Jacob Abbott. Darius the Great
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Makers of History
Darius the Great
NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER &BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and fifty, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.
Copyright, 1878, by JACOB ABBOTT.
[Illustration: DARIUS CROSSING THE BOSPORUS.]
In describing the character and the action of the personages whose histories form the subjects of this series, the writer makes no attempt to darken the colors in which he depicts their deeds of violence and wrong, or to increase, by indignant denunciations, the obloquy which heroes 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 others, 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 denunciations are seldom found. The story of Absalom'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, impartial, and forbearing spirit, which leads us to condemn the sins, but not to feel a pharisaical resentment and wrath against the sinner.
This example, so obviously proper and right, the writer of this series has made it his endeavor in all respects to follow.
MAP OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE.
DARIUS CROSSING THE BOSPORUS
THE ARMY OF CAMBYSES OVERWHELMED IN THE DESERT 35
PHÆDYMA 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
[Illustration: MAP OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE.]
DARIUS THE GREAT
CHAPTER I. CAMBYSES.
Cyrus the Great.-His extended conquests.-Cambyses and Smerdis.-Hystaspes and Darius.-Dream of Cyrus.-His anxiety and fears.-Accession of Cambyses.-War with Egypt.-Origin of the war with Egypt.-Ophthalmia.-The Egyptian physician.-His plan of revenge.-Demand of Cyrus.-Stratagem of the King of Egypt.-Resentment of Cassandane.-Threats of Cambyses.-Future conquests.-Temperament and character of Cambyses.-Impetuosity of Cambyses.-Preparations for the Egyptian war.-Desertion of Phanes.-His narrow escape.-Information given by Phanes.-Treaty with the Arabian king.-Plan for providing water.-Account of Herodotus.-A great battle.-Defeat of the Egyptians.-Inhuman conduct of Cambyses.-His treatment of Psammenitus.-The train of captive maidens.-The young men.-Scenes of distress and suffering.-Composure of Psammenitus.-Feelings of the father.-His explanation of them.-Cambyses relents.-His treatment of the body of Amasis.-Cambyses's desecrations.-The sacred bull Apis.-Cambyses stabs the sacred bull.-His mad expeditions.-The sand storm.-Cambyses a wine-bibber.-Brutal act of Cambyses.-He is deemed insane.
About 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 annexed to his dominion all the civilized states of Asia. In the latter part of his life, he conceived 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 expedition, all of which are fully detailed in our history of Cyrus. There is, however, only one occurrence that it is necessary to allude to particularly here. That one relates to a remarkable dream which 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 sons. Their names were Cambyses and Smerdis. 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 the time when this narrative commences.
Cyrus, it seems, felt some misgivings in respect to the result of his enterprise; and, in order to insure the tranquillity of his empire during his absence, and the secure transmission of his power to his rightful successor in case he should never return, he established his son Cambyses 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 naturally 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 momentous 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 reflected on this ominous dream, it seemed to him to portend some great danger to the future 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 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 received 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 destination.
Cyrus never returned. He was killed in battle; 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 Cyrus 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 following 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 inhabitants themselves have at all times been very subject to this disease, and foreign armies marching into the country are always very seriously 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, generally, the best physicians for that disease. At any rate, this was supposed to be the case in ancient times; and accordingly, when any powerful potentate in those days was afflicted himself with ophthalmia, or had such a case in his family, Egypt was the country to send to for a physician.
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 attendants about his court, and ordered him to repair to Persia. The physician was extremely reluctant to go. He had a wife and family, from whom he was very unwilling to be separated; but the orders were imperative, and he must obey. He set out on the journey, therefore, but he secretly resolved to devise some mode of revenging himself on the king for the cruelty of sending him.
He was well received ...