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390 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD

other of the Aryan peoples were the social and domestic habits of the Parthians conformed

to the manners of the Orient. Polygamy was the law of the land. The harem was the

expression of the social system in its ultimate analysis. All women except the

characterless crowd oiHetcerce, dancers and the like, who followed in the wake of the

army, were secluded from sight.1 They must hide themselves like the women of Shem. They

must be veiled, that their faces be not seen by men. With men they must not converse,

except with their husbands in the harem. The sexes were separated at the domestic meal and

at the public banquet. The care of the harem was intrusted to eunuchs, after the manner

already described in the history of Persia.

1 We have already remarked upon the small intellectual development of the Parthian people,

as shown in the absence of literature and art. Their learning proceeded as far as the

mastery of their own tongue and, in the best days of the Empire, a very general

acquirement of Greek. It appears that the Parthian kings and their subjects were quick to

discover the superiority of the language of the men of Alexander, and were not long in

adopting, it, at least as the speech of their higher intercourse. Greek was introduced as

the official language. The Parthian coins bore Greek inscriptions, and that tongue was, as

we have seen, used for several centuries in all the important intercourse between the

Parthians and the Western nations.

Beyond this it does not appear that the subjects of Phraates and Mithridates were able to

progress. Of science they knew not even the rudiments. Their interpretation of nature, in

so far as they were curious to know the laws of phenomena, was purely mythological. Of

sculpture they knew but little, and of painting perhaps nothing at all. This is to say,

that of the higher forms of pictorial art they were ignorant, except by incidental

intercourse with the Greeks and Romans. In these respects the Parthian race was in

striking analogy with the Medes and Persians, whose want of genius in the particulars here

referred to has been noted by many critics and historians. The activities of the Parthians

were thus physical rather than intellectual. They lacked altogether the imaginative and

speculative disposition of the Greeks, and indeed of all the European Aryans. The

civilization which they established was material in the highest degree. The nation was not

without great force, great outward activity, and inner energy; but the poetic dream, the

imaginative flight, the artistic concept, were things unknown, even in the highest

development to which the Parthian people could attain.

In an architectural way the achievements of the Parthians were more creditable. It is in

architecture that physical energies, combined with the lower forms of ideality, find their

best expression. We have several instances in history of peoples who succeeded in reaching

a fair degree of architectural work without attaining to poetry and art. In its higher

manifestations architecture, of course, becomes ideal. It expresses at the last the

imaginative powers of the human mind, and is only secondary in rank to sculpture and

painting. But in its lower forms it is the most material of all the arts. Thus far the

Parthians were able to proceed in the human evolution, and no farther.

As a rule the Asiatic Aryans have not been great builders. We have seen how small a thing

the Medes transmitted to after times as it respects their architectural achievements. The

Persians, under the Achaemenian kings, rose to a higher level of structural ability. In

the preceding Book the reader has been made acquainted with the palaces and temples of

Persepolis, and of one or two other of the principal Persian cities. But even here we fail

to note the splendor and abundance of Assyria, to say nothing of Egypt and Greece. On the

Great Plateau the energies of human life have always been expended in forms of action

different from those of closely crowded and permanent societies like those of the valleys

of the Euphrates and the Nile.

Parthia was not rich in temples or palaces or tombs. This & true particularly of the

Parthian kingdom in the earlier times, before the expansion of the nation had resulted in

the establishment of a great dominion. The old kings and the primitive nobility were

barbate in their habits