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DARIUS THE GREAT.
BY JACOB ABBOTT.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
1 8 60.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and fifty, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.
IN describing the character and the action of
the personages whose histories form the subjects
of this series, the writer makes mno attempt to
darken the colors in which he depicts their
deeds of violence and wrong, or to increase, by
indignant denunciations, the obloquy which he-
roes and conquerors have so often brought upon
themselves, in the estimation of mankind, by
their ambition, their tyranny, or their desperate
and reckless crimes. In fact, it seems desirable
to diminish, rather than to increase, the spirit
of censoriousness which often leads men so
harshly to condemn the errors and sins of oth-
ers, committed in circumstances of temptation
to which they themselves were never exposed.
Besides, to denounce or vituperate guilt, in a
narrative of the transactions in which it was
displayed, has little influence in awakening a
healthy sensitiveness in the conscience of the
reader. We observe, accordingly, that in the
narratives of the sacred Scriptures, such denun-
ciations are seldom found. The story of Absa-
lom's undutifulness and rebellion, of David's
adultery and murder, of Herod's tyranny, and
all .other narratives of crime, are related in a
calm, simple, impalial, and forbearing spirit,
which leads us to condemn the sins, but not to
feel a pharisaical resentment and wrath against
This example, so obviously proper and right,
the writer of this series has made it his endeav-
or in all respects-to follow.
I. CAMBYSES .............
II. THE END OF CAMBYSES................
III. SMERDIS THE MAGIAN..................
IV. THE ACCESSION OF DARIUS.............
V. THE PROVINCES ......................
VI. THE RECONNOITERING OF GREECE........
VII. THE REVOLT OF BABYLON..............
VIII. THE INVASION OF SCYTHIA .............
IX. THE RETREAT FROM SCYTHIA...........
X. THE STORY OF HISTLEUS ..............
XI. THE INVASION OF GREECE..............
XU. THE DEATH OF DARIUS ................
MAP OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE.
DARIUS CROSSING THE BOSPORUS ...... Frontispiece.
THE ARMY OF CAMBYSES OVERWHELMED IN THE
DESERT .......... ..... ......... 35
PHIEDYMA FEELING FOR SMERDIS'S EARS ...... 69
THE INDIAN GOLD HUNTERS ....... ....... 121
THE BABYLONIANS DERIDING DARIUS FROM THE
WALL ....... ........ ............ 156
MAP OF GREECE ........................ 232
THE INVASION OF GREECE ................. 256
sc rA YA NST
ni i*- E
DARIUS THE GREAT.
Cyrus the Great. His extended conquests.
A BOUT five or six hundred years before
Christ, almost the whole of the interior
of Asia was united in one vast empire. The
founder of this empire was Cyrus the Great.
He was originally a Persian; and the whole
empire is often called the Persian monarchy,
taking its name from its founder's native land.
Cyrus was not contented with having an-
nexed to his dominion all the civilized states
of Asia. In the latter part of his life, he con-
ceived the idea that there might possibly be
some additional glory and power to be acquired
in subduing certain half-savage regions in the
north, beyond the Araxes. He accordingly
raised an army, and set off on an expedition
for this purpose, against a country which was
governed by a barbarian queen named Tomyris.
He met with a variety of adventures on this
14 DARIUS THE GREAT. [R.C.530.
Cambyses and Smerdis. Hystasps and Dari8.
expeditiah, all of whid~ are fully detailed in our
history of Cyrus. There is, however, only one
ocburrence that it is necessary to allude to par-
ticularly here. That one retes to a remark-
able dream wiAch he had one night, just after
he had crossed the river.
To explain properly the nature of this dream,
it is necessary first to state that Cyrus had two
w'sin~. Their names were Cambyses an Smer-
dis. He had left them in Persia when he set
out on his expedition across the Araxes. There
was also a young man, then about twenty years
of age, in one of his capitals, named Darius. He
was the son of one of the nobles of Cyrus's court.
His father's name was Hystaspes. Hystaspes,
besides being a noble of the court, was also as
almost all nobles were in those days, an officer
of the army. He accompanied Cyrus in his
march into the territories of the barbarian queen,
and was with him there, in camp, ,at Ihe time
when this narrative commences.
Cyrus, it seems, felt some misgivings in re-
spect to the result of his enterprise; and, in
order to insure the tranquillity of his empire du-
ring his absence, and the secure transmission
of his power to his rightful successor in case he
should nevet return, he established his son Cam-
B.C. 53E] CAMBYSES. 15
Vream ofCytru. His anxiety and fears.
byses as regent of his realms before he crossed
the Araxes, and delivered the government of
the empire, with great formality, into his hands.
This took place upon the frontier, just before
the army passed the river. The mind of a
father, under such circumstances, would natu-
rally be occupied, in some degree, with thoughts
relating to the arrangements which his son
would make, and to the difficulties he would
be likely to encounter in managing the moment-
ous concerns which had been committed to his
charge. The mind of Cyrus was undoubtedly
so occupied, and this, probably, was the origin
of the remarkable dream.
His dream was, that Darius appeared to him
in a vision, with vast wings growing from his
shoulders. Darius stood, in the vision, on the
confines of Europe and Asia, and his wings,
expanded either way, overshadowed the whole
known world. When Cyrus awoke and re-
flected on this ominous dream, it seemed to
him to portend some great danger to the fu-
ture security of his empire. It appeared to
denote that Darius was one day to bear sway
over all the world. Perhaps he might be even
then forming ambitious and treasonable designs.
Cyrus immediately sent for Hystaspes, the
16 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.530.
Accession of Cambyses. War with Egypt.
father of Darius; when he came to his tent,
he commanded him to go back to Persia, and
keep a strict watch over the conduct of his son
until he himself should return. Hystaspes re-
ceived this commission, and departed to execute
it; and Cyrus, somewhat relieved, perhaps, of
his anxiety by this measure of precaution, went
on with his army toward his place of destina-
Cyrus never returned. He was killed in bat-
tle; and it would seem that, though the import
of his dream was ultimately fulfilled, Darius
was not, at that time, meditating any schemes
of obtaining possession of the throne, for he
made no attempt to interfere with the regular
transmission of the imperial power from Cy-
rus to Cambyses his son. At any rate, it was
so transmitted. The tidings of Cyrus's death
came to the capital, and Cambyses, his son,
reigned in his stead.
The great event of the reign of Cambyses was
a war with Egypt, which originated in the fol-
lowing very singular manner:
It has been found, in all ages of the world, that
there is some peculiar quality of the soil, or
climate, or atmosphere of Egypt which tends to
produce an inflammation of the eyes. The in-
Origin of the war with Egypt. Ophthalmia.
habitants themselves have at all times been
very subject to this disease, and foreign armies
marching into the country are always very seri-
ously affected by it. Thousands of soldiers in
such armies are sometimes disabled from this
cause, and many are made incurably blind.
Now a country which produces a disease in its
worst form and degree, will produce also, gen-
erally, the best physicians for that disease. At
any rate, this was supposed to be the case in
ancient times; and accordingly, when any pow-
erful potentate in those days was afflicted him-
self with ophthalmia, or had such a case in his
family, Egypt was the country to send to for a
Now it happened that Cyrus himself, at one
time in the course of his life, was attacked with
this disease, and he dispatched an embassador
to Amasis, who was then king of Egypt, asking
him to send him a physician. Amasis, who,
like all the other absolute sovereigns of those
days, regarded his subjects as slaves that were
in all respects entirely at his disposal, selected
a physician of distinction from among the at-
tendants about his court, and ordered him to
repair to Persia. The physician was extremely
reluctant to go. He had a wife and family,
18 IDARIUS THE G-RtAT. [B.C. 530.
The Egyptian physician. His plan of revenge.
from whom he was very unwilling to be sepa-
rated; but the orders were imperative, and he
must obey. He set out on the journey, there-
fore, but he secretly resolved to devise some
mode of revenging himself A the liing for the
cruelty of sending him.
He was well received by Cyrus, and, either
by his skill as a physician, or from other causes,
he acquired great influence at the Persian court.
At last he contrived a mode of revenging him-
self on the Egyptian king for having exiled him
from his native land. The king had a daugh-
ter, who was a. lady of great beauty. Her fa-
ther was very strongly attached to her. The
physician recommended to Cyrus to send to
Amasis and demand this daughter in marriage.
As, however, Cyrus was already married, the
Egyptian princess would, if she came, be his
concubine rather than his wife, or, if considered
a wife, it could only be a secondary and subor-
dinate place that she could occupy. The phy-
sician knew that, under these circumstances,
the King of Egypt would be extremely unwill-
ing to send her to Cyrus, while he would yet
scarcely dare to refuse; and the hope of plung-
ing him into extreme embarrassment and dis-
tress, by.means of such a demand from so pow-
B.C. 530.] CAMBYSES.
Demand of Cyrus. Stratagem of the King of Egypt
erful a sovereign, was the motive which led the
physician to recommend the measure.
Cyrus was pleased with the proposal, and
sent, accordingly, to manik he demand. The
king, as the physician had anticipated, could
not endure to part with his daughter in such a
way, nor did he, on the other hand, dare to in-
cur the displeasure of so powerful a monarch by
a direct and open refusal. He finally resolved
upon escaping from the difficulty by a stratagem.
There was a young and beautiful captive
princess in his court named Nitetis. Her fa-
ther, whose name was Apries, had been formerly
the King of Egypt, but he had been dethroned
and killed by Amasis. Since the downfall of
her family, Nitetis had been a captive; but, as
she was very beautiful and very accomplished,
Amasis conceived the design of sending her to
Cyrus, under the pretense that she was the
daughter whom Cyrus had demanded. He ac-
cordingly brought her forth, provided her with
the most costly and splendid dresses, loaded her
with presents, ordered a large retinue to attend
her, and sent her forth to Persia.
Cyrus was at first very much pleased with
his new bride. Nitetis became, in fact, his prin-
cipal favorite; though, of course, his other wife,
20 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 530.
Resentment of Cassandane. Threats of Cambyses.
whose name was Cassandane, and her children,
Cambyses and Smerdis, were jealous of her, and
hated her. One 4y, a Persian lady was visit-
ing at the court, and as she was standing near
Cassandane, and saw her two sons, who were
then tall and handsome young men, she ex-
pressed her admiration of them, and said to
Cassandane, How proud and happy you must
be !" "No," said Cassandane; "on the con-
trary, I am very miserable; for, though I am
the mother of these children, the king neglects
and despises me. All his kindness is bestowed
on this Egyptian woman." Cambyses, who
heard this conversation, sympathized deeply
with Cassandane in her resentment. "Moth-
er," said he," be patient, and I will avenge you.
As soon as I am king, I will go toTEgypt and
turn the whole country upside down."
In fact, the tendency which there was in the
mind of Cambyses to look upon Egypt as the
first field of war and conquest for him, so soon
as he should succeed to the throne, was encour-
aged by the influence of his father; for Cyrus,
although he was much captivated by the charms
of the lady whom the King of Egypt had sent
him, was greatly incensed against the king for
having practiced upon him such a deception.
Future conquests. Temperament and character of Cambyses.
Besides, all the important countries in Asia
were already included within the Persian do-
minions. It was plain that if any future prog-
ress were to be made in extending the empire,
the regions of Europe and Africa must be the
theatre of it. Egypt seemed the most accessi-
ble and vulnerable point beyond the confines of
Asia; and thus, though Cyrus himself, being
advanced somewhat in years, and interested,
moreover, in other projects, was not prepared to
undertake an enterprise into Africa himself, he
was very willing that such plans should be cher-
ished by his son.
Cambyses was an ardent, impetuous, and
self-willed boy, such as the sons of rich and
powerful men are very apt to become. They
imbibe, by a sort of sympathy, the ambitious
and aspiring spirit of their fathers; and as all
their childish caprices and passions are general-
ly indulged, they never learn to submit to con-
trol. They become vain, self-conceited, reck-
less, and cruel. The conqueror who founds an
empire, although even his character generally
deteriorates very seriously toward the close of
his career, still usually knows something of
moderation and generosity. His son, however,
who inherits his father's power, seldom inherits
22 DARIUs THE GI-EAT. [B.C. 527.
Impetuosity of Cambyesa 'Preparations for the Egyptian war.
the virtues by which the power was acquired.
These truths, wMfcl we see continually exem-
plified all around us, on a small scale, in the
families of the wealthy and the powerful, were
illustrated most conspicuously, in the view of
all mankind, in the case of Cyrus and Camby-
ses. The father was prudent, cautious, wise,
and often generous and forbearing. The s~i
grew up headstrong, impetuous, uncontrolled,
and uncontrollable. He had the most lofty
ideas of his own greatness and power, and he
felt a supreme contempt for the rights, and in-
difference to the happiness of all the world be-
sides. His history gives us an illustration of
the worst which the principle of hereditary sov-
ereignty can do, as the best is eimplified in
the case of Alfred of England.
Cambyses, immediately after his father's
death, began to make arrangements for the
Egyptian invasion. The first thing to be de-
termined was the mode of transporting his ar-
mies thither. Egypt is a long and narrow val-
ley, with the rocks and deserts of Arabia on one
side, and those of Sahara on the other. There
is no convenient mode of access to it except by
sea, and Cambyses had no naval force sufficient
for a maritime expedition.
Desertion of Phanes. His narrow escape.
While he was revolving the subject in his
mind, there arrived in his capital of Susa, where
he was then residing, a deserter from the army
of Amasis in Egypt. The name of this desert-
er was Phanes. He was a Greek, having been
the commander of a body of Greek troops who
were employed by Amasis as auxiliaries in his
army. He had had a quarrel with Amasis, and
had fled to Persia, intending to join Cambyses
in the expedition which he was contemplating,
in order to revenge himself on the Egyptian
king. Phanes said, in telling his story, that he
had had a very narrow escape from Egypt; for,
as soon as Amasis had heard that he had fled,
he dispatched one of his swiftest vessels, a gal-
ley of three banks of oars, in hot pursuit of the
fugitive. The galley overtook the vessel in
which Phanes had taken passage just as it was
landing in Asia Minor. The Egyptian officers
seized it and made Phanes prisoner. They im-
mediately began to make their preparations for
the return voyage, putting Phanes, in the mean
time, under the charge of guards, who were in-
structed to keep him very safely. Phanes,
however, cultivated a good understanding with
his guards, and presently invited them to drink
wine with him. In the end, he got them intox-
24 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 527.
Information given by Phanes. Treaty with the Arabian king.
icated, and while they were in that state he
made his escape from them, and then, traveling
with great secrecy and caution until he was be-
yond their reach, he succeeded in making his
way to Cambyses in Susa.
Phanes gave Cambyses a great deal of in-
formation in respect to the geography of Egypt,
the proper'points of attack, the character and
resources of the king, and communicated, like-
wise, a great many other particulars which it
was very important that Cambyses should know.
He recommended that Cambyses should proceed
* to Egypt by land, through Arabia; and that, in
Order to secure a safe passage, he should send first
to the King of>the Arabs, by a formal embassy,
asking permission to cross his territories with an
army, and engaging the Arabians to aid him, if
possible, in the transit. Cambyses did this.
The Arabs were very willing to join in any pro-
jected hostilities against the Egyptians; they
offered Cambyses a free passage, and agreed to
aid his army on their march. To the faithful
fulfillment of these stipulations the Arab chief
bound himself by a treaty, executed with the
most solemn forms and ceremonies.
The great difficulty to be encountered in
traversing the deserts which Cambyses would
Plan for providing water. Account of Herodotus.
have to cross on his way to Egypt was the
want of water. To provide for this necessity,
the king of the Arabs sent a vast number of
camels into the desert, laden with great sacks
or bags full of water. These camels were sent
forward just before the army of Cambyses came
on, and they deposited their supplies along the
route at the points where they would be most
needed. Herodotus, the Greek traveler, who
made a journey into Egypt not a great many
years after these transactions, and who wrote
subsequently a full description of what he saw
and heard there, gives an account of another
method by which the Arab king was said to
have conveyed water into the desert, and that
was by a canal or pipe, made of the skins of
oxen, which he laid along the ground, from a
certain river of his dominions, to a distance of
twelve days' journey over the sands! This
story Herodotus says he did not believe, though
elsewhere in the course of his history he gravely
relates, as true history, a thousand tales infi-
nitely more improbable than the idea of a leath-
ern pipe or hose like this to serve for a conduit
By some means or other, at all events, the
Arab chief provided supplies of water in the
26 DARIUS THE GREATT. [B.C.526.
A peat battle. Defbat of the Egyptians.
desert for Cambyses's army, and the troops made
the passage safely. They arrived, at length, on
the frontiers of Egypt.* Here they found that
Amasis, the king, was dead, and Psammeni-
tus, his son, had succeeded him. Psammenitus
came forward to meet the invaders. A great
battle was fought. The Egyptians were lout-
ed. Psammenitus fled up the Nile to the city
of Memphis, taking with him such broken rem-
nants of his army as he could get together after
the battle, and feeling extremely incensed and
exasperated against the invader. In fact, Cam-
byses had now no excuse or.pretext whatever
for waging such a war against Egypt. The
monarch who had deceived his father was dead,
and there had never- been any cause of com-
plaint against his son or against the Egyptian
people. Psammenitus, therefore, regarded the
invasion of Egypt by Cambyses as a wanton
and wholly unjustifiable aggression, and he de.
termined, in his own mind, that such invaders
deserved no mercy, and that he would show
them none. Soon after this, a galley on the
river, belonging to Cambyges, containing a crew
For the places mentioned in this chapter, and the track
of Cambyses on his expedition, see the map at the com-
mencement of this volunie.
Inhuman conduct of Cambyses. His treatment of Psammenitus.
of two hundred men, fell into his hands. The
Egyptians, in their rage, tore these Persians all
to pieces. This exasperated Cambyses in his
turn, and the war went on, attended by the
most atrocious cruelties on both sides.
In fact, Cambyses, in this Egyptian cam-
paign, pursued such a career of inhuman and
reckless folly, that people at last considered him
insane. He began with some small semblance
of moderation, but he proceeded, in the end, to
the perpetration of the most terrible excesses of
violence and wrong.
As to his moderation, his treatment of Psam-
menitus personally is almost the only instance
that we can record. In the course of the war,
Psammenitus and all his family fell into Cam-
byses's hands as captives. A few days after.
ward, Cambyses conducted the unhappy king
without the gates of the city to exhibit a spec-
tacle to him. The spectacle was that of his
beloved daughter, clothed in the garments of a
slave, and attended by a company of other
maidens, the daughters of the nobles and other
persons of distinction belonging to his court, all
going down to the river, with heavy jugs, to
draw water. The fathers of all these hapless
maidens had been brought out with Psamme-
28 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 526.
The train of cptive maidens. The young men.
nitus to witness the degradation and misery of
their children. The maidens cried and sobbed
aloud as they went along, overwhelmed with
shame and terror. Their fathers manifested
the utmost agitation and distress. Cambyses
stood smiling by, highly enjoying the speut ule.
Psammenitus alone appeared unmoved. He
gazed on the scene silent, motionless, and with
a countenance which indicated no active suffer-
ing; he seemed to be in a state of stupefaction
and despair. Cambyses was disappointed, and
his pleasure was marred at finding that his vic-
tim did not feel more acutely the sting of the
torment with which he was endeavoring to
When this train had gone by, another came.
It was a company of young men, with halters
about their necks, going to execution. Cam-
byses had ordered that for every one of the crew
of his galley that the Egyptians had killed, ten
Egyptians should be executed. This propor-
tion would require two thousand victims, as
there had been two hundred in the crew. These
victims were to be selected from among the
sons of the leading families; and their parents,
after having seen their delicate and gentle
daughters go to their servile toil, were now
Scenes of distress and suffering. Composure of Psammenitus.
next to behold their sons march in a long and
terrible array to execution. The son of Psam-
menitus was at the head of the column. The
Egyptian parents who stood around Psamme-
nitus wept and lamented aloud, -as one after
another saw his own child in the train. Psam-
menitus himself, however, remained as silent
and motionless, and with a countenance as va-
cant as before. Cambyses was again disap-
pointed. The pleasure which the exhibition
afforded him was incomplete without visible
manifestations of suffering in the victim for
whose torture it was principally designed.
After this train of captives had passed, there
came a mixed collection of wretched and mis-
erable men, such as the siege and sacking of
a city always produces in countless numbers.
Among these was a venerable man whom Psam-
menitus recognized as one of his friends. He
had been a man of wealth and high station; he
had often been at the court of the king, and had
been entertained at his table. He was now,
however, reduced to the last extremity of dis-
tress, and was begging of the people something
to keep him from starving. The sight of this
man in such a condition seemed to awaken the
king from his blank and death-like despair. He
30 DARIUS THE GABEAT. [B.C. 524
eerins of the Mther. His explanation of them.
called his old friend by name in a tone of aston-
ishment and pity, and burst into tears.
Cambyses, observing this, sent a messenger to
Psammenitus to inquire what it meant. "He
wishes to know," said the messenger, "how it
happens that you could see your own daughter
set at work as a slave, and your son led away
to execution unmoved, and yet feel so much
oommiseration for the misfortunes of a stran-
ger." We might suppose that any one possess-
ing the ordinary susceptibilities of the human
soul would have understood without an explan-
ation the meaning of ths, though it is not sur-
prising that such a heartless monster as Cam-
byses did not comprehend it. Psammenitus
sent him word that he could not help weeping
for his friend, but that his distress and anguish
on account of his children were too great for
The Persians who were around Cambyses
began now to feel a strong sentiment of com-
passion for the unhappy king, and to intercede
with Cambyses in his favor. They begged him,
too, to spare Psammenitus's son. It will in-
terest those of our readers who have perused
our history of Cyrus to know that Croesus, the
captive king of Lydia, whom they will recolleot
Cambyses relents. His treatment of the body of Amasis.
to have been committed to Cambyses's charge
by his father, just before the close of his life,
when he was setting forth on his last fatal ex-
pedition, and who accompanied Cambyses on
this invasion of Egypt, was present on this oc-
casion, and was one of the most earnest inter-
ceders in Psammenitus's favor. Cambyses al-
lowed himself to be persuaded. They sent off
a messenger to order the execution of the king's
son to be stayed; but he arrived too late. The
unhappy prince had already fallen. Cambyses
was so far appeased by the influence of these
facts, that he abstained from doing Psammeni-
tus or his family any further injury.
He, however, advanced up the Nile, ravaging
and plundering the country as he went on, and
at length, in the course of his conquests, he
gained possession of the tomb in which the em-
balmed body of Amasis was deposited. He or-
dered this body to be taken out of its sarcopha-
gus, and treated with every mark of ignominy.
His soldiers, by his orders, beat it with rods, as
if it could still feel, and goaded it, and cut it
with swords. They pulled the hair out of the
head by the roots, and loaded the lifeless form
with every conceivable mark of insult and ig-
nominy. Finally, Cambyses ordered the mu-
,32 DARIUS T E G(3tEAT. [B.C.524.
Cambyses's desecrations. The sacred bnll Apis.
tilated remains that were left to be burned,
which was a procedure as abhorrent to the ideas
and feelings of the Egyptians as could possibly
Cambyses took every opportunity to insult
the religious, or as, perhaps, we ought to call
them, the superstitious feelings of the Egyp-
tians. He broke into their temples, desecrated
their altars, and subjected every thing which
they held most sacred to insult and ignominy.
Among their objects of religious veneration was
the sacred bull.called Apis. This animal was
selected from time to time, from the country at
large, by the priests, by means of certain marks
which they pretended to discover upon its body,
and which indicated a divine and sacred char-
acter. The sacred bull thus found was kept in
a magnificent temple, and attended and fed in a
most sumptuous manner. In serving him, the
attendants i~ed vessels of gold.
Cambyses arrived at thecity where Apis was
kept at a time when the priests were celebra-
ting some sacred occasion with festivities and re-
joicings. He was himself then returning from
an unsuoeessful expedition which he had made,
and, as he entered the town, stung with vexa-
tion and anger at his defeat, the gladness and
S3C..34.] CAMBYSES. 33
Aumbyses stabe the sacred bull. His mad expeditions.
SJoy which the Egyptians manifested in their
ceremonies served only to irritate him, and to
make him more angry than ever. He killed
the priests who were officiating. He then de-
Smanded to be taken into the edifice to see the
sacred animal, and there, after insulting the
feelings of the worshipers in every possible way
by ridicule and scornful words, he stabbed the
innocent bull with his diger. The animal
died of the wound, and the whole country was
filled with horror and indignation. The people
believed that this deed would most assuredly
bring down upon the impious perpetrator of it
the judgments of heaven.
Cambyses organized, while he was in Egypt,
several mad expeditions into the surrounding
countries. In a fit of passion, produced by an
unsatisfactory answer to an embassage, he set
off suddenly, and without any proper prepara-
tion, to march into Ethiopia. The provisions
of his army were exhausted before he had per-
formed a fifth part of the march. Still, in his
infatuation, he determined to go on. The sol.
diers subsisted for a time on such vegetables as
they could find by the way; when these failed,
they slaughtered and ate their beasts of burden;
and finally, in the extremity of their famine,
34 DAI) A tIus u iE GhiREAT. [B.C. 524.
rhe sand storm. Cambyses a wine-bibber.
they began to kill and devour one another; then,.
at length, Cambyses concluded to return. He
sent off, too, at one time, a large army across
the desert toward the Temple oft Jupiter Am-
mon, without any of the necessary precautions
for such a march. This army never reached
their destination, and they never returned.
The people of the Oasis aid that they were
overtaken by a sA& storm in the desert, and
were all overwhelmed. -
There was a certain officer in attendance on
Cambyses named Prexaspes.. He was a sort
of confidential friend and. companion of the
king; and his son, who was a fair, and grace-
ful, and accomplished ,youth, was the king's
cup-bearer, which was an office of great consid-
eration and honor. One day Cambyses asked
Prexaspes what the Persians generally thought
of him. Prexaspes replied that they thought
and spoke 'ell bf him in all respects but pne.
The king wished to know what .the exception
was. Prexaspes rejoined, that it was the gen-
eral opinion that he was too much addicted to
wine. Cambyses was offended at this reply;
and, under the influence of the feeling, so wholly
unreasonable and absurd, which so 'often leads
,men to be angry with the innocent medium
THE ARMY OF CAMBYSES OVERWHELMED IN THE DESERT.
~ .-- -~rL~- ~~XY ~LLl~i~h ~Ja~-LL~s~L~1~Yti~lLr~Lur ~i~Si~e~ip~~YC~j~y1GPLb~~L~u~Lbl;La~?k ~L~JL~SCZ?iadYaE~CdI~-lblJrCY ~ -L~td~B1G;Ekf~ ~i~Lg~L;\iU1a-rwa;r;Y3~U~. ciC ., ~. -C- .
Brutal act of Cambyses. He is deemed insane.
through which there comes to them any com-
munication which they do not like, he determ-
ined to punish Prexaspes for his freedom. He
ordered his son, therefore, the cup-bearer, to
take his place against the wall on the other
side of the room. Now," said he, "I will put
what the Persians say to the test." As he said
this, he took up a bow and arrow which were
at his side, and began to fit the arrow to the
string. If," said he, "I do not shoot him ex-
actly through the heart, it shall prove that the
Persians are right. If I do, then they are wrong,
as it will show that I do not drink so much as
to make my hand unsteady." So saying, he
drew the bow, the arrow flew through the air,
and pierced the poor boy's breast. He fell, and
Cambyses coolly ordered the attendants to open
the body, and let Prexaspes see whether the ar-
row had not gone through the heart.
These, and a constant succession of similar
acts of atrocious and reckless cruelty and folly,
led the world to say that Cambyses was insane.
38 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.623
Cambyses' profligate conduct. He marries his own sisters
THE END OF CAMBYSES.
A MONG the other acts of profligate wicked-
ness which have blackened indelibly and
forever Cambyses's name, he married twd of
his own sisters, aAd brought one of them with
him to Egypt as his wife. The natural in-
stincts of all men, except those whose early life
has been given up to the most shameless and
dissolute habits of vice, are sufficient to preserve
them from such crimes as these. Cambyses
himself felt, it seems, some misgivings when
contemplating the first of these marriages; and
he sent to a certain council of judges, whose
province it was to interpret the laws, asking
them their opinion of the rightfulness of sach
a marriage. Kings ask tfieopinion of their le-
gal advisers in such bases, not because they
really wish to know whether the act in question
is right or wrong, but because, having them-
selves determined upon the performance of it,
they wish their counselors to give it a sort of
legal sanction, in order to justify the deed, and
B.C.523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 39
Consultation of the Persian judges. Their opinion.
diminish the popular odium which it might
The Persian judges whom Cambyses con-
sulted on this occasion understood very well
what was expected of them. After a grave
deliberation, they returned answer to the king
that, though they could find no law allowing a
man to marry his sister, they found many which
authorized a king of Persia to do whatever he
thought best. Cambyses accordingly carried
his plan into execution. He married first the
older sister, whose name was Atossa. Atossa
became subsequently a personage of great his-
torical distinction. The daughter of Cyrus, the
wife of Darius, and the mother of Xerxes, she
was the link that bound together the three
most magnificent potentates of the whole East-
ern world. How far these sisters were willing
participators in the guilt of their incestuous
marriages we can not now know. The one
who went with Cambyses into Egypt was of
a humane, and gentle, and timid disposition,
being in these respects wholly unlike her broth-
er; and it may be that she merely yielded, in
the transaction of her marriage, to her brother's
arbitrary and imperious will.
Besides this sister, Cambyses had brought
40 )DiRIuD s THi G REi T. [B.C. 523.
Smwrdis. Jealousy of Cambyses. The two magi
his brother Smerdis with him into Egypt.
Smerdis was younger than Cambyses, blit he
was superior to him in strength and personal ac-
complishments. Cambyses was very jealous
of this superiority. He did not dare to leave
his brother in Persia, to manage the govern-
ment in his stead during his absence, lest he
should take advantage of the temporary power
thus committed to his hands, and Nsurp -the
throne altogether. He decided, therefore, to
bring Smerdis with him*into Egypt, and to
leave the government of the state in the hands
of a regency composed of two magi. These
magi were public officers of distinction, but,
having no hereditary claims to the crown, Cam-
byses thought there would be little danger of
their attempting to usurp it. It happened, how-
ever, that the name of one of these magi was
Smerdis. This coincidence between the magi-
an's name and that of the prince led, in the
end, as will presently be seen, to very import-
The uneasiness and jealousy which Camby-
ses felt in respect to his brother was not whol-
ly allayed by the arrangement which he thus
made for keeping him in his army, and so un-
der his own personal observation and command.
B.C.523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 41
Cambyses suspicious. He plans an invasion of Ethiopia.
Smerdis evinced, on various occasions, so much
strength and skill, that Cambyses feared his in-
fluence among the officers and soldiers, and was
rendered continually watchful, suspicious, and
afraid. A circumstance at last occurred which
excited his jealousy more than ever, and he de-
termined to send Smerdis home again to Persia.
The circumstance was this:
After Oambyses had succeeded in obtaining
full possession of Egypt, he formed, among his
other wild and desperate schemes, the design of
invading the territories of a nation of Ethiopi-
ans who lived in the interior of Africa, around
and beyond the sources of the Nile. The Ethi-
opians were celebrated for their savage strength
and bravery. Cambyses wished to obtain in-
formation respecting them and their country
before setting out on his expedition against
them, and he determined to send spies into their
country to obtain it. But, as Ethiopia was a
territory so remote, and as its institutions and
customs, and the language, the dress, and the
manners of its inhabitants were totally different
from those of all the other nations of the earth,
and were almost wholly unknown to the Per-
sian army, it was impossible to send Persians
in disguise, with any hope that they could en-
42 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 52.
Island of Elephantine. The Icthyophagi.
ter and explore the country without being dis-
covered. It was very doubtful, in fact, wheth-
er, if such spies were to be sent, they could
succeed in reaching Ethiopia at all.
Now there was, far up the Nile, near the cat-
aracts, at a place where the river widens and
forms a sort of bay, a large and fertile island
called Elephantine, which was inhabited by a
half-savage tribe called the Icthyophagi. They
lived mainly by fishing on the river, and, conse-
quently, they had many boats, and were accus-
tomed to make long excursions up and down
the stream. Their name was, in fact, derived
from their occupation. It was a Greek word,
and might be translated Fishermen."* The
manners and customs of half-civilized or savage
nations depend entirely, of course, upon the
modes in which they procure their subsistence.
Some depend on hunting wild beasts, some on
rearing flocks and herds of tame animals, some
on cultivating the ground, and some on fishing
in rivers or in the sea. These four different
nodes of procuring food result in as many to-
tally diverse modes of life: it is a curious fact,
however, that while a nation of hunters differs
very essentially from a nation of herdsmen or
B.C. 523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 43
Classes of savage nations. Embassadors sent to Ethiopia.
of fishermen, though they may live, perhaps, in
the same neighborhood with them, still, all na-
tions of hunters, however widely they may be
separated in geographical position, very strong-
ly resemble one another in character, in cus-
toms, in institutions, and in all the usages of
life. It is so, moreover, with all the other types
of national constitution mentioned above. The
Greeks observed these characteristics of the va-
rious savage tribes with which they became ac-
quainted, and whenever they met with a tribe
that lived by fishing, they called them Icthy-
Cambyses sent to the Icthyophagi of the isl-
and of Elephantine, requiring them to furnish
him with a number of persons acquainted with
the route to Ethiopia and with the Ethiopian
language, that he might send them as an em-
bassy. He also provided some presents to be
sent as a token of friendship to the Ethiopian
king. The presents were, however, only a pre-
text, to enable the embassadors, who were, in
fact, spies, to go to the capital and court of the
Ethiopian monarch in safety, and bring back to
Cambyses all the information which they should
be able to obtain.
The presents consisted of such toys and ora-
44 DYAIUs raE GREATr. [B.C. 52.
The presents. The Ethiopian king detects the imposture.
ments as they thought would most please the
fancy of a savage king. There were some pur-
ple vestments of a very rich and splendid dye,
and a golden chain for the neck, golden brace-
lets for the wrists, an alabaster box of very pre-
cious perfumes, and other similar trinkets and
toys. There was also a large vessel filled with
The Iothyophagi took these presents, and set
out on their expedition. After a long and toil-
some voyage and journey, they came to the
country of the Ethiopians, and delivered their
presents, together with the message which Cam-
byses had intrusted to them. The presents,
they said, had been sent by Cambyses as a
token of his desire to become the friend and ally
of the Ethiopian king.
The king, instead of being deceived by this
hypocrisy, detected the imposture at once. He
knew very well, he said, what was the motive
of Cambyses in sending such an embassage to *
him, and he should advise Cambyses to be con-
tent with his owndominions, instead of planning
aggressions of violence, and schemes and strata.
gems of deceit against his neighbors, in order to
get possession of theirs. He then began to look
at the presents which the embassadors had
B.C. 523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 45
The Ethiopian king's opinion of Cambyses's presents.
brought, which, however, he appeared very soon
to despise. The purple vest first attracted his
attention. He asked whether that was the true,
natural color of the stuff, or a false one. The
messengers told him that the linen was dyed,
and began to explain the process to him. The
mind of the savage potentate, however, instead
of being impressed, as the messengers supposed
he would have been through their description,
with a high idea of the excellence and superi-
ority of Persian art, only despised the false show
of what he considered an artificial and fictitious
beauty. The beauty of Cambyses's dresses,"
said he, "is as deceitful, it seems, as the fair
show of his professions of friendship." As to
the golden bracelets and necklaces, the king
looked upon them with contempt. He thought
that they were intended for fetters and chains,
and said that, however well they might answer
among the effeminate Persians, they were wholly
* insufficient to confine such sinews as he had to
deal with. The wine, however, he liked. He
drank it with great pleasure, and told the Icthy-
ophagi that it was the only article among all
their presents that was worth receiving.
In return for the presents which Cambyses
had sent him, the King of the Ethiopians, who
46 DARIUS THE GR.EAT. [B.C.523.
Return of the Icthyophagi. The Ethiopian bow.
was a man of prodigious size and strength, took
down his bow and gave it to the Icthyophagi,
telling them to carry it to Cambyses as a token
of his defiance, and to ask him to see if he could
find a man in all his army who could bend it.
" Tell Cambyses," he added, that when his sol-
diers are able to bend such bows as that, it will
be time for him to think of invading the terri-
tories of the Ethiopians; and that, in the mean
time, he ought to consider himself very fortu-
nate that the Ethiopians were not grasping and
ambitious enough to attempt the invasion of
When the Icthyophagi returned to Camby-
ses with this message, the strongest men in the
Persian camp were of course greatly interested
in examining and trying the bow. Smerdis
was the only one that could be found who was
strong enough to bend it; and he, by the supe-
riority to the others which he thus evinced,
gained great renown. Cambyses was filled with *
jealousy and anger. He determined to send
Smerdis back again to Persia. It will be bet-
ter," thought he to himself, "to incur whatever
danger there may be of his exciting revolt at
home, than to have him present in my court,
subjecting me to continual mortification and
B.C.523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 47
Jealousy of Cambyses. He orders Smerdis to be murdered.
chagrin by the perpetual parade of his superior-
His mind was, however, not at ease after his
brother had gone. Jealousy and suspicion in re-
spect to Smerdis perplexed his waking thoughts
and troubled his dreams. At length, one night,
he thought he saw Smerdis seated on a royal
throne in Persia, his form expanded supernatu-
rally to such a prodigious size that he touched
the heavens with his head. The next day, Cam-
byses, supposing that the dream portended dan-
ger that Smerdis would be one day in posses-
sion of the throne, determined to put a final and
perpetual end to all these troubles and fears,
and he sent for an officer of his court, Prexaspes
-the same whose son he shot through the heart
with an arrow, as described in the last chapter
-and commanded him to proceed immediately
to Persia, and there to find Smerdis, and kill
him. The murder of Prexaspes's son, though
related in the last chapter as an illustration of
Cambyses's character, did not actually take
place till after Prexaspes returned from this ex-
.Prexaspes went to Persia, and executed the
orders of the king by the assassination of Smer-
dis. There are different accounts of the mode
48 DARXtS THE GREAT. [B.C.528.
ainbyseegrows more cruel. Twelve noblemen buried alive.
whioh he adopted for accomplishing his purpose.
One is, that he contrived some way to drown
him in the sea; another, that he poisoned him;
and a third, that he killed him in the forests,
when he was out on a hunting excursion. At
all events, the deed was done, and Prexaspes
went back to Cambyses, and reported to him
that he' had nothing further to fear from his
In the mean time, Cambyses went on from
bad to worse in his government, growing every
day more despotic and tyrannical, and abandon-
ing himself to fits of cruelty and passion which
became more and more, excessive and insane.
At one time, on some slight provocation, he or-
dered twelve distinguished noblemen of his
court to be buried alive. It is astonishing that
there can be institutions and arrangements in
the social state which will give one man such
an ascendency over others that such commands
can be obeyed. On another occasion, Camby-
ses's sister and wife, who had mourned the
death of her brother Smerdis, ventured a re-
proach to Cambyses for having destroyed him.
She was sitting at table, with some plant.or
flower in her hand, which she slowly picked to
pieces, putting the fragments on the table. She
B.C.523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 49
Cambyses's cruelty to his sister. Her death.
asked Cambyses whether he thought the flower
looked fairest and best in fragments, or in its
original and natural integrity. It looked
best, certainly," Cambyses said, "when it was
whole." "And yet," said she, "you have be-
gun to take to pieces and destroy our family, as
I have destroyed this flower." Cambyses sprang
upon his unhappy sister, on hearing this re-
proof, with the ferocity of a tiger. He threw
her down and leaped upon her. The attend-
ants succeeded in rescuing her and bearing her
away; but she had received a fatal injury.
She fell immediately into a premature and un-
natural sickness, and died.
These fits of sudden and terrible passion to
which Cambyses was subject, were often fol-
lowed, when they had passed by, as is usual in
such cases, with remorse and misery; and some-
times the officers of Cambyses, anticipating a
change in their master's feelings, did not exe-
cute his cruel orders, but concealed the object
of his blind and insensate vengeance until the
paroxysm was over. They did this once in the
case of Croesus. Crcesus, who was now a ven-
erable man, advanced in years, had been for a
long time the friend and faithful counselor of
Cambyses's father. He had known Cambyses
60 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 528
The venerable Cresus. His advice to Cambyses.
himself from his boyhood, and had been charged
by his father to watch .over him and counsel
him, and aid him, on al occasions which might
require it, with his experience and wisdom.
Cambyses, too, had been solemnly charged by
his father Cyrus, at the last interview that he
had with him before his death, to guard and
protect Crcesus, as his father's ancient and
faithfulfriend, and to treat him, as long as he
lived, withfhe highest consideration and honor.
Under these circumstances, Croesus consid-
ered himself justified in remonstrating one day
with Cambyses against his excesses and his
cruelty. He told him that he ought not to give
himself up to the control of such violent and
impetuous passions; that, though his Persian
soldiers and subjects had borne with him thus
far, he might, by excessive oppression and cera
elty, exhaust their forbearance and provoke
them to revolt against him, and that thus he
might suddenly lose his power, through his in-
temperate and inconsiderate use of it. Croesus
apologized for offering these counsels, saying
that he felt bound to warn Cambyses of rs
danger, in obedience to the injunctions of Cy-
rus, his father.
Cambyses fell into a violent passion at hear-
BIC.523.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 51
Cambyses's rage at Cresus. He attempts to kill him.
ing these words. He told Crcesus that he was
amazed at his presumption in daring to offer
him advice, and then began to load his vener-
able counselor with the bitterest invectives and
reproaches. He taunted him with his own mis-
fortunes, in losing, as he had done, years before,
his own kingdom of Lydia, and then accused
him of having been the means, through his fool-
ish counsels, of leading his father, Cyrus, into
the worst of the difficulties which befell him to-
ward the close of his life. At last, becoming
more and more enraged by the reaction upon
himself of his own angry utterance, he told
Crcesus that he had hated him for a long time,
and for a long time had wished to punish him;
" and now," said he, you have given me an
opportunity." So saying, he seized his bow,
and began to fit an arrow to the string. Croesus
fled. Cambyses ordered his attendants to pur-
sue him, and when they had taken him, to lill
him. The officers knew that Cambyses would
regret his rashand reckless command as soon as
his anger should have subsided, and so, instead
of slaying Croesus, they concealed him. A few
days after, when the tyrant began to express his
remorse and sorrow at having destroyed his ven-
erable friend in the heat of passion, and to mourn
52 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.523.
The declaration of the oracle. Ecbatane, Susa, and Babylon.
jis death, they told him that Croesus was still
alive. They had ventured, they said, to save
him, till they could ascertain whether it was
the king's real and deliberate determination that
he must die. The king was overjoyed to find
Croesus still alive, but he would not forgive
those who had been instrumental in saving him.
He ordered every one of them to be executed.
Cambyses was the more reckless and des-
perate in these tyrannical cruelties because he
believed that he possessed a sort of charmed life.
He had consulted an oracle, it seems, in Media,
in respect to his prospects of life, and the oracle
had informed him that he would die at Ecbat-
ane. Now Ecbatane was one of the three
great capitals of his empire, Susa and Babylon
being the others. Ecbatane was the most north-
erly of these cities, and the most remote from
danger. Babylon and Susa were the points
where the great transactions of government
chiefly centered, while Edbatane was more par-
ticularly the private residence of the kings. It
was their refuge in danger, their retreat in sick-
ness and age. In a word, Susa was their seat
of government, Babylon their great commercial
emporium, but Ecbatane was their home.
And thus as the oracle, when-Cambyses in-
B.C.522.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 53
Camubyes returns northward. He enters Syria.
quired in respect to the circumstances of his
death, had said that it was decreed by the fates
that he should die at Ecbatane, it meant, as he
supposed, that he should die in peace, in his
bed, at the close of the usual period allotted to
the life of man. Considering thus that the
fates had removed all danger of a sudden and
violent death from his path, he abandoned him-
self to his career of vice and folly, remembering
only the substance of the oracle, while the par-
ticular form of words in which it was expressed
passed from his mind.
At length Cambyses, after completing his
conquests in Egypt, returned to the northward,
along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, until
he came into Syria. The province of Galilee,
so often mentioned in the sacred Scriptures,
was a part of Syria. In traversing Galilee at
the head of the detachment of troops that was
accompanying him, Cambyses came, one day,
to a small town, and encamped there. The
town itself was of so little importance that
Cambyses did not, at the time of his arriving
at it, even know its name. His encampment
at the place, however, was marked by a very
memorable event, namely, he met with a herald
here, who was traveling through Syria, saying
. 54 DARIUS THE G GREAT. [B.. 522.
A herald proclaims Smerdis. The herald seized.
that he had been sent from Susa to proclaim
to the people of Syria that Smerdis, the son of
Cyrus, had assumed the throne, and to enjoin
upon them all to obey no orders except such
as should come from him!
Cambyses had supposed that Smerdis was
dead. Prexaspes, when he had returned from
Susa, had reported that he had killed him. He
now, however, sent for Prexaspes, and demand-
ed of him what this proclamation could mean.
Prexaspes renewed, and insisted upon, his dec-
laration that Smerdis was dead. He had de-
stroyed him with his own hands, and had seen
him buried. "If the dead can rise from the
grave," added Prexaspes, "then Smerdis may,
perhaps, raise a revolt and appear against you;
but not otherwise."
Prexaspes then recommended that the king
should send and seize the herald, and inquire
particularly of him in respect to the govern-
ment in whose name he was acting. Cambyses
did so. The herald was taken and brought be-
fore the king. On being questioned whether it
was true that Smerdis had really assumed the
government and commissioned him to make
proclamation of the fact, he replied that it was
so. He had not seen Smerdis himself, he said,
B.C.522.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 55
Probable explanation. Rage of Cambyses.
for he kept himself shut up very closely in his
palace; but he was informed of his accession by
one of the magians whom Cambyses had left in
command. It was by him, he said, that he had
been commissioned to proclaim Smerdis as king.
Prexaspes then said that he had no doubt
that the two magians whom Cambyses had left
in charge of the government had contrived to
seize the throne. He reminded Cambyses that
the name of one of them was Smerdis, and that
9 probably that was the Smerdis who was usurp-
ing the supreme command. Cambyses said that
he was convinced that this supposition was
true. His dream, in which he had seen a vision
of Smerdis, with his head reaching to the heav-
ens, referred, he had no doubt, to the magian
Smerdis, and not to his brother. He began bit-
terly to reproach himself for having caused his
innocent brother to be put to death; but the
remorse which he thus felt for his crime, in as-
sassinating an imaginary rival, soon gave way
to rage and resentment against the real usurp-
er. He called for his horse, and began to mount
him in hot haste, to give immediate orders, and
niake immediate preparations for marching to
As he bopuded into the saddle, with his mind
56 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 522
Cambyses mortally wounded. His remorse and despair.
in this state of reckless desperation, the sheath,
by some accident or by some carelessness caus-
ed by his headlong haste, fell from his sword,
and the naked point of the weapon pierced his
thigh. The attendants took him from his horse,
and conveyed him again to his tent. The wound,
on examination, proved to be a very dangerous
one, and the strong passions, the vexation, the
disappointment, the impotent rage, which were
agitating the mind of the patient, exerted an
influence extremely unfavorable to recovery.
Cambyses, terrified at the prospect of death,
asked what was the name of the town where
he was lying. They told him it was Ecbatane.
He had never thought before of the possibil-
ity that there might be some other Eobatane
besides his splendid royal retreat in Media; but
now, when he learned that was the name of the
place where he was then encamped, he felt sure
that his hour was come, and he was overwhelm-
ed with remorse and despair.
He suffered, too, inconceivable pain and an-
guish from his wound. The sword had pierced
to the bone, and the inflammation which had
supervened was of the worst character. After
some days, the acuteness of the agony which he
at first endured passed gradually away, though
B.C.522.] THE END OF CAMBYSES. 57
Cambyses calls his nobles about him. His dying declaration.
the extent of the injury resulting from the
wound was growing every day greater and more
hopeless. The sufferer lay, pale, emaciated,
and wretched, on his couch, his mind, in every
interval of bodily agony, filling up the void with
the more dreadful sufferings of horror and de-
At length, on the twentieth day after his
wound had been received, he called the leading
nobles of his court and officers of his army about
his bedside, and said to them that he was about
to die, and that he was compelled, by the calam-
ity which had befallen him, to declare to them
what he would otherwise have continued to keep
concealed. The person who had usurped the
throne under the name of Smerdis, he now said,
was not, and could not be, his brother Smerdis,
the son of Cyrus. He then proceeded to give
them an account of the manner in which his
fears in respect to his brother had been excited
by his dream, and of the desperate remedy that
he had resorted to in ordering him to be killed.
He believed, he said, that the usurper was Smer-
dis the magian, whom he had left as one of the
regents when he set out on his Egyptian cam-
paign. He urged them, therefore, not to sub-
mit to his sway, but to go back to Media, and
58 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.522.
Death of Cambyses. His dying declaration discredited.
if they could not conquer him and put him down
by open war, to destroy him by deceit and strata-
gem, or in any way whatever by which the end
could be accomplished. Cambyses urged this
with so much of the spirit of hatred and revenge
beaming in his hollow and glassy eye as to show
that sickness, pain, and the approach of death,
which had made so total a change in the wretch-
edsufferer's outward condition, had altered noth-
Very soon after making this communication
to his nobles, Cambyses expired.
It will well illustrate the estimate which
those who knew him best, formed of this great
hero's character, to state, that those who heard
this solemn declaration did not believe one word
of it from beginning to end. They supposed
that the whole story which the dying tyrant
had told them, although he had scarcely breath
enough left to tell it, was a fabrication, dictated
by his fraternal jealousy and hate. They be-
lieved that it was really the true Smerdis who
had been proclaimed king, and that Cambyses
hqd invented, in his dying moments, the story
of his having killed him, in order to prevent
the Persians from submitting peaceably to his
B.C. 520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN. 59
Usurpation of the magians. Circumstances favoring it.
SMERDIS THE MAGIAN.
CAMBYSES and his friends had been right
in their conjectures that it was Smerdis
the magian who had usurped the Persian throne.
This Smerdis resembled, it was said, the son of
Cyrus in his personal appearance as well as in
name. The other magian who had been asso-
ciated with him in the regency when Cambyses
set out from Persia on his Egyptian campaign
was his brother. His name was Patizithes.-
When Cyrus had been some time absent, these
magians, having in the mean time, perhaps,
heard unfavorable accounts of his conduct and
character, and knowing the effect which such
wanton tyranny must have in alienating from
him the allegiance of his subjects, conceived
the design of taking possession of the empire in
their own name. The great distance of Cam-
byses and his army from home, and his long-
continued absence, favored this plan. Their
own position, too, as they were already in pos-
session of the capitals and the fortresses of the
60 DARIUS THs GREAT. [B.C. 520,
Murder of Smerdis not known. He is supposed to be alive.
country, aided them; and then the name of
Smerdis, being the same with that of the brother
of Cambyses, was a circumstance that greatly
promoted the success of the undertaking. In
addition to all these general advantages, the
cruelty of Cambyses was the means of furnish-
ing them with a most opportune occasion for
putting their plans into execution.
The reader will recollect that, as was related
in the last chapter, Cambyses first sent his
brother Smerdis home, and afterward, when
alarmed by his dream, he sent Prexaspes to
murder him. Now the return of Smerdis was
publicly and generally known, while his as-
sassination by Prexaspes was kept a profound
secret. Even the Persians connected with
Cambyses's court in Egypt had not heard of
the perpetration of this crime, until Cambyses
confessed it on his dying bed, and even then,
as was stated in the last chapter, they did not
believe it. It is not probable that it was known
in Media and Persia; so that, after Prexaspes
accomplished his work, and returned to Cam-
byses with'the report of it, it was probably gen-
erally supposed that his brother was still alive,
and was residing somewhere in one or another
of the royal palaces.
B.C.520.]SMERDIS THE MAGIAN. 61
Precautions taken by Smerdis. Effect of Cambyses's measures.
Such royal personages were often accustom.
ed to live thus, in a state of great seclusion,
spending their time in effeminate pleasures
within the walls of their palaces, parks, and
gardens. When the royal Smerdis, therefore,
secretly and suddenly disappeared, it would be
very easy for the magian Smerdis, with the col-
lusion of a moderate number of courtiers and
attendants, to take his place, especially if he
continued to live in retirement, and exhibited
himself as little as possible to public view.
Thus it was that Cambyses himself, by the
very crimes which he committed to shield him-
self from all danger of a'revolt, opened the way
which specially invited it, and almost insured
its success. Every particular step that he took,
too, helped to promote the end. His sending
Smerdis home; his waiting an interval, and
then sending Prexaspes to destroy him; his or-
dering his assassination to be secret-these, and
all the other attendant circumstances, were
only so many preliminary steps, preparing the
way for the success of the revolution which was
to accomplish his ruin. He was, in a word, his
own destroyer. Like other wicked men, he
found, in the end, that the schemes of wicked-
ness which he had malignantly aimed at the
62 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 520.
Opinion in regard to Smerdis. Acquiescence of the people.
destruction of others, had been all the time slow-
ly and surely working out his own.
The people of Persia, therefore, were prepar-
ed by Cambysess own acts to believe that the
usurper Smerdis was really Cyrus's son, and,
next to Cambyses, the heir to the throne. The
army of Cambyses, too, in Egypt, believed the
same. It was natural that they should do so,
for they placed no confidence whatever in Cam-
biyses's dying declarations; and since intelli-
gence, which seemed to be official, came from
Susa declaring that Smerdis was still alive, and
that he had actually taken possession of the
throne, there was no apparent reason for doubt-
ing the fact. Besides, Prexaspes, as soon as
Cambyses was dead, considered it safer for him
to deny than to confess having murdered the
prince. He therefore declared that Cambyses's
story was false, and that he had no doubt that
Smerdis, the monarch in whose name the gov-
ernment was administered at Susa, was the son
of Cyrus, the true and rightful heir to the
throne. Thus all parties throughout the em-
pire acquiesced peaceably in what they suppos-
ed to be the legitimate succession.
In the mean time, the usurper had placed
himself in an exceedingly dizzy and precarious
B.C. 20.] 1MERDIS THE MAGIAN.
Dangerous situation of Smerdis. Arrangement with Patizithes.
situation, and one which it would require a
great deal of address and skillful management
to sustain. The plan arranged between him-
self and his brother for a division of the advant-
ages which they had secured by their joint and
common cunning was, that Smerdis was to en-
joy the ease and pleasure, and Patizithes the
substantial power of the royalty which they had
so stealthily seized. This was the safest plan.
Smerdis, by living secluded, and devoting him-
self to retired and private pleasures, was the
more likely to escape public observation; while
Patizithes, acting as his prime minister of state,
could attend councils, issue orders, review troops,
dispatch embassies, and perform all the other
outward functions of supreme command, with
safety as well as pleasure. Patizithes seems to
have been, in fact, the soul of the whole plan.
He was ambitious and aspiring in character,
and if he could only himself enjoy the actual
exercise of royal power, he was willing that his
brother should enjoy the honor of possessing it.
Patizithes, therefore, governed the realm, act-
ing, however, in all that he did, in Smerdis's
Smerdis, on his part, was content to take
possession of the palaces, the parks, and the
DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.520.
Smerdis lives in retirement. Special grounds of apprehension.
gardens of Media and Persia, and to live in them
in retired and quiet luxury and splendor. He
appeared seldom in public, and then only under
such circumstances as should not expose him
to any close observation on the part of the spec-
tators. His figure, air, and manner, and the
general cast of his countenance, were very much
like those of the prince whom he was attempt-
ing to personate. There was one mark, how-
ever, by which he thought that there was dan-
ger that he might be betrayed, and that was,
his ears had been cut off. This had been done
many years before, by command of Cyrus, on
account of some offense of which he had been
guilty. The marks of the mutilation could, in-
deed, on public occasions, be concealed by the
turban, or helmet, or other head-dress which he
wore; but in private there was great danger ei-
ther that the loss of the ears, or the studied ef-
fort to conceal it, should be observed. Smerdis
was, therefore, very careful to avoid being seen
in private, by keeping himself closely secluded.
He shut himself up in the apartments of his
palace at Susa, within the citadel, and never
invited the Persian nobles to visit him there.
Among the other means of luxury and pleas-
ure which Smerdis found in the royal palaces,
B.C.520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN.
Cambyses's wives. Smerdis appropriates them.
and which he appropriated to his own enjoy-
ment, were Cambyses's wives. In those times,
Oriental princes and potentates--as is, in fact,
the case at the present day, in many Oriental
countries--possessed a great number of wives,
who were bound to them by different sorts of
matrimonial ties, more or less permanent, and
bringing them into relations more or less inti-
mate with their husband and sovereign. These
wives were in many respects in the condition
of slaves: in one particular they were especial-
ly so, namely, that on the death of a sovereign
they descended, like any other property, to the
heir, who added as many of them as he pleased
to his own seraglio. Until this was done, the
unfortunate women were shut up in close se-
clusion on the death of their lord, like mourn-
ers who retire from the world when suffering
any great and severe bereavement.
The wives of Cambyses were appropriated by
Smerdis to himself on his taking possession of
the throne and'hearing of Cambyses's death.
Among them was Atossa, who has already been
mentioned as the daughter of Cyrus, and, of
course, the sister of Cambyses as well as his
wife. In order to prevent these court ladies
from being the means, in any way, of discover-
. D)ARIUS THE GWEAT. [B.0.520.
Phaedyma. Measures of Otanes.
ing the imposture which he was practicing, the
magian continued to keep them all closely shut
up in their several separate apartments, only
allowing a favored few to visit him, one by one,
in turn, while he prevented their having any
communication with one another.
The name of one of these ladies was Phaedy-
ma. She was the daughter of a Persian noble
of the highest rank and influence, named Ota-
nes. Otanes, as well as some other nobles of
the court, had observed and reflected upon the
extraordinary circumstances connected with the
accession of Smerdis to the throne, and the sin-
gular mode of life that he led in secluding him-
self, in a manner so extraordinary for a Persian
monarch, from all intercourse with his nobles
and his people. The suspicions of Otanes and
his associates were excited, but no one dared to
communicate his thoughts to the others. At
length, however, Otanes, who was a man of
great energy as well as sagacity and discretion,
resolved that he would take some measures to
ascertain the truth.
He first sent a messenger to Phedyma, his
daughter, asking of her whether it was really
Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, who received her
when she went to visit the king. Phaedyma,
B.C.520.] SMEtDIS THE MAGIAN.
Otanes's communications with his daughter. Her replies.
in return, sent her father word that she did not
know, for she had never seen Smerdis, the son
of Cyrus, before the death of Cambyses. She
therefore could not say, of her own personal
knowledge, whether the king was the genuine
Smerdis or not. Otanes then sent to Phaedyma
a second time, requesting her to ask the queen
Atossa. Atossa was the sister of Smerdis the
prince, and had known him from his childhood.
Phsdyma sent back word to her father that
she could not speak to Atossa, for she was kept
closely shut up in her own apartments, without
the opportunity to communicate with any one.
Otanes then sent a third time to his daughter,
telling her that there was one remaining mode
by which she might ascertain the truth, and
that was, the next time that she visited the
king, to feel for his ears when he was asleep.
If it was Smerdis the magian, she would find
that he had none. He urged his daughter to
do this by saying that, if the pretended king
was really an impostor, the imposture ought to
be made known, and that she, being of noble
-irth, ought to have the courage and energy to
assist in discovering it. To this Ph~edyma re-
plied that she would do as her father desired,
though she knew that she hazarded her life in
68 DARIUS THE QREAT. [B.C.520.
Phsdyma discovers the deception. Otanes and the six noble&
the attempt. "If he has no ears," said she,
"and if I awaken him in attempting to feel for
them, he will kill me; I am sure that he will
kill me on the spot."
The next time that it came to Phsedyma's
turn to visit the king, she did as her father had
requested. She passed her hand very cautious-
ly beneath the king's turban, and found that his
ears had been cut off close to his head. Early
in the morning she communicated the knowl-
edge of the fact to her father.
Otanes immediately made the case known
to two of his friends, Persian nobles, who had,
with him, suspected the imposture, and had
consulted together before in respect to the means
of detecting it. The question was, what was
now to be dope. After some deliberation, it was
agreed that each of them should communicate
the discovery which they had made to one other
person, such as each should select from among
the circle of his friends as the one on whose res-
olution, prudence, and fidelity he could most im-
plicitly rely. This was done, and the number
admitted to the secret was thus increased to
six. At this juncture it happened that Darius,
the son of Hystaspes, the young man who has
already been mentioned as the subject of Cy.
PHRADYTA FEELING FOR SMRDIS'S BIARS.
B.C.520.] SMERDIS THE M~AGIAN.
Arrival of Darius. Secret consultations.
rus's dream, came to Susa. Darius was a man
of great prominence and popularity. His father,
Hystaspes, was at that time the governor of the
province of Persia, and Darius had been re-
siding with him in that country. As soon as
the six conspirators heard of his arrival, they
admitted him to their councils, and thus their
number was increased to seven.
They immediately began to hold secret con-
sultatiois for the purpose of determining how
it was best to proceed, first binding themselves
by the most solemn oaths never to betray one
another, however their undertaking might end.
Darius told them that he had himself discovered
the imposture and usurpation of Smerdis, and
that he had come from Persia for the purpose
of slaying him; and that now, since it appeared
that the secret was known to so many, he was
.of opinion that they ought to act at once with
the utmost decision. He thought there would
be great danger in delay.
Otanes, on the other hand, thought that they
were not yet ready for action. They must first
increase their numbers. Seven persons were
too few to attempt to revolutionize an empire.
He commended the courage and resolution
which Darius displayed, but he thought that a
72 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.520.
VariMou opinions. Views of Darius.
more cautious and deliberate policy would be
far more likely to conduct them to a safe result.
Darius replied that the course which Otanes
recommended would certainly rain them. "If
we make many other persons acquainted with
our plans," said he, "there will be some, not-
withstanding all our precautions, who will be-
tray us, for the sake of the immense rewards
which they well know they would receive in
that case from the king. No," lie added, "we
must act ourselves, and alone. We must do
nothing to excite suspicion, but must go at once
into the palace, penetrate boldly into Smerdis's
presence, and slay him before he has time to
suspect our designs."
"But we can not get into his presence," re-
plied Otanes. "There are guards stationed
at every gate and door, who will not allow us
to pass. If we attempt to kill them, a tumult
will be immediately raised, and the alarm given,
and all our designs will thus be baffled."
There will be little difficulty about the
guards," said Darius. "They know us all, and,
from deference to our rank and station, they
will let us pass without suspicion, especially if
we act boldly and promptly, and do not give
them time to stop and consider what to do.
B.C. 520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN.
Apology for a falsehood. Opinion of Gobryas.
Besides, I can say that I have just arrived from
Persia with important dispatches for the king,
and that I must be admitted immediately into
his presence. If a falsehood must be told, so
let it be. The urgency of the crisis demands
and sanctions it."
It may seem strange to the reader, consider-
ing the ideas and habits of the times, that Da-
rius should have even thought it necessary to
apologize to his confederates for his proposal of
employing falsehood in the accomplishment of
their plans; and it is, in fact, altogether prob-
able that the apology which he is made to utter
is his historian's, and not his own.
The other conspirators had remained silent
during this discussion between Darius and Ota-
nes; but now a third, whose name was Gobry-
as, expressed his opinion in favor of the course
which Darius recommended. He was aware,
he said, that, in attempting to force their way
into the king's presence and kill him by a sud-
den assault, they exposed themselves to the
most imminent danger; but it was better for
them to die in the manly attempt to bring back
the imperial power again into Persian hands,
where it properly belonged, than to acquiesce
any further in its continuance in the possession
74 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.520.
Uneasiness of the magi. Situation of Prexaspes.
of the ignoble Median priests who had so treach-
erously usurped it.
To this counsel they all finally agreed, and
began to make arrangements for carrying their
desperate enterprise into execution.
In the mean time, very extraordinary events
were transpiring in another part of the city.
The two magi, Smerdis the king and Patizithes
his brother, had some cause, it seems, to fear
that the nobles about the court, and the officers
of the Persian army, were not without suspi.
oions that the reigning monarch was not the
real son of Cyrus. Rumors that Smerdis had
been killed by Prexaspes, at the command of
Cambyses, were in circulation. These rumors
were contradicted, it is true, in private, by
Prexaspes, whenever he was forced to speak of
the subject; but he generally avoided it; and
he spoke, when he spoke at all, in that timid
and undecided tone which men usually assume
when they are persisting in 9 lie. In the mean
time, the gloomy recollections of his past life,
he memory of his murdered son, remorse for
his own crime in the assassination of Smerdis,
and anxiety on account of the extremely dan-
gerous position in which he had placed himself
by his false denial of it, all conspired to harass
B.CL520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN.
Measures of the magi. An assembly of the people.
his mind with perpetual restlessness and mis-
ery, and to make life a burden.
In order to do something to quiet the suspi-
cions which the magi feared were prevailing,
they did not know how extensively, they con-
ceived the plan of inducing Prexaspes to declare
in a more public and formal manner what he
had been asserting timidly in private, namely,
that Smerdis had not been killed. They ac-
cordingly:convened an assembly of the people in
a'court-yard of the palace, or perhaps took ad-
vantage of some gathering casually convened,
and proposed that Prexaspes should address
them from a neighboring tower. Prexaspes was
a man of high rank and of great influence, and
the magi thought that his public espousal of
their cause, and his open and decided contra-
diction of the rumor that he had killed Camby-
Wes's brother, would fully convince the Persians
:that it was really the rightful monarch that had
taken possession of the throne.
But the strength even of a strong man, when
he has a lie to carry, soon becomes very small.
That of Prexaspes was already almost exhaust-
ed and gone. He had been wavering and hes-
itating before, and this proposal, that he should
commit himself so formally and solemnly, and
76 )DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C. 520
Decision of Prexaspes. His speech from the tow&
in so public a manner, to statements wholly
and absolutely untrue, brought him to a stand.
He decided, desperately, in his own mind, that
he would go on in his course of falsehood, re-
morse, and wretchedness no longer. He, how-
ever, pretended to accede to the propositions of
the magi. He ascended the tower, and began
to address the people.. Instead, however, of de-
nying that he had murdered Smerdis, he fully
confessed to the astonished audience that he had
really committed that crime; he openly de-
nounced the reigning Smerdis as an impostor,
and called upon all who heard him to rise at
once, destroy the@ treacherous usurper, and vin-
dicate the rights of the true Persian line. As
he went on, with vehement voice and gestures,
in this speech, the utterance of which he knew
sealed his own destruction, he became more and
more excited and reckless. He denounced his
hearers in the severest language if they failed
to obey his injunctions, and imprecated upon
them, in that event, all the curses of Heaven.
The people listened to this strange and sudden
phrensy of eloquence in utter amazement, mo-
tionless and silent; and before they or the offi-
cers of the king's household who were present
had time even to consider what to do, Prexas,
B.C.520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN. 77
Death ofPrexaspes. The conspirators.
pes, coming abruptly to the conclusion of hi&
harangue, threw himself headlong from the
parapet of the tower, and came down among
them, lifeless and mangled, on the pavement
Of course, all was now tumult and commo-
tion in the court-yard, and it happened to be
just at this juncture that the seven conspira-
tors came from the place of their consultation
to the palace, with a view of executing their
plans. They were soon informed of what had
taken place. Otanes was now again disposed
to postpone their attempt upon the life of the
king. The event which had occurred changed,
he said, the aspect of the subject, and they must
wait until the tumult and excitement should
have somewhat subsided. But Darius was
more eager than ever in favor of instantaneous
action. He said that there was not a moment
to be lost; for the magi, so soon as they should
be informed of the declarations and of the death
of Prexaspes, would be alarmed, and would take
at once the most effectual precautions to guard
against any sudden assault or surprise.
These arguments, at the very time in which
Darius was offering them with so much vehe-
mence and earnestness, were strengthened by a
78. ; :D aotr stlaS G -EAT. I[B.'CP o
The oema.- : The conspirators enter the palaei
Wary singular sort of confirmation; for while the
ooispiratrs stood undetermined, they saw a
flock of birds moving across the sky, which, on
their more attentively regarding them, proved to
be seven hawks pursuing two vultures.. This
they regarded an omen, intended to signify to
them, by a divine intimation, that they ought to
proceed. They hesitated, therefore, no longer.
SThey went together to the outer gates of the
palace. The action of the guards who were
stationed there was just what Darius had pre-
dicted that it would be. Awed by the imposing
spectacle of the approach of seven nobles of the
highest distinction, who were advancing, too,
with an earnest and confident air, as if expect-
ing no obstacle to their admission, they gave
way at once, and allowed them to enter 'The
conspirators went on until they came to the
inner apartments, where they found eunuchs
in attendance at the doors. The eunuchs re-
sisted, and demanded angrily why the guards
had let the strangers in. "Kill them," said
the conspirators, and immediately began to cut
them down. The magi were within, already
in consternation at the disclosures of Prexaspes,
of which they had just been informed. They
heard the tumult and the outcries of the eu-
tC.520.] SMERDIS THE IAGIAN.
Combat with the magi. Flight of Smerdis.
nuchs at the doors, and seized their arms, the
one a bow and the other a spear. The conspir-
atori rushed in. The bow was useless in the
close combat which ensued, and the magian
who had taken it turned and fled. The other
defended himself with his spear for a moment,
and wounded severely two of his assailants.
The wounded conspirators fell. Three others
of the number continued the unequal combat
with the armed magian, while Darius and Go-
bryas rushed in pursuit of the other.
The flying magian ran from one apartment
to another until he reached a dark room, into
which the blind instinct of fear prompted him
to rush, in the vain hope of concealment. Go-
bryas was foremost; he seized the wretched
fugitive by the waist, and struggled to hold him,
while the magian struggled to get ftee. Go-
bryas called upon Darius, who was close behind
him, to strike. Darius, brandishing his sword,
looked earnestly into the obscure retreat, that
he might see where to strike.
"Strike!" exclaimed Gobryas. "Why do
you not strike ?"
"I can not see," said Darius, "and I am
afraid of wounding you."
No matter," said Gobryas, struggling des-
80 DARrOs T'E GREAT. [B.C. 520.
Smerdis is killed. Exultation of the conspirators.
perately all Uthe time with his frantic victim.
"Strike quick, if you kill us both."
Darius struck. Gobryas loosened his hold,
and the magian fell upon the floor, and there,
stabbed again through the heart by Darius's
sword, almost immediately ceased to breathe.
They dragged the body to the light, and cut
off the head. They did the same with the other
* magian, whom they found that their confeder-
ates had killed when they returned to the apart-
ments where they had left them contending.
The whole body of the conspirators then, except
the two who were wounded, exulting in their
success, and wild with the excitement whiqh
such deeds always awaken, went forth into the
streets of the city, bearing the heads upon pikes
as the trophies of their victory. Iey sum-
moned the Persian soldiers to arms, and an-
nounced every where that they had ascertained
that the king was a priest and an impostor, and
not their legitimate sovereign, and that they
had consequently killed him. They called upon
the people to kill the magians wherever they
could find .them, as if the whole class were im-
plicated in the guilt of the usurping brothers.
The populace in all countries are easily ex-
cited by such denunciations and appeals as
B.C.520.] SMERDIS THE MAGIAN. 81
General massacre of the magians.
these. The Persians armed themselves, and
ran to and fro every where in pursuit of the
unhappy magians, and before night vast num-
bers of them were slain.
8 DARIU's T GRE VAT [B,.0.520a
Confusion at Susa. No heir to the throne.
THE A SESSION OF DARIUS.
F OR several days after the assassination of
the magi the city was filled with excite-
ment, tumults, and confusion. There was no
heir, of the family of Cyrus, entitled to succeed
to the vacant throne, for neither Cambyses, nor
Smerdis his brother, had left any sons. There
was, indeed, a daughter of Smerdis, named Par-
mys, and there were also still living two daugh-
ters of Cyrus. One was Atossa, whom we have
already mentioned as having been married to
Cambyses, her brother, and as having been aft-
erward taken by Smerdis the magian as one of
his wives. These princesses, though of royal
lineage, seem neither of them to have been dis-
posed to assert any claims to the throne at such
a crisis. The mass of the community were
stupefied with astonishment at the sudden rev-
olution which had occurred. No movement was
made toward determining the succession. For
five days nothing was done.
During this period, all the subordinate func-
B.C. 520.] ACCESSION OF DARIUS. 83
Five days' interregnum. Provisional government.
tions of government in the provinces, cities, and
towns, and among the various garrisons and
encampments of the army, went on, of course,
as usual, but the general administration of the
government had no head. The seven confeder-
ates had been regarded, for the time being, as
a sort of provisional government, the army and
the country in general, so far as appears, look-
ing to them for the means of extrication from
the political difficulties in which this sudden
revolution had involved them, and submitting,
in the mean time, to their direction and control.
Such a state of things, it was obvious, could
not long last; and after five days, when the
commotion had somewhat subsided, they began
to consider it necessary to make some arrange-
ments of a more permanent character, the pow-
er to make such arrangements as they thought
best resting with them alone. They accord-
ingly met for consultation.
Herodotus the historian,* on whose narrative
of these events we have mainly to rely for all
An account of Herodotus, and of the circumstances under
which he wrote his history, which will aid the reader very
much in forming an opinion in respect to the kind and degree
of confidence which it is proper to place in his statements,
will be found in the first chapter of our history of Cyrus the
84 DARIRU T E GR.E AT [B.C. 520.
Consultation of the confederates. Otanes in favor of a republic.
Ahe information respecting them yhich is now
to be attained, gives a very minute and drama-
tie account of the deliberations of the conspira-
tors on this occasion. The account is, in fact,
too dramatic to be probably true.
Otanes, in this discussion, was in favor of
establishing a republic. He did not think it
safe or wise to intrust the supreme power again
to any single individual. It was proved, he
said, by universal experience, that when any
one person was raised to such an elevation above
his fellow-men, he became suspicious, jealous,
insolent, and cruel. He lost all regard for the
welfare and happiness of others, and became su-
premely devoted to the preservation of his own
greatness and power by any_means, however
tyrannical, and to the accomplishment of the
purposes of his own despotic will. The best
and most valuable citizens were as likely to be-
come the victims of his oppression as the worst.
In fact, tyrants generally chose their favorites,
he said, from among the most abandoned men
and women in their realms, such characters be-
ing the readiest instruments of their guilty
pleasures and their qimes. Otanes referred
very particularly to the case of Cambyses as an
example of the extreme lengths to which the
B.C.520.] ACCESSION OF DARIUS.
Otaues'S republic. Principles of representation.
despotic insolence and cruelty of a tyrant could
go. He reminded his colleagues of the suffer-
ings and terrors which they had endured while
under his sway, and urged them very strongly
not to expose themselves to such terrible evils
and dangers again. He proposed, therefore,
that they should establish a republic, under
which the officers of government should be elect-
ed, and questions of public policy be determin-
ed, in asAnblies of the people.
It must be understood, however, by the
reader, that a republic, as contemplated and
intended by Otanes in this speech, was en-
tirely different from the mode of government
which that word denotes at the present day.
They had little idea, in those times, of the prin-
ciple of representation, by which the thousand
separate and detached communities of a great
empire can choose delegates, who are to delib-
erate, speak, and act for them in the assemblies
where the great governmental decisions are ul-
timately made. By this principle of represent-
ation, the people can really all share in the
exercise of power. Without it they can not,
for it is impossible that the people of a great
state can ever be brought together in one as-
sembly; nor, even if it were practicable to bring
DsatLRXviTn~ : G a ( '[B.C. 520.
Large assemblies. Nature of ancient republic.
.them teIu tgether, wold it be possible for
.Joh a q ourse ,to deliberiMe or aot. The .ac-
oM.Ofi any assemblyy iht&goeh. beyond, a very
-fw hundred in :rrumbers is always, in fact, the
stion04 olxsively of th- small' knot of leaders
.wio call and manage it. Otanes, therefore, as
wetll as all other advocates of republican gov-
eminent in ancient times, meant that the su-
.preme power should be exercised, Tt by the
great mass of the people. included thin the
Jurisdiction in question hut by such a 'portion
ofcertizi privileged classes as could be brought
-together in the capital. It was such a sort of
republi- as would be foined, in this country if
the affairs of th country at large, and the'muni-
ipal -had domestic .instituttions eii -t4he states,
were regulated a controlled by laws enacted,
-and by governors appointed, at great municipal
.aieetingsteld in the city of New York.
S 'is was,in: 'fact, the nature of all the re-
-~blios -of aneiensit times. Tbhy were generally
Small and 'the city in whose free: citizens the
stipreine p6wer resided, constituted by far ; he
.most important -portion of the body politic. The
Roman republic, however, becamee at one pe-
iod very large. It Frqspread almost the whole
B.C.520.] ACCESSION OF DARIUS.
Nature of a representative republic.
territory, and comprising innumerable states
and kingdoms within its jurisdiction, the vast
concentration of power by which the whole was
governed, vested entirely and exclusively in
noisy and tumultuous assemblies convened in
the Roman forum.
Even if the idea of a representative system
of government, such as is adopted in modern
times, and by means of which the people of a
great and extended empire can exercise, con-
veniently and efficiently, a general sovereignty
held in common by them all, had been under-
stood in ancient times, it is very doubtful wheth-
or it could, in those times, have been carried into
effect, for want of certain facilities which are
enjoyed in the present age, and which seem es-
sential for the safe and easy action of so vast
and complicated a system as a great represent-
ative government must necessarily be. The
regular transaction of business at public meet-
ings, and the orderly and successful manage-
ment of any extended system of elections, re-
quires a great deal of writing; and the general
circulation of newspapers, or something exer-
cising the great function which it is the object
of newspapers to fulfill, that of keeping the peo-
ple at large in some degree informed in respect
^L- DAilUU HE- GREtT. [B, .52,.
Megabytus. He opposes the plan of Otanes.
to the progress of public affairs, seems essential
to the successful working of a system of repre-
sentative government comprising any consid-
erable extent of territory.
However this may be, whether a great rep-
resentative system would or would not have
been practicable in ancient times if it had been
tried, it is certain that it was never tried. In
all ancient republics, the sovereignty resided, es.'
sentially, in a privileged class of the people of
kie capital. The territories governed were
provinces, held in subjection as dependencies,
and compelled to pay tribute; and this was the
plan which Otanes meant to advocate when rec-
ommending a republic, in the Persian council.
The name of the second speaker in this cel-
ebrated consultation was Megabyzus. He op-
fosed the plan of Otanes. He concurred fully,
he said, in 11 that Otanes had advanced in re-
speoo the evils of a monarchy, and to the op-
pressi6n and tyranny to which a people were
exposed whose liberties and lives were subject
to the despotic control of a single human will.
But, in order to avoid one extreme, it Was not
necessary to run into the evils of the other.
The disadvantages and dangers of popular con-
trol in the management of the affairs of state
.0o.50.] ACCESSION OF DARIUS. 89
Speech of Megabyzus. He proposes an oligarchy.
were scarcely less than those of a despotism.
Popular assemblies were always, he said, tur-
bulent, passionate, capricious. Their decisions
were controlled by artful and designing dema-
gogues. It was not possible that masses of the
common people could have either the sagacity
to form wise counsels, or the energy and stead-
iness to execute them. There- could be no de-
liberation, no calmness, no secrecy in their con-
staltations. A populace was always governed
by excitements, which spread among them by
a common sympathy; and they would give way
impetuously to the most senseless impulses, as
they were urged by their fear, their resentment,
their exultation, their hate, or by any other
passing emotion of the hour.
Megabyzus therefore disapproved of both a
monarchy and a republic. He recommended
an oligarchy. We are now," said he, al-
ready seven. Let us select from the leading
nobles in the court and officers of the army a
small number of men, eminent for talents and
Virtue, and thus form a select and competent
body of men, which shall be the depository of
the supreme power. Such a plan avoids the
evils and inconveniences of both the other sys-
tems. There can be no tyranny or oppression
90 DARIUS THE GREAT. [B.C.520.
Speech of Darius. He advocates a monarchy.
under such a system ; for, if any one of so large
a number should be inclined to abuse his pow-
er, he will be restrained by the rest. On the
other hand, the number will not be so large as
to preclude prudence and deliberation in coun-
sel, and the highest efficiency and energy in
carrying counsels into effect."
When Megabyzus had completed his speech,
Darius expressed his opinion. He said that the
arguments of those who had already spoken ap-
peared plausible, but that the speakers had not
dealt quite fairly by the different systems whose
merits they had discussed, since they had com-
pared a good administration of one form of gov-
ernment with a bad administration of another.
Every thing human was, he admitted, subject
to imperfection and liable to abuse; but on the
supposition that each of the three forms which
had been proposed were equally well adminis-
tered, the advantage, he thought, would be
strongly on the side of monarchy. Control ex-
ercised by a single mind and will was far more
concentrated and efficient than that proceeding
from any conceivable combination. The form-
ing of plans could be, in that case, more secret
and wary, and the execution of them more im-
mediate and prompt. Where power was lodg-
BC0.520.] ACCESSION OF DARIUS. 91
Four of the seven confederates concur with Darius.
ed in many hands, all energetic exercise of it
was paralyzed by the dissensions, the animosi-
ties, and the contending struggles of envious
and jealous rivals. These struggles, in fact,
usually resulted in the predominance of some
one, more energetic or more successful than the
rest, the aristocracy or the democracy running
thus, of its own accord, to a despotism in the
Send, showing that there were natural causes
always tending to the subjection of nations of
men to the control of one single will.
Besides all this, Darius added, in conclusion,
that the Persians had always been accustomed
to a monarchy, and it would be a very danger-
ous experiment to attempt to introduce a new
system, which would require so great a change
in all the habits and usages of the people.
Thus the consultation went on. At the end
of it, it appeared that four out of the seven
agreed with Darius in preferring a monarchy.
'This was a majority, and thus the question
seemed to be settled. Otanes said that he
would make no opposition to any measures
which they might adopt to carry their decision
into effect, but that he would not himself be
subject to the monarchy which they might es-
tablish. "I do not wish," he added, "either to
92 DARI U THE G- EAT. [B.C.520.
Otanes withdraws. Agreement made by the rest'.
govern others or to have others govern me.
You may establish a kingdom, therefore, if you
choose, and designate the monarch in any mode
that you see fit to adopt, but he must not con-
eider me as one of his subjects. I myself, and
all my family and dependents, must be wholly
free from his control."
This was a very unreasonable proposition,
unless, indeed, Otanes was willing to withdraw
altogether from the community to which he
thus refused to be subject; for, by residing
within it, he necessarily enjoyed its protection,
and ought, therefore, to bear his portion of its
burdens, and to be amenable to its laws. Not-
withstanding this, however, the conspirators ac-
ceded to the proposal, and Otanes withdrew.
The remaining six of the confederates then
proceeded with their arrangements for the es-
tablishment of a monarchy. They first agreed
that one of their own number should be the
king, and that on whomsoever the choice should
fall, the other five, while they submitted to his
dominion, should always enjoy peculiar privi-
leges and honors at his court. They were at
all times to have free access to the palaces and
to the presence of the king, and it was from
among their daughters alone that the king was
B.C.520.] AccEssION OF DARIUS.
Singular mode of deciding which should be the king.
to choose his wives. These and some other
similar points having been arranged, the man-
ner of deciding which of the six should be the
king remained to be determined. The plan
which they adopted, and the circumstances con-
nected with the execution of it, constitute, cer-
tainly, one of the most extraordinary of all the
strange transactions recorded in ancient times.
It is gravely related by Herodotus as sober
truth. How far it is to be considered as by any
possibility credible, the reader must judge, aft-
er knowing what the story is.
They agreed, then, that on the following
morningthey would all meet on horseback at a
place agreed upon beyond the walls of the city,
and that the one whose horse should neigh first
abould be the king! The time when this ridic-
alous ceremony was to be performed was sun-
.:AS soon as this arrangement was made the
".] ieo separated, and each went to his own
home. Darius called his groom, whose name
was (Ebases, and ordered him to have his horse
ready at sunrise on the next morning, explain-
ing to him, at the same time, the plan which
had been formed for electing the king. "If
that is the mode which is to be adopted," said
94 DAR1Si TA i GI EA T. [B:C.2..
The groom (ibames. His method of making Darius's horse neigh.
(Bbasess, .' you need have no concern, for I can
t~aige it very easily so as to have the lot fall
upon youi." Darius expressed a- strong desire
to hbav ihis accomplished igit- -ere possible,
and (Ebases went away. -- :
The method which -GbaseS adopted was to
lead Darius's horse out to the ground that even.
ing, in company with another, the favorite com-
panion, it seems, of the animaL Now the at-
tachment of the hoise to his companion is very
strong, and his recollection of localities very
vivid, and (Ebases expected that when the
horse should approachthe ground on the fdollow-
ing morning, he woulMdbe rtenibided of the com,
pany which he- enjo6ejdthere the night before,
aid neigh. The result was as he anticipated.
As the horsemen rode uipto the appointed place,
the horse of-Darius weighed the first, and Da-
rius was unanimously acknowledged king.
In respect to the credibility of this famous
story, the first thought which arises in the mind
is,- that it is utterly impossible that sane men,
acting in so momentous a crisis, and where in-
terests so vast and extended were at stake,
could have resorted to a plan so childish and ri-
diculous as this. Such a mode of designating a
leader, seriously adopted, would have done dis.
B .520.] AccEssIoN OF DARIUS.
Probable truth or falsehood of this account.
credit to a troop of boys making arrangements
'for holiday; and yet here was an empire ex-
tending for thousands of miles through the
heart of a vast continent, comprising, probably,
fifty nations and many millions of people, with
capitals, palaces, armies, fleets, and all the oth-
er appointments and machinery of an immense
ni~j ion, to be appropriated and disposed of ab-
solutely, and, so far as they could see, forever.
Ri seems incredible that men possessing such in-
t.lligence, and information, and extent of view
as weoshould suppose that officers of their rank
Sand' station would necessarily acquire, could
have attempted to decide such a momentous
question in so ridiculous and trivial a manner.
And yet the account is seriously recorded by
Herodotus as sober history, and the story has
been related again and again, from that day to
this, by every, successive generation of histo-
ians, without any particular question of its
:Ad it may possibly be that it is true. It is
a oase in which the apparent improbability is
far greater than the real. In the first place, it
would seem that, in all ages of the world, the acts
and decisions of men occupying positions of the
most absolute and exalted power have been con-
96 DARvs THEr G GREAT. [BC.O52.
Ancient statesmen Their character and position.
trolled, to a much greater degree, by caprice and
by momentary impulse, than mankind have gen-
erally supposed. Looking up as we do to these
vast elevations from below, they seem invested
with a certain sublimity and grandeur which
we imagine must continually impress the minds
of those who occupy them, and expand and
strengthen their powers, and lead them to act,
in all respects, with the circumspection, the de-
liberation, and the far-reaching sagacity which
the emergencies continually arising seem to
require. And this is, in fact, in some degree
the case with the statesmen and political lead.
ers raised to power under the constitutional gov.
ernnents of modern times. Such statesmen
are clothed with their high authority, in one
way or another, by the combined and deliberate
action of vast masses of men, and every step
which they take is watched, in reference to its
influence on the condition and welfare of these
masses, by many millions; so that such. men
live ad and act nder a continual sense of respon-
sibility, and they appreciate, in some degree,
the momentous importance of their doings.
But the absolute and independent sovereigns of-
the Old World, who held their power by con.
quest or by inheritance, though raised som0.