Page 0343



REFERENCES to the Persian race are found in the Assyrian inscriptions as early as the

reign of Shalmaneser II, about the middle of the ninth century B. C. These people were

then located in the south-western parts of Armenia, and had a tribal government under

chieftains who were their leaders in war. The inscriptions mention twenty-five of such

clans who were obliged to pay tribute to the Assyrians. For three reigns this relation of

dependency to the Ninevite kings was maintained. The tribes were even at this early date

closely associated with the Medes, who were regarded as their kinsmen and confederates.

Nearly a century then elapsed before the Persians are again mentioned. In the reign of

Sennacherib, however, they are a second time heard of in a situation which implied a

migration from their old haunts in Armenia. It was in the district north-east of Susiana,

on the very borders of Persia proper, that the tribes next appear. From this locality they

easily spread into the country where their real historical development began.

It was not far from the date of the capture of Nineveh by Cyaxares that the Persians grew

into a monarchy. About the close of the seventh century B. C., they were sufficiently

consolidated to attract the attention of their neighbors as an independent power. It was

at this date, as nearly as may be determined, that ACHJEMENES, founder of the great line

of sovereigns bearing his name, ascended the throne of Persia. The scattered tribes were

united under one government, and royalty was recognized as the foundation of the state. Of

the deeds of Achaemenes very little is known. He is celebrated in the inscriptions of

Behistun and elsewhere rather as the father of great monarchs and the founder of the

kingdom than for any actual

accomplishments of peace or war. As a general rule, however, a famous character is not

born of nothing, and we may safely conclude that the builder of the primitive Persian

monarchy was one of those bar- baric geniuses without whose agency the ancient world could

hardly have been lifted from the quagmires.

Achaemenes was succeeded on the throne by his son TEISPES, of whom our information is

still more limited. His importance, like that of most kings of the world, seems to have

been derived from his father and his descendants. Of the next two rulers the names even

have not been certainly ascertained, but it is believed that one of them was called

CAMBYSES. It appears that in his reign one event of some importance occurred, the same

being an inter- marriage between his daughter Atossa and the king of Cappadocia. This

would imply that considerable state-craft had been developed at the Persian court, and

that the kingdom had grown to such importance as to make a marriage with one of its

princesses desirable to foreign rulers.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of the Medes on the north had become especially powerful in Western

Asia. According to Hetodotus, the Persians were subordinated to their kinsmen by conquest

as early as 634 B. C., and in this condition they remained, subject to the exactions of a

galling depend- ency until the relations of the two countries were reversed by the strong

arm of Cyrus. The authority of the native inscriptions, however, indicates no such

conquest, and it is probably true that the tributary relations of Persia to the sister

kingdom arose rather out of juniority and kinship than out of conditions imposed by the

sword. Certain it is, however, that there was a dependency of the younger kingdom upon the

elder, and that Persia down to the time of Cyrus should be regarded rather as a fief of

Media than as ah independent state. No doubt the kings of this period were