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thing in the world more just and reasonable than such impositions; since every private person ought to think himself very happy, that he can purchase his peace and security at the expense of so slender a contribution.
a The revenues of the Persian kings consisted partly in the levying of taxes imposed upon the people, and partly in their being furnished with several of the products of the earth in kind; as corn, and other provisions, forage, horses, camels, or whatever rarities each particular province afforded. Strabo relates, that the satrap of Armenia sent regularly every year to the king of Persia, his master, twenty thousand young colts. By this we may form a judgment of the other levies in the several provinces. But we are to consider, that the tributes were only exacted from the conquered nations; for the natural subjects, that is, the Persians, were exempt from all impositions. Nor was the custom of imposing taxes, and of determining the sums each province was yearly to pay, introduced till the reign of Darius; at which time, the pecuniary impositions, as near as we can judge from the computation made by Herodotus, which is attended with great difficulties, amounted to near forty-four millions French money c. d The place wherein was kept the public treasure, was called in the Persian language Gaza. There were treasuries of this kind at Susa, at Persepolis, at Pasargada, at Damascus, and other cities. The gold and silver were there kept in ingots, and coined into money according as the king had occasion. The money, chiefly used by the Persians was of gold, and called Daric, from the name of Darius, who first caused them to be coined, with his image on one side, and an archer on the reverse. The Daric is sometimes also called Stater Aureus, because the weight of it, like that of the Attic Stater, was two drachms of gold, which were equivalent to twenty drachms of silver, and consequently were worth ten livres of French money.
f Besides these tributes, which were paid in money, there was another contribution made in kind, by furnishing victuals and provisions for the king's table and household, grain, forage, and other necessaries for the subsistence of his armies, and horses for the remounting of his cavalry. This contribution was imposed upon the six-score satrapies, or provinces, each of them furnishing such a part as they were severally taxed at. Herodotus observes, that the province of Babylon, the largest and wealthiest of them all, did alone furnish the whole contribution for the space of four months,
a Herod. 1. iii. c. 89-97.
c About 2000,000l. sterling.
b Lib xi. p 530.
e Darius the Mede, otherwise called Cyaxares, is supposed to have been the first who caused this money to be coined.
f Herod. l. iii. c. 91-97, et 1. i. c. 194.
and consequently bore a third part of the burthen of the whole imposition, whilst all the rest of Asia together did but contribute the other two-thirds.
By what has been already said on this subject, we see the kings of Persia did not exact all their taxes and impositions in money, but were content to levy a part of them in money, and to take the rest in such products and commodities as the several provinces afforded; which is a proof of the great wisdom, moderation, and humanity of the Persian government. Without doubt they had observed, how difficult it often is for the people, especially in countries at a distance from commerce, to convert their goods into money without suffering great losses; whereas nothing can tend so much to the rendering of taxes easy, and to shelter the people from vexation and trouble, as well as expense, as the taking in payment from each country such fruits and commodities as that country produces; by which means the contribution becomes easy, natural, and equitable.
"There were likewise certain districts assigned and set apart for the maintaining of the queen's toilet and wardrobe; one for her girdle, another for her vail, and so on for the rest of her vestments: and these districts, which were of a great extent since one of them contained as much ground as a man could walk over in a day; these districts, I say, took their names from their particular use, or part of the garments to which they were appropriated; and were accordingly called, one the queen's girdle, another the queen's veil, and so on. In Plato's time, the same custom continued among the Persians.
The way of the king's giving pensions in those days to such persons as he had a mind to gratify, was exactly like what I have observed concerning the queen. We read, that the king of Persia assigned the revenue of four cities to Themistocles; one of which was to supply him with wine, another with bread, the third with meats for his table, and the fourth with his clothes and furniture. Before that time, Cyrus had acted in the same manner towards Pytharchus of Cyzicus, for whom he had a particular consideration, and to whom he gave the revenue of seven cities. In following times, we find many instances of a like nature.
OF THEIR WAR.
The people of Asia in general were naturally of a warlike disposition, and did not want courage; but in time they suffered themselves to be enervated by luxury and pleasure.
a Plut. in Alcib. c. i. p. 123. b Plut. in Them. p. 127. c Athen. 1. i- p. 30.
I must however except the Persians, who even before Cyrus, and still more during his reign, had the reputation of being a people of a very military genius. The situation of their country, which is rugged and mountainous, might be one reason of their hard and frugal manner of living; which is a point of no little importance for the forming of good soldiers. But the good education which the Persians gave their youth, was the chief cause of the courage and martial spirit of that people.
With respect therefore to the manners, and particularly to the article which I am now treating of, we must make some distinction between the different nations of Asia; so that in the following account of military affairs, whatever perfection and excellence may be found in the rules and principals of war, is to be applied only to the Persians, as they were in Cyrus's reign; the rest belongs to the other nations of Asia, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Lydians, and to the Persians likewise, after they had degenerated from their ancient valour, which happened not long after Cyrus, as will be shown in the sequel.
1. THEIR ENTRANCE UPON MILITARY DISCIPLINE.
a The Persians were trained up to the service from their tender years, by passing through different exercises. Generally speaking, they served in the armies from the age of 20 to 50 years; and whether in peace or war, they always wore swords, as our gentlemen do, which was never practised among the Greeks or the Romans. They were obliged to enlist themselves at the time appointed; and it was esteemed a crime to desire to be dispensed with in that respect, as will be seen hereafter, by the cruel treatment given by Darius and Xerxes to two young noblemen, whose fathers had desired, as a favour, that their sons might be permitted to stay at home, for a comfort to them in their old age.
Herodotus speaks of a body of troops appointed to be the king's guard, who were called The Immortals, because this body, which consisted of 10,000, perpetually subsisted, and was always complete; for as soon as any of the men died, another was immediately put into his place. The establishment of this body probably began with the 10,000 men, sent for by Cyrus out of Persia to be his guard. They were distinguished from all the other troops by the richness of their armour, and still more by their singular courage. d Quintus Curtius mentions also this body of men, and another body besides, consisting of 15,000, designed in like manner to be a a Strab I xv. p. 734. Am. Mar. 1. xxiii. sub finem. b Herod. 1. iv. et. vi. Sen. de Ira, 1. iii. c. 16, 17. e Id. 1. vii. c. 83.
d Lib iii. c. 3.
guard to the king's person; the latter were called Doryphori, or Spearmen.
2. THEIR ARMOUR.
The ordinary arms of the Persians were a sabre, or scymitar, acinaces, as it is called in Latin; a kind of dagger which hung in their belt on the right side; a javelin, or half pike, having a sharp pointed iron at the end."
It seems that they carried two javelins, or lances, one to fling, and the other to use in close fight. They made great use of the bow, and of the quiver in which they carried their arrows. The sling was not unknown amongst them; but they did not set much value upon it.
It appears from several passages in ancient authors, that the Persians wore no helmets, but only their common caps, which they called tiaras; this is particularly said of Cyrus the younger, and of his army. And yet the same authors, in other places, make mention of their helmets; from whence we must conclude, that this custom had changed according to the times.
The foot, for the most part, wore cuirasses made of brass, which were so artificially fitted to their bodies, that they were no impediment to the motion and agility of their limbs; no more than the vambraces, or greaves, which covered the arms, thighs, and legs of the horsemen. Their horses themselves for the most part, had their faces, chests, and flanks covered with brass. These were what are called equi cataphracti, barbed horses.
Authors differ very much about the form and fashion of their shields. At first they made use of very small and light ones; made only of twigs of osier, gerra. But it from several passages, that they had also shields of brass, which were of a great length.
We have already observed, that in the first ages the light armed soldiers, that is, the archers, slingers, &c. composed the bulk of the armies amongst the Persians and Medes. Cyrus, who had found by experience, that such troops were only fit for skirmishing, or fighting at a distance, and who thought it most advantageous to come directly to close fight; he, I say, for these reasons, made a change in his army, and reduced those light-armed troops to a very few, arming the far greater number at all points, like the rest of the army.
3. CHARIOTS ARMED WITH SCYTHES.
Cyrus introduced a considerable change likewise with respect to the chariots of war. These had been in use a long while before his time, as appears both from Homer and a Xen. de Exped. Cyr. h i. p. 263, Xen. Cyr. 1. vi. p. 152.
the sacred writings. These chariots had only two wheels, and were generally drawn by four horses abreast, with two men in each; one of distinguished birth and valour, who fought, and the other only for driving the chariot. Cyrus thought this method, which was very expensive, was but of little service; since for the equipping of 300 chariots, were required 1200 horses and 600 men, of which there were but 300 who really fought, the other 300, though all men of merit and distinction, and capable of doing great service, if otherwise employed, serving only as charioteers or drivers. To remedy this inconvenience, he altered the form of the chariots, and doubled the number of the fighting men that rode in them, by enabling the drivers also to fight, as well as the others.
He caused the wheels of the chariots to be made stronger, that they should not be so easily broken; and their axle-trees to be made longer, to make them the more firm and steady. At each end of the axle-tree he caused scythes to be fastened that were three feet long, and placed horizontally; and caused other scythes to be fixed under the same axle-tree with their edges turned to the ground, that they might cut in pieces men, or horses, or whatever the impetuous violence of the chariots should overturn. It appears from several passages in authors, that in after-times, besides all this, they added two long iron spikes at the end of the pole, in order to pierce whatever came in their way; and that they armed the hinder part of the chariot with several rows of sharp knives, to hinder any one from mounting behind.
These chariots were in use for many ages in all the eastern countries. They were looked upon as the principal strength of the armies, as the most certain causes of the victory, and as an apparatus the most capable of all others to strike the enemy with consternation and terror.
But in proportion as the military art improved, the inconveniencies of them were discovered, and at length they were laid aside; for to reap any advantage from them, it was necessary to fight in vast large plains, where the soil was very even, and where there were no rivulets, gullies, woods, nor vineyards.
In after times several methods were invented to render these chariots absolutely useless. It was enough to cut a ditch in their way, which immediately stopped their course. Sometimes an able and experienced general, as Eumenes in the battle which Scipio fought with Antiochus, would attack the chariots with a detachment of slingers, archers and spearmen, who, spreading themselves on all sides, would pour
storm of stones, arrows, and lances upon them, and ame time fall a shouting so loud with the whole army,