The History of Antiquity, Vol. 6 (of 6)

Max Duncker The History of Antiquity, Vol. 6 (of 6)
Project Gutenberg
Max Duncker
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Опис: After the fall of Nineveh, Media, Babylonia, and Lydia had continued to exist side by side in peace and friendship. The successful rebellion of Cyrus altered at one blow the state of Asia. He had not been contented with winning independence for the Persians; he had subjected Media to his power. In the place of a friendly and allied house, the kings of Lydia and Babylonia saw Astyages deprived of his throne, and Media in the hands of a bold and ambitious warrior. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia would hardly have allowed the sovereignty of the table-land of Iran to pass out of the power of a near kinsman into that of Cyrus without offering some resistance; but he was no longer alive to prevent or revenge the overthrow of his brother-in-law. His son Evil-merodach had also come by his death before Astyages succumbed to the arms of Cyrus, and after a short reign Neriglissar left the kingdom to a boy (III. 392). On the other hand, the Lydian empire was in its fullest vigour. We are acquainted with the successes which fell to the lot of Alyattes after his alliance with Media; we saw with what rapidity his son Crœsus brought to a happy conclusion the long struggle against the Greek cities of the coast. His kingdom now embraced the whole of Asia Minor, as far as the Halys; the Lycians alone remained independent in their small mountain canton. Loved and honoured by his people, as Herodotus indicates, Crœsus saw his complete and compact empire in the greatest prosperity; his treasury was full to overflowing; his metropolis was the richest city in Asia after Babylon. The Lydian infantry were excellent and trustworthy; the cavalry were dreaded; in past days they had measured themselves with success against the Medes. Thus in the third or fourth year of his reign, in the pride of his position, surrounded by inexhaustible treasures and the most splendid magnificence, on his lofty citadel at Sardis, Crœsus could declare himself, against the opinion of the Athenian Solon, the man most favoured by fortune (III. 458). Two years afterwards Astyages, whose wife Aryanis was Crœsus' sister, was overthrown. Crœsus had reason enough to take the field for his brother-in-law, and anticipate the danger which might arise for Lydia out of this change in the East. He might hope that his example would set the Babylonians in motion against the usurper of the Median throne, and cause the Medes themselves to revolt against their new master. But he appears to have been afraid of embarking in an uncertain and dangerous war at a great distance from his own borders. It was not clear that victory at the first onset would imply lasting success, and Lydia had no attack to fear so long as Cyrus was occupied in establishing his new dominion in Media, and engaged in conflicts in the East and North. In Sardis it might be assumed that the usurper would find great difficulties in his way. Herodotus represents Sandanis, a distinguished Lydian, as asking Crœsus whether he would take the field against men who clad themselves in leather, and did not eat what they liked, but what they had, and lived in a rugged country—who drank water and not wine, and had not even figs or any other thing that was pleasant? What could the king, if victorious, take from them, when they had nothing? On the other hand, if conquered, he had much to lose, and if the Persians once tasted any of the good things of Lydia, they would never be driven out of the land again. Crœsus hesitated. It was of the greatest importance for Cyrus that Lydia and Babylonia should not interfere in favour of Astyages and the Medes, that they remained inactive during the revolution, and allowed him to establish his dominion in Media without disturbance, to direct his aim unimpeded against the neighbours of Media, and to subjugate without opposition the Parthians, Hyrcanians, and Cadusians.

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