351 PERSIA.-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
postponed by Cyrus, his attention was called by the turbulence of certain barbarian
nations to the other extreme of his empire. He began a march to the north-east for the
purpose of chastising the wild tribes of that region, who had grown insolent by immunity.
The particular people to be punished were, according to Herodotus, the Massagetae, who had
their haunts beyond the Jaxartes; but according to Ctesias, the race against which the
campaign was directed was a nation called the Derbices, dwelling next to India. The
stories of the results of the war that ensued are also contradictory. The account of
Herodotus is, that in a great battle with the Massagetae Cyrus was at first victorious,
but that afterwards he was defeated and slain, his body falling into the hands of the
barbarians, by whom it was treated with shameful indignity. The story told by Ctesias is
that the Derbices were assisted by the Indians, who furnished them with soldiers and
elephants. In a hard fought battle Cyrus was defeated and mortally wounded. In a second
engagement, however, the Persians rallied, and, with the help of the Sacae, overcame the
enemy and compelled them to submit. All accounts agree that Cyrus lost his life. As to his
body, that certainly was recovered from the foe, even if it ever fell into their hands;
for the tomb of the great conqueror remains at Pasargadae unto the present day. His reign
lasted for twenty-nine years, his death occurring in the year B. C. 529. His exit from
power and from the world Is wrapped in that strange obscurity which has veiled the final
passage of so many of the celebrities of history.
The reign of Cyrus the Great marked an epoch in the history of the ancient world. The
transformation from pure orientalism to half-rational methods of government began from
this time, and was in some degree traceable to the character of Cyrus. He was a man of
genius, essentially war- like, little satisfied with the vocations of peace. In courage
and energy he was without a rival among the monarchs of of the age he lived in. His
judgment was unerring, his foresight equal to any emergency, his humanity far above the
spirit of his times. His conduct was frequently marked by charitable features, for which
we should look in vain in many modern heroes. Whether in himself, considered as general
and king, or in his surroundings, which, as always happens, were determined in their moral
tone by his own example, he rises in character far above any other monarch of his own
epoch, perhaps above any Asiatic king who ever sat on a throne. The epithet of "Great"
which he fairly won may be defended and reaffirmed before the bar of history.
One of the chief influences shed forth from the reign of Cyrus was the birth of Persian
art. The simple but massive structures at Pasargadae were among the best fruits of that
strength and energy which diffused itself on every hand. It was the Doric era in Persian
architecture. The added glories of the great palaces of the successors of Cyrus at
Persepolis were but the natural growth and development of what was begun at Pasargadae.
Like a prudent king, Cyrus settled the succession in the monarchy. It was ordained that
the crown should descend to CAMBYSES, the eldest son of the king. In this respect Cyrus
was less embarrassed than his successors, for he had eschewed polygamy and limited himself
to but one wife. By her he had five children, two sons and three daughters. The second son
was named Smerdis, and to him the king assigned the independent government of several
provinces. In this circumstance was laid the foundation of the civil and social broils
that ensued, and of the revolution which finally cost his family the throne of the Empire.
For no sooner was Cyrus dead and Cambyses established in authority than the latter became
jealous of his brother Smerdis to the extent of issuing a secret order that he should be
put to death. The bloody edict was fulfilled, but all knowledge of the fact was carefully
concealed. Only the king and few confederates knew of the crime that had been committed.
Having thus freed himself from the dangers of rivalry, and taken Nemesis into his