232 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
inces, not greatly distressed with tributes, felt the glow of peace. In the whole of Western Asia there was a marked advance in the elements of civilization. The only disturbance of these peaceful tendencies was from the direction of Syria and Egypt. In this quarter there were several hostile movements which broke the quiet of Babylonia.
With the revival of Egyptian affairs under Psametik I, the old ambition of the Pharaohs to dominate the East returned. Actuated by this motive, the king just mentioned, extending his power in the direction of Palestine, besieged and captured the city of Ashdod, and thus established himself in a strong fortress beyond-the limits of Africa. Following up this advantage, Pharaoh Necho, son and successor of Psametik, overthrew Josiah, king of Judah, in the battle of Megiddo, and afterwards, making head towards the Euphrates, took Carchemish, and compelled the submission of nearly the whole of Syria. The provinces thus overrun, however, had fallen to Nabopolassar at the division of the Assyrian Empire, and thus the Babylonians were aroused to the defense of their rights.
Nebuchadnezzar made haste to punish the intrusion into his kingdom. At the head of his army he advanced against Necho at Carchemish, overthrew him in battle, and drove him precipitately out of the country. Egypt in turn was made to feel the heel of invasion, and the Babyionian borders were established to the very gates of Pelusium. In all these Syrian wars of Nebuchadnezzar he was backed and assisted by his brother-in-law, Astyages, king of the Medes.
Meanwhile the aged Cyaxares, the virtual founder of Median greatness, died. He was one of the great men of his times. Statesmanship can hardly be ascribed to a ruler of that era; but Cyaxares had ambition, and was able to govern men. King of a warlike people, he showed himself fit to lead. First in a warlike age, he maintained his ascendancy to the end of life. By his conquests and abilities he brought to his people the materials of a great kingdom; but to organize those materials into institutions befitting a commonwealth was
a work of which neither he was capable nor his times desirous. His success, therefore, as a conqueror and a king lacked the element of stability. The greatness of his reign was the greatness of inorganic power supported by personal will rather than by administrative forms or political wisdom. After a reign of forty years he passed from the scene of his activities, and was succeeded by ASTYAGES.
The accession of this prince was in the year 593 B. C. Though not wanting in abilities, he was less ambitious than his father. It is more easy to inherit an empire than to win one; but inheritance is not a fact calculated to develop the highest powers of manhood or kingship. Nor was the court of an oriental monarch a place to inspire those generous activities, without which great character is impossible.
The long reign of Astyages was comparatively uneventful. The most important occurrence of his whole career-if we except the disaster of its close-was an addition of territory, which he had the good fortune to secure rather by diplomacy than by war. On the north- eastern borders of Media lay the country of the Cadusians. They possessed not a little power and influence. More than once Cyaxares had thought to make war and subdue them; but his Western campaigns had drawn him away to larger enterprises. If the Cadusians were a temptation to the Medes, the Medes were a menace to the Cadusians. At the time of the accession of Astyages they were ruled by a king named ONAPHERNES, who, believing his country to be in danger, took wisdom into his counsel, and opened negotiations with the' Median monarch relative to annexation. This odd piece of statecraft was successful; for Astyages was an easy-going king, who preferred peace to war, and was very willing to make terms with the Cadusian ruler. So without bloodshed the dominions of that barbaric but politic prince were transferred to Media, himself remaining as viceroy.
This stroke of good policy was perhaps the greatest achievement of Astyages. His social life was clouded, for he was sonless. His Lydian wife, Amyitis, had