from a
convenient spot near at hand, joined her and came too. The king asked
them who they were. They replied that they were Pæonians. He wished to
know where they lived. "On the banks of the River Strymon," they
replied, "near the confines of Thrace." He next asked whether all the
women of their country were accustomed to labor, and were as
ingenious, and dexterous, and beautiful as their sister. The brothers
replied that they were.

Darius immediately determined to make the whole people slaves. He
accordingly dispatched a courier with the orders. The courier crossed
the Hellespont, and proceeded to the encampment of Megabyzus in
Thrace. He delivered his dispatches to the Persian general, commanding
him to proceed immediately to Pæonia, and there to take the whole
community prisoners, and bring them to Darius in Sardis. Megabyzus,
until this time, had known nothing of the people whom he was thus
commanded to seize. He, however, found some Thracian guides who
undertook to conduct him to their territory; and then, taking with him
a sufficient force, he set out on the expedition. The Pæonians heard
of his approach. Some prepared to defend themselves; others fled to
the mountains. The fugitives escaped, but those who attempted to
resist were taken. Megabyzus collected the unfortunate captives,
together with their wives and children, and brought them down to the
coast to embark them for Sardis. In doing this, he had occasion to
pass by the spot where Histiæus was building his city, and it was
then, for the first time, that Megabyzus became acquainted with the
plan. Histiæus was building a wall to defend his little territory on
the side of the land. Ships and galleys were going and coming on the
side of the sea. Every thing indicated that the work was rapidly and
prosperously advancing.

Megabyzus did not interfere with the work; but, as soon as he arrived
at Sardis with his captives, and had delivered them to the king, he
introduced the subject of Histiæus's city, and represented to Darius
that it would be dangerous to the Persian interests to allow such an
enterprise to go on. "He will establish a strong post there," said
Megabyzus, "by means of which he will exercise a great ascendency over
all the neighboring seas. The place is admirably situated for a naval
station, as the country in the vicinity abounds with all the materials
for building and equipping ships. There are also mines of silver in
the mountains near, from which he will obtain a great supply of
treasure. By these means he will become so strong in a short period of
time, that, after you have returned to Asia, he will revolt from your
authority, carrying with him, perhaps, in his rebellion, all the
Greeks of Asia Minor."

The king said that he was sorry that he had made the grant, and that
he would revoke it without delay.

Megabyzus recommended that the king should not do this in an open or
violent manner, but that he should contrive some way to arrest the
progress of the undertaking without any appearance of suspicion or

Darius accordingly sent for Histiæus to come to him at Sardis, saying
that there was a service of great importance on which he wished to
employ him. Histiæus, of course, obeyed such a summons with eager
alacrity. When he arrived, Darius expressed great pleasure at seeing
him once more, and said that he had constant need of his presence and
his counsels. He valued, above all price, the services of so faithful
a friend, and so sagacious and trusty an adviser. He was now, he said,
going to Susa, and he wished Histiæus to accompany him as his privy
counselor and confidential friend. It would be necessary, Darius
added, that he should give up his government of Miletus, and also the
city in Thrace which he had begun to build; but he should be exalted
to higher honors and dignities at Susa in their stead. He should have
apartments in the king's palace, and live in great luxury and

Histiæus was extremely disappointed and chagrined at this
announcement. He was obliged, however, to conceal his vexation and
submit to his fate. In a few days after this, he set out, with the
rest of Darius's court, for the Persian capital, leaving a nephew,
whose name was Aristagoras, as governor of Miletus in his stead.
Darius, on the other hand, committed the general charge of the whole
coast of Asia Minor to Artaphernes, one of his generals. Artaphernes
was to make Sardis his capital. He had not only the general command of
all the provinces extending along the shore, but also of all the
ships, and galleys, and other naval armaments which belonged to Darius
on the neighboring seas. Aristagoras, as governor of Miletus, was
under his general jurisdiction. The two officers were, moreover,
excellent friends. Aristagoras was, of course, a Greek, and
Artaphernes a Persian.

Among the Greek islands situated in the Ægean Sea, one of the most
wealthy, important, and powerful at that time, was Naxos. It was
situated in the southern part of the sea, and about midway between the
shores of Asia Minor and Greece. It happened that, soon after Darius
had returned from Asia Minor to Persia, a civil war broke out in that
island, in which the common people were on one side and the nobles on
the other. The nobles were overcome in the contest, and fled from the
island. A party of them landed at Miletus, and called upon Aristagoras
to aid them in regaining possession of the island.

Aristagoras replied that he would very gladly do it if he had the
power, but that the Persian forces on the whole coast, both naval and
military, were under the command of Artaphernes at Sardis. He said,
however, that he was on very friendly terms with Artaphernes, and that
he would, if the Naxians desired it, apply to him for his aid. The
Naxians seemed very grateful for the interest which Aristagoras took
in their cause, and said that they would commit the whole affair to
his charge.

There was, however, much less occasion for gratitude than there
seemed, for Aristagoras was very far from being honest and sincere in
his offers of aid. He perceived, immediately on hearing the fugitives'
story, that a very favorable opportunity was opening for him to add
Naxos, and perhaps even the neighboring islands, to his own
government. It is always a favorable opportunity to subjugate a people
when their power of defense and of resistance is neutralized by
dissensions with one another. It is a device as old as the history of
mankind, and one resorted to now as often as ever, for ambitious
neighbors to interpose in behalf of the weaker party, in a civil war
waged in a country which they wish to make their own, and, beginning
with a war against a part, to end by subjugating the whole. This was
Aristagoras's plan. He proposed it to Artaphernes, representing to him
that a very favorable occasion had occurred for bringing the Greek
islands of the Ægean Sea under the Persian dominion. Naxos once
possessed, all the other islands around it would follow, he said, and
a hundred ships would make the conquest sure.

Artaphernes entered very readily and very warmly into the plan. He
said that he would furnish two hundred instead of one hundred
galleys. He thought it was necessary, however, first to consult
Darius, since the affair was one of such importance; and besides, it
was not best to commence the undertaking until the spring. He would
immediately send a messenger to Darius to ascertain his pleasure, and,
in the mean time, as he did not doubt that Darius would fully approve
of the plan, he would have all necessary preparations made, so that
every thing should be in readiness as soon as the proper season for
active operations should arrive.

Artaphernes was right in anticipating his brother's approval of the
design. The messenger returned from Susa with full authority from the
king for the execution of the project. The ships were built and
equipped, and every thing was made ready for the expedition. The
intended destination of the armament was, however, kept a profound
secret, as the invaders wished to surprise the people of Naxos when
off their guard. Aristagoras was to accompany the expedition as its
general leader, while an officer named Megabates, appointed by
Artaphernes for this purpose, was to take command of the fleet as a
sort of admiral. Thus there were two commanders--an arrangement which
almost always, in such cases, leads to a quarrel. It is a maxim in war
that _one_ bad general is better than two good ones.

The expedition sailed from Miletus; and, in order to prevent the
people of Naxos from being apprised of their danger, the report had
been circulated that its destination was to be the Hellespont.
Accordingly, when the fleet sailed, it turned its course to the
northward, as if it were really going to the Hellespont. The plan of
the commander was to stop after proceeding a short distance, and then
to seize the first opportunity afforded by a wind from the north to
come down suddenly upon Naxos, before the population should have time
to prepare for defense. Accordingly, when they arrived opposite the
island of Chios, the whole fleet came to anchor near the land. The
ships were all ordered to be ready, at a moment's warning, for setting
sail; and, thus situated, the commanders were waiting for the wind to

Megabates, in going his rounds among the fleet while things were in
this condition, found one vessel entirely abandoned. The captain and
crew had all left it, and had gone ashore. They were not aware,
probably, how urgent was the necessity that they should be every
moment at their posts. The captain of this galley was a native of a
small town called Cnydus, and, as it happened, was a particular friend
of Aristagoras. His name was Syclax. Megabates, as the commander of
the fleet, was very much incensed at finding one of his subordinate
officers so derelict in duty. He sent his guards in pursuit of him;
and when Syclax was brought to his ship, Megabates ordered his head to
be thrust out through one of the small port-holes intended for the
oars, in the side of the ship, and then bound him in that
position--his head appearing thus to view, in the sight of all the
fleet, while his body remained within the vessel. "I am going to keep
him at his post," said Megabates, "and in such a way that every one
can _see_ that he is there."

Aristagoras was much distressed at seeing his friend suffering so
severe and disgraceful a punishment. He went to Megabates and
requested the release of the prisoner, giving, at the same time, what
he considered satisfactory reasons for his having been absent from his
vessel. Megabates, however, was not satisfied, and refused to set
Syclax at liberty. Aristagoras then told Megabates that he mistook his
position in supposing that he was master of the expedition, and could
tyrannize over the men in that manner, as he pleased. "I will have you
understand," said he, "that I am the commander in this campaign, and
that Artaphernes, in making you the sailing-master of the fleet, had
no intention that you should set up your authority over mine." So
saying, he went away in a rage, and released Syclax from his durance
with his own hands.

It was now the turn of Megabates to be enraged. He determined to
defeat the expedition. He sent immediately a secret messenger to warn
the Naxians of their enemies' approach. The Naxians immediately made
effectual preparations to defend themselves. The end of it was, that
when the fleet arrived, the island was prepared to receive it, and
nothing could be done. Aristagoras continued the siege four months;
but inasmuch as, during all this time, Megabates did every thing in
his power to circumvent and thwart every plan that Aristagoras formed,
nothing was accomplished. Finally, the expedition was broken up, and
Aristagoras returned home, disappointed and chagrined, all his hopes
blasted, and his own private finances thrown into confusion by the
great pecuniary losses which he himself had sustained. He had
contributed very largely, from his own private funds, in fitting out
the expedition, fully confident of success, and of ample reimbursement
for his expenses as the consequence of it.

He was angry with himself, and angry with Megabates, and angry with
Artaphernes. He presumed, too, that Megabates would denounce him to
Artaphernes, and, through him, to Darius, as the cause of the failure
of the expedition. A sudden order might come at any moment, directing
that he should be beheaded. He began to consider the expediency of
revolting from the Persian power, and making common cause with the
Greeks against Darius. The danger of such a step was scarcely less
than that of remaining as he was. While he was pondering these
momentous questions in his mind, he was led suddenly to a decision by
a very singular circumstance, the proper explaining of which requires
the story to return, for a time, to Histiæus at Susa.

Histiæus was very ill at ease in the possession of his forced
elevation and grandeur at Susa. He enjoyed great distinction there, it
is true, and a life of ease and luxury, but he wished for independence
and authority. He was, accordingly, very desirous to get back to his
former sphere of activity and power in Asia Minor. After revolving in
his mind the various plans which occurred to him for accomplishing
this purpose, he at last decided on inducing Aristagoras to revolt in
Ionia, and then attempting to persuade Darius to send him on to quell
the revolt. When once in Asia Minor, he would join the rebellion, and
bid Darius defiance.

The first thing to be done was to contrive some safe and secret way to
communicate with Aristagoras. This he effected in the following
manner: There was a man in his court who was afflicted with some
malady of the eyes. Histiæus told him that if he would put himself
under _his_ charge he could effect a cure. It would be necessary, he
said, that the man should have his head shaved and scarified; that is,
punctured with a sharp instrument, previously dipped in some medicinal
compound. Then, after some further applications should have been made,
it would be necessary for the patient to go to Ionia, in Asia Minor,
where there was a physician who would complete the cure.

The patient consented to this proposal. The head was shaved, and
Histiæus, while pretending to scarify it, pricked into the skin--as
sailors tattoo anchors on their arms--by means of a needle and a
species of ink which had probably no great medicinal virtue, the words
of a letter to Aristagoras, in which he communicated to him fully,
though very concisely, the particulars of his plan. He urged
Aristagoras to revolt, and promised that, if he would do so, he would
come on, himself, as soon as possible, and, under pretense of marching
to suppress the rebellion, he would really join and aid it.

As soon as he had finished pricking this treasonable communication
into the patient's skin, he carefully enveloped the head in bandages,
which, he said, must on no account be disturbed. He kept the man shut
up, besides, in the palace, until the hair had grown, so as
effectually to conceal the writing, and then sent him to Ionia to have
the cure perfected. On his arrival at Ionia he was to find
Aristagoras, who would do what further was necessary. Histiæus
contrived, in the mean time, to send word to Aristagoras by another
messenger, that, as soon as such a patient should present himself,
Aristagoras was to shave his head. He did so, and the communication
appeared. We must suppose that the operations on the part of
Aristagoras for the purpose of completing the cure consisted,
probably, in pricking in more ink, so as to confuse and obliterate the

Aristagoras was on the eve of throwing off the Persian authority when
he received this communication. It at once decided him to proceed. He
organized his forces and commenced his revolt. As soon as the news of
this rebellion reached Susa, Histiæus feigned great indignation, and
earnestly entreated Darius to commission him to go and suppress it. He
was confident, he said, that he could do it in a very prompt and
effectual manner. Darius was at first inclined to suspect that
Histiæus was in some way or other implicated in the movement; but
these suspicions were removed by the protestations which Histiæus
made, and at length he gave him leave to proceed to Miletus,
commanding him, however, to return to Susa again as soon as he should
have suppressed the revolt.

When Histiæus arrived in Ionia he joined Aristagoras, and the two
generals, leaguing with them various princes and states of Greece,
organized a very extended and dangerous rebellion, which it gave the
troops of Darius infinite trouble to subdue. We can not here give an
account of the incidents and particulars of this war. For a time the
rebels prospered, and their cause seemed likely to succeed; but at
length the tide turned against them. Their towns were captured, their
ships were taken and destroyed, their armies cut to pieces. Histiæus
retreated from place to place, a wretched fugitive, growing more and
more distressed and destitute every day. At length, as he was flying
from a battle field, he arrested the arm of a Persian, who was
pursuing him with his weapon upraised, by crying out that he was
Histiæus the Milesian. The Persian, hearing this, spared his life, but
took him prisoner, and delivered him to Artaphernes. Histiæus begged
very earnestly that Artaphernes would send him to Darius alive, in
hopes that Darius would pardon him in consideration of his former
services at the bridge of the Danube. This was, however, exactly what
Artaphernes wished to prevent; so he crucified the wretched Histiæus
at Sardis, and then packed his head in salt and sent it to Darius.

[Illustration: GRECIAN EMPIRE.]



B.C. 512-490

Great battles.--Progress of the Persian empire.--Condition of
the Persian empire.--Plans of Darius.--Persian power in
Thrace.--Attempted negotiation with Macedon.--The seven
commissioners.--Their rudeness at the feast.--Stratagem of
Amyntas's son.--The commissioners killed.--Artifice of the
prince.--Darius's anger against the Athenians.--Civil dissensions
in Greece.--The tyrants.--Periander.--His message to a neighboring
potentate.--Periander's intolerable tyranny.--His wife
Melissa.--The ghost of Melissa.--A great sacrifice.--The reason
of Periander's rudeness to the assembly of females.--Labda the
cripple.--Prediction in respect to her progeny.--Conspiracy
to destroy Labda's child.--Its failure.--The child
secreted.--Fulfillment of the oracle.--Hippias of Athens.--His
barbarous cruelty.--Hippias among the Persians.--Wars between the
Grecian states.--Quarrel between Athens and Ægina.--The two wooden
statues.--Incursion of the Æginetans.--They carry off the
statues.--Attempt to recover the statues.--They fall upon their
knees.--The Athenian fugitive.--He is murdered by the women.--The
Persian army.--Its commander, Datis.--Sailing of the
fleet.--Various conquests.--Landing of the Persians.--State of
Athens.--The Greek army.--Miltiades and his colleagues.--Position
of the armies.--Miltiades's plan of attack.--Onset of the
Greeks.--Rout of the Persians.--Results of the battle.--Numbers
slain.--The field of Marathon.--The mound.--Song of the Greek.

In the history of a great military conqueror, there seems to be often
some one great battle which in importance and renown eclipses all the
rest. In the case of Hannibal it was the battle of Cannæ, in that of
Alexander the battle of Arbela. Cæsar's great conflict was at
Pharsalia, Napoleon's at Waterloo. Marathon was, in some respects,
Darius's Waterloo. The place is a beautiful plain, about twelve miles
north of the great city of Athens. The battle was the great final
contest between Darius and the Greeks, which, both on account of the
awful magnitude of the conflict, and the very extraordinary
circumstances which attended it, has always been greatly celebrated
among mankind.

The whole progress of the Persian empire, from the time of the first
accession of Cyrus to the throne, was toward the westward, till it
reached the confines of Asia on the shores of the Ægean Sea. All the
shores and islands of this sea were occupied by the states and the
cities of Greece. The population of the whole region, both on the
European and Asiatic shores, spoke the same language, and possessed
the same vigorous, intellectual, and elevated character. Those on the
Asiatic side had been conquered by Cyrus, and their countries had been
annexed to the Persian empire. Darius had wished very strongly, at the
commencement of his reign, to go on in this work of annexation, and
had sent his party of commissioners to explore the ground, as is
related in a preceding chapter. He had, however, postponed the
execution of his plans, in order first to conquer the Scythian
countries north of Greece, thinking, probably, that this would make
the subsequent conquest of Greece itself more easy. By getting a firm
foothold in Scythia, he would, as it were, turn the flank of the
Grecian territories, which would tend to make his final descent upon
them more effectual and sure.

This plan, however, failed; and yet, on his retreat from Scythia,
Darius did not withdraw his armies wholly from the European side of
the water. He kept a large force in Thrace, and his generals there
were gradually extending and strengthening their power, and preparing
for still greater conquests. They attempted to extend their dominion,
sometimes by negotiations, and sometimes by force, and they were
successful and unsuccessful by turns, whichever mode they employed.

One very extraordinary story is told of an attempted negotiation with
Macedon, made with a view of bringing that kingdom, if possible, under
the Persian dominion, without the necessity of a resort to force. The
commanding general of Darius's armies in Thrace, whose name, as was
stated in the last chapter, was Megabyzus, sent seven Persian officers
into Macedon, not exactly to summon the Macedonians, in a peremptory
manner, to surrender to the Persians, nor, on the other hand, to
propose a voluntary alliance, but for something between the two. The
communication was to be in the form of a proposal, and yet it was to
be made in the domineering and overbearing manner with which the
tyrannical and the strong often make proposals to the weak and

The seven Persians went to Macedon, which, as will be seen from the
map, was west of Thrace, and to the northward of the other Grecian
countries. Amyntas, the king of Macedon, gave them a very honorable
reception. At length, one day, at a feast to which they were invited
in the palace of Amyntas, they became somewhat excited with wine, and
asked to have the ladies of the court brought into the apartment. They
wished "to see them," they said. Amyntas replied that such a procedure
was entirely contrary to the usages and customs of their court; but
still, as he stood somewhat in awe of his visitors, or, rather, of the
terrible power which the delegation represented, and wished by every
possible means to avoid provoking a quarrel with them, he consented to
comply with their request. The ladies were sent for. They came in,
reluctant and blushing, their minds excited by mingled feelings of
indignation and shame.

The Persians, becoming more and more excited and imperious under the
increasing influence of the wine, soon began to praise the beauty of
these new guests in a coarse and free manner, which overwhelmed the
ladies with confusion, and then to accost them familiarly and rudely,
and to behave toward them, in other respects, with so much impropriety
as to produce great alarm and indignation among all the king's
household. The king himself was much distressed, but he was afraid to
act decidedly. His son, a young man of great energy and spirit,
approached his father with a countenance and manner expressive of high
excitement, and begged him to retire from the feast, and leave him,
the son, to manage the affair. Amyntas reluctantly allowed himself to
be persuaded to go, giving his son many charges, as he went away, to
do nothing rashly or violently. As soon as the king was gone, the
prince made an excuse for having the ladies retire for a short time,
saying that they should soon return. The prince conducted them to
their apartment, and then selecting an equal number of tall and
smooth-faced boys, he disguised them to represent the ladies, and gave
each one a dagger, directing him to conceal it beneath his robe. These
counterfeit females were then introduced to the assembly in the place
of those who had retired. The Persians did not detect the deception.
It was evening, and, besides, their faculties were confused with the
effects of the wine. They approached the supposed ladies as they had
done before, with rude familiarity; and the boys, at a signal made by
the prince when the Persians were wholly off their guard, stabbed and
killed every one of them on the spot.

Megabyzus sent an embassador to inquire what became of his seven
messengers; but the Macedonian prince contrived to buy this messenger
off by large rewards, and to induce him to send back some false but
plausible story to satisfy Megabyzus. Perhaps Megabyzus would not have
been so easily satisfied had it not been that the great Ionian
rebellion, under Aristagoras and Histiæus, as described in the last
chapter, broke out soon after, and demanded his attention in another
quarter of the realm.

The Ionian rebellion postponed, for a time, Darius's designs on
Greece, but the effect of it was to make the invasion more certain and
more terrible in the end; for Athens, which was at that time one of
the most important and powerful of the Grecian cities, took a part in
that rebellion against the Persians. The Athenians sent forces to aid
those of Aristagoras and Histiæus, and, in the course of the war, the
combined army took and burned the city of Sardis. When this news
reached Darius, he was excited to a perfect phrensy of resentment and
indignation against the Athenians for coming thus into his own
dominions to assist rebels, and there destroying one of his most
important capitals. He uttered the most violent and terrible threats
against them, and, to prevent his anger from getting cool before the
preparations should be completed for vindicating it, he made an
arrangement, it was said, for having a slave call out to him every day
at table, "Remember the Athenians!"

It was a circumstance favorable to Darius's designs against the states
of Greece that they were not united among themselves. There was no
general government under which the whole naval and military force of
that country could be efficiently combined, so as to be directed, in a
concentrated and energetic form, against a common enemy. On the other
hand, the several cities formed, with the territories adjoining them,
so many separate states, more or less connected, it is true, by
confederations and alliances, but still virtually independent, and
often hostile to each other. Then, besides these external and
international quarrels, there was a great deal of internal dissension.
The monarchical and the democratic principle were all the time
struggling for the mastery. Military despots were continually rising
to power in the various cities, and after they had ruled, for a time,
over their subjects with a rod of iron, the people would rise in
rebellion and expel them from their thrones. These revolutions were
continually taking place, attended, often, by the strangest and most
romantic incidents, which evinced, on the part of the actors in them,
that extraordinary combination of mental sagacity and acumen with
childish and senseless superstition so characteristic of the times.

It is not surprising that the populace often rebelled against the
power of these royal despots, for they seem to have exercised their
power, when their interests or their passions excited them to do it,
in the most tyrannical and cruel manner. One of them, it was said, a
king of Corinth, whose name was Periander, sent a messenger, on one
occasion, to a neighboring potentate--with whom he had gradually come
to entertain very friendly relations--to inquire by what means he
could most certainly and permanently secure the continuance of his
power. The king thus applied to gave no direct reply, but took the
messenger out into his garden, talking with him by the way about the
incidents of his journey, and other indifferent topics. He came, at
length, to a field where grain was growing, and as he walked along, he
occupied himself in cutting off, with his sword, every head of the
grain which raised itself above the level of the rest. After a short
time he returned to the house, and finally dismissed the messenger
without giving him any answer whatever to the application that he had
made. The messenger returned to Periander, and related what had
occurred. "I understand his meaning," said Periander. "I must contrive
some way to remove all those who, by their talents, their influence,
or their power, rise above the general level of the citizens."
Periander began immediately to act on this recommendation. Whoever,
among the people of Corinth, distinguished himself above the rest, was
marked for destruction. Some were banished, some were slain, and some
were deprived of their influence, and so reduced to the ordinary
level, by the confiscation of their property, the lives and fortunes
of all the citizens of the state being wholly in the despot's hands.

This same Periander had a wife whose name was Melissa. A very
extraordinary tale is related respecting her, which, though mainly
fictitious, had a foundation, doubtless, in fact, and illustrates very
remarkably the despotic tyranny and the dark superstition of the
times. Melissa died and was buried; but her garments, for some reason
or other, were not burned, as was usual in such cases. Now, among the
other oracles of Greece, there was one where departed spirits could be
consulted. It was called the oracle of the dead. Periander, having
occasion to consult an oracle in order to find the means of recovering
a certain article of value which was lost, sent to this place to call
up and consult the ghost of Melissa. The ghost appeared, but refused
to answer the question put to her, saying, with frightful solemnity,

"I am cold; I am cold; I am naked and cold. My clothes were not
burned; I am naked and cold."

When this answer was reported to Periander, he determined to make a
great sacrifice and offering, such as should at once appease the
restless spirit. He invited, therefore, a general assembly of the
women of Corinth to witness some spectacle in a temple, and when they
were convened, he surrounded them with his guards, seized them,
stripped them of most of their clothing, and then let them go free.
The clothes thus taken were then all solemnly burned, as an expiatory
offering, with invocations to the shade of Melissa.

The account adds, that when this was done, a second messenger was
dispatched to the oracle of the dead, and the spirit, now clothed and
comfortable in its grave, answered the inquiry, informing Periander
where the lost article might be found.

The rude violence which Periander resorted to in this case seems not
to have been dictated by any particular desire to insult or injure the
women of Corinth, but was resorted to simply as the easiest and most
convenient way of obtaining what he needed. He wanted a supply of
valuable and costly female apparel, and the readiest mode of obtaining
it was to bring together an assembly of females dressed for a public
occasion, and then disrobe them. The case only shows to what an
extreme and absolute supremacy the lofty and domineering spirit of
ancient despotism attained.

It ought, however, to be related, in justice to these abominable
tyrants, that they often evinced feelings of commiseration and
kindness; sometimes, in fact, in very singular ways. There was, for
example, in one of the cities, a certain family that had obtained the
ascendency over the rest of the people, and had held it for some time
as an established aristocracy, taking care to preserve their rank and
power from generation to generation, by intermarrying only with one
another. At length, in one branch of the family, there grew up a young
girl named Labda, who had been a cripple from her birth, and, on
account of her deformity, none of the nobles would marry her. A man of
obscure birth, however, one of the common people, at length took her
for his wife. His name was Eetion. One day, Eetion went to Delphi to
consult an oracle, and as he was entering the temple, the Pythian[J]
called out to him, saying that a stone should proceed from Labda which
should overwhelm tyrants and usurpers, and free the state. The nobles,
when they heard of this, understood the prediction to mean that the
destruction of their power was, in some way or other, to be effected
by means of Labda's child, and they determined to prevent the
fulfillment of the prophecy by destroying the babe itself so soon as
it should be born.

[Footnote J: For a full account of these oracles, see the history of
Cyrus the Great.]

They accordingly appointed ten of their number to go to the place
where Eetion lived and kill the child. The method which they were to
adopt was this: They were to ask to see the infant on their arrival at
the house, and then it was agreed that whichever of the ten it was to
whom the babe was handed, he should dash it down upon the stone floor
with all his force, by which means it would, as they supposed,
certainly be killed.

This plan being arranged, the men went to the house, inquired, with
hypocritical civility, after the health of the mother, and desired to
see the child. It was accordingly brought to them. The mother put it
into the hands of one of the conspirators, and the babe looked up into
his face and smiled. This mute expression of defenseless and confiding
innocence touched the murderer's heart. He could not be such a monster
as to dash such an image of trusting and happy helplessness upon the
stones. He looked upon the child, and then gave it into the hands of
the one next to him, and he gave it to the next, and thus it passed
through the hands of all the ten. No one was found stern and
determined enough to murder it, and at last they gave the babe back to
its mother and went away.

The sequel of this story was, that the conspirators, when they reached
the gate, stopped to consult together, and after many mutual
criminations and recriminations, each impugning the courage and
resolution of the rest, and all joining in special condemnation of the
man to whom the child had at first been given, they went back again,
determined, in some way or other, to accomplish their purpose. But
Labda had, in the mean time, been alarmed at their extraordinary
behavior, and had listened, when they stopped at the gate, to hear
their conversation. She hastily hid the babe in a corn measure; and
the conspirators, after looking in every part of the house in vain,
gave up the search, supposing that their intended victim had been
hastily sent away. They went home, and not being willing to
acknowledge that their resolution had failed at the time of trial,
they agreed to say that their undertaking had succeeded, and that the
child had been destroyed. The babe lived, however, and grew up to
manhood, and then, in fulfillment of the prediction announced by the
oracle, he headed a rebellion against the nobles, deposed them from
their power, and reigned in their stead.

One of the worst and most reckless of the Greek tyrants of whom we
have been speaking was Hippias of Athens. His father, Pisistratus, had
been hated all his life for his cruelties and his crimes; and when he
died, leaving two sons, Hippias and Hipparchus, a conspiracy was
formed to kill the sons, and thus put an end to the dynasty.
Hipparchus was killed, but Hippias escaped the danger, and seized the
government himself alone. He began to exercise his power in the most
cruel and wanton manner, partly under the influence of resentment and
passion, and partly because he thought his proper policy was to strike
terror into the hearts of the people as a means of retaining his
dominion. One of the conspirators by whom his brother had been slain,
accused Hippias's warmest and best friends as his accomplices in that
deed, in order to revenge himself on Hippias by inducing him to
destroy his own adherents and supporters. Hippias fell into the snare;
he condemned to death all whom the conspirator accused, and his
reckless soldiers executed his friends and foes together. When any
protested their innocence, he put them to the torture to make them
confess their guilt. Such indiscriminate cruelty only had the effect
to league the whole population of Athens against the perpetrator of
it. There was at length a general insurrection against him, and he was
dethroned. He made his escape to Sardis, and there tendered his
services to Artaphernes, offering to conduct the Persian armies to
Greece, and aid them in getting possession of the country, on
condition that, if they succeeded, the Persians would make him the
governor of Athens. Artaphernes made known these offers to Darius, and
they were eagerly accepted. It was, however, very impolitic to accept
them. The aid which the invaders could derive from the services of
such a guide, were far more than counterbalanced by the influence
which his defection and the espousal of his cause by the Persians
would produce in Greece. It banded the Athenians and their allies
together in the most enthusiastic and determined spirit of resistance,
against a man who had now added the baseness of treason to the wanton
wickedness of tyranny.

Besides these internal dissensions between the people of the several
Grecian states and their kings, there were contests between one state
and another, which Darius proposed to take advantage of in his
attempts to conquer the country. There was one such war in particular,
between Athens and the island of Ægina, on the effects of which, in
aiding him in his operations against the Athenians, Darius placed
great reliance. Ægina was a large and populous island not far from
Athens. In accounting for the origin of the quarrel between the two
states, the Greek historians relate the following marvelous story:

Ægina, as will be seen from the map, was situated in the middle of a
bay, southwest from Athens. On the other side of the bay, opposite
from Athens, there was a city, near the shore, called Epidaurus. It
happened that the people of Epidaurus were at one time suffering from
famine, and they sent a messenger to the oracle at Delphi to inquire
what they should do to obtain relief. The Pythian answered that they
must erect two statues to certain goddesses, named Damia and Auxesia,
and that then the famine would abate. They asked whether they were to
make the statues of brass or of marble. The priestess replied, "Of
neither, but of wood." They were, she said, to use for the purpose the
wood of the garden olive.

This species of olive was a sacred tree, and it happened that, at this
time, there were no trees of the kind that were of sufficient size for
the purpose intended except at Athens; and the Epidaurians,
accordingly, sent to Athens to obtain leave to supply themselves with
wood for the sculptor by cutting down one of the trees from the sacred
grove. The Athenians consented to this, on condition that the
Epidaurians would offer a certain yearly sacrifice at two temples in
Athens, which they named. This sacrifice, they seemed to imagine,
would make good to the city whatever of injury their religious
interests might suffer from the loss of the sacred tree. The
Epidaurians agreed to the condition; the tree was felled; blocks from
it, of proper size, were taken to Epidaurus, and the statues were
carved. They were set up in the city with the usual solemnities, and
the famine soon after disappeared.

Not many years after this, a war, for some cause or other, broke out
between Epidaurus and Ægina. The people of Ægina crossed the water in
a fleet of galleys, landed at Epidaurus, and, after committing various
ravages, they seized these images, and bore them away in triumph as
trophies of their victory. They set them up in a public place in the
middle of their own island, and instituted games and spectacles around
them, which they celebrated with great festivity and parade. The
Epidaurians, having thus lost their statues, ceased to make the annual
offering at Athens which they had stipulated for, in return for
receiving the wood from which the statues were carved. The Athenians
complained. The Epidaurians replied that they had continued to make
the offering as long as they had kept the statues; but that now, the
statues being in other hands, they were absolved from the obligation.
The Athenians next demanded the statues themselves of the people of
Ægina. They refused to surrender them. The Athenians then invaded the
island, and proceeded to the spot where the statues had been erected.
They had been set up on massive and heavy pedestals. The Athenians
attempted to get them down, but could not separate them from their
fastenings. They then changed their plan, and undertook to move the
pedestals too, by dragging them with ropes. They were arrested in this
undertaking by an earthquake, accompanied by a solemn and terrible
sound of thunder, which warned them that they were provoking the anger
of Heaven.

The statues, too, miraculously fell on their knees, and remained fixed
in that posture!

The Athenians, terrified at these portentous signs, abandoned their
undertaking and fled toward the shore. They were, however, intercepted
by the people of Ægina, and some allies whom they had hastily summoned
to their aid, and the whole party was destroyed except one single man.
He escaped.

This single fugitive, however, met with a worse fate than that of his
comrades. He went to Athens, and there the wives and sisters of the
men who had been killed thronged around him to hear his story. They
were incensed that he alone had escaped, as if his flight had been a
sort of betrayal and desertion of his companions. They fell upon him,
therefore, with one accord, and pierced and wounded him on all sides
with a sort of pin, or clasp, which they used as a fastening for their
dress. They finally killed him.

The Athenian magistrates were unable to bring any of the perpetrators
of this crime to conviction and punishment; but a law was made, in
consequence of the occurrence, forbidding the use of that sort of
fastening for the dress to all the Athenian women forever after. The
people of Ægina, on the other hand, rejoiced and gloried in the deed
of the Athenian women, and they made the clasps which were worn upon
their island of double size, in honor of it.

The war, thus commenced between Athens and Ægina, went on for a long
time, increasing in bitterness and cruelty as the injuries increased
in number and magnitude which the belligerent parties inflicted on
each other.

Such was the state of things in Greece when Darius organized his great
expedition for the invasion of the country. He assembled an immense
armament, though he did not go forth himself to command it. He placed
the whole force under the charge of a Persian general named Datis. A
considerable part of the army which Datis was to command was raised in
Persia; but orders had been sent on that large accessions to the army,
consisting of cavalry, foot soldiers, ships, and seamen, and every
other species of military force, should be raised in all the provinces
of Asia Minor, and be ready to join it at various places of

Darius commenced his march at Susa with the troops which had been
collected there, and proceeded westward till he reached the
Mediterranean at Cilicia, which is at the northeast corner of that
sea. Here large re-enforcements joined him; and there was also
assembled at this point an immense fleet of galleys, which had been
provided to convey the troops to the Grecian seas. The troops
embarked, and the fleet advanced along the southern shores of Asia
Minor to the Ægean Sea, where they turned to the northward toward the
island of Samos, which had been appointed as a rendezvous. At Samos
they were joined by still greater numbers coming from Ionia, and the
various provinces and islands on that coast that were already under
the Persian dominion. When they were ready for their final departure,
the immense fleet, probably one of the greatest and most powerful
which had then ever been assembled, set sail, and steered their course
to the northwest, among the islands of the Ægean Sea. As they moved
slowly on, they stopped to take possession of such islands as came in
their way. The islanders, in some cases, submitted to them without a
struggle. In others, they made vigorous but perfectly futile attempts
to resist. In others still, the terrified inhabitants abandoned their
homes, and fled in dismay to the fastnesses of the mountains. The
Persians destroyed the cities and towns whose inhabitants they could
not conquer, and took the children from the most influential families
of the islands which they did subdue, as hostages to hold their
parents to their promises when their conquerors should have gone.


The mighty fleet advanced thus, by slow degrees, from conquest to
conquest, toward the Athenian shores. The vast multitude of galleys
covered the whole surface of the water, and as they advanced,
propelled each by a triple row of oars, they exhibited to the
fugitives who had gained the summits of the mountains the appearance
of an immense swarm of insects, creeping, by an almost imperceptible
advance, over the smooth expanse of the sea.

The fleet, guided all the time by Hippias, passed on, and finally
entered the strait between the island of Euboea and the main land to
the northward of Athens. Here, after some operations on the island,
the Persians finally brought their ships into a port on the Athenian
side, and landed. Hippias made all the arrangements, and superintended
the disembarkation.

In the mean time, all was confusion and dismay in the city of Athens.
The government, as soon as they heard of the approach of this terrible
danger, had sent an express to the city of Sparta, asking for aid. The
aid had been promised, but it had not yet arrived. The Athenians
gathered together all the forces at their command on the northern side
of the city, and were debating the question, with great anxiety and
earnestness, whether they should shut themselves up within the walls,
and await the onset of their enemies there, or go forth to meet them
on the way. The whole force which the Greeks could muster consisted
of but about ten thousand men, while the Persian host contained over a
hundred thousand. It seemed madness to engage in a contest on an open
field against such an overwhelming disparity of numbers. A majority of
voices were, accordingly, in favor of remaining within the
fortifications of the city, and awaiting an attack.

The command of the army had been intrusted, not to one man, but to a
commission of three generals, a sort of triumvirate, on whose joint
action the decision of such a question devolved. Two of the three were
in favor of taking a defensive position; but the third, the celebrated
Miltiades, was so earnest and so decided in favor of attacking the
enemy themselves, instead of waiting to be attacked, that his opinion
finally carried the day, and the other generals resigned their portion
of authority into his hands, consenting that he should lead the Greek
army into battle, if he dared to take the responsibility of doing so.

The two armies were at this time encamped in sight of each other on
the plain of Marathon, between the mountain and the sea. They were
nearly a mile apart. The countless multitude of the Persians extended
as far as the eye could reach, with long lines of tents in the
distance, and thousands of horsemen on the plain, all ready for the
charge. The Greeks, on the other hand, occupied a small and isolated
spot, in a compact form, without cavalry, without archers, without, in
fact, any weapons suitable either for attack or defense, except in a
close encounter hand to hand. Their only hope of success depended on
the desperate violence of the onset they were to make upon the vast
masses of men spread out before them. On the one side were immense
numbers, whose force, vast as it was, must necessarily be more or less
impeded in its operations, and slow. It was to be overpowered,
therefore, if overpowered at all, by the utmost fierceness and
rapidity of action--by sudden onsets, unexpected and furious assaults,
and heavy, vigorous, and rapid blows. Miltiades, therefore, made all
his arrangements with reference to that mode of warfare. Such soldiers
as the Greeks, too, were admirably adapted to execute such designs,
and the immense and heterogeneous mass of Asiatic nations which
covered the plain before them was exactly the body for such an
experiment to be made upon. Glorying in their numbers and confident of
victory, they were slowly advancing, without the least idea that the
little band before them could possibly do them any serious harm. They
had actually brought with them, in the train of the army, some blocks
of marble, with which they were going to erect a monument of their
victory, on the field of battle, as soon as the conflict was over!

At length the Greeks began to put themselves in motion. As they
advanced, they accelerated their march more and more, until just
before reaching the Persian lines, when they began to run. The
astonishment of the Persians at this unexpected and daring onset soon
gave place, first to the excitement of personal conflict, and then to
universal terror and dismay; for the headlong impetuosity of the
Greeks bore down all opposition, and the desperate swordsmen cut their
way through the vast masses of the enemy with a fierce and desperate
fury that nothing could withstand. Something like a contest continued
for some hours; but, at the end of that time, the Persians were flying
in all directions, every one endeavoring, by the track which he found
most practicable for himself, to make his way to the ships on the
shore. Vast multitudes were killed in this headlong flight; others
became entangled in the morasses and fens, and others still strayed
away, and sought, in their terror, a hopeless refuge in the defiles of
the mountains. Those who escaped crowded in confusion on board their
ships, and pushed off from the shore, leaving the whole plain covered
with their dead and dying companions.

The Greeks captured an immense amount of stores and baggage, which
were of great cost and value. They took possession, too, of the marble
blocks which the Persians had brought to immortalize their victory,
and built with them a monument, instead, to commemorate their defeat.
They counted the dead. Six thousand Persians, and only two hundred
Greeks, were found. The bodies of the Greeks were collected together,
and buried on the field, and an immense mound was raised over the
grave. This mound has continued to stand at Marathon to the present

The battle of Marathon was one of those great events in the history of
the human race which continue to attract, from age to age, the
admiration of mankind. They who look upon war, in all its forms, as
only the perpetration of an unnatural and atrocious crime, which rises
to dignity and grandeur only by the very enormity of its guilt, can
not but respect the courage, the energy, and the cool and determined
resolution with which the little band of Greeks went forth to stop the
torrent of foes which all the nations of a whole continent had
combined to pour upon them. The field has been visited in every age by
thousands of travelers, who have upon the spot offered their tribute
of admiration to the ancient heroes that triumphed there. The plain is
found now, as of old, overlooking the sea, and the mountains inland,
towering above the plain. The mound, too, still remains, which was
reared to consecrate the memory of the Greeks who fell. They who visit
it stand and survey the now silent and solitary scene, and derive from
the influence and spirit of the spot new strength and energy to meet
the great difficulties and dangers of life which they themselves have
to encounter. The Greeks themselves, of the present day,
notwithstanding the many sources of discouragement and depression with
which they have to contend, must feel at Marathon some rising spirit
of emulation in contemplating the lofty mental powers and the
undaunted spirit of their sires. Byron makes one of them sing,

          "The mountains look on Marathon,
            And Marathon looks on the sea;
          And musing there an hour alone,
          I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
          For, standing on the Persians' grave,
          I could not deem myself a slave."



B.C. 490-485

The Persian fleet sails southward.--Fate of Hippias.--Omens.--The
dream and the sneeze.--Hippias falls in battle.--Movements of the
Persian fleet.--The Persian fleet returns to Asia.--Anxiety of
Datis.--Datis finds a stolen statue.--Island of Delos.--Account of
the sacred island.--Its present condition.--Disposition of the
army.--Darius's reception of Datis.--Subsequent history of
Miltiades.--His great popularity.--Miltiades's influence
at Athens.--His ambitious designs.--Island and city of
Paros.--Appearance of the modern town.--Miltiades's proposition to
the Athenians.--They accept it.--Miltiades marches against
Paros.--Its resistance.--Miltiades is discouraged.--The captive
priestess.--Miltiades's interview with the priestess.--Her
instructions.--Miltiades attempts to enter the temple of Ceres.--He
dislocates a limb.--Miltiades returns to Athens.--He is
impeached.--Miltiades is condemned.--He dies of his wound.--The fine
paid.--Proposed punishment of Timo.--Timo saved by the Delphic
oracle.--Another expedition against Greece.--Preparations.--Necessity
for settling the succession.--Darius's two sons.--Their claims to the
throne.--Xerxes declared heir.--Death of Darius.--Character of
Darius.--Ground of his renown.

The city of Athens and the plain of Marathon are situated upon a
peninsula. The principal port by which the city was ordinarily
approached was on the southern shore of the peninsula, though the
Persians had landed on the northern side. Of course, in their retreat
from the field of battle, they fled to the north. When they were
beyond the reach of their enemies and fairly at sea, they were at
first somewhat perplexed to determine what to do. Datis was extremely
unwilling to return to Darius with the news of such a defeat. On the
other hand, there seemed but little hope of any other result if he
were to attempt a second landing.

Hippias, their Greek guide, was killed in the battle. He expected to
be killed, for his mind, on the morning of the battle, was in a state
of great despondency and dejection. Until that time he had felt a
strong and confident expectation of success, but his feelings had then
been very suddenly changed. His confidence had arisen from the
influence of a dream, his dejection from a cause more frivolous still;
so that he was equally irrational in his hope and in his despair.

The omen which seemed to him to portend success to the enterprise in
which he had undertaken to act as guide, was merely that he dreamed
one night that he saw, and spent some time in company with, his
mother. In attempting to interpret this dream in the morning, it
seemed to him that Athens, his native city, was represented by his
mother, and that the vision denoted that he was about to be restored
to Athens again. He was extremely elated at this supernatural
confirmation of his hopes, and would have gone into the battle certain
of victory, had it not been that another circumstance occurred at the
time of the landing to blast his hopes. He had, himself, the general
charge of the disembarkation. He stationed the ships at their proper
places near the shore, and formed the men upon the beach as they
landed. While he was thus engaged, standing on the sand, he suddenly
sneezed. He was an old man, and his teeth--those that remained--were
loose. One of them was thrown out in the act of sneezing, and it fell
into the sand. Hippias was alarmed at this occurrence, considering it
a bad omen. He looked a long time for the tooth in vain, and then
exclaimed that all was over. The joining of his tooth to his mother
earth was the event to which his dream referred, and there was now no
hope of any further fulfillment of it. He went on mechanically, after
this, in marshaling his men and preparing for battle, but his mind was
oppressed with gloomy forebodings. He acted, in consequence, feebly
and with indecision; and when the Greeks explored the field on the
morning after the battle, his body was found among the other mutilated
and ghastly remains which covered the ground.

As the Persian fleet moved, therefore, along the coast of Attica, they
had no longer their former guide. They were still, however, very
reluctant to leave the country. They followed the shore of the
peninsula until they came to the promontory of Sunium, which forms the
southeastern extremity of it. They doubled this cape, and then
followed the southern shore of the peninsula until they arrived at the
point opposite to Athens on that side. In the mean time, however, the
Spartan troops which had been sent for to aid the Athenians in the
contest, but which had not arrived in time to take part in the
battle, reached the ground; and the indications which the Persians
observed, from the decks of their galleys, that the country was
thoroughly aroused, and was every where ready to receive them,
deterred them from making any further attempts to land. After
lingering, therefore, a short time near the shore, the fleet directed
its course again toward the coasts of Asia.

The mind of Datis was necessarily very ill at ease. He dreaded the
wrath of Darius; for despots are very prone to consider military
failures as the worst of crimes. The expedition had not, however, been
entirely a failure. Datis had conquered many of the Greek islands, and
he had with him, on board his galleys, great numbers of prisoners, and
a vast amount of plunder which he had obtained from them. Still, the
greatest and most important of the objects which Darius had
commissioned him to accomplish had been entirely defeated, and he
felt, accordingly, no little anxiety in respect to the reception which
he was to expect at Susa.

One night he had a dream which greatly disturbed him. He awoke in the
morning with an impression upon his mind, which he had derived from
the dream, that some temple had been robbed by his soldiers in the
course of his expedition, and that the sacrilegious booty which had
been obtained was concealed somewhere in the fleet. He immediately
ordered a careful search to be instituted, in which every ship was
examined. At length they found, concealed in one of the galleys, a
golden statue of Apollo. Datis inquired what city it had been taken
from. They answered from Delium. Delium was on the coast of Attica,
near the place where the Persians had landed, at the time of their
advance on Marathon. Datis could not safely or conveniently go back
there to restore it to its place. He determined, therefore, to deposit
it at Delos for safe keeping, until it could be returned to its proper

Delos was a small but very celebrated island near the center of the
Ægean Sea, and but a short distance from the spot where the Persian
fleet was lying when Datis made this discovery. It was a sacred
island, devoted to religious rites, and all contention, and violence,
and, so far as was possible, all suffering and death, were excluded
from it. The sick were removed from it; the dead were not buried
there; armed ships and armed men laid aside their hostility to each
other when they approached it. Belligerent fleets rode at anchor,
side by side, in peace, upon the smooth waters of its little port, and
an enchanting picture of peace, tranquillity, and happiness was seen
upon its shores. A large natural fountain, or spring, thirty feet in
diameter, and inclosed partly by natural rocks and partly by an
artificial wall, issued from the ground in the center of the island,
and sent forth a beautiful and fertilizing rill into a rich and happy
valley, through which it meandered, deviously, for several miles,
seeking the sea. There was a large and populous city near the port,
and the whole island was adorned with temples, palaces, colonnades,
and other splendid architectural structures, which made it the
admiration of all mankind. All this magnificence and beauty have,
however, long since passed away. The island is now silent, deserted,
and desolate, a dreary pasture, where cattle browse and feed, with
stupid indifference, among the ancient ruins. Nothing living remains
of the ancient scene of grandeur and beauty but the fountain. That
still continues to pour up its clear and pellucid waters with a
ceaseless and eternal flow.

It was to this Delos that Datis determined to restore the golden
statue. He took it on board his own galley, and proceeded with it,
himself, to the sacred island. He deposited it in the great temple of
Apollo, charging the priests to convey it, as soon as a convenient
opportunity should occur, to its proper destination at Delium.

The Persian fleet, after this business was disposed of, set sail
again, and pursued its course toward the coasts of Asia, where at
length the expedition landed in safety.

The various divisions of the army were then distributed in the
different provinces where they respectively belonged, and Datis
commenced his march with the Persian portion of the troops, and with
his prisoners and plunder, for Susa, feeling, however, very uncertain
how he should be received on his arrival there. Despotic power is
always capricious; and the character of Darius, which seems to have
been naturally generous and kind, and was rendered cruel and
tyrannical only through the influence of the position in which he had
been placed, was continually presenting the most opposite and
contradictory phases. The generous elements of it, fortunately for
Datis, seemed to be in the ascendency when the remnant of the Persian
army arrived at Susa. Darius received the returning general without
anger, and even treated the prisoners with humanity.

Before finally leaving the subject of this celebrated invasion, which
was brought to an end in so remarkable a manner by the great battle of
Marathon, it may be well to relate the extraordinary circumstances
which attended the subsequent history of Miltiades, the great
commander in that battle on the Greek side. Before the conflict, he
seems to have had no official superiority over the other generals,
but, by the resolute decision with which he urged the plan of giving
the Persians battle, and the confidence and courage which he
manifested in expressing his readiness to take the responsibility of
the measure, he placed himself virtually at the head of the Greek
command. The rest of the officers acquiesced in his pre-eminence, and,
waiving their claims to an equal share of the authority, they allowed
him to go forward and direct the operations of the day. If the day had
been lost, Miltiades, even though he had escaped death upon the field,
would have been totally and irretrievably ruined; but as it was won,
the result of the transaction was that he was raised to the highest
pinnacle of glory and renown.

And yet in this, as in all similar cases, the question of success or
of failure depended upon causes wholly beyond the reach of human
foresight or control. The military commander who acts in such
contingencies is compelled to stake every thing dear to him on results
which are often as purely hazardous as the casting of a die.

The influence of Miltiades in Athens after the Persian troops were
withdrawn was paramount and supreme. Finding himself in possession of
this ascendency, he began to form plans for other military
undertakings. It proved, in the end, that it would have been far
better for him to have been satisfied with the fame which he had
already acquired.

Some of the islands in the Ægean Sea he considered as having taken
part with the Persians in the invasion, to such an extent, at least,
as to furnish him with a pretext for making war upon them. The one
which he had specially in view, in the first instance, was Paros.
Paros is a large and important island situated near the center of the
southern portion of the Ægean Sea. It is of an oval form, and is about
twelve miles long. The surface of the land is beautifully diversified
and very picturesque, while, at the same time, the soil is very
fertile. In the days of Miltiades, it was very wealthy and populous,
and there was a large city, called also Paros, on the western coast of
the island, near the sea. There is a modern town built upon the site
of the former city, which presents a very extraordinary appearance, as
the dwellings are formed, in a great measure, of materials obtained
from the ancient ruins. Marble columns, sculptured capitals, and
fragments of what were once magnificent entablatures, have been used
to construct plain walls, or laid in obscure and neglected
pavements--all, however, still retaining, notwithstanding their
present degradation, unequivocal marks of the nobleness of their
origin. The quarries where the ancient Parian marble was obtained were
situated on this island, not very far from the town. They remain to
the present day in the same state in which the ancient workmen left

In the time of Miltiades the island and the city of Paros were both
very wealthy and very powerful. Miltiades conceived the design of
making a descent upon the island, and levying an immense contribution
upon the people, in the form of a fine, for what he considered their
treason in taking part with the enemies of their countrymen. In order
to prevent the people of Paros from preparing for defense, Miltiades
intended to keep the object of his expedition secret for a time. He
therefore simply proposed to the Athenians that they should equip a
fleet and put it under his command. He had an enterprise in view, he
said, the nature of which he could not particularly explain, but he
was very confident of its success, and, if successful, he should
return, in a short time, laden with spoils which would enrich the
city, and amply reimburse the people for the expenses they would have
incurred. The force which he asked for was a fleet of seventy vessels.

So great was the popularity and influence which Miltiades had acquired
by his victory at Marathon, that this somewhat extraordinary
proposition was readily complied with. The fleet was equipped, and
crews were provided, and the whole armament was placed under
Miltiades's command. The men themselves who were embarked on board of
the galleys did not know whither they were going. Miltiades promised
them victory and an abundance of gold as their reward; for the rest,
they must trust, he said, to him, as he could not explain the actual
destination of the enterprise without endangering its success. The
men were all satisfied with these conditions, and the fleet set sail.

When it arrived on the coast of Paros, the Parians were, of course,
taken by surprise, but they made immediate preparations for a very
vigorous resistance. Miltiades commenced a siege, and sent a herald to
the city, demanding of them, as the price of their ransom, an immense
sum of money, saying, at the same time, that, unless they delivered up
that sum, or, at least, gave security for the payment of it, he would
not leave the place until the city was captured, and, when captured,
it should be wholly destroyed. The Parians rejected the demand, and
engaged energetically in the work of completing and strengthening
their defenses. They organized companies of workmen to labor during
the night, when their operations would not be observed, in building
new walls, and re-enforcing every weak or unguarded point in the line
of the fortifications. It soon appeared that the Parians were making
far more rapid progress in securing their position than Miltiades was
in his assaults upon it. Miltiades found that an attack upon a
fortified island in the Ægean Sea was a different thing from
encountering the undisciplined hordes of Persians on the open plains
of Marathon. There it was a contest between concentrated courage and
discipline on the one hand, and a vast expansion of pomp and parade on
the other; whereas now he found that the courage and discipline on his
part were met by an equally indomitable resolution on the part of his
opponents, guided, too, by an equally well-trained experience and
skill. In a word, it was Greek against Greek at Paros, and Miltiades
began at length to perceive that his prospect of success was growing
very doubtful and dim.

This state of things, of course, filled the mind of Miltiades with
great anxiety and distress; for, after the promises which he had made
to the Athenians, and the blind confidence which he had asked of them
in proposing that they should commit the fleet so unconditionally to
his command, he could not return discomfited to Athens without
involving himself in the most absolute disgrace. While he was in this
perplexity, it happened that some of his soldiers took captive a
Parian female, one day, among other prisoners. She proved to be a
priestess, from one of the Parian temples. Her name was Timo. The
thought occurred to Miltiades that, since all human means at his
command had proved inadequate to accomplish his end, he might,
perhaps, through this captive priestess, obtain some superhuman aid.
As she had been in the service of a Parian temple, she would naturally
have an influence with the divinities of the place, or, at least, she
would be acquainted with the proper means of propitiating their favor.

Miltiades, accordingly, held a private interview with Timo, and asked
her what he should do to propitiate the divinities of Paros so far as
to enable him to gain possession of the city. She replied that she
could easily point out the way, if he would but follow her
instructions. Miltiades, overjoyed, promised readily that he would do
so. She then gave him her instructions secretly. What they were is not
known, except so far as they were revealed by the occurrences that

There was a temple consecrated to the goddess Ceres near to the city,
and so connected with it, it seems, as to be in some measure included
within the defenses. The approach to this temple was guarded by a
palisade. There were, however, gates which afforded access, except
when they were fastened from within. Miltiades, in obedience to Timo's
instructions, went privately, in the night, perhaps, and with very
few attendants, to this temple. He attempted to enter by the gates,
which he had expected, it seems, to find open. They were, however,
fastened against him. He then undertook to scale the palisade. He
succeeded in doing this, not, however, without difficulty, and then
advanced toward the temple, in obedience to the instructions which he
had received from Timo. The account states that the act, whatever it
was, that Timo had directed him to perform, instead of being, as he
supposed, a means of propitiating the favor of the divinity, was
sacrilegious and impious; and Miltiades, as he approached the temple,
was struck suddenly with a mysterious and dreadful horror of mind,
which wholly overwhelmed him. Rendered almost insane by this
supernatural remorse and terror, he turned to fly. He reached the
palisade, and, in endeavoring to climb over it, his precipitation and
haste caused him to fall. His attendants ran to take him up. He was
helpless and in great pain. They found he had dislocated a joint in
one of his limbs. He received, of course, every possible attention;
but, instead of recovering from the injury, he found that the
consequences of it became more and more serious every day. In a word,
the great conqueror of the Persians was now wholly overthrown, and lay
moaning on his couch as helpless as a child.

He soon determined to abandon the siege of Paros and return to Athens.
He had been about a month upon the island, and had laid waste the
rural districts, but, as the city had made good its defense against
him, he returned without any of the rich spoil which he had promised.
The disappointment which the people of Athens experienced on his
arrival, turned soon into a feeling of hostility against the author of
the calamity. Miltiades found that the fame and honor which he had
gained at Marathon were gone. They had been lost almost as suddenly as
they had been acquired. The rivals and enemies who had been silenced
by his former success were now brought out and made clamorous against
him by his present failure. They attributed the failure to his own
mismanagement of the expedition, and one orator, at length, advanced
articles of impeachment against him, on a charge of having been bribed
by the Persians to make his siege of Paros only a feint. Miltiades
could not defend himself from these criminations, for he was lying, at
the time, in utter helplessness, upon his couch of pain. The
dislocation of the limb had ended in an open wound, which at length,
having resisted all the attempts of the physicians to stop its
progress, had begun to mortify, and the life of the sufferer was fast
ebbing away. His son Cimon did all in his power to save his father
from both the dangers that threatened him. He defended his character
in the public tribunals, and he watched over his person in the cell in
the prison. These filial efforts were, however, in both cases
unavailing. Miltiades was condemned by the tribunal, and he died of
his wound.

The penalty exacted of him by the sentence was a very heavy fine. The
sum demanded was the amount which the expedition to Paros had cost the
city, and which, as it had been lost through the agency of Miltiades,
it was adjudged that he should refund. This sentence, as well as the
treatment in general which Miltiades received from his countrymen, has
been since considered by mankind as very unjust and cruel. It was,
however, only following out, somewhat rigidly, it is true, the
essential terms and conditions of a military career. It results from
principles inherent in the very nature of war, that we are never to
look for the ascendency of justice and humanity in any thing
pertaining to it. It is always power, and not right, that determines
possession; it is success, not merit, that gains honors and rewards;
and they who assent to the genius and spirit of military rule thus
far, must not complain if they find that, on the same principle, it is
failure and not crime which brings condemnation and destruction.

When Miltiades was dead, Cimon found that he could not receive his
father's body for honorable interment unless he paid the fine. He had
no means, himself, of doing this. He succeeded, however, at length, in
raising the amount, by soliciting contributions from the family
friends of his father. He paid the fine into the city treasury, and
then the body of the hero was deposited in its long home.

The Parians were at first greatly incensed against the priestess Timo,
as it seemed to them that she had intended to betray the city to
Miltiades. They wished to put her to death, but they did not dare to
do it. It might be considered an impious sacrilege to punish a
priestess. They accordingly sent to the oracle at Delphi to state the
circumstances of the case, and to inquire if they might lawfully put
the priestess to death. She had been guilty, they said, of pointing
out to an enemy the mode by which he might gain possession of their
city; and, what was worse, she had, in doing so, attempted to admit
him to those solemn scenes and mysteries in the temple which it was
not lawful for any man to behold. The oracle replied that the
priestess must not be punished, for she had done no wrong. It had been
decreed by the gods that Miltiades should be destroyed, and Timo had
been employed by them as the involuntary instrument of conducting him
to his fate. The people of Paros acquiesced in this decision, and Timo
was set free.

       *       *       *       *       *

But to return to Darius. His desire to subdue the Greeks and to add
their country to his dominions, and his determination to accomplish
his purpose, were increased and strengthened, not diminished, by the
repulse which his army had met with at the first invasion. He was
greatly incensed against the Athenians, as if he considered their
courage and energy in defending their country an audacious outrage
against himself, and a crime. He resolved to organize a new
expedition, still greater and more powerful than the other. Of this
armament he determined to take the command himself in person, and to
make the preparations for it on a scale of such magnitude as that the
expedition should be worthy to be led by the great sovereign of half
the world. He accordingly transmitted orders to all the peoples,
nations, languages, and realms, in all his dominions, to raise their
respective quotas of troops, horses, ships, and munitions of war, and
prepare to assemble at such place of rendezvous as he should designate
when all should be ready.

Some years elapsed before these arrangements were matured, and when at
last the time seemed to have arrived for carrying his plans into
effect, he deemed it necessary, before he commenced his march, to
settle the succession of his kingdom; for he had several sons, who
might each claim the throne, and involve the empire in disastrous
civil wars in attempting to enforce their claims, in case he should
never return. The historians say that there was a law of Persia
forbidding the sovereign to leave the realm without previously fixing
upon a successor. It is difficult to see, however, by what power or
authority such a law could have been enacted, or to believe that
monarchs like Darius would recognize an abstract obligation to law of
any kind, in respect to their own political action. There is a
species of law regulating the ordinary dealings between man and man,
that springs up in all communities, whether savage or civilized, from
custom, and from the action of judicial tribunals, which the most
despotic and absolute sovereigns feel themselves bound, so far as
relates to the private affairs of their subjects, to respect and
uphold; but, in regard to their own personal and governmental acts and
measures, they very seldom know any other authority than the impulses
of their own sovereign will.

Darius had several sons, among whom there were two who claimed the
right to succeed their father on the throne. One was the oldest son of
a wife whom Darius had married before he became king. His name was
Artobazanes. The other was the son of Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus,
whom Darius had married _after_ his accession to the throne. His name
was Xerxes. Artobazanes claimed that he was entitled to be his
father's heir, since he was his oldest son. Xerxes, on the other hand,
maintained that, at the period of the birth of Artobazanes, Darius was
not a king. He was then in a private station, and sons could properly
inherit only what their fathers possessed at the time when they were
born. He himself, on the other hand, was the oldest son which his
father had had, _being a king_, and he was, consequently, the true
inheritor of the kingdom. Besides, being the son of Atossa, he was the
grandson of Cyrus, and the hereditary rights, therefore, of that great
founder of the empire had descended to him.

Darius decided the question in favor of Xerxes, and then made
arrangements for commencing his march, with a mind full of the elation
and pride which were awakened by the grandeur of his position and the
magnificence of his schemes. These schemes, however, he did not live
to execute. He suddenly fell sick and died, just as he was ready to
set out upon his expedition, and Xerxes, his son, reigned in his

Xerxes immediately took command of the vast preparations which his
father had made, and went on with the prosecution of the enterprise.
The expedition which followed deserves, probably, in respect to the
numbers engaged in it, the distance which it traversed, the
immenseness of the expenses involved, and the magnitude of its
results, to be considered the greatest military undertaking which
human ambition and power have ever attempted to effect. The narrative,
however, both of its splendid adventures and of its ultimate fate,
belongs to the history of Xerxes.

The greatness of Darius was the greatness of position and not of
character. He was the absolute sovereign of nearly half the world,
and, as such, was held up very conspicuously to the attention of
mankind, who gaze with a strong feeling of admiration and awe upon
these vast elevations of power, as they do upon the summits of
mountains, simply because they are high. Darius performed no great
exploit, and he accomplished no great object while he lived; and he
did not even leave behind him any strong impressions of personal
character. There is in his history, and in the position which he
occupies in the minds of men, greatness without dignity, success
without merit, vast and long-continued power without effects
accomplished or objects gained, and universal and perpetual renown
without honor or applause. The world admire Cæsar, Hannibal,
Alexander, Alfred, and Napoleon for the deeds which they performed.
They admire Darius only on account of the elevation on which he stood.
In the same lofty position, they would have admired, probably, just as
much, the very horse whose neighing placed him there.

                         THE END.


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