Page images

ther, by the hands of the good-hearted brothers, Elias and Samuel, the sons of the deceased Ismael, of Kashan." This date is probably after the computation of the eastern Jews, which would make it answer to about 250 A. D.; otherwise, it would not have been earlier than about 650 A. D.

The following are the translations of the other inscriptions, which are rendered by Sir R. Ker Porter, and which are very interesting:

From a marble slab in the sepulchre.-" Mordecai, beloved and honoured by a king, was great and good. His garments were those of a sovereign. Ahasuerus covered him with this rich dress, and also placed a golden chain around his neck. The city of Susa rejoiced at his honours, and his high fortune became the glory of the Jews.

On the sarcophagus of Mordecai." It is said by David, Preserve me, O God! I am now in thy presence. I have cried at the gates of heaven, that thou art my God; and what goodness I have received came from thee, O Lord.-Those whose bodies are now beneath in this earth, when animated by thy mercy, were great; and whatever happiness was bestowed upon them in this world came from thee, O God!— Their grief and sufferings were many; but they became happy, because they always called upon thy holy name in their afflictions. Thou liftedst me up, and I became powerful. Thine enemies sought to destroy me in the early times of my life; but the shadow of thy hand was upon me, and covered me, as a tent, from their wicked purposes.”—MOR


From the sarcophagus of Esther."I praise thee, O God, that thou hast created me. I know that my sins merit punishment, yet I hope for mercy at thy hands; for whenever I call upon thee, thou art with me; thy holy presence secures me from all evil.-My heart is at ease, and my fear of thee increases. My life became at the last, through thy goodness, full of peace.-O God! shut not my soul out from thy Divine presence. Those whom thou lovest never feel the torments of hell. Lead me, O merciful Father, to the life of life, that I may be filled with the heavenly fruits of paradise!"ESTHER.

According to Morier, Hamadan presents more objects of research to an antiquarian than any other city in Persia. On the eastern summit of Alwend is a large square platform, called by the natives, "The tomb of the son of Solomon." A number of copper lamps lie scattered in its vicinity, which

were brought hither by crowds of devotees, who came on pilgrimages to this fancied tomb. In one of the valleys of Alwend, about eight miles south-west of the town, at the source of a rapid rivulet that waters the plain, about fifty feet above the water, appears, projecting from the sloping side of the acclivity, the mysterious stone called the Gunj Nameh, or Tales of a Treasure. It is an immense block of red granite, of the closest and finest texture, and of many thousand tons' weight. At ten feet from the ground, two square excavations appear in the face of the stone, cut to the depth of a foot, five feet in breadth, and as many in length. Each of these tablets contains three columns of engraved arrow-headed writing, in a state of excellent preservation. Above these two tablets, the commencement of others are traceable. Another monument of antiquity was discovered, by Morier and Sir R. Ker Porter, in the northern skirts of the city, consisting of the base of a column, with its broken shaft, of the same order as the columns found at Persepolis. Near this fragment is a large regular terrace, evidently the work of art, and perhaps the ground work of some great building. Some identify this with the palace of the Persian king, which, Polybius says, was below the citadel. The position of the ruins of the modern castle, which was probably the site of the ancient citadel, is more elevated than the platform, and sufficiently near the latter to be said to be below the former. On the site of the castle is a small platform, called Takht. I. Ardeshir, which has an exterior of white square stones, backed by masonry of common stone and mortar. Besides these, Hamadan contains a great number of Mohammedan antiquities, as sepulchral stones, towers, mosques, old bazars, and Cufic inscriptions. Arsacidan and Sassanian coins are also to be found here; of which latter, nine were brought by Sir R. Ker Porter into England. Morier discovered a cylindrical stone, with Persepolitan figures and characters on it; and he supposes, that if excavations were permitted to be made on what he deems to be the site of the royal treasury, valuable dis

coveries would be made.


This city is called, by Isidorus, the largest city in Media. It is mentioned in the books of Tobit and Judith as a place of consequence, after the revolt of the Parthians against the dynasty of Seleucus. It was captured by Arsaces, the first of the Parthian dynasty of sovereigns, and made the capital

of his empire. From him it was called by the new name of Arsacia. It became a great and flourishing city in the days of the Mohammedan khalifs of Bagdad; and was at its acme of political splendour in the ninth century, when it contained, according to the romantic account of the Mussulman annalists, 16,600 baths, 15,000 mosques, 6,400 colleges, 12,000 mills, 1,700 caravansaries, and 13,000 inns. It was ruined in the thirteenth century, partly by the intestine discord of its inhabitants, who were divided into the opposite sects of the Shiites and Sunnites, and who contended with each other for sixty years; and, finally, by the Mongols, under the successors of Jenghis Khan. Nothing now remains of Rages but part of the ancient wall.

Rages lay upwards of two hundred miles east of Ecbatana, or Hamadan. It is remarkable in history for the defeat and death of Arphaxad, or Phraortes, son of Dejoces, by Nabuchodonosor, king of Assyria, B. c. 641, in the plain of Ragau, or Rages.

Besides these cities of Media, there were several others, as Laodicea, of which appellation there were many towns; and Apamea, which is sometimes adjudged by Strabo to Media, and sometimes to Parthia. At a later date there were the cities of Zombis, Patigrau, Gazaca, Margasis, etc.; but these were all built, in after ages, by the Macedonians, and are therefore called by Strabo, Greek cities. These were succeeded by more modern cities: thus showing the ebb and flow of the tide of sublunary affairs; proclaiming that time sweeps away empires, nations, and cities from the face of the earth; and admonishing the reader to seek a mansion in the skies. A poet has well tuned his harp to the following strains:

"This world is all a fleeting show,
For man's illusion given;
The smile of joy, the tears of woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow,-

There's nothing true but heaven.

"And false the light on glory's plume,
As fading hues of even;

And love, and hope, and beauty's bloom,
Are blossoms gather'd from the tomb,-
There's nothing bright but heaven.
"Poor wanderers of a stormy day,

From wave to wave we're driven;
And fancy's flash, and reasons ray,
Serve but to light the troubled way,
There's nothing calm but heaven."




OUR knowledge of the government of the Medes, in the early ages of the world, is very limited. Originally, however, it appears to have been monarchical, like that of other primitive nations; and it is probable that they possessed kings of their own in the earliest ages. This state of things lasted till the date at which they were first brought under the yoke of the Assyrians. When under this yoke, they were governed by the absolute laws of the Assyrian monarchs; and when they had shaken it off, which they did about B.c. 710, they appear to have modelled their form of government upon the despotic principles of their former masters. Their kings became absolute, submitting to no law, and claiming equal respect with the gods themselves. Their own word was law; and, as they were thus the fountains of law, they were looked upon by their subjects as something more than mortal.

There is a reference to the royal prerogative of infallibility in the Median monarchs, Dan. vi. 8, where the conspirators against the life of the prophet Daniel are represented as praying thus to Darius: "Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not."

How tenacious the kings of Media and Persia were, in adhering to the principles of their decrees or laws, may be discerned in many transactions recorded in history, of which the chapter alluded to affords a notable instance. In the book of Esther, also, we find a king unable to recall an order which he had made for the massacre of the Jews. The only remedy he had, when he discovered the depths of iniquity which had brought it to pass, was to issue a counter order, allowing the people he had doomed to die to stand upon their defence; in

other words, they were permitted to contend with and kill those who were, by his previous unjust decree, bound to kill


Sometimes these monarchs themselves suffered from the infallibility which attended their laws, as did also their subjects. Sir J. Malcolm relates a memorable instance of Aga Mahommed Khan, the last but one of the Persian kings, which well illustrates this. After alluding to the instances in the books of Esther and Daniel, he says: "The character of the power of the king of Persia has undergone no change. The late king, Aga Mohammed Khan, when encamped near Shiraz, said he would not move till the snow was off the mountain in the vicinity of his camp. The season proved severe, and the snow remained longer than was expected; the army began to suffer distress and sickness, but the king said, while the snow remained upon the mountain he would not move; and his word was law, and could not be broken. A multitude of laborers were collected, and sent to remove the snow: their efforts, and a few fine days, cleared the mountain, and Aga Mohammed Khan marched. This anecdote was related to me by one of his principal chiefs, and who told it to me with a desire of impressing my mind with a high opinion of Aga Mohammed Khan, who knew, he observed, the sacred nature of a word spoken by the king of Persia."

The crown of Media was hereditary, and the Medes paid their monarchs the greatest possible respect. Herodotus says, that they deemed it a very great offence to spit or to laugh in their presence. They honoured them with the high sounding title of "Great king," or "King of kings," which was afterwards adopted by the Persian monarchs, and their proud successors, the Parthians. When they appeared in public, which was not often, they were attended by musicians and guards, consisting of the noblest in their kingdom. In the field of battle, their wives, children, and concubines formed part of their retinue, as is usual in an oriental camp.


The Medes were, in very early ages, a warlike people. This will appear from their history, and there is an interesting allusion to their warlike disposition in the prophecies of Isaiah. The Almighty, threatening to destroy Babylon by the Medes, says by his prophet:



« PreviousContinue »