Puslapio vaizdai

the empire, B.C. 536. The Persian empire now extended from the river Indus to the shore of the Archipelago, and from, the Caspian and Euxine seas, to the seas of Arabia.

Cyrus, on coming to the throne, issued a decree for the restoration of the Jews; in consequence of which, that people assembled from various parts of his empire, to the number of 42,360, exclusive of servants, amounting to 7,337, making a total of nearly 50,000 persons, and proceeded to Jerusalem. The first care of these restored captives was, to rebuild the city and temple of Jerusalem. The jealousy of the surrounding nations, especially the Samaritans, greatly retarded their operations. They could not openly oppose them, because Cyrus was avowedly their friend, and Daniel was at the seat of government to protect them. But, from the distance of the capital, these nations had it in their power to throw many obstacles in their way. Soon after this, Daniel died, at the age of 90 years; Cyrus also, soon afterwards died, in the 7th year from the restoration, and 70th of his age. He is one of the greatest men of antiquity, not in regard of his extensive conquests; but in regard to the nobleness of his character. There is, indeed some ground to hope, that he was a convert from heathenism to the worship of the true God; and the peaceful and beneficent character of the latter part of his reign, gives additional countenance to this opinion. On the death of Cyrus,

Cambyses, his son, succeeded to the empire, a weak and profligate prince. Early in his reign, he invaded and obtained possession of Egypt, which had formerly been subdued by Nebuchadnezzar. He had a brother named Smerdis, whom, in a fit of jealousy, he caused to be killed. But, while he was absent in Egypt, a pretender to the throne appeared, who personated Smerdis, the brother of Cambyses. Cambyses marched from Egypt against him; but on mounting his horse, his own sword fell from its scabbard and wounded him on the thigh, of which wound he died.

Smerdis, the usurper, who is usually called Smerdis the magian, because he belonged to the priesthood,

which, in Persia, was called the Magi, reigned for a short time, till being detected and exposed, by a lady of high rank, whom he had married, seven of the nobles conspired against him, and slew him. The family of Cyrus being now extinct, these nobles agreed that one of themselves should be elevated to the throne. To determine which it should be, they agreed that he whose horse on a certain day should first neigh, after the rising of the sun should be king. This seems to have been an act of adoration to the sun, which the Persians worshipped. The horse of Darius, the son of Hystaspes, one of the generals who had served under Cyrus, having first neighed, he was immediately elected king, and is known by the name of

Darius Hystaspes, and is carefully to be distinguished from Darius the Median, and also from two other princes of the name Darius, who afterwards attained to the empire. During the reign of Cambyses, and Smerdis the magian, the enemies of the Jews contrived to prevent them from proceeding with the temple, having poisoned the minds of these princes against them. But on the accession of Darius, he, having married two of the daughters of Cyrus, and affecting to reign as his successor, was disposed to fulfil all his intentions. He, therefore, issued a new decree for the rebuilding of the city and temple of Jerusalem; and, in the 6th year of his reign, the second temple was finished, and dedicated, exactly 70 years after it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.


In the 5th year of Darius, Babylon revolted, and was besieged by him. As in the former siege by Cyrus, he was constrained to attempt to reduce it by famine and at length became master of it by the devotedness of one of his officers. This person having cut and maimed himself, fled to Babylon, pretending that he had been so treated by Darius. He thus obtained the confidence of the Babylonians, and found an opportunity of betraying the city to Darius. Darius then began to think of extending his empire towards the west. He already possessed Egypt on the south, and Asia Minor on the north of the Mediterranean; but he

proposed to himself an expedition against the Scythians, who inhabited the country between the Danube and the Don, under pretence of avenging the Scythian invasion of Media, 120 years before. He accordingly crossed the Hellespont by a bridge of boats, marched through Thrace, and crossed the Danube by another bridge of boats. The Scythians retreated before him, till, finding no sustenance for his troops, he was compelled to return, having lost one half of his army. He then purposed to extend his empire eastward. In this he succeeded better, and laid India, or at least that part of it which borders on the Indus, under tribute.

In the 18th year of his reign commenced the war between the Persians and Greeks, which brought so many calamities on both nations. A sedition, in some of the Greek Islands, of the people against their governors, led to an application to the Persian governor of Asia, from one of the parties, for assistance. This was granted, and that interference led to a hostile expedition into the Persian province of Asia Minor, the capital of which was Sardis, in which the Athenians took part. The Greeks proceeded to Sardis, which they plundered and burnt; but were compelled to retreat, and were defeated before they could reach their ships. Darius could never forget this insult on the part of Athens, and determined on an invasion of Greece. He sent an army across the Hellespont, round by Macedonia, a fleet being appointed to follow and cooperate with it. The fleet, in doubling the Cape of Mount Athos, was overtaken by a storm, and totally disabled, having lost 300 ships and 20,000 men; and the army having encamped without sufficient precaution, was attacked by the Thracians, and so roughly handled, that it was forced to return to Asia. Darius, however, was not to be diverted from his project of revenge, but fitted out another army. This he sent directly across the Archipelago to Attica. There it was met on the plain of Marathon by a small army of Athenians, under Miltiades, and totally defeated. The remains of the army escaped to the ships, and returned to Asia. Still determined upon his scheme of revenge, Darius

fitted out another army, which he determined to lead in his own person; but being now an old man, he first took the precaution of settling the succession. Having done this, he died, in the 36th year of his reign, leaving his dominions, but leaving also his quarrel with the Greeks, to his son Xerxes, B. C. 486. During the reign of Darius, Ezra, the Jewish scribe, was born; but his public operations belong to a subsequent reign.

The conclusion of the reign of Darius Hystaspes brings the Persian history down to the end of the 7th period of 500 years from the creation. We now, therefore, pause, and take a brief view of the other nations of the world during the same period.

EGYPT having fallen under the dominion of the Babylonian empire, and soon after under that of Persia, from this time held the rank only of a tributary state. All the countries round Palestine were in the same circumstances.

GREECE. It has been already mentioned, that, so far back as 884 B.C. while Athalia reigned in Judah, Lycurgus had settled the constitution of Lacedæmon, as a monarchy, with great powers conferred on the aristocracy.

Athens was then governed by Archons, a kind of hereditary magistrates. These, about 754 B.C. while Jotham, son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, about the time of the building of the city of Rome, were exchanged for elective Archons, who enjoyed this office only 10 years. After about 60 years' experience of this mode of government, a further change was made, and the government placed in the hands of nine Archons, who were elected annually.

But although the legislative authority was nominally in the hands of the people, the executive was in the hands of the nobles. This gave rise to continual contests between ruling families. Some remedy was required, and Draco was called to form a code of laws, 624 B.C. His laws were so absurdly severe and sanguinary, that they could not be executed. A further

time of confusion ensued, when Solon was invited to reform the constitution. He executed his task with great success, and constructed a code of laws, which forms the basis of the laws now existing in most of the kingdoms of Europe. The Romans founded their laws upon those of Solon; and, through the Romans, they have been diffused over the civilized world. Solon flourished 594 B.C. when Zedekiah was king of Judah, tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, and about the time of the birth of Cyrus, afterwards king of Persia.

The constitution of Sparta was highly aristocratical; that of Athens was continually becoming more democratical. In nearly all the Greek republics, there was a perpetual struggle between the nobles and the people, the former looking to Lacedæmon as their protector, the latter to Athens. Athens itself was agitated by similar conflicts between the nobles and the people. In the course of these struggles, Peisistratus, a popular leader, seized the Acropolis, and reigned over the city as a king, for 33 years, although his reign was twice interrupted. He was succeeded by his sons Hipparchus and Hippias; but they becoming tyrannical, first one was killed, and then the other was forced to retire from the city. He fled to Darius Hystaspes, who now reigned in Persia. After the expulsion of Hippias, the old disputes between the aristocracy and democracy_were renewed. Isagoras was banished, and applied to Sparta for aid, which readily granted it. The Athenians were thus threatened with a war with Sparta, and applied to Persia for help; but they received a haughty reply, requiring them to subject themselves to Darius. In the mean while, Hippias had prevailed on the Persian governor of Asia Minor to espouse his cause, and to insist on his being reinstated in the government of Athens. This the Athenians peremptorily refused to comply with, and thenceforward regarded themselves as at war with Persia.

Soon after this, Darius sent heralds into Greece, demanding earth and water, as tokens of subjection; which demand was indignantly rejected by Sparta and Athens. While matters were in this precarious state

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