. 224 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
of all the dragon's brood of small pests in the earth. It was made a religious duty resting upon the priests to impale and destroy what creeping thing so ever caught his eye. Albeit, by the roadside, the river bank, the mouldering wall of palace or town, the Magi sat all day long in a ceaseless warfare with snakes and mice and lizards.
Such were the principles and practices of Magism-the fire-worship of the Medo-Bactrian nations. It was a picturesque rather than a powerful type of religion. To see the white- robed and mitered priests
on the mountain-top, passing to and fro in solemn service before the altars on which were kindled the ever-burning fires, to hear them chanting weird hymns and uttering vague and awful prophecies, might well incite in an unscientific and half-barbarous age emotions of sublimity and fear-sentiments of awe and devotion. But the old spiritual power of the Zoroastrian faith could hardly be compared in its influence over life and conduct with the more showy formality of the Magian ceremonial.
CHAPTER XVIII-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
WHETHER the MADAI, mentioned in the tenth chapter of Genesis as constituting a branch of the Japhetic family, meant the race of the Medes, is a question not easily resolved. The supposition, if allowed, would indicate for that race an antiquity much greater than can be deduced from the Assyrian records. In favor of this hypothesis of great antiquity may be mentioned the fact that elsewhere in the Old Testament the word Madai always signifies the Medes, and also the additional fact that Berosus succinctly declares that one of the earliest Chaldaean dynasties, long before the rise of the Assyrian Empire, was Median. The narrative states that this Median line of monarchs in Lower Mesopotamia resulted from a conquest made by the warlike race dwelling beyond the Zagros.
This statement, made by the native historian of Chaldaea, carries' double weight, in that it involves a humiliating subjugation of his own people by foreign armies-a statement which, unless it were true, would be forbidden by patriotism. The references by Berosus and the author of Genesis seem to point to the Medes as one of the primitive races of mankind, appearing on the horizon at a date as remote as two thousand years before the common era.
From these faint gleams of historic light no more can be said than that the Medes were a very ancient people. Of their career in peace and war at that remote epoch nothing whatever is known. Veiled they are in the same impenetrable obscurity which darkens the beginnings of all human history. Negatively, the Zendavesta shows that at the date of the composition of that Iranic bible (about B. C. 1000) the Median race had not yet begun to be felt in the affairs of nations. Not until a century and a half after this date do the Medes actually emerge into the clear day of national life and activity. Before this time it can be said only with approximate certainty that this people had made a conquest in Chaldaea and established over that country a line of kings.
The actual annals of Media, then, begin with the latter half of the ninth century before the Christian era. At this time Shalmaneser II was king of Assyria. This monarch, according to the records of his reign, made war into the country beyond the Zagros mountains, and while on one of his campaigns came in contact with the Medes. A portion of the territory of this people was devastated; but the Assyrian records do not indicate such resistance on