Puslapio vaizdai

issue, withdrew early from the field, and brought to Byzantium, where they re-crossed the Hellespont into


On the same day with the battle of Platea, the combined Greek fleet attacked and destroyed the Persian fleet at Mycale, a promontory on the coast of Asia. The Persian ships were drawn up on the shore, surrounded by a rampart, and defended by a land army: but the Greeks forced the rampart, and burned the ships. Thus ended the celebrated expedition of Xerxes against Greece; and in consequence of those victories, the Greeks were delivered from any further invasions from Persia, or the east.

Xerxes, on the defeat of his armies, retired from Asia, and took refuge in Susa, the Persian capital. There he gave himself up to the greatest licentiousness. In the meanwhile, the Greeks were prosecuting the war against him with vigour and success, and depriving him of his possessions. Cimon, the Athenian commander, in one day destroyed a fleet, said to be equal to that which had been destroyed at Salamis, and defeated an army equal to that which was defeated at Platea. At length Artabanes, the captain of his guard, formed a conspiracy against him, and put him to death. B.C. 465.

Artaxerxes, surnamed Longimanus, who is believed to have been the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther, succeeded him. He secured himself on the throne by putting to death Artabanes, and defeating his partizans. He then celebrated a great feast, on which occasion it was, that Vashti, the queen, was repudiated; and Esther, a Jewess, made queen in her stead. Towards the beginning of his reign, the Egyptians revolted from him, being aided by a fleet and army of Athenians. Artaxerxes sent an army against it; but it was defeated with great slaughter, and the remnant of it shut up and besieged in Memphis. Artaxerxes sent another army to raise the siege, in which he succeeded, having defeated the revolters.

In the 17th year of Artaxerxes and 458 B.C. Ezra, the Jewish priest and prophet, now in captivity, obtained,

probably through the interposition of Esther, an ample commission to return to Jerusalem, with as many Jews as chose to accompany him. Ezra immediately addressed himself to the work of bringing into order the little community over which he presided. He revived the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish church, according to the prescribed order; he settled and arranged the canon of Scripture, and transcribed the Old Testament from the old Hebrew character, which had fallen into disuse, into the present Hebrew, or Chaldee character. This did not change in any respect the words of Revelation. It was not a greater alteration than writing or printing the Bible in the present Roman character, instead of the black letter, which was in use when our present translation was made. He also arranged, or as some think, established the synagogue service. Whilst Ezra was engaged in these important works, Nehemiah was serving as cup-bearer to Artaxerxes; and intelligence having reached him, that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were still in ruins, he was deeply affected, and procured, probably through the influence of Esther also, liberty to repair to Jerusalem, and to do whatever was necessary for completing the defences of the city. He arrived about eleven years after Ezra. Having made considerable progress in restoring the city and polity of the Jews, he returned at the appointed time, to Persia; but almost immediately came back to Jerusalem a second time, when he found that abuses had again begun to appear. The sabbath was openly violated, and many of the leaders of the people had married heathen wives: and he set himself, with renewed vigour, to correct these abuses. While these important operations were in progress at Jerusalem, under the direction of Ezra and Nehemiah, the celebrated Peloponnesian war commenced between the Spartans and Athenians. Artaxerxes, although he was solicited by both parties for aid, seems to have declined taking either side. He sent an ambassador to Sparta ; but before his return, Artaxerxes himself had died, B.C. 424. On his death, the succession to the kingdom was contested. Xerxes, his son, mounted the throne, but

reigned only forty-five days, being murdered by his brother Sogdianus. Sogdianus attempted to get another of his brothers into his power, whose name was Ochus, whom his father had made governor of Hyrcania; but Ochus suspecting his brother's intention, raised an army, came against him, defeated and slew him, after he had reigned only six months and fifteen days. Thus he established himself on the throne, and took the name of Darius. He is that prince whom historians call

Darius Nothus. In his reign, Egypt revolted from Persia, and successfully defended itself during the life of Darius and the lives of some of his successors. In his reign also the temple of Samaria was built to rival that at Jerusalem, which increased the enmity between the two nations. Darius Nothus sent his son Cyrus as governor to Asia Minor, and he gave such assistance to the Lacedæmonians in their war with Athens, as enabled them to defeat the Athenian fleet, and to put an end to the war. Darius Nothus died about the time of the conclusion of the Peloponnesian war, B.C. 405.

Artaxerxes, surnamed by the Greeks, Mnemon, succeeded him; but Cyrus, his brother, who commanded in Asia Minor, instigated by an ambitious and unprincipled mother, laid a plot to wrest the empire from him. The plot was discovered, but by the influence of his mother, he was pardoned, and sent back to his government. But here again he employed the opportunity which he enjoyed of having intercourse with the Greeks, to form another conspiracy against his brother. He hired a mercenary Greek army, and with it, and such other troops as he could raise in Asia, he marched against Artaxerxes. The two brothers met with their armies, at Cunaxa, in the province of Babylon, where Cyrus was defeated and slain. The Greek troops had remained unbroken, and now had no resource but to attempt a retreat to their own country, in the face of a victorious enemy. Their general, Clearchus, fell by treachery into the hands of the Persians, and was slain and the command devolved on the celebrated Xenophon, whose history of the retreat of the 10,000

Greeks to the shores of the Euxine, and thence to Greece, is one of the most instructive and interesting military histories extant.

A new war breaking out with Sparta, which since the conclusion of the Peloponnessian war, had ruled Greece with a rod of iron, the Spartans invaded Asia Minor, and the Persian forces being unable to arrest their progress, Conon, an Athenian exile, advised Artaxerxes to place a fleet at his disposal. This advice was adopted, and Conon, having organized a powerful conspiracy against the Spartans, came up with their fleet at Cnidus, and totally defeated it. He then obtained liberty to repair to Athens, and restore the fortifications of the city, which soon became as formidable as ever. The Spartans were thus reduced to the necessity of making peace with the Persians.

The latter years of the life of Artaxerxes were embittered by dissensions in his own family. He died in the 94th year of his age, and the 46th of his reign, B.C. 359. On his death,

Ochus, his son, succeeded him, having cleared his way to the throne by the murder of those of his brothers who rivalled him in the succession. These murders he soon followed up by an indiscriminate massacre of all the royal family, without distinction of sex, age, or character. On his accession, the western provinces revolted, but returned to their allegiance. Egypt had never been thoroughly subdued since the last revolt. Nectanebus was now king of that country. Ochus marching into Egypt, lost a large proportion of his army in the quicksands of Lake Sorbonis. He, however, succeeded in driving Nectanebus out of the kingdom. Nectanebus was the last native king of Egypt; that fine country having, from that day till the present, been under the dominion of foreigners. But while Ochus was in the midst of his success, he was laying the foundation for his own destruction. He had a favourite servant named Bagoas, an Egyptian, who accompanied him; and Ochus, not satisfied with subduing Egypt, insulted its religion, killed the sacred bull, and gave its flesh to his attendants. Bagoas determined

to revenge this insult, and at length succeeded in poisoning Ochus.

Arses, the youngest of the king's sons, was raised to the throne by Bagoas; but not finding him sufficiently compliant, Bagoas poisoned him also, B.C. 338. He then brought forward a descendant of Darius Nothus, named Codomannus, and placed him on the throne. Codomannus took the name of

Darius Codomannus.-Fearing that he might be treated by Bagoas, as Ochus and Arses had been, he put Bagoas to death, and thus secured himself on the throne. But the Persian empire was now hastening to its ruin. The affairs of Greece had by this time fallen under the undisputed direction of the king of Macedon, and Alexander, the son of Philip, had combined the whole strength of its various tribes, in a long threatened enterprise against that great, but ill compacted empire. The events that led to the downfall and death of Darius, belong rather to the history of Greece than of Persia. We merely mention here, that Alexander passed over to Asia at the head of the Greek army, and defeated the forces of the Persians, in several battles, the last of which was near Arbela. Darius, after this defeat, fled to Ecbatana, the capital of Media. On Alexander's approach, he retired to Bactria, and was there murdered by Bessus, the governor of that province. Thus fell Darius Codomannus, and with him the Persian empire, B.C. 330, after it had existed, from the taking of Babylon, 209 years.

We shall here pause, as we did at the reign of Hezekiah, and bring down the history of the other nations to the time of Alexander; when the whole political aspect of the world underwent à mighty revolution.

GREECE. It has already been noticed, under the history of Persia, that Xerxes, succeeding Darius, attempted to carry into effect his father's schemes of revenge, and invaded Greece with an immense armament,

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