443 PARTHIA-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
reasons for rebellion were thus deep-seated in the constitution and history of the State,
and nothing but opportunity was wanting for a great insurrection.
At the time of the battle of Nisibis the under-king of Persia bore the famous name of
Artaxerxes. He appears to have been a man of extraordinary ambitions and great force of
character. It is believed that he was himself a Magus, profoundly instructed in the
mysteries of the ancient faith, and deeply devoted to the religion of his countrymen. It
is impossible to tell, in the absence of contemporary evidences, the precise motives by
which the Persian king was influenced in raising the standard of revolution. Certain it is
that one of the leading impulses of the rebellion was the hoped-for restoration of the
ancient Zoroastrian faith, which had for so long a period been reduced to the level of a
pagan cult. But we may well believe that the Persian under-king was influenced in
hazarding his fortunes on the issue of civil war by political and warlike ambitions, as
well as by his religious zeal. He perceived in the Parthian situation a great opportunity.
A pretender to the Imperial crown, named Volagases V, had appeared in the field. He
claimed to be a representative of the Arsacid dynasty, and was not without a considerable
support in different provinces. It is believed, moreover, that Hyrcania had already fallen
away from its allegiance to the Empire. Many other circumstances the nature of which it is
difficult, after so great a lapse of time, to apprehend, were doubtless potential in
exciting and directing the revolutionary movement which now broke out in Persia, under the
leadership of Artaxerxes. To him it now remained, in the same year of the final repulse of
the Romans, to raise the standard of successful revolt against Artabanus.
It would seem that Artabanus had suffered so greatly from his recent Roman wars with
Commodus, Caracalla, and Macrinus, as to be unable to bring into the field against the
revolted country an army of sufficient strength and resources for the work. At any rate,
when the two forces -the insurrectionary on the one side, and the Imperial on the other-
came together on the plain of Hormuz, the king's army was beaten in battle, routed, and
driven to the four winds. Artabanus himself was slain, and the victory of the Persians was
so complete that there was little hope of reviving the national cause. Some of the Arsacid
princes sought to restore the fortunes of their House, and desultory fighting continued
through another year; but the army of Artaxerxes triumphed more and more, and he was soon
enabled to compel the last representative of the ancient dynasty to submit to his will.
Thus by conquest and a complete reversion of political relations was the Empire founded by
Arsaces, and developed and defended by the great kings of the second century B. C.,
crowded to the precipice, and hurled down into darkness and oblivion.
The causes of the subversion of the Parthian Power are easily discoverable, even from the
rapid survey here presented of the history of the Empire. In the first place, the
existence of feudalism in its Asiatic form had prevented the complete union of the many
provinces and dependencies constituting the Imperial dominions. Time and again we have
pointed out the disastrous results of the loose confederative system on which the Empire
was founded. The different peoples thus vaguely combined under a single government
retained too great a measure of independence and sovereignty for the Welfare and stability
of the central administration. The feudatories never coalesced to the extent of forming a
consolidated union. The Empire was merely a league of States ranging in character from
half-barbaric to civilized and refined. Over these difficulties of government a common
language, common institutions, and a common spirit could not well prevail.
In the next place, the family of the Arsacidae branched out into subordinate
sovereignties, any one of which might aspire to the hegemony of the Empire. The Arsacid
princes, in the second century B. C., felt no longer the strong tie of kindred. They were
not sufficiently advanced in statesmanship to understand that the interests of each were
subordinate to the interests of the dynasty as a whole. The diverse motherhood of the