237 MEDIA-CIVIL MILITARY ANNALS,
Thus, in the year 558 B. C., was the great monarchy established by Cyaxares brought to a sudden end. The king was the state, and the king was a prisoner. Ecbatana surrendered without a defense. The dependent provinces sent in embassies and tendered their submission. In a short time the authority of Cyrus was as completely established in the north as in the south. That large proportion of the Medes who favored the Zoroastrian reform were satisfied; for Magism was overthrown. The ambitious, who had fretted under the effeminate government of Astyages, were secretly pleased at the prospect of manly vigor in affairs of state. The patriotic were not offended, for they remembered that the princes of Persia and Media were kinsmen-nobles of the same blood and the same family. Perhaps no conquest of history has brought less disturbance to the vanquished state than did the overthrow of Media by the arms of Cyrus.
The inquiry naturally arises why the allied kingdoms of Babylonia and Lydia were not involved in the stirring and critical movements just described. Perhaps the first answer is to be foun4 in the suddenness of the circumstances which precipitated the Medo-Persian war. Scarcely could the news of the passion of Astyages against Cyrus and the rapid invasion of the dominions of Cambyses have been borne to Babylon and Sardis, until other intelligence would have followed of the annihilation of the Median army and the overthrow of the monarchy. Sovereigns were more ready to send succor to a king at the head of his army than to a captive in the hands of his enemy. Especially would this be true of the king of Lydia, whose remote capital could hardly be ex- pected to send a contingent to so great a distance. As to Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar, king of that country and brother- in- law of Astyages, was already dead, and could no longer recognize old obligations. Neriglissar, who at the time occupied the palace of Babylon, was an enemy of that house which had maintained the alliance with Media. So Astyages was left to his fate, and his fate was-Cyrus. 1-15
We thus have the spectacle of a vast empire which arose suddenly, and was more suddenly extinguished. In territorial ex tent this great power surpassed the combined areas of Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal. In richness of soil and fertility of resources Media fully equaled Assyria, with her seven hundred years of history. The mettle of the people was by nature equal to the demands of great nationality, and no incentive to the highest ambition seems to have been wanting in the character and surroundings of the race.
The causes of the sudden eclipse of Median promise must be sought on the side of political weakness and social barbarism. The inherent vice of personal, and therefore irresponsible, government, identifying the nation with the king, and wrapping up the destiny of the former in the personal and capricious destiny of the latter, rendered everything precarious. After this the greatest element of weakness was the want of political unification among the various kingdoms and provinces which were successively absorbed into the Empire. The administration of the Median kings seems never to have embraced any rational measures for the reduction of their various peoples into a homogeneous nation. The organization of the government was so crude and imperfect as to furnish no guaranty of security; and the king in his methods of exercising and dispensing authority was a mixture of the oriental despot and the barbaric chieftain. Successful war is a necessary condition of the perpetuity of such a government. When that fails, or when the monarchy falls into the hands of an imbecile, the state goes headlong.
To these causes must be added the general decline of the warlike spirit of the Medes and their degeneration into vice. The court set the example. Astyages was by constitution averse to that kind of severe and adventurous enterprises upon which the martial spirit is fed and nurtured. Nor did he, like Caesar, possess the sublime abilities o^ peace. He gave himself up instead to the careless and reckless indulgence of appetite and passion. It was Charles Stuart succeeding Cromwell-an