398 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
supported the claims of his son, as did also the majority of the other princes. But the
Parthians, in league with many from the adjacent provinces in the North, strove to
overturn the throne, suffering severe reverses in the field, losing in a single
engagement, according to the reckless estimates of antiquity, about eleven thousand men.
Thus much may be gathered from the inscriptions on the Rock of Behistun.
We thus arrive at the existence of Parthia as a division of the Empire of the Persians.
After their suppression and punishment for revolt in the interest of Smerdis, the
Parthians accepted Darius, and remained loyal to the succeeding Achaemenian kings. Their
history becomes the common history of Persia down to the time when the complication,
existing for more than a century between the Great Kings and the commonwealths of Greece,
was cut by the sword of Alexander.
It is not needed in this connection to review the work of the Conqueror as he passed from
Europe into Asia and traversed that continent through a distance of two thousand miles.
Persia was now in the ascendant over all the East. Her dominion was accepted by many
peoples and nations. Alexander, by the acuteness of his genius, perceived that his
objective point was the court of Babylon, that the overthrow of Darius would be a
universal victory, and that the subject nations would, with the master stroke, fall
asunder and accept himself instead.
The event was as the expectation. Arbela ended all. With the life of Darius went out the
dynasty and the whole cycle of ideas which it represented. True, Alexander deemed it:
important to continue his expeditions north, south, and east, until the subject nations
were taught by ocular demonstration the futility of opposition to his will. One of his
campaigns was directed against Bactria. In the prosecution of this, passing from the
Tigris to the hostile country, he must needs traverse Parthia. But it does not appear that
the Parthians had refused to accept the results of Arbela. Little, perhaps nothing, is
said of any resistance on their part to the Conqueror's progress. To them as to so many
others, the event was but a change of masters.
The reader of the present age is many times astonished at the rapid and spectacular
transformations of antiquity-this for the reason that he does not apprehend the civil and
social condition of the ancient world. The Persian Empire, for instance, was not closely
enough bound in its parts to constitute a Staatenbund, much less a consolidated union of
nations. Each satrap was a feudatory, holding loosely under his suzerain. To strike down
the latter was to break the nexus of the whole, and to deliver the provinces back to local
independence. But the condition was such that the establishment of another nexus was easy,
if not necessary.
Thus for two centuries we contemplate Parthia as a satrapy of the Persian Empire, and then
behold its transference to the son of Philip and his successors. It is sufficient to note
in this connection that the country of Parthia proper was, under the Persian kings, at
first associated for governmental purposes with Chorasmia, Sogdiana, and Arya. In the
second stage Parthia was bound up with Hyrcania into a single province, and it is probable
that the two were held w one at the time of the conquest of the Empire by the Macedonians.
By that event Parthia, without other serious changes, was subjected to a Greek
administration under officers appointed at the first by Alexander himself, and afterwards
by his successors.
In order to follow the history of the country we are obliged in this place to enter again
that distracted epoch which succeeded the death of Alexander the Great. We shall
hereafter, when we come to narrate with particularity the partition of the world among the
Greeks, describe the wars, the tumults, and the transformations by which the quadripartite
division of Asia, Eastern Europe, and South- eastern Africa was effected. For the present
it Is sufficient to present an outline of that part of the field with which the destinies
of Parthia are concerned. The four Powers to which we have just referred- as determined by
war and compromise. among the successors of Alexander the Great-were Macedonia, Egypt,
Asia Minor, and Syria. The last named was