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.