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jects into four castes, and during three hundred years reigned in the utmost prosperity and power, until his pride impelled him to revolt against the deity. , Dzokak’ was at this time prince of the Tasi, and held communication with the evil genii. He collected together the subjects of Djemschid, who had abandoned their sovereign since his altered course of conduct, put himself at their head, dethroned Djemschid, and deprived him of existence after a reign of seven hundred years. Dzohák' reigned a thousand years. His tyranny reduced Persia to the utmost wretchedness. By the malice of the evil spirits, two serpents sprang from his shoulders and remained attached to them. To appease their craving appetites, they had to be fed every day with the brains of men. By an adroit stratagem, the cooks of the palace saved each day one of the two persons destined thus to afford nourishment to the serpents, and sent him to the mountains: it is from these fugitives, say the traditions of Persia, that the Kurds of the present day derived their origin. A dream forewarned the sanguinary Dzohák' of the lot that awaited him, and of the vengeance that would be inflicted on him by Feridoun, the son of one of his victims. He caused diligent search to be made for the formidable infant, but the mother of Feridoun, who had given him to the divine cow Pour-mayeh to be nursed, saved herself and her child by fleeing to Mount Albrouz, in the north of India. There Feridoun was brought up by a Parsi. Having attained the age of sixteen years, he descended from the mountain and rejoined his mother, who made him acquainted with the story of his birth and misfortunes: for he was a member of the royal line, which had been driven from the throne of Persia by the sanguinary Dzohák'. Burning with the desire of avenging his wrongs, he seized the first opportunity that presented itself. A sedition broke out in Persia, headed by a smith, who affixed his apron to the point of a spear, and made it the standard cf revolt. The continued searches ordered by Dzohak" had apprized the people both of the dream of the tyrant and the existence of the young prince whom he persecuted. The Persians ran in crowds to their deliverer, who caused the apron of the smith to be profusely adorned with gold and precious stones, adopted it as the royal standard, and named it Direfch-gawāny; and this standard continued to be in after ages an object of the greatest veneration throughout all the empire of Persia. Feridoun immediately marched against the tyrant, crossed the Tigris where Bagdad now stands, proceeded to Beit-ul-makaddes, the residence of Dzohák', conquered his antagonist, and confined him with massive setters in a cavern of Mount Damawend. The two sisters of Djemschid, Chehrniws and Amewas, had been the favourite wives of Dzohák'. Feridoun found them, though after the lapse of a thousand years, still young enough to espouse. He had by them, three sons, whom he married to three princesses of Yemen. The eldest was Selm, the second Tour, and the youngest Ired). He divided the earth among them. Selm received Roum and Khāwer, that is to say, Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt. Tour obtained Tourán and Djin, that is, the country beyond the Oxus and China. Ired; became master of Persia (Iran) and Arabia. Dissatisfied with this division, the first two made an inroad, at the head of an army, into Persiz; ,lew Irelj, who had come to their camp for the propose of appeasing them, and sent his head to Fer doun. The afflicted father prayed the gods to prolong his life until he could avenge the death of is son. Only one of the wives of Ired; proved with. child; she gave birth to a daughter, whom Feridovu 'onited to Menoutchehr, his brother's son. He brought him up in wisdom, and, wher he had reach'd the age of manhood, gave this Mencutch-hr the “hrone. Selm and Tour, having endeavoured out on vain, to 3ppease their irritated father, determined ‘o have recourse to arms. Their forces,
composed of the people of Djin and Kháver, entered Persia, but were defeated in succession, and their leaders slain. Feridoun died beloved by his subjects, whom he had rendered happy during a period of five hundred years. During this time lived the valiant Sám, son of Nerimán, prince of Sedjestan, and of Zaboulist an or Ghiz.neh. His son Zal received from Menoutchehr the sovereignty of all the countries from K'aboul to the river Sind, and from his father the country of Zaboulistán. Mihrab reigned at this period in K'aboul. He was of Tasi origin, and of the race of Dzohak". Zal married his daughter Roudabeh, and became the father of Roustem, the hero of Persia, and whose exploits form the principal subject of the poem of Firdousi. Menoutchehr transmitted the crown to his son Nawder. This latter followed not the precepts of his father : his subjects revolted, and his kingdom being invaded by Afrasiab, the son of Pecheng, king of Touran, he fell into the hands of his opponent and was put to death, after a reign of only seven years. Afrastáb then quitted the province of Dahestān, which had been the theatre of the war, and entered by Rei into Iran, where he placed the crown of the schahs upon his own head. During this invasion of Afrasiab, Zal, the son and successor of Sám, had taken upon him, in his turn, the defence of the dynasty of Feridoun, and had caused a member of the race to be proclaimed schah : this was Zou, son of Thamasp. During five years the country was exposed to the ravages of war, and afterward a general scarcity prevailed. Peace was concluded: according to the terms of which the river Gihon (Djihoun or Oxus) was declared the common limit of the two empires. Zou died soon after, leaving as his successor his son Gerchasp, who only reigned nine years, and left Persia, at his death, without a master. With him ended the dynasty of the Pischdadians.—Before proceeding to the consideration of the second or Kaianian dynasty, we shall offer a few remarks on the one of which we have just been treating. The lives and reigns of 700 and 1000 years will obtain, of course, no credit now. Djemschid and Dzohák' represent, in all probability, entire families.—It would be useless to compare the Greek traditions with the monstrous recital of the Schah nameh, through which we have just passed. These recitals, having only been collected under the Sassanides, have reached us full of fable and improbability. It will be safer and more reasonable to limit ourselves to some general approximations. The Greek historians mention three principal facts: 1. The existence of a vast empire, known among them by the name of the Assyrian empire; 2. The overthrow of this empire by the Medes; 3. The frequent incursions of the Scythian tribes from the region of Caucasus, from the vicinity of the Caspian, and from the Oxus. These three grand movements may be traced without difficulty in the Persian traditions. In fact, the theatre of the first four reigns of the Schahnameh is, beyond a doubt, Media, where was established the worship of fire by Houcheng. I(aioumaratz and his successors were then a Median dynasty dethroned by Dzohák, a Tasi or Arab prince, and who began what is called by the Greeks the Assyrian empire. The word Tasi designates, at the present day, the inhabitants of Arabia; but there is nothing to prevent the belief that anciently it was applied to all the people of the Semitic race, and consequently to the Assyrians. The new dynasty of Dzohäk', so detested by the Iranians, because it was composed of strangers, and brought in with it an impure and devilish worship, was probably none other than that of the Assyrian princes, who, according to the Greek writers, were masters of all Persia as far as the Indus and Oxus (Djihoun or Gihon). Feridoun himself, who, accord: ing to the Schah-nameh, dethroned and imprisoned Dzohák', will be the representative of the new dynasty of the Medes, which commenced * and overthrew the Assyrian empire. The Assyrian princes, or Tasi, did not inhabit Jerusalem, as one might be inclined to suppose from the name Beit-ul-makaddes, “the holy dwelling,” given by Firdousi to their residence, and which is that by which the Arabs designate the capital of the Jews. The Persian poet himself gives us the requisite information on this point, by adding that Beit-ul-makaddes also bore the Tasi name of Hameh-el-Harran. It was probably, therefore, Harran, in Mesopotamia, in the region called Diar Modzár. According to traditions still existing, this city was built a short time after the deluge; and it is regarded by the people of the East as one of the most ancient in the world. Albrouz is the ancient name of the great chain of mountains which commences on the west of the Cimmerian Bosporus, borders the Caspian Sea to the southeast and south, and, proceeding eastward, joins the Himalayan chain which separates Hindoostan from Thibet. It comprehends, therefore, the Caucasus of our days, the mountains of Ghilan, Mount Damaurend, the chain of Chorasan, and the Paropamisus or Hendu-Khos. Feridoun, coming from Media to found the new Median empire on the ruins of the Assyrian, descended Mount Alirouz. Eastern Persia, comprising Sedjestän and Zaboulistän, which is the country of Ghizneh, was subject to the schah, but governed under him by the princes of the race of Sám. As to Kaboul, it was only tributary, and belonged to a branch of the family of Dzohák', that is, to princes of Assyrian origin who had treated with the Medes. The third analogy between the Greek and Persian traditions is found in the inroads of barbarous tribes from Eastern Persia. The incursions of the Scythian Nomades, mentioned by the Greek writers, will agree very well with those of the princes of Touran, coming from beyond the Djihoun or Oxus. From the earliest periods, Persia has been exposed to invasion from the tribes in the direction of Caucasus, the Caspian, and the Oxus. The Greeks called all these tribes Scythians, because they had no other name by which to designate these barbarous communities. The Persians call then Turan and Djin (Turks and Chinese), although at this time (700 B.C.) neither the one nor the other of the two lastmentioned people were to be sound on the eastern borders of Persia. When, however, the Schah-nameh was composed, the Persians knew only the Turks and Chinese, and they gave their names to all those who had at any time preceded them. The ancient enemies of Persia, in this quarter, were probably Hunnic and Tudesc tribes, to whom, about the era of the Sassanides, succeeded the Turks and Chinese.—The main fact that results from a comparison of these traditions is, that two empires followed in succession: one, coming from Assyria, ruled over Media and all Eastern Asia; the other, coming from Media, reacted on the first, and drove the Semitic communities across the Tigris and Euphrates; and, finally, to these two great revolutions were joined frequent inroads on the part of the barbarous tribes coming from Caucasus, Scythia, and the banks of the Oxus.--To the Pischdadian succeeded the Kaianian dynasty. The recital of the Schah-nameh respecting this second dynasty is as disfigured by fable as that which treats of the first ; and it would be of no use to seek in it any exact coincidences with the narratives of Xenophon and Herodotus. The Dejoces of the latter historian was, like Kai Koobad, chosen king on account of his justice and wisdom, at a time when Persia was involved in misery and anarchy. We find also another resemblance between Dejoces and Kai Koobad. Kai K'ohad is called Arch by some Mohammedan authors, and Dejoces is called Arcaces by Ctesias. Herodotus informs us that Dejoces had for his successor a son named Phraortes, and it is to this Median prince that he ascribes the conquest of Persia. Firdousi makes
no mention of this monarch; he probably confounds his reign with that of his father. Nevertheless, a Mohammedan author mentions this second Phraortes, and he states that Kai K'aous was the son of Aphra and grandson of Kai K'ohad. It would appear, moreover, that the history of Kai K'aous, as given by Firdousi, is at one and the same time that of Cyaxares and Astyages. The blindness of Kai K'aows and his army is probably nothing else but the total eclipse of the sun, which took place between Cyaxares and the Lydians, and which had been predicted to the Ionians by Thales. The expedition against Hamawer appears to coincide with the siege of Nineveh mentioned by the Greek writers; and these same writers also agree with Firdousi, when they make the operations of the siege to have been broken off by an invasion of the Scythians. The statement also, made by Herodotus, respecting the marriage of Astyages with the daughter of the Lydian monarch, agrees with that of the Persian author, who informs us of the marriage of Kai Khosrou with Sendabeh. With regard to Kai Khosrou, or simply Khosrou, it appears evident that he was the same with the Cyrus of the Greek writers. Khosrou, however, according to Firdousi, was not the grandson of the schah of Persia, but of Afrasiab, king of Touran, and the scene of the history of his youth is laid entirely in this latter country. After Kai Khosrou, the narrative of the Mohammedan writers begins to differ totally from that of the Greeks. Down to the time of Alexander, there are only two points of resemblance between the two statements: the first is the name of Gouchtasp, who is the Darius Hystaspis of the Greeks; and the other, that of Ardecheer Dirazdest (Artaxerxes Longimanus), given to Bahmen of the Schah-nameh by Mirkhond. (Klaproth, Tableaux Historiques de l'Asie, &c., p. 5, seqq.)
3. Later history of Persia.
The accession of Darius Hystaspis is fixed by chronologists in the year 521 B.C.; and in his reign, supposing him to be the same with Gouchtasp, all authorities seem to agree that the famous Zerdusht, the Zoroaster of the western writers, succeeded in establishing his new religion. The reign of Gouchtasp is extended by the Persian historians over sixty years, that of Xerxes, his son and successor, being wholly passed over; but Isfundeer, who is supposed by Sir John Malcolm to be the same as Xerxes, is made the hero of his reign. His chivalrous achievements are rivalled only by those of the illustrious Roustem, who is again brought on the scene, and Isfundeer is slain by him in an unjust war, in which he had reluctantly engaged, at the command of his wicked father, with the king of Segistan. It is from the Western historians only that we learn anything of the leading events of the reign of Darius Hystaspis. In like manner, all the great events of the history of Xerxes, which form the most brilliant page in the history of Greece, are passed over in silence in the Persian annals. The assassination of Xerxes, by his relative Artabanus, took place B.C. 461, in the twenty-first year of his reign. He was succeeded by his third son, Artaxerxes Longimanus, the Bahmen or Ardecheer Dirazdest of the Persian annals, and the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. Something like a disguised or confused account of these transactions is found in the pages of Firdousi. After Issundeer had subdued all the foreign enemies of his father Gouchtasp, he is sent to reduce to obedience the Ki:g of Segistan, who had thrown off his allegiance. In this expedition he is represented as engaging with the greatest reluctance, and he meets his death from the hand of Roustem, to whom, nevertheless, the dying hero commits his son, Bahmen, entreating him to educate him as a warrior. That son, however, on ascending the throne
soon became jealous of Roustem, and, having invaded with his family, on the pretext of avenging the blood of his father. The general facts, that Roustem, a powerful chies, slew Isfundeer, yet protected his son; that a civil contest attended the accession of Ardecheer: and that it terminated in the massacre of Roustem and his family, so far accord with what the Greek historians state respecting the character and fate of Artabanus, as to leave little doubt that both stories relate to the same personages. Of the identity of Ardecheer with Artaxerxes Makpółetp or Longimanus, there can be no doubt. His surname, Darazdest (“Long arms”) is a full proof of this. The author of the Tarikh Tabree states, that under this monarch, to whom he erroneously ascribes the overthrow of Belshazzar, the Jews had the privilege granted them of being governed by a ruler of their own nation; and the favours they experienced, it is added, were owing to the express orders of Bahmen, whose favourite lady was of the Jewish nation. Josephus expressly affirms, that Artaxerxes Longimanus was the husband of Esther; and the extraordinary favour which he showed to the Jews strengthens this testimony. He would seem, indeed, to have been the first monarch of Persia who, strictly speaking, by the subjugation of Segistan, “reigned from India even to Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty seven provinces.” Persian so assign to this great monarch a reign of a hundred and twelve years, but the Greek writers limit it to forty, and his death is fixed in the year B.C. 424. He was succeeded, according to the Persian annals, by his daughter Homai, who, after a reign of thirty-two years, resigned the crown to her son, Darab I, the Darius Nothus of the Greeks. It is natural that no notice should be taken of the ephemeral reigns of Xerxes II. and Sogdianus, which together occupied only eight months; and in Ptolemy's canon, Darius Nothus is made the immediate successor of Artaxerxes Longimanus, his reign extending from 424 B.C. to 405. Homai appears to be the Parysatis whom the Greek writers make to be the queen of her half-brother Darius, and to whom they attribute a very prominent part in the transactions of his reign. Her son Arsaces is stated to have succeeded to the throne under the title of Artaxerxes, to which the Greeks added the surname of Mnemon, on account of his extraordinary memory. No sovereign, however, besides Longimanus or Dirazdest, is ever noticed by Oriental writers under the name of Ardecheer; it is therefore highly probable, that Mnemon is the Darab I. of the Persian annals, and that he succeeded his mother Homai or Parysatis, who might reign conjointly with Darius Nothus, whether as her husband or her son. The banishment of Queen Parysatis to Babylon, in the reign of her son Artaxerxes, may answer to the abdication of Queen Homai. This is a most obscure epoch in the native annals. The Egyptian war which broke out in the reign of Darius Nothus, the revolt of the Medes, and the part taken by Persia in the Peloponnesian war, are not referred to... Even the name of the younger Cyrus is not noticed by any of the Oriental writers, nor is the slightest allusion made to the celebrated expedition which has given immortality to its commander. The pages of Herodotus, Thucydides. and Xenophon leave little room, however, for regret that these events have not found an Oriental historian. With respect to the second Darab of the Persians, who is made the immediate successor of the first, his identity with the Darius Codomanus of the Greeks is completely established by the conquest of Persia during his reign by Alexander of Macedon. The intermediate reigns of Artaxerxes Ochus, the most barbarous and abandoned monarch of his race, and of his son Arses, both of whom were assassinated, appear to be passed over, or to be included in that of Darab I. The reign of this Darab is distinguished in the native annals by the
and subdued his hereditary province, put him to death breaking out of a war with Philippous of Roum (Ma
cedon), which, though at first unsuccessful, is stated to have terminated gloriously for the Persians; and Philip was glad to make peace, on the terms of giving his daughter to Darab, and becoming his tributary. This daughter is fabled to have been the mother of the Macedonian conqueror. Darab I. built Darabjird, a city about 150 miles east of Shiraz. (Malcolm, vol. I, p. 69.)—The character of Ochus seems, however, to have been transferred by the Persians to the unfortunate and noble-minded Darius, who is alleged to have been deformed in body and depraved in mind; as if, Sir John Malcolm remarks, “to reconcile the vanity of the nation to the tale of its subjugation.” It is nevertheless true, that the crimes of their monarchs, the mal-administration into which the affairs of the government had fallen, the assassinations and massacres occasioned by the repeated disputes for the succession, and the slender bond which held together the various provinces of so gigantic an empire, had prepared the way for its easy dissolution. The traditions which the Eastern writers have preserved of the Macedonian hero (whom they call Secunder and Iskandeer) are very imperfect; and upon a few historical facts, they have reared a superstructure of the most extravagant sable. They agree, however, with the Greek writers in most of the leading facts; such as the invasion of Persia, the defeat and subsequent death of Darius, the generosity of the conqueror, and the strong impression which his noble and humane conduct made upon his dying enemy. They allude, too, to the alliance which Alexander established with Taxilis or Omphis, to his battle with Porus, and his expedition against the Scythians; but the circumstances in which these events are disguised are for the most part fabulous. “His great name,” says Sir John Malcolm, “has been considered sufficient to obtain credit for every story that imagination could invent; but this exaggeration is almost all praise. The Secunder of the Persian page is a model of every virtue and of every great quality that can elevate a human being above his species; while his power and magnificence are always represented as far beyond what has ever been attained by any other monarch in the world.” The quarrel between the two monarchs originated, accord ing to the author of the Zeenut-ul-Tuarikh, in Alexander's refusing to pay the tribute of golden eggs to which his father had agreed, returning the laconic answer by the Persian envoy, that “the bird that laid the eggs had flown to the other world.” Upon this, another ambassador was despatched to the court of the Macedonian, bearing the present of a bat and a ball, in ridicule of Alexander's youth, and a bag of very small seed, called gunjud, as an emblem of the innumerable army with which he was threatened. Alexander, taking the bat and ball in his hand, compared the one to his own power, and the other to the Persian's dominions; and the fate which would await the invaders was intimated by giving the grain to a fowl. In return. he sent the Persian monarch the significant present of a bitter melon. (Modern Traveller, pt. 37, p. 64, seqq.)—The native writers, as has been said, make Alexander to have been the son of Darius and a daughter of Philip of Macedon and they add that Darius sent his wife home to her father, on account of her offensive breath; from which circumstance the war between the two monarchs arose ! (Klaproth, Asia Polyglotta, p. 3.) The Persian writers give no detailed account of the operations of Alexander in Persia, erroneously stating that Darius was killed in the first action.
the niention of which falls naturally under the present article, from the circumstance of the Parthians being designated as Persians by many of the Roman writers, particularly the poets, although they were, in fact, of Scythian rather than Persian origin.—Seleucus was succeeded in his Asiatic empire by his son Antiochus Soter, who reigned nineteen years, and left his throne to his son Antiochus Theos. In his reign (B.C. 250) a man of obscure origin, whom some, however, make to have been a tributary prince or chies, and the native writers a descendant of one of the former kings of Persia, slew the viceroy of Parthia, and raised the standard of revolt. His name was Ashk, or Arsaces, as the Western historians write it. After having slain the viceroy, he fixed his residence at Rhé, where he invited all the chiefs of provinces to join him in a war against the Seleucidae: promising at the same time to exact from them no tribute, and to deem himself only the head of a confederacy of princes, having for their common object to maintain their separate independence, and to free Persia from a foreign yoke. Such was the commencement of that era of Persian history which is termed by the Oriental writers the Moulouk ul Towąelf, or commonwealth of tribes, and which extends over nearly five centuries. Pliny states that the Parthian (meaning the Persian) empire was divided into eighteen kingdoms. The accounts of this period given by Persian writers are vague and contradictory. “They have evidently,” Sir John Malcolm remarks, “no materials to form an authentic narrative ; and it is too near the date at which their real history commences to admit of their indulging in fable. Their pretended history of the Ashkanians and Ashganians is, consequently, little more than a mere catalogue of names; and even respecting these, and the dates they assign to the different princes, hardly two authors are agreed. Ashk the First is said to have reigned fifteen years: Khondemir allows him only ten. Some authors ascribe the defeat and capture of Seleucus Cal. linicus, king of Syria, to this monarch; and others to his son, Ashk II. The latter prince was succeeded by his brother Shahpoor (or Sapor), who, after a long contest with Antiochus the Great, in which he experienced several reverses, concluded a treaty of peace with that monarch, by which his right to Parthia and Hyrcania was recognised. From the death of this prince there appears to be a lapse of two centuries in the Persian annals; for they inform us that his successor was Baharam Gudurz; and if this is the prince whom the Western writers term Gutarzes, as there is every reason to conclude it is, we know from authentic history that he was the third prince of the second dynasty of the Arsacidae.—From the death of Alexan. der till the reign of Artaxerxes (Ardecheer Babigan) is nearly five centuries; and the whole of that remarkable era may be termed a blank in Eastern history. And yet, when we refer to the pages of Roman writers, we find this period abounds with events of which the
vainest nation might be proud, and that Parthian mon
archs, whose names cannot now be discovered in the history of their own country, were the only sovereigns upon whom the Roman army, when that nation was in the very zenith of its power, could make no impression. But this, no doubt, may be attributed to other causes than the skill and valour of the Persians. It was to the nature of their country, and their singular mode of warfare, that they owed those frequent advantages which they gained over the disciplined legions of Rome. The frontier which the kingdom of Parthia presented to the Itoman empire extended from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. It consists of lofty and barren mountains, of rapid and broad streams, and of wide-spreading deserts. In whatever direction the legions of Rome advanced, the country was laid waste. The war was made, not against the army, but the supplies by which it was supported; and the mode in
which the Parthian warrior took his unerring ain, while his horse was carrying him from his enemy, may be viewed as a personification of the system of warfare by which his nation, during this era of its history, maintained its independence. The system was suited to the soil, to the man, and to the fleet and robust animal on which he was mounted; and its success was so certain, that the bravest veterans of Rome murmured when their leaders talked of a Parthian war.” (Malcolm, vol. 1, p. 84, seqq.)—The blank which occurs in the native annals may be accounted for, Sir John Malcolm thinks, by the neglect into which the rites of Zoroaster fell during the dynasty of the Arsacidae, and the decay of letters consequent upon the depression of the priesthood. In that nation, as in others similarly circumstanced, the literati and the priesthood were synonymous terms; and as the priests alone cultivated letters, so they would be prompted to avenge themselves on the enemies of their faith and order by consigning their race, so far as they had the power, to oblivion. The Arsacidae, Gibbon affirms (but without citing his authority), “practised, indeed, the worship of the magi, but they disgraced and polluted it with a various mixture of foreign idolatry.”—According to the Western historians, it was under Mithradates I., the fourth in descent and the fifth in succession of the Arsacidae, that the Parthian power was raised to its highest pitch of greatness. That monarch, o subdued the Medes, the Elymeans, the Persians, an
the Bactrians, extended his dominions to the Indus, and, having vanquished Demetrius, king of Syria, finally secured Babylonia and Mesopotamia also to his empire. (Prideaux, vol. 2, p. 404)—Justin states that this monarch, having conquered several nations, gathered from every one of thein whatsoever he sound best in its constitution, and from the whole collection framed a body of most wholesome laws for the government of his empire. If one half of this be true, what is history, that it should have preserved no more minute record of such a sovereign l—The remainder of the history of Parthia will be found under that article.
5. Dynasty of the Sassanidae.
Artaxerxes is said to have sprung from the illegitimate commerce of a tanner's wife with a common soldier. The tanner's name was Babec, the soldier's Sassan ; from the former Artaxerxes obtained the surname of Babigan (son of Babec), from the latter all his descendants have been styled Sassanidae. (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. 8.)—The flattery of his adherents, however, represents him as descended from a branch of the ancient kings of Persia, though time and misfortune had gradually reduced his ancestors to the humble station of private citizens. (D'Herbclot, Bibl. Orient., Ardecheer.)—The establishment of the dynasty of the Sassanidae took place in the fourth year of the Emperor Severus, 226 years after the Christian era. One of the first acts of the new monarch was the re-establishment of the magi and of the creed of Zoroaster. A reign of fourteen years ensued, which formed a memorable era in the history of the East, and even in that of Rome. Having, aster various alternations of victory and defeat, established his authority on a basis which even the Roman power could not shake, he left behind him a character marked by those bold and commanding features that generally distinguish the princes who conquer from those who inherit an empire. Till the last period of the Persian monarchy, his code of laws was respected as the groundwork of their civil and religious policy. Artaxerxes bequeathed his new empire, and his ambitious designs against the Romans, to Sapor, a son not unworthy of his great father; but those designs were too extensive for the power of Persia, and served only to involve both nations in a long series of destructive wars and
reciprocal calamities. (Gibbon, c. 8.)—The subsequent history of the dynasty of the Sassanidae will be found detailed in part under the articles Sapor, Chosroes, &c.
6. Remarks on the Constitution of the Persian Empire in the time of Darius.
Cyrus and Cambyses had conquered nations: Darius was the true founder of the Persian state. The dominions of his predecessors were a mass of countries only united by their subjection to the will of a common ruler, which expressed itself by arbitrary and irregular exactions. Darius first organized then into an empire, where every member felt its place and knew its functions. His realin stretched from the AEgean to the Indus, from the steppes of Scythia to the cataracts of the Nile. He divided this vast tract into 20 satrapies or provinces, and appointed the tribute which each was to pay to the royal treasury, and the proportion in which they were to supply provisions for the ariny and for the king's household. A high road, on which distances were regularly marked, and spacious buildings were placed at convenient intervals to receive all who travelled in the king's name, connected the western coast with the seat of government: along this road, couriers trained to extraordinary speed successively transmitted the king's messages. The satraps were accountable for the imposts of their several provinces, and were furnished with forces sufficient to carry the king's pleasure into effect.—Compared with the rude government of his predecessors, the institutions of Darius were wise and vigorous; in themselves, however, unless they are considered as foundations laid for a structure that was never raised, as outlines that were never filled up, they were weak and barbarous. He had done little more than cast a bridge across the chaos over which he ruled : he had introduced no real uniformity or subordination among its elements. The distribution of the provinces, indeed, may have been grounded on relations which we do not perceive, and may, therefore, have been less capricious than it seems. But it answered scarcely any higher end than that of conveying the wealth of Asia into the royal treasury, and the satraps, when they were most faithful and assiduous in their office, were really nothing more than farmers of the revenue. Their administration was only felt in the burdens they imposed: in every other respect the nations they governed retained their peculiar laws and constitution. The Persian empire included in it the dominions of several vassal kings, and the seats of fierce, independent hordes, who preyed on its more peaceful subjects with impunity. In this, however, there was much good and comparatively little mischief. The variety of institutions comprehended within the frame of the monarchy, though they were suffered to stand, not from any enlarged policy, but because it would have been difficult or dangerous to remove them, and there was nothing better to substitute for them, did not impair, but rather increased its strength; and the independence of a few wild tribes was more a symptom than a cause of weakness. The worst evil arose from the constitution of the satrapies themselves. The provinces were taxed not only for the supply of the royal army and household, but also for the support of their governors, each of whom had a standing force in his pay, and of whom some kept up a court rivalling in magnificence that of the king himself. The province of Babylon, besides its regular tribute and the fixed revenue of its satrap, which was equal to that of a modern European prince of the first rank, defrayed the cost of a stud and a hunting equipage for his private use, such as no European prince was ever able to maintain. Four large villages were charged with the nourishment of his Indian dogs, and exempted from all other taxes. It must, however, be observed, that when an extraordinary bur
den was thus laid on a particular district, the rest of the province was not relieved, but the more heavily loaded. When the king granted the revenues of whole cities to a wise or a favourite, he did not give up any portion of his own dues; and the discharge of all these stated exactions did not secure his subjects from the arbitrary demands of the satraps and their officers. If the people suffered from the establishment of these mighty viceroys, their greatness was not less injurious to the strength of the state and the power of the sovereign. As the whole authority, civil and military, in each province was lodged in the hands of the satrap, he could wield it at his pleasure without any check from within ; and if he were unwilling to resign it, it was not always easy to wrest it from him. The greater his distance from the court, the nearer he approached to the condition of an independent and absolute prince. He was seldom, indeed, tempted to throw off his nominal allegiance, which he found more useful than burdensome, or to withhold the tribute which he had only the task of collecting ; but he might often safely refuse any other services, and desy or elude the king's commands with impunity: and least of all was he subject to control in any acts of rapacity or oppression committed in his legitimate government. Xenophon, indeed, in his romance, represents the founder of the monarchy as having provided against this evil by a wise division of power. (Cyrop., 8, 6.)—Cyrus is there said to have appointed that the commanders of the fortresses and of the regular troops in each province should be independent of the satrap, and should receive their orders immediately from court; and a modern author finds traces of this system in the narrative of Herodotus himself. (Heeren, Ideen, vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 403.)—But it seems clear, that if the conqueror designed to establish such a balance of power, it was neglected by his successors, and that the satraps engrossed every branch of authority within their respective governments. Thus the huge frame of the Persian empire was disjointed and unwieldy; and the spirit that pervaded it was as feeble as its organization was imperfect. The Persians, when they overthrew the Medes, adopted their laws, religion, and manners; their own, though they may have resembled them in their principal features, were certainly more simple, and better fitted to a conquering people. The religion of the two nations was probably derived from a coinmon source; but before the Persian conquest it appears to have undergone an important change in the reformation ascribed to Zoroaster. In what points his doctrine may have differed from those of the preceding period is an obscure question ; but it sceins certain that the code of sacred laws which he introduced, founded, or at least enlarged, the authority and influence of the Magian caste. Its members became the keepers and expounders of the holy books, the teachers and counsellors of the king, the oracles from whom he learned the divine will and the secrets of futurity, the mediators who obtained for him the favour of heaven, or propitiated its anger. How soon the tenets of their theology may have been introduced into Persia, is not clear : but, as they were a Median tribe, it is only with the union of the two nations under Cyrus that they can have begun to occupy the station which we find them filling at the Persian court. If the religion of Zoroaster was originally pure and sublime, it speedily degenerated, and allied itself to many very gross and hideous forms of superstition: and if we were to judge of its tendency by the practice of its votaries, we should be led to think of it more harshly or more lightly than it may probably have deserved. The court manners were equally marked by luxury and cruelty: by luxury refined till it had killed all natural enjoyment, and by cruelty carried to the most loathsome excesses that perverted ingenuity could suggest. It is above all the atrocious ** WOillen