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27. What were the objects of worship?
28. Describe the twofold judgment of the dead. 29. Into what ranks were Egyptians divided?
30. Who owned the land?.
31. Describe the dignities and duties of the king.
The tombs, and honors paid to the dead.
35. Give the traditional account of the founding of Carthage. 3. Describe the causes of its prosperity.
171, 172, 175.
177, 178. 180.
43. What was the favorite pursuit of the Carthaginians?
192, 193. 194, 195.
THE PERSIAN EMPIRE FROM THE RISE OF CYRUS TO THE
FALL OF DARIUS.
B. C. 558-330.
1. ABOUT 650 B. C., a warlike people, from the highlands east of the Caspian, took possession of the hilly country north of the Persian Gulf. They belonged, like the Medes, to the Aryan or Indo-Germanic family, and were distinguished by a more hardy, simple, and virtuous character, and a purer faith, from the luxurious inhabitants of the Babylonian plains. The nation, as it soon became constituted, consisted of ten tribes, of whom four continued nomadic, three settled to the cultivation of the soil, and three bore arms for the general defense. Of these the Pasargadae were preeminent, and formed the nobility of Persia, holding all high offices in the army and about the court.
2. The first king, Achae'menes, was a Pasargadian, and from him all subsequent Persian kings were descended. For the first hundred years of its history, Persia was dependent upon the neighboring kingdom of Media. But a little after the middle of the sixth century before Christ, a revolution under Cyrus reversed the relations of the Medo-Persian monarchy and prepared the foundations of a great empire which was to reach beyond the Nile and the Hellespont on the west, and the Indus on the east.
3. Cyrus spent many of his early years at the court of Asty'ages, his maternal grandfather, in the seven-walled city of Ecbat'ana.* The brave, athletic youth, accustomed to hardy sports and simple fare, despised the wine and dainty food, the painted faces and silken garments of the Median nobles. He saw that their strength was wasted by luxury, and that in case of a collision they would be no match for his warlike countrymen. At the same time, a party of the younger Medes gathered around Cyrus, preferring his manly virtues to the effeminate pomp and cruel tyranny of their king, and impatient for the time when he should be their ruler.
See Book 1, 38, 41.
4. When all was ready, the Persian prince rallied his countrymen and persuaded them to become independent of the Medes. Astyages raised an
B. C. 558.
army to quell the revolt, but when the two forces met at 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.
B. C. 546.
Cyrus pursued him to the gates of Sardis, and defeated him in a decisive battle. The city was taken, and Croesus owed his life to the 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, 59.
† See Book I, 2 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 Nebuchadnezzar. 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 Sheshbazzar, 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.