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do not here dwell further upon the physical characteristics and natural potency of the

countries held under a single sway by Mithridates, for the reason that the same have

already been amply considered in the preceding histories of Babylonia, Assyria, Media, and

Persia. We, therefore, pass at once to the consideration of the Parthians as a people,

their institutions, general character and manner of life and government.


THE ethnic origin of the Parthian race has not been well determined. It would appear that

their arrival in Central Asia was somewhat later than the incoming of many other peoples

into that region of the world. Doubtless the Chaldaeans, the Assyrians, the Medes, and

even the Persians, antedated by Several centuries-many centuries in the case of the older

of these nations-the arrival of the Parthians in their ancestral seats.

We are here close to one of the great ethnic problems with which the student of history is

confronted in the beginning of his inquiry. The question is no less than that of the

origin of the Aryan family of men. History is able to trace backwards the movements of the

Aryan peoples to the region of the Bactrian Highlands, but beyond that all is mist and

thick darkness. Did the Aryans come from some other region afar?-some country in which

they were associated with the Semitic or Hamitic family of men? The answer is not

apparent. We are, therefore, led to begin with the development and migrations of the Aryan

tribes from the region of their primitive settlements without the solution of the

fundamental problem.

Parthia was not far from the Aryan nidus. We may safely ascribe the origin of the people

to the same source with that of the Persians and the Medes. Of a certainty the Parthians

were strongly discriminated from the peoples just mentioned. They had more of the Turanian

character- fewer of the well-known characteristics of the Indo-Europeans as illustrated in

the Hellenic and Roman races. So strongly marked were the distinctions just referred to,

that many inquirers have been disposed to regard the Parthians as having a Scythic origin.

Arrian, among the ancients, declares his belief in such a derivation. It can not be

doubted that there were relations between the Parthians through the tribes of Chorasmia

with the Scyths beyond the Oxus. It must be observed that race distinctions fade away

somewhat along the border lines where two families of mankind fret and roll together.

Modern history furnishes a hundred examples of such obliteration of ethnic features along

the boundaries of states and nations.

It was doubtless so in antiquity, but even in a stronger measure. At a time when society

was unsettled, when the tribal state had not yet given place to fixedness of residence,

there was more frequent mixing and interweaving along the selvages of races than even in

modern times. These circumstances may serve to explain the presence of Scythic elements

among the ancient Parthians. So that natural and ethnic causes may be found sufficient in

number and character to account for the traditions of the Greek and Roman storytellers who

were wont to classify the Parthians with the Scythic race.

We may agree that at the time of the great invasion of all Central and Western Asia by the

Scythian barbarians, a larger amount of their work and influence remained in Parthia than

in the other countries which they conquered. The Parthian language shows unmistakably a.

Scythic infection-just as English bears indubitable evidence of the Norman conquest. The

Parthian vocabulary had in it a large addition of Scythic words, and the civil and

military habits of the people were