236 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
the best qualities of the Persians. Cyrus, who on his father's death was recognized as king, displayed remarkable heroism. Before Astyages could reach the capital, the Persian had reorganized his army, and advanced to meet him. The country between the field of the first battle and Pasargadae was rough and hilly, and the Median advance was consequently retarded. The circumstance gave to Cyrus an opportunity to select his own ground of defense. A most advantageous situation was accordingly chosen. A narrow defile, with lofty hills rising precipitously on either side, was found in the Median line of-march, and seized by the Persians. Ten thousand picked troops were placed in the pass, and against these the Medes flung themselves in vain. Astyages, however, adopting his former tactics, detached a division of his army, and succeeded in gaining the heights above the defile, and the Persums were thus forced to a hasty retreat. But in another range of hills nearer to the capital they secured a similar, though^ less defensible, position, and again awaited the onset.
With the coming of Astyages another two days' conflict ensued, more terrific and more decisive than the first. The hills which the Medes must ascend, driving the Persians, were steep, and the slopes were covered with thickets of wild olive. For a whole day the host of Astyages beat in vain against the obstacles. The Persians held their position undaunted, discharging showers of missiles and hurling down great masses of stone upon the ranks of their assailants.
On the second day the overpowering numbers of the Medes began to tell in their favor. Astyages placed one division of his army behind those files which were ordered to the charge, and commanded those in the reserve lines to urge forward those in advance, and to kill all who gave way before the Persians. In this way it was contrived that the terror behind was as great as the danger before. To fall back was certain death; to advance was possible victory. Before their assailants, maddened by this merciless alternative, the Persians lost ground for a while, and were driven to the very summit of the hills.
Here their wives and children who were more' secure with the army than tin the capital, began to fling up their arms and cry out with mingled tears and reproaches against that weakness which seemed ready to expose them to capture. Stung by these outcries, and roused to the desperation of valor, the Persians made a sudden rally, and flung themselves with the recklessness of death upon the advancing foe. Sixty thousand of the Medes were borne down by this extraordinary onset.
The victory thus gained was indecisive, The Persians were relatively too weak to make the overthrow complete. Astyages succeeded after some maneuvers in gaining a position in the immediate vicinity of the capital. He was preparing to strike a final blow at his antagonist, when the latter, anticipating the movements of his enemy, fell suddenly on the Median camp. It was the fifth pitched battle which had been fought between the opposing armies. Gaining something by the surprise and much more by the impetuosity of his attack, Cyrus cut right and left into the heart of the Median bivouac. Panic and rout en sued, and the fugitive remnants of the army of Astyages were pursued in all directions. The victory was complete and overwhelming. The chiefs and genitals of Cyrus gathered around him on the battle-field, and proclaimed him KING OF MEDIA AND PERSIA.
Astyages made good his escape and fled towards Ecbatana. He was accompanied by a small body of friends who still adhered to his fortunes; but the company was overtaken by the eager and vigilant Cyrus, who routed the band and captured the king. It was Astyages who had added cruelty to folly and wickedness to disaster by punishing and putting to death several of his generals, upon whom he laid the blame of his overthrow. This despicable conduct, added to much previous imbecility, created- a wide-spread disaffection, and large numbers of the leading Medes were ready to hail Cyrus as a deliverer. The fact that, there was no legitimate heir to the Median throne tended to reconcile the people to their recent disaster, and to accept a Persian prince as their ruler.