331 PERSIA-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
the Achaemenians. In an absolutism of the kind presented by the government of Cyrus and
his successors it was not possible for great generals to flourish. They would have stood
in the way of the king. He must himself command. He must have the glory of victory. Still
there was in the Persian army a great array of officers, and these were arranged as
superiors and subordinates, from the king, who was the commander-in-chief, and who was
nearly always at the head of his army in the field, to the humblest captains of the line.
Ranking next to the monarch in authority were a few high officers, eight or ten in number,
corresponding to the major-generals of a modern army. After these the highest rank was
held by the satraps or provincial governors, who generally came at the heads of their
respective levies of soldiers. 'The organization of the ranks was after the decimal
fashion. The lowest officer commanded ten men. Ten of these squads constituted a company
under a higher officer; and ten of these, what may be called a legion; and ten of these, a
division. Several divisions were thrown together and commanded by a general or satrap, so
that in all, counting from the king, there were six ranks of subordinate commanders.
Such was the scheme under which the largest armies ever seen on the fields of the world
were organized. In times of war every ration in the Empire was expected to furnish its own
contingent of troops. These came each with the peculiar uniform and accouterments 6f his
own country. Albeit, the appearance of a Persian army, marshaled in squares ready for the
fight, clad in the various military habits of several scores of nations, and bearing
weapons equally varied in character, must have been a scene at once picturesque and
imposing. Here were arranged nearly every variety of human kind, from the black Ethiopians
of the Upper Nile and the savage Scyths of the North to the fair and well-formed soldiers
of Media and Persia.
The campaigns of the Empire were generally planned for the spring and summer. As far as
practicable, the winter was
avoided, as unsuitable for military operations. When the army was in the field, the means
of subsistence were carefully attended to. The advance was made with the baggage and
commissary in front. Between this and the first division a space intervened. The main army
came afterwards, preceded by a guard of a thousand horse and a thousand foot and the sun-
car of Ormazd, drawn by the sacred horses, and having in it the fire kindled from heaven.
The emblems of the national faith were thus visibly present to the soldiery, and were as
well calculated as any superstitious symbols could be to fire the hearts and nerve the
arms of the host. Next came the king himself, in a car second only in splendor to that of
the sun. Around him were his relatives. Then followed another guard like that which went
in advance, and after this a body of ten thousand picked Persians, known as the
"Immortals." These were infantry, and were succeeded by a like number of horse. Between
this division and the great columns composing the mass of the army a space was left of
four hundred yards. Then came the great squares of Persians, Medes, and provincials,
gathered from all parts of Western Asia. The army thus constituted was able to march about
twenty-five miles per day. As the advance continued, requisitions were made upon the
inhabitants of the provinces and towns through which the route lay, and many a district
was completely exhausted under the enormous drain. Such was the effectiveness of the means
employed to provision the army that the rash invasion of Ethiopia by Cambyses furnishes
the only example in the history of the Empire in which disaster was precipitated by a
failure of supplies.
In the conduct of battle the Persians were more humane than most of the oriental peoples.
The beaten enemy was granted quarter, and prisoners were treated with a fair degree of
consideration. When conquests were made the rulers of the conquered -provinces were
frequently retained as provincial governors, or in lieu of their own countries were
granted other territories as an appanage. Sometimes captive