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"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,
And as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
In war, the Medes poisoned their arrows with a bituminous liquor called naphtha, of which there was anciently an abundance in Media, Persia, and Assyria. The arrow being steeped in it, and set on fire, and shot from a slack bow, (for a swift and violent motion lessened its malignity,) burned the flesh with such violence, that water rather increased than extinguished the flame: dust alone could put out the flame, and alleviate the pain it occasioned. Their bows, which formed their principal weapon, were only exceeded in size and strength by those of the Ethiopians, and were well fitted to be used also as clubs. They measured about five feet six inches in length.
Herodotus attributes to the Medes the custom of confirming alliances with the blood of the contracting parties, which was practised among all the eastern nations, even in the Roman times. This is confirmed by Tacitus, who says, that when they were to form alliances, they used to tie together the thumbs of their right hands till the blood, starting to the extremities, was, by a slight incision, drawn forth. Of this they mutually partook; and a league thus confirmed, was esteemed most awful, as being mysteriously solemnized with the blood of the parties.
This offers a sad picture of humanity; but prophecy points to the day when the blood of our fellow creatures need not be even thus figuratively drawn to insure friendship and amity-when all nations shall look upon each other as the workmanship of one common Creator; as brethren, with whom they should sojourn on earth in peace. Glorious will that day be, when
"Love shall, in one delightful stream,
With reference to the arts, learning, and trade of the Medes very little is known. Whether they ever applied themselves to either is not, indeed, anywhere recorded. They seemed
er to have delighted, and to have aimed at excelling in
merciless art of war.
steed, and handling the bow, they surpassed all other
In the arts of managing the war
in after ages,
did their successors, the Per
THE KINGDOM OF MEDIA.
THE kingdom of Media appears to have been erected about 704 years, B. C. Hitherto it had been a province of the kings of Assyria; for we collect from Holy Writ, that in B. c. 719, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, transplanted the captive Israelites into various districts of Media, 2 Kings xvii. 6. He must therefore, have been, at that time, in full and undisturbed possession of that province. It was, indeed, in the year B. C. 710, that the Medians became first disaffected toward the Assyrian rule. In that year, they revolted from Sennacherib, and during the next six years they lived without a king.
During this time, the liberty the Medes had acquired by their valour degenerated into licentiousness, and their government not being well established, they fell into a kind of anarchy worse than their former subjection; injustice, violence and rapine, prevailed everywhere, because there was no one possessed of power sufficient to restrain them, or authority sufficient to punish the offenders. These disorders at length induced the people to settle a form of government, which rendered the state more flourishing than before.
Herodotus gives the following account of the change: "There was a man among the Medes of the name of Dejoces, son of Phraortes, of great reputation for his wisdom, whose ambitious views were thus disguised and exercised. The Medes were divided into different districts, and Dejoces was distinguished in his own, by his vigilant and impartial distribution of justice. This he practised in opposition to the general depravity and weakness of the government of his country, and while conscious that the profligate and the just
At the time of their revolt from the Assyrians, the Medes consisted of the Busians, Paratacenians, Struchates, Arazantines, Budians, and Mages. These states were independent of each other, and governed by their own magistrates.
ver be at war with each other. The Medes, who lived t him, to signify their approbation of his integrity, made eir judge. In this situation, having one more elevated w, he conducted himself with the most rigid equity. ehaviour obtained the highest applause of his countryand his fame extending to the neighbouring districts, eople contrasted his just and equitable decisions with the ilarity of their own corrupt rulers, and unanimously re1 to his tribunal, not suffering any one else to determine litigations.
The increasing fame of his integrity and wisdom conly augmented the number of those who came to consult
But when Dejoces saw the pre-eminence which he was niversally allowed, he appeared no more on his accused tribunal, and declared that he should sit as a judge no er; intimating, that it was inconsistent for him to reguthe affairs of others, to the neglect and injury of his own. er this, as violence and rapine prevailed more than ever in different districts of the Medes, they called a public asbly to deliberate on national affairs. As far as I have a able to collect, they who were attached to Dejoces dered sentiments to this effect:-'Our present situation is olerable, let us therefore elect a king, that we may have advantage of a regular government, and continue our al occupations, without any fear of danger or molestation.' conformity to these sentiments, the Medes determined to ct a king; and, after some consultation about what person y should choose, Dejoces was proposed and elected with iversal consent." To such mean and discreditable shifts ll the ambitious spirit resort, that it may obtain a crown.
Reader, make thou thy choice of the praise and the favour of Heaven; for all else will fail thee in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
Dejoces was no sooner invested with the supreme power, than he acted as a tyrant, though the rigour he practised might to a certain extent, have been necessary to bring the nation into any order or discipline.
The first act of his government was the requisition of a life-guard, to secure his person, and maintain his dignity. He next required them to build him a strong and magnificent palace; and afterwards to build the royal city of Ecbatana, which is placed by Major Rennell on or near the site of Hamadan, in Al-Jebal. (See p. 138.) After the city was finished, he drew the main body of the people, who had hitherto lived in villages, to reside in its vicinity. Being persuaded, however, that the majesty of kings is most respected afar off, he withdrew himself from public view, in order to increase the public respect and veneration for his person and government. He was almost inaccessible, and invisible to his subjects, not suffering them to speak or communicate their affairs to him but through his official servants, by whom he regularly returned his own decisions.* "This," says Herodotus, "was the form which he observed in judiciary matters. His proceeding," he adds, "with regard to penal offences, was thus: Whenever he heard of any injury being perpetrated, (and for this purpose he appointed spies and informers in different parts of his dominions,) the offender was first brought to his presence, and then punished according to his offence."†
Although Dejoces appears to have acted tyrannically during his rule, he was nevertheless a great and wise prince, and a blessing to his country. During his reign, his country enjoyed the profoundest peace and tranquillity; and he never carried war into the territories of his neighbours. According to Dr. Hales, he died B. c. 663, after a reign of forty
* A similar policy was adopted by our Norman kings. Henry II., instead of the immediate application for justice to the king himself in the Aula regis, or "great court," that constantly attended his person, instituted two other courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, to be stationary at Westminster, where all judicial proceedings were henceforth to be conducted by pleading before the judges. By this regulation, justice was more orderly and more skilfully administered.
+ This, also, resembles the institution of itinerant judges of assize, who were sent on circuits, at stated periods, to take "cognizance of offences and misdemeanors;" corresponding to the "spying out, or obtaining information of such;" while Achmetha, or Ecbatana, the capital, became the established place of public records in after ages, Ezra vi. 2.