344 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD:
restive under their subordination, and awaited the day when their political condition
should be revolutionized. Their resentment, moreover, Was constantly whetted by the
enforced residence of the heir apparent of the Persian crown at the court of the Median
king. For it was one of the conditions of the dependency that the crown prince of Persia
should be retained during his minority at the Median capital.
Such was the condition of affairs when CAMBYSES, the father of Cyrus the Great, occupied
the throne. It was the daydawn of Persian ascendancy. Astyagfes was now king of Media.
That power had run a rapid course up to greatness and down to effeminacy. Friendly
relations were maintained between the two kingdoms of the Medes and Persians. Mandane, the
daughter of Astyages, was the wife of Cambyses and mother of the young prince Cyrus, who,
in accordance with the custom, was obliged to reside at the court of his grandfather.
Here, being a young man of genius and ambition, he became a close student of the political
condition. He saw that Media was in no condition to extend her power or even defend
herself against aggression. He saw that the vices of Magism had sapped the national faith,
and that, as compared with his father's hardy and virtuous government, there was no longer
any necessity or even fitness for the subjection of his country to the king of the Medes.
He revolved these things in his mind, and was already well advanced in the concept of
rebellion when those fortuitous circumstances arose by which the crisis was precipitated.
The escape of Cyrus from the court of his grandfather; the efforts of the latter to retake
him; the insurrection of the Persians in behalf of their prince; the invasion of the
country by Astyages, the fierce battles which were fought; the final stand of the Persian
army on the hills around Pasargadae; the discomfiture and rout of the Medes; the death of
Cambyses, and the undisputed mastery of the whole situation by the victorious Cyrus,-all
this has been recounted in the preceding pages1
l See Book Fourth, pp. 234-236.
It will be remembered that, long before this revolution, Assyria had succumbed to
Cyaxares, who, with Nabopolassar of Babylon and the king of Lydia, took Western Asia for
an inheritance. By this sudden reversal of the relations between Media and Persia-by which
the former, with very little resistance from the Medes themselves, was brought to
acknowledge the supremacy of the latter-the Persian prince found himself suddenly in
possession of the leadership of the better part of Asia. The kingdom became an empire. The
Aryan race obtained the mastery of the great Semitic nations of Mesopotamia and the West.
A solidarity was thus accomplished of all the Iranian peoples of the wide regions beyond
the Zagros. The conditions for the sudden development of a great political power, perhaps
the greatest which the annals of the world had yet presented, were all existent, and
nothing was lacking which genius could supply in the ambitious and warlike prince under
whom that power was to burst into luxuriant leafage and blossom.
CYRUS, the son of Cambyses, and founder of the Persian Empire, was born about the year B.
C. 580. His birthplace is thought to have been Ecbatana. Before he was born his
grandfather, Astyages, had ominous dreams, and gave orders that the child should be put to
death as soon as born. A certain Harpagus however, an officer in the royal court and a
believer in fate, -gave the babe to a herdsman, who reared him. as his son.
Of course, the lad, being a prince incognito, ruled all his playfellows. So much for
natural selection. He gave orders that a certain Mede should be scourged, and when this
brought on difficulty Cyrus was taken into his grandfather's presence, and by him was
recognized. It was now too late to kill the royal scion, but the son of Harpagus was put
to death as a proper punishment for his father's disobedience. After this, Cyrus remained
at the court, and before his escape from Ecbatana, was instructed by Harpagus in the
rudiments of rebellion and the best means of subverting the kingdom of the Medes. The