תמונות בעמוד


choose rather to be called * the conquerors of cities, and the thunderbolts of war, and sometimes even eagles and lions; preferring the vain honour of pompous titles, which convey no other idea but violence and slaughter, to the solid glory of those expressive of goodness and virtue. They do not know, continues Plutarch, that of the three chief attributes of the Deity, of whom kings boast themselves the image, I mean, immortality, pow. er, and justice ; that of these three attributes, I say, the first of which excites our admiration and desire, the second fills us with dread and terror, and the third inspires us with love and respect; this last only is truly and personally communicated to man, and is the only one that can conduct him to the other two; it being impossible for man to become truly immortal and power. ful but by being just.

Before I resume the sequel of this history, it may not be improper to observe, that it was about this period the fame of the Greeks, still more renowned for the wisdom of their polity than the glory of their victories, induced the Romans to have recourse to their lights and knowledge. Rome formed under kings, was in want of such laws as were necessary for the good government of a commonwealth. For is purpose the Romans sent deputies to copy the laws of the cities of Greece, and particularly of Athens, which were still better adapted to the popular government ihat had been established after the expulsion of the kings. On this model the ten magistrates, called Decemviri, and who were invested with absolute authority, were created : these digested the laws of the twelve tables, which are the basis of the Roman law.


DEATH OF XERXES, KILLED BY ARTADANUS.-AIS CHARACTER. THE ill success of Xerxes in his expedition against the Greeks, || anů which continued afterwards, at length discouraged him. Renouncing all thoughts of war and conquest, be abandoned himself entirely to luxury and ease, and was studious of nothing but his pleasures. $ Artabanus, a native of Hyrcania, captain of his guards, and who had been long one of his chief favourites, found that this dissolute conduct had drawn upon him the contempt of bis subjects : he therefore imagined that this would be a favourable opportunity to conspire against his sovereign; and his ambition was so vast, that he dattered himself with the hopes of succeeding him in the tbrone. I It is very likely that he was excited to the commission of this crime from another motive. Xerxes had commanded bim to murder Darius his eldest son, but for what cause history is silent. As this order had been given at a banquet, and when the company was heated with wine, he did not doubt but that Xerxes would forget it, and therefore was not in * Plut. in vit. Arist. p. 321, 322. Poliorcetes, Cerauni Nicanores. † A. M. 3532 A. Rom. 302.

† Missi legati Athenas, jussique inclytas leges Solonis describere, et aliarum Græciæ civitatum instituta, mores, juraque noscere. Decem tabularum leges perlatæ sunt (quibus adjectæ postea duæ,) qui nunc quoque in hoc immenso aliarum super alias privatarum legum cumulo, fons omnis publici privatique est juris. Liv. I. ij. n. 31. et 84.

A. M. 5591. Ant. J. C. 475. Ctes. c. ii. Diod. ). xi. p. 52. Justia I. ïïi. c. 1.
This was not the Artabanus uncle to Xerxes.
Arist. Polit. I. v. c. X. p. 401.


haste to obey it: however, he was mistaken, for the king complained upon that account, which made Artabanus dread his resentment, and therefore he resolved to prevent him. Accordingly he prevailed upon Mithridates, one of the eunuchs of the palace, and great chamberlain, to engage in bis conspiracy, and by his means entered the chamber where the king lay, and murdered him in his sleep. He then went immediately to Artaxerxes, the third son of Xerxes. He informed him of the murder, charging Darius his eldest brother with it; as if impatience to ascend the throne had prompted him to that execrable deed. He added, that to secure the crown to himself, he was resolved to murder him also, for which reason it would be absolutely necessary for bim to keep upon his guard. These words having made such an impression on Artaxerxes (a youth) as Artabanus desired, he went immediately into his brother's apartment, where being assisted by Artabanus and his guards, he murdered him. Hystaspes, Xerxes' second son, was next heir to the crown after Darius; but as he was then in Bactriana, of which he was governour, Artabanus seated Artaxerxes on the throne, but did not design to suffer him to enjoy it longer than he had forined a faction strong enough to drive him from it and ascend it himself. His great authority had gained him a multitude of creatures; besides this, he had seven sons, who were of a very tall stature, handsome, strong, courageous, and raised to the highest employments in the empire. The aid he hoped to receive from them was the chief motive of his raising his views so high. But whilst he was attempting to complete his design, Artaxerxes being informed of this plot by Megabysus, who had married one of his sisters, he endeavoured to anticipate him, and killed him before he had an opportunity of putting his treason in execution. His death established this prince in the possession of the kingdom.

Thus we have seen the end of Xerxes, who was one of the most powerful princes that ever lived. It would be needless for me to anticipate the reader with respect to the judgment he ought to form of him. We see him surrounded with whatever is greatest and most august in the opinion of mankind, the most extensive empire at that time in the world, immense treasures, and an incredible number of land as well as sea forces. But all these things are round him, not in him, and add no lustre to bis natural qualities ; for, by a blindness too common to princes and great men, born in the midst of all terrestrial blessings, heir to boundless power, and a lustre that had cost him nothing, he had accustomed himself to judge of his own talents and personal merit from the exterior of his exalted station and rank. He disregards the wise counsels of Artabanus his uncle, and of Demaratus, who alone had courage enough to speak truth to him ; and he abandoned himself to courtiers, the adorers of his fortune, whose only study it was to booth his passions. He proportions and pretends to regulate the success of his enterprises by the extent of his power. The slavish submission of so many nations no longer sooths his ambition, and, little affected with too easy an obedience, he takes pleasure in exercising his power over the elements, in cutting his way through mountains, and making them navigable, in chastising the sea for having broken down the bridge, and in foolishly attempting to shackle the waves, by throwing chains into them. Big-swoln with a childish vanity and a ridiculous pride, he looks upon himself as the arbiter of nature : he imagines that not a nation in the world will dare to wait his arrival; and fondly and presumptuously relies on the millions of men and ships which he drags after him. But when, after the battle of Salamin, he beholds the sad ruins, the shameful remains of his numberless

troops scattered over all Greece, * he then is sensible of the wide difference between an army and a crowd of men. In a word, to form a right judgment of Xerxes, we need but contrast him with a citizen of Athens, a Miltiades, Themistocles or Aristides. In the latter we find good sense, prudence, ability in war, valour, and greatness of soul; in the former we see nothing but vanity, pride, obstinacy, the meanest and most grovelling sentiments, and sometimes the most horrid barbarity.

* Stratusque per totam passim Græciam Xerxes intellexit, quantum ab exercitu turba distaret. Senec. de Benef. I. vi, c. 52.






PLAN. THE first and third chapters of this book include the history of the Persians

and Greeks, during 48 years and some months, which contain the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus ; the last six years of which answer to the six first of the Peloponnesian war. This space of time begins at the year of the world 3531, and ends at 3579. The second chapter comprehends the other transactions of the Greeks, which

happened both in Sicily and Italy, during the interval above mentioned.




HIS chapter includes the history of the Persians and Greeks, from the beginning of Artaxerxes' reign to the Peloponnesian war, which began in the 420 year of that king's reign.



about 49 years.

ABTAXERXES RUINS THE FACTION OF ARTABANUS, &c. THE Greek historians give this prince the surname of Longimanus. Strabo *

it was because his hands were so long, that when he stood upright he could touch his knees with them; but according to Plutarch,t it was because bis right hand was longer than bis left. Had it not been for this blemish, he would have been the most graceful man of his age. He was still more remarkable for his goodness and generosity. He reigned

| Although Artaxerxes, by the death of Artabanus, was delivered from a dangerous competitor, there were still two obstacles in his way, before he could establish himself in the quiet possession of his throne : one of which was, his brother Hystaspes, governour of Bactriana ; and the other, the faction of Artabanus. He began by the latter.

Artabanus had left seven sons and a great number of partisans, who as* Lib. xv. p. 735. A. M, 3581. Ant. J. C. 473. In Artax. p. 1011.

Ctes. 30.

« הקודםהמשך »