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word to her father of it, whereby the whole fraud was discovered.
a Otanes immediately entered into a conspiracy with five more of the chief Persian nobility; and Darius, an illustrious Persian nobleman, 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, an extraordinary occurrence, which they had not the least expectation of, 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's 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 happened, 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 coming near the king's apartment, and finding the officers there unwilling to give them admittance, they drew their scymitars, 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 in that place, Darius was afraid to kill him, lest, at the same time, he should kill his friend. Gobryas,
a Herod. 1 iii. c. 70.-73
b The province so called,
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 his companion.
a 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 people, and declared the whole imposture, Upon this the people grew so enraged against the impostors, that they fell upon their whole sect, and slew as many of them as they could find. For which reason, the day on which this was done, thence forward 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 inconveniencies 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 delaring for a popular government. Megabysus, 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 passion. "A king," said he, "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 inconveniencies of an aristocracy, otherwise called oligarchy; wherein reign distrust, envy, dissensions, and ambition, all 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
a Herod, iii. c. 79.
Ibid. c. 80-83.
"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 foot 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. 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 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 use of the following artifice to secure the crown to his master: he carried, the night before, 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 Achæmenes.
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 ha 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.
a Herod. I. iii, c. 84-87.
THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ASSYRIANS, BABYLONIANS, LYDIANS, MEDES, AND PERSIANS.
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 repetitons; 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.
III. Their arts and sciences. And,
IV. Their religion.
After which I shall relate the causes of the declension and ruin of the great Persian empire.
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 their provinces ; and the good order observed in their finances.
Their Monarchical Form of Government. The Respect they paid their Kings. The Manner of educating their Children.
Monarchical, or regal government, as we call it, is of all others the most ancient, the most universal, the best adapted to keep the people 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 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.
a Those people paid extraordinary honours to the prince
a Plut. in Themist. p. 125, Ad Princ. indoc. p. 780. VOL. N. R
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 clothed 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: a Principem dat Deus, qui erga omne hominum genus vice sua fungatur.
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 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 these honours and homages, 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 that particular. We honour the emperor, said Tertullian, in the name of all the Christians; but in such a manner as is lawful for us, and proper for him; 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 emperor in another place a second majesty, inferior to nothing but the first: c Religio secunda 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 dependent 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 em
a Plin. in Paneg. Traj.
Colimus Imperatorem, sic, quomodo et nobis licet, et ipsi, expedit; ut ho minem a Deo secundum, et quicquid est, a Deo consecutum, et solo Deo minerem. Tertul. L. ad Scap. d Plat. in Alcib. c, i, p. 121.
Apol. c. 35.