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He was succeeded in his kingdom, which had now become powerful, by
who is the Arphaxad of Scripture.
Phraortes was a martial prince. Not being satisfied with the kingdom ef Media, left him by Dejoces, he attacked the Persians, and, defeating them in a decisive battle, brought them under subjection to his empire. After this, strengthened by the accession of the Persian forces, he attacked other nations, and reduced them, one after another, till he made himself master of almost all Upper Asia.
Elated with this success, he invaded the Assyrians of Nineveh, who, though at this period weakened by the defection of their allies, were still very powerful in themselves. Nebuchodonosor raised a great army in his own country, and sent ambassadors to a great many nations in the east, to require their assistance. They refused to comply with his demand, and treated his ambassadors with ignominy; thus plainly declaring, that they no longer regarded the power of his once mighty empire, Judith i. 5-11.
Nabuchodonosor, enraged at such insolent treatment, swore by his throne and kingdom," that he would be revenged of all these nations, and put them to the sword. He then prepared for battle with his own forces, in the plain of Ragau.* This soon ensued, and it proved fatal to Phraortes. He was defeated, his cavalry fled, his chariots were overturned, and put into disorder, and Nabuchodonosor gained a complete victory. Then taking advantage of the confusion of the Medes, he entered their country, took their cities, pushed on his conquest even to Ecbatana, forced the towers and the walls by storm, and gave it over to the rapine of his army. The unfortunate Phraortes himself, who had escaped into the mountains of Ragau, fell at length into the hands of Nabuchodono
* Ragau is a large and extensive plain to the south of Teheran, the present capital of Persia. It extends east and west to a great distance, and is bounded on the north by the mountains of Mazanderan, supposed to be those mentioned in the text as the "mountains of Ragau;" and south by an inferior range that separates it from the western limits of the Great Salt desert. The mountains of Manzanderan are very difficult of access to cavalry, and therefore the fittest place to which Phraortes could have fled for refuge from his enraged pursuer. The city itself is mentioned in the books of Tobit and Judith, and the reader will find it described page 142 in this history.
sor, who caused him to be put to a cruel death. After that, he returned to Nineveh, and for four months feasted and diverted himself with those that had accompanied him in his expedition.
The death of Phraortes took place about B. c. 641, and he was succeeded in his kingdom by his son,
CYAXARES I., OR KAI KOBAD,
who was the most celebrated of the Median kings, and, according to Dr. Hales, the Ahasuerus of Scripture. The poet Eschylus, and the Persian historian Mirkhond, etc., agree in representing him as the founder of the second, or Kaianian dynasty. The former, who had fought against the Persians, in the battle of Marathon, and therefore had opportunities of information, introduces the ghost of Darius Hystapes, in his tragedy of Perse, thus describing the several kings of Persia, from the Median founder to his own son, Xerxes:
"Asia's brave hosts
A Mede* first led. The virtues of his sont
Breathed prudence. Cyrus third by fortune graced,
Adorned the throne, and blessed his grateful friends
With peace. He to his mighty monarchy
Joined Lydia and the Phrygians; to his power
With victory his gentle virtues crowned.
His sons then wore the regal diadem.
Next to disgrace his country, and to stain
The splendid glories of the ancient throne,
Rose Mardus. Him with righteous vengeance fired,
Crushed in his palace. Maraphis¶ assumed
As Xerxestt iny son. He, in all the pride of youth,
It is supposed that in the first year of the reign of Cyaxares, or B. c. 640, that the army of Nebuchodonosor was defeated in the plains of Bethulia. Cyaxares, who had well established himself on the throne of Media, and was master of Upper Asia, knew how to turn this event to his account. Before they had recovered from the consternation into which they were thrown, eager to revenge his father's defeat and death, he marched upon and laid siege to Nineveh, defeating the Assyrian army who came out to oppose him.
The city was on the point of falling into his hands, when he was obliged to raise the siege, by reason of a Scythian invasion and victory as here related by Herodotus: "When Cyaxares was engaged in the siege of Nineveh, he was surprised by an army of Scythians, commanded by Madyas, son of Protothyas. Having expelled the Cimmerians from Europe, the Scythians had found their way into Asia, and, continuing to pursue the fugitives, had arrived at the territories of the Medes.
"From the lake Matis an expeditious traveller may pass to the river Phasis, among the Colchians, in the space of thirty days, [Major Rennell, says twenty:] it requires less time to pass into Media from Colchis, which are only separated by the nation of the Saspirians. The Scythians, however, did not come by this route, but leaving Mount Caucasus on the right, passed through the high country by a much longer one. Here they met with the Medes, who, in a fixed battle, lost not only the victory, but the empire of Asia."
The Scythians retained the dominion of Asia for twentyeight years, when they lost it by their licentiousness and neglect. At a feast, to which they were invited by Cyaxares and the Medes, the greatest part of them were cut off when in a state of intoxication, and the Medes thus recovered their possessions and ancient importance.
The Scythians who were not at the feast, having heard of the massacre of their countrymen, fled into Lydia to king Alyattes, who received them with humanity. This gave rise to a war between the Median and Lydian monarchs, which raged more or less fiercely for five years.
* Larcher says: "The history of the Scythians is remarkably obscure. Justin, speaking of the incursions of this people into Asia, sometimes coincides with Herodotus; at others materially contradicts him. Strabo makes a slight mention of this expedition of Madyas; but I am ignorant by what authority he makes him king of the Cimmerians; I should rather think a mistake has been made by some copyist."
The Lydian war commenced, B. c. 608, about which time, probably, Cyaxares, and his ally, Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, renewed the siege of Nineveh, and took it, в. c. 606, as related in the history of the Assyrians, page 112.
During the Lydian war many battles were fought with equal success on both sides. In the sixth year, however, B. C. 603, it was brought to a crisis. During an obstinate battle, says Herodotus, the day suddenly became night. Thales, the Milesian, had foretold this alteration, or eclipse, to the Ionians. The Lydians and Medes, seeing darkness take the place of light, desisted from the sanguinary strife, and showed an inclination on both sides to come to terms of peace. Syennesis, king of Cilicia, and Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, seeing this, acted as mediators; and they expedited the treaty, and confirmed it by a marriage, persuaded, that treaties cannot be lasting, without a powerful bond of union. They engaged Alyattes to give Aryenis, his daughter, in marriage to Astyages, the son of Cyaxares.
Two years after, B. c. 601, Cyaxares died, and he was succeeded in his kingdom by
ASTYAGES, OR KAI KAUS,
who, according to Eschylus, Herodotus, and several oriental historians, was the son of Cyaxares, though others say the grandson.
The reign of Astyages was very extended, continuing for thirty-five years, or till B. c. 566. But though his reign was thus long, there are no particulars handed down to us, worthy of credit, respecting it, except his repulsing the Babylonians, who, under the conduct of Evil Merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, had made an inroad into his territories.
Astyages had two children, whose names are famous in history: these were, Cyaxares, by his wife Aryenis, and Mandane, by a former marriage. Mandane was married, during her father's lifetime, to Cambyses, the son of Achemenes, king of Persia, from which union sprang the celebrated Cyrus.
Herodotus represents Astyages, during the course of his reign, as foolish, mad, and infatuated. His accounts of his actions, however, are a tissue of the strangest absurdities and contrarieties, refuting themselves. They are, moreover, in opposition to Eschylus, Xenophon, Josephus, the Persian historians,
and, above all, to Scripture; and therefore they are omitted in these pages. Astyages was succeeded in his kingdom by
CYAXARES II., FRAIBORZ, OR DARIUS THE MEDE,
who came to the throne at the age of forty-nine years. Of this prince, Dr. Hales says, "Being naturally of an easy, indolent disposition, and fond of his amusements, he left the burden of military affairs, and the care of the government, to Cyrus, his nephew and son-in-law, who married his only daughter, and was therefore doubly entitled to succeed him." In his latter days, indeed, he seems to have been governed by his nephew and heir, Cyrus, "by that ascendancy which great souls have always over little ones."
In the thirteenth year of his reign, or B. c. 553, Belshazzar having been slain, Darius succeeded him on the throne of Babylon. The first act of his sovereignty, according to Berosus, was the appointment of Nabonadius, a Babylonian nobleman, not allied to the royal family, to be king, or viceroy, under him, according to the established policy of the Medes and Persians, to conciliate the good-will of his new subjects, in leaving them to be governed by a native prince.
Horne, remarking on the truth with which the characters of kings are delineated in the book of Daniel, observes, that Xenophon "represents Cyaxares as weak and pliable, but of a cruel temper, easily managed for the most part, yet ferocious in his anger. Is not this Darius? the same Darius who allowed his nobles to make laws for him, and then repented?— suffered Daniel to be cast into the lion's den, and then spent a night in lamentation for him; and at last, in strict conformity with Xenophon's description, condemned to death not only his false counsellors, but also their wives and children?" This is one of the remarkable coincidences in which the writings of profane and sacred historians harmonize.
Daniel, who contributed so materially to the accession of Darius, was naturally in high favour with him. Accordingly, on his next appointment of the presidents of the provinces, he set Daniel at their head, and designed, on account of his consummate wisdom, to set him over the whole united realm, Dan. vi. 1-3.
But worldly distinctions are not a bower of roses, under which the possessor, though pious and upright, may rest without fear of being disturbed. And so Daniel found. His elevation and integrity aroused the jealousy of those beneath