Imatges de pàgina

Xerxes. far executed, that not one escaped, except the temple of Diana at Ephesus. He acted in this manner at the instigation of the Magi, who were professed enemies to temples and images. The second Zoroaster had thoroughly instructed him in their religion, and made him a zealous defender of it. Pliny informs us, that Ostanes, the head of the Magi, and the patriarch of that sect, who maintained its maxims and interests with the greatest violence, attended Xerxes upon this expedition against Greece. This prince, as he passed through Babylon on his return to Susa, destroyed also all the temples in that city, as he had done those of Greece and Asia minor; doubtless, through the same principle, and out of hatred to the sect of the Sabaans, who made use of images in their divine worship, which was a thing extremely detested by the Magi. Perhaps also, the desire of making himself amends for the charges of his Grecian expedition by the spoil and plunder of those temples, might be another motive that induced him to destroy them: For it is certain he found immense riches and treasure in them, which had been amassed together through the superstition of princes and people during a long series of ages.

The Grecian fleet, after the battle of Mycale, set sail towards the Hellespont, in order to possess themselves of the bridges, which Xerxes had caused to be laid over that narrow passage, and which they supposed were still entire. But finding them broken by tempestuous weather, Leotychides and his Peloponnesian forces returned towards their own country. As for Xanthippus, he stayed with the Athenians and their Ionian confederates, and they made themselves masters of Sestus and the Thracian Chersonesus, in which places they found great booty, and took a vast number of prisoners. After which, before winter came on, they returned to their own cities.

Cic. 1. ii. de Leg. n. 29.

h Arrian. 1. vii.

8 Plin. 1. xxx. c. 1.

From this time all the cities of Ionia revolted from Xerxes. the Persians, and having entered into confederacy with the Grecians, most of them preserved their liberty, during the time that empire subsisted.

SECT. XI. The barbarous and inhuman revenge of
Amestris, the wife of Xerxes.


URING the residence of Xerxes at Sardis, he conceived a violent passion for the wife of his brother Masistus, who was a prince of extraordinary merit, had always served the king with great zeal and fidelity, and had never done any thing to disoblige him. The virtue of this lady, her great affection and fidelity to her husband, made her inexorable to all the king's solicitations. However, he still flattered himself, that by a profusion of favours and liberalities he might possibly gain upon her; and among other kind things he did to oblige her, he married his eldest son Darius, whom he intended for his successor, to Artainta, this princess's daughter, and ordered that the marriage should be consummated as soon as he arrived at Susa. But Xerxes finding the lady still no less impregnable, in spite of all his temptations and attacks, immediately changed his object, and fell passionately in love with her daughter, who did not imitate the glorious example of her mother's constancy and virtue. Whilst this intrigue was carrying on, Amestris, wife to Xerxes, made him a present of a rich and magnificent robe of her own making. Xerxes, being extremely pleased with this robe, thought fit to put it on upon the first visit he afterwards made to Artainta; and in the conversation he had with her, he mightily pressed her to let him know what she desired he should do for her, assuring her, at the same time, with an oath, that he would grant her whatever she asked of him. Artainta, upon this, desired

Herod. 1. ix. c. 107-112.

A. M.


Ant. J. C. 479.

Xerxes. him to give her the robe he had on. Xerxes, foreseeing the ill consequences that would necessarily ensue his making her this present, did all that he could to dissuade her from insisting upon it, and offered her any thing in the world in lieu of it. But, not being able to prevail upon her, and thinking himself bound by the imprudent promise and oath he had made to her, he gave her the robe. The lady no sooner received it, but she put it on, and wore it publickly by way of trophy.

Amestris being confirmed in the suspicions she had entertained, by this action, was enraged to the last degree. But instead of letting her vengeance fall upon the daughter, who was the only offender, she resolved to wreak it upon the mother, whom she looked upon as the author of the whole intrigue, though she was entirely innocent of the matter. For the better executing of her purpose she waited until the grand feast, which was every year celebrated on the king's birth-day, and which was not far off; on which occasion the king, according to the established custom of the country, granted her whatever she demanded. This day then being come, the thing which she desired of his majesty was, that the wife of Masistus should be delivered into her hands. Xerxes, who apprehended the queen's design, and who was struck with horror at the thoughts of it, as well out of regard to his brother, as on account of the innocence of the lady, against whom he perceived his wife was so violently exasperated, at first refused her request, and endeavoured all he could to dissuade her from it. But not being able either to prevail upon her, or to act with steadiness and resolution himself, he at last yielded, and was guilty of the weakest and most cruel piece of complaisance, that ever was acted, making the inviolable obligations of justice and humanity give way to the arbitrary laws of a custom, that had only been established to give occasion for the doing of good, and for acts of beneficence and generosity. In con

sequence then of this compliance, the lady was apprehended by the king's guards, and delivered to Amestris, who caused her breasts, tongue, nose, ears, and lips, to be cut off, ordered them to be cast to the dogs in her own presence, and then sent her home to her husband's house in that mutilated and miserable condition. In the mean time, Xerxes had sent for his brother, in order to prepare him for this melancholy and tragical adventure. He first gave him to understand, that he should be glad he would put away his wife; and to induce him thereto, offered to give him one of his daughters in her stead. But Masistus, who was passionately fond of his wife, could not prevail upon himself to divorce her: Whereupon Xerxes in great wrath told him, that since he refused his daughter, he should neither have her nor his wife, and that he would teach him not to reject the offers his master had made him; and with this inhuman reply dismissed him.

This strange proceeding threw Masistus into the greatest anxiety; who thinking he had reason to apprehend the worst of accidents, made all the haste he could home to see what had passed there during his absence. On his arrival he found his wife in that deplorable condition we have just been describing. Being enraged thereat to the degree we may naturally imagine, he assembled all his family, his servants and dependants, and set out with all possible expedition for Bactriana, whereof he was governor, determined, as soon as he arrived there, to raise an army and make war against the king, in order to avenge himself for his barbarous treatment. But Xerxes being informed of his hasty departure, and from thence suspecting the design he had conceived against him, sent a party of horse after him to pursue him; which having overtaken him, cut him in pieces, together with his children and all his retinue. I do not know whether a more tragical example of revenge than I have now related, is to be found in history.



Xerxes. k There is still another action, no less cruel or impious than the former, related of Amestris. She caused fourteen children of the best families in Persia to be burnt alive, as a sacrifice to the infernal gods, out of compliance with a superstitious custom practised by the Persians,

1 Masistus being dead, Xerxes gave the government of Bactriana to his second son Hystaspes, who being by that means obliged to live at a distance from the court, gave his youngest brother Artaxerxes the opportunity of ascending the throne to his disadvantage after the death of their father, as will be seen in the sequel.

Here ends Herodotus's history, viz. at the battle of Mycale, and the siege of the city of Sestus by the Athenians.

SECT. XII. The Athenians rebuild the walls of their city, notwithstanding the opposition of the Laceda


A. M.



THE war, commonly called the war of Media, Ant. J.C. which had lasted but two years, being terminated in the manner we have mentioned, the Athenians 1eturned to their own country, sent for their wives and children, whom they had committed to the care of their friends during the war, and began to think of rebuilding their city, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Persians, and to surround it with strong walls, in order to secure it from farther violence. The Lacedæmonians having intelligence of this, conceived a jealousy, and began to apprehend, that Athens, which was already very powerful by sea, if it should go on to increase its strength by land also, might take upon her in time to give laws to Sparta, and to deprive her of that authority and pre-eminence, which she had hitherto exercised



k Herod. 1. vii. c. 114. 1 Diod. 1. xi.
p. 53.
viii. p. 59---62. Diod. 1. xi. p. 30, 31. Justin. 1. ii. c. 15.

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