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FIRST FIFTEEN YEARS OF THE REIGN OF ARTAXERXES

MNEMON.

CHAPTER I.

THIS chapter contains the domestic troubles of the court of Persia ; the death of Alcibiades; the reestablishment of the liberty of Athens; and Lysander's secret designs to make himself king.

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Arsaces, upon ascending the throne, assumed the name of Artaxerxes, the same to whom the Greeks gave the surname of Mnemon,* from his prodigious memory. Being near his father's bed when he was dying, he asked him a few moments before he expired,

• Which word signifies in the Greek, one of a good memory.

• A. M. 3600. Ant. J. C. 404. Athen. l. xii. p. 548.

what had been the rule of his conduct during so long and happy a reign as his, that he might make it his example. “It has been,” replied he, "to do always what justice and religion required of me.” Words of deep sense, and well worthy of being set up in letters of gold in the palaces of kings, to keep them perpetually in mind of what ought to be the guide and rule of all their actions. It is not uncommon for princes to give excellent instructions to their children on their death beds, that would be more efficacious, if preceded by their own example and conduct; without which they are as weak and impotent as the sick man who gives them, and seldom survive him long.

• Soon after Darius's death, the new king set out from his capital for the city of Pasargades,' in order to his coronation, according to custom, by the priests of Persia. There was in that city a temple of the god. dess who presided in war, in which the coronation was solemnized. It was attended with very singular ceremonies, which no doubt had some mysterious sense ; though Plutarch does not explain it. The prince at his consecration took off his robe in the tem. ple, and put on that worn by the ancient Cyrus, before he came to the throne, which was preserved in that place with great veneration. After that he ate a dry fig, chewed some leaves of the turpentine tree, and drank a draught composed of milk and vinegar. This might signify, that the sweets of sovereign power are mingled with the sours of care and disquiet, and that, if the throne be surrounded with pleasures and honours, it is also attended with pains and anxieties. It seems

c Pluto in Artax. p. 1012. d A city of Persia built by Cyrus the Great.

sufficiently evident, that the design in putting the robes of Cyrus upon the new king, was to make him understand, that he should also clothe his mind with the great qualities and exalted virtues of that prince.

Young Cyrus, whose sole was all ambition, was in despair upon being for ever prevented from ascending a throne his mother had given him, and on seeing the sceptre, which he thought his right, transferred into the hands of his brother. The blackest crimes cost the ambitious nothing. Cyrus resolved to assassinate Artaxerxes in the temple itself, and in the presence of the whole court, just when he took off his own, to put on the robe of Cyrus. Artaxerxes was apprized of this design by the priest himself, who had educated his brother, to whom he had imparted it. Cyrus was seized, and condemned to die, when his mother Parysatis, almost out of her senses, flew to the place, clasped him in her arms, tied herself to him with the tresses of her hair, fastened her neck to his, and by her shrieks, and tears, and prayers, prevailed so far as to obtain his pardon, and that he should be sent back to his government of the maritime provinces. He carried thither with him an ambition no less ardent than before, was animated besides with resentment of the check he had received, and the warm desire of revenge, and armed with an almost unbounded power.

Artaxerxes upon this occasion acted contrary to the most common rules of policy, which do not admit the nourishing and enfaming by extraordinary honour the pride and haugh

Ne quis mobiles adolescentium animos præmaturis honoribus ad su. perbiam extolleret. Tacit. Annal. 1. iv. c. 17.

tiness of a bold and enterprising young prince like Cyrus, who had carried his personal enmity to his brother so far, as to have resolved to assassinate him with his own hand, and whose ambition for empire was so great, as to employ the most criminal methods for the attainment of its end.

* Artaxerxes had espoused Statira. Scarce had her husband ascended the throne, when she employed the power her beauty gave her over him, to avenge the death of her brother Teriteuchmes. History has not a more tragical scene, nor a more monstrous complication of adultery, incest, and murder ; which, after having occasioned great disorders in the royal family, termin. ated at length in the most fatal manner to all who had any share in it. But it is necessary, for the reader's knowledge of the fact, to trace it from the beginning.

Hidarnes, Statira's father, a Persian of very great quality, was governor of one of the principal provinces of the empire. Statira was a lady of extraordinary beauty, which induced Artaxerxes to marry her, who was then called Arsaces. At the same time Teri. teuchmes, Statira's brother, married Hamestris, Arsaces's sister, one of the daughters of Darius and Parysatis; in favour of which marriage Teriteuchmes, upon his father's death, had his government given him. There was at the same time another sister in this family, no less beautiful than Statira, and who besides excelled in the arts of shooting with the bow, and throwing the dart. Teriteuchmes her brother conceived a criminal passion for her, and to gratify

* Ctes.c: li.lv.

it resolved to set himself at liberty by killing Hames. tris, whom he had espoused. Darius, having been informed of this project, by the force of presents and promises engaged Udiastes. Teriteuchmes's intimate friend and confident, to prevent so black a design by assassinating him. He obeyed, and had for his reward the government of him he had put to death with his own hands.

Amongst Teriteuchmes's guards was a son of Udiastes, called Mithridates, very much attached to his master. The young gentleman, upon hearing that his father had committed this murder in person, uttered all manner of imprecations against him, and, full of horror for so infamous and vile an action, seized on the city of Zaris, and openly revolting, declared for the establishment of Teriteuchmes's son. But that young man could not hold out long against Darius. He was blocked up in the place with the son of Teriteuchmes, whom he had with him ; and all the rest of the family of Hidarnes were put in prison, and delivered to Parysatis, to do with them as that mother, exasperated to the last excess by the treatment either done or intended against her daughter Hamestris, should think fit. That cruel princess began by causing Roxana, whose beauty had been the occasion of this evil, to be sawed in two, and ordered all the rest to be put to death, except Statira, whose life she granted to the tears and the most tender and ardent solicitations of Arsaces, whose love for his wife made him spare no pains for her preservation, though Darius his father believed it necessary, even for his own good, that she VOL. 3. 64

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