« PreviousContinue »
* donians. You have in your hands the means either to re
venge or terininate all your evils." Haring ended this speech, the whole body of soldiers replied with shouts, that they were ready to follow him whithersoever he should go, and would shed the last drop of their blood in his defence.
Such was the resolution of the soldiery ; but Nabarzanes, one of the greatest lords of Persia, and general of the horse, had conspired with Bessus, general of the Bactrians, to cemmit the blackest of all crimes, and that was, to seize upon the person of the king, and lay him in chains ; which they might easily do, as each of them had a great number of sola diers under his command. Their design was, if Alexander should pursue them, to secure themselves, by giving up Dari's alive into his hands; and, in case they escaped, to murder that prince, and afterwards usurp bis crown, and begini a new war. These traitors soon won over the troops, tv representing to them, that they were going to their destina tion ; that they would soon be crushed under the ruins of a'r empire which was just ready to fall ; at the sanie time, th't Bactriana was open to theni, and offered them immense riches. Though these practices were carried on very secretly, they came however to the ear of Darius, who could Tiot believe them. Patron, who commanded the Greeks, ens treated him, but in vain, to pitch his tent among thein, and to trust the guard of his person to men on whose fidelity he might depend. Darius could not prevail with bin self to put so great an affi'ont upon the Persians, and therefore made this answer : “ that it would be a less affliction to him to be " deceived by, than to condemn them. That he would suf“fer the worst of evils amidst those of his own nation, rather « than seek for security among strangers, how faithful and * affectionate soever he miglit believe them; and that he " could not but die too late, in case the Persian soldiers
thought hin unworthy of life.". It was not long before Darius experienced the truth of this counsel; for the traitərs seized him, bound him in chains of gold, by way of honour, as he was a king, and then laving him in a covered chariot, they set out towards Bactriana.
Alexan:ler being arrived at Ecbatana, was informed that Darius had left that city five days before. He then commanded Parmenio to lay up all the treasures of Persia in the Castie of Ecbatana, under a strong guard which he left there. According to Strabo*, these treasures amounted to 180.000 talents, about 27,000,0001. sterling ; and according to Jus. * Strab. 1. xv, p. 748.
tJakin, h avii. c, 2.
tin, :0 4060 talents more, about 1,500,0001., sterting. Heçdered him to march afterwards towards Hyrcania, by the country of the Çadusians, with the Thracians, the foreigners, and the rest of the cavalry, the royal companies excepted. He sent orders to Clitus, who stayed behind in Susa, where he fell sick, that as soon as he was arrived at Ec, batana, he should take the forces which were left in that city, and come to him in Parthia.
Alexander, with the rest of his army, pursued Darius, and arrived the eleventh day at * Rhaga, which is a long day's journey from the Caspian straits; but Darius had already passed through them. Alexander uow despairing to overtake him, what dispatch soever he might make, staid there five days to rest his forces. He then marched against the Parthians, and that day pitched his camp near the Caspian straits, and passed them the next. News were soon brought him, that Darius had been seized by the traitors ; that Bese sus had caused him to be drawn in a chariot, and had sent the unhappy monarch before in order to be the surer of his person ; that the whole army obeyed that wretch, Artabazus and the Greeks excepted, who not having a soul basc enough to consent to so abominable a ceed, and being tog weak to prevent it, had therefore left the high road, and marched towards the mountains.
This was a fresh motive for him to hasten his march. The barbarians, at his arrival were seized with dread, though the match would not have been equal, had Bessus been as reşolute for fighting as for putting in, execution the deieslable act above mentioned; for his troops exceeded the enemy botly in number and strength, and were all cool and ready for the combat ; whereas Alexander's troops were quite fatigued with the length of their march, But the name and reputation of Alexander, a motive all-power. ful in war, filled them with such prodigious terror that they all fled. Bessys and his accomplices being come up with Darius, they requested bim to mount his horse, and fly from the enemy; but he replied, that the gods were ready to re yenge the evils he had suffered ; and
beseeching Alexander to do him justice, he refused to follow a band of traitors, At these words they fell into such a fury, that all threw their darts at him, and left him covered with wounds. Af ter having perpetrated this horrid crime, they separated, in order to leave different footsteps of their fight, and thereby elude the pursuit of the enemy, in case he should follow them; -or at least oblige him to divide his forces. Naban zanes took the way of Hyrcania, and Bessus that of Bac• This is the city mentioned in Tobit ji
HISTORY OF ALLXANDIR. triana, both being followed by a very few borsemen ; ands. as the barbarians were by thás means destitute of leaders, they dispersed themselves up and down, as feas or hope directed their steps.
Akter searching about in different places, Derius was at last found in a solitude, his body run through with spears, lying in a chariot, and drawing near his end. However, hé had strength enough before he died to call for drink, which a Macedonian, Polystratus by name, brought him. Ble had a Persian prisoner, whom he employed as his interpreter, Darius, after drinking the liquor that had been given him, turned to the Macedonian, and said, "that in the deplorable "state to which he was reduced, he however should have the "comfort to speak to one who could understand him, and s that his last words would not be lost. He therefore charged "him to tell Alexander, that he died in his debt, though he bhad never ebliged him. That he gave him a multitude of " thanks for the great humanity he had exereised towards “his mother, hvis wife, and his children, whose lives he had * not only sparech, but restored them to their former splen"dour. That he besought the gods to give victory to his
arms, and make him monarch of the universe. That he
thought he need not entreat hin to revenge the execrable "murder committed on his person, as this was the common a cause of kings." . After this, taking Polystratus by the hand, "give him," said he, athy hand, as I give thee mine ; and carry him, in Se my name, the only pledge I am able to give of my grati* tude and affection." Saying these words, he breathed his last. Alexander coming up a moment after, and seeing Darius body, wept bitterly ; and by the strongest testimonies of affection that could be given him, proved how inti. mately he was affected with the unhappiness of a prince who deserved a better fate. He immediately pulled off his mil. ítary cloak, and threw it on Darius' body ; then causing it to be embalmed, and his coffin to be adorned with a reval magnificence, he sent it to Sysigambis in order that it might be interred with the honours usually paid to the deceased Persian monarchs, and be entombed with his ancestors.
*Thus died Darius, the third year of the 112th Olym. piad, at about fifty years of age, six of which he had reigned. He was a gentle and pacific prince ; his reign having been unsullied with injustice or cruelty, which was owing either to his natural lenity, or to his not having had an opportunity of acting otherwise, from the perpetual war he had carried on
**A: M: 3674. Aor. J. C. 330,
against Alexander all the time he had sat upon the throne, In him the Persian empire ended, after having existed 209 years, camputing from the beginning of the reign of Cyrus the Great, the founder of it, under 13 kings, viz. Cyrus Cambyses, Smerdis Magus, Darius son of Hystaspes, Xerxes 1. Artaxerxes Longimanus, Xerxes II. Soggianus, Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Memnon, Artaxerxes Oclius, Arsese and Darius Codomanus.
SECTION XI. VICES WHICH FIRST CAUSED THE DECLENSION, AŃD
AT LAST THE RUIN, OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. The death of Darius Codomanus may very justly be com sidered as the æra, but not as the sole cause, of the destrucó tion of the Persian monarchy. . When we take a general view of the history of the kings above mentioned, and con. sider with some attention their different characters and methods of governing, whether in peace or war, we easily perceive that this declension was prepared at a great distance, and carried on to its end by visible steps which denot. ed a total ruin.
We may declare at first sight, that the declension of the Persian empire, and its fall, are owing to its origin and primitive institution, It had been formed by the Union of two nations, who differed very much in manners and inclinations. The Persians were a sober, laborious, modest people ; but the Medes were wholly devoted to pride, luxury, softness, and voluptuousness. The example of frugality and simplica ity which Cyrụs had set them, and their being obliged be always under arms to gain so many victories, and sup port themselves in the midst of so many enemies, prevented those. vices
from spreading for some time, but after those nations had subjected anothings, the fondness which the Medes had naturally for pleasures and magnificence, lessened the temperance of the Persians, and became, in a little time, the prevailing taste of the two nations,
Several other causes conspired to this. Babylon, when conquered, intoxicated its victors with her poisoned cup, and inchanted them with the charms of pleasure. She furnished them with such ministers and instruments as were adapted to promote luxury, and to foment and cherish delights with art and delicacy : and the wealth of the richest provinces in the world being at the entire disposal of her sovereigns, they thereby were enabled to satjate all their desires.
Even Cyrus himself, as I observed elsewhere, contributed to this, without perceiving the consequence of it, and pre. pared men's minds by the splendid banquet he gave, after having ended his conquests ;, and when he showed himself in the midst of his troops, who had shared in his victories, with such a ponap and ostentation as were most capable of dazzling the eye." He began by, inspiring them with an ada miration for pamp and show, which they had hitherto despised. He suggested to them, that magnificence and riches were worthy of crowning the most glorious exploits, and the end and fruit of them : aud by thus inspiring his subjects with a strong desire for things they saw so highly esteemed by a most accomplished prince, his example authorized them to abandon-themselves to that gust without reserve.
He also spread this evil, by obliging his judges, officers, and governors of provinces, to appear in splendour before the people, the better to represent the majesty of the prince. On one side, these magistrates and commanders easily mistook these ornaments and trappings of their employments for the most essential parts of thein, endeavouring to distinguish themselves by nothing but this glittering outside : and, on the other side, men of the greatest wealth in the provinces proposed them as so many patterns for their imitation, and were soon followed by persons of moderate fortune, whom those in the lowest stations of life endeavoured to equal.
So many causes of degeneracy uniting together, and being authorised publicly, soon destroyed the antient virtue of the Persians. They did not sink, like the Romans, by imperceptible decays, which had been long forescon, and often op posed. Scarce was Cyrus dead, but there rose up as it were another nation, and kings of a quite different genius anda character. Men no longer discoursed of that manly, that severe; education, which was bestowed on the Persian youth ; of those public schools of sobriety, patience, and emulation før virtue, nor of those laborious and warlike exercises ; of all these there did not remain the smallest traces; their young men being brought up in splendour and effeminacy, which they now saw was had in honour, immediately be gan to despise the happy simplicity of their forefathers, and formed, in the space of one generation, an entire new set of people, whose manners, inclinations, and maxims, were dis Tectly opposite to those of ancient times. They grew hanghtyy vain, effeminate, inhuman, and perficious in treaties i and acquired this peculiar character, that they, of all pegple, were the most abandoned to splendour, kexury, feasting, and even to drunkenness : so that we may affirm, that the enspite of the Persians was, almost at its birth, what other