As the fifth century draws to its close the East lies revealed at last in the light of history written by Greeks. Among the peoples whose literary works are known to us, these were the first who showed curiosity about the world in which they lived and sufficient consciousness of the curiosity of others to record the results of inquiry. Before our present date the Greeks had inquired a good deal about the East, and not of Orientals alone. Their own public men, military and civil, their men of science, their men of letters, their merchants in unknown number, even soldiers of theirs in thousands, had gone up into Inner Asia and returned. Leading Athenians, Solon, Hippias and Themistocles, had been received at Eastern courts or had accompanied Eastern sovereigns to war, and one more famous even than these, Alcibiades, had lately lived with a Persian satrap. Greek physicians, Democedes of Croton, Apollonides of Cos, Ctesias of Cnidus, had ministered to kings and queens of Persia in their palaces. Herodotus of Halicarnassus had seen Babylon, perhaps, and certainly good part of Syria; Ctesias had dwelt at Susa and collected notes for a history of the Persian Empire; Xenophon of Attica had tramped from the Mediterranean to the Tigris and from the Tigris to the Black Sea, and with him had marched more than ten thousand Greeks. Not only have works by these three men of letters survived, wholly or in part, to our time, but also many notes on the East as it was before 400 B.C. have been preserved in excerpts, paraphrases and epitomes by later authors. And we still have some archaeological documents to fall back upon. If the cuneiform records of the Persian Empire are less abundant than those of the later Assyrian Kingdom, they nevertheless include such priceless historical inscriptions as that graven by Darius, son of Hystaspes, on the rock of Behistun. There are also hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic texts of Persian Egypt; inscriptions of Semitic Syria and a few of archaic Greece; and much other miscellaneous archaeological material from various parts of the East, which, even if uninscribed, can inform us of local society and life.
SECTION 1. EASTWARD MOVEMENT OF THE GREEKS The Greek had been pushing eastward for a long time. More than three hundred years ago, as has been shown in the last chapter, he had become a terror in the farthest Levant. Before another century had passed he found his way into Egypt also. Originally hired as mercenaries to support a native revolt against Assyria, the Greeks remained in the Nile valley not only to fight but to trade. The first introduction of them to the Saite Pharaoh, Psammetichus, was promoted by Gyges the Lydian to further his own ends, but the first development of their social influence in Egypt was due to the enterprise of Miletus in establishing a factory on the lowest course of the Canopic Nile. This post and two standing camps of Greek mercenaries, one at Tahpanhes watching the approach from Asia, the other at Memphis overawing the capital and keeping the road to Upper Egypt, served to introduce Ionian civilization to the Delta in the seventh century. Indeed, to this day our knowledge of the earliest fine painted pottery of Ionia and Caria depends largely on the fragments of their vases imported into Egypt which have been found at Tahpanhes, Memphis and another Greek colony, Naukratis, founded a little later (as will be told presently) to supersede the original Milesian factory. Though those foreign vases themselves, with their decoration of nude figure subjects which revolted vulgar Egyptian sentiment, did not go much beyond the Greek settlements (like the Greek courtesans of Naukratis, who perhaps appealed only to the more cosmopolitan Saites), their art certainly influenced all the finer art of the Saitic age, initiating a renascence whose characteristics of excessive refinement and meticulous delicacy survived to be reinforced in the Ptolemaic period by a new infusion of Hellenic culture. So useful or so dangerous--at any rate so numerous--did the Greeks become in Lower Egypt by the opening of the sixth century that a reservation was assigned to them beside the Egyptian town of Piemro, and to this alone, according to Herodotus, newcomers from the sea were allowed to make their way. This foreign suburb of Piemro was named Naukratis, and nine cities of the Asiatic Greeks founded a common sanctuary there. Other maritime communities of the same race (probably the more powerful, since Miletus is named among them) had their particular sanctuaries also and their proper places. The Greeks had come to Egypt to stay. We have learned from the remains of Naukratis that throughout the Persian domination, which superseded the Saitic before the close of the sixth century, a constant importation of products of Ionia, Attica, Sparta, Cyprus and other Hellenic centres was maintained. The place was in full life when Herodotus visited Egypt, and it continued to prosper until the Greek race, becoming rulers of all the land, enthroned Hellenism at Alexandria on the sea itself.
SECTION 2. PHOENICIAN CARRIERS Nor was it only through Greek sea-rovers and settlers in Cilicia, and through Greek mercenaries, merchants and courtesans in the Nile-Delta, that the East and the West had been making mutual acquaintance. Other agencies of communication had been active in bringing Mesopotamian models to the artists of the Ionian and Dorian cities in Asia Minor, and Ionian models to Mesopotamia and Syria. The results are plain to see, on the one hand in the fabric and design of early ivories, jewellery and other objects found in the archaic Artemisium at Ephesus, and in the decoration of painted pottery produced at Miletus; on the other hand, in the carved ivories of the ninth century found at Calah on the Tigris. But the processes which produced these results are not so clear. If the agents or carriers of those mutual influences were certainly the Phoenicians and the Lydians, we cannot yet apportion with confidence to each of these peoples the responsibility for the results, or be sure that they were the only agents, or independent of other middlemen more directly in contact with one party or the other. The Phoenicians have pushed far afield since we looked at them last. By founding Carthage more than half-way towards the Pillars of Hercules the city of Tyre completed her occupation of sufficient African harbours, beyond the reach of Egypt, and out of the Greek sphere, to appropriate to herself by the end of the ninth century the trade of the western Mediterranean basin. By means of secondary settlements in west Sicily, Sardinia and Spain, she proceeded to convert this sea for a while into something like a Phoenician lake. No serious rival had forestalled her there or was to arise to dispute her monopoly till she herself, long after our date, would provoke Rome. The Greek colonies in Sicily and Italy, which looked westward, failed to make head against her at the first, and soon dropped out of the running; nor did the one or two isolated centres of Hellenism on other shores do better. On the other hand, in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean, although it was her own home-sea, Tyre never succeeded in establishing commercial supremacy, and indeed, so far as we know, she never seriously tried to establish it. It was the sphere of the Aegean mariners and had been so as far back as Phoenician memory ran. The Late Minoan Cretans and men of Argolis, the Achaean rovers, the Ionian pirates, the Milesian armed merchantmen had successively turned away from it all but isolated and peaceful ships of Sidon and Tyre, and even so near a coast as Cyprus remained foreign to the Phoenicians for centuries after Tyre had grown to full estate. In the Homeric stories ships of the Sidonians, though not unknown, make rare appearances, and other early legends of the Greeks, which make mention of Phoenician visits to Hellenic coasts, imply that they were unusual phenomena, which aroused much local curiosity and were long remembered. The strangeness of the Phoenician mariners, the unfamiliar charm of their cargoes--such were the impressions left on Greek story by the early visits of Phoenician ships. That they did pay such visits, however, from time to time is certain. The little Egyptian trinkets, which occur frequently in Hellenic strata of the eighth to the sixth centuries, are sufficient witness of the fact. They are most numerous in Rhodes, in Caria and Ionia, and in the Peloponnese. But the main stream of Tyrian commerce hugged the south rather than the north coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean. Phoenician sailors were essentially southerners--men who, if they would brave now and again the cold winds of the Aegean and Adriatic, refused to do so oftener than was necessary--men to whom African shores and a climate softened by the breath of the Ocean were more congenial. If, however, the Phoenicians were undoubtedly agents who introduced the Egyptian culture to the early Hellenes of both Asia and Europe, did they also introduce the Mesopotamian? Not to anything like the same extent, if we may judge by the products of excavations. Indeed, wherever Mesopotamian influence has left unmistakable traces upon Greek soil, as in Cyprus and Ionia or at Corinth and Sparta, it is often either certain or probable that the carrying agency was not Phoenician. We find the nearest affinities to archaic Cypriote art (where this was indebted to Asiatic art at all) in Cilician and in Hittite Syrian art. Early Ionian and Carian strata contain very little that is of Egyptian character, but much whose inspiration can be traced ultimately to Mesopotamia; and research in inner Asia Minor, imperfect though its results are yet, has brought to light on the plateau so much parallelism to Ionian Orientalizing art, and so many examples of prior stages in its development, that we must assume Mesopotamian influence to have reached westernmost Asia chiefly by overland ways. As for the European sites, since their Orientalism appears to have been drawn from Ionia, it also had come through Asia overland. Therefore on the whole, though Herodotus asserts that the Phoenician mariners carried Assyrian cargoes, there is remarkably little evidence that those cargoes reached the West, and equally little that Phoenicians had any considerable direct trade with Mesopotamia. They may have been responsible for the small Egyptian and Egyptianizing objects which have been found by the excavators of Carchemish and Sakjegeuzi in strata of the ninth and eighth centuries; but the carrying of similar objects eastward across the Euphrates was more probably in Hittite hands than theirs. The strongest Nilotic influence which affected Mesopotamian art is to be noticed during the latter half of the New Assyrian Kingdom, when there was no need for alien intermediaries to keep Nineveh in communication with its own province of Egypt. Apparently, therefore, it was not through the Phoenicians that the Greeks had learned most of what they knew about the East in 400 B.C. Other agents had played a greater part and almost all the intercommunication had been effected by way, not of the Levant Sea, but of the land bridge through Asia Minor. In the earlier part of our story, during the latter rule of Assyria in the farther East and the subsequent rule of the Medes and the Babylonians in her room, intercourse had been carried on almost entirely by intermediaries, among whom (if something must be allowed to the Cilicians) the Lydians were undoubtedly the most active. In the later part of the story it will be seen that the intermediaries have vanished; the barriers are down; the East has itself come to the West and intercourse is immediate and direct. How this happened--what agency brought Greeks and Orientals into an intimate contact which was to have the most momentous consequences to both--remains to be told.
SECTION 3. THE COMING OF THE PERSIANS We have seen already how a power, which had grown behind the frontier mountains of the Tigris basin, forced its way at last through the defiles and issued in the riverine plains with fatal results to the north Semitic kings. By the opening of the sixth century Assyria had passed into Median hands, and these were reaching out through Armenia to central Asia Minor. Even the south Semites of Babylonia had had to acknowledge the superior power of the newcomers and, probably, to accept a kind of vassalage. Thus, since all lower Mesopotamia with most part of Syria obeyed the Babylonian, a power, partly Iranian, was already overshadowing two-thirds of the East before Cyrus and his Persians issued upon the scene. It is important to bear this fact in mind when one comes to note the ease with which a hitherto obscure king of Anshan in Elam would prove able to possess himself of the whole Semitic Empire, and the rapidity with which his arms would appear in the farthest west of Asia Minor on the confines of the Greeks themselves. Nebuchadnezzar allied with and obedient to the Median king, helping him on the Halys in 585 B.C. to arrange with Lydia a division of the peninsula of Asia Minor on the terms _uti possidetis_--that is the significant situation which will prepare us to find Cyrus not quite half a century later lord of Babylon, Jerusalem and Sardes. What events, passing in the far East among the divers groups of the Iranians themselves and their Scythian allies, led to this king of a district in Elam, whose own claim to have belonged by blood to any of those groups is doubtful, consolidating all the Iranians whether of the south or north under his single rule into a mighty power of offence, we do not know. Stories current among the Greeks and reported by Herodotus and Ctesias represented Cyrus as in any case a Persian, but as either grandson of a Median king (though not his natural heir) or merely one of his court officials. What the Greeks had to account for (and so have we) is the subsequent disappearance of the north Iranian kings of the Medes and the fusion of their subjects with the Persian Iranians under a southern dynasty. And what the Greeks did not know, but we do, from cuneiform inscriptions either contemporary with, or very little subsequent to, Cyrus' time, only complicates the problem; since these bear witness that Cyrus was known at first (as has been indicated already) for a king of Elam, and not till later for a king of Persia. Ctesias, who lived at Susa itself while at was the Persian capital, agrees with Herodotus that Cyrus wrested the lordship of the Medes from the native dynasty by force; but Herodotus adds that many Medes were consenting parties. These problems cannot be discussed here. The probability is, summarily, this. Some part of the southern or Persian group of Iranians which, unlike the northern, was not contaminated with Scyths, had advanced into Elam while the Medes were overrunning and weakening the Semitic Empire; and in Anshan it consolidated itself into a territorial power with Susa for capital. Presently some disaffection arose among the northern Iranians owing, perhaps, to favour shown by the Median kings to their warlike Scythian subjects, and the malcontents called in the king of Anshan. The issue was fought out in central West Persia, which had been dominated by the Medes since the time of Kyaxares' father, Phraortes, and when it was decided by the secession of good part of the army of King Astyages, Cyrus of Anshan took possession of the Median Empire with the goodwill of much of the Median population. This empire included then, beside the original Median land, not only territories conquered from Assyria but also all that part of Persia which lay east of Elam. Some time, doubtless, elapsed before the sovereignty of Cyrus was acknowledged by all Persia; but, once his lordship over this land was an accomplished fact, he naturally became known as king primarily of the Persians, and only secondarily of the Medes, while his seat remained at Susa in his own original Elamite realm. The Scythian element in and about his Median province remained unreconciled, and one day he would meet his death in a campaign against it; but the Iranian element remained faithful to him and his son, and only after the death of the latter gave expression by a general revolt to its discontent with the bargain it had made.
SECTION 4. FALL OF LYDIA Cyrus must have met with little or no opposition in the western Median provinces, for we find him, within a year or two of his recognition by both Persians and Medes, not only on his extreme frontier, the Halys river, but able to raid across it and affront the power of Lydia. To this action he was provoked by Lydia itself. The fall of the Median dynasty, with which the royal house of Lydia had been in close alliance since the Halys pact, was a disaster which Croesus, now king of Sardes in the room of Alyattes, was rash enough to attempt to repair. He had continued with success his father's policy of extending Lydian dominion to the Aegean at the expense of the Ionian Greeks; and, master of Ephesus, Colophon and Smyrna, as well as predominant partner in the Milesian sphere, he secured to Lydia the control and fruition of Anatolian trade, perhaps the most various and profitable in the world at that time. A byword for wealth and luxury, the Lydians and their king had nowadays become soft, slow-moving folk, as unfit to cope with the mountaineers of the wild border highlands of Persia as, if Herodotus' story is well founded, they were ignorant of their quality. Croesus took his time, sending envoys to consult oracles near and far. Herodotus tells us that he applied to Delphi not less than thrice and even to the oracle of Ammon in the Eastern Sahara. At least a year must have been spent in these inquiries alone, not to speak of an embassy to Sparta and perhaps others to Egypt and Babylon. These preliminaries at length completed, the Lydian gathered the levies of western Asia Minor and set out for the East. He found the Halys in flood--it must have been in late spring--and having made much ado of crossing it, spent the summer in ravaging with his cavalry the old homeland of the Hatti. Thus he gave Cyrus time to send envoys to the Ionian cities to beg them attack Lydia in the rear, and time to come down himself in force to his far western province. Croesus was brought to battle in the first days of the autumn. The engagement was indecisive, but the Lydians, having no mind to stay out the winter on the bleak Cappadocian highlands and little suspicion that the enemy would think of further warfare before spring, went back at their leisure to the Hermus valley, only to hear at Sardes itself that the Persian was hot in pursuit. A final battle was fought under the very walls of the Lydian capital and lost by Croesus; the lower town was taken and sacked; and the king, who had shut himself with his guards into the citadel and summoned his allies to his rescue come five months, was a prisoner of Cyrus within two weeks. It was the end of Lydia and of all buffers between the Orient and Greece. East and West were in direct contact and the omens boded ill to the West. Cyrus refused terms to the Greeks, except the powerful Milesians, and departing for the East again, left Lydia to be pacified and all the cities of the western coasts, Ionian, Carian, Lycian and what not, excepting only Miletus, to be reduced by his viceroys.
SECTION 5. PERSIAN EMPIRE Cyrus himself had still to deal with a part of the East which, not having been occupied by the Medes, though in a measure allied and subservient to them, saw no reason now to acknowledge the new dynasty. This is the part which had been included in the New Babylonian Empire. The Persian armies invaded Babylonia. Nabonidus was defeated finally at Opis in June 538; Sippara fell, and Cyrus' general appearing before Babylon itself received it without a struggle at the hands of the disaffected priests of Bel-Marduk. The famous Herodotean tale of Cyrus' secret penetration down the dried bed of Euphrates seems to be a mistaken memory of a later recapture of the city after a revolt from Darius, of which more hereafter. Thus once more it was given to Cyrus to close a long chapter of Eastern history--the history of imperial Babylon. Neither did he make it his capital, nor would any other lord of the East so favour it. If Alexander perhaps intended to revive its imperial position, his successor, Seleucus, so soon as he was assured of his inheritance, abandoned the Euphratean city for the banks of the Tigris and Orontes, leaving it to crumble to the heap which it is to-day. The Syrian fiefs of the Babylonian kings passed _de jure_ to the conqueror; but probably Cyrus himself never had leisure or opportunity to secure them _de facto_. The last decade of his life seems to have been spent in Persia and the north-east, largely in attempts to reduce the Scythian element, which threatened the peace of Media; and at the last, having brought the enemy to bay beyond the Araxes, he met there defeat and death. But Cambyses not only completed his father's work in Syria, but fulfilled what is said to have been his further project by capturing Egypt and establishing there a foreign domination which was to last, with some intervals, nearly two hundred years. By the end of the sixth century one territorial empire was spread over the whole East for the first time in history; and it was with a colossus, bestriding the lands from the Araxes to the Upper Nile and from the Oxus to the Aegean Sea, that the Greeks stood face to face in the gate of the West. Before, however, we become absorbed in contemplation of a struggle which will take us into a wider history, let us pause a moment to consider the nature of the new power come out of the East, and the condition of such of its subject peoples as have mattered most in the later story of mankind. It should be remarked that the new universal power is not only non-Semitic for the first time in well-certified history, but controlled by a very pure Aryan stock, much nearer kin to the peoples of the West than any Oriental folk with which they have had intimate relations hitherto. The Persians appeared from the Back of Beyond, uncontaminated by Alarodian savagery and unhampered by the theocratic prepossessions and nomadic traditions of Semites. They were highlanders of unimpaired vigour, frugal habit, settled agricultural life, long-established social cohesion and spiritual religious conceptions. Possibly, too, before they issued from the vast Iranian plateau, they were not wholly unversed in the administration of wide territories. In any case, their quick intelligence enabled them to profit by models of imperial organization which persisted in the lands they now acquired; for relics of the Assyrian system had survived under the New Babylonian rule, and perhaps also under the Median. Thereafter the experience gained by Cambyses in Egypt must have gone for something in the imperial education of his successor Darius, to whom historians ascribe the final organization of Persian territorial rule. From the latter's reign onward we find a regular provincial system linked to the centre as well as might be by a postal service passing over state roads. The royal power is delegated to several officials, not always of the ruling race, but independent of each other and directly responsible to Susa: these live upon their provinces but must see to it first and foremost that the centre receives a fixed quota of money and a fixed quota of fighting men when required. The Great King maintains royal residences in various cities of the empire, and not infrequently visits them; but in general his viceroys are left singularly free to keep the peace of their own governorates and even to deal with foreign neighbours at their proper discretion. If we compare the Persian theory of Empire with the Assyrian, we note still a capital fault. The Great King of Susa recognized no more obligation than his predecessors of Nineveh to consider the interests of those he ruled and to make return to them for what he took. But while, on the one hand, no better imperial theory was conceivable in the sixth century B.C., and certainly none was held or acted upon in the East down to the nineteenth century A.D., on the other, the Persian imperial practice mitigated its bad effects far more than the Assyrian had done. Free from the Semitic tradition of annual raiding, the Persians reduced the obligation of military service to a bearable burden and avoided continual provocation of frontier neighbours. Free likewise from Semitic supermonotheistic ideas, they did not seek to impose their creed. Seeing that the Persian Empire was extensive, decentralized and provided with imperfect means of communication, it could subsist only by practising provincial tolerance. Its provincial tolerance seems to have been systematic. We know a good deal of the Greeks and the Jews under its sway, and in the history of both we miss such signs of religious and social oppression as marked Assyrian rule. In western Asia Minor the satraps showed themselves on the whole singularly conciliatory towards local religious feeling and even personally comformable to it; and in Judaea the hope of the Hebrews that the Persian would prove a deliverer and a restorer of their estate was not falsified. Hardly an echo of outrage on the subjects of Persia in time of peace has reached our ears. If the sovereign of the Asiatic Greek cities ran counter to Hellenic feeling by insisting on "tyrant" rule, he did no more than continue a system under which most of those cities had grown rich. It is clear that they had little else to complain of than absence of a democratic freedom which, as a matter of fact, some of them had not enjoyed in the day of their independence. The satraps seem to have been supplied with few, or even no, Persian troops, and with few Persian aides on their administrative staff. The Persian element in the provinces must, in fact, have been extraordinarily small--so small that an Empire, which for more than two centuries comprehended nearly all western Asia, has left hardly a single provincial monument of itself, graven on rock or carved on stone.
SECTION 6. JEWS If we look particularly at the Jews--those subjects of Persia who necessarily share most of our interest with the Greeks--we find that Persian imperial rule was no sooner established securely over the former Babylonian fief in Palestine than it began to undo the destructive work of its predecessors. Vainly expecting help from the restored Egyptian power, Jerusalem had held out against Nebuchadnezzar till 587. On its capture the dispersion of the southern Jews, which had already begun with local emigrations to Egypt, was largely increased by the deportation of a numerous body to Babylonia. As early, however, as 538, the year of Cyrus' entry into Babylon (doubtless as one result of that event), began a return of exiles to Judaea and perhaps also to Samaria. By 520 the Jewish population in South Palestine was sufficiently strong again to make itself troublesome to Darius, and in 516 the Temple was in process of restoration. Before the middle of the next century Jerusalem was once more a fortified city and its population had been further reinforced by many returned exiles who had imbibed the economic civilization, and also the religiosity of Babylonia. Thenceforward the development of the Jews into a commercial people proceeds without apparent interruption from Persian governors, who (as, for example, Nehemiah) could themselves be of the subject race. Even if large accretions of other Semites, notably Aramaeans, be allowed for--accretions easily accepted by a people which had become rather a church than a nation--it remains a striking testimony to Persian toleration that after only some six or seven generations the once insignificant Jews should have grown numerous enough to contribute an important element to the populations of several foreign cities. It is worth remark also that even when, presumably, free to return to the home of their race, many Jews preferred to remain in distant parts of the Persian realm. Names mentioned on contract tablets of Nippur show that Jews found it profitable to still sit by the waters of Babylon till late in the fifth century; while in another distant province of the Persian Empire (as the papyri of Syene have disclosed) a flourishing particularist settlement of the same race persisted right down to and after 500 B.C.
SECTION 7. ASIA UNDER PERSIA On the whole evidence the Persians might justifiably claim that their imperial organization in its best days, destitute though it was of either the centralized strength or the theoretic justification of modern civilized rule, achieved a very considerable advance, and that it is not unworthy to be compared even to the Roman in respect of the freedom and peace which in effect it secured to its subjects. [Plate 5: PERSIAN EMPIRE (WEST) AT ITS GREATEST EXTENT. TEMP. DARIUS HYSTASPIS] Not much more need--or can--be said about the other conquered peoples before we revert to the Greeks. Though Cyrus did not live to receive in person the submission of all the west Asian peoples, his son Cambyses had received it before his short reign of eight years came to an end. Included in the empire now were not only all the mainland territories once dominated by the Medes and the Babylonians, but also much wider lands east, west and south, and even Mediterranean islands which lay near the Asiatic shores. Among these last was Cyprus, now more closely linked to Phoenicia than of old, and combining with the latter to provide navies for the Great King's needs. On the East, the Iranian plateau, watched from two royal residences, Pasargadae in the south and Ecbatana in the north, swelled this realm to greater dimensions than any previous eastern empire had boasted. On the south, Cambyses added Cyrene and, less surely, Nabia to Egypt proper, which Assyria had possessed for a short time, as we have seen. On the west, Cyrus and his generals had already secured all Asia which lay outside the Median limit, including Cilicia, where (as also in other realms, e.g. Phoenicia, Cyprus, Caria) the native dynasty accepted a client position. This, however, is not to be taken to mean that all the East settled down at once into contented subservience. Cambyses, by putting his brother to death, had cut off the direct line of succession. A pretender appeared in the far East; Cambyses died on the march to meet him, and at once all the oriental provinces, except the homeland of Persia, were up in revolt. But a young cognate of the royal house, Darius, son of Hystaspes, a strong man, slew the pretender, and once secure on the throne, brought Media, Armenia, Elam and at last Babylonia, back to obedience. The old imperial city on the Euphrates would make one more bid for freedom six years later and then relapse into the estate of a provincial town. Darius spent some twenty years in organizing his empire on the satrap system, well known to us from Greek sources, and in strengthening his frontiers. To promote the latter end he passed over into Europe, even crossing the Danube in 511 to check Scythian raids; and he secured the command of the two straits and the safety of his northwest Asiatic possessions by annexing the south-east of the Balkan peninsula with the flourishing Greek cities on its coasts.
SECTION 8. PERSIA AND THE GREEKS The sixth century closed and the fifth century ran three years of its course in apparently unbroken peace between East and West. But trouble was near at hand. Persia had imposed herself on cities which possessed a civilization superior, not only potentially but actually, to her own; on cities where individual and communal passion for freedom constituted the one religion incompatible with her tolerant sway; on cities conscious of national identity with a powerful group outside the Persian Empire, and certain sooner or later to engage that group in warfare on their behalf. Large causes, therefore, lay behind the friction and intrigue which, after a generation of subjection, caused the Ionian cities, led, as of old, by Miletus, to ring up the first act of a dramatic struggle destined to make history for a very long time to come. We cannot examine here in detail the particular events which induced the Ionian Revolt. Sufficient to say they all had their spring in the great city of Miletus, whose merchant princes and merchant people were determined to regain the power and primacy which they had enjoyed till lately. A preliminary failure to aggrandize themselves with the goodwill of Persia actually brought on their revolt, but it only precipitated a struggle inevitable ultimately on one side of the Aegean or the other. After setting the whole Anatolian coast from the Bosporus to Pamphylia and even Cyprus in a blaze for two years, the Ionian Revolt failed, owing as much to the particularist jealousies of the Greek cities themselves as to vigorous measures taken against them by Darius on land and his obedient Phoenicians at sea. A naval defeat sealed the fate of Miletus, whose citizens found, to the horror of all Greece, that, on occasion, the Persian would treat rebels like a loyal successor of Shalmaneser and Nebuchadnezzar. But even though it failed, the Revolt brought on a second act in the drama. For, on the one hand, it had involved in Persian politics certain cities of the Greek motherlands, notably Athens, whose contingent, greatly daring, affronted the Great King by helping to burn the lower town of Sardes; and on the other, it had prompted a despot on the European shore of the Dardanelles, one Miltiades, an Athenian destined to immortal fame, to incense Darius yet more by seizing his islands of Lemnos and Imbros. Evidently neither could Asiatic Greeks be trusted, even though their claws were cut by disarmament and their motives for rebellion had been lessened by the removal of their despots, nor could the Balkan province be held securely, while the western Greeks remained defiant and Athens, in particular, aiming at the control of Aegean trade, supported the Ionian colonies. Therefore Darius determined to strike at this city whose exiled despot, Hippias, promised a treacherous co-operation; and he summoned other Greek states to make formal submission and keep the peace. A first armada sent to coast round the northern shore in 492 added Macedonia to the Persian Empire; but it was crippled and stayed by storms. A second, sent two years later direct across the Aegean, reduced the Cyclad isles, revenged itself on Eretria, one of the minor culprits in the Sardian affair, and finally brought up by the Attic shore at Marathon. The world-famous defeat which its landing parties suffered there should be related by a historian rather of Greece than of the East; and so too should the issue of a third and last invasion which, ten years later, after old Darius' death, Xerxes led in person to defeat at Salamis, and left to meet final rout under his generalissimo at Plataea. For our purpose it will be enough to note the effects which this momentous series of events had on the East itself.
SECTION 9. RESULTS OF THE PERSIAN ATTACKS ON GREECE Obviously the European failure of Persia affected the defeated less than the victorious party. Except upon the westernmost fringe of the Persian Empire we have no warrant for saying that it had any serious political result at all. A revolt of Egypt which broke out in the last year of Darius, and was easily suppressed by his successor, seems not to have been connected with the Persian disaster at Marathon; and even when two more signal defeats had been suffered in Greece, and a fourth off the shore of Asia itself--the battle of Mycale--upon which followed closely the loss of Sestus, the European key of the Hellespont, and more remotely the loss not only of all Persian holdings in the Balkans and the islands, but also of the Ionian Greek cities and most of the Aeolian, and at last (after the final naval defeat off the Eurymedon) of the whole littoral of Anatolia from Pamphylia right round to the Propontis--not even after all these defeats and losses did the Persian power suffer diminution in inner Asia or loss of prestige in inland Asia Minor. Some years, indeed, had still to elapse before the ever-restless Egyptian province used the opportunity of Xerxes' death to league itself with the new power and make a fresh attempt to shake off the Persian yoke; but once more it tried in vain. When Persia abandoned direct sovereignty over the Anatolian littoral she suffered little commercial loss and became more secure. It is clear that her satraps continued to manage the western trade and equally clear that the wealth of her empire increased in greater ratio than that of the Greek cities. There is little evidence for Hellenic commercial expansion consequent on the Persian wars, but much for continued and even increasing Hellenic poverty. In the event Persia found herself in a position almost to regain by gold what she had lost by battle, and to exercise a financial influence on Greece greater and longer lasting than she ever established by arms. Moreover, her empire was less likely to be attacked when it was limited by the western edge of the Anatolian plateau, and no longer tried to hold any European territory. There is a geographical diversity between the Anatolian littoral and the plateau. In all ages the latter alone has been an integral part of inner Asia, and the society and politics of the one have remained distinct from those of the other. The strong frontier of Asia at its western peninsular extremity lies not on, but behind the coast. At the same time, although their immediate results to the Persian Empire were not very hurtful, those abortive expeditions to Europe had sown the seeds of ultimate catastrophe. As a direct consequence of them the Greeks acquired consciousness of their own fighting value on both land and sea as compared with the peoples of inner Asia and the Phoenicians. Their former fear of numerical superiorities was allayed, and much of the mystery, which had hitherto magnified and shielded Oriental power, was dissipated. No less obviously those expeditions served to suggest to the Greeks for the first time that there existed both a common enemy of all their race and an external field for their own common encroachment and plundering. So far as an idea of nationality was destined ever to be operative on Greek minds it would draw its inspiration thenceforward from a sense of common superiority and common hostility to the Oriental. Persia, in a word, had laid the foundations and promoted the development of a Greek nationality in a common ambition directed against herself. It was her fate also, by forcing Athens into the front of the Greek states, to give the nascent nation the most inspiriting and enterprising of leaders--the one most fertile in imperial ideas and most apt to proceed to their realization: and in her retreat before that nation she drew her pursuer into a world which, had she herself never advanced into Europe, would probably not have seen him for centuries to come. Moreover, by a subsequent change of attitude towards her victorious foe--though that change was not wholly to her discredit--Persia bred in the Greeks a still better conceit of themselves and a better understanding of her weakness. The Persians, with the intelligence and versatility for which their race has always been remarkable, passed very rapidly from overweening contempt to excessive admiration of the Greeks. They set to work almost at once to attract Hellenic statesmen and men of science to their own society, and to make use of Hellenic soldiers and sailors. We soon find western satraps cultivating cordial relations with the Ionian cities, hospitably entertaining Greeks of distinction and conciliating Greek political and religious prepossessions. They must have attained considerable success, while thus unwittingly preparing disaster. When, a little more than a century later, western Europe would come eastward in force, to make an end of Persian dominion, some of the greater Ionian and Carian cities would offer a prolonged resistance to it which is not to be accounted for only by the influence of Persian gold or of a Persian element in their administration. Miletus and Halicarnassus shut their gates and defended their walls desperately against Alexander because they conceived their own best interests to be involved in the continuance of the Persian Empire. Nor were the Persians less successful with Greeks actually taken into their service. The Greek mercenaries remained to a man loyal to the Great King when the Greek attack came, and gave Alexander his hardest fighting in the three great battles which decided the fate of the East. None the less, such an attitude towards Greeks was suicidal. It exalted the spirit of Europe while it depraved the courage and sapped the self-reliance of Asia.
SECTION 10. THE FIRST COUNTER-ATTACKS This, however, is to anticipate the sequel. Let us finally fix our eyes on the Eastern world in 400 B.C. and review it as it must then have appeared to eyes from which the future was all concealed. The coasts of Asia Minor, generally speaking, were in Greek hands, the cities being autonomous trading communities, as Greeks understood autonomy; but most of them until four years previously had acknowledged the suzerainty or rather federal leadership of Athens and now were acknowledging less willingly a Spartan supremacy established at first with Persian co-operation. Many of these cities, which had long maintained very close relations with the Persian governors of the nearer _hinterland_, not only shaped their policy to please the latter, but even acknowledged Persian suzerainty; and since, as it happens, at this particular moment Sparta had fallen out with Persia, and a Spartan army, under Dercyllidas, was occupying the Aeolian district of the north, the "medizing" cities of Ionia and Caria were in some doubt of their future. On the whole they inclined still to the satraps. Persian influence and even control had, in fact, greatly increased on the western coast since the supersession of Athens by a power unaccustomed to imperial politics and notoriously inapt in naval matters; and the fleets of Phoenicia and Cyprus, whose Greek princes had fallen under Phoenician domination, had regained supremacy at sea. Yet, only a year before, "Ten Thousand" heavy-armed Greeks (and near half as many again of all arms), mostly Spartan, had marched right through western Asia. They went as mercenary allies of a larger native force led by Cyrus, Persian prince-governor of west central Anatolia, who coveted the diadem of his newly enthroned brother. Having traversed the old Lydian and Phrygian kingdoms they moved down into Cilicia and up again over north Syria to the Euphrates, bound (though they only learned it at last by the waters of the Great River itself) for Babylon. But they never reached that city. Cyrus met death and his oriental soldiers accepted defeat at Cunaxa, some four days' march short of the goal. But the undefeated Greeks, refusing to surrender, and, few though they were, so greatly dreaded by the Persians that they were not directly molested, had to get back to their own land as best they might. How, robbed of their original leaders they yet reached the Black Sea and safety by way of the Tigris valley and the wild passes of Kurdish Armenia all readers of Xenophon, the Athenian who succeeded to the command, know well. Now in 400 B.C. they were reappearing in the cities of west Asia and Europe to tell how open was the inner continent to bold plunderers and how little ten Orientals availed in attack or defence against one Greek. Such stories then and there incited Sparta to a forward policy, and one day would encourage a stronger Western power than hers to march to the conquest of the East. We are fortunate in having Xenophon's detailed narrative of the adventures of these Greeks, if only because it throws light by the way on inner Asia almost at the very moment of our survey. We see Sardes under Persia what it had been under Lydia, the capital city of Anatolia; we see the great valley plains of Lydia and Phrygia, north and south, well peopled, well supplied, and well in hand, while the rough foothills and rougher heights of Taurus are held by contumacious mountaineers who are kept out of the plains only by such periodic chastisement as Cyrus allowed his army to inflict in Pisidia and Lycaonia. Cilicia is being administered and defended by its own prince, who bears the same name or title as his predecessor in the days of Sennacherib, but is feudally accountable to the Great King. His land is so far his private property that Cyrus, though would-be lord of all the empire, encourages the pillage of the rich provincial capital. The fleet of Cyrus lands men and stores unmolested in north Syria, while the inner country up to the Euphrates and down its valley as far as Babylonia is at peace. The Great King is able to assemble above half a million men from the east and south to meet his foe, besides the levy of Media, a province which now seems to include most of the ancient Assyria. These hundreds of thousands constitute a host untrained, undisciplined, unstable, unused to service, little like the ordered battalions of an essentially military power such as the Assyrian had been. From the story of the Retreat certain further inferences may be drawn. First, Babylonia was a part of the empire not very well affected to the Great King; or else the Greeks would have been neither allowed by the local militia to enter it so easily nor encouraged by the Persians to leave it. Second, the ancient Assyria was a peaceful province not coerced by a standing Persian force or garrisons of any strength. Third, southern Kurdistan was not held by or for the Great King and it paid tribute only to occasional pressure. Fourth, the rest of Kurdistan and Armenia as far north as the upper arm of the Euphrates was held, precariously, by the Persians; and lastly, north of the Euphrates valley up to the Black Sea all was practical independence. We do not know anything precise about the far eastern provinces or the south Syrian in this year, 400. Artaxerxes, the Great King, came from Susa to meet his rebellious brother, but to Babylon he returned to put to death the betrayed leaders of the Greeks. At this moment Ctesias, the Cnidian Greek, was his court physician and no friend either to Cyrus or to Spartans; he was even then in correspondence with the Athenian Conon who would presently be made a Persian admiral and smash the Spartan fleet. Of his history of Persia some few fragments and some epitomized extracts relating to this time have survived. These have a value, which the mass of his book seems not to have had; for they relate what a contemporary, singularly well placed to learn court news, heard and saw. One gathers that king and court had fallen away from the ideas and practice of the first Cyrus. Artaxerxes was unwarlike, lax in religion (though he had been duly consecrated at Pasargadae) and addicted to non-Zoroastrian practices. Many Persians great and small were disaffected towards him and numbers rallied to his brother; but he had some Western adventurers in his army. Royal ladies wielded almost more power at the court than the Great King, and quarrelled bitterly with one another. Plutarch, who drew material for his life of Artaxerxes not only from Ctesias, but also from authorities now lost to us, leaves us with much the same impression of the lords of the East at the close of the fifth century B.C. Corrupt and treacherous central rule, largely directed by harem intrigue; an unenthusiastic body of subjects, abandoned to the schemes of satraps; inefficient and casually collected armies in which foreign mercenaries were almost the only genuine soldiers--such was Persia now. It was something very unlike the vigorous rule of Cyrus and the imperial system of the first Darius--something very like the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century A.D.--something which would collapse before the first Western leader of men who could command money of his own making and a professional army of his own people.