UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
himself in popular esteem by flattering the national superstitions.
Careful respect was shown to the religious rites of the Babylonians, and
the conqueror himself disdained not to enter the great temple of the
city and offer sacrifices to Belus.
Remaining for a while in Babylon, Alexander received a deputation from
the Armenians of the North, who professed their desire to be included as
subjects of his Empire. Soon afterwards a delegation arrived from Susa,
the Persian capital, and he was informed of the wish of that great city
to put her keys in his hands. The ambassadors expressed their dislike of
the Persian dynasty, and the wish of the Susianians to share their
destinies with the House of Macedon. This was important intelligence,
and Alexander immediately availed himself of it by marching in the
direction of the Persian capital. Before arriving at Susa, however, he
was met by a son of the satrap, who came out to assure him of a
hospitable reception. He was informed that the city, with all its
defenses and treasures, would be surrendered without delay or
opposition. Within twenty days after his departure from Babylon he
reached his destination. Susa was given up, and the Macedonian found
himself in possession of a sum equal to fifty millions of dollars. In
the royal palace were found many of the treasures which Xerxes had taken
from the Greeks. Among the rest were two bronze statues of Harmodius and
Aristogiton, those famous popular heroes who slew the tyrant Hipparchus.
These venerated relics were at once returned by Alexander to the
Athenians, though the conqueror could hardly have been in sympathy with
the cause of which they were the symbols.
While tarrying at Susa, Alexander reinstated the wives and daughters of
Darius in the royal palace. He also, in reorganizing the government,
entrusted the satrapy to a native Persian, thus exhibiting a
conciliatory disposition towards the traditions of the people. Meanwhile
a large reinforcement, sent out by Antipater, arrived from Macedonia.
With them came fifty youths from the most distinguished families, who
were recommended to the king as proper additions to his bodyguard.
The time had now come to begin the invasion of the original seat of the
Persian Empire. Between Susiana and Persia Proper were ranges of high
mountains, the passes of which must be traversed by the Macedonians on
their way from Susa to Persepolis. These heights were inhabited by a
race of warlike barbarians who, even in the days of Persian ascendancy,
had maintained their independence, and were in the habit, with singular
impudence, of obliging the subjects of the Great King to pay toll for
the privilege of passing through the mountains. It was the program of
these half-savages, on the approach of the conqueror, to occupy the
cliffs, and compel the king of Macedon to pay the usual tribute. But the
buccaneers of the hills were soon taught another lesson. The light armed
Macedonians, agile as the mountaineers themselves, hastily preoccupied
the heights, and the barbarians were glad to escape with their lives. It
was not the custom of Alexander the Great to pay for the privilege of
going where he would.
At a further stage of his progress through the hill-country, the
Macedonian encountered a still more serious obstacle. The Persian Gate,
through which he must descend from the highland into the plain, had been
seized by the satrap, Ariobarzanes, who, with forty thousand picked
soldiers, had chosen this favorable position with the determination to
stop the progress of Alexander toward the East. In attempting to force
the pass, the Macedonians were not only checked but actually repelled,
until what time Alexander, having discovered another defile through the
mountains, passed through with one division of his army, and fell upon
the Persian rear. The discomfiture of Ariobarzanes was complete.
It was now no longer any concern of the Macedonian what should become of
the satrap who had attempted to bar his progress, but whether he himself
could reach Persepolis before the fugitives from the recent overthrow
should bear thither the news of his coming. He had been informed of the
purpose of the Persepolitan authorities to destroy the treasures and
records of the city rather than