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4. When all was ready, the Persian prince rallied his countrymen and persuaded them to become independent of the Medes. Astyages raised an army to quell the revolt, but when the two forces met at
B. C. 558.
Pasar gadæ, the greater part of the Medes went over to the Persian side. In a second battle Astyages was made prisoner, and the sovereignty of Media remained to the conqueror.
5. The reign of Cyrus was full of warlike enterprises. By the time he had subdued the Median cities, Croesus,* king of Lydia, had become alarmed by his rapidly increasing power, and had stirred up Egypt, Babylon, and the Greeks to oppose it. He crossed the Ha'lys, and encountered the army of Cyrus near Sino'pe, in Cappado'cia. Neither party gained a victory; but Croesus, finding his numbers inferior, drew back toward his capital, thinking to spend the winter in renewed preparations. Cyrus pursued him to the gates of Sardis, and defeated him
B. C. 546.
in a decisive battle. The city was taken, and Croesus owed his life to thè mercy of his conqueror. His kingdom, which comprised all Asia Minor west of the Halys, was added to the Persian Empire.
6. The monarchs of Asia had three methods of maintaining their dominion over the countries they had conquered: 1. A large standing army was kept upon the soil, at the cost of the vanquished. 2. In case of revolt, whole nations were sometimes transported over a distance of thousands of miles, usually to the islands of the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean, while their places were filled by emigrants whose loyalty was assured. 3. A more injurious, though apparently more indulgent policy, compelled a warlike people to adopt luxurious and effeminate manners. Such was the treatment of the Lydians, by the advice of their captive king. Croesus was now the trusted counselor of Cyrus. With a view to save his people from the miseries of transportation, he suggested that they should be deprived of their arms, compelled to clothe themselves in soft apparel, and to train their youth in habits of gaming and drinking, thus rendering them forever incapable of disturbing the dominion of their conquerors. From a brave, warlike, and industrious race, the Lydians were transformed into indolent pleasure-seekers, and their country remained a submissive province of the empire of Cyrus.
7. CAPTURE OF BABYLON. Leaving Harpagus to complete the conquest. of the Asiatic Greeks, Cyrus turned to the east, where he aimed at the greater glory of subduing Assyria. Nabonadius, † the Babylonian king, believed that the walls of his capital were proof against assault; but he was defeated, and the great city became the prey of the conqueror. The writings of Daniel, who was resident at the court of Nabonadius, and a
* See Book I, 2 59.
† See Book I, 22 53, 54.
witness of the overthrow of his kingdom, inform us that Dari'us the Median took Babylon, being about sixty-two years old. It is probable that Darius was another name of Astyages himself, who, being deprived of his own kingdom, was compensated by the government of the most magnificent city of the East. His arbitrary decrees concerning Daniel and his accusers accord well with the character of Astyages.
8. RETURN OF THE JEWS. It will be remembered that the Jews were now captives in Babylonia, where they had remained seventy years, since the destruction of their Holy City by Nebuchadnez'zar. Cyrus, who, like the Hebrews, was a believer in One God, found their pure religion an agreeable contrast to the corrupt and degrading rites of the Babylonians. He may have been moved by the prophecies of Isaiah, uttered nearly two centuries before, and those of Jeremiah at the time of the Captivity. (Isaiah xliv: 28, and xlv: 1-5; Jeremiah xxv: 12, and xxviii: 11.) He may also have had more selfish motives for favoring the Jews, in his designs upon Egypt, thinking it an advantage to have a friendly people established in the fortresses of Judah. In any case, he fulfilled the prophecies by giving orders for the return of the Israelites to their own land, and for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem. The 5,400 golden and silver vessels of the House of the Lord were brought forth from the Babylonian treasury and delivered to the prince of Judah, who received the Persian title Sheshbazʼzar, corresponding to the modern Pasha'. Few of the original captives had survived, like Daniel, to witness. the return; but a company of fifty thousand, men, women, and children, were soon collected from their settlements on the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, and moving toward their own land. (Read Ezra i, and ii: 1, 64, 65, 68-70.) On their arrival, the altar was immediately set up, the great festivals reëstablished, a grant of cedars from the forests of Lebanon obtained, and preparations made for rebuilding the Temple.
9. Cyrus never accomplished in person his designs upon Egypt. He extended his conquests westward to the borders of Macedonia, and eastward to the Indus. Some of the conquered countries were left under the control of their native kings; some received Persian rulers. All were made tributary, but the proportion of their tribute was not fixed. The organization of this vast dominion was left to the successors of Cyrus.
B. C. 529.
10. His last expedition was against the Massa'getæ, a tribe which dwelt east of the Sea of Aral. The barbarians who roamed over these great northern plains had become formidable foes to the civilized empires of the south, but they were so thoroughly subdued by Cyrus that they troubled Persia no more for two hundred years. The victor, however, lost his life in a battle with Tom'yris, their queen, and the government and extension of his empire were left to the care of his son Camby'ses.
11. In departing for his Scythian campaign, Cyrus had left his young cousin Dari'us in Persia, the satrapy of his father, Hystas'pes. The night after crossing the Arax'es, he dreamed that he saw Darius with wings on his shoulders, the one overshadowing Asia, and the other Europe. The time and the region were fruitful in dreams, and this had a remarkable fulfillment.
12. REIGN OF CAMBYSES. B. C. 529–522. Without the ability of his father, Cambyses inherited his warlike ambition, and soon proceeded to execute the plans of African conquest long cherished by Cyrus. He was a man of violent passions, which his unlimited power left without their just restraint, and many of his acts are more like those of a willful and ignorant child than of a reasonable man.
13. Egypt, now governed by Ama'sis, was the only part of the Babylonian dominion which had not yielded to Cyrus. Amasis had begun his reign as viceroy of Nebuchadnezzar, but during the decline of the empire he had become independent. Cambyses prepared for his Egyptian campaign by the conquest of Phoenicia and Cyprus, the two naval powers of western Asia. He then marched into Egypt with a great force of Persians and Greeks. Amasis had recently died, but his son Psammen'itus awaited the invader near the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. A single battle decided the fate of Egypt. Psammenitus was defeated, and with his surviving followers shut himself up in Memphis. The siege was short, and at its termination all Egypt submitted to Cambyses, who assumed the full dignity of the Pharaohs as "Lord of the Upper and Lower Countries." The neighboring Libyans and the two Greek cities, Cyre'ne and Barca, also sent in their submission and offered gifts.
14. Cambyses now meditated three expeditions: one by sea against the great commercial empire of Carthage; one against the Ammonians of the desert; and a third against the long-lived Ethiopians, whose country was reputed to be rich in gold. The first was abandoned, because the Phonicians refused to serve against one of their own colonies. To the last-named people Cambyses sent an embassy of the Ich'thyoph'agi, who lived upon the borders of the Red Sea and understood their language. These were charged to carry presents to the Macrobian king, and assure him that the Persian monarch desired his friendship. The Ethiopian replied in plain terms: "Neither has the king of Persia sent you because he valued my
*The Macro'bii, so called by the Greeks because they were reputed to live 120 years or more, were a tribe of extraordinary strength and stature dwelling southward from Egypt. Some suppose them to have been ancestors of the Somauli, near Cape Guardafui, while others place them on the left bank of the Nile, in what is now Nubia. Their prisoners were said to be fettered with golden chains, because gold with them was more abundant and cheaper than iron. The bodies of their dead were inclosed in columns of glass or crystal.
alliance, nor do you speak the truth, for you are come as spies of my kingdom. Nor is he a just man; for if he were just, he would not desire any land but his own, nor would he reduce people to servitude who have done him no harm. However, give him this bow, and say these words to him: The king of the Ethiopians advises the king of the Persians, when his Persians can thus easily draw a bow of this size, then to make war upon the long-lived Ethiopians with a more numerous army; but until that time let him thank the gods, who have not inspired the sons of the Ethiopians with a desire of adding another land to their own.
15. When Cambyses heard the reply of the Ethiopian he was enraged, and without the usual military forethought to provide magazines of food, he instantly put his army in motion. Arriving at Thebes, he sent off a detachment of 50,000 men to destroy the temple and oracle of Amun* in the Oasis. This army was buried in the sands of the desert, without even beholding Ammonium. The main army of Cambyses was almost equally unfortunate. Before a fifth part of its journey was completed its provisions were spent. The beasts of burden were then eaten, and life was supported a little longer by herbs gathered from the scil. But when they reached the desert, both food and water failed, and the wretched men were reduced to eating certain of their comrades chosen by lot. By this time even the rage of the king was exhausted, and he consented to turn back; but he · arrived at Memphis with a small portion of the host which had gone forth with him upon this ill-concerted enterprise.
16. He found the Memphians keeping a joyous festival in honor of the god Apis, who had just reäppeared. † The Persian was in ill humor from his recent disasters, and chose to believe that the Egyptians were rejoicing in his misfortunes. He ordered the new Apis to be brought into his presence. When the animal appeared, he drew his dagger and pierced it in the thigh; then, laughing loudly, exclaimed: “Ye blockheads, are there such gods as this, consisting of blood and flesh, and sensible of steel? This, truly, is a god worthy of the Egyptians!" He commanded his officers to scourge the priests and kill all the people who were found feasting. The Egyptians believed that Cambyses was instantly smitten with insanity as a punishment for this sacrilege. A reason may be found for his contemptuous treatment of Apis in that Persian hatred of idolatry which led him to shatter even the colossal images of the kings before many temples, and caused him to be regarded by ancient travelers as the great iconoclast of Egypt.
* See Book I, 3 179.
† See Book I, ? 175.
17. The mad career of Cambyses was near its end. Before leaving Persia, he had caused the secret assassination of his younger brother,
Bar'des, or, as the Greek historians called him, Smerdis, to whom their father had left the government of several provinces. He was about to leave Egypt, when a report arrived that Smerdis had revolted against him. The king now suspected that he had been betrayed by the too faithful messenger whom he had sent to kill his brother. The leader of the revolt, however, was neither of royal nor Persian blood. Goma'tes, a Magian, had been left by Cambyses steward of his palace at Susa. This man conspired with his order throughout the empire for a rising of the Medes against the Persians, and for the suppression of the reformed religion which the latter had brought in. Happening to resemble the younger son of Cyrus, he boldly announced to the people that Smerdis, brother of Cambyses, claimed their obedience. The story appeared credible, for the death of the prince had purposely been kept secret, so that nearly all the world, except Praxas'pes and his master, supposed him to be still alive.
18. Cambyses was already in Syria when he received a herald who demanded the obedience of the army to Smerdis, son of Cyrus. Caught in his own toils, the king lamented in vain that for foolish jealousy he had murdered the only man who could have exposed the fraud, and who might have been the best support and defender of his throne. Overcome with grief and shame, he sprang on horseback to begin his journey to Persia, but in the act his sword was unsheathed and entered his side, inflicting a mortal wound. He lingered three weeks, during which time he showed more reason than in all his life before. He confessed and bewailed the murder of his brother, and besought the Persian nobles to conquer the deceitful Magus and bestow the kingdom on one more worthy. He had neither son nor brother to succeed him. He had reigned seven years and five months.
19. Reign of THE PSEUDO-SMERDIS. B. C. 522–521. As it is the just punishment of liars not to be believed even when they speak the truth, Cambyses' last confession was commonly supposed to be the most artful transaction of his life. The nobles, who had no knowledge of the death of Smerdis, believed that it was he indeed who was reigning at Susa, and that his brother had invented the story of the Magus to make his dethronement more certain. The pretended king lived in great seclusion, never quitting his palace, and permitting the various members of his household no intercourse with their relations. All orders were issued by his prime minister. He closed the Zoroastrian temples, restored the Magian priesthood, and ordered the discontinuance of the rebuilding at Jerusalem. (Read Ezra iv: 17-24.) These religious changes, such as no Achæmenian prince could have favored, began to awaken suspicions. Seven great princes of the royal race, having learned by a spy within the palace that the pretended monarch was only a Magian whom Cyrus had deprived of his ears, formed a league to dethrone him. Their bold attack was