305 BOOK SIXTH
CHAPTER XXVI-THE COUNTRY.
THE Persian Empire, established by Cyrus the Great, was of vast extent. After the do
minion of the Caesars, no other kingdom of the ancient world had equal territorial limits.
From east to west the rule of the Achaemenian kings extended over more than fifty-six
degrees of longitude, and from north to south through twenty degrees of latitude. The
boundaries of the Empire on the east were the river Indus and Thibet; on the south, the
Persian Gulf and the deserts of Arabia and Nubia; on the west, the Great Desert, the
Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the river Strymon; on the north, the Danube, the Euxine,
the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the Jaxartes.
Such was the territorial horizon of the great kings. A right line from the eastern to the
western limit of the Empire reached as far as from New York to San Francisco; and the
measure from north to south was, in its greatest dimension, fully one thousand five
hundred miles. The entire area was more than eight times as great as Babylonia, four times
as great as Assyria,
and more than one-half as great as the whole of modern Europe. The Persian territories
embraced fully two million square miles.
Glancing at the political divisions of the Empire, we find an array of provinces and
subordinate kingdoms almost equal in number and extent to the Provinciae of Rome. The
general divisions were into three groups: the Central, the Eastern, and the Western. The
Central provinces were Persia proper, Susiana, Babylonia, Assyria, Media, the Caspian
district, and the Great Desert. The Eastern were Hyrcania, Parthia, Asia, Chorasmia,
Sogdiana, Bactria, Scythia, Sattagydia, India, Paricania, Eastern Ethiopia, and Mycia. The
Western were Paeonia, Thrace, Asia Minor, Armenia, Iberia, Syria, Palestine, Phoenicia,
Egypt, and Cyrenaica. Most of these countries, especially the more important, have already
been described in the preceding Books. Others will be considered in subsequent portions of
the work. It remains, in this connection, to describe briefly the character, climate, and
resources of that district which constituted the nucleus of the Empire. PERSIA PROPER,
corresponding almost 305