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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

Persian king. Accordingly, having selected a body of his best troops, he

started in pursuit of the royal refugee, and, after a march of

incredible rapidity, arrived in eleven days at the city of Rhagae, near

the great pass of the Caucasus, called the Caspian Gate. Here he learned

that Darius had abandoned the hill-country, and was continuing his

flight across the Parthian plains. While making a temporary pause to

procure supplies and rest his men, intelligence was brought to Alexander

that Bessus, the satrap of Bactria, together with two others, one of

whom was a cavalry officer in the bodyguard of the king, had conspired

against Darius, seized his person, and were now dragging him back to be

delivered to the conqueror. It was their purpose, however, after the

manner of Asiatics, to hold possession of their captive, and thus be

able to extort terms favorable to themselves-perhaps to sell the

prisoner at an enormous price in money and preferment.

Setting out in the night, Alexander again pressed forward with great

rapidity, and on the morrow arrived at a village which had just been

occupied by Bessus and his confederates. Again hurrying forward across

the desert, he soon came in sight of the fugitives. A brief and feeble

resistance was offered to the pursuers, and then the captors of the

king, fearing that Darius, when taken, might induce Alexander to punish

them for their perfidy, plunged their swords into the royal captive and

left him in his chariot by the road-side to die. In a few moments the

conqueror was on the spot, but not until the last king of the Persian

Empire had breathed out his life. Only the bleeding, lifeless body of

him who had once swayed the millions remained as a trophy to the

conqueror. It is not often that the history of the world has presented a

scene so dramatic as that of the son of Philip standing before the dead

body of his adversary. It was greatly to the honor of Alexander that he

behaved with the utmost humanity in the presence of his fallen foe. The

royal corpse was carefully conveyed to Persepolis, and splendidly buried

in the tombs of the Persian kings. With the death of Darius, the empire

founded by Cyrus the Great was extinguished. The invasion of Xerxes,

with its attendant havoc and devastation to the states of Greece, had,

after a century and a-half of waiting, been amply avenged by the

Macedonian conqueror. There was no longer any serious opposition to the

establishment of a new dynasty on the ruins of the East. For a brief

season, Bessus, the treacherous satrap of Bactria, assumed the title of

Artaxerxes and laid claim to the dominions of the Great King.

It was, however, but an act of vaulting ambition which overleaped itself

and fell on the other side. He was pursued by Alexander into the

province of Sogdiana, cooped up in a fortress, and finally surrendered

into the hands of the Macedonians. After being mutilated according to

the practice of the East, he was cruelly put to death. The Bactrians,

however, for several months continued to oppose the authority of

Alexander. It was found necessary to make a campaign into the country

between the Caspian and the Jaxartes. This river was crossed by the

Macedonian army-the furthest limit of its northward progress. The

satrap, Spitamenes, called to his aid the people of Sogdiana, and the

fierce Scythians, thus creating an army of formidable proportions. But

the general, Coenus, soon overthrew them in battle, and Spitamenes was

pursued into the desert and put to death. Another insurgent, name

Oxyartes, took possession of a fortress, situated in an almost

inaccessible height, and, being well supplied with provisions, bade

defiance to the Macedonians. When summoned to surrender, they coolly

asked Alexander if his men had wings. This piece of bravado was answered

on the following day by a Macedonian storming party, who with hands and

feet, if not with wings, ascended the cliff and carried the fortress by

storm.

Among the captives found in this stronghold of the enemy was the

daughter of Oxyartes, the beautiful Roxana, whom Alexander, against the

half-suppressed protests of his Greeks, chose for his wife. It appears

that the union was based on politics as well as affection; for it was

now evident that the Macedonian contemplated the organic