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had been consumed in apparent prosperity and internal decline. The nation of ... magistrates, and legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, was dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the millions of servile provincials, who had received the name, without adopting the spirit, of Romans. A mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their independence. By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or an Arab, was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the Scipios.
#. limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the vulgar, Philip appeared a monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly been. The form was still the same, §. the animating health and vigour were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and exhausted by a long series of oppression. The discipline of the legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue, had propped the greatness of the state, was corrupted by the ambition, or relaxed by the weakness, of the emperors. The strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined; and the fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of the Roman empire.
CHAPTER VIII.-of THE STATE of PERSIA AFTER THE RESTORATION OF THE MONARCHY BY ARTAXERXES.
WHENEVER Tacitus indulges himself in those beautiful episodes, in which he relates some domestic transaction of the Germans or of the Parthians, his principal object is to relieve the attention of the reader from a uniform scene of vice and misery. From the reign of Augustus to the time of Alexander Severus, the enemies of Rome were in her bosom; the tyrants, and the soldiers; and her prosperity had a very distant and feeble interest in the revolutions
248 THE EASTERN NATIONS. [cII. VIII.
that might happen beyond the Rhine and the Euphrates. But when the military order had levelled, in wild anarchy, the power of the prince, the laws of the senate, and even the discipline of the camp, the barbarians of the north and of the east, who had hovered on the frontier, boldly attacked the provinces of a declining monarchy. Their vexatious inroads were changed into formidable irruptions, and, after a long vicissitude of mutual calamities, many tribes of the victorious invaders established themselves in the provinces of the Roman empire. To obtain a knowledge of these great events, we shall endeavour to form a previous idea of the character, forces, and designs, of those nations who avenged the cause of Hannibal and Mithridates. In the more early ages of the world, whilst the forest that covered Europe afforded a retreat to a few wandering savages, the inhabitants of Asia were already collected into populous cities, and reduced under extensive empires, the seat of the arts, of luxury, and of despotism. The Assyrians reigned over the east,” till the sceptre of Ninus and Semiramis dropped from the hands of their enervated successors. The Medes and the Babylonians divided their power, and were themselves swallowed up in the monarchy of the Persians, whose arms could not be confined within the narrow limits of Asia. Followed, as it is said, by two millions of men, Xerxes, the descendant of Cyrus, invaded Greece. Thirty thousand soldiers, under the command of Alexander, the son of Philip, who was intrusted by the Greeks with their glory and revenge, were sufficient to subdue Persia. The princes of the house of Seleucus usurped and lost the Macedonian command over the east. About the same time that, by an ignominious treaty, they resigned to the Romans the country on this side Mount Taurus, they were driven . the Parthians, an obscure horde of Scythian origin, from the provinces of Upper Asia. The formidable power of the Parthians, which spread from lndia to the frontiers of Syria, was in its turn subverted by Ardshir, or Artaxerxes, the founder of a new dynasty, which, under the name of Sassanides, governed Persia till the invasion of the Arabs.” This great revolution, whose fatal influence was soon experienced by the Romans, happened in the fourth year of Alexander Severus, two hundred and twenty-six years after the Christian era.f Artaxerxes had served with great reputation in the armies of Artaban, the last king of the Parthians; and it appears that he was driven into exile and rebellion by royal ingratitude, the customary reward for superior merit. His birth was obscure, and the obscurity equally gave room to the aspersions of his enemies and the flattery of his adherents. If we credit the scandal of the former, Artaxerxes sprang from the illegitimate commerce of a tanner's wife with a common soldier. The latter represents him as descended
* An ancient chronologist, quoted by Welleius Paterculus (l. 1, c. 6) observes that the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Macedonians, reigned over Asia one thousand nine hundred and ninety-five years, from the accession of Ninus to the defeat of Antiochus by the Romana As the latter of these great events happened two hundred and eightynine years before Christ, the former may be placed two thousand one hundred and eighty-four years before the same era. The astronomical observations, found at Babylon, by Alexander, went fifty years higher. * Persian history enumerates four dynasties from the earliest times to the invasion of the Saracens; these were, the Peschdadides, the Ceanides, the Aschkanides or Arsacides, and the Sassanides. The
founder of the first was Kaiomaros, who is often confounded with Noah.
That was the mythical age, and has reigns of seven hundred and nine hundred years each. These first kings fought with the giels, or evil spirits, and had subtle disputations with the deurs, or fairies; these contests are as ridiculous as those of Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and the other Grecian divinities. The history of the Ceanides reminds us of the Greek heroes and our own knights of romance; it recites the va. liant deeds of Rustan, and his battles with Affendiar, the eldest son of Guschtasps. During this dynasty, the real kingdom of Persia originated under the great Cyrus. The last of this race, Iskander, employed his chief nobles as satraps, or provincial governors, one of whom, Aschek, or Arsaces, raised himself to the throne, and was the progenitor of the Arsacides. The historians of Persia have preserved the names of but few among these sovereigns, whose race was finally expelled by Ardshir-Babekhan, or Artaxerxes. He was the founder of the Sassanides, who reigned 428 years. See Freret's Dissertation, in the Mémoires de l'Acad. des Inscrip. et Belles-Lettres, tom. xvi-GUIzot.
+ In the five hundred and thirty-eighth year of the era of Seleucus. See Agathias, l. 2, p. 63. This great event (such is the carelessness of the Orientals) is placed by Eutychius as high as the tenth year of Commodus; and by Moses of Chorene, as low as the reign of Philip. Ammianus Marcellinus has so servilely copied (23, 6) his ancient materials, which are, indeed, very good, that he describes the family of the Arsacides as still seated on the Persian throne in the middle of the fourth century. : The tanner's name was Babec, the soldier's Sassan; from the former Artaxerxes obtained the name of from the latter all his descendants have been styled Sassanides.
250 THE PERSIAN LINE [CH. VIII,
from a branch of the ancient kings of Persia, though time and misfortune had gradually reduced his ancestors to the humble station of private citizens.” As the lineal heir of the monarchy, he asserted his right to the throne, and challenged the noble task of delivering the Persians from the oppression under which they groaned above five centuries, since the death of Darius. The Parthians were defeated in three great battles.t. In the last of these their king Artaban was slain, and the spirit of the nation was for ever broken. The authority of Artaxerxes was solemnly acknowledged in a great assembly held at Balkh in Khorasan. Two younger branches of the royal house of Arsaces were confounded among the prostrate satraps. A third, more mindful of ancient grandeur than of present necessity, attempted to retire, with a numerous train of vassals, towards their kinsman, the king of Armenia; but this little army of deserters was intercepted, and cut off, by the vigilance of the conqueror, $ who boldly assumed the double diadem, and the title of king of kings, which had been enjoyed by his predecessor. But these pompous titles, instead of gratifying the vanity of the Persian, served only to admonish him of his duty, and to inflame in his soul the ambition of restoring, in their full splendour, the religion and empire of Cyrus. I. During the long servitude of Persia under the Macedonian and the Parthian yoke, the nations of Europe and Asia had mutually adopted and corrupted each others' superstitions. The Arsacides, indeed, practised the worship of the magi; but they disgraced and polluted it with a various mixture of foreign idolatry. The memory of Zoroaster, the ancient prophet and pool. of the Persians," was still revered in the east; but the obsolete and mysterious lange in which the Zendavesta was composed,” opened a field of dispute to seventy sects, who variously explained the fundamental doctrines of their religion, and were all indifferently derided by a crowd of infidels, who rejected
* D'Herbelot. Biblothèque Orientale, Ardshir. + According to the above-quoted passage in Agathias, it was one battle, which continued for three days, with great obstinacy.—Schreiter. : Dion Cassius, l. 80. Herodian, l. 6, p. 207. Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 80. § See Moses Choronensis, l. 2, c. 65–71. * Hyde and Prideaux, working up the Persian legends and their own conjectures into a very agreeable story, represent Zoroaster as a contemporary of Darius Hystaspes. But it is sufficient to observe, that the Greek writers, who lived almost in the age of Darius, agree in placing the era of Zoroaster many hundred, or even thousand, years before their
own time. The judicious criticism of Mr. Moyle perceived, and maintained against his uncle, Dr. Prideaux, the antiquity of the Persian prophet. See his work, vol. ii. * That ancient idiom was called the Zend. The language of the commentary, the Pehlvi, though much more modern, has ceased many ages ago to be a living tongue. This fact alone (if it be allowed as authentic) sufficiently warrants the antiquity of those writings, which M. d’Anquetil has brought into Europe, and translated into French. [Zend signifies life or living. It may designate either the collective canonical books of Zoroaster's disciples, or the language in which they are written. They contain the word of life, for which reason, the term Zend may have been applied to them, or it may have been the original name of the language itself. Avesta signifies word, oracle, revelation, or lesson; it does not designate the title of any particular work; but the whole collection of Zoroaster's books, as a revelation from Ormusd. This collection is therefore called Zendavesta, sometimes abbreviated into Zend. The affinity of the Armenian and Georgian dialects proves the Zend to have been the ancient language of Media. But it was out of use in the time of the Arsacides, even in the very country where the events took place, which are narrated in the Zendavesta. Some inquirers, among whom are Richardson and Sir William Jones, have questioned the antiquity of these books. The first of them maintains, that the Zend never was a spoken and written language, but was invented by the Magi, in later times, for the purposes of their art. Kleuker, on the contrary, in the dissertations which he has added to those of Anquetil and the Abbé Foucher, proves—1st, That the Zend was anciently a living language, spoken in one part of Persia: 2nd, That the language of the books, which contain the doctrines of Zoroaster, is the ancient Zend; and 3rd, That the Zend ceased to be used as a written language, while it was yet in use for speaking, so that it must have been a living tongue at the time when those books were composed. At what time Zoroaster lived, and the Zend was a spoken language, is still disputed among the learned. Hyde and Anquetil himself place him under the dynasty of Persian kings which commenced with Cyrus, and make him contemporary with Darius Hystaspes. According to them, he lived in the middle of the sixth century before Christ. Others, agreeing with MM. Tychsen and Heeren, fix the period during the Median dynasty; and think that the king Guschtasps, under whom Zoroaster himself says that he lived, was the same as Cyaxares the First, of the Median race, who reigned seventy years before Cyrus and a hundred before Darius Hystaspes. This opinion is supported by so many passages in the Zendavesta, that it appears to be the most probable. The description given by Zoroaster, in the beginning of his Wendidad, of the provinces and principal cities in the kingdom of Guschtasps, cannot be made to apply to the dominions of the Persian kings, while it agrees