389 PARTHIA- PEOPLE AND ARTS.
of these respects were the Parthian monarchs less scrupulous than their contemporaneous
sovereigns in the West. The intercourse between Phraates IV and the Emperor Augustus was
conducted as between monarch and monarch of equal rank. Ambassadorial courtesies were
common, and without disparagement to the kings of the East. The usual methods of
maintaining international faith were observed. Oaths were made and pledges given after the
manner of antiquity. The giving and taking of hostages was one of the commonest means of
securing good faith and the fulfillment of agreements. It happened on several occasions
that members of the Parthian royal family were freely sent to Rome in pledge of the
fidelity of the king to his stipulations with the Western Empire.
If from the consideration of war we turn to the peaceful aspect of life and look at the
king and his court, we shall find much of interest and instruction. True, we are
constrained for the most part to consider the aspect of this royal life in the East
through a glass darkly; for its manner has been mostly narrated by the historians of
Greece and Rome and Jewry. The Parthians were not themselves a literary people, and but
few original sources of information are at our command. First of all, we may refer to the
national amusement, which was hunting. After war it would appear that the next highest
source of interest and excitement among the people, whether of noble or of common rank,
was the attack on wild beasts. We have seen this trait of character already displayed in
Assyria and Persia. Nor is it needed that we should return to antiquity to find a similar
passion in full activity. Nearly every people, indeed, on its advance from half-barbarity
to - civilization has found gratification in the pursuit and killing of wild animals. In
the first intent the wild beast takes the place of the enemy. Its blood is typical of his.
The fall of the boar under the arrow's flight or spear-thrust of the pursuer is next in
the scale of delight to the fall of the enemy in battle.
Parthia abounded m wild beasts. On the Assyrian borders the lion was found. Hyrcania was
the native lair of tigers so fierce that "Hyrcanian" became an epithet descriptive of the
most dangerous species of that animal. Leopards and bears also abounded. The Parthian
hunters followed these animals into their haunts, and exposed their lives in the contest.
In course of time, however, when the Empire was established, pleasure and excitement were
sought in a manner more artistic and less dangerous. Then were constructed the great
parks, called by the Eastern nations "Paradises," wherein animals taken from the forests
were loosed, to live and propagate their kind under the dominion of half- natural
conditions. Here the artificial hunt was made. The king and his companions traversed the
paradise, raised the wild beast from his covert, pursued and smote him after the manner of
the ancient chase in the wild and desert.
We may glance at the appearance of the king when he went forth as a hunter. On such
occasions he wore a short cloak, of which we find examples on the monuments and coins. A
helmet protected his head, and in his hand he carried the strong bow with the double
curve, the animal tendon for a thong, and the swift arrow against which nothing alive
might stand. Like his countrymen, the monarch went on horseback. His person was ornamented
in barbaric fashion with jewels and gold. His horse wore trappings of the same splendid
fashion with the king's garments, and the attendants were only less gorgeous in their
apparel, less haughty in manner, than the monarch himself.
At the Court another fashion prevailed. Here a long robe, like that of the Persian and
Median nobles, was worn by the king. The insignia of royalty were hung about his neck. A
diadem circled his forehead, and his ears supported rings and jewels. Like her consort,
the queen-in-chief, preeminent above the harem, proud in her ascendancy over hundreds of
concubines which the law granted to the sovereign, adorned herself in a manner equally
splendid. She, as well as he, received the title of Divine. She, like the king, wore a
diadem and sometimes a tiara. Not often, however, was she permitted, under the custom of
the race, to obtrude herself into public affairs. More than those of any