329 PERSIA-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
kept alive, and whom he would he slew.
Turning to the outward usages and manners of the Persian people, and beginning with their
customs in war, we find them to be in close affinity with the Medes. Like the latter, the
Persians placed their chief reliance on the infantry and cavalry wings of the army, and
paid little attention to chariots of war.1 The foot soldier was clothed in a close-fitting
leathern tunic, reaching to the knees and the wrists. The legs were tightly encased in
trousers, also of leather. The feet were covered with high shoes, which joined the
leggings at the ankles. The head was protected by a round felt cap, projecting in the
front and rising above the scalp. The waist was bound with a double girdle, from which, on
the right side, hung the short Persian sword. The other weapons were a spear and a bow and
quiver. The spear-shaft was about six feet in length, and the head was flat, with a ridge
on each side down the middle. The bow was about four feet long, and was swung
perpendicularly in front of the left shoulder, the cord being up and down the back. The
quiver was worn on the same shoulder, and was filled with arrows made of reeds, feathered,
and tipped with metal points. Another weapon in use by footmen was the battle-axe, but
this is rarely shown in the sculptures. The sling also is occasionally seen, besides being
mentioned by Strabo and Xenophon as a part of the Persian weaponry. The missiles shot from
slings were pebbles.
The defensive armor of a common foot soldier was a shield of wicker-work. It was in shape
a sort of half-cylinder, as long as the soldier's body, and set or carried upright before
him in battle. From behind this protection he discharged his arrows. Both Herodotus and
Xenophon mention the coat-of-mail as a part of the defensive armor of Persian infantry. It
was com- posed sometimes of metallic scales or plates arranged like those of the shell of
1 Sooner or later every nation adapts its weaponry to the field of service. The war-
chariots of antiquity could never have been thought of in a country of hills and gorges.
Only in the Mesopotamian plains, the Syrian deserts, and the flatlands of the Egyptian
Delta could such ponderous implements have come into use.
dillo, and sometimes of a quilted linen corselet after the style of those worn by the
soldiers of Egypt.
In the times of the founding of the monarchy the weapons offensive and defensive of
horsemen were almost identical with those of the foot. In the later tactics of the Empire,
however, a new style was adopted. The cavalryman was armed with a javelin, and this became
his principal weapon of attack. It was a short, strong shaft of wood, barbed with a point
of iron. Each soldier carried two of these darts, one of which he discharged in the onset
and retained the other for the encounter. The cavalry were also armed with knives and
short swords like those worn in the other branch of the service. In the way of defensive
armor the horsemen were clad in coats-of-mail and helmets and greaves, and were thus
protected at every point. The shield was dispensed with, being a useless and cumbrous
Not only the soldier himself, but, as only second in importance, the horse which he rode
was protected with armor. The mail was of the same description as that worn by the rider.
The horse's head was guarded by a frontlet, and his neck and breast by metallic plates.
Even the legs were defended against the missiles of the foe, so that the whole animal was
as thoroughly encased as his master. Besides the dragoons, who constituted the main branch
of the cavalry service, there was a light-horse wing to the Persian military organization,
the business of which was to skirmish with an approaching enemy or to hang upon the flanks
and annoy a retreating army. Taken all in all, the constitution and discipline of the
forces were such as to secure, rapidity of movement and adroitness of maneuver rather than
that forceful and resistless execution which was secured by the phalanx of the
On two great occasions in Persian history, namely, in the battles of Cunaxa and Arbela,
the scythe-bearing war-chariots were effectively employed, though, as a general rule,
these formidable engines were more terrible to the imagination than to the other senses of
an army. The long