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Aristides's banishment, which after having so basely treated the most virtuous man it ever produced, was yet able to find citizens zealously and faithfully attached to her service! Felices Athenas, quo post illius exilium invenire aliquem aut virum bonum, aut amantem sui civem potuerunt ; cum quo tunc ipsa sanctitas migravit !
A. M. 3517.
Darius resolves to make war in person against Egypt and against Greece; is prevented
by death. Dispute between two of his sons, concerning the succession to the crown. Xerxes is chosen king.
When Darius received the news of the defeat of his army at Marathon,* he was violently enraged; and that bad success was so far from discouraging or diverting him from carrying on the war against Greece, that it only served to animate him to pursue it with the greater vigour, in order to be revenged at the same time for the burning of Sardis, and for the dishonour incurred at Marathon. Being thus determined to march in person with all his forces, he despatched orders to all his subjects in the several provinces of his empire to arm themselves for this expedition.
After having spent three years in making the neAnt. J. C. 487. cessary preparations, he had another war to carry on, occasioned by the revolt of Egypt. It seems from what we read in Diodorus Siculus,t that Darius went thither himself to quell it, and that he succeeded. That historian relates, that upon this prince's desiring to have his statue placed before Sesostris, the chief priest of the Egyptians told him he had not yet equalled the glory of that conqueror , and that the king, far from being offended at the Egyptian priest's freedom, made answer, that he would endeavour to surpass it. Diodorus adds farther, that Darius, detesting the impious cruelty which his predecessor Cambyses had exercised in that country, expressed great reverence for their gods and temples, that he had several conversations with the Egyptian priests upon matters of religion and government; and that, having learnt of them, with what gentleness their ancient kings used to treat their subjects, he endeavoured, after his return into Persia, to form himself upon their model. But Herodotus,f more worthy of belief in this particular than Diodorus, only observes, that this prince, resolving at once to chastise his revolted subjects, and to be avenged of his ancient enemies, determined to make war against both at the same time, and to attack Greece in person with the main body of his army, while the rest of it was employed in the reduction of Egypt.
According to the ancient custom among the Persians, Ant. J. C. 485. their king was not allowed to go to war, without having first named the person that should succeed him in the throne; a cusHerod.. zii.c. 1 Lib. i. p. 54. 85. | Liv, vi. c. 2. 0 Herod. I. vj. c. 2, 3
tom wisely established to prevent the state's being exposed to the troubles which generally attend the uncertainty of a successor, to the inconveniences of anarchy, and to the cabals of various pretenders. Darius, before he undertook his expedition against Greece, thought himself the more obliged to observe this rule, as he was already advanced in years, and as there was a dispute between two of his sons on the subject of succeeding to the empire, which might occasion a civil war after his death, if he left it undetermined. Darius had three sons by his first wife, the daughter of Gobryas, all three born before their father came to the crown; and four more by Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who were all born after their father's accession to the throne: Artabazanes, called by Justin Artamenes, was the eldest of the former, and Xerxes of the latter. Artabazanes alleged in his own behalf, that, as he was the eldest of all the brothers, the right of succession, according to the custom and practice of all nations, belonged to him in preference to all the rest. Xerxes's argument was, that as he was the son of Darius by Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who founded the Persian empire, it was more just that the crown of Cyrus should devolve upon one of his descendants, than upon one that was not. Demaratus, the Spartan king, who had been unjustly deposed by his subjects, and was at that time in exile at the court of Persia, secretly suggested to Xerxes another argument to support his pretensions: that Artabazanes was indeed the eldest son of Darius, but he, Xerxes, was the eldest son of the king; and therefore, Artabazanes being born when his father was but a private person, all he could pretend to, on account of his seniority, was only to inherit nis private estate; but that he, Xerxes, being the first-born son of the king, had the best right to succeed to the crown. He farther supported this argument by the example of the Lacedæmonians, who admitted none to inherit the kingdom but those children that were born after their fa. ther's accession. The right of succession was accordingly determined in favour of Xerxes.
Justin* and Plutarch place this dispute after Darius's decease. They both take notice of the prudent conduct of these two brothers in a point of so much delicacy. According to their manner of relating this fact, Artabazanes was abeent when the king died; and Xerxes immediately assumed all che marks, and exercised all the functions, of the sovereignty. But upon his brother's return, he quitted the diadem and the tiara, which he wore in such a manner as only suited the king, went out to meet him, and showed him all imayinable respect. They agreed to make their uncle Artabanes the arbitrator of their difference, and without any farther appeal, to acquiesce in his decision.t All the while this dispute lasted, the
* Justin. I. ii. c. 10. Plut. de frat, amore, p. 488.
† Adeò fraterna contentio fuit, ut nec victor insultaverit, nec victus doluerit; ipsoque litis tempore invicem munera miserint; jucunda quoque inter se non solum, sed credula con vivia habuerint; judicium quoque ipsum sine arbitris, sine convitio fuerit. Tantò mode
two brothers showed one another all the demonstrations of a truly fraternal friendship, by keeping up a continual intercourse of presents and entertainments, from whence their mutual esteem and confidence for each other banished all fears and suspicions on both sides; and introduced an unconstrained cheerfulness and a perfect security. This is a spectacle, says Justin, highly worthy of our admiration : to see, whilst most brothers are at daggers-drawing with one another about a small patrimony, with what moderation and temper both waited for a decision, which was to dispose of the greatest empire then in the universe. When Artabanes gave judgment in favour of Xerxes, Artabazanes the same instant prostrated himself before him, acknowledging him for his master, and placed him upon the throne with his own hand; by which proceeding he showed a greatness of soul truly royal, and infinitely superior to all human dignities. This ready acquiescence in a sentence so contrary to his interests, was not the effect of an artful policy, that knows how to dissemble upon occasion, and to derive honour to itself from what it could not prevent: no; it proceeded from a real respect for the laws, a sincere affection for his brother, and an indifference for that which so warmly inflames the ambition of man. kind, and so frequently arms the nearest relations against each other. For his part, during his whole life, be continued firmly attached to the interests of Xerxes, and prosecuted them with so much ardour and zeal, that he lost his life in his service at the battle of Salamis.
To whatever time this dispute is to be placed,* it is certain that Darius could not carry into execution the double expedition he was meditating against Egypt and Greece, and that he was prevented by death from pursuing that project. He had reigned thirty-six years. The epitapht of this prince, which contains a boast that he could drink much without disordering his reason, proves that the Persians actually thought that circumstance for their glory. We shall see in the sequel, that Cyrus the Younger ascribes this quality to himself, as a perfection that rendered him more worthy of the throne than his elder brother. Who in these times would think of annexing this merit to the qualifications of a good prince?
Darius had many excellent qualities, but they were attended with great failings; and the kingdom felt the effects both of the one and the other. For such is the condition of princes, that they never act nor live for themselves alone. Whatever they do, either as to good or evil, they do it for their people; and the interests of the one and the other are inseparable. Darius had a great fund of gentleness, equity, clemency, and kindness for his people: he loved justice, and respected the laws: he esteemed merit, and was carefu! satiùs tum fratres inter se regna maxima dividebant, quàm nunc exigua patrimonia partiuntur. Justin.
* Herod. 1. vi. c. 4. + Ηδυνάμην καί οίνον πίνειν πολύ», και τούτον φέρειν καλώς. Athen. I. 3 Ita nati estis, at bona malaque vestra ad remp. pertineant Tacit. l. iv. c. &
to reward it: he was not jealous of his rank or authority, so as to exact a forced homage, or to render himself inaccessible; and notwithstanding his own great experience and abilities in public affairs, he would hearken to the advice of others, and reap the benefit of tlieir counsels. It is of him the Holy Scripture* speaks, where it says, that he did nothing without consulting the wise men of his court. He was not afraid of exposing his person in battle, and was always cool even in the heat of action : he said of himself, that the most imminent and urgent danger served only to increase his courage and his prudence. In a word, there have been few princes more expert than he in the art of governing, or more experienced in the business of war. Nor was the glory of being a conqueror, it indeed it be glory, wanting to his character. For he not only re stored and entirely confirmed the empire of Cyrus, which had bee). very much shaken by the ill conduct of Cambyses and the Magiar. impostor; but he likewise added many great and rich provinces to it, and particularly India, Thrace, Macedonia, and the Isles contiguous to the coasts of Ionia.
But sometimes these good qualities of his gave way to failings of a quite opposite nature. Do we see any thing like Darius's usual gentleness and good-nature in his treatment of that unfortunate father, who desired the favour of him to leave him one of his three sons at home, while the other two followed the king in his expedition? Was there ever an occasion wherein he had more need of counsel, than when he formed the design of making war upon the Scythians ? And could any one give more prudent advice than what his brother gave him upon that occasion ? But he would not follow it. Does there appear in that whole expedition any mark of wisdom or prudence ?. What do we see in all that affair, but a prince intoxicated with his greatness, who fancied there is nothing in the world that can resist him; and whose weak ambition to signalize himself by an extraordinary conquest, had stifled all the good sense, judgment, and even military knowledge, he formerly displayed !
What constitutes the solid glory of Darius's reign is, his being chosen by God himself
, as Cyrus had been before, to be the instrument of his mercies towards his people, the declared protector of the Israelites, and the restorer of the temple at Jerusalem. The reader may see this part of history in the book of Ezra, and in the writings of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.