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412 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

trust the testimony of Justin, the Parthian king overreached his rival by proposing

negotiations. While these were pending he attacked and routed the Syrian army, capturing

Demetrius himself and leading him away into the interior. It seems that the whole

expedition was blown away. Nor was Mithridates satisfied until he had taken the captured

king from capital to capital through the provinces, showing him in the cities to the

Graeco-Asiatics as an example of what might be expected of those who dared to raise the

arm against his Empire and himself.

Of a certainty the victory of Parthia was sufficiently decisive. So much, however, could

hardly be said for the scheme of the king to unite his dynasty with that of Syria by

intermarriage. It appears that he placed his royal prisoner, Demetrius, in a suitable

residence in Hyrcania, where he maintained him in a style befitting his rank. He also

sought to have his daughter given to the Syrian monarch, in order that the destinies of

the two houses might be blended in the issue. But the project came to naught. Mithridates

himself was now well advanced in years. He was exhausted by the vicissitudes and struggles

of a reign more than thirty-seven years in duration. Soon after he had put his royal

prisoner into Hyrcania for safe- keeping, he sickened and died, in B. C. 136.

As we have said, the Parthian Empire had now reached its greatest territorial extent. It

had become the great power of Western Asia. The Old Era was drawing to a close. Rome was

making her way through an aristocratic republicanism towards Imperial world-wide dominion.

Already by the time which we have now reached, namely, the last quarter of the second

century B. C., the two rival powers of the world were the Roman Republic in the West and

Parthia in the East. Before entering upon an account of the struggles between these two,

covering several centuries about the beginning of our era, it may be of interest and

instruction to note with some particularity the civil and political constitution of the

Parthians.

The Government of the Empire was in its leading features an amplification and

adaptation of the old Parthian monarchy to the new Imperial conditions. We have many such

examples in history of an aspiring State imposing by war and diplomacy its civil

institutions upon surrounding and subject peoples. In our own day we need go no further

than the recent establishment of the German Empire, under the hegemony of Prussia, in

illustration of this form of political development. Ancient Parthia-Parthia Proper-imposed

herself and her half-barbaric forms of administration upon the nations whom she conquered,

insomuch that the Empire was but an enlargement of institutions which had already existed

for four or five centuries.

The first point to which we may refer in the explication of the political life of the

Parthians, is the ascendancy and strong counter-check of the nobility on the monarchy. The

secular nobles were known as the Megistanes. The body so called might well be compared to

the British House of Lords in embryo, that is, it was composed of two groups of notables,

the one secular, and the other of a religious derivation. The former were called, in the

Graeco- Asiatic tongue, the Sophoi, that is, the "Wise," and the latter were the Magi, or

degenerated Zoroastrian priesthood. These two branches of nobles combined to form one of

the great councils by which the Parthian monarch was advised and, in at least a negative

sense, directed. Besides the Megistanes there was another body, made up for the most part

of members of the royal family, and known as the Domestic or Privy Council. In these

arrangements we see the germs in the one of the modern Senate, and in the other of the

modern Ministry, or Cabinet. After all, antiquity is not so far away!

The head of the Parthian monarchy was chosen by election of the Megistanes. The naming of

the king required the concurrent voice of the Megistanes and the Domestic Council. But

over and above these bodies was the constitution, in which heredity was recognized as the

best law of choice. That is, the councils must choose by law, among the Arsacid princes,

that one whom the constitution pointed to as the legitimate sovereign. This was generally

the eldest son of the late king; or in lieu of him, his