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successful; the Magus was pursued into Media, and slain after a reign of eight months; and Dari'us Hystas'pes, * one of the seven conspirators, was eventually chosen to be king.
20. REIGN OF DARIUS I. B. C. 521–486. The first years of Darius were disturbed by rebellions which shook his throne to its foundation. No fewer than eleven satrapies were successively in revolt. The most important was that of Babylon, which for twenty months defied all the efforts of the great king to reduce it. At length Zop'yrus, son of one of the conspirators who had raised Darius to the throne, invented an ingenious though revolting scheme. He cut off his own nose and ears, applied the scourge to his shoulders until they were stained with blood, and having agreed with the king upon his further conduct, deserted to the Babylonians. To them he represented that the king had treated him with such cruel indignity that he burned for revenge. His wounds added plausibility to his story; he was received into the confidence of the rebels, and on the tenth day he was intrusted with the command of a sallying party which was to repulse an attack of the Persians.
Darius had been advised to send to the Semi'ramis Gate a body of those troops whom he could best spare: a thousand of them were cut to pieces. In a second sortie led by Zopyrus, two thousand Persians were slain; in a third, four thousand. . This slaughter of seven thousand of his countrymen removed from the minds of the Babylonians all doubt or the truth of Zopyrus. The keys of the city were committed to his care, and the preparation for his treachery was now complete. During a concerted assault by the Persians, he opened the gates to Darius, who proceeded to take signal vengeance for the long defiance of his power. The reckless sacrifice of human life in this transaction shows how the habit of unlimited power had impaired the disposition of Darius, which was naturally merciful.
21. To guard against future disturbances, Darius now endeavored to give a more thorough and efficient organization to the great empire, which Cyrus and Cambyses had built up. He divided the whole territory into twenty satrapies, or provinces, and imposed upon each a tribute according to its wealth. The native kings whom Cyrus had left upon their thrones were all swept away, and a Persian governor, usually connected by blood or marriage with the great king, was placed over each province. Order within and safety from without were secured by standing armies of Medes or Persians, posted at convenient stations throughout the empire. Royal roads were constructed and a system of couriers arranged, by which the court received constant and swift intelligence of all that occurred in the provinces.
*See 11. Also, Darius's own account of the imposture of the Magus, p. 87.
22. To prevent revolt, an elaborate system of checks was instituted, which left the satrap little power of independent action. In this earlier and stronger period of the consolidated empire, the satrap exercised only the civil government, the military being wielded by generals and commandants of garrisons, while, in Persia at least, the judicial power resided in judges appointed directly by the king. Beside these constitutional checks upon the satrap, there were in every province the "king's eyes" and the "king's ears," in the persons of royal secretaries attached to his court, whose duty it was to communicate secretly and constantly with the sovereign, and to keep him informed of every occurrence within their respective districts.
The slightest suspicion of revolt communicated to the king by these spies, was sufficient to bring an order for the death of the satrap. This order was addressed to his guards, who instantly executed it by hewing him down with their sabers. Each province, moreover, was liable every moment to a sudden visit from the king or his commissioner, who examined the satrap's accounts, heard the grievances of his subjects, and either deprived an unjust ruler of his place, or noted a wise, upright, and beneficent one for promotion to greater honor. The satrap, on a smaller scale, affected the same magnificence of living as the great king himself. Each had his "paradises," or pleasure-gardens, attached to numerous palaces. The satrap of Babylon had a daily revenue of nearly two bushels of coined silver; his stables contained nearly seventeen thousand steeds, and the income from four towns barely sufficed for the maintenance of his dogs.
23. The court of Susa surpassed all this display of wealth as much as the sun surpasses the planets. Fifteen thousand persons fed daily at the king's table. The royal journeys were of necessity confined to the wealthier portion of the empire, for in the poorer provinces such a visitation would have produced a famine. The king seldom appeared in public, and the approach to his presence was guarded by long lines of officers, each of whom had his appointed station, from the ministers of highest rank who stood in the audience-chamber, to the humblest attendant who waited at the gate.
24. The royal retinue included a numerous army, divided according to its nationalities into corps of 10,000 each. Of these the most celebrated were the Persian "Immortals," so called because their number was always exactly maintained. If an "Immortal" died, a well-trained member of a reserve-corps was ready to take his place. They were chosen from all the nation for their strength, stature, and fine personal appearance. Their armor was resplendent with silver and gold, and on the march or in battle they were always near the person of the king. The royal secretaries, or scribes, formed another important part of the retinue of the court. They
wrote down every word that fell from the monarch's lips, especially his commands, which, once uttered, could never be recalled. (Esther viii : 8; Daniel vi: 8, 12, 15.)
Persia, having been for a century subject to the Medes, became independent under Cyrus, who also conquered Lydia and Babylonia, liberated the Jews, and founded a great empire reaching from Macedonia to India. He died in war with the Scythians, and the African expedition was left to Cambyses, his son. This king conquered Egypt, but his attempts against Ethiopia and the temple of Amun resulted only in disaster. His contempt for Egyptian idolatry was, according to the priests, punished with madness. A revolt in the name of Smerdis, whom he had murdered, placed a Magian upon the throne, and effected a reaction against the Persian reformation. The Magian was dethroned by Darius Hystaspes, who became the great organizer of the empire of Cyrus. Twenty satrapies took the place of the conquered kingdoms. A system of royal roads, couriers, and spies kept the whole dominion within the reach and beneath the eye of the king, who was surrounded by a multitude of officials and protected by a uumerous army, the Persian Immortals having precedence in rank.
25. The Persians held the reformed religion taught by Zo'roas'ter, a great law-giver and prophet, who appeared in the Medo-Bactrian kingdom long before the birth of Cyrus. In every part of the East, the belief in One God, and the pure and simple worship which the human family had learned in its original home, had become overlaid by false mythologies and superstitious rites. The teachings of Zoroaster divided the Aryau family into its two Asiatic branches, which have ever since remained distinct. The Hindus retained their sensuous Nature-worship, of which In'dra (storm and thunder), Mith'ra (sunlight), Va'yu (wind), Agni (fire), Aramaʼti (eartlı), and Soma (the intoxicating principle in liquids), were the chief objects. Zoroaster was led, either by reason or divine revelation, to a purer faith. He taught the supremacy of a Living Creator, a person, and not merely a power, whom he called Ahu'rô-Mazdão, or Orʼmazd. The name has been differently rendered, the Divine Much-Giving, the Creator of Life, or the Living Creator of All. Ormazd was believed to bestow not merely earthly good, but the most precious spiritual giftstruth, devotion, the "good mind," and everlasting joy.
26. It has been seen that Cyrus regarded the God of the Hebrews as the object of his own worship (Ezra i: 1-4); and the Jewish prophets recognize the same identity in their description of Cyrus (Isaiah xlv: 1-5). Both nations had a profound hatred of idolatry. No image of any kind was seen in the Persian temples. Both believed in the ministration of angels. The throne of Ormazd was surrounded by six princes of light,
*He was probably contemporary with Abraham.