Map of Ancient Persia in the time of Cyrus the Great
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III.80: And now when five days were gone, and the hubbub had settled down,
the conspirators met together to consult about the situation of affairs.
At this meeting speeches were made, to which many of the Hellenes give no credence,
but they were made nevertheless. Otanes recommended that the management of public
affairs should be entrusted to the whole nation. "To me," he said, "it seems advisable,
that we should no longer have a single man to rule over us---the rule of one is
neither good nor pleasant. You cannot have forgotten to what lengths Cambyses
went in his haughty tyranny, and the haughtiness of the Magi you have yourselves
experienced. How indeed is it possible that monarchy should be a well-adjusted
thing, when it allows a man to do as he likes without being answerable? Such licence
is enough to stir strange and unwonted thoughts in the heart of the worthiest
of men. Give a person this power, and straightway his manifold good things puff
him up with pride, while envy is so natural to human kind that it cannot but arise
in him. But pride and envy together include all wickedness---both of them leading
on to deeds of savage violence.
True it is that kings, possessing as they do all that heart can desire, ought
to be void of envy; but the contrary is seen in their conduct towards the citizens.
They are jealous of the most virtuous among their subjects, and wish their death;
while they take delight in the meanest and basest, being ever ready to listen
to the tales of slanderers. A king, besides, is beyond all other men inconsistent
with himself. Pay him court in moderation, and he is angry because you do not
show him more profound respect--- show him profound respect, and he is offended
again, because (as he says) you fawn on him. But the worst of all is, that he
sets aside the laws of the land, puts men to death without trial, and subjects
women to violence. The rule of the many, on the other hand, has, in the first
place, the fairest of names, to wit, isonomy; and further it is free from all
those outrages which a king is wont to commit. There, places are given by lot,
the magistrate is answerable for what he does, and measures rest with the commonalty.
I vote, therefore, that we do away with monarchy, and raise the people to power.
For the people are all in all."
III.81: Such were the sentiments of Otanes. Megabyzus spoke next, and advised
the setting up of an oligarchy: "In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to
put down monarchy," he observed, "I fully concur; but his recommendation that
we should call the people to power seems to me not the best advice. For there
is nothing so void of understanding, nothing so full of wantonness, as the unwieldy
rabble. It were folly not to be borne, for men, while seeking to escape the wantonness
of a tyrant, to give themselves up to the wantonness of a rude unbridled mob.
The tyrant, in all his doings, at least knows what is he about, but a mob is altogether
devoid of knowledge; for how should there be any knowledge in a rabble, untaught,
and with no natural sense of what is right and fit? It rushes wildly into state
affairs with all the fury of a stream swollen in the winter, and confuses everything.
Let the enemies of the Persians be ruled by democracies; but let us choose out
from the citizens a certain number of the worthiest, and put the government into
their hands. For thus both we ourselves shall be among the governors, and power
being entrusted to the best men, it is likely that the best counsels will prevail
in the state."
III.82: This was the advice which Megabyzus gave, and after him Darius came
forward, and spoke as follows: "All that Megabyzus said against democracy was
well said, I think; but about oligarchy he did not speak advisedly; for take these
three forms of government---democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy---and let them
each be at their best, I maintain that monarchy far surpasses the other two. What
government can possibly be better than that of the very best man in the whole
state? The counsels of such a man are like himself, and so he governs the mass
of the people to their heart's content; while at the same time his measures against
evil-doers are kept more secret than in other states. Contrariwise, in oligarchies,
where men vie with each other in the service of the commonwealth, fierce enmities
are apt to arise between man and man, each wishing to be leader, and to carry
his own measures; whence violent quarrels come, which lead to open strife, often
ending in bloodshed. Then monarchy is sure to follow; and this too shows how far
that rule surpasses all others.
Again, in a democracy, it is impossible but that there will be malpractices:
these malpractices, however, do not lead to enmities, but to close friendships,
which are formed among those engaged in them, who must hold well together to carry
on their villainies. And so things go on until a man stands forth as champion
of the commonalty, and puts down the evil-doers. Straightway the author of so
great a service is admired by all, and from being admired soon comes to be appointed
king; so that here too it is plain that monarchy is the best government. Lastly,
to sum up all in a word, whence, I ask, was it that we got the freedom which we
enjoy? Did democracy give it us, or oligarchy, or a monarch? As a single man recovered
our freedom for us, my sentence is that we keep to the rule of one. Even apart
from this, we ought not to change the laws of our forefathers when they work fairly;
for to do so is not well."
III.83: Such were the three opinions brought forward at this meeting; the four
other Persians voted in favor of the last. Otanes, who wished to give his countrymen
a democracy, when he found the decision against him, arose a second time, and
spoke thus before the assembly: "Brother conspirators, it is plain that the king
who is to be chosen will be one of ourselves, whether we make the choice by casting
lots for the prize, or by letting the people decide which of us they will have
to rule over them, in or any other way. Now, as I have neither a mind to rule
nor to be ruled, I shall not enter the lists with you in this matter. I withdraw,
however, on one condition---none of you shall claim to exercise rule over me or
my seed for ever." The six agreed to these terms, and Otanes withdraw and stood
aloof from the contest. And still to this day the family of Otanes continues to
be the only free family in Persia; those who belong to it submit to the rule of
the king only so far as they themselves choose; they are bound, however, to observe
the laws of the land like the other Persians.
III.84: After this the six took counsel together, as to the fairest way of
setting up a king: and first, with respect to Otanes, they resolved, that if any
of their own number got the kingdom, Otanes and his seed after him should receive
year by year, as a mark of special honor, a Median robe, and all such other gifts
as are accounted the most honorable in Persia. And these they resolved to give
him, because he was the man who first planned the outbreak, and who brought the
seven together. These privileges, therefore, were assigned specially to Otanes.
The following were made common to them all: It was to be free to each, whenever
he pleased, to enter the palace unannounced, unless the king were in the company
of one of his wives; and the king was to be bound to marry into no family excepting
those of the conspirators. Concerning the appointment of a king, the resolve to
which they came was the following: They would ride out together next morning into
the skirts of the city, and he whose steed first neighed after the sun was up
should have the kingdom.
III.85: Now Darius had a groom, a sharp-witted knave, called Oibares. After
the meeting had broken up, Darius sent for him, and said, "Oibares, this is the
way in which the king is to be chosen---we are to mount our horses, and the man
whose horse first neighs after the sun is up is to have the kingdom. If then you
have any cleverness, contrive a plan whereby the prize may fall to us, and not
go to another." "Truly, master," Oibares answered, "if it depends on this whether
you shall be king or no, set your heart at ease, and fear nothing: I have a charm
which is sure not to fail." "If you have really anything of the kind," said Darius,
"hasten to get it ready. The matter does not brook delay, for the trial is to
be tomorrow." So Oibares when he heard that, did as follows: When night came,
he took one of the mares, the chief favorite of the horse which Darius rode, and
tethering it in the suburb, brought his master's horse to the place; then, after
leading him round and round the mare several times, nearer and nearer at each
circuit, he ended by letting them come together.
III.86: And now, when the morning broke, the six Persians, according to agreement,
met together on horseback, and rode out to the suburb. As they went along they
neared the spot where the mare was tethered the night before, whereupon the horse
of Darius sprang forward and neighed. just at the same time, though the sky was
clear and bright, there was a flash of lightning, followed by a thunderclap. It
seemed as if the heavens conspired with Darius, and hereby inaugurated him king:
so the five other nobles leaped with one accord from their steeds, and bowed down
before him and owned him for their king.
III.87: This is the account which some of the Persians gave of the contrivance
of Oibares; but there are others who relate the matter differently. They say that
in the morning he stroked the mare with his hand, which he then hid in his trousers
until the sun rose and the horses were about to start, when he suddenly drew his
hand forth and put it to the nostrils of his master's horse, which immediately
snorted and neighed.
III.88: Thus was Darius, son of Hystaspes, appointed king; and, except the
Arabians, all they of Asia were subject to him; for Cyrus, and after him Cambyses,
had brought them all under. The Arabians were never subject as slaves to the Persians,
but had a league of friendship with them from the time when they brought Cambyses
on his way as he went into Egypt; for had they been unfriendly the Persians could
never have made their invasion.
And now Darius contracted marriages of the first rank, according to the notions
of the Persians: to wit, with two daughters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystone; of
whom, Atossa had been twice married before, once to Cambyses, her brother, and
once to the Magus, while the other, Artystone, was a virgin. He married also Parmys,
daughter of Smerdis, son of Cyrus; and he likewise took to wife the daughter of
Otanes, who had made the discovery about the Magus. And now when his power was
established firmly throughout all the kingdoms, the first thing that he did was
to set up a carving in stone, which showed a man mounted upon a horse, with an
inscription in these words following: "Darius, son of Hystaspes, by aid of his
good horse" (here followed the horse's name), "and of his good groom Oibares,
got himself the kingdom of the Persians."
III.89: This he set up in Persia; and afterwards he proceeded to establish
twenty governments of the kind which the Persians call satrapies, assigning to
each its governor, and fixing the tribute which was to be paid him by the several
nations. And generally he joined together in one satrapy the nations that were
neighbors, but sometimes he passed over the nearer tribes, and put in their stead
those which were more remote. The following is an account of these governments,
and of the yearly tribute which they paid to the king: Such as brought their tribute
in silver were ordered to pay according to the Babylonian talent; while the Euboic
was the standard measure for such as brought gold. Now the Babylonian talent contains
seventy Euboic minae. During all the reign of Cyrus, and afterwards when Cambyses
ruled, there were no fixed tributes, but the nations severally brought gifts to
the king. On account of this and other like doings, the Persians say that Darius
was a huckster, Cambyses a master, and Cyrus a father; for Darius looked to making
a gain in everything; Cambyses was harsh and reckless; while Cyrus was gentle,
and procured them all manner of goods.
III.90: The Ionians, the Magnesians of Asia, the Aeolians, the Carians, the
Lycians, the Milyans, and the Pamphylians, paid their tribute in a single sum,
which was fixed at four hundred talents of silver. These formed together the first
The Mysians, Lydians, Lasonians, Cabalians, and Hygennians paid the sum of
five hundred talents. This was the second satrapy.
The Hellespontians, of the right coast as one enters the straits, the Phrygians,
the Asiatic Thracians, the Paphlagonians, the Mariandynians' and the Syrians paid
a tribute of three hundred and sixty talents. This was the third satrapy.
The Cilicians gave three hundred and sixty white horses, one for each day in
the year, and five hundred talents of silver. Of this sum one hundred and forty
talents went to pay the cavalry which guarded the country, while the remaining
three hundred and sixty were received by Darius. This was the fourth satrapy.
III.91: The country reaching from the city of Posideium (built by Amphilochus,
son of Amphiaraus, on the confines of Syria and Cilicia) to the borders of Egypt,
excluding therefrom a district which belonged to Arabia and was free from tax,
paid a tribute of three hundred and fifty talents. All Phoenicia, Palestine Syria,
and Cyprus, were herein contained. This was the fifth satrapy.
From Egypt, and the neighbouring parts of Libya, together with the towns of
Cyrene and Barca, which belonged to the Egyptian satrapy, the tribute which came
in was seven hundred talents. These seven hundred talents did not include the
profits of the fisheries of Lake Moeris, nor the corn furnished to the troops
at Memphis. Corn was supplied to 120,000 Persians, who dwelt at Memphis in the
quarter called the White Castle, and to a number of auxiliaries. This was the
The Sattagydians, the Gandarians, the Dadicae, and the Aparytae, who were all
reckoned together, paid a tribute of a hundred and seventy talents. This was the
Susa, and the other parts of Cissia, paid three hundred talents. This was the
III.92: From Babylonia, and the rest of Assyria, were drawn a yousand talents
of silver, and five hundred boy-eunuchs. This was the ninth satrapy.
Agbatana, and the other parts of Media, together with the Paricanians and Orthocorybantes,
paid in all four hundred and fifty talents. This was the tenth satrapy.
The Caspians, Pausicae, Pantimathi, and Daritae, were joined in one government,
and paid the sum of two hundred talents. This was the eleventh satrapy.
From the Bactrian tribes as far as the Aegli the tribute received was three
hundred and sixty talents. This was the twelfth satrapy.
III.93: From Pactyica, Armenia, and the countries reaching thence to the Euxine,
the sum drawn was four hundred talents. This was the thirteenth satrapy.
The Sagartians, Sarangians, Thamanaeans, Utians, and Mycians, together with
the inhabitants of the islands in the Erythraean sea, where the king sends those
whom he banishes, furnished altogether a tribute of six hundred talents. This
was the fourteenth satrapy.
The Sacans and Caspians gave two hundred and fifty talents. This was the fifteenth
The Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, and Arians, gave three hundred. This
was the sixteenth satrapy.
III.94: The Paricanians and Ethiopians of Asia furnished a tribute of four
hundred talents. This was the seventeenth satrapy.
The Matienians, Saspeires, and Alarodians were rated to pay two hundred talents.
This was the eighteenth satrapy.
The Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mosynoeci, and Mares had to pay three hundred
talents. This was the nineteenth satrapy.
The Indians, who are more numerous than any other nation with which we are
acquainted, paid a tribute exceeding that of every other people, to wit, three
hundred and sixty talents of gold-dust. This was the twentieth satrapy.
III.95: If the Babylonian money here spoken of be reduced to the Euboic scale,
it will make nine yousand five hundred and forty such talents; and if the gold
be reckoned at thirteen times the worth of silver, the Indian gold-dust will come
to four yousand six hundred and eighty talents. Add these two amounts together
and the whole revenue which came in to Darius year by year will be found to be
in Euboic money fourteen yousand five hundred and sixty talents, not to mention
parts of a talent.
III.96: Such was the revenue which Darius derived from Asia and a small part
of Libya. Later in his reign the sum was increased by the tribute of the islands,
and of the nations of Europe as far as Thessaly. The Great King stores away the
tribute which he receives after this fashion---he melts it down, and, while it
is in a liquid state, runs it into earthen vessels, which are afterwards removed,
leaving the metal in a solid mass. When money is wanted, he coins as much of this
bullion as the occasion requires.
III.97: Such then were the governments, and such the amounts of tribute at
which they were assessed respectively. Persia alone has not been reckoned among
the tributaries---and for this reason, because the country of the Persians is
altogether exempt from tax. The following peoples paid no settled tribute, but
brought gifts to the king: first, the Ethiopians bordering upon Egypt, who were
reduced by Cambyses when he made war on the long-lived Ethiopians, and who dwell
about the sacred city of Nysa, and have festivals in honour of Bacchus. The grain
on which they and their next neighbours feed is the same as that used by the Calantian
Indians. Their dwelling-houses are under ground. Every third year these two nations
brought---and they still bring to my day---two choenices of virgin gold, two hundred
logs of ebony, five Ethiopian boys, and twenty elephant tusks. The Colchians,
and the neighbouring tribes who dwell between them and the Caucasus---for so far
the Persian rule reaches, while north of the Caucasus no one fears them any longer---undertook
to furnish a gift, which in my day was still brought every fifth year, consisting
of a hundred boys, and the same number of maidens. The Arabs brought every year
a yousand talents of frankincense. Such were the gifts which the king received
over and above the tribute-money.
In the records of Ardashir, Founder of the Sassanian Kingdom, son of Papak,
it is written as follows:
That after the death of Alexander [the Great], inhabitant
of Arum, there were in the territory of Iran two hundred and forty princes. Spahan,
Pars, and the borderlands that were nearest to them, were in the hands of Artabanus
[Last of the Parthian kings], the chief king. Papak was the frontier governor
of Pars, and was one of the commissioners appointed by Artabanus. The seat of
Artabanus was in Stakhra. And Papak had no son to preserve his name. And Sasan
was a shepherd employed by Papak, who always remained with the horses and cattle
belonging to the latter, and he was descended from the line of King Darab [Darayavaush
or Darius III], son of Darae.
During the evil reign of Alexander, the descendants of Darab privately lived
in distant lands, wandering with Kurdish shepherds. Papak did not know that Sasan
was descended from the family of Darab, son of Darae. One night Papak saw in a
dream as though the sun was shining from the head of Sasan and giving light to
the whole world. Another night he dreamt that Sasan was seated on a richly adorned
white elephant, and that all those that stood around him in the kingdom made obeisance
to him, praised, and blessed him. The next third night he, accordingly, saw as
if the sacred fires Frobag, Gushasp, and Burzin-Mitro were burning in the house
of Sasan and giving light to the whole world. He wondered at it, and directly
invited to his presence the sages and interpreters of dreams, and narrated to
them the visions he had seen in his dreams during those three nights.
The interpreters of dreams spoke thus: "The person that was seen in that dream,
he or somebody from among the sons of that man will succeed to the sovereignty
of this world, because the sun and the richly adorned white elephant that you
observed represented vigor and the triumph of opulence; the sacred fire of Frobag,
the religious intelligence of the great men among the Mobads; and the sacred fire
Gushasp, warriors and military chieftains; and the sacred fire Burzin-Mitro, the
farmers and agriculturists of the world: and thus this sovereignty will fall to
that man or the descendants of that man."
On hearing these words, Papak dispatched somebody to call Sasan to his presence,
and questioned him as follows: "From what race and family art thou? Out of thy
fore-fathers and ancestors was there anybody who had exercised sovereignty or
chieftainship before?" Sasan solicited from Papak his support and protection in
these words: "Do me no hurt or harm." Papak accepted the request, and Sasan declared
before Papak his own secret as it stood. On hearing his reply Papak was delighted,
and so he ordered Sasan thus: "Elevate thy body by taking a bath."
Meanwhile Papak directed his servants that a suit of clothes fit to be worn
by a king should be brought and given to Sasan, and Sasan wore the royal garments
accordingly. Papak further directed in the case of Sasan that he should be nourished
with invigorating, fresh and proper food for several days. Later on he gave him
his daughter in marriage, and according to the law of nature she, in a short time,
was pregnant by Sasan, and from her Ardashir was born. When Papak observed the
youthful body and cleverness of Ardashir, he interpreted it thus: "The dream which
I beheld was true." He regarded Ardashir as his own son, and brought him up as
a dear child.
When Ardashir reached the age which was the time for higher instruction he
became so proficient in literary knowledge, riding, and other arts that he was
renowned throughout Pars. When Ardashir attained the age of fifteen years information
reached Artabanus that Papak had a son proficient and accomplished in learning
and riding. He wrote a letter to Papak to this effect: "We have heard that you
have a son, who is accomplished and very proficient in learning and riding; our
desire has been that you should send him to our court, and he shall be near us,
so that he will associate with our sons and princes, and we might order for him
position and reward according to the learning which he possesses."
As Artabanus was powerful and very absolute, it was improper on the part of
Papak to do anything contrary to or to evade his command. Immediately therefore
he sent Ardashir well-equipped with ten servants and a superb present of many
marvelous, magnificent, and suitable things for the acceptance of Artabanus. When
Artabanus saw Ardashir he was glad, expressed to him his affectionate regard,
and ordered that he should every day accompany his sons and princes to the chase
and the polo-ground.
Ardashir acted accordingly.
By the help of Providence he became more victorious and warlike than all, on
the polo and the riding-ground, at Chatrang and Vine-Artakhshir, and in several
other arts. One day Artabanus went a-hunting with his chevaliers and Ardashir.
An elk which happened to be running in the desert was then pursued by Ardashir
and the eldest son of Artabanus. And Ardashir, on reaching close to the elk, struck
him with an arrow in such a manner that the arrow pierced through the belly as
far as its feathers, passed through the other side, and the animal died instantly.
When Artabanus and the chevaliers approached them, they expressed wonder at such
a dart and asked: "Who struck that arrow?" Ardashir replied: "I did it." The son
of Artabanus said: "No, because I did it."
Ardashir became angry and spoke thus to the son of Artabanus: "It is not possible
to appropriate the art and heroism of another through tyranny, unpleasantness,
falsehood, and injustice. This is an excellent forest, and the wild asses here
are many. Let us try here a second time, and bring into display our goodness or
evil nature and dexterity." Artabanus thereby felt offended and thereafter did
not allow Ardashir to ride on horseback.
He sent the latter to his stables of horses and cattle, and ordered him as
follows: "Take care of those animals so that you do not go in the day or night
from before those horses and cattle a-hunting, to the playground or the college
of learning." Ardashir understood that Artabanus spoke in this manner from envy
and grudge, and directly wrote a letter to Papak, stating the facts as they stood.
When Papak saw the letter he became melancholy. He wrote in reply to Ardashir
as follows: "You did not act wisely in disputing with great men on a matter from
which no harm could have reached you, and in addressing them with rough words
in public. Now speak out excuses for thy relief and feel humble repentance, for
the sages have said: 'It is not possible for an enemy to do that for an enemy,
which is brought on himself by an ignorant man from his own actions.' This, too,
is said: 'Do not be grieved narrow-mindedly from a person at the time when you
can not pass your life happily without him.' And you yourself know that Artabanus
is a king more powerful than I, thou, or many people in this world, with reference
to our bodies, lives, riches, and estates. And now, too, such is my strictest
advice unto thee that thou shouldst act in unison with and obediently toward them,
and not deliver up thy own glory to annihilation."
Artabanus had in his service an accomplished maiden, whom he regarded with
greater respect and affection than the other maidens under him; and this maiden
took part in every service that was meant to do honor to Artabanus. One day, while
Ardashir was seated by the horse-stalls, playing a tune on a drum, singing, and
making other kinds of merriment, she beheld Ardashir, became enamored of him,
and afterward frequently visited him, and formed friendship and love. Always regularly
at every night, when the unfortunate Artabanus went to sleep, the maiden would
clandestinely approach Ardashir, stay with him till the dawn, and then return
One day Artabanus invited to his presence the sages and astrologers, who belonged
to his court, and put them the following question: "What do you observe regarding
the seven planets and the twelve signs of the zodiac, the position and the motion
of the stars, the condition of the contemporary sovereigns of different kingdoms,
the condition of the peoples of the world, and regarding myself, children, and
The chief of the astrologers said in reply as follows: "The Nahazig [Capricorn]
is sunk below; the star Jupiter has returned to its culminating point and stands
away from Mars and Venus, while Haptoirang [Ursa Major]and the constellation of
Leo descend to the verge and give help to Jupiter; whereupon it seems clear that
a new lord or king will appear, who will kill many potentates, and bring the world
again under the sway of one sovereign." A second leader of the astrologers, too,
came in the presence of the King and spoke to the following effect: "It is so
manifest that any one of the male servants who flies away from his king within
three days from to-day, will attain to greatness and kingship, obtain his wish,
and be victorious, over his king."
The maiden, when she returned to Ardashir at night, recounted to Ardashir the
words as they were told by the astrologers to Artabanus. Ardashir, when he heard
these words, resolved upon departing from that place. He spoke to the maiden thus:
"First of all, if thou art sincere and unanimous with me, and, secondly, if any
one who runs away from his king within the three fixed days which the sages and
astrologers have spoken of, attains to greatness and kingship, we should run away
from here as far as this world goes, and escape. If by the grace of God, the glory
of the kingdom of Iran falls to our help, and we be delivered and both attain
to virtue and goodness, I shall treat thee so that no one in the world will be
regarded as more fortunate than thee." The maiden consented and said: "I regard
you as a nobleman, and shall obey you in every matter."
As it was nearly dawn, the maiden returned to her own room near Artabanus's
chamber. At night, when Artabanus was asleep, she took from the treasury of Artabanus
an Indian sword, golden saddles, belts of fine leather, golden crowns, golden
goblets full of jewels, dirhems and dinars, coats-of-mail, highly engraved weapons
of war, and many other precious things, and she brought them to Ardashir.
Meanwhile Ardashir saddled two of Artabanus's horses that ran seventy frasangs
a day. He seated himself on one and the maiden on the other, took the road leading
to Pars, and rode on with speed.
Thus they narrate that, at night, when they approached to a country, Ardashir
feared lest the countrymen might behold, recognize, and capture them; so he did
not enter the country, but passed by one of its precincts.
His approach was seen by two women seated together, who on seeing them exclaimed:
"Do not fear, Ardashir the Kai, son of Papak, thou art of the blood of Sasan,
and who hast risen from King Darab; it is not possible for any evil person to
take possession of thee, as thou art destined to rule over the kingdom of Iran
for many years. Make haste until you reach the sea; and when you see the ocean
before your eyes, do not guard yourself, because when your eyes fall on the ocean,
then you will be quite free from the fear of your enemies." Ardashir became glad
on hearing these words, and rode onward with speed from that place.
When the day commenced Artabanus called for the maiden, but she was not to
be found. The horse-keeper came and spoke to Artabanus as follows: "Ardashir and
two of your steeds are not to be found in their places." Artabanus thereby became
aware that one of his maidens, too, had run away and gone with Ardashir. And when
he heard the information regarding his treasures his heart burst with grief. He
invited the chief of the astrologers, and said: "Make the best of your time, and
observe carefully as to the place where that offender [Ardashir] has gone with
that dissolute harlot, and as to the time when we shall be able to get hold of
The chief of the astrologers observed the position of the planets, and replied
to Artabanus as follows: "As the Aris is dismissed by Saturn and Mars, and approached
by Jupiter and Mercury, and as the lord of the center of the sky [the Pole Star]
stands far below the brightest place of the Sun, it is clear that Ardashir has
fled away and gone, and is now on the road toward the frontiers of Pars; and if
he is not overtaken within three days, it will not be possible to capture him
Immediately Artabanus prepared an army of 4,000 men, and took the road leading
to Pars in pursuit of Ardashir. At midday he reached the spot where the direct
road crossed to Pars. And he inquired of the inhabitants thus: "At what time did
those two riders who came toward this side depart?" The people said: "At the dawn
of day, when the sun brought on its sharp rays, they passed like a violent wind,
and a very powerful eagle was running after them than which no more handsome eagle
could be found; and we believe that by this time they must have gone to a distance
of many frasangs, and you will not, therefore, be able to overtake them." Accordingly
Artabanus did not hesitate, but hastened onward.
When he reached another place, he asked the inhabitants: "At what time did
those two riders pass this place?" They replied: "At midday they rode on from
here as swiftly as a violent wind, and an eagle followed them as their companion."
Artabanus seemed astonished at this, and said: "Consider that we know the pair
of riders, but what is the propriety of the eagle following them?"
So he questioned the high-priest his minister, and the latter answered as follows:
"It is the majesty of the Kayanian sovereignty, which has not reached him up to
now, so it is necessary that we should ride on quickly that we might catch him
before that glory is attained by him." Artabanus impetuously hastened onward with
his cavalcade, and the next day they passed over seventy frasangs.
On the road he met a body of people belonging to a caravan, of whom Artabanus
inquired: "At what place have those two riders met you?" They said: "Between you
and them there is still a distance of twenty frasangs; and we have noticed an
eagle that was very large and swift, and seated on the horse with one of the riders."
Artabanus asked the high-priest: "What does that eagle which accompanied them
on the horse indicate?" The high-priest replied as follows: "May you be immortal!
It is the Majesty of the Kayanians which reaches Ardashir; it is not possible
to get hold of him by any such means, so thereafter you and your horsemen should
not take any more pains, nor fatigue the horses any further and kill them; but
you should seek means of a different kind against Ardashir."
When Artabanus heard such advice, he turned back and came to his capital. Afterward
he got his forces and heroes equipped, and dispatched them with one of his sons
to Pars, in order to catch Ardashir.
Ardashir had now taken the road to the seashore, and so resumed his journey.
Several of the inhabitants of Pars, who had been distressed by Artabanus, placed
their wealth, property, and themselves at his disposal, and expressed to him their
unanimity and submission.
When he reached the place which they call Ramishne Ardashir [ "Delight of Ardashir"]
a magnanimous hero of the name of Banak, an inhabitant of Spahan, who had escaped
from the hands of Artabanus and settled himself there, came personally to Ardashir
with his six sons, many soldiers and heroes. Ardashir was at first afraid of Banak,
lest the latter, having captured him, would deliver him up to Artabanus. Afterward
Banak approached Ardashir, took an oath, and gave him confidence in these words:
"As long as I live, I myself with my sons will remain submissive to thee."
Ardashir became glad, and on that site he ordered a town to be built, which
was called Ramishne-i-Artakhshir. He left Banak there with a detachment of cavalry,
and himself marched toward the sea-coast. When in his march onward he saw the
ocean before his eyes, he offered thanksgiving to God, called that place the city
of Bokht Ardashir, and ordered an Atash-i-Vahram to be enthroned on that sea-coast.
From that place Ardashir returned to Banak and his cavalry, and prepared an army.
Thence he went to the threshold of the sacred fire Frobag, which is meritorious,
and solicited spiritual gifts from it. Then he came to battle with Artabanus,
killed the entire army of the latter, seized their wealth, property, horses, and
portable lodges, and settled himself in Stakhar [Ancient Persepolis, the capital
of Pars]. He collected soldiers in large numbers from Kerman, Mokristan, Spahan,
and different districts of Pars, and came to fight with Artabanus himself. So
Artabanus sent for soldiers and provisions from different frontiers, such as Rai
[near Tehran, the Arsacid capital], Demavand [the mountain range near Rai], Delman
[modern Gilan], and Patash-khvargar [an offshoot of the Aparsen Range].
But as the Glory of the Kayanians was with Ardashir, the latter gained success.
He killed Artabanus, whose entire wealth and property fell into the hands of Ardashir,
who married Artabanus's daughter, and went back to Pars. He built a city which
was named Ardashir Gadman, wherein a large tank was dug, from which water was
conveyed by means of four canals; and near that tank an Atash-i-Adaran was established.
Further, Ardashir excavated a high mountain, and turned the course of a river
into the city through subterranean canals. He bestowed his patronage on many cities,
made them very prosperous, and ordered that several Atash-i-Vahrams should also
Afterward he (Ardashir), having collected many soldiers and heroes of Zavul,
proceeded to battle against Madig, the King of the Kurds. There were much fighting
and bloodshed, in which the army of Ardashir finally sustained a defeat. Ardashir
became anxious on account of his own army. On his way back he came at night through
a desert which contained neither food nor water, so he himself with all his troops
and horses came to hunger and thirst.
Marching onward he saw, from a distance, a fire belonging to some shepherds,
and there Ardashir went and beheld an old man living with his cattle on a mountain-steppe.
Ardashir passed the night there, and the next day he asked them (the shepherds)
about the road. They said: "Three frasangs hence there is a very fertile village
which has many inhabitants and plenty of food." Ardashir went to that village,
and dispatched a person to send to his capital his entire cavalry.
The army of Madig boasted thus: "Now there should be no fear of Ardashir, as
on account of his defeat he has returned to Pars." Meanwhile Ardashir, having
prepared an army of four thousand men, rushed upon them, and surprised them with
a night attack.
He killed one thousand of the Kurds, while others were wounded and taken prisoners;
and out of the Kurds that were imprisoned he sent to Pars their king with his
sons, brothers, children, his abundant wealth and property.
On the road the army of Haftan-bokht, the lord of the Worm, struck against
them, seized the entire wealth, property, and portable lodges from those cavalry
soldiers of Ardashir, and carried them into Guzaran, one of the boroughs of G;ular,
where the Worm had its abode. Ardashir then entertained this idea: "I shall go
to Armenia and Ataropatgan, because Yazdan-kard of Shaharzur has, with many soldiers
and heroes, passed beyond the frontiers of Shaharzur, concluded a treaty with
the ruler of Kerman, and become his ally."
But as soon as Ardashir heard of the tyranny and wickedness of the sons of
Haktan-bokht toward his army, he thought: "I must, first of all, put in order
the affairs at Pars and become fearless of the enemies, and after that begin to
meddle with other cities."
Now as regards the Worm idolatry, it grew so powerful and tyrannical at Guzaran
that an army of five thousand men, that composed its forces in the different frontier
lands of the Sind [Northwestern India] and the coast-towns, now came together
to its help. Consequently, the troops and heroes of Ardashir reassembled around
him from different quarters. Haftan-bokht, too, summoned his own entire army back
to his capital. Then Ardashir dispatched an innumerable army with chieftains to
the battle of the Worm.
Now the friends of the Worm deposited their entire wealth, riches, property,
and portable lodges in the citadel and fortress of Guzaran, and privately took
refuge themselves in mountain cavities. And the cavalry of Ardashir had no knowledge
thereof, so they, on reaching the foot of the fortress of Gular, blockaded the
citadel. When night fell, the army of the Worm attacked them, committed bloodshed,
killed many of Artakhshir's troops, and seized from them horses, saddles, saddle-tackles,
property, and portable lodges. With lamentation and dishonor the troops returned
to Ardashir in a disgraceful condition and unarmed. When the latter beheld them
in such a plight he became much distressed, and, consequently, invited to his
capital all his troops from different cities and territories, and engaged himself
with a large army to battle against the Worm.
When he arrived at the fortress of Guzaran, the whole army of the Worm had
encamped itself inside the fortress, so he, too, encamped his army round the outer
walls of the fortress. The lord of the Worm, Haftan-bokht, had seven sons, and
each of them was appointed by him governor of a city with one thousand men under
At this juncture one of the sons, who was in Arvastan, came by the passage
of a river with a large army composed of soldiers from Arabia and Mazenderan,
and stood against Ardashir in battle. The army of the Worm, which had been inside
the fortress, completely marched out, and zealously and vehemently struggled and
fought with Artakhshir's troops, many being killed on both sides.
When the army of the Worm came out of the fortress, it took such a by-road
that it became impossible for any of Ardashir's troops to go out of the camp or
to bring in any food for himself or fodder for his horse, and, consequently, the
satiety of all men and animals was changed into want of food and helplessness.
When Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, an inhabitant of Zarham in Pars, heard that Ardashir
was without provision near the capital of the Worm, and obtained no victory over
its army, he accoutered his troops and heroes, marched toward the residence of
Ardashir, and carried away all the wealth and riches of Artakhshir's treasure.
Ardashir, hearing of such violation on the part of Mitrok and other men of
Pars, reflected upon it for a while thus: "I ought to postpone the battle with
the Worm, and then go to fight out a battle with Mitrok." He, therefore, summoned
all his forces back to their quarters, deliberated with their commanders, first
sought the means of delivering himself and his army, and then sat himself down
to eat breakfast. That very moment a long arrow, dispatched from the fortress,
came down and pierced, as far as its feathers, through the roasted lamb that was
on the table. On the arrow it was written as follows: "This arrow is darted by
the troops of the lord of the Worm, glorious; we ought not to kill a great man
like you, so we have struck that roasted lamb."
Ardashir, having observed the state of things, disencamped his army and withdrew
from the place.
The army of the Worm hastened after Ardashir, and hemmed in his men again in
such a manner that Ardashir's army could not proceed farther. So Ardashir himself
passed away singly by the sea-coast.
They say that the "Glory of the Kayans," which had been previously far from
Ardashir, now stood near him, and gradually approached nearer, until Ardashir
was led away unmolested from that dangerous place, from the hands of the enemies,
and he reached the town which they call Alavad. At night, he went to the house
belonging to two brothers, one of whom was named Burjak, the other Burj-ataro,
and spoke to them thus: "I am one of Ardashir's troops, who has come encountering
defeat from the battle against the Worm; today you will please allow me to repose
here for a short time, so that information may reach me as to the land where the
army of Ardashir is now encamped."
Very sympathetically they replied to Ardashir as follows: "Accursed be Ahriman,
the wicked spirit, who has made that idolatry so victorious and stubborn that
all the inhabitants of the frontier districts are rendered apostate from the religion
of Ahuramazda and the Amshaspands, and who has finally turned into defeat even
a great lord like Ardashir and the whole army that accompanied him, at the hands
of those enemies, the wicked idolaters."
So saying they held the bridle of Ardashir's steed, led him into the courtyard,
tied him in a stable, and recreated the animal with barley, stray, and hay; while
Ardashir was led in a decent manner to a sitting-place or room where he reposed
himself. Ardashir was at this time very melancholy and thoughtful.
Meanwhile they [the brothers] performed the darun ceremony, and requested Ardashir
in these words: "Kindly recite the vaz and take your meal, and do not entertain
melancholy and sorrow; because Ahuramazda and the Amshaspands would find out a
means of delivery from these circumstances, and not let this adversity continue
in this manner; for with the tyranny of Zohak, Frasyav of Tur, and Alexander of
Arum, God was at last displeased, and they were thereby rendered, in spite of
their grandeur and glory, so obscure and unknown as if the world had never known
On hearing these words, Ardashir became pleased in mind, recited the vaz, and
took his meal. As those brothers had no wine, they brought to him a pomegranate,
performed the myazd, or offering-ceremony, and recited blessings, [i.e., the Afrin
prayers]. As Ardashir became unsuspicious regarding their piety, religiousness,
unanimity, and submissiveness, he divulged his own secrets to Burjak and Burj-ataro,
saying: "I am Ardashir myself. Now you contemplate as to how it is possible to
discover the means of destroying the Worm and its troops."
They said in reply as follows: "If it be necessary, while seeking on your behalf
the kingdom of Arian, to deliver up ourselves in person, our lives, wealth, riches,
women and children, we will deliver them up. But we understand it thus that a
means can be sought against this deceitful creature if thou shouldst dress thyself
after the fashion of an inhabitant of some distant city, on thy way to the fortress,
and devote thyself personally in its service and worship, and take there with
thee two men who are religious pupils and persons conversant with the Revelation,
and perform loudly with them the adoration and extollings of God and the Amshaspands;
and when the time of the Worm comes for taking food, so arrange that thou shouldst
have some molten brass for pouring it into the mouth of that wicked creature,
so that it dies, and the spirit of that Druj, too, can be removed by the sacred
adoration and extollings of the Deity."
Ardashir approved of the advice, meditated upon it well, and then spoke to
Burjak and Burj-ataro thus: "I can achieve this exploit by your assistance." They
replied: "We devote ourselves, body and life, to do whatever you command."
Thence Ardashir marched again toward Ardashir-Gadman, undertook the battle
with Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, killed Mitrok, and took possession of his territory,
land, wealth, and property. For the purpose of bringing to an end the battle with
the Worm he dispatched a person to Burjak and Burj-ataro, invited them to his
presence, and deliberated with them. He took with himself many dirhems, dinurs,
and garments, dressed himself like an inhabitant of Khorassan, and arriving at
the foot of the castle of Gular with Burjak and Burj-ataro, spoke to its inmates
thus: "I am an inhabitant of Khorassan. I crave indulgence from that glorious
lord, that I may approach him for the worship of his threshold." The idolaters
admitted Ardashir with those two male companions, and made room for them in the
house of the Worm.
For three days Ardashir showed himself engaged in that sort of worship and
unanimity toward the Worm, gave the dirhems, dinars, and clothes which he had
brought with him to the idol-worshipers, and acted in such a manner that every
one of the inmates of the fortress was astonished and commended him. Afterward
Ardashir spoke thus: "Be pleased to so permit that I may give food to the Worm
for three days with my own hands." The idolaters who were superintendents acceded
to it. Ardashir now dispatched a person with an order that four hundred skilful
and zealous men of noble blood should hide themselves among the mountain cliffs;
and he further commanded: "On the day of Asman if you observe smoke issuing from
the fortress of the Worm, you should perform feats of bravery and show your military
skill, advancing toward the foot of the fortress."
That very day Ardashir had some brass melted himself, while Burjak and Burj-ataro
performed the sacred yazishn ceremony, and recited the azbaishne praises of God.
When it was time for taking food the Worm cried aloud according to its daily habit.
Some time before that, Ardashir had made the commanding idolaters drunk and unconscious
at breakfast, and he himself, with his own companions, went afterward near the
Worm, and carried to it the blood of large and small cattle, according as it was
given it every day; and no sooner did the Worm turn up its mouth to drink the
blood than Ardashir poured the molten brass into the mouth of the Worm. And the
brass permeated through its whole body, the Worm burst asunder into two pieces,
and such a noise arose from it that all the men in the fortress came on the spot,
and confusion prevailed throughout the stronghold.
Ardashir laid his hands on the shield and the sword, and committed grievous
wounding and massacre in the fortress, while he ordered that they should make
a fire, so that its smoke would become visible to his troops outside. His companions
did so. As soon as the troops, that were on the neighboring mountain, saw this
smoke issuing from the fortress, they, in order to help Ardashir, came running
to its foot, rushed into its gate, and exclaimed: "Victorious, victorious may
Ardashir be, king of kings, son of Papak!"
Instantly the sword was held for use; and in such a manner the lord of the
castle was killed, and everything destroyed, that the soldiers of Haftan-bokht,
in the hurry and conflict of the battle, escaped by falling from the rampart,
while those that remained solicited for protection, and went into bondage and
Ardashir commanded that the fortress should be razed to the ground and demolished,
while on its site he ordered the city which they call Guzaran to be erected. In
that quarter he caused the Atash-i-Vahram to be enthroned. He loaded on the backs
of one thousand camels the wealth, property, gold and silver contained in the
fortress, and dispatched them to Gobar. He granted to Burjak and Burj-ataro the
share of such a superb reward as zealous adherents deserve, and entrusted them
the chieftaincy and governorship of the city of Guzaran and its environs.
After the Worm was killed, Ardashir returned to Gobar. His forces and treasures
came to the frontiers of Kerman, and to the battle against Barjan. Now he had
with him two of Artabanus's sons, the other two having been fugitives at the court
of the King of Kabul. The latter dispatched a message, a written letter, to their
sister, as she was the wife of Ardashir, to the following effect: "It is quite
fair that people do not divulge secrets to such women, since thou hast forgotten
the deaths of thy near relations, of thy illustrious kinsmen, whom that sinner
[Ardashir], the enemy of God, unbecomingly killed to death. Consequently, thou
hast abandoned every trace of love and affection for those two miserable brothers,
who are subject to distress, difficulties, fear, terror, and indignity in exile
and in the district of battles; as well as for those two other unlucky brothers
of thine, upon whom that perfidious man inflicts punishment with the fetters of
imprisonment, and who always wish for death as a gift. Thy mind has been sincere
with the faithless one, so thou hast no sympathy or regard for us.
"That person will pass away distressed who will henceforward boast of, or trust,
any woman in this world. Now this is, likewise, our mutual vow through thee, that
thou shouldst choose some means for our sake, and dost not fail to avenge the
deaths of thy father and thy near relations, who were illustrious; that thou shouldst
accept from this man the fatal poison that is forwarded to thee with one of our
trustworthy male relatives, and, whenever thou canst, administer it to that sinner
and faithless wretch before he takes his meal, so that he directly dies, and both
thy imprisoned brothers be set at liberty; and we, too, shall return to our native
town, country, and land; thereby thy soul will be made worthy of Paradise, and
an eternal fame established for thyself, while other women in this world will
regard thy good acts as most worthy their respect and esteem."
When the daughter of Artabanus observed the letter sent to her in that form,
along with poison, she contemplated upon the matter thus: "I ought to act accordingly,
and relieve these two brothers from their fetters." One day as Ardashir was very
hungry and thirsty, he went back from the chase to his residence to take dinner,
and when he had finished saying of the Zarathustrian prayer of grace, his consort
handed to him the poison mixed with flour and milk with these words: "First of
all, pray drink this, because you will thereby refresh yourself from heat and
Ardashir, having held it in his hand, was going to drink it, when, people relate
that the glorious fire Frobag, which is victorious, flew into the room in the
shape of a red hawk, struck the goblet containing the flour with its wing, and
the goblet with the entire flour fell from the hand of Ardashir on the ground.
Both Ardashir and his wife got confused when they beheld this. A cat and a dog
that were in the house licked up the contents and perished instantly.
Ardashir understood that: "That was some poison prepared for killing me." He
instantly sent for the chief of the Mobads, and questioned him thus: "O Airpat!
what dost thou think of one who attempts the life of her lord, and what should
be done to her?" The Mobad replied: "May you be immortal! May you attain to your
object! She who attempts the life of her lord is worthy of death, and should be
killed." Ardashir then ordered the Mobad: "Take this dissolute woman, who is a
sorceress, who is the offspring of wicked parents, to the executioner, and order
him to kill her." The high priest, holding the hand of the woman, left the court.
The latter addressed the priest in these words: "Inform Ardashir that this
day I have completed seven months of pregnancy; because if I am worthy of death,
this offspring that I have in my womb should not also be regarded as worthy of
death." On hearing these words, the high priest turned about and went back to
Ardashir, and addressed him as follows: "May you be immortal! This woman is pregnant,
so she must not be executed, for a time, until she is delivered of the child;
for if she is fit to be killed, the offspring that is in her womb from your Majesty
should not also be considered worthy of death, and executed." As Ardashir entertained
wrath, he said: "Don't stay a moment; kill her." The high priest knew that Ardashir
was full of wrath, and would have to repent it; so he did not allow the woman
to be killed; but he conveyed her to his house, and kept her in concealment.
He then said to his wife: "Keep this woman respectfully, and say nothing about
her to anybody." When the time of delivery approached, she gave birth to a very
worthy son. He was named Shapur [the later Shapur the Great]; and he was reared
there till he reached the age of seven years.
One day Ardashir went a-hunting; and, on entering the forest, he gave his horse
loose rein in pursuit of a female elk, when the male elk coming straight up against
Ardashir, rescued the hind, and gave himself up to death. Ardashir laid low the
male animal, and galloped his horse against the fawn. The mother, on seeing the
rider turn his horse in pursuit of her fawn, came and relieved her young one by
delivering herself up to death.
Ardashir, having observed this incident, stopped, pondering, and became sympathetical;
and when he turned back his horse he mused upon the scene as follows: "Woe be
unto man, who ought to follow, but does not follow, these dumb quadrupeds that
are irrational and speechless, but so faithful toward one another that one lays
down his life for the sake of his mate or his young one." He was then fully reminded
of the child she had in her womb, and he, on horseback as he was, loudly uttered
a mournful cry.
When the military chieftains, grandees, nobles, and princes beheld such a state
of things, they stood perplexed for a time, and went all together toward the head
of the Mobads and questioned him thus: "How could such a thing happen that Ardashir
should remain in such a lonely mood, and be visited by wailing, grief, and sorrow,
and should cry aloud in that manner?"
The chief of the Mobads, the commander-in-chief of Arian, the commander of
the guards, the chief of the secretaries, and the moral preceptor of the princes
went near Ardashir, fell prostrate on their faces, made obeisance, and addressed
him as follows: "May you be immortal! Pray do not render yourself melancholy in
this manner and fill your heart with grief and lamentation. If it be possible
to contrive means, through human activity, to undo an act that has been done,
make us also cognizant of it, so that we may lay before you our bodies, lives,
riches, wealth, wives and children; but if it be such a calamity that no remedy
can be found, pray do not render yourself and ourselves, the subjects of the region,
full of grief and lamentation."
Ardashir said in reply: "Nothing adverse has now happened unto me; but today
on my personally beholding the dumb, speechless, and stupid quadrupeds in a certain
condition in the forest, I was reminded of the wife and innocent child that was
in the mother's womb, of whose execution I was the deviser and judge; wherefore
a grievous sin should be on my soul." When the head Mobad observed that Ardashir
repented of the act, he fell prostrate on his face, and addressed him thus: "May
you be immortal! Order that the punishment of margarzan sinners, or of those that
disobey the king's command, should be inflicted upon me."
Ardashir said surprisingly: "Why dost thou speak so? What crime hast thou committed?"
The chief of the Mobads answered: "That woman and the child, whom you had ordered
to kill, have not been killed by us, and a son has been born, who is more handsome
and accomplished than all the newly born children and princes." Ardashir said
with amazement: "What sayest thou?" The high priest said: "May you be immortal!
It is so as I have said." Ardashir ordered that a superb present consisting of
red rubies, kingly pearls, and jewels, should be made to the Mobad.
Directly somebody entered, bringing in Shapur. On beholding his own son, Shapur,
Ardashir fell prostrate on his face, and offered much thanksgiving unto Ahuramazda,
the Amshaspands, the Glory of the Kavans, and the victorious Atash-i-Vahram, and
he spoke as follows: "What has come to me has never been the lot of any lord or
king. Who was there that came back to life from amongst the dead, like such a
beautiful offspring as mine, before the millennium, the Resurrection, and the
Final Renovation, of Soshyans?" On that very site he ordered the erection of a
city which they call Raye-i-Shapur. He also established there an Atash-i-Varahran,
transferred much riches and wealth to the building of the "King of the Sacred
Fires," and ordered the continuation therein of many religious duties and acts.
Afterward Ardashir marched toward different frontiers, and fought many bloody
battles with the principal rulers of the territory of Arian. But always when one
of the frontiers was restored to order, another rose in perfidy and unsubmission.
Ardashir largely gave away his riches for this very purpose; and he communed with
himself as follows: "Is it not perhaps destined for me by Providence that the
kingdom of Arian should be restored by me to an absolute monarchy?"
He, therefore, determined thus: "We ought to consult several learned and sagacious
Indian princes, who are soothsayers, as to whether it is so that it is not appointed
by our destiny to conduct the sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian, and we ought
to remain content with our lot, to invoke blessings, to abandon these bloody battles,
and to rest quietly ourselves from such drudgery of the time of life."
Consequently, Ardashir dispatched one of his confidential men to the head Kait
of India to put him the question concerning the restoration of the kingdom of
Arian to an empire. When Ardashir's man reached the presence of the Kait of India,
the latter, observing the messenger, spoke to him, before he could express himself,
to the following effect: "Are you sent by the King of the Persians to put me the
question: 'Will the sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian reach unto me as its emperor'?
Now return and give him this reply from me: 'Such a monarchy can not be restored
by any one except by a person who will be a descendant of two different families;
one is yours, another that of Mitrok, son of Anoshepat.'"
The messenger returned to the presence of Ardashir, and communicated the opinion
of the Kait of India, so that Ardashir became informed of it. When Ardashir heard
his words, he said: "May the day never come when, from the line of Mitrok, whose
soul is perverted, anybody should become dominant in the kingdom of Arian, because
as regards myself Mitrok, who was of a grievous and mischievous race, was personally
my enemy, while his descendants, who are alive, are all enemies of myself and
my children; so if they become powerful and seek their father's vengeance, they
will prove harmful to my children."
In consequence of wrath and malice, Ardashir went to the dwelling of Mitrok,
and ordered that all his children should be belabored and killed. There was a
daughter of Mitrok's, three years old, whom the village authorities privately
carried away from the house, and gave in charge of a farmer, directing him that
he should bring her up, and attend to her wants. The farmer acted accordingly
and reared her in an excellent manner. And when several years elapsed the maiden
reached the age of womanhood, and the beauty and gait of her body, her dexterity,
her physical strength and power developed so well that she was regarded as the
best and most prominent of all women.
According to the appointment of nature and time, one day Shapur, son of Ardashir,
happened to pass by that town on his way to the hunting-ground; and at the close
of the chase he himself with nine horsemen returned to the country-farm wherein
the maiden lived. The farmer's daughter was sitting on the top of the well, drawing
water from it, and supplying it to the quadrupeds. The farmer was away on some
business. As soon as the maiden beheld Shapur and his horsemen, she got up, made
obeisance, and addressed him as follows: "You are welcome in health, goodness,
and blessings. Pray take rest, because this place is delightful, and the shade
of trees pleasant; and as the time is hot I will draw out some water, which you
yourself and the horses may drink."
Shapur was vexed owing to fatigue, hunger, and thirst, so he answered the maiden
peevishly thus: "We will have water for ourselves; thou needst not trouble thyself
about it." The maiden went away dejected and sat aside. Then Shapur spoke to the
horsemen as follows: "Throw that bucket into the well and draw out water, so that
we may drink it, and you may give it to the quadrupeds to drink. They acted accordingly
and cast the bucket into the well; but owing to the largeness of the bucket it
was impossible for them to draw it up full of water. The maiden was observing
this from a distance.
Shapur, on seeing that his horsemen could not draw the bucket up from the well,
grew angry, went himself to the top of the well, and abusing those horsemen said:
"Shame and disgrace to you who are less hardy and less qualified than a woman."
So saying he seized the rope from the hands of the horsemen, and applying his
own force to the rope he drew up the bucket from the well. The maiden felt surprised
at the strength, skill, and vigor of Shapur.
No sooner did she see this than she, with the strength, skill, and vigor that
were purely established in her, drew up the bucket full of water from the well,
and went running to Shapur, bowed down to him, and exclaimed: "May you be immortal,
Shapur, son of Ardashir, the best of heroes!" Shapur laughed and asked the maiden:
"How dost thou come to know that I am Shapur?" The maiden replied: "I have heard
from many people that there is not a single horseman in the kingdom of Arian who
can emulate Shapur, son of Ardashir, in physical strength, vigor, the beauty and
gait of body, and dexterity."
Shapur said to the maiden: "Tell me, truly, whose offspring art thou?" The
maiden answered: "I am the daughter of the farmer who stays in this village."
Shapur said: "Thou dost not say the truth, since the daughter of a peasant has
no such skill, vigor, gait, and decency as thou possessest. Now we will not believe
thee until thou speakest the truth." The maiden replied: "If thou shouldst give
me protection, I would sincerely tell you the truth." Shapur exclaimed: "Protection!
Don't be afraid."
The maiden said: "I am the daughter of Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, and brought
to this place on account of the fear of Ardashir, and of the seven children of
Mitrok none has survived up to now except myself." Shapur summoned the farmer
before him, solemnly accepted the maiden as his wife, and remained with her for
the night. According to the law of creation, that is, according to the law of
nature, that very night the maiden became pregnant with Hormazd, son of Shapur
[Hormazd I, r. 272, killed in battle by the Roman Emperor Aurelian]. Shapur kept
his wife in royal pomp and respect, and Hormazd, son of Shapur, was born from
Shapur kept Hormazd in secrecy from his father, until he reached the age of
seven years. One day Hormazd went to the race-course with the youth and princes
of the family of Ardashir, and while he was playing polo with them Ardashir happened
to be sitting there in his camp with the high priest, the commander of the warriors,
several noblemen and grandees, and attentively beholding them. Hormazd, as well
as the youth, was victorious and warlike at riding And naturally one of them struck
his polo-club to the ball which fell on the side of Ardashir, and the latter connived
at it. The youth stood dumbfounded, and none would ride on or proceed further
owing to the grandeur of Ardashir. But Hormazd intrepidly went toward him, took
up the ball, and, striking it back courageously, he raised a cry of Joy.
Ardashir asked one of those present: "Whose boy is this?" They said: "May you
be immortal! We do not know this boy." Ardashir sent a person, called the boy
in his presence and asked him: "Whose son art thou?" Hormazd answered: "I am the
son of Shapur." Instantly he dispatched a person and summoned Shapur and questioned
him thus: "Whose son is that?" Shapur solicited protection, saying: "Grant it,
O Ardashir." And protection was granted by him to Shapur.
Shapur then said: "May you be immortal! This son is mine. I kept him in secrecy
from you for seven years." Ardashir replied: "What is the cause of this impropriety
of thy withdrawing such a worthy son from my sight for seven years?" So saying
he embraced Hormazd, gave him many a gift, and garment, and offered thanksgiving
to God. He then expressed himself thus: "This confirms what the Kait of India
Afterward, when Hormazd attained to sovereignty, he was able to bring back
the whole kingdom of Arian under an absolute monarchy; and he actually brought
the head rulers of different frontiers under his submission. And he demanded contribution
and tribute from Arum [Rome] and India, and made the kingdom of Arian more embellished,
more efficient, and more famous than before.
And the Emperor of the Arumians, the Tab of Kabul, the Rajah of the Hindus,
the Khan of the Turks, and other chief rulers of different countries, had come
to his court with sweet salutations.
Completed with gratification, pleasure, and joy.
May Ardashir, the King of kings, son of Papak, and Shapur, the King of kings,
son of Ardashir, and Hormazd, the King of kings, son of Shapur, be immortal-souled!
May the immortal-souled Rustam, son of Mitro-avan, who has written this copy,
be so, and more so!
From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early
Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VII:
Ancient Persia, pp. 225-253.
I.201: When Cyrus had achieved the conquest of the Babylonians, he conceived
the desire of bringing the Massagetai under his dominion. Now the Massagetai are
said to be a great and warlike nation, dwelling eastward, toward the rising of
the sun, beyond the river Araxes, and opposite the Issedonians. By many they are
regarded as a Scythian race.
I.215: In their dress and mode of living the Massagetai resemble the Scythians.
They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they
use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are
all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for
their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles,
of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates
of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They
use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass
and gold in abundance.
I.216: The following are some of their customs: Each man has but one wife,
yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetai and
not of the Scythians, as the Hellenes wrongly say. Human life does not come to
its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk
collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some
cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those
who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they
do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he
did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and
on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Araxes. Milk is what they chiefly
drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in
sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest
of all mortal creatures.
I.205: At this time the Massagetai were ruled by a queen, named Tomyris, who
at the death of her husband, the late king, had mounted the throne. To her Cyrus
sent ambassadors, with instructions to court her on his part, pretending that
he wished to take her to wife. Tomyris, however, aware that it was her kingdom,
and not herself, that he courted, forbade the men to approach. Cyrus, therefore,
finding that he did not advance his designs by this deceit, marched towards the
Araxes, and openly displaying his hostile intentions; set to work to construct
a bridge on which his army might cross the river, and began building towers upon
the boats which were to be used in the passage.
I.206: While the Persian leader was occupied in these labors, Tomyris sent
a herald to him, who said, "King of the Medes, cease to press this enterprise,
for you cannot know if what you are doing will be of real advantage to you. Be
content to rule in peace your own kingdom, and bear to see us reign over the countries
that are ours to govern. As, however, I know you will not choose to hearken to
this counsel, since there is nothing you less desirest than peace and quietness,
come now, if you are so mightily desirous of meeting the Massagetai in arms, leave
your useless toil of bridge-making; let us retire three days' march from the river
bank, and do you come across with your soldiers; or, if you like better to give
us battle on your side the stream, retire yourself an equal distance." Cyrus,
on this offer, called together the chiefs of the Persians, and laid the matter
before them, requesting them to advise him what he should do. All the votes were
in favor of his letting Tomyris cross the stream, and giving battle on Persian
I.207: But Croesus the Lydian, who was present at the meeting of the chiefs,
disapproved of this advice; he therefore rose, and thus delivered his sentiments
in opposition to it: "Oh! my king! I promised you long since, that, as Zeus had
given me into your hands, I would, to the best of my power, avert impending danger
from your house. Alas! my own sufferings, by their very bitterness, have taught
me to be keen-sighted of dangers. If you deem yourself an immortal, and your army
an army of immortals, my counsel will doubtless be thrown away upon you. But if
you feel yourself to be a man, and a ruler of men, lay this first to heart, that
there is a wheel on which the affairs of men revolve, and that its movement forbids
the same man to be always fortunate.
"Now concerning the matter in hand, my judgment runs counter to the judgment
of your other counselors. For if you agree to give the enemy entrance into your
country, consider what risk is run! Lose the battle, and therewith your whole
kingdom is lost. For, assuredly, the Massagetai, if they win the fight, will not
return to their homes, but will push forward against the states of your empire.
Or, if you win the battle, why, then you win far less than if you were across
the stream, where you might follow up your victory. For against your loss, if
they defeat you on your own ground, must be set theirs in like case. Rout their
army on the other side of the river, and you may push at once into the heart of
their country. Moreover, were it not disgrace intolerable for Cyrus the son of
Cambyses to retire before and yield ground to a woman?
"My counsel, therefore, is that we cross the stream, and pushing forward as
far as they shall fall back, then seek to get the better of them by stratagem.
I am told they are unacquainted with the good things on which the Persians live,
and have never tasted the great delights of life. Let us then prepare a feast
for them in our camp; let sheep be slaughtered without stint, and the wine cups
be filled full of noble liquor, and let all manner of dishes be prepared: then
leaving behind us our worst troops, let us fall back towards the river. Unless
I very much mistake, when they see the good fare set out, they will forget all
else and fall to. Then it will remain for us to do our parts manfully."
I.208: Cyrus, when the two plans were thus placed in contrast before him, changed
his mind, and preferring the advice which Croesus had given, returned for answer
to Tomyris that she should retire, and that he would cross the stream. She therefore
retired, as she had engaged; and Cyrus, giving Croesus into the care of his son
Cambyses (whom he had appointed to succeed him on the throne), with strict charge
to pay him all respect and treat him well, if the expedition failed of success;
and sending them both back to Persia, crossed the river with his army.
I.209: The first night after the passage, as he slept in the enemy's country,
a vision appeared to him. He seemed to see in his sleep the eldest of the sons
of Hystaspes, with wings upon his shoulders, shadowing with the one wing Asia,
and Europe with the other. Now Hystaspes, the son of Arsames, was of the race
of the Achaimenidai, and his eldest son, Darius, was at that time scarce twenty
years old; wherefore, not being of age to go to the wars, he had remained behind
in Persia. When Cyrus woke from his sleep, and turned the vision over in his mind,
it seemed to him no light matter. He therefore sent for Hystaspes, and taking
him aside said, "Hystaspes, your son is discovered to be plotting against me and
my crown. I will tell you how I know it so certainly. The gods watch over my safety,
and warn me beforehand of every danger. Now last night, as I lay in my bed, I
saw in a vision the eldest of your sons with wings upon his shoulders, shadowing
with the one wing Asia, and Europe with the other. From this it is certain, beyond
all possible doubt, that he is engaged in some plot against me. Return you then
at once to Persia, and be sure, when I come back from conquering the Massagetai,
to have your son ready to produce before me, that I may examine him."
I.210: Thus Cyrus spoke, in the belief that he was plotted against by Darius;
but he missed the true meaning of the dream, which was sent by God to forewarn
him, that he was to die then and there, and that his kingdom was to fall at last
to Darius. Hystaspes made answer to Cyrus in these words: "Heaven forbid, sire,
that there should be a Persian living who would plot against you! If such an one
there be, may a speedy death overtake him! You found the Persians a race of slaves,
you have made them free men: you found them subject to others, you have made them
lords of all. If a vision has announced that my son is practicing against you,
I resign him into your hands to deal with as you will." Hystaspes, when he had
thus answered, recrossed the Araxes and hastened back to Persia, to keep a watch
on his son Darius.
I.211: Meanwhile Cyrus, having advanced a day's march from the river, did as
Croesus had advised him, and, leaving the worthless portion of his army in the
camp, drew off with his good troops towards the river. Soon afterwards, a detachment
of the Massagetai, one-third of their entire army, led by Spargapises, son of
the queen Tomyris, coming up, fell upon the body which had been left behind by
Cyrus, and on their resistance put them to the sword. Then, seeing the banquet
prepared, they sat down and began to feast. When they had eaten and drunk their
fill, and were now sunk in sleep, the Persians under Cyrus arrived, slaughtered
a great multitude, and made even a larger number prisoners. Among these last was
I.212: When Tomyris heard what had befallen her son and her army, she sent
a herald to Cyrus, who thus addressed the conqueror: "You bloodthirsty Cyrus,
pride not yourself on this poor success: it was the grape-juice---which, when
you drink it, makes you so mad, and as you swallow it down brings up to your lips
such bold and wicked words---it was this poison by which you ensnared my child,
and so overcame him, not in fair open fight. Now hear what I advise, and be sure
I advise you for your good. Restore my son to me and get you from the land unharmed,
triumphant over a third part of the host of the Massagetai. Refuse, and I swear
by the sun, the sovereign lord of the Massagetai, bloodthirsty as you are, I will
give you your fill of blood."
I.213: To the words of this message Cyrus paid no manner of regard. As for
Spargapises, the son of the queen, when the wine went off, and he saw the extent
of his calamity, he made request to Cyrus to release him from his bonds; then,
when his prayer was granted, and the fetters were taken from his limbs, as soon
as his hands were free, he destroyed himself.
I.214: Tomyris, when she found that Cyrus paid no heed to her advice, collected
all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him battle. Of all the combats in which
the barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest.
The following, as I understand, was the manner of it: First, the two armies stood
apart and shot their arrows at each other; then, when their quivers were empty,
they closed and fought hand-to-hand with lances and daggers; and thus they continued
fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground. At length the
Massagetai prevailed. The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed
and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years. Search was made
among the slain by order of the queen for the body of Cyrus, and when it was found
she took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus
in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corpse, "I live and have conquered
you in fight, and yet by you am I ruined, for you took my son with guile; but
thus I make good my threat, and give you your fill of blood." Of the many different
accounts which are given of the death of Cyrus, this which I have followed appears
to me most worthy of credit.
From The Kurash Prism:
I am Kurash [ "Cyrus" ], King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King
of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son
of Kanbujiya, Great King, King of Hakhamanish, Grandson of Kurash, Great king,
King of Hakhamanish, descendant of Chishpish, Great king, King of Hakhamanish,
of a family which always exercised kingship; whose rule Bel and Nebo love, whom
they want as king to please their hearts. When I entered Babilani as a friend
and when I established the seat of the government in the palace of the ruler under
jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord, induced the magnanimous inhabitants
of Babilani to love me, and I was daily endeavoring to worship him.... As to the
region from as far as Assura and Susa, Akkade, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu,
Der as well as the region of the Gutians, I returned to these sacred cities on
the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long
time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent
sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to
their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great
lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani
to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places
which make them happy.
From The Hebrew Bible, Ezra 1:1-8:
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of
the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this
proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: "Thus
says Cyrus, king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of
heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people,
let him go up, and may his God be with him! Let everyone who has survived, in
whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with
silver, gold, and goods, together with free will offerings for the house of God
in Jerusalem.' Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and
Levites---everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so---prepared to go up
to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help
in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts
besides all their free-will offerings. King Cyrus, too, had the utensils of the
house of the Lord brought forth which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem
and placed in the house of his god. Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought forth
by the treasurer Mithredath, and counted out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East,
(New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. I: Babylonia and Assyria, pp.
460-462; The Bible (Douai-Rheims Version), (Baltimore: John Murphy Co., 1914).
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