The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


Inferring that Dareius had formed a conspiracy against him, Cyrus sent back liystaspes into Persis to watch his son. (Herod, i. 209,210.) Dareius attended Cambyses to Egypt as one of his body­guard. (Herod, iii. 139; syloson.) After the detection of the imposture of the Magian, Dareius went to Susa just at the time when the conspiracy against the usurper was formed, and he was asso­ciated with the six other conspirators, who, by his advice, resolved to act without delay. [smerdis.] The discussions among the Persian chiefs, which ensued upon the death of the Magian, ended in favour of the monarchical form of government, which was advocated by Dareius, and Dareius himself was chosen to the kingdom by a sign, which had been agreed on by the conspirators, and which Dareius, with the aid of his groom Oebares, contrived to obtain for himself, b. c. 521. This ac­count, instead of being a fiction, is quite in ac­cordance with the spirit of the Persian religion. (Heeren's Asiatic Researches, ii. p. 350; comp. Tac. Germ. 10.)

The usurpation of Smerdis seems to have been an attempt on the part of the Medes to regain their supremacy. The conspirators against him were noble Persians, and in all probability the chiefs of Persian tribes. Their discussion about the form of government to be adopted is evidently related by Herodotus according to Greek rather than Oriental notions. The proposition to share the supreme power among themselves seems to be what Herodotus means by an aristocracy, and this scheme may be traced in the privileges for which the conspirators afterwards stipulated with Dareius. but it is very difficult to conceive in what sense a democracy could have been proposed. At all events, the accession of Dareius confirmed both the supremacy of the Persians, and the monarchical form of government. The other conspirators stipu­lated for free admission to the king at all times, with one exception, and for the selection of his wives from their families. A dispute soon arose respecting the exercise of the former privilege be­tween the royal servants and Intaphernes, one of the seven; and Dareius, thinking, from the con­duct of Intapbernes, that a conspiracy had beea formed against himself, put him to death with all Jtis male relations except two. (Herod, iii. 118, 119.) He henceforth enjoyed undisputed posses­sion of his throne; but we find the seven em­ployed in distant governments and expeditions.

It was in the reign of Dareius that the consoli­dation of the Persian empire was effected, so far at least as it ever was; for in truth it never possessed a sure principle of cohesion. Cyrus and Cambyses had been engaged in continual wars, and their conquests had added to the Persian empire the Avhole of Asia (up to India and Scythia), except Arabia. (Herod, iii. 88.) After strengthening himself bv alliances with the royal house, from

*j *'

which he took three wives, namely, the two daugh­ters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystone, and Parmys, the daughter of Cyrus's son Smerdis, and with the chief of the seven, Otanes, whose daughter Phae-dime he married, and after erecting a monument to celebrate his acquisition of the kingdom, he be­gan to set in order the affairs of his vast empire, which he divided into twenty satrapies, assigning to each its amount of tribute. Persis proper was exempted from all taxes, except those which it had formerly been used to pay. From the attention



which he paid to his revenues, and from his love of money, Dareius was called by the Persians koltt^os. (iii. 89, 117.) A detailed account of his satrapies and revenues is given by Herodotus, (iii. 90, &c.) His ordinary residence was at Susa, which he greatly improved. (Aelian, N.A. i. 59 ; Plin. H. N. vi. 27. s. 31.)

The seven months of the reign of Smerdis had produced much confusion throughout the whole empire. His remission of all taxes for three years, if it be true, must have caused Dareius some trouble in reimposing them. It cannot be doubted that the governors of the provinces would seize the opportunity to assume a sort of independence. We have an example in the conduct of Oroetas, the governor of Sardis, who, in addition to his cruel and treacherous murder of Polycrates and other acts of tyranny, put to death a noble Persian, Mitrobates, the governor of Dascylium in Bithynia, with his son, and killed a royal messenger whom Dareius sent to rebuke him. Dareius was pre­vented from marching against Oroetas in person, on account of his recent accession to the throne and the power of the offender; but one of his courtiers, named Bagaeus, effected the death of Oroetas by gaining over his body-guard of 1000 Persians. In consequence of this event the Greek physician Democedes fell into the hands of Dareius, and cured him of a sprained ankle, and was estab­lished at his court—a most important event in the history of the world, for Democedes used his in­fluence with Atossa to persuade Dareius to attack Greece. [democedes.] Dareius sent him, with fifteen noble Persians, to examine the coasts of Greece, of which they made a sort of map. De­mocedes escaped from his companions, who, after a great variety of adventures, got back safe to Dareius. (Herod, iii. 135—138.)

The great struggle between the despotism of Asia and the freedom of Europe was now be­ginning. The successive rulers of Western Asia had long desired to extend their dominion across the Aegean into Greece; but both Croesus and Cyrus had been prevented from making the at­tempt, the former by the growth of the Persian power, the latter by his Avars in Central Asia. Dareius, who already, as seen in the dream of Cyrus, overshadowed Asia with one wing, now began to spread the other over Europe. He attacked Samoa under the pretext of restoring syloson, but his further designs in that quarter were interrupted by the revolt of the Babylonians, who had profited by the period of confusion which followed the death of Cambyses to make every preparation for rebellion. After a siege of twenty months, Babylon was taken by a stratagem of zopyrus, and was severely punished for its revolt, probably about b.c. 516.

The reduction of Babylon was soon followed by Dareius's invasion of Scythia (about b.c. 513, or 508 according to Wesseling and Clinton). The cause of this expedition is very obscure. Herodo­tus (iv. 1, 83) attributes it to the desire of Dareius to take vengeance on the Scythians for their inva­sion of Media in the time of cyaxares,—far too remote a cause, though very probably used as a pretext. Ctesias says, that on the occasion of a predatory incursion into Scythia by the satrap of Cappadocia, the Scythian king had sent a letter of defiance to Dareius, and that this provoked him to the war. The only rational motives which can

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of