Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

passion for amassing treasure, in causing it to be deemed a great and honourable thing to become rich.

a It was about the end of the Peloponnesian war, that Da. rius Nothus king of Persia died, after a reign of 19 years. Cyrus had arrived at the court before his death, and Pary. satis his mother, whose idol he was, not contented with hav, ing made his peace, notwithstanding the faults he had committed in his government, pressed the old king to declare him his successor also, after the example of Darius the first, who gave Xerxes the preference before all his brothers, because he had been born, as Cyrus was, after his father's accession to the throne. But Darius did not carry his complaisance for her so far. He gave the crown to Arsaces, his eldest son by Parysatis also, whom Plutarch calls Arsicas, and bequeathed to Cyrus only the provinces he had already.

a A. ML. 3600. Apt. J. C. 404.

BOOK THE NINTH.

THE HISTORY

OF THE

PERSIANS AND GRECIANS,

CONTINUED DURING THE

FIRST FIFTEEN YEARS OF THE REIGN OF ARTA.

XERXES MNEMON.

CHAPTER I.

This chapter contains the domestic troubles of the court ef Persia ; the death of Alcibiades; the re-establisment of the liberty of Athens; and Lysander's secret designs to make himself king.

Sect. I. Coronation of Artaxerxes Mnemon. Cyrus attempts to

assassinate his brother, and is sent into Asia Minor. Cruel revenge of Statira, wife of Artaxerxes upon the authors and accomplices in the murder of her brother. Death of Alcibiades. His character.

Arsaces, upon ascending the throne, assumed the name of Artaxerxes : he it is to whom the Greeks gave the surname of a Mnemon, from his prodigious memory: Being near his father's bed when he was dying, he asked him, a few moments before he expired, what had been the rule of his conduct during so long and happy a reign as his, that he might make it his example. “ It has been,” replied he,“ to “ do always what justice and religion required of me.” Memorable words, and well worthy of being set up in letters of gold in the palaces of kings, to keep them perpetually in mind of what ought to be the guide and rule of all their actions. It is not uncommon for princes to give excellent ina Which word signifies in the Greek, one or a good memory.

A. M, 3600. Ant. J. C. 404, Athen. l. xii. p. 548.

6

structions to their children on their death-beds, which would be more efficacious, if preceded by their own example and practice ; without which they are as weak and impotent as the sick man who gives them, and seldom survive him long.

a Soon after Darius's death, the new king set out from his capital for the city of 6 Pasargada, in order to his coronation, according to custom, by the priests of Persia. There was in that city a temple of the goddess who presided in war, in which the coronation of their kings was solemnized. It was attended with very singular ceremonies, which no doubt had some mysterious sense; though Plutarch does not explain it, The prince at his consecration took off his robe in the temple, and put on that worn by the ancient Cyrus, before he came to the throne, which was preserved in that place with great veneration. After that he ate a dry fig, chewed some leaves of the turpentine tree, and drank a draught composed of milk and vinegar. Was this to signify, that the sweets of sovereign power are mingled with the sours of care and disquiet, and that, if the throne be surrounded with pleasures and honours, it is also attended with pains and anxieties? It seems sufficiently evident, that the design in putting the robes of Cyrus upon the new king, was to make him understand, that he should also clothe his inind with the great qualities and exalteil virtu: 's of that prince,

Young Cyrus, corroded by ambition, was in despair upon being for ever frustrated in his hopes of ascending a throne with which his mother had inspired him, and on seeing the sceptre, which he thought his right, transferred into the hands of his brother. The blackest crimes cost the ambitious nothing. Cyrus resolved to assassinate Artaxerxes in the temple itself, and in the presence of the whole court, just when he took off his own robe to put on that of Cyrus. Artaxerxes was apprized of this design by the priest himself who had educated his brother, to whom he had imparted it. Cyrus was seized and condemned to die, when his mother Parysatis, almost out of her senses, flew to the place, clasp. ed himn in her arms, tied herself to him with the tresses of her hair, fastened her neck to his, and by her shrieks, and tears, and prayers, prevailed so far as to obtain his pardon, and that he should be sent back to his government of the maritimeprovinces. He carried thither with him an ambition no less ardent than before, and animated besides with resentment of the disgrace he had received, and the warm desire of revenge, and armed with an almost unbounded power. Artaxerxes upon this occasion acted contrary to the most common rules of policy, which do not admit c 'the nourishing and enflama Plut. in Artax p. 1012. c. Ne quis mobiles adolescentium

animos præmaturis bonoribus ad superbins

6 A city of Persia built by Cyrus the Great. extolleret. Tacit. Annal. l. iv. c. 17.

ing, by extraordinary honours, the pride and haughtiness of a bold and enterprising young prince like Cyrus, who had carried his personal enmity to his brother so far, as to have resolved to assassinate him with his own hand, and whose ambition for empire was so great, as to employ the most criminal methods for the attainment of its end.

a Artaxerxes had espoused Statira. Scarce had her husband ascended the throne, when she employed the power her beauty gave her over him, to avenge the death of her brother Teriteuchmes. History has not a more tragical scene, nor a more monstrous complication of adultery, incest, and murder ; which after having occasioned great disorders in the royal family, terminated at length in the most fatal manner to all who had any share in it. But it is necessary for the reader's knowledge of the fact to trace it from the beginning.

Hidarnes, Statira's father, a person of very high quality, was governor of one of the principal provinces of the empire. Statira was a lady of extraordinary beauty, which inciuced Artaxerxes to marry her, who was then called Arsaces. At the same time Teriteuchmes, Statira's brother, married Hamestris, Arsaces's sister, one of the daughters of Darius and Parysatis ; in favour of which marriage Teriteuchmes, upon his father's death, had his government given him. There was at the same time another sister in this family, named Roxana, no less beautiful than Statira, and who besides excelled in the arts of shooting with the bow, and throwing the dart. 'Teriteuchmes, her brother, conceived a criminal passion for her, and to gratify it resolved to set himself at liberty, by killing Hamestris, whom he had espoused. Darius, having been informed of this project, by the force of presents and promises engaged Udiastes, Teriteuchmes's intimate friend and confidant, to prevent so black a design, by assassinating him. He obeyed, and had for his reward the government of him he had put to death with his own hands.

Amongst Teriteuchmes's guards was a son of Udiastes, called Mithridates, very much attached to his master. The young gentleman, upon hearing that his father had committed this murder in person, uttered all manner of imprecations against him, and full of horror for so infamous and vile an action, seized on the city of Zaris, and openly revolting, declared for the establishment of Teriteuchmes's son. But that: young man could not hold out long against Darius. He was blocked up in the place with the son of Teriteuchmes, whom he had with him; and all the rest of the family of Hidarnes, were put in prison, and delivered to Parysatis, to do with them as that mother, exasperated to the last excess by the

@Ctos, lle

his

treatment either done or intended against her daughter Har mestris, should think fit. That cruel princess began by causing Roxana, whose beauty had been the occasion of this evil, to be sawed in two, and ordered all the rest to be put to death, except Statira, whose life she granted to the tears and the most tender and ardent solicitations of Arsaces; whose love for his wife made him spare no pains for her preservation, though Darius, his father, believed it necessary, even for his own good, that she should share the same fate with the rest of her family. Such was the state of the affair at the death of Darius.

Statira, as soon as her husband was upon the throne, causes Udiastes to be delivered into her hands. She ordered his tongue to be torn out, and made him die in the most exquisite torments she could invent, to punish the crime which had occasioned the ruin of her family. She gave government to Mithridates, in recompense for his attachment to the in· terests of her family. Parysatis on her side took her revenge on the son of Teriteuchmes, whom she caused to be poisoned, and we shall see that Statira's turn was not very remote.

a We see here the terrible effects of female revenge, and in general of what excesses they are capable, who find themselves above all laws, and have no other rule for their actions than their will and passions.

Cyrus, having resolved to dethrone his brother, employed Clearchus, the Lacedæmonian general, to raise a body of Grecian troops, under pretence of a war, which that Spartan was to carry into Thrace. I shall defer speaking of this famous expedition, and also of the death of Socrates, which happened about the same time; as I intend to treat those two great events in all the extent they deserve. It was without doubt with the same view, that Cyrus presented to Lysander a galley of two cubits in length made of ivory and gold, to congratulate him upon his naval victory. That galley was consecrated to Apollo, in the temple of Delphos, Lysander went soon after to Sardis, charged with magnificent presents for Cyrus from the allies.

c It was upon that occasion Cyrus had the celebrated conversation with Lysander, related by Xenophon, and which Cicero after him has applied so beautifully. That young & a A M, 3601. Ant. J. C. 403. 6 Plut. in Lys. p. 443.

c Xenoph. Econ. p. 830. d Narrat Socrates in eo libro Cyrum minorem, regem Persarum, præstantem ingenio atque imperii gloria, cum Lysander Lacedæmonius, vir summæ virtutis, venisset ad eum Sardes, eique dona a sociis attulisset, et cæteris in rebus comem erga Lysandrum atque humanum fuisse. et ei quemaam conseptum agrum diligenter consitum ostendisse Cum autem admiraretur Lysander et proceritates arborum et directos in quincuncen ordines, et humum subactam atque puram, et suavitatem odorum qui efflarentum e floribus ; tum eum dix işsc, mirari se non modo diligentiam, sed etiapi solertiam ejus, & quo essent ila

« AnteriorContinuar »