Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Ancient East by D. G. Hogarth

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

lines. The only fenced places which made any show of defiance were Tyre
and Jerusalem, which both relied on Egypt. The first would outlast an
intermittent siege of thirteen years; but the other, with far less
resources, was soon to pay full price for having leaned too long on the
"staff of a broken reed."

About the east and north a different story would certainly have to be
told, if we could tell it in full. But though Greek traditions come to
our aid, they have much less to say about these remote regions than the
inscribed annals of that empire, which had just come to its end, have
had hitherto: and unfortunately the Median inheritors of Assyria have
left no epigraphic records of their own--at least none have been found.
If, as seems probable, the main element of Kyaxares' war strength was
Scythian, we can hardly expect to find records either of his conquest or
the subsequent career of the Medes, even though Ecbatana should be laid
bare below the site of modern Hamadan; for the predatory Scyth, like the
mediaeval Mongol, halted too short a time to desire to carve stones, and
probably lacked skill to inscribe them. To complete our discomfiture,
the only other possible source of light, the Babylonian annals, sheds
none henceforward on the north country and very little on any country.
Nebuchadnezzar--so far as his records have been found and read--did not
adopt the Assyrian custom of enumerating first and foremost his
expeditions and his battles; and were it not for the Hebrew Scriptures,
we should hardly know that his armies ever left Babylonia, the
rebuilding and redecoration of whose cities and shrines appear to have
constituted his chief concern. True, that in such silence about warlike
operations, he follows the precedent of previous Babylonian kings; but
probably that precedent arose from the fact that for a long time past
Babylon had been more or less continuously a client state.

We must, therefore, proceed by inference. There are two or three
recorded events earlier and later than our date, which are of service.
First, we learn from Babylonian annals that Kyaxares, besides
overrunning all Assyria and the northern part of Babylonia after the
fall of Nineveh, took and pillaged Harran and its temple in north-west
Mesopotamia. Now, from other records of Nabonidus, fourth in succession
to Nebuchadnezzar, we shall learn further that this temple did not come
into Babylonian hands till the middle of the following century. The
reasonable inference is that it had remained since 606 B.C. in the power
of the Medes, and that northern Mesopotamia, as well as Assyria, formed
part of a loose-knit Median "Empire" for a full half century before 552

Secondly, Herodotus bears witness to a certain event which occurred
about the year 585, in a region near enough to his own country for the
fact to be sufficiently well known to him. He states that, after an
expedition into Cappadocia and a war with Lydia, the Medes obtained,
under a treaty with the latter which the king of Babylon and the prince
of Cilicia promoted, the Halys river as a "scientific frontier" on the
north-west. This statement leaves us in no doubt that previously the
power of Ecbatana had been spread through Armenia into the old Hatti
country of Cappadocia, as well as over all the north of Mesopotamia, in
the widest sense of this vague term.

Something more, perhaps, may be inferred legitimately from this same
passage of Herodotus. The mediation of the two kings, so unexpectedly
coupled, must surely mean that each stood to one of the two belligerents
as friend and ally. If so (since a Babylonian king can hardly have held
such a relation to distant Lydia, while the other prince might well have
been its friend), Cilicia was probably outside the Median "sphere of
influence," while Babylon fell within it; and Nebuchadnezzar--for he it
must have been, when the date is considered, though Herodotus calls him
by a name, Labynetus, otherwise unknown--was not a wholly independent
ruler, though ruler doubtless of the first and greatest of the client
states of Media. Perhaps that is why he has told us so little of
expeditions and battles, and confined his records so narrowly to
domestic events. If his armies marched only to do the bidding of an
alien kinsman-in-law, he can have felt but a tepid pride in their

In 600 B.C., then, we must picture a Median "Empire," probably of the
raiding type, centred in the west of modern Persia and stretching
westward over all Armenia (where the Vannic kingdom had ceased to be),
and southward to an ill-defined point in Mesopotamia. Beyond this point
south and west extended a Median sphere of influence which included
Babylonia and all that obeyed Nebuchadnezzar even to the border of Elam
on the one hand and the border of Egypt on the other. Since the heart of
this "Empire" lay in the north, its main activities took place there
too, and probably the discretion of the Babylonian king was seldom
interfered with by his Median suzerain. In expanding their power
westward to Asia Minor, the Medes followed routes north of Taurus, not
the old Assyrian war-road through Cilicia. Of so much we can be fairly
sure. Much else that we are told of Media by Herodotus--his marvellous
account of Ecbatana and scarcely less wonderful account of the reigning
house--must be passed by till some confirmation of it comes to light;
and that, perhaps, will never be.


A good part of the East, however, remains which owed allegiance neither
to Media nor to Babylon. It is, indeed, a considerably larger area than
was independent of the Farther East at the date of our last survey. Asia
Minor was in all likelihood independent from end to end, from the Aegean
to the Euphrates--for in 600 B.C. Kyaxares had probably not yet come
through Urartu--and from the Black Sea to the Gulf of Issus. About much
of this area we have far more trustworthy information now than when we
looked at it last, because it had happened to fall under the eyes of the
Greeks of the western coastal cities, and to form relations with them of
trade and war. But about the residue, which lay too far eastward to
concern the Greeks much, we have less information than we had in 800
B.C., owing to the failure of the Assyrian imperial annals.

The dominant fact in Asia Minor in 600 B.C. is the existence of a new
imperial power, that of Lydia. Domiciled in the central west of the
peninsula, its writ ran eastwards over the plateau about as far as the
former limits of the Phrygian power, on whose ruins it had arisen. As
has been stated already, there is reason to believe that its "sphere of
influence," at any rate, included Cilicia, and the battle to be fought
on the Halys, fifteen years after our present survey, will argue that
some control of Cappadocia also had been attempted. Before we speak of
the Lydian kingdom, however, and of its rise to its present position, it
will be best to dispose of that outlying state on the southeast,
probably an ally or even client of Lydia, which, we are told, was at
this time one of the "four powers of Asia." These powers included
Babylon also, and accordingly, if our surmise that the Mede was then the
overlord of Nebuchadnezzar be correct, this statement of Eusebius, for
what it is worth, does not imply that Cilicia had attained an imperial
position. Doubtless of the four "powers," she ranked lowest.


It will be remembered how much attention a great raiding Emperor of the
Middle Assyrian period, Shalmaneser II, had devoted to this little
country. The conquering kings of later dynasties had devoted hardly
less. From Sargon to Ashurbanipal they or their armies had been there
often, and their governors continuously. Sennacherib is said to have
rebuilt Tarsus "in the likeness of Babylon," and Ashurbanipal, who had
to concern himself with the affairs of Asia Minor more than any of his
predecessors, was so intimately connected with Tarsus that a popular
tradition of later days placed there the scene of his death and the
erection of his great tomb. And, in fact, he may have died there for all
that we know to the contrary; for no Assyrian record tells us that he
did not. Unlike the rest of Asia Minor, Cilicia was saved by the
Assyrians from the ravages of the Cimmerians. Their leader, Dugdamme,
whom the Greeks called Lygdamis, is said to have met his death on the
frontier hills of Taurus, which, no doubt, he failed to pass. Thus, when
Ashurbanipal's death and the shrinking of Ninevite power permitted
distant vassals to resume independence, the unimpaired wealth of Cilicia
soon gained for her considerable importance. The kings of Tarsus now
extended their power into adjoining lands, such as Kue on the east and
Tabal on the north, and probably over even the holding of the Kummukh;
for Herodotus, writing a century and a half after our date, makes the
Euphrates a boundary of Cilicia. He evidently understood that the
northernmost part of Syria, called by later geographers (but never by
him) Commagene, was then and had long been Cilician territory. His
geographical ideas, in fact, went back to the greater Cilicia of
pre-Persian time, which had been one of the "four great powers of Asia."

The most interesting feature of Cilician history, as it is revealed very
rarely and very dimly in the annals of the New Assyrian Kingdom,
consists in its relation to the earliest eastward venturing of the
Greeks. The first Assyrian king with whom these western men seem to have
collided was Sargon, who late in the eighth century, finding their ships
in what he considered his own waters, i.e. on the coasts of Cyprus and
Cilicia, boasts that he "caught them like fish." Since this action of
his, he adds, "gave rest to Kue and Tyre," we may reasonably infer that
the "Ionian pirates" did not then appear on the shores of Phoenicia and
Cilicia for the first time; but, on the contrary, that they were already
a notorious danger in the easternmost Levant. In the year 720 we find a
nameless Greek of Cyprus (or Ionia) actually ruling Ashdod. Sargon's
successor, Sennacherib, had serious trouble with the Ionians only a few
years later, as has been learned from the comparison of a royal record
of his, only recently recovered and read, with some statements made
probably in the first place by the Babylonian historian, Berossus, but
preserved to us in a chronicle of much later date, not hitherto much
heeded. Piecing these scraps of information together, the Assyrian
scholar, King, has inferred that, in the important campaign which a
revolt of Tarsus, aided by the peoples of the Taurus on the west and
north, compelled the generals of Sennacherib to wage in Cilicia in the
year 698, Ionians took a prominent part by land, and probably also by
sea. Sennacherib is said (by a late Greek historian) to have erected an
"Athenian" temple in Tarsus after the victory, which was hardly won; and
if this means, as it may well do, an "Ionic" temple, it states a by no
means incredible fact, seeing that there had been much local contact
between the Cilicians and the men of the west. Striking similarities of
form and artistic execution between the early glyptic and toreutic work
of Ionia and Cilicia respectively have been mentioned in the last
chapter; and it need only be added here, in conclusion, that if Cilicia
had relations with Ionia as early as the opening of the seventh
century--relations sufficient to lead to alliance in war and to
modification of native arts--it is natural enough that she should be
found allied a few years later with Lydia rather than with Media.


When we last surveyed Asia Minor as a whole it was in large part under
the dominance of a central power in Phrygia. This power is now no more,
and its place has been taken by another, which rests on a point nearer
to the western coast. It is worth notice, in passing, how Anatolian
dominion has moved stage by stage from east to west--from the Halys
basin in northern Cappadocia, where its holders had been, broadly
speaking, in the same cultural group as the Mesopotamian East, to the
middle basin of the Sangarius, where western influences greatly modified
the native culture (if we may judge by remains of art and script). Now
at last it has come to the Hermus valley, up which blows the breath of
the Aegean Sea. Whatever the East might recover in the future, the
Anatolian peninsula was leaning more and more on the West, and the
dominion of it was coming to depend on contact with the vital influence
of Hellenism, rather than on connection with the heart of west Asia.

A king Mita of the Mushki first appears in the annals of the New
Assyrian Kingdom as opposing Sargon, when the latter, early in his
reign, tried to push his sphere of influence, if not his territorial
empire, beyond the Taurus to include the principalities of Kue and
Tabal; and the same Mita appears to have been allied with Carchemish in
the revolt which ended with its siege and final capture in 717 B.C. As
has been said in the last chapter, it is usual to identify this king
with one of those "Phrygians" known to the Greeks as Midas--preferably
with the son of the first Gordius, whose wealth and power have been
immortalized in mythology. If this identification is correct, we have to
picture Phrygia at the close of the eighth century as dominating almost
all Asia Minor, whether by direct or by indirect rule; as prepared to
measure her forces (though without ultimate success) against the
strongest power in Asia; and as claiming interests even outside the
peninsula. Pisiris, king of Carchemish, appealed to Mita as his ally,
either because the Mushki of Asia Minor sat in the seat of his own
forbears, the Hatti of Cappadocia, or because he was himself of Mushki
kin. There can be no doubt that the king thus invoked was king of
Cappadocia. Whether he was king also of Phrygia, i.e. really the same as
Midas son of Gordius, is, as has been said already, less certain. Mita's
relations with Kue, Tabal and Carchemish do not, in themselves, argue
that his seat of power was anywhere else than in the east of Asia Minor,
where Moschi did actually survive till much later times: but, on the
other hand, the occurrence of inscriptions in the distinctive script of
Phrygia at Eyuk, east of the Halys, and at Tyana, south-east of the
central Anatolian desert, argue that at some time the filaments of
Phrygian power did stretch into Cappadocia and towards the land of the
later Moschi.

It must also be admitted that the splendour of the surviving rock
monuments near the Phrygian capital is consistent with its having been
the centre of a very considerable empire, and hardly consistent with its
having been anything less. The greatest of these, the tomb of a king
Midas (son not of Gordius but of Atys), has for facade a cliff about a
hundred feet high, cut back to a smooth face on which an elaborate
geometric pattern has been left in relief. At the foot is a false door,
while above the immense stone curtain the rock has been carved into a
triangular pediment worthy of a Greek temple and engraved with a long
inscription in a variety of the earliest Greek alphabet. There are many
other rock-tombs of smaller size but similar plan and decoration in the
district round the central site, and others which show reliefs of human
figures and of lions, the latter of immense proportions on two famous
facades. When these were carved, the Assyrian art of the New Kingdom was
evidently known in Phrygia (probably in the early seventh century), and
it is difficult to believe that those who made such great things under
Assyrian influence can have passed wholly unmentioned by contemporary
Assyrian records. Therefore, after all, we shall, perhaps, have to admit
that they were those same Mushki who followed leaders of the name Mita
to do battle with the Great Kings of Nineveh from Sargon to

There is no doubt how the Phrygian kingdom came by its end. Assyrian
records attest that the Gimirrai or Cimmerians, an Indo-European
Scythian folk, which has left its name to Crim Tartary, and the present
Crimea, swept southward and westward about the middle of the seventh
century, and Greek records tell how they took and sacked the capital of
Phrygia and put to death or forced to suicide the last King Midas.


It must have been in the hour of that disaster, or but little before,
that a Mermnad prince of Sardes, called Guggu by Assyrians and Gyges by
Greeks, threw off any allegiance he may have owed to Phrygia and began
to exalt his house and land of Lydia. He was the founder of a new
dynasty, having been by origin, apparently, a noble of the court who
came to be elevated to the throne by events differently related but
involving in all the accounts some intrigue with his predecessor's
queen. One historian, who says that he prevailed by the aid of Carians,
probably states a fact; for it was this same Gyges who a few years later
seems to have introduced Carian mercenaries to the notice of
Psammetichus of Egypt. Having met and repulsed the Cimmerian horde
without the aid of Ashurbanipal of Assyria, to whom he had applied in
vain, Gyges allied himself with the Egyptian rebel who had just founded
the Saite dynasty, and proceeded to enlarge his boundaries by attacking
the prosperous Greeks on his western hand. But he was successful only
against Colophon and Magnesia on the Maeander, inland places, and failed
before Smyrna and Miletus, which could be provisioned by their fleets
and probably had at their call a larger proportion of those warlike
"Ionian pirates" who had long been harrying the Levant. In the course of
a long reign, which Herodotus (an inexact chronologist) puts at
thirty-eight years, Gyges had time to establish his power and to secure
for his Lydians the control of the overland trade; and though a fresh
Cimmerian horde, driven on, says Herodotus, by Scythians (perhaps these
were not unconnected with the Medes then moving westward, as we know),
came down from the north, defeated and killed him, sacked the
unfortified part of his capital and swept on to plunder what it could of
the land as far as the sea without pausing to take fenced places, his
son Ardys, who had held out in the citadel of Sardes, and made his
submission to Ashurbanipal, was soon able to resume the offensive
against the Greeks. After an Assyrian attack on the Cimmerian flank or
rear had brought about the death of the chief barbarian leader in the
Cilician hills, and the dispersal of the storm, the Lydian marched down
the Maeander again. He captured Priene, but like his predecessor and his
successor, he failed to snatch the most coveted prize of the Greek
coast, the wealthy city Miletus at the Maeander mouth.

Up to the date of our present survey, however, and for half a century
yet to come, these conquests of the Lydian kings in Ionia and Caria
amounted to little more than forays for plunder and the levy of
blackmail, like the earlier Mesopotamian razzias. They might result in
the taking and sacking of a town here and there, but not in the holding
of it. The Carian Greek Herodotus, born not much more than a century
later, tells us expressly that up to the time of Croesus, that is, to
his own father's time, all the Greeks kept their freedom: and even if he
means by this statement, as possibly he does, that previously no Greeks
had been subjected to regular slavery, it still supports our point: for,
if we may judge by Assyrian practice, the enslaving of vanquished
peoples began only when their land was incorporated in a territorial
empire. We hear nothing of Lydian governors in the Greek coastal cities
and find no trace of a "Lydian period" in the strata of such Ionian and
Carian sites as have been excavated. So it would appear that the Lydians
and the Greeks lived up to and after 600 B.C. in unquiet contact, each
people holding its own on the whole and learning about the other in the
only international school known to primitive men, the school of war.

Herodotus represents that the Greek cities of Asia, according to the
popular belief of his time, were deeply indebted to Lydia for their
civilization. The larger part of this debt (if real) was incurred
probably after 600 B.C.; but some constituent items of the account must
have been of older date--the coining of money, for example. There is,
however, much to be set on the other side of the ledger, more than
Herodotus knew, and more than we can yet estimate. Too few monuments of
the arts of the earlier Lydians and too few objects of their daily use
have been found in their ill-explored land for us to say whether they
owed most to the West or to the East. From the American excavation of
Sardes, however, we have already learned for certain that their script
was of a Western type, nearer akin to the Ionian than even the Phrygian
was; and since their language contained a great number of Indo-European
words, the Lydians should not, on the whole, be reckoned an Eastern
people. Though the names given by Herodotus to their earliest kings are
Mesopotamian and may be reminiscent of some political connection with
the Far East at a remote epoch--perhaps that of the foreign relations of
Ur, which seem to have extended to Cappadocia--all the later royal and
other Lydian names recorded are distinctly Anatolian. At any rate all
connection with Mesopotamia must have long been forgotten before
Ashurbanipal's scribes could mention the prayer of "Guggu King of Luddi"
as coming from a people and a land of which their master and his
forbears had not so much as heard. As the excavation of Sardes and of
other sites in Lydia proceeds, we shall perhaps find that the higher
civilization of the country was a comparatively late growth, dating
mainly from the rise of the Mermnads, and that its products will show an
influence of the Hellenic cities which began not much earlier than 600
B.C., and was most potent in the century succeeding that date.

We know nothing of the extent of Lydian power towards the east, unless
the suggestions already based on the passage of Herodotus concerning the
meeting of Alyattes of Lydia with Kyaxares the Mede on the Halys, some
years later than the date of our present survey, are well founded. If
they are, then Lydia's sphere of influence may be assumed to have
included Cilicia on the south-east, and its interests must have been
involved in Cappadocia on the north-east. It is not unlikely that the
Mermnad dynasty inherited most of what the Phrygian kings had held
before the Cimmerian attack; and perhaps it was due to an oppressive
Lydian occupation of the plateau as far east as the Halys and the foot
of Anti-Taurus, that the Mushki came to be represented in later times
only by Moschi in western Armenia, and the men of Tabal by the equally
remote and insignificant Tibareni.


Of the Greek cities on the Anatolian coast something has been said
already. The great period of the elder ones as free and independent
communities falls between the opening of the eighth century and the
close of the sixth. Thus they were in their full bloom about the year
600. By the foundation of secondary colonies (Miletus alone is said to
have founded sixty!) and the establishment of trading posts, they had
pushed Hellenic culture eastwards round the shores of the peninsula, to
Pontus on the north and to Cilicia on the south. In the eyes of
Herodotus this was the happy age when "all Hellenes were free" as
compared with his own experience of Persian overlordship. Miletus, he
tells us, was then the greatest of the cities, mistress of the sea; and
certainly some of the most famous among her citizens, Anaximander,
Anaximenes, Hecataeus and Thales, belong approximately to this epoch, as
do equally famous names from other Asiatic Greek communities, such as
Alcaeus and Sappho of Lesbos, Mimnermus of Smyrna or Colophon, Anacreon
of Teos, and many more. The fact is significant, because studies and
literary activities like theirs could hardly have been pursued except in
highly civilized, free and leisured societies where life and wealth were

If, however, the brilliant culture of the Asiatic Greeks about the
opening of the sixth century admits no shadow of doubt, singularly few
material things, which their arts produced, have been recovered for us
to see to-day. Miletus has been excavated by Germans to a very
considerable extent, without yielding anything really worthy of its
great period, or, indeed, much that can be referred to that period at
all, except sherds of a fine painted ware. It looks as if the city at
the mouth of the greatest and largest valley, which penetrates Asia
Minor from the west coast, was too important in subsequent ages and
suffered chastisements too drastic and reconstructions too thorough for
remains of its earlier greatness to survive except in holes and corners.
Ephesus has given us more archaic treasures, from the deposits bedded
down under the later reconstructions of its great shrine of Artemis; but
here again the site of the city itself, though long explored by
Austrians, has not added to the store. The ruins of the great Roman
buildings which overlie its earlier strata have proved, perhaps, too
serious an impediment to the excavators and too seductive a prize.
Branchidae, with its temple of Apollo and Sacred Way, has preserved for
us a little archaic statuary, as have also Samos and Chios. We have
archaic gold work and painted vases from Rhodes, painted sarcophagi from
Clazomenae, and painted pottery made there and at other places in Asia
Minor, although found mostly abroad. But all this amounts to a very poor
representation of the Asiatic Greek civilization of 600 B.C. Fortunately
the soil still holds far more than has been got out of it. With those
two exceptions, Miletus and Ephesus, the sites of the elder Hellenic
cities on or near the Anatolian coast still await excavators who will go
to the bottom of all things and dig systematically over a large area;
while some sites await any excavation whatsoever, except such as is
practised by plundering peasants.

In their free youth the Asiatic Greeks carried into fullest practice the
Hellenic conception of the city-state, self-governing, self-contained,
exclusive. Their several societies had in consequence the intensely
vivid and interested communal existence which develops civilization as a
hot-house develops plants; but they were not democratic, and they had
little sense of nationality--defects for which they were to pay dearly
in the near future. In spite of their associations for the celebration
of common festivals, such as the League of the twelve Ionian cities, and
that of the Dorian Hexapolis in the south-west, which led to discussion
of common political interests, a separatist instinct, reinforced by the
strong geographical boundaries which divided most of the civic
territories, continually reasserted itself. The same instinct was ruling
the history of European Greece as well. But while the disaster, which in
the end it would entail, was long avoided there through the insular
situation of the main Greek area as a whole and the absence of any
strong alien power on its continental frontier, disaster impended over
Asiatic Greece from the moment that an imperial state should become
domiciled on the western fringe of the inland plateau. Such a state had
now appeared and established itself; and if the Greeks of Asia had had
eyes to read, the writing was on their walls in 600 B.C.

Meanwhile Asiatic traders thronged into eastern Hellas, and the Hellenes
and their influence penetrated far up into Asia. The hands which carved
some of the ivories found in the earliest Artemisium at Ephesus worked
on artistic traditions derived ultimately from the Tigris. So, too,
worked the smiths who made the Rhodian jewellery, and so, the artists
who painted the Milesian ware and the Clazomenae sarcophagi. On the
other side of the ledger (though three parts of its page is still hidden
from us) we must put to Greek credit the script of Lydia, the rock
pediments of Phrygia, and the forms and decorative schemes of many
vessels and small articles in clay and bronze found in the Gordian
tumuli and at other points on the western plateau from Mysia to
Pamphylia. The men of "Javan," who had held the Syrian sea for a century
past, were known to Ezekiel as great workers in metal; and in Cyprus
they had long met and mingled their culture with that of men from the

It was implied in the opening of this chapter that in 600 B.C. social
changes in the East would be found disproportionate to political
changes; and on the whole they seem so to have been. The Assyrian Empire
was too lately fallen for any great modification of life to have taken
place in its area, and, in fact, the larger part of that area was being
administered still by a Chaldaean monarchy on the established lines of
Semitic imperialism. Whether the centre of such a government lay at
Nineveh or at Babylon can have affected the subject populations very
little. No new religious force had come into the ancient East, unless
the Mede is to be reckoned one in virtue of his Zoroastrianism. Probably
he did not affect religion much in his early phase of raiding and
conquest. The great experience, which was to convert the Jews from
insignificant and barbarous highlanders into a cultured, commercial and
cosmopolitan people of tremendous possibilities had indeed begun, but
only for a part of the race, and so far without obvious result. The
first incursion of Iranians in force, and that slow soakage of
Indo-European tribes from Russia, which was to develop the Armenian
people of history, are the most momentous signs of coming change to be
noted between 800 and 600 B.C. with one exception, the full import of
which will be plain at our next survey. This was the eastward movement
of the Greeks.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



The climax was reached in about seventy years more. When these had
passed into history, so had also the Persian Empire, and the East, as
the Greeks had conceived it thus far and we have understood it, was
subject to the European race which a century and a half before it had
tried to subdue in Europe itself. To this race (and to the historian
also) "the East," as a geographical term, standing equally for a spatial
area and for a social idea, has ceased to mean what it once meant: and
the change would be lasting. It is true that the East did not cease to
be distinguished as such; for it would gradually shake itself free
again, not only from control by the West, but from the influence of the
latter's social ideas. Nevertheless, since the Western men, when they
went back to their own land, had brought the East into the world known
to them--into a circle of lands accepted as the dwelling of civilized
man--the date of Alexander's overthrow of the Persian Empire makes an
epoch which divides universal history as hardly any other divides it.

Dramatic as the final catastrophe would be, it will not surprise us when
it comes, nor did it, as a matter of fact, surprise the generation which
witnessed it. The romantic conception of Alexander, as a little David
who dared a huge Goliath, ignores the facts of previous history, and
would have occurred to no contemporary who had read the signs of the
times. The Eastern colossus had been dwindling so fast for nearly a
century that a Macedonian king, who had already subdued the Balkan
peninsula, loomed at least as large in the world's eye, when he crossed
the Hellespont, as the titular Emperor of contumacious satraps and
ever-rebelling provinces of western Asia. To accept this view we have
only to look back over seventy years since that march of Ten Thousand
Greeks, with which our last survey closed.


Before the expedition of Cyrus there may have been, and evidently were,
enough seeds of corruption in the state of Persia; but they had not
become known by their fruits. No satrap for a century past had tried to
detach himself and his province from the Empire; hardly a subject people
had attempted to re-assert its independence. There were, indeed, two
exceptions, both of them peoples which had never identified themselves
at any time with the fortunes of their alien masters. One of these was,
of course, the Asiatic Greek, the other was the Egyptian people; but the
contumacy of the first threatened a danger not yet realized by Asia; the
rebellious spirit of the last concerned, as yet, itself alone.

It was Egypt, however, which really gave the first warning of Persian
dissolution. The weakest spot in the Assyrian Empire proved weakest in
the Persian. The natural barriers of desert, swamp and sea, set between
Egypt and the neighbouring continent, are so strong that no Asiatic
Power, which has been tempted to conquer the rich Nile valley, has ever
been able to keep it long. Under its own leaders or some rebellious
officer of its new masters it has reasserted independence sooner or
later, and all history is witness that no one, whether in Asia or in
Europe, holds Egypt as a foreign province unless he holds also the sea.
During the century which had elapsed since Cambyses' conquest the
Egyptians had rebelled more than once (most persistently about 460),
calling in the sea-lords to their help on each occasion. Finally, just
before the death of Darius Nothus, and some five years before Cyrus left
Sardes, they rose again under an Egyptian, and thereafter, for about
sixty years, not the kings of Susa, but three native dynasties in
succession, were to rule Egypt. The harm done to the Persian Empire by
this defection was not measured by the mere loss of the revenues of a
province. The new kings of Egypt, who owed much to Greek support, repaid
this by helping every enemy of the Great King and every rebel against
his authority. It was they who gave asylum to the admiral and fleet of
Cyrus after Cunaxa, and sent corn to Agesilaus when he invaded Asia
Minor; they supplied money and ships to the Spartan fleet in 394, and
helped Evagoras of Cyprus in a long resistance to his suzerain. When
Tyre and the cities of the Cilician coast revolted in 380, Egypt was
privy to their designs, and she made common cause with the satraps and
governors of Western Asia, Syria and Phoenicia when, in combination,
they planned rebellion in 373 to the grave peril of the Empire. Twelve
years later we find an Egyptian king marching in person to raise

The Persian made more than one effort to recover his province. After
conspicuous failure with his own generals Artaxerxes adopted tardily the
course which Clearchus, captain of the Ten Thousand, is said to have
advised after the battle of Cunaxa, and tried his fortune once more with
Greek _condottieri_, only to find Greek generals and Greek mercenaries
arrayed against them. It had come to this, that the Persian king and his
revolted province equally depended on mercenary swords, neither daring
to meet Greek except with Greek. Well had the lesson of the march of the
Ten Thousand been read, marked and digested in the East!


It had been marked in the West as well, and its fruits were patent
within five years. The dominant Greek state of the hour, avowing an
ambition which no Greek had betrayed before, sent its king, Agesilaus,
across to Asia Minor to follow up the establishment of Spartan hegemony
on the coasts by an invasion of inland Persia. He never penetrated
farther than about half-way up the Maeander Valley, and did Persia no
harm worth speaking of; for he was not the leader, nor had he the
resources in men and in money, to carry through so distant and doubtful
an adventure. But Agesilaus' campaigning in Asia Minor between 397 and
394 has this historical significance: it demonstrates that Greeks had
come to regard a march on Susa as feasible and desirable.

It was not, however, in fact feasible even then. Apart from the lack of
a military force in any one state of Greece large enough, sufficiently
trained, and led by a leader of the necessary magnetism and genius for
organization, to undertake, unaided by allies on the way, a successful
march to a point many months distant from its base--apart from this
deficiency, the Empire to be conquered had not yet been really shaken.
The Ten Thousand Greeks would in all likelihood never have got under
Clearchus to Cunaxa or anywhere within hundreds of miles of it, but for
the fact that Cyrus was with them and the adherents of his rising star
were supplying their wants and had cleared a road for them through Asia
Minor and Syria. In their Retreat they were desperate men, of whom the
Great King was glad to be quit. The successful accomplishment of that
retreat must not blind us to the almost certain failure which would have
befallen the advance had it been attempted under like conditions.


What, ultimately, was to reduce the Persian Empire to such weakness that
a Western power would be able to strike at its heart with little more
than forty thousand men, was the disease of disloyalty which spread
among the great officers during the first half of the fourth century.
Before Cyrus' expedition we have not heard of either satraps or client
provinces raising the standard of revolt (except in Egypt), since the
Empire had been well established; and if there was evident collusion
with that expedition on the part of provincial officers in Asia Minor
and Syria, the fact has little political significance, seeing that Cyrus
was a scion of the royal House, and the favourite of the Queen-Mother.
But the fourth century is hardly well begun before we find satraps and
princes aiding the king's enemies and fighting for their own hand
against him or a rival officer. Agesilaus was helped in Asia Minor both
by the prince of Paphlagonia and by a Persian noble. Twenty years later
Ariobarzanes of Pontus rises in revolt; and hard on his defection
follows a great rebellion planned by the satraps of Caria, Ionia, Lydia,
Phrygia and Cappadocia--nearly all Asia Minor in fact--in concert with
coastal cities of Syria and Phoenicia. Another ten years pass and new
governors of Mysia and Lydia rise against their king with the help of
the Egyptians and Mausolus, client prince of Halicarnassus. Treachery or
lack of resources and stability brought these rebels one after another
to disaster; but an Empire whose great officers so often dare such
adventures is drawing apace to its catastrophe.

The causes of this growing disaffection among the satraps are not far to
seek. At the close of the last chapter we remarked the deterioration of
the harem-ridden court in the early days of Artaxerxes; and as time
passed, the spectacle of a Great King governing by treachery, buying his
enemies, and impotent to recover Egypt even with their mercenary help
had its effect. Belief gained ground that the ship of Empire was
sinking, and even in Susa the fear grew that a wind from the West was to
finish her. The Great King's court officers watched Greek politics
during the first seventy years of the fourth century with ever closer
attention. Not content with enrolling as many Greeks as possible in the
royal service, they used the royal gold to such effect to buy or support
Greek politicians whose influence could be directed to hindering a union
of Greek states and checking the rising power of any unit, that a Greek
orator said in a famous passage that the archers stamped on the Great
King's coins were already a greater danger to Greece than his real
archers had ever been.

By such lavish corruption, by buying the soldiers and the politicians of
the enemy, a better face was put for a while on the fortunes of the
dynasty and the Empire. Before the death of the aged Artaxerxes Mnemon
in 358, the revolt of the Western satraps had collapsed. His successor,
Ochus, who, to reach the throne, murdered his kin like any
eighteenth-century sultan of Stambul, overcame Egyptian obstinacy about
346, after two abortive attempts, by means of hireling Greek troops, and
by similar vicarious help he recovered Sidon and the Isle of Cyprus. But
it was little more than the dying flicker of a flame fanned for the
moment by that same Western wind which was already blowing up to the
gale that would extinguish it. The heart of the Empire was not less
rotten because its shell was patched, and in the event, when the storm
broke a few years later, nothing in West Asia was able to make any stand
except two or three maritime cities, which fought, not for Persia, but
for their own commercial monopolies.


The storm had been gathering on the Western horizon for some time past.
Twenty years earlier there had come to the throne of Macedonia a man of
singular constructive ability and most definite ambition. His
heritage--or rather his prize, for he was not next of kin to his
predecessor--was the central southern part of the Balkan peninsula, a
region of broad fat plains fringed and crossed by rough hills. It was
inhabited by sturdy gentry and peasantry and by agile highlanders, all
composed of the same racial elements as the Greeks, with perhaps a
preponderant infusion of northern blood which had come south long ago
with emigrants from the Danubian lands. The social development of the
Macedonians--to give various peoples one generic name--had, for certain
reasons, not been nearly so rapid as that of their southern cousins.
They had never come in contact with the higher Aegean civilization, nor
had they mixed their blood with that of cultivated predecessors; their
land was continental, poor in harbours, remote from the luxurious
centres of life, and of comparatively rigorous climate; its
configuration had offered them no inducement to form city-states and
enter on intense political life. But, in compensation, they entered the
fourth century unexhausted, without tribal or political impediments to
unity, and with a broad territory of greater natural resources than any
southern Greek state. Macedonia could supply itself with the best cereal
foods and to spare, and had unexploited veins of gold ore. But the most
important thing to remark is this--that, compared with Greece, Macedonia
was a region of Central Europe. In the latter's progress to imperial
power we shall watch for the first time in recorded history a
continental European folk bearing down peninsular populations of the

Philip of Macedon, who had been trained in the arts of both war and
peace in a Greek city, saw the weakness of the divided Hellenes, and the
possible strength of his own people, and he set to work from the first
with abounding energy, dogged persistence and immense talent for
organization to make a single armed nation, which should be more than a
match for the many communities of Hellas. How he accomplished his
purpose in about twenty years: how he began by opening mines of precious
metal on his south-eastern coast, and with the proceeds hired
mercenaries: how he had Macedonian peasants drilled to fight in a
phalanx formation more mobile than the Theban and with a longer spear,
while the gentry were trained as heavy cavalry: how he made experiments
with his new soldiers on the inland tribes, and so enlarged his
effective dominions that he was able to marshal henceforward far more
than his own Emathian clansmen: how for six years he perfected this
national army till it was as professional a fighting machine as any
condottiere's band of that day, while at the same time larger and of
much better temper: how, when it was ready in the spring of the year
353, he began a fifteen years' war of encroachment on the holdings of
the Greek states and particularly of Athens, attacking some of her
maritime colonies in Macedonia and Thrace: how, after a campaign in
inland Thrace and on the Chersonese, he appeared in Greece, where he
pushed at last through Thermopylae: how, again, he withdrew for several
seasons into the Balkan Peninsula, raided it from the Adriatic to the
Black Sea, and ended with an attack on the last and greatest of its free
Greek coastal cities, Perinthus and Byzantium: how, finally, in 338,
coming south in full force, he crushed in the single battle of Chaeronea
the two considerable powers of Greece, Athens and Thebes, and secured at
last from every Greek state except Sparta (which he could afford to
neglect) recognition of his suzerainty--these stages in Philip's making
of a European nation and a European empire must not be described more
fully here. What concerns us is the end of it all; for the end was the
arraying of that new nation and that new empire for a descent on Asia. A
year after Chaeronea Philip was named by the Congress of Corinth
Captain-General of all Greeks to wreak the secular vengeance of Hellas
on Persia.

How long he had consciously destined his fighting machine to an ultimate
invasion of Asia we do not know. The Athenians had explicitly stated to
the Great King in 341 that such was the Macedonian's ambition, and four
years earlier public suggestion of it had been made by the famous
orator, Isocrates, in an open letter written to Philip himself. Since
the last named was a man of long sight and sustained purpose, it is not
impossible that he had conceived such an ambition in youth and had been
cherishing it all along. While Philip was in Thebes as a young man, old
Agesilaus, who first of Greeks had conceived the idea of invading the
inland East, was still seeking a way to realize his oft-frustrated
project; and in the end he went off to Egypt to make a last effort after
Philip was already on the throne. The idea had certainly been long in
the air that any military power which might dominate Hellas would be
bound primarily by self-interest and secondarily by racial duty to turn
its arms against Asia. The Great King himself knew this as well as any
one. After the Athenian warning in 341, his satraps in the north-west of
Asia Minor were bidden assist Philip's enemies in every possible way;
and it was thanks in no small measure to their help, that the Byzantines
repulsed the Macedonians from their walls in 339.

Philip had already made friends of the princely house of Caria, and was
now at pains to secure a footing in north-west Asia Minor. He threw,
therefore, an advance column across the Dardanelles under his chief
lieutenant, Parmenio, and proposed to follow it in the autumn of the
year 336 with a Grand Army which he had been recruiting, training and
equipping for a twelvemonth. The day of festival which should inaugurate
his great venture arrived; but the venture was not to be his. As he
issued from his tent to attend the games he fell by the hand of a
private enemy; and his young son, Alexander, had at first enough to do
to re-establish a throne which proved to have more foes than friends.


A year and a half later Alexander's friends and foes knew that a greater
soldier and empire-maker than Philip ruled in his stead, and that the
father's plan of Asiatic conquest would suffer nothing at the hands of
the son. The neighbours of Macedonia as far as the Danube and all the
states of the Greek peninsula had been cowed to submission again in one
swift and decisive campaign. The States-General of Greece, re-convoked
at Corinth, confirmed Philip's son in the Captain-Generalship of Hellas,
and Parmenio, once more despatched to Asia, secured the farther shore of
the Hellespont. With about forty thousand seasoned horse and foot, and
with auxiliary services unusually efficient for the age, Alexander
crossed to Persian soil in the spring of 334.

There was no other army in Asia Minor to offer him battle in form than a
force about equal in numbers to his own, which had been collected
locally by the western satraps. Except for its contingent of Greek
mercenaries, this was much inferior to the Macedonian force in fighting
value. Fended by Parmenio from the Hellespontine shore, it did the best
it could by waiting on the farther bank of the Granicus, the nearest
considerable stream which enters the Marmora, in order either to draw
Alexander's attack, or to cut his communications, should he move on into
the continent. It did not wait long. The heavy Macedonian cavalry dashed
through the stream late on an afternoon, made short work of the Asiatic
constituents, and having cleared a way for the phalanx helped it to cut
up the Greek contingent almost to a man before night fell. Alexander was
left with nothing but city defences and hill tribes to deal with till a
fuller levy could be collected from other provinces of the Persian
Empire and brought down to the west, a process which would take many
months, and in fact did take a full year. But some of the Western cities
offered no small impediment to his progress. If Aeolia, Lydia and Ionia
made no resistance worth mentioning, the two chief cities of Caria,
Miletus and Halicarnassus, which had been enjoying in virtual freedom a
lion's share of Aegean trade for the past century, were not disposed to
become appanages of a military empire. The pretension of Alexander to
lead a crusade against the ancient oppressor of the Hellenic race
weighed neither with them, nor, for that matter, with any of the Greeks
in Asia or Europe, except a few enthusiasts. During the past seventy
years, ever since celebrations of the deliverance of Hellas from the
Persian had been replaced by aspirations towards counter invasion, the
desire to wreak holy vengeance had gone for little or nothing, but
desire to plunder Persia had gone for a great deal. Therefore, any
definite venture into Asia aroused envy, not enthusiasm, among those who
would be forestalled by its success. Neither with ships nor men had any
leading Greek state come forward to help Alexander, and by the time he
had taken Miletus he realized that he must play his game alone, with his
own people for his own ends. Thenceforward, neglecting the Greeks, he
postponed his march into the heart of the Persian Empire till he had
secured every avenue leading thither from the sea, whether through Asia
Minor or Syria or Egypt.

After reducing Halicarnassus and Caria, Alexander did no more in Asia
Minor than parade the western part of it, the better to secure the
footing he had gained in the continent. Here and there he had a brush
with hill-men, who had long been unused to effective control, while with
one or two of their towns he had to make terms; but on the approach of
winter, Anatolia was at his feet, and he seated himself at Gordion, in
the Sakaria valley, where he could at once guard his communications with
the Hellespont and prepare for advance into farther Asia by an easy
road. Eastern Asia Minor, that is Cappadocia, Pontus and Armenia, he
left alone, and its contingents would still be arrayed on the Persian
side in both the great battles to come. Certain northern districts also,
which had long been practically independent of Persia, e.g. Bithynia and
Paphlagonia, had not been touched yet. It was not worth his while at
that moment to spend time in fighting for lands which would fall in any
case if the Empire fell, and could easily be held in check from western
Asia Minor in the meantime. His goal was far inland, his danger he well
knew, on the sea--danger of possible co-operation between Greek fleets
and the greater coastal cities of the Aegean and the Levant. Therefore,
with the first of the spring he moved down into Cilicia to make the
ports of Syria and Egypt his, before striking at the heart of the

The Great King, last and weakest of the Darius name, had realized the
greatness of his peril and come down with the levy of all the Empire to
try to crush the invader in the gate of the south lands. Letting his foe
pass round the angle of the Levant coast, Darius, who had been waiting
behind the screen of Amanus, slipped through the hills and cut off the
Macedonian's retreat in the defile of Issus between mountain and sea.
Against another general and less seasoned troops a compact and
disciplined Oriental force would probably have ended the invasion there
and then; but that of Darius was neither compact nor disciplined. The
narrowness of the field compressed it into a mob; and Alexander and his
men, facing about, saw the Persians delivered into their hand. The fight
lasted little longer than at Granicus and the result was as decisive a
butchery. Camp, baggage-train, the royal harem, letters from Greek
states, and the persons of Greek envoys sent to devise the destruction
of the Captain-General--all fell to Alexander.

Assured against meeting another levy of the Empire for at least a
twelvemonth, he moved on into Syria. In this narrow land his chief
business, as we have seen, was with the coast towns. He must have all
the ports in his hand before going up into Asia. The lesser dared not
gainsay the victorious phalanx; but the queen of them all, Tyre,
mistress of the eastern trade, shut the gates of her island citadel and
set the western intruder the hardest military task of his life. But the
capture of the chief base of the hostile fleets which still ranged the
Aegean was all essential to Alexander, and he bridged the sea to effect
it. One other city, Gaza, commanding the road to Egypt, showed the same
spirit with less resources, and the year was far spent before the
Macedonians appeared on the Nile to receive the ready submission of a
people which had never willingly served the Persian. Here again,
Alexander's chief solicitude was for the coasts. Independent Cyrene,
lying farthest west, was one remaining danger and the openness of the
Nile mouths another. The first danger dissolved with the submission,
which Cyrene sent to meet him as he moved into Marmarica to the attack;
the second was conjured by the creation of the port of Alexandria,
perhaps the most signal act of Alexander's life, seeing to what stature
the city would grow, what part play in the development of Greek and Jew,
and what vigour retain to this day. For the moment, however, the new
foundation served primarily to rivet its founder's hold on the shores of
the Greek and Persian waters. Within a few months the hostile fleets
disappeared from the Levant and Alexander obtained at last that command
of the sea without which invasion of inner Asia would have been more
than perilous, and permanent retention of Egypt impossible.

Thus secure of his base, he could strike inland. He went up slowly in
the early part of 331 by the traditional North Road through Philistia
and Palestine and round the head of the Syrian Hamad to Thapsacus on
Euphrates, paying, on the way, a visit of precaution to Tyre, which had
cost him so much toil and time a year before. None opposed his crossing
of the Great River; none stayed him in Mesopotamia; none disputed his
passage of the Tigris, though the ferrying of his force took five days.
The Great King himself, however, was lying a few marches south of the
mounds of Nineveh, in the plain of Gaugamela, to which roads converging
from south, east and north had brought the levies of all the empire
which remained to him. To hordes drawn from fighting tribes living as
far distant as frontiers of India, banks of the Oxus, and foothills of
the Caucasus, was added a phalanx of hireling Greeks more than three
times as numerous as that which had been cut up on the Granicus. Thus
awaited by ten soldiers to each one of his own on open ground chosen by
his enemy, Alexander went still more slowly forward and halted four and
twenty hours to breathe his army in sight of the Persian out posts.
Refusing to risk an attack on that immense host in the dark, he slept
soundly within his entrenchments till sunrise of the first day of
October, and then in the full light led out his men to decide the fate
of Persia. It was decided by sundown, and half a million broken men were
flying south and east into the gathering night. But the Battle of
Arbela, as it is commonly called--the greatest contest of armies before
the rise of Rome--had not been lightly won. The active resistance of the
Greek mercenaries, and the passive resistance of the enormous mass of
the Asiatic hordes, which stayed attack by mere weight of flesh and
closed again behind every penetrating column, made the issue doubtful,
till Darius himself, terrified at the oncoming of the heavy Macedonian
cavalry, turned his chariot and lost the day. Alexander's men had to
thank the steadiness which Philip's system had given them, but also, in
the last resort, the cowardice of the opposing chief.

The Persian King survived to be hunted a year later, and caught, a dying
man, on the road to Central Asia; but long before that and without
another pitched battle the Persian throne had passed to Alexander.
Within six months he had marched to and entered in turn, without other
let or hindrance than resistance of mountain tribesmen in the passes,
the capitals of the Empire--Babylon, Susa, Persepolis, Ecbatana; and
since these cities all held by him during his subsequent absence of six
years in farther Asia, the victory of the West over the Ancient East may
be regarded as achieved on the day of Arbela.



Less than ten years later, Alexander lay dead in Babylon. He had gone
forward to the east to acquire more territories than we have surveyed in
any chapter of this book or his fathers had so much as known to exist.
The broad lands which are now Afghanistan, Russian Turkestan, the
Punjab, Scinde, and Beluchistan had been subdued by him in person and
were being held by his governors and garrisons. This Macedonian Greek
who had become an emperor of the East greater than the greatest
theretofore, had already determined that his Seat of Empire should be
fixed in inner Asia; and he proposed that under his single sway East and
West be distinct no longer, but one indivisible world, inhabited by
united peoples. Then, suddenly, he was called to his account, leaving no
legitimate heir of his body except a babe in its mother's womb. What
would happen? What, in fact, did happen?

It is often said that the empire which Alexander created died with him.
This is true if we think of empire as the realm of a single emperor. As
sole ruler of the vast area between the Danube and the Sutlej Alexander
was to have no successor. But if we think of an empire as the realm of a
race or nation, Greater Macedonia, though destined gradually to be
diminished, would outlive its founder by nearly three hundred years; and
moreover, in succession to it, another Western empire, made possible by
his victory and carried on in some respects under his forms, was to
persist in the East for several centuries more. As a political conquest,
Alexander's had results as long lasting as can be credited to almost any
conquest in history. As the victory of one civilization over another it
was never to be brought quite to nothing, and it had certain permanent
effects. These this chapter is designed to show: but first, since the
development of the victorious civilization on alien soil depended
primarily on the continued political supremacy of the men in whom it was
congenital, it is necessary to see how long and to what extent political
dominion was actually held in the East by men who were Greeks, either by
birth or by training.

Out of the turmoil and stress of the thirty years which followed
Alexander's death, two Macedonians emerged to divide the Eastern Empire
between them. The rest--transient embarrassed phantoms of the Royal
House, regents of the Empire hardly less transient, upstart satraps, and
even one-eyed Antigonus, who for a brief moment claimed jurisdiction
over all the East--never mattered long to the world at large and matter
not at all here and now. The end of the fourth century sees Seleucus of
Babylonia lording it over the most part of West Asia which was best
worth having, except the southern half of Syria and the coasts of Asia
Minor and certain isles in sight of them, which, if not subject to
Ptolemy of Egypt, were free of both kings or dominated by a third,
resident in Europe and soon to disappear. In the event those two,
Seleucus and Ptolemy, alone of all the Macedonian successors, would
found dynasties destined to endure long enough in kingdoms great enough
to affect the general history of civilization in the Ancient East.

Seleucus has no surviving chronicler of the first or the second rank,
and consequently remains one of the most shadowy of the greater men of
action in antiquity. We can say little of him personally, except that he
was quick and fearless in action, prepared to take chances, a born
leader in war, and a man of long sight and persistent purpose. Alexander
had esteemed and distinguished him highly, and, marrying him to Apama, a
noble Iranian lady, convinced him of his own opinion that the point from
which to rule an Asiatic empire was Babylonia. Seleucus let the first
partition of the dead man's lands go by, and not till the first turmoil
was over and his friend Ptolemy was securely seated in Egypt, did he ask
for a province. The province was Babylonia. Ejected by the malevolence
of Antigonus, he regained it by grace of Ptolemy in 312, established
ascendency over all satraps to east of him during the next half-dozen
years, letting only India go, and then came west in 305 to conquer and
slay Antigonus at Ipsus in central Asia Minor. The third king,
Lysimachus of Thrace, was disposed of in 281, and Seleucus, dying a few
months later, left to his dynastic successors an Asiatic empire of
seventy-two provinces, very nearly equal to Alexander's, with important
exceptions in Asia Minor.

In Asia Minor neither Seleucus nor the Seleucids ever held anything
effectively except the main lines of communication from East to West and
the district in which these come down to the Aegean Sea. The south
coast, as has been said, remained in Egyptian hands almost all through
the Seleucid period. The southwest obeyed the island republic of Rhodes.
Most of the Greek maritime cities of the northwest and north kept their
freedom more or less inviolate; while inland a purely Greek monarchy,
that of Pergamum, gradually extended its sway up to the central desert.
In the north a formidable barrier to Seleucid expansion arose within
five years of Seleucus' death, namely, a settlement of Gauls who had
been invited across the straits by a king of Bithynia. After charging
and raiding in all directions these intractable allies were penned by
the repeated efforts of both the Seleucid and the Pergamene kings into
the upper Sakaria basin (henceforth to be known as Galatia) and there
they formed a screen behind which Bithynia and Paphlagonia maintained
sturdy independence. The north-east also was the seat of independent
monarchies. Cappadocia, Pontus and Armenia, ruled by princes of Iranian
origin, were never integral parts of the Seleucid Empire, though
consistently friendly to its rulers. Finally, in the hill-regions of the
centre, as of the coasts, the Seleucid writ did not run.

Looked at as a whole, however, and not only from a Seleucid point of
view, the Ancient East, during the century following Seleucus' death
(forty-three years after Alexander's), was dominated politically by
Hellenes over fully nine-tenths of its area. About those parts of it
held by cities actually Greek, or by Pergamum, no more need be said. As
for Seleucus and his successors, though the latter, from Antiochus Soter
onward, had a strain of Iranian blood, they held and proved themselves
essentially Hellenic. Their portraits from first to last show European
features, often fine. Ptolemy Lagus and all the Lagidae remained
Macedonian Greeks to a man and a woman and to the bitter end, with the
greatest Hellenic city in the world for their seat. As for the remaining
tenth part of the East, almost the whole of it was ruled by princes who
claimed the title "philhellene," and justified it not only by political
friendliness to the Seleucidae and the Western Greeks, but also by
encouraging Greek settlers and Greek manners. So far as patronage and
promotion by the highest powers could further it, Hellenism had a fair
chance in West Asia from the conquest of Alexander down to the
appearance of Rome in the East. What did it make of this chance? How far
in the event did those Greek and Macedonian rulers, philhellenic Iranian
princes and others, hellenize West Asia? If they did succeed in a
measure, but not so completely that the East ceased to be distinct from
the West, what measure was set to their several influences, and why?


Let us see, first, what precisely Hellenism implied as it was brought to
Asia by Alexander and practised by his successors. Politically it
implied recognition by the individual that the society of which he was a
member had an indefeasible and virtually exclusive claim on his good
will and his good offices. The society so recognized was not a family or
a tribe, but a city and its proper district, distinguished from all
other cities and their districts. The geographical configuration and the
history of Greece, a country made up in part of small plains ringed in
by hills and sea, in part of islands, had brought about this limitation
of political communities, and had made patriotism mean to the Greek
devotion to his city-state. To a wider circle he was not capable of
feeling anything like the same sense of obligation or, indeed, any
compelling obligation at all. If he recognized the claim of a group of
city-states, which remotely claimed common origin with his own, it was
an academic feeling: if he was conscious of his community with all
Hellenes as a nation it was only at moments of particular danger at the
hands of a common non-Hellenic foe. In short, while not insensible to
the principle of nationality he was rarely capable of applying it
practically except in regard to a small society with whose members he
could be acquainted personally and among whom he could make his own
individuality felt. He had no feudal tradition, and no instinctive
belief that the individualities composing a community must be
subordinate to any one individual in virtue of the latter's patriarchal
or representative relation to them.

Let us deal with this political implication of Hellenism before we pass
on to its other qualities. In its purity political Hellenism was
obviously not compatible with the monarchical Macedonian state, which
was based on feudal recognition of the paternal or representative
relation of a single individual to many peoples composing a nation. The
Macedonians themselves, therefore, could not carry to Asia, together
with their own national patriotism (somewhat intensified, perhaps, by
intercourse during past generations with Greek city-states) any more
than an outside knowledge of the civic patriotism of the Greeks. Since,
however, they brought in their train a great number of actual Greeks and
had to look to settlement of these in Asia for indispensable support of
their own rule, commerce and civilization, they were bound to create
conditions under which civic patriotism, of which they knew the value as
well as the danger, might continue to exist in some measure. Their
obvious policy was to found cities wherever they wished to settle
Greeks, and to found them along main lines of communication, where they
might promote trade and serve as guardians of the roads; while at the
same time, owing to their continual intercourse with each other, their
exposure to native sojourners and immigrants and their necessary
dependence on the centre of government, they could hardly repeat in Asia
the self-centred exclusiveness characteristic of cities in either
European Greece or the strait and sharply divided valleys of the west
Anatolian coast. In fact, by design or not, most Seleucid foundations
were planted in comparatively open country. Seleucus alone is said to
have been responsible for seventy-five cities, of which the majority
clustered in that great meeting-place of through routes, North Syria,
and along the main highway through northern Asia Minor to Ephesus. In
this city, Seleucus himself spent most of his last years. We know of few
Greek colonies, or none, founded by him or his dynasty beyond the
earlier limits of the Ancient East, where, in Afghanistan, Turkestan and
India, Alexander had planted nearly all his new cities. Possibly his
successor held these to be sufficient; probably he saw neither prospect
of advantage nor hope of success in creating Greek cities in a region so
vast and so alien; certainly neither he nor his dynasty was ever in such
a position to support or maintain them, if founded east of Media, as
Alexander was and proposed to be, had longer life been his. But in
western Asia from Seleucia on Tigris, an immense city of over half a
million souls, to Laodicea on Lycus and the confines of the old Ionian
littoral, Seleucus and his successors created urban life, casting it in
a Hellenic mould whose form, destined to persist for many centuries to
come, would exercise momentous influence on the early history of the
Christian religion.

By founding so many urban communities of Greek type the Macedonian kings
of West Asia undeniably introduced Hellenism as an agent of political
civilization into much of the Ancient East, which needed it badly and
profited by it. But the influence of their Hellenism was potent and
durable only in those newly founded, or newly organized, urban
communities and their immediate neighbourhood. Where these clustered
thickly, as along the Lower Orontes and on the Syrian coast-line, or
where Greek farmers had settled in the interspaces, as in Cyrrhestica
(i.e. roughly, central North Syria), Hellenism went far to make whole
districts acquire a civic spirit, which, though implying much less sense
of personal freedom and responsibility than in Attica or Laconia, would
have been recognized by an Athenian or a Spartan as kin to his own
patriotism. But where the cities were strung on single lines of
communication at considerable intervals, as in central Asia Minor and in
Mesopotamia, they exerted little political influence outside their own
walls. For Hellenism was and remained essentially a property of
communities small enough for each individual to exert his own personal
influence on political and social practice. So soon as a community
became, in numbers or distribution, such as to call for centralized, or
even representative, administration, patriotism of the Hellenic type
languished and died. It was quite incapable of permeating whole peoples
or of making a nation, whether in the East or anywhere else. Yet in the
East peoples have always mattered more than cities, by whomsoever
founded and maintained.

Hellenism, however, had, by this time, not only a political implication
but also moral and intellectual implications which were partly effects,
partly causes, of its political energy. As has been well said by a
modern historian of the Seleucid house, Hellenism meant, besides a
politico-social creed, also a certain attitude of mind. The
characteristic feature of this attitude was what has been called
Humanism, this word being used in a special sense to signify
intellectual interest confined to human affairs, but free within the
range of these. All Greeks were not, of course, equally humanistic in
this sense. Among them, as in all societies, there were found
temperaments to which transcendental speculation appealed, and these
increasing in number, as with the loss of their freedom the city-states
ceased to stand for the realization of the highest possible good in this
world, made Orphism and other mystic cults prevail ever more and more in
Hellas. But when Alexander carried Hellenism to Asia it was still
broadly true that the mass of civilized Hellenes regarded anything that
could not be apprehended by the intellect through the senses as not only
outside their range of interest but non-existent. Further, while nothing
was held so sacred that it might not be probed or discussed with the
full vigour of an inquirer's intelligence, no consideration except the
logic of apprehended facts should determine his conclusion. An argument
was to be followed wherever it might lead, and its consequences must be
faced in full without withdrawal behind any non-intellectual screen.
Perfect freedom of thought and perfect freedom of discussion over the
whole range of human matters; perfect freedom of consequent action, so
the community remained uninjured--this was the typical Hellene's ideal.
An instinctive effort to realize it was his habitual attitude towards
life. His motto anticipated the Roman poet's "I am human: nothing human
do I hold no business of mine!"

By the time the Western conquest of Asia was complete, this attitude,
which had grown more and more prevalent in the centres of Greek life
throughout the fifth and fourth centuries, had come to exclude anything
like religiosity from the typical Hellenic character. A religion the
Greek had of course, but he held it lightly, neither possessed by it nor
even looking to it for guidance in the affairs of his life. If he
believed in a world beyond the grave, he thought little about it or not
at all, framing his actions with a view solely to happiness in the
flesh. A possible fate in the hereafter seemed to him to have no bearing
on his conduct here. That disembodied he might spend eternity with the
divine, or, absorbed into the divine essence, become himself
divine--such ideas, though not unknown or without attraction to rarer
spirits, were wholly impotent to combat the vivid interest in life and
the lust of strenuous endeavour which were bred in the small worlds of
the city-states.

The Greeks, then, who passed to Asia in Alexander's wake had no
religious message for the East, and still less had the Macedonian
captains who succeeded him. Born and bred to semibarbaric superstitions,
they had long discarded these, some for the freethinking attitude of the
Greek, and all for the cult of the sword. The only thing which, in their
Emperor's lifetime, stood to them for religion was a feudal devotion to
himself and his house. For a while this feeling survived in the ranks of
the army, as Eumenes, wily Greek that he was, proved by the manner and
success of his appeals to dynastic loyalty in the first years of the
struggle for the succession; and perhaps, we may trace it longer still
in the leaders, as an element, blended with something of homesickness
and something of national tradition, in that fatality which impelled
each Macedonian lord of Asia, first Antigonus, then Seleucus, finally
Antiochus the Great, to hanker after the possession of Macedonia and be
prepared to risk the East to win back the West. Indeed, it is a
contributory cause of the comparative failure of the Seleucids to keep
their hold on their Asiatic Empire that their hearts were never wholly
in it.

For the rest, they and all the Macedonian captains alike were
conspicuously irreligious men, whose gods were themselves. They were
what the age had made them, and what all similar ages make men of
action. Theirs was a time of wide conquests recently achieved by right
of might alone, and left to whomsoever should be mightiest. It was a
time when the individual had suddenly found that no accidental
defects--lack of birth, or property, or allies--need prevent him from
exploiting for himself a vast field of unmeasured possibilities, so he
had a sound brain, a stout heart and a strong arm. As it would be again
in the age of the Crusades, in that of the Grand Companies, and in that
of the Napoleonic conquests, every soldier knew that it rested only with
himself and with opportunity, whether or no he should die a prince. It
was a time for reaping harvests which others had sown, for getting
anything for nothing, for frank and unashamed lust of loot, for selling
body and soul to the highest bidder, for being a law to oneself. In such
ages the voice of the priest goes for as little as the voice of
conscience, and the higher a man climbs, the less is his faith in a
power above him.

Having won the East, however, these irreligious Macedonians found they
had under their hand a medley of peoples, diverse in many
characteristics, but almost all alike in one, and that was their
religiosity. Deities gathered and swarmed in Asia. Men showed them
fierce fanatic devotion or spent lives in contemplation of the idea of
them, careless of everything which Macedonians held worth living for,
and even of life itself. Alexander had been quick to perceive the
religiosity of the new world into which he had come. If his power in the
East was to rest on a popular basis he knew that basis must be
religious. Beginning with Egypt he set an example (not lost on the man
who would be his successor there) of not only conciliating priests but
identifying himself with the chief god in the traditional manner of
native kings since immemorial time; and there is no doubt that the cult

Book of the day: