333 PERSIA-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
together down to Neptune. Besides the triremes, which constituted the body of the Persian
naval armament, several other varieties of ships, designed for some special feature of the
service, were employed, but the general plan of them all was that of a galley propelled by
An important use to which the vessels of the Persians were sometimes put was that of
forming pontoons across rivers and arms of the sea. The plan of these boat-bridges was
simple. A number of galleys were arranged side by side, the heads up stream. A short space
was left between each vessel and the next. Each ship was securely anchored, and then a
transverse platform of timbers was laid from bank to bank. Thus was constructed a floating
bridge over which the heaviest armies could be transported. The prime importance of
structures of this sort will fully appear in the invasion of Greece by the Persians.
The fleet? of the Empire were furnished and manned almost exclusively by the subject
nations. Each state sent its contingent of ships. The oarsmen were a part of the
equipment. The fighting sailors who manned the decks were either Medes or Persians, but
they to whom was assigned the less glorious task of toiling at the oars were Phoenicians,
Egyptians, Cypriots, Cilicians, Pamphylians, Carians, or Greeks, according to the
nationality of the respective vessels.
Passing, then, from the military and naval life of the Persian people to their customs in
peace, let us begin with his majesty the king. The ruler of the nation was, under the
existing theory of human government, an absolute dictator. His absoluteness was not shorn.
Being the representative of Ormazd in the earth, his dignity had a celestial flavor. His
right to be king might not be questioned. To look askance at royalty was to be guilty of
both treason and impiety. The king's wrath was but a reflex of the anger of heaven and his
smile was the sunshine of the world. Everything pertaining to the person and life of the
sovereign must, therefore, be on a scale of magnificence proportionate to his exaltation.
So the king's dress was ample and gorgeous. The richest and most brilliant silk was the
material. The royal garment was a robe with ample folds and hanging sleeves. The color was
purple and the embroidery of gold. Around the waist was a girdle, and the skirts fell to
the ankles. Under this robe was a tunic, also purple in color, but striped with white; On
the monarch's feet were high, yellow shoes, buttoned at the front and tapering towards the
toe. It was the head-dress, however, which specially distinguished the king from any, even
the most exalted, of his subjects. This consisted of a tiara or miter, tall and
cylindrical, swelling at the top and ending in a circle broader than the diameter of the
cap. This was the monarch's badge by which alike by army and court and people he was
denoted and recognized. Around the king's brow and at the base of the miter was the royal
circlet, called the diadem. Besides the tiara the monarch was also distinguished
by the golden scepter and the parasol, the latter being carried either by himself or an
attendant. The scepter was a tapering rod about five feet in length and finished at the
smaller end with a bulb in the shape of an apple or pomegranate. When the king appeared in
public he bore the scepter in his right hand, perpendicularly in front of his person.
In common with other princes and noblemen the sovereign wore gold ornaments and jewels.
His earrings were bands of gold set with gems. His wrists were adorned with bracelets, and
his neck with a twisted collar. He wore a sword of the usual short pattern, not very
elaborate in workmanship, but incased in a costly sheath of jasper or lapis-lazuli.