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man, whose father, Hystaspes, was governor of Persia,* coming very seasonably as they were forming their plan, was admitted into the association, and vigorously promoted the execution. The affair was conducted with great secrecy, and the very day fixed, lest it should be discovered.
While they were concerting their measures,f an extraordinary occurrence, of which they had not the least expectation, strangely perplexed the Magians. In order to remove all suspicion, they had proposed to Prexaspes, and obtained a promise from him, that he would publicly declare before the people, who were to be assembled for that purpose, that the king upon the throne was truly Smerdis, the son of Cyrus. When the people were assembled, which was on the very same day, Prexaspes spoke from the top of a tower, and to the great astonishment of all present, sincerely declared all that had passed; that he had killed with his own hand Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, by Cambyses' order; that the person who now possessed the throne was Smerdis, the Magian; that he begged pardon of the gods and men for the crime he had committed by compulsion and against his will. Having said this, he threw himself headlong from the top of the tower, and broke his neck. It is easy to imagine, what confusion the news of this accident occasioned in the palace.
The conspirators, without knowing any thing of what had hap, pened, were going to the palace at this juncture, and were suffered to enter unsuspected. For the outer guard, knowing them to be persons of the first rank at court, did not so much as ask them any questions. But when they came near the king's apartment, and found the officers there unwilling to give them admittance, they drew their scimitars, fell upon the guards, and forced their passage. Smerdis, the Magian, and his brother, who were deliberating together upon the affair of Prexaspes, hearing a sudden uproar, snatched up their arms, made the best defence they could, and wounded some of the conspirators. One of the two brothers being quickly killed, the other fled into a distant room to save himself, but was pursued thither by Gobryas and Darius. Gobryas having seized him, held him fast in his arms; but, as it was quite dark, Darius was afraid to strike, lest at the same time he should kill his friend. Gobryas, judging what it was that restrained him, obliged him to run his sword through the Magian's body, though he should happen to kill them both together. But Darius did it with so much dexterity and good fortune, that he killed the Magian without hurting bis companion.
In the same instant,with their hands all smeared with blood, they went out of the palace, exposed the heads of the false Smerdis and his brother Patisithes to the eyes of the public, and declared the whole imposture. Upon this the people grew so enraged, that they fell upon the whole sect to which the usurper belonged, and slew as • The province so called.
Herod. I. iii. c. 74, 75.
Ibid. c. 76-78 g Ibid. c. 79.
many of them as they could find. For which reason, the day on which this was done, thenceforward became an annual festival among the Persians, by whom it was celebrated with great rejoicings. It was called The slaughter of the Magi; nor durst any of that sect appear in public upon that festival.
When the tumult and disorder,* inseparable from such an event, were appeased, the lords who had slain the usurper entered into consultation among themselves what sort of government was most proper for them to establish. Otanes, who spoke first, declared directly against monarchy, strongly representing and exaggerating the dangers and inconveniences to which that form of government was liable; chiefly flowing, according to him, from the absolute and unlimited power annexed to it, by which the most virtuous man is almost unavoidably corrupted. He therefore concluded, by declaring for a popular government. Megabyzus, who next delivered his opinion, admitting all that the other had said against a monarchical government, confuted his reasons for a democracy. He represented the people as a violent, fierce, and ungovernable animal, that acts only by caprice and påssion. A king, said he, at least knows what he does : but the people neither know nor hear any thing, and blindly give themselves up to those that know how to manage them. He therefore declared for an aristocracy, wherein the supreme power is confided to a few wise and experienced persons. Darius, who spoke last, showed the inconvenience of an aristocracy, otherwise called an oligarchy; wherein reign distrust, envy, dissensions, and ambition, the natural sources of faction, sedition, and murder; for which there is usually no other remedy than submitting to the authority of one man; and this is called monarchy, which of all forms of government is the most commendable, the safest, and the most advantageous : inexpressibly great being the good that can be done by a prince, whose power is equal to the goodness of his inclinations. In short, said he, to determine this point by a fact which to me seems decisive and undeniable, to what form of government is owing the present greatness of the Persian empire ?
? Is it not to that which I am now recommending? Darius's opinion was embraced by the rest of the lords; and they resolved, that the monarchy should be continued on the same footing whereon it had been established by Cyrus.
The next question was to know, which of them should be king, and how they should proceed to the election.f This they thought fit to refer to the gods. Accordingly they agreed to meet the next morning by sun-rising, on horseback, at a certain place in the suburbs of the city; and that he, whose horse first neighed, should be king. For the sun being the chief deity of the Persians, they imagined, that taking this course, would be giving him the honour of the election. Darius's groom, hearing of the agreement, made
* Herod. l. ii. c. 80–83.
Ibid. c 84 87.
use of the following artifice to secure the crown to his master. The night before, he carried a mare to the place appointed for their meeting the next day, and brought to her his master's horse. The lords assembling the next morning at the rendezvous, no sooner was Darius's horse come to the place where he had smelt the mare, than he fell a neighing; whereupon Darius was saluted king by the others, and placed on the throne. He was the son of Hystaspes, a Persian by birth, and of the royal family of Ache
The Persian empire being thus restored and settled by the wisdom and valour of these seven lords,* they were raised by the new king to the highest dignities, and honoured with the most ample privileges. They had access to his person whenever they would, and in all public affairs were allowed to deliver their opinions the first. And whereas the Persians wore their tiara or turban with the top bent backwards, except the king, who wore his erect; these lords had the privilege of wearing theirs with the top bent forwards, because, when they attacked the Magi, they had bent theirs in that manner, the better to know one another in the hurry and confusion. From that time forwards, the Persian kings of this family always had seven counsellors, honoured with the same privilege.
Here I shall conclude the history of the Persian empire, reserving the remainder of it for the following volumes.
THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ASSYE NS, BABYLONIANS,
LYDIANS, MEDES, AND PERSIANS. I shall give in this place an account of the manners and customs of all these several nations conjointly, because they agree in several points; and if I was to treat them separately, I should be obliged to make frequent repetitions; and, moreover, excepting the Persians, the ancient authors say very little of the manners of the other nations. I shall reduce what I have to say of them to these four heads :
I. Their government.
IV. Their religion. After which I shall narrate the causes of the declension and ruin of the great Persian empire.
• Herod. 1. iii. c. 81–87.
Of their government. After a short account of the nature of the government of Persia, and the manner of educating the children of their kings, I shall proceed to consider these four things: Their public council, wherein the affairs of state were considered; the administration of justice; their care of the provinces; and the good order observed in their finances.
Their monarchial form of government. The respect they paid their kings. The manner
of educating their children. Monarchial, or regal government, as we call it, is of all others the inost ancient, the most universal, the best adapted to keep the peuple in peace and union, and the least exposed to the revolutions and vicissitudes incident to states. For these reasons the wisest writers among the ancients, as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, and, before them all, Herodotus, have been induced to prefer, decidedly this form of government to all others. It is likewise the only form, that was ever established among the eastern nations, a republican government being utterly unknown in that part of the world.
Those people paid extraordinary honours to the prince on the throne,* because in his person they respected the character of the Deity, whose image and vicegerent he was with regard to them, being placed on the throne by the hands of the supreme Governor of the world, and invested with his authority and power, in order to be the minister of his providence, and the dispenser of his goodness towards the people. In this manner did the pagans themselves in old times both think and speak: Principem dat Deus, qui erga omne hominum genus vice suâ fungatur.t
These sentiments are very laudable and just. For certainly the most profound respect and reverence are due to the supreme power; because it cometh from God, and is appointed entirely for the good of the public: besides, it is evident, that an authority which is not respected according to the full extent of its commission, must thereby either become useless, or at least very much limited in the good effects which ought to flow from it. But in the times of paganism this honour and homage, though just and reasonable in themselves, were often carried too far; the Christian being the only religion that has known how to keep within due bounds in this point. We honour the emperor, said Tertullian in the name of all the Christians : I but in such a manner, as is lawful for us, and proper for him; * Plin. in Themist. p. 125. Ad Princ. indoc. p. 780.
† Plin. in Paneg. Trag. Colimus Imperatorem, sic, quomodo et nobis licet, et ipsi expe ; ut hominem à Dco secundum, et quicquid est, à Deo consecutum et solo Deo minorem. Tertul. Land Scap.
that is, as a man, who is next after God in rank and authority, from whom he has received all that he is, and whatever he has, and who knows no superior but God alone. For this reason he calls the einperor in another place a second majesty, inferior to nothing but the first; Religio secundæ majestatis.*
Among the Assyrians, and more particularly among the Persians, the prince used to be styled, The great king, the king of kings. Two reasons might induce those princes to take that ostentatious title. the one, because their empire was formed of many conquered kingdoms, all united under one head; the other, because they had several kings, their vassals, either in their court or dependant upon them.
The crown was hereditary among them, descending from father to son, and generally to the eldest.†. When an heir to the crown was born, all the empire testified their joy by sacrifices, feasts, and all manner of public rejoicings; and his birth-day was thenceforward an annual festival, and day of solemnity for all the Persians.
The manner of educating the future master of the empire is admired by Plato,f and recomınended to the Greeks as a perfect model for a prince's education.
He was never wholly committed to the care of a nurse, who generally was a woman of mean and low condition: but from among the eunuchs, that is, the chief officers of the household, some of the most approved merit and probity were chosen, to take care of the young prince's person and health, till he was seven years of
age, and to begin to form his manners and behaviour. He was then taken from them, and put into the hands of other masters, who were to continue the care of his education, to teach him to ride as soon as his strength would permit, and to exercise him in hunting.
At fourteen years of age, when the mind begins to attain some maturity, four of the wisest and most virtuous men of the state, were appointed to be his preceptors. The first, says Plato, taught him magic, that is, in their language, the worship of the gods according to their ancient maxims, and the laws of Zoroaster, the son of Oromasdes; he also instructed him in the principles of government. The second was to accustom him to speak truth, and to administer justice. The third was to teach him not to suffer himself to be overcome by pleasures, that he might be truly a king, and always free, master of himself and his desires. The fourth was to fortify his courage against fear, which would have made him a slave, and to inspire him with a noble and prudent assurance, so necessary for those that are born to conimand. Each of these governors excelled in his way, and was eminent in that part of education assigned to him. One was particularly distinguished for his knowledge in reli gion, and the art of governing; another for bis love of truth and justice; this for his moderation and abstinence from pleasures; that for a superior strength of mind, and uncommon intrepidity.
• Apolog. c. 35.
Plut. in Alcib. c. i. p.