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41. Many works and trophies of Darius remain in various parts of his empire. He was the first king who coined money in Persia. The golden and silver darics circulated not only throughout the empire but in Greece. The most interesting memorials are the two records in his own words of the events of his reign, engraven upon his tomb at Nakshi-rus'tam, and upon the great rock-tablet of Behistûn'. The latter is of the greater length; it consists of five columns, each containing from sixteen to nineteen paragraphs, written in three languages, Persian, Babylonian, and Scythic, or Tartar. These trilingual inscriptions, embracing the three great families of human speech, Aryan, Semitic, and Turanian, almost justify the claim made by Darius to universal empire.
NOTE.-A specimen of the style of the great king may be of interest to the scholar. It should be stated that the Behistun cliff forms part of the Zagros mountain range between Babylon and Ecbatana. This great natural table of stone, which seems to have been expressly fitted for enduring records, is 1,700 feet in perpendicular height, and bears four sets of sculptures, one of which is ascribed to Semiramis. The inscription of Darius is most important. It has been deciphered within a few years, with wonderful learning, industry, and patience, by Col. Sir Henry Rawlinson, of the British army. For many years after its existence was known, it was considered inaccessible, as it was 300 feet from the foot of the perpendicular wall, and it was necessary for the explorer to be drawn up with ropes by a windlass placed at the summit. Even when a copy was thus made, with great risk and inconvenience, the work was only begun, for the arrow-headed (cuneiform) characters in which the Persian language was written were as yet but partly understood. These difficulties have now been surmounted, and the common student can read the words of "Darius the King." The whole inscription, in Persian and English, may be found in Rawlinson's Herodotus, Vol. II, Appendix. A few of the shorter paragraphs are here subjoined:
I. 8. "Says Darius the King: Within these countries the man who was good, him have I right well cherished. Whoever was evil, him have I utterly rooted out. By the grace of Ormazd, these are the countries by which my laws have been observed.'
I. 11. "Says Darius the King: Afterward there was a man, a Magian, named Gomates He thus lied to the state: 'I am Bardes, the son of Cyrus, the brother of Cambyses.' Then the whole state became rebellious...... He seized the empire. Afterward Cambyses, unable to endure, died."
I. 13. "Says Darius the King: There was not a man, neither Persian nor Median, nor any one of our family, who would dispossess that Gomates the Magian of the crown. The state feared him exceedingly. He slew many people who had known the old Bardes; for that reason he slew them, 'lest they should recognize me that I am not Bardes, the son of Cyrus.' No one dared say any thing concerning Gomates the Magian until I arrived. Then I prayed to Ormazd; Ormazd brought help to me. On the 10th day of the month Bagayadish, then it was, with the help of my faithful men, that I slew that Gomates the Magian and those who were his chief followers. The fort named Sictachotės, in the district of Media called Nisæa, there I slew him. I dispossessed him of the empire; I became king. Ormazd granted me the scepter."
I. 14. Says Darius the King: The empire which had been taken away from our family, that I recovered. I established it in its place. As it was before, so I made it. The temples which Gomates the Magian had destroyed I rebuilt. The
sacred offices of the state, both the religious chants and the worship, I restored to the people, which Gomates the Magian had deprived them of...... By the grace of Ormazd I did this."
Persian monotheism differed essentially from the Nature-worship of the Hindus and the element-worship of the Medes; but under Darius and his successors the Magi gained exclusive control of religious rites, and luxury destroyed the manly virtues of the people. Darius conquered western India, and invaded European Scythia, but without result. His detention of Histiæus led to a six years' revolt of all the Greeks of Asia Minor, aided by the Athenians and Eretrians. He failed in his first retaliatory enterprise against the European Greeks; and, in the second, the great decisive battle of Marathon ended in the overthrow of the Persians. The death of Darius postponed the Grecian wars.
REIGN OF XERXES I.
B. C. 486-465.
42. Xerxes, the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther, succeeded to his father's dominions, instead of Artabaza ́nes, his elder brother, who had been born before Darius's accession to the throne. His first care was the crushing of the Egyptian revolt. This was accomplished in the second year of his reign; a severer servitude was imposed, and his brother Achae'menes remained as his viceroy in the Valley of the Nile. The Babylonians attempted an insurrection, but dearly paid for their rashness with all the treasure of their temples.
43. In the third year of his reign,* the king convened his satraps and generals, "the nobles and princes of the provinces," at Susa, to deliberate concerning the invasion of Greece. In their presence he detailed the motives of ambition and revenge which urged him against a people which had dared to defy his power, and declared his intention to march through Europe, from one end to the other, and make of all its lands one country. He believed that, the Greeks once conquered, no people in the world could stand against him, and thus the sun would no longer shine upon any land beyond his own. He concluded by commanding each general to make ready his forces, assuring them that he who appeared upon the appointed day with the most effective troop should receive the rewards most precious to every Persian.
See Esther i: 1-4.
44. During four years all Asia, from the docks of Sidon and Tyre to the banks of the Indus, rang with notes of preparation. All races and tribes of the vast empire sent men and material. The maritime nations furnished the largest fleet which the Mediterranean had yet seen. The Phoenicians and Egyptians were charged with the construction of a double bridge of boats over the Hellespont, from Aby'dus, on the Asiatic, to a point between Sestus and Mad'ytus, on the European side of the strait.
After this work was completed, a violent storm broke it to pieces and threw the shattered fragments upon the shore. The king, unused to being thwarted in any of his designs, caused the engineers to be beheaded, the sea scourged, and a pair of fetters, as a hint of the required submission, thrown into the offending waters. A new bridge, or, rather, pair of bridges, was now formed with still greater care. Two lines of ships, anchored at stem and stern, were united each by six great cables, which reached from shore to shore. They supported a platform of wood, which was covered with earth and protected by a balustrade.
45. Another body of men, working under the lash of Persian overseers, were employed three years in cutting a canal from the Strymonic to the Singitic Gulf, to sever Mount Athos from the mainland, and thus enable the fleet to avoid the strong and shifting currents and high seas which prevailed around the peninsula. Immense stores of provisions, collected from all parts of the empire, were deposited at suitable intervals along the line of march.
46. The rendezvous of the troops was at Crital'la, in Cappadocia, whence they were moved forward to Sardis. In the autumn of 481 B. C., Xerxes arrived at the latter capital, and early in the following spring set his vast army in motion toward the Hellespont. Near the person of the king were the ten thousand Immortals, whose entire armor glittered with gold. He was preceded by the Chariot of the Sun, in which no mortal dared seat himself, drawn by eight snow-white horses.
47. At Abydus the king surveyed, from his throne of white marble elevated upon a hill, the countless multitudes which thronged the plain, and the myriads of sails that studded the Hellespont. The momentary pride that swelled his breast, with the consciousness that he was supreme lord of all that host, gave way to a more worthy emotion as he reflected that the whole life of those myriads upon earth was almost as transitory as their passage of the bridge, which lay before him, connecting the known with the unknown continent. Early the next morning perfumes were burnt and myrtle boughs strewn upon the bridges, while the army awaited in silence the rising of the sun. When it appeared, Xerxes, with head uncovered — excelling, not only in rank, but in strength, stature, and beauty, all his host-poured a libation into the sea, praying, meanwhile, with his face toward the rising orb, that no disaster might befall his arms until he had penetrated to the uttermost boundaries of Europe. Having prayed, he cast the golden cup and a Persian cimeter into the sea, and gave a signal for the army to march.
48. So numerous was the host that, marching day and night without intermission, and goaded by the whip, it occupied seven days in crossing the straits by the two bridges. On the Thracian plain of Doris'cus, near the sea, the army was drawn up for a final review. The land force con
sisted of forty-six nations. According to Herodotus, who gathered his information by most careful inquiry of persons who were present, the foot soldiers numbered 1,700,000; the war-chariots and camels, 20,000; the horse, 80,000. The fleet consisted of 1,207 triremes, and 3,000 smaller vessels, carrying in all 517,610 men. Beside this actual fighting force, we must suppose an equal number of slaves, attendants, and the crews of provision ships, making a total of more than five millions of human beings.
49. Several rivers were dried in giving drink to this multitude, while their food, even the scanty allowance of Asiatic slaves, amounted to 662,000 bushels of flour each day; but the excellent commissariat of Xerxes, which had been organizing for seven years, was not at fault. On the march from Doriscus toward Greece, the king, still within his own empire, received further accessions from Thracian, Macedonian, and other European tribes, so that his fighting force at Thermop'ylae amounted to 2,640,000 men. Various cities along the route had been commanded to furnish each one meal for the army; and although they had spent years in preparation, some were ruined by the expense.
50. Meanwhile the Greeks had not been idle. The ten years since the battle of Marathon had been employed in active drilling of forces, by sea and land. Each state furnished its quota; and though but a handful compared with the myriads of invaders, they had the strength, derived from patriotism and high discipline, to oppose the mere material mass and weight of the Persian host. It was mind against matter.
51. Abandoning the defense of Thessaly, which was open by too many avenues to the Persians, the little army of Leon'idas, king
B. C. 480.
of Sparta, had made a resolute stand at Thermopylæ, a narrow pass between Mount Eta and the sea. The whole force amounted to only 6,000 men, of whom but 300 were Spartans. Xerxes waited several days upon the Trachinian plain, expecting that this little band would melt away from mere terror at the sight of his vast numbers. At length he sent the Median cavalry to force a passage. They were repulsed with loss. The Immortals made the same attempt with no better success. At this point, Ephial'tés, a Malian, offered for a large reward to show the invaders a mountain-path by which they could reach the rear of the Spartan camp. The Phocian guards of this path were overpowered. Leonidas learned that he was betrayed, and declaring that he and his Spartans must remain at their post, dismissed all the rest of his army except the Thespians and Thebans. Then, before the body of Persians who were crossing the mountain, under lead of the traitor, could attack him from behind, he threw himself upon the enemy in front, resolving to exact as dear a ven
* One of these repasts cost half a million of dollars.
geance as possible. Many of the Persian host fell beneath the Spartan swords, many were trodden to death by their own multitudes, and many were forced into the sea. Leonidas soon fell, and the contest for his body inspired his men with new fury. Having recovered it, they placed their backs against a wall of stone and fought until every man was slain.
52. During the same days several battles were fought at sea between the Greek and Persian fleets. No decisive advantage was gained by either side, but the result was most disheartening to the Persians, who had been most confident of success. The elements, too, had neither been scourged nor scolded into good behavior; a terrible hurricane raged three days and nights upon the coast of Magnesia, tearing the ships from their moorings and dashing them against the cliffs. At least four hundred ships of war were thus destroyed, beside a countless number of transports with their stores and treasures. Another squadron of two hundred vessels, which had been sent around Euboea to cut off the retreat of the Greeks, perished, in a sudden tempest, upon the rocks. The Grecian commanders were unable to profit by these advantages, for the defeat at Thermopyla compelled them to withdraw from Artemis'ium to provide for the safety of Attica and the Peloponnesus.
53. By the death of the Spartan three hundred, the gates of Greece were thrown open, and the hosts of Asia poured through, wasting the country with fire and sword. At Pano'peus a detachment was sent to plunder the temple of Apollo at Delphi, while Xerxes led his main army through Boo'tia. On the march he received the submission of all the people except the Platæans and Thespians, who, rather than yield to an invader, abandoned their cities to be burnt. Before his arrival at Athens, the chief object of his revenge, the king heard of the total defeat of his Delphian expedition. According to Greek tradition, no mortal hand turned back the invaders, but Apollo himself hurled down great rocks and crags upon their heads, in the dark ravines of Parnassus, and thus defended his sanctuary.
54. Athens was a deserted city. All the fighting men were with the fleet, while women, children, and infirm persons had been B. C. 480. removed to Salamis, Ægi'na, or Træze'ne. The conqueror
stormed the citadel, plundered and burnt the temples, and sent word to Susa that Athens had shared the fate of Sardis.
55. Xerxes now resolved upon a decisive naval battle in the Saronic Gulf. The Grecian fleet had assembled off Salamis, to the number of 378 vessels, while the Persians numbered 1,200. A throne was erected on the mainland, upon the slope of Mount Egaleos, from which the great king beheld the struggle which was to end his dreams of conquest. The Persian fleet occupied the channel between Salamis and the coast of Attica. Their vast numbers, crowded into so narrow a space, were a fatal disad