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356 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

work of the religious revolution. He ordered the temples of the Zoroastrians to be

destroyed and their rites to be discontinued. Everywhere the Magi appeared as the

representatives of religion. The adherents of the old system were for the time overawed.

In Media the change was, of course, accepted with favor, and in the provinces with

indifference. What to them was a change from Ahura-Mazdao to the gods of Sun, Earth,

Water, and Air? As for them their own local altars and petty deities had beep abolished

long ago; so the war of the great gods worshiped by conquerors concerned them not at all.

Only in Persia was there danger of insurrection against the measures which Gomates

advanced with ever-increasing boldness.

Meanwhile suspicions began to be blown abroad. There were many who recalled the dying

declarations of Cambyses to the effect that the self-asserting Smerdis was an impostor.

The sudden change in the management of the seraglio, and more particularly the seclusion

of the king himself, who neither went beyond the palace walls or permitted himself to be

seen within them, added to the growing belief that all was not well with the state. In the

minds of all those who were faithful to Zoroastrianism there was still greater cause for

suspicion in the religious treason of the secreted monarch, which was such as no true

Achaemenian ever could have been guilty of.

After a season, however, rumor spread her wings. There were mutterings in various quarters

portending an outbreak. At first these were suppressed, and a few leaders of discontent

were put to death. Soon, however, the "Seven Princes" of the Empire took secret counsel

regarding the condition of affairs, and it was resolved that the impostor in the palace

should be overthrown at all hazards. As a leader of the daring business Darius, one of the

Princes, son of Hystaspes, who was a Persian noble of lineal descent from Achaemenes, was

chosen. He had himself-if we trust his great inscription on the rocks of Behistun-a clear,

even indisputable title to the crown in case of the failure of

the line of Cyrus. Even in the life-time of that king Darius had been recognized as of the

blood royal, and had been under suspicion of entertaining designs on the crown. Now that

Smerdis was killed and Cambyses had killed himself, there was an open road for a

legitimate Achaemenian to the throne of the Empire.

On arriving at the capital Darius became the soul of the conspiracy. He and his fellows

organized a select band, and were on the eve of assaulting the palace when Gomates took

the alarm and fled. He was pursued to Sictachotes, in Media, where he had taken refuge in

a fort. This was entered by Darius and his followers, and the impostor was surrounded and

slain. A number of his adherents, who had sought refuge with him in the fort, shared his

fate. The head of the usurper, with the indisputable proof of his pernicious career writ-

ten in the stumps of his ears, was cut off and borne away by the insurgents, who exhibited

it everywhere as at once the cause and the justification of their bloody deed. There was a

general uprising, and each one felt warranted in cutting down the first Magus whom he met.

Until nightfall there was a massacre, but the destruction of life was not renewed on the

morrow. An edict was, however, issued that henceforth 'the anniversary of the death of

Gomates should be observed as a solemn festival, during which none of the Magian caste

should venture forth under penalty of losing his life.

DARIUS ascended the throne without opposition. He took care to claim the Achaemenian

descent, and thus secured himself against any hostility on the part of zealous adherents

of the house of Cyrus. In entering upon his reign some additional guarantees of good

government were given, though these were merely concessions of privileges and prerogatives

to the great princes who had recently helped him to the throne. Among these pledges was

that which gave to each prince the unrestricted right to enter the palace and have inter-

views with the king. Another stipulation was that the royal wives should be chosen from

the families of the Seven Princes.