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new names of Huns, Avari, Bulgarians, Magyars, Turks, Mon-
gols, devastated Europe and Asia for fifteen successive cen-
turies. They have been the scourge of the race, and they
commenced their incursions before Grecian history begins.

Learning from these Scythian invaders many arts, not

before practiced in war, such as archery and cavalry rnove-

, ments, Cyaxares was prepared to extend his eni-

Conquestsot ' •> 1 l

Cyaxares. pj re to the west over Armenia and Asia Minor, as
far as the river Halys. He made war in Lydia with the
father of Croesus. But before these conquests were made,
he probably captured Nineveh and destroyed it, b. c. 625.
He was here assisted by the whole force of the Babylonians,
under Nabopolassar, an old general of the Assyrians, bat
who had rebelled. In reward he obtained for his son, Kebu-

Chap. IX.] The Cimmerians. 91

chadnezzar, the band of the daughter of Cyaxares. The last
of the Assyrian monarchs, whom the Greeks have called
Sardanapalus, burned himself in his palace rather than fall
into the hands of the Median conqueror.

The fall of Nineveh led to the independence of Babylon,
and its wonderful growth, and also to the conquests of the
Medes as far as Lydia to the west. The war with Warwitll
Lydia lasted six years, and was carried on with vari- Lydia.
ous success, until peace was restored by the mediation of a
Babylonian prince. The reason that peace was made was
an eclipse of the sun, which happened in the midst of a great
battle, which struck both armies with superstitious fears.
On the conclusion of peace, the son of the Median king,
Astyages, married the daughter of the Lydian monarch,
Alyattes, and an alliance was formed between Media and

At this time Lydia comprised nearly all of Asia Minor, west
of the Halys. The early history of this country is TheL fl . an
involved in obscurity. The dynasty on tbe throne, monarchy.
when invaded by the Medes, was founded by Gyges, b. c.
724, who began those aggressions on the Grecian colonies
which were consummated by Croesus. Under the reign of
Ardys, his successor, Asia Minor was devastated by the
Cimmerians, a people who came from the regions north of
the Black Sea, between the Danube and the Sea of Azov,
being driven away by an inundation of Scythians, like that
which afterward desolated Media. These Cimmerians, havino-
burned the great temple of Diana, at Ephesus, and de-
stroyed the capital city of Sardis, were expelled from Lydia
by Alyattes, the monarch against whom Cyaxares had made

Cyaxaies reigned forty years, and was succeeded by Asty-
ages, b. c. 593, whose history is a total blank, till near
the close of his long reign of thirty-five years, when the Per-
sians under Cyrus arose to power. He seems to have
resigned himself to the ordinary condition of Ori-

i i • ,*> t t -, , Astyages.

entai kings — to eneminacy and luxury — brought

92 Empire of the Medes and Persians. [Chap. IX.

about by the prosperity which he inherited. He was contem-
porary with Croesus, the famous king of Lydia, whose life
has been invested with so much romantic interest by Hero-
dotus — the first of the Asiatic kings who commenced hostile
aggression on the Greeks. After making himself master of
all the Greek States of Asia Minor, he combated a power
which was destined to overturn the older monarchies of the
East — that of the Persians — a race closely connected with the
Medes in race, language, and religion.

The Persians first appear in history as a hardy, warlike
people, simple in manners and scornful of luxury. They
were uncultivated in art and science, but possessed great wit,
and a poetical imagination. They lived in the mountainous
region on the southwest of Iran, where the great plain
descends to the Persian Gulf. The sea-coast is hot and arid,
. as well as the eastern region where the mountains

The early »

history of pass i n to the table-land of Iran. Between these

the Per- *

8ians - tracts, resembling the Arabian desert, lie the high

lands at the extremity of the Zagros chain. These rugged
regions, rich in fruitful valleys, are favorable to the cultiva-
tion of corn, of the grape, and fruits, and afford excellent
pasturage for flocks. In the northern part is the beautiful
plain of Shiraz, which forms the favorite residence of the
modern shahs. In the valley of Bend-amir was the old capi-
tal of Persepolis, whose ruins attest the magnificent palaces
of Darius and Xerxes. Persia proper was a small country,
three hundred miles from north to south, and two hundred
and eighty from east to west, inhabited by an Aryan race,
who brought with them, from the country beyond the
Indus, a distinctive religion, language, and political institu-
tions. Their language was closely connected with the Aryan
dialects of India, and the tongues of modern Europe.
Hence the Persians were noble types of the great Indo-
European family, whose civilization has spread throughout
the world. Their religion was the least corrupted of the
ancient races, and was marked by a keen desire to arrive
at truth, and entered, in the time of the Gnostics, into the

Chap. IX.] Zoroaster. 93

speculations* of the Christian fathers, of whom Origen was
the type. Their teachers were the Magi, a wise and learned
caste, some of whom came to Jerusalem in the time of
Herod, guided by the star in the East, to institute inquiries
as to the birth of Christ. They attempted to solve the
mysteries of creation, but their elemental principle of
religion was worship of all the elements, especially of fire.
But the Persians also believed in the two principles of good
and evil, which were called the principle of dualism, and
which they brought from India. It is thought by Rawlin-
son that the Persians differed in their religion from the
primeval people of India, whose Vedas, or sacred books,
were based on monotheism, in its spiritual and personal
form, and that, for the heresy of "dualism," they were com-
pelled to migrate to the West. The Medes, with whom they
subsequently became associated, were inclined to the old
elemental worship of nature, which they learned from the
Turanian or Scythic population.

The great man among the Persians was Zoroaster — or
Zerdusht, born, probably, b. c. 589. He is immortal, not
from his personal historv, the details of which we

i '■ . . . Zoroaster.

are ignorant, but from his ideas, which became the
basis of the faith of the Persians. He stamped his mind on
the nation, as Mohammed subsequently did ujDon Arabia.
His central principle was " dualism" — the two powers of
good and evil — the former of which was destined ultimately
to conquer. But with this dualistic creed of the old Persian,
he also blended a reformed Magian worship of the elements,
which had gained a footing among the Chaldean priests, and
which originally came from the Scythic invaders. Magism
could not have come from the Semitic races, whose original
religion was theism, like that of Melchisedek and

. , , „ . T , . T -. His religion.

Abraham; nor from the Japhetic races, or Indo-
European, whose worship was polytheism — that of personal
gods under distinct names, like Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.
The first to yield to this Magism were the Medes, who
adopted the religion of older settlers, — the Scythic tribes,

94 Empire of the Medes and Persians. [Chap. IX.

their subjects, — and which faith superseded the old Aryan

Character of The Persians, the flower of the Aryan races,
t e ersians were peculiarly military in all their habits and
aspirations. Their nobles, mounted on a famous breed of
horses, composed the finest cavalry in the world. Nor
was their infantry inferior, armed with lances, shields, and
bows. Their military spirit was kept alive by their moun-
tain life and simple habits and strict discipline.

Astyages, we have seen, was the last of the Median kings.
He married his daughter, according to Herodotus, to Cam-
byses, a Persian noble, preferring him to a higher alliance
among the Median princes, in order that a dream might
not be fulfilled that her offspring should conquer Asia. On
the return of the dream he sought to destroy the child she
was about to bear, but it was preserved by a herdsman ; and
Ttise of when the child was ten years of age he was chosen

yras. ky ^. g pi a yf e ]] ows on the mountains to be their

king. As such he caused the son of a noble Median to be
scourged for disobedience, who carried his complaint to
Astyages. The Median monarch finds out his pedigree from
the herdsman, and his officer, Harpagus, to whom he had
intrusted the commission for his destruction. He invites,
in suppressed anger, this noble to a feast, at which he serves
up the flesh of his own son. Harpagus, in revenge, conspires
with some discontented nobles, and invites Cyrus, this boy-
king, now the bravest of the youths of his age and country,
to a revolt. Cyrus leads his troops against Astyages, and
gains a victory, and also the person of the sovereign, and
his great reign began, b. c. 558.

The dethronement of Astyages caused a war between
Lydia and Persia. Croesus hastens to attack the
usurper and defend his father-in-law. He forms
a league with Babylonia and Egypt. Thus the three most
powerful monarchs of the world are arrayed against Cyrus,
who is prepared to meet the confederation. Croesus is de-
feated, and retreats to his capital, Sardis ; and the next

Chap, ix.] Reign of Cyrus. 95

spring, while summoning his allies, is attacked unexpectedly
by Cyrus, and is again defeated. He now retires to Sardis,
which is strongly fortified, and the city is besieged by the
Persians, and falls after a brief siege. Croesus himself is
spared, and in his adversity gives wise counsel to his con-

Cyrus leaves a Lydian in command of the captured city,
and departs for home. A revolt ensues, which leads to a
collision between Persia and the Greek colonies, and the sub-
jection of the Grecian cities by Harpagus, the general of
Cyrus. Then followed the conquest of Asia Minor, „.
which required several years, and was conducted by empire.
the generals of Cyrus. He was required in Media, to con-
solidate his power. He then extended his conquests to the
East, and subdued the whole plateau of Iran, to the moun-
tains which divided it from the Indus. Thus fifteen years
of splendid military successes passed before he laid siege to
Babylon, b. c. 538.

On the fall of that great city Cyrus took up his resi-
dence in it, as the imperial capital of his vast dominion.
Here he issued his decree for the return of the He makes

t ,i- • ■ -i^i -i-iT Babylon his

Jews to their ancient territory, and tor the rebuild- capital
ing of their temple, after seventy years' captivity. This de-
cree was dictated by the sound military policy of maintain-
ing the frontier territory of Palestine against his enemies in
Asia Minor, which he knew the Jews would do their best to
preserve, and this policy he carried out with noble generosity,
and returned to the Jews the captured vessels of silver and
gold which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away ; and for more
than two centuries Persia had no warmer friends and allies
than the obedient and loyal subjects of Judea.

Cyrus fell in battle while fighting a tribe of Scythians at
the east of the Caspian Sea, b. c. 529. He was the great-
est general that the Oriental world ever produced, and well
may rank with Alexander himself. His reign of Greatness of

« the reign of

twenty-nine years was one constant succession of Cyrus.
wars, in which he was uniformly successful, and in which

96 Empire qf 'the Medes and Persians. [Ciiap. ix.

success was only equaled by his 'magnanimity. His em-
pire extended from the Indus to the Hellespont and the
Syrian coast, far greater than that of either Assyria or Baby-

The result of the Persian conquest on the conquerors
Degeneracy themselves was to produce habits of excessive
sian h coif- er " luxury, a wide and vast departure from their
querors. original mode of life, which enfeebled the empire,
and prepared the way for a rapid decline.

Cambyses, however, the son and successor of Cyrus, car-
ried out his policy and conquests. He was, unlike

Cambyses. , .

his father, a tyrant and a sensualist, but possess-
ed considerable military genius. Pie conquered Phoenicia,
and thus became master of the sea as well as of the land.
He then quarreled with Amasis, the king of Egypt, and sub-
dued his kingdom.

Like an eastern despot, he had, while in Egypt, in an hour
of madness and caprice, killed his brother, Smerdis. It hap-
pened there was a Magian who bore a striking re-

His follies. x _. _ . _„. , . ' ,

semblance to the murdered prince. Vv ith the help
of his brother, whom the king had left governor of his house-
hold, this Magian usurped the throne of Persia, while Cam-
byses was absent, the death of the true Smerdis having been
carefully concealed.

The news of the usurpation reached Cambyses while
returning from an expedition to Syria. An accidental
Usurpation wound from the point of his sword proved

of the Ma- _ _, . . ...

gians. mortal, b. c. 522. But Cambyses, about to die,

called his nobles around him, and revealed the murder of his
brother, and exhorted them to prevent the kingdom falling
into the hands of the Medes. He left no children.

The usurper proved a tyrant. A conspiracy of Persians
followed, headed by the descendants of Cyrus ; and Darius,
the chief of these — the son of Hystaspes, became king of

Persia, after Smerdis had reigned seven months.

But this reign, brief as it was, had restored the old
Magian priests to power, who had, by their magical arts,

Chap. IX.] Revolt of the Ionian Cities. 97

great popularity with the people, not only Medes, but

Darius restored the temples and the worship which the
Magian priests had overthrown, and established H is con-
the religion of Zoroaster. The early years of his i uests -
reign were disturbed by rebellions in Babylonia and Media,
but these were suppressed, and Darius prosecuted the con-
quests which Cyrus had begun. He invaded both India and
Scythia, while his general, Megabazus, subdued Thrace and
the Greek cities of the Hellespont.

The king of Macedonia acknowledged the supremacy of
the great monarch of Asia, and gave the customary His great-
present of earth and water. Darius returned at ness
length to Susa to enjoy the fruit of his victories, and the
pleasures which his great empire afforded. For twenty
years his glories were unparalleled in the East, and his life
was tranquil.

But in the year b. c. 500, a great revolt of the Ionian cities
took place. It was suppressed, at first, but the Atticans,
at Marathon, defeated the Persian warriors, b. c. 490, and
the great victorv changed the whole course of The revolt

... J „ . , . of the Lmian

Asiatic conquest. Darius made vast preparations cities.
for a new invasion of Greece, but died before they were
completed, after a reign of thirty-six years, b. c. 485, leaving
a name greater than that of any Oriental sovereign, except

Unfortunately for him and his dynasty, he challenged the
spirit of western liberty, then at its height among the cities
of Greece. His successor, Xerxes, inherited his

, i - • ii-i ■> i Xerxes.

power, but not his genius, and rashly provoked
Europe by new invasions, while he lived ingloriously in his
seraglio. He vas murdered in his palace, the fate of the
great tyrants of eastern monarchies, for in no other way
than by the assassin's dagger could a change of administra-
tion take place — a poor remedy, perhaps, but not worse than
the disease itself. This tyrant was the Ahasuerus of the

98 Empire of the Medes and Persians. [Cuap. IX.

We need not follow the fortunes of the imbecile princes
Fate of the who succeeded Xerxes, for the Persian monarchy
pire. was now degenerate and weakened, and easily fell

under the dominion of Alexander, who finally overthrew the
power of Persia, b. c. 330.

And this was well. The Persian monarchy was an abso-
lute despotism, like that of Turkey, and the monarch not
only controlled the actions of his subjects, but was the owner
even of their soil. He delegated his power to satraps, who
ruled during his pleasure, but whose rule was disgraced by
every form of extortion — sometimes punished, however,
when it became outrageous and notorious. The satraps,
like pashas, were virtually independent princes, and exer-
its ciiarac- clse & a ^ tue rights of sovereigns so long as they
teristics. secured the confidence of the supreme monarch,
and regularly remitted to him the tribute which was im-
posed. The satrapies were generally given to members of
the royal family, or to great nobles connected with it by
marriage. The monarch governed by no council, and the
laws centered in the principle that the will of the king was
supreme. The only check which he feared was assassination,
and he generally spent his life in the retirement of his serag-
lio, at Susa, Babylon, or Ecbatana.

The Persian empire was the last of the great monarchies
of the Oriental Avorld, and these flourished for a period of two
thousand years. When nations became wicked or extended
over a large territory, the patriarchal rule of the primitive
ages no longer proved an efficient government. Men must
be ruled, however, in some way, and the irresponsible des-
potism of the East, over all the different races, Semitic,
Hamite, and Japhetic, was the government which Provi-
dence provided, in a state of general rudeness, or pastoral sim-
plicity, or oligarchal usurpations. The last great monarchy
was the best ; it was that which was exercised by the de-
scendants of Japhct, according to the prediction that he
should dwell in the tents of Shein, and Canaan should be his

Chap. IX.] Glance at Asia Minor. 99

Before we follow the progress of the descendants of
Japhet in Greece, among whom a new civilization arose,
designed to improve the condition of society by the free
agency displayed in art, science, literature, and government
— the rise, in short, of free institutions — we will glance at
the nations in Asia Minor which were brought in contact
with the powers we have so briefly considered.



Concerning the original inhabitants of Asia Minor onr
information is very scanty. The works of Strabo shed an
Original in- indefinite lisrht, and the author of the Iliad seems

habitants of °

Asia Minor, to have been but imperfectly acquainted with
either the geography or the people of that extensive coun-
try. According to Herodotus, the river Halys was the
most important geographical limit; nor does he mention
the great chain of Taurus, which begins from the south-
ern coast of Lycia, and strikes northeastward as far as
Armenia — the most important boundary line in the time
of the Romans. Northward of Mount Taurus, on the
upper portion of the river Halys, was situated the spacious
plain of Asia Minor. The northeast and south of this plain
was mountainous, and was bounded by the Euxine, the
iEgean, and the Pamphylian seas. The northwestern part
included the mountainous region of Ida, Temnus, and Olym-
pus. The peninsula was fruitful in grains, wine, fruit, cat-
tle, and oil.

Along the western shores of this great peninsula were
Pelasgians, Mysians, Bythinians, Phrygians, Lydians, and
other nations, before the Greeks established their colonies.
Further eastward were Lycians, Pisidians, Phrygians, Cap-
padocians, Paphlagonians, and others. The Phrygians, Mysi-
ans, and Teucrians were on the northwest. These various
its various nat ions were not formed into large kingdoms or
nations. confederacies, nor even into large cities, but were
inconsiderable tribes, that presented no formidable resist-
ance to external enemies. The most powerful people were
the Lydians, whose capital was Sardis, who were ruled by

Chap. X.J The Gordian Knot. 101

Gyges, 700 b. c. This monarchy extinguished the inde-
pendence of the Greek cities on the coast, without impeding
their development in wealth and civilization. All the
nations west of the river Halys were kindred in language
and habits. East of the Halys dwelt Semitic races, Assyr-
ians, Syrians, Cappadocians, and Cilicians. Along the coast
of the Euxine dwelt Bythinians, Marandynians, and Paph-
lagonians — branches of the Thracian race. Along the
southern coast of the Propontis were the Doliones and
Pelas<nans. In the region of Mount Ida were the Teucrians
and Mysians. All these races had a certain affinity with the
Thracians, and all modified the institutions of the Greeks
who settled on the coast for purposes of traffic or colo-
nization. The music of the Greeks was borrowed from the
Phrygians and Lydians. The flute is known to have been
invented, or used by the Phrygians, and from them to have
passed to Greek composers.

The ancient Phrygians were celebrated chiefly for their
flocks and agricultural produce, while the Lydi- The phr ^
ans, dwelling in cities, possessed much gold and ans -
silver. But there are few great historical facts connected
with either nation. There is an interesting legend con-
nected with the Phrygian town of Gordium. The primi-
tive king, Gordius, was originally a poor husbandman, upon
the yoke of whose team, as he tilled the field, an eagle
perched. He consulted the augurs to explain the curious
portent, and was told that the kingdom was destined for
his family. His son was Midas, offspring of a maiden of
prophetic family. Soon after, dissensions breaking out
among the Phrygians, they were directed by an oracle to
choose a king, whom they should first see approaching in a
wagon. Gordius and his son Midas were the first they saw
approaching the town, and the crown was conferred upon
them. The wagon was consecrated, and became celebrated
for a knot which no one could untie. Whosoever should un-
tie that knot was promised the kingdom of Asia. It remained
untied until Alexander the Great cut it with his sword.

102 Asia Minor and Phoenicia. [Chap. X.

The Lydians became celebrated for their music, of which
the chief instruments were the flute and the harp.

The Lydians. . „ , . . .

Their capital, Sardis, was situated on a precipi-
tous rock, and was deemed impregnable. Among their
kings was Croesus, whose great wealth was derived from the
gold found in the sands of the river Pactolus, which flowed
toward the Hermus from Mount Tmolus, and also from the
industry of his subjects. They were the first on record to
coin gold and silver. The antiquity of the Lydian monarchy
is very great, and was traced to Heracles. The Heracleid
dynasty lasted five hundred and five years, and ended with
Myrsus, or Kanclaules. His wife was of exceeding beauty,
and the vanity of her husband led him to expose
her person to Gyges, commander of his guard. The
affronted wife, in revenge, caused her husband to be assas-
sinated, and married Gyges. A strong party opposed his
ascent to the throne, and a civil war ensued, which was ter-
minated by a consultation of the oracle, which decided in
favor of Gyges, the first historical king of Lydia, about the
year 715 b. c.

With this king commenced the aggressions from Sardis on
the Asiatic Greeks, which ended in their subjection. How
far the Lydian kingdom of Sardis extended during the reign
of Gyges is not known, but probably over the whole Troad,
His prosper- to Abydus, on the Hellespont. Gyges reigned
ous reign. thirty-eight years, and was succeeded by his son
Ardys, during whose reign was an extensive invasion of the
Cimmerians, and a collision between the inhabitants of Lydia
and those of Upper Asia, under the Median kings, who first
acquired importance about the year 656 b. c, under a king
called, by the Greeks, Phraortes, son of Deioces, who built
the city of Ecbatana.

Phraortes greatly extended the empire of the Medes,
and conquered the Persians, but was defeated and slain
Alliance of by the Assyrians of Nineveh. His son, Cyaxares
Persia. wl (636 — 595 b. c), continued the Median conquests
to the river Halys, which was the boundary between the

Chap. X.] Conquests of the Scythians. 103

Lydian and Median kingdoms. A war between these two
powers was terminated by the marriage of the daughter of
the Lydian king with the son of the Median monarch,
Cyaxares, who shortly after laid siege to Nineveh, but was
obliged to desist by a sudden inroad of Scythians.

This inroad of the Scythians in Media took place about the

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