Me'dia (מָדִי). The same Hebrew word is used in the O.T. as the name of a son of Japhet, of the nation which he founded, and of their country. Hence we find it rendered in four different -ways in our AV. In most cases these renderings are arbitrary, and tend to confuse rather than explain
(1.) Madai, the proper rendering (Ge 10:2; Μαδοί; Alex. Μαδαί Madai; 1Ch 1:5, Μαδαϊvμ);
(2.) Medes (Μήδοι. 2Ki 17:6; 2Ki 18:11; Es 1:19; Isa 13:17; Jer 25:25; Da 9:1; Da 5:28; Μήδεια, Ezr 6:22; Medo;
(3.) Media (Μήδοι, Medoi, Es 1:3; Es 10:2; Isa 21:2; Da 8:20);
(4.) Mede, only in Da 11:1. In the following account we chiefly refer of course to ancient territorial distributions and descriptions.
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
I. Geography. The general situation of the country is abundantly clear, though its limits may not be capable of being precisely determined. Media lay northwest of Persia Proper, south and south-west of the Caspian, east of Armenia and Assyrian west and north-west of the great salt desert of Iran. Its greatest length was from north to south, and in this direction it extended from the 32d to the 40th parallel, a distance of 550 miles. In width it reached from about long. 450 to 53°; but its ,average breadth was not more than from 250 to 300 miles. Its area may be reckoned at about 150,000 square miles, or three fourths of that of modern France. The natural boundary of Media on the north was the river Aras; on the west Zagros, and the mountain-chain which connects Zagros with Ararat; on the south Media was probably separated from Persia by the desert which now forms the boundary between Farsistan and Irak Ajemi; on the east its natural limit was the desert and the Caspian Gates. West of the gates it was bounded, not (as is commonly said) by the Caspian Sea, but by the mountain range south of that sea, which is the natural boundary btween the high and the low country. It thus comprised the modern provinces of Irak Ajemi, Persian Kurdistai., part of Luristan, Azerbijan, perhaps Talish and Ghila a, but not Mazanderan or Asterabad.
The division of Media commonly recognised by the Greeks and Romans was that into Media Magna and Media Atropatene (Strabo, 11:13, § 1; comp. Polyb. v. 44; Pliny, H. N. 6:13; Ptolem. 6:2, etc.).
1. Media Atropatene, so named from the satrap Atropates, who became independent monarch of the province on the destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander (Arrian, Exped. Alex. iii,8; 6:29; Diod. Sic. 18:3), corresponded nearly to the modern Azerbijan, being the tract situated between the Caspian and the mountains which run north from Zagros, and consisting mainly of the rich and fertile basin of Lake Urumiyeh, with the valleys of the Aras ,and the Sefid Rud. This is chiefly a high tract, varied between mountains and plains, and lying mostly three or four thousand feet above the sea level. The basin of Lake Urumiyeh (the Spanta of Strabh ) has a still greater elevation, the surface of the lake itself, into which all the rivers run, being as much as 4200 feet above the ocean. The country is fairly fertile, ell-watered in most places, and favorable to agriculture its climate is temperate, though occasionally severe in winter; it produces rice, corn of all kinds, wine, silk, white wax, and all mariner of delicious fruits. Tabriz, is modern capital, forms the summer residence of the Persian kings, and is a beautiful place, situated in a forest. of orchards. The ancient Atropatene may have included also the countries of Ghilan and Talish, together with the plain of Moghan, at the mouth of the combined Kur and Aras rivers. These tracts are low and flat; that of Moghan is sandy and sterile; Talish is more productive; while Ghilan (like Mazanderan) is rich and fertile in the highest degree. The climate of Ghilan, however, is unhealthy, and at times pestilential; the streams perpetually overflow their banks; and the waters which escape stagnate in marshes, whose exhalations spread disease and death among the inhabitants.
2. Media Magna lay south and east of Atropatene. Its northern boundary was the range of Elburz from the Caspian Gates to the Rudbar pass, through which the Sefid Rud reaches the low country of Ghilan. It then adjoined upon Atropatene, from which it may be regarded as separated by a line running about south-west by west from the bridge of Menjil to Zagros. Here it touched Assyria, from which it was probably divided by the last line of hills towards the west, before the mountains sink down upon the plain . On the south it was bounded by Susiana and Persia Proper, the former of which it met in the modern Luristan, probably about lat. 33° 30', while it struck the latter on the eastern side of the Zangros range, in lat. 32° or 32° 30'. Towards the east it was closed in by the great salt desert, which Herodotus reckons to Sagartia, and later writers to Parthia and Carmania. Media Magna thus contained a great part of Kurdistan and Luristan, with all Ardelan and Irak Ajemi. The character of this tract is very varied. Towards the west, in Ardelan, Kurdistan, and Luristan, it is highly mountainous, but at the same time wellwatered and richly wooded, fertile and lovely; on the north, along the flank of Elburz, it is less. charming, but still pleasant and tolerably productive; while towards the east and south-east it is bare, arid, rocky, and sandy supporting with difficulty a spare and wretched population. The present productions of Zagros are cotton, tobacco, hemp, Indian corn, rice, wheat, wine, and fruits of every variety; every valley is a garden; and besides valleys, extensive plains are often found, furnishing the most excellent pasturage. Here were nurtured the valuable breed of horses called Nisaean, which the Persians cultivated with such especial care, and from which the horses of the monarch were always chosen. The pasture grounds of Khawah and Alishtar, between Behistun and Khorram-abad, probably represent the " Nisean plain" of the ancients, which seems to have taken its name from a town Nisaea (Nisaya), mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions.
Although the division of Media into these two provinces can only be distinctly proved to have existed from the time of Alexander the Great, yet there is reason to believe that it was more ancient, dating from the settlement of the Medes in the country, which did not take place all at once, but was first in the more northern and afterwards in the southern country. It is indicative of the division, that there were two Ecbatanas-one, the northern, at Takht-i-Suleiman; the other, the southern at Hamadan, on the flanks of Mount Orontes (Elwand) -respectively the capitals of the two districts. SEE ECBATANA.
Next to the two Ecbatanas, the chief town in Media was undoubtedly Rhages-the Raga of the inscriptions. Hither the rebel Phraortes fled on his defeat by Darius Hystaspis, and hither. too, came Darius Codomannus after the battle of Arbela, on his way to the eastern provinces (Arrian, Exped. Alex. 3:20). The only other place of much note was Bagistana, the modern Behistun, which guarded the chief pass connecting Media with the Mesopotamian plain.
No doubt both parts of Media were further subdivided into provinces, but no trustworthy account of these minor. divisions has come down to us. The tract about Rhages was certainly called Rhagiana, and the mountain tract adjoining Persia seems to have been known' as Paraetacene; or the country of the Parsetacae. Ptolemy gives as Median'districts Elymais, Choromithrene, Sigrina, Daritis, and Syromedia; but these names are little known to other writers, and suspicions attach to some of them. On the whole, it would seem that we do not possess materials for a minute account of the ancient geography of the country, which is very imperfectly described by Strabo, and almost omitted by Pliny.
In Great Media lay the metropolis of the country, the Ecbatana of that district (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 6:17), as well as the province of Rhagiana and the city Rhagae, with the above Nissean plain, celebrated in the time off the Persian empire for its horses and horse-races (Herod. 3:106; Arrian, 7:13; Heeren, Ideen, 1:1. 305). This plain was near the city Nisaea, around which were fine pasture lands producing excellent clover (Herba Medica). The horses were entirely white, and of extraordinary height and beauty, as well as speed. They constituted a part of the luxury of the great, and a tribute in kind was paid from them to the monarch, who, like all Eastern sovereigns, used to delight in equestrian display. Some idea of the opulence of the country may be had when it is known that, independently of imposts rendered in money, Media paid a yearly tribute of not less than 3000 horses, 4000 mules, and nearly 100,000 sheep. The breeds, once celebrated through the world, appear to exist no more; but Ker Porter saw the shah ride on festival occasions a splendid horse of pure white. Cattle abounded, as did the richest fruits, as pines, citrons, oranges, all of peculiar excellence, growing as in their native land. Here also was found the silphium (probably assafoetida), which formed a considerable article in the commerce of the ancients, and was accounted worth its weight in. gold.
II. History. —
1. Its Early Stages. In Ge 10:2 we are told that Madai was the third son of Japhet (comp. 1Ch 1:5). The names in that invaluable ethnological summary were not merely those of individuals but of the nations which descended from them; for the historian says, "By these Were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations" (ver. 5). For a period of fifteen centuries the Medes are not again mentioned in Scripture. Then Isaiah, in pronouncing the prophetic doom of Babylon, says, "I will stir up the Medes against them" (Isa 13:17). This prophecy was uttered about BC. 720. There is no direct evidence connecting Madai, the son of Japhet, and the nation he founded, with the Medes (Madai) of whom Isaiah speaks; but the names are identical in Hebrew; and the genealogical tables of Genesis appear to have been intended to show the origin of those nations which afterwards bore an important part in the history of God's people.
Berosus, the Babylonian priest and historian, states that at a very remote period (BC. cir. 2000) the Medes ruled in Babylon (Eusebius, Chron. 1:4). Though we may not be able to rely upon either his dates or his facts, yet we may infer from his words and references that the Medes were one of the great primeval races which established themselves in Central Asia. Herodotus gives a very graphic and circumstantial account of the early history of the Medes, and the establishment of the empire: "The Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; but when Medda, the Colchian, came to them from Athens, they changed their name. Such is the 'account which they themselves give" (vii. 62). This is opposed to what appears to be the opinion of the sacred writers; but there can be no doubt that during the time of ascendency of Greek arms, literature, and -art, Eastern nations were all anxious to claim some sort of connection with Greece, and this may account for Herodotus's story (comp. Rawlinson's Herod. 4:61, 1st ed.).
The Medes appear, however, to have been a branch of the Arian family, who probably had their primitive seat on the east bank of the Indus, and thence sent their colonies eastward into India, and westward to Media, Persia, Greece, etc. (Muller, Science of Language). There are independent grounds for thinking that an Arian element existed in the population of the Mesopotamian valley, side by side with the Cushite and Shemitic elements, at a very early date. It is therefore not at all impossible that the Medes may have been the predominant race there for a time, as Berosus states, and may afterwards have been overpowered and driven to the mountains, whence they may have spread themselves eastward, northward, and westward, so as to occupy a vast number of localities from the banks of the Indus to those of the middle Danube. The term Arians, which was by the universal consent of their neighbors applied to the Medes in the time of Herodotus (Herod. 7:62), connects them with the early Yedic settlers in Western Hindustan; the Matieni of Mount Zagros. the Sauro Matae of the steppe-country between the Caspian and the Euxine, and the Maetae or Maeotae of the Sea of Azov, mark their progress towards the north; while the Maedi or Medi of Thrace seem to indicate their spread westward into Europe, which was directly attested by the native traditions of the Sigynnae (Herod. v. 9). It has been supposed by some that there was a Scythic tribe of Madai who conquered and held Babylonia long previous to the irruption of the Arian family, and that it is to them Berosus alludes. There are no good grounds for this belief; and it is worthy of note as tending to disprove the theory that the name "Mede" does not appear upon the Assyrian monuments before the year BC. 880 (Rawlinson's Commentary on A ssyrian Inscriptions). To that date is assigned the inscription. on the famous black obelisk, discovered by Layard at Nimrud, which contains a record of the victories of Temen-bar, the Assyrian monarch. In the twenty- fourth year of his reign he invaded the territory of the Medes (Vaux, Nineveh and Persepolis, p. 263, where a translation of the inscription is given). At that time the Medes were independent, occupying an extensive country with many cities, and divided, like the Persians, into a number of tribes having each a chief. This remarkable monument thus fixes the date of the first conquest of the Medes by the Assyrians; but it does not determine the' date of the settlement of the former in Media. Sir H. Rawlinson thinks that the way in which the nations are grouped in that inscription seems to indicate that the Medes when attacked were in the act of migrating (Commentary). This, however, is very uncertain.
The invasion of Temen-bar was probably more like an Arab raid than a military conquest. His successors on the Assyrian throne were almost incessantly engaged in hostilities with the Medes (Rawlinson's Herodot. 1. 404); and Sargon appears to have been the first who attempted to occupy the country with regular garrisons. He built cities in Media, and reduced the people to tribute (Rawlinson's Herod. 1. c.; and Comment.). Sargon was that king of Assyria "who took Samaria, and carried Israel captive," and placed some of them "in the cities of the Medes" (2Ki 17:6; comp. 18:17; Isa 20:1). The truth of Scripture history is here strongly confirmed by monuments recently disentombed from the ruins of Sargon's palace at Khorsabad. On its walls are inscribed the records of his conquests, in which both Media and Judaea are mentioned-the former as on the eastern, and the latter on the western limits of his vast empire (Rawlinson's Comment. p. 61; Rawlinson's Herodot. 1:405). SEE SARGON.
Media was not yet a kingdom. It was occupied by a number of petty chiefs, each ruling his own tribe. From these chiefs the Assyrian monarchs exacted tribute. The tribes increased in numbers, influence, and power. They held a country naturally strong. The Assyrian yoke was galling to their free spirits, and probably this first induced them to unite their forces, elect a common leader, and assert their independence. The exact date of this revolution cannot now be fixed, but the fact of it is certain. Herodotus's account of it is as follows: "The Assyrians had held the empire of Upper Asia for a space of 520 years, when the Medes set the example of revolt. They took arms for the recovery of their freedom, and fought a battle with the Assyrians, in which they behaved with such gallantry as to shake off the yoke of servitude" (i. 95). He then tells how the empire was formed by a certain Deioces, who, in consequence of his wisdom and justice, was elected monarch by the six tribes composing the nation (i. 96-101). Deioces built the great city of Ecbatana; and, after a prosperous reign of fifty-three years, left the throne to his son Phraortes. Phraortes conquered Persia, vastly enlarged the Median empire, and reigned twenty-two years. He was succeeded by his son Cyaxares. During his reign, while engaged in a war against Nineveh, Media was overrun by a horde of Scythians, who held a great part of Western Asia for twenty-eight years. The Scythian leaders were at length treacherously murdered by Cyaxares, and the Median monarchy re-established. He ruled forty years, and then left the kingdom to his son Astyages, whose daughter Mandane was married to a Persian noble, and became the mother of the great Cyrus. According to this narrative, the Median monarchy was established about BC. 708 (Rawlinson's Herodot. 1:407). There is good reason to believe, however, that the early portion of the narrative is apocryphal,,and that Cvaxares was the real founder of the Median empire. He is so represented by most ancient historians (Diodoi's Sic. 2:32; }AEschylus, Persae, 761; see Grote's History of Greece, vol. iii). The Assyrian monumental annals are almost complete down to the reign of the son of Esarhaddon (BC. 640), and they contain no mention of any Median irruptions; on the contrary, they represent the Median chiefs as giving tribute to Esarhaddon (Rawlinson's Herodot. 1:405, 408).
Ctesias, as quoted by Diodorus Siculus (ii. 32), assigns to the Median monarchy a still older date than Herodotus. He gives a list of eight kings who ruled before Astyages, for an aggregate period of 282 years, which would fix the, establishment of the monarchy about BC. 875. The names of the kings are different from those of Herodotus; and it is vain to attempt to reconcile the narratives (see, however, Hales's Analysis of Chronology, 3:84; Heeren, Manual of Ancient Hist.). Rawlinson has clearly shown that Ctesias's narrative is fabulous (Herodot. 1:406).
2. The Median Empire.
(1.) Its Establishment.-From the foregoing notices we may conclude that the Medes migrated from beyond the Indus to the country on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea not later than the 9th century BC.; that they settled there as a number of distinct tribes (probably six, as Herodotus states, l. c.), and so remained during a period of three or four centuries; that some Scythian tribes either occupied the country with them or invaded it at a later date; and that (about BC. 633) Cyaxares rose suddenly to power, united the Medes under his sway, drove out the Scythians, and established She monarchy. Before this time the Medes are only once mentioned in Scripture, and then, as has been seen their country was subject to Assyria (2Ki 17:6.
A few years after the establishment of his empire Cyaxares made a league with the Babylonian monarch, and invaded Assyria. Nineveh was captured and destroyed, BC. 625. The incidents of the siege and capture, as related by Diodorus Siculus (ii. 27, 28), contain a remarkable fulfilment of the prophecies uttered by Nahum (Na 1:8; Na 2:5-6; Na 3:13-14) nearly a century previously; and recent excavations' by Layard illustrate both (Nineveh and Babylon, p. 71, 103, etc.). SEE NINEVEH. The Assyrian monarchy was then overthrown (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, 2:521).
Abydenus (probably following Berosus) informs us that iln his Assyrian war Cyaxares was assisted by the Babylonians under Nabopolassar, between whom and Cyaxares an intimate alliance was formed, cemented by a union of their children; and that a result of their success was the establishment of Nabopolassar as independent king on the throne of Babylon, an event which we know to belong to the above-mentioned year. It was undoubtedly after this that Cyaxares endeavored tc conquer Lydia.
His conquest of Assyria had made him master of the whole country lying between Mount Zagros and the river Halys,to which he now hoped to add the tract between the Halys and the AEgaean Sea. It is surprising that he failed, more especially as he seems to have been accompanied by the forces of the Babylonians, who were perhaps commanded by Nebuchadnezzar on the occasion. SEE NEBUCHADNEZZAR. After a war which lasted six years he desisted from his attempt, and concluded the treaty with the Lydian monarch of which we have already spoken. The three great Oriental monarchies- Media, Lydia, and Babylon-were now united by mutual engagements and intermarriages, and continued at peace with one another during the remainder of the reign of Cyaxares, and during that of Astyages, his son and successor.
(2.) Extent of the Empire.-The conquest of Assyria produced a great change in the Median empire, and on the whole of Western Asia. Babylon then regained its independence, and formed a close alliance with Media. The Israelites, who had been led captive by the Assyrians, were placed under new rulers. Cyaxares led his victorious armies into Syria and Asia Minor (Herod. 1:103). When Pharaoh-necho marched to the banks of the Euphrates against Babylon, the Babylonians were aided by the Medes (Joseph. Ant. 10:5, 1). It was in attempting to oppose this expedition of the Egyptian monarch that king Josiah was slain at Megiddo (Jer 46:2; 2Ch 35:20; 2Ki 23:29). We also learn that Nebuchadnezzar was aided by the Medes in the conquest of the Jews and capture of Jerusalem (Eusebius, Pr. Evang.; comp. 2Ki 24:1; 2Ch 36:5). Media was now the most powerful monarchy in Western Asia.
The limits of the Median empire cannot be definitely fixed, but it is not difficult to give a general idea of its size and position. From north to south its extent was in no place great, since it was certainly confined between the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates on the one side, and the Black and Caspian seas on the other. From east to west it had, however, a wide expansion, since it reached from the Halys at least as far as the Caspian Gates, and possibly farther. It comprised Persia, Media Magna, Northern Media, Matiene or Media Mattiana, Assyria, Armenia, Cappadocia, the tract between Armenia and the Caucasus, the low tract along the south-west and south of the Caspian, and possibly some portion of Hyrcania,.Parthia, and Sagartia. It was separated from Babylonia either by the Tigris, or more probably by a line running about half-way between that river and the Euphrates, and thus did not include Syria, Phoenicia, or Judaea, which fell to Babylon on the. destruction of the Assyrian empire. Its greatest length may be reckoned at 1500 miles from north-west to south-east, and its average breadth at 400 or 450 miles. Its area would thus be about 600,000 square miles, or somewhat greater than that of modern Persia.
(3.) Its Character.-With regard to the nature of the government established by the Medes over the conquered nations, we possess but little trustworthy evidence. Herodotus in one place compares, somewhat vaguely, the Median with the Persian system (i. 134), and Ctesias appears to have asserted the positive introduction of the satrapial organization into the empire at its first foundation by his Arbaces (Diod. Sic. 2:28); but, on the whole, it is perhaps most probable that the Assyrian organization was continued by the Medes, the subject nations retaining their native monarchs, and merely acknowledging subjection by the payment of an annual tribute. This seems certainly to have been the case in Persia, where Cyrus and his father Cambyses were monarchs, holding their crown of the Median king before the revolt of the former and there is no reason to suppose that the remainder of the empire was organized in a different manner. The satrapial organization was apparently a Persian invention, begun by Cyrus, continued by Cambyses, his son, but first adopted as the regular governmental system by Darius Hystaspis.
(4.) Its Duration.-Of all the ancient Oriental monarchies the Median was the shortest in duration. It commenced, as we have seen, after the middle of the 7th century BC., and it terminated BC. 558. The period of three quarters of a century, which Herodotus assigns to the reigns of Cyaxares and Astyages, may be taken as fairly indicating its probable length, though we cannot feel sure that the years are correctly apportioned between the monarchs. Its rise was rapid, and appears to have been chiefly owing to the genius of one manCyaxares. The power of Media was short-lived. With Cyaxares it rose, and with him it passed away. At his death he left his throne to Astyages, of whom little is known except the stories told by Herodotus (i. 110-129) and Nicolaus of Damascus (Frag. Hist. Gr. 3:404- 6), who probably borrowed from Ctesias; and on these little reliance can be placed. They are founded on fact, and we may infer from them that during the reign of Astyages a war broke out between the Medes and Persians. in which the latter were victorious, and Cyrus, the Persian king, who was himself closely related to Astyages, united the' two nations under one sceptre (BC. 558). The life of Astyages was spared, and even the title of king continued with him.
This is as far as the authorities we have followed carry us. But Xenophon, in his Cyclopaedia, gives us a very different account of the relationship of Cyrus to the Median king, at the time of the capture of Babylon by their allied arms. SEE DARIUS THE MEDE.
(5.) Coalescence with the Persian Empire.-It is universally allowed that the Median king who succeeded Cyaxares was his son Astyages; but of the character of this king and the events and duration of his reign there exists an absolute contradiction. In so far as Scripture is concerned, the accounts are chiefly of importance from their relation to Cyrus and Darius, the only personages mentioned in Scripture as connected with this period of Median history. But having already been considered under the two names in question, it becomes unnecessary to relate the circumstances afresh here. From chronological considerations we have leaned to the authority of Xenophon in those previous articles, but it is impossible to arrive at certainty. We simply state that whichever account be preferred of the birth and relations of Cyrus, the notices in Daniel oblige us to hold that at the time of the capture of Babylon there was a superior in rank, though not in power, to Cyrus; and this can only have been either Astyages or Cyaxares II. If it were the latter, the description given us by Xenophon of his vain, capricious, and fickle disposition perfectly accords with the idea suggested respecting him by the narrative in Daniel 6.
Whether we suppose Cyrus himself to have been king of Persia at the period of the conquest of Babylon, or Cambyses his father to have still reigned there, the Darius of Daniel would properly be head only of the Median kingdom; and it was not until Cyrus came to the throne that the great empire was united under one head. Cyrus was consequently the first king of the Medo-Persian dominions, without any discredit to Daniel's statement that Darius, the head of the older kingdom of Media, and the uncle and father-in-law. according to Xenophon, of Cyrus, received during his brief reign the rank that gratified his excessive vanity. In regard to the position and character of Cyrus, this is not the place for any detailed account. He was the real founder of the vast empire which ruled Asia and threatened Europe until the time of Alexander. He is the hero whom the poets and historians of Persia delighted to celebrate, and whose real character doubtless was of the grand aid heroic cast. The praises of Xenophon had been anticipated in that sublime address in which Jehovah, nearly 200 years before, calls upon Cyrus his shepherd to advance on his career of conquest (Isa 45:1-6). The statement of Xenophon that the Medes voluntarily submitted to Cyrus (Cyrop. 1:1) seems much more agreeable to the scriptural accounts of things after the conquest of Babylon, and to the manner in which foreign nations regarded the newly- risen empire, than is the narrative of Herodotus, who relates that Media was conquered by Cyrus, and held in subjection by force (Herodotus, 1:125, 130). The accession of Darius the Mede (Da 5:31) seems inconsistent with' this latter view. Throughout his reign we always find the Medes mentioned first in rank, which they would scarcely be if they were a conquered people (Da 5:28; Da 6:8,12,15). At a subsequent period, when the Persian line of kings had succeeded to the throne, while we find the Medes ever ranked side by 'side with the Persians, we find, as was natural, that the language of the court placed Persia, the country of the reigning king, first in rank (Es 1:3,18-19. etc.). We have, however, in the conclusion of this book an indication that while the language of the court gave the preference to Persia, the state chronicles still ran under their ancient title, "the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia"-pointing plainly to the original superiority of rank of Media over Persia, quite inconsistent with the idea of a conquered race (Es 10:2). With this view of Scripture the notions entertained by foreign nations of the new empire agree. So far from looking on the Medes as a conquered dependency of Persia, both the Greeks of Europe and the barbarians of Asia look on the Median as the preponderant element, quite obscuring the more recent power of Persia. The queen of the Massagetse addresses Cyrus as the "sovereign of the Medes," ignoring the Persian nation (Herodotus, 1:206). Thucydides, who ranks in the foremost place of Grecian history, invariably styles the barbarous power that had nearly conquered Greece Median, and never calls it Persian (bk. i). All this points to the original superiority of the Median kingdom-a superiority which still belonged to it in foreign eyes, but which could not well have attached to it if Media had been violently subdued to the rule of Persia. Scripture, which in its early silence as to the very existence of Persia was true to the political obscurity of this latter power, is also the first to recognise the superiority to which it rose under Cyrus. Before the allied armies had marched through the empty bed of the Euphrates into the heart of Babylon, prophecy described the rising empire as a ram with two horns, one of which was higher than the other, and the higher came up last (Da 8:3).
Scripture history, penetrating the veil of tradition, and looking through the thin disguise which the assumption of Median dress and manners by the Persians had cast over reality, was the first to recognise that Persia, not Media, had become the ruler of Asia. It is Persia that is spoken of throughout the book of Ezra, the Jewish scribe being better acquainted with the facts of history than Thucydides was. Nor are the subsequent revolts of the Medes against Persian rule any argument that at the first rise of the empire they were not one of two great nations united together on friendly and equal terms. So long as Cyrus and Cambyses his son, descended from the Median as from the Persian dynasty, sat on the throne, Media made no attempt at revolt. Nor did they do so under the foreign the pseudo Smerdis, who was supposed to be the son of Cyrus. It was not until the discovery of the imposture practiced by Smerdis,and the elevation of a purely Persian family in the person of Darius Hystaspis to the throne, that Media sought for a separate existence. Her ancient line of kings no longer ruled over the mountains of Media, and hence probably she sought to return to that independence which had been her pride during the centuries when Assyria vainly sought to rule over Median land.
According to some writers (as Herodotus and Xenophon) there wasa close relationship between Cyrus and the last Median monarch, who was therefore naturally treated with more than common tenderness. The fact of the relationship is, however, denied by Ctesias; and whether it existed or no, at any rate the peculiar position of the Medes under Persia was not really owing to this accident. The two nations were closely akin; they had the same Arian or Iranic origin, the same early traditions, the same language (Strabo, 15:2,8), nearly the same religion, and ultimately the same manners and customs, dress, and general mode of life. It is not surprising therefore that they were drawn together, and that, though never actually coalescing, they still formed to some extent a single privileged people. Medes were advanced to stations of high honor and importance under Cyrus and his successors, an advantage shared by no other conquered people. The Median capital was at first the chief royal residence, and always remained one of the places at which the court spent a portion of the year; while among the provinces Media claimed and enjoyed a precedency, which appears equally in the Greek writers and' in the native records. Still it would seem that the nation, so lately sovereign, was not altogether content with its secondary position. On' the first convenient opportunity Media rebelled, elevating to the throne a certain Phraortes (Frawartish), who called himself. Xatlhrites, and claimed to be a descendant from Cvaxares. Darius Hystaspis, in whose reign this rebellion took place, had great difficulty in suppressing it. After vainly endeavoring to put it down by his generals, he was compelled to take the field himself. He defeated Phraortes in a pitched battle, pursued and captured him near Rhages, mutilated him, kept him for a time " chained at his door," and finally crucified him at Ecbatana, executing at the same time. his chief followers (see the Behistun Inscription, in Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2:601, 602). The Medes thereupon submitted, and quietly bore the yoke for another century, when they made a second attempt to free themselves, which was suppressed by Darius Nothus (Xenophon, Hell. 1:2, 19). Thenceforth they patiently acquiesced in their subordinate position, and followed through its various shifts and changes the fortune of Persia.
Media, with the rest of the Persian empire, fell under the sway of Alexander the Great. At his death the northern province was erected by the satrap Atropates into an independent state, and called Atropatene. The southern province, Media Magna, was attached with Babylon to the kingdom of the Seleucide. The whole country eventually passed over to the Parthian monarchy (Strabo, 16:745). It is now included in the dominions of the shah of Persia.
1. Internal Divisions.-According to Herodotus the Median nation was divided into six tribes (ἔθνη), called the Busse, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, and the Magi. It is doubtful, however, in what sense these are to be considered as ethnic divisions. The Paretaceni appear to represent a geographical district, while the Magi were certainly a priest caste; of the rest we know little or nothing. The Arizanti, whose name would signify " of noble descent," or "of Arian descent," must (one would think) have been the leading tribe, corresponding to the Pasargadse in Persia; but it is remarkable that they have only the fourth place in the list of Herodotus. The Budii are fairly identified with the eastern Phut-the Putiya of the Persian inscriptions-whom Scripture joins with Persia in two, places (-Eze 27:10; Eze 38:5). Of the Buse and the Struchates nothing is known beyond the statement of Herodotus. We may perhaps assume, from the order of. Herodotus's list, that the Buse, Paretaceni, Struchates, and Arizanti were true Medes, of genuine Arian descent, while the Budii and Magi were foreigners admitted into the nation.
2. Character, Manners, and Customs.- The ancient Medes were a warlike people, particularly celebrated, as Herodotus (vii. 61) and Strabo (xi. 525) inform us, for their skill in archery. Xenophon says their bows were three ells long. This illustrates the language of Isaiah describing the attack of the Medes on Babylon: "Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces" (xiii. 18). Their cavalry was also excellent, their horses being fleet 'and strong, and their men skilful riders. It is doubtless in reference to this fact that Jeremiah, speaking of the overthrow of Babylon, says, "They (the enemies) shall hold the bow and the lance... and they shall ride upon horses" (1, 42). Strabo states that the province of Atropatene alone was able to bring into the field an army of 10,000 horse (11. 523). Xenophon affirms that the Medes did not fight for plunder. Military glory was their great ambition, and they would never permit gold or silver to turn them aside from their object. How striking do the words of Isaiah thus appear "Behold I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it" (13. 18). The wealth of Babylon could not save it, for the Medes could not be bought off (Rosenmuller, Bib. Geog. 1:176). The conquests of the Medes, and their intercourse with other nations, produced a marked change upon their character. They became fond of dress and display; those settled in cities engaged in commerce, and lost their hardy habits and bravery. The splendor of the Median robes became proverbial, and their princes and nobles ruled the fashion in the East. They were imitated by the Persian court (Herodot. 6:112; Xenoph. Cyrop. 1:3, 2; Strabo, xi, p. 525). It was this dress, that is, of the highest class, which seems to have gained a sort of classical authority, and to have been at a later period worn at the Persian court, probably in part from its antiquity. This dress the Persian monarchs used to-present to those whom they wished to honor, and no others were permitted to wear it. It consisted of a long white loose robe or gown, flowing down to the feet, and enclosing the entire body, specimens of which, as now used in those countries, may be seen in plates given in Perkin's Residence in Persia (NY. 1843). The nature and the celebrity of this dress combine with the natural richness of the country to assure us that the ancient Medians had made no mean progress in the. arts; indeed, the colors of the Persian textures are known to have been accounted second only to those of India. If these regal dresses were of silk, then was there an early commerce between Media and India; if not, weaving, as well as dyeing, must have been practiced and carried to a high degree of perfection in the former country (Ammian. Marcell. 24:6, p. 353, ed. Bip.; Athen. xii, p. 512, 514 sq.; Heeren, Ideen, 1:205, 307; Herod. 6:112; Da 3:21). The Medes thus gave way to luxury and its consequent vices, and they; soon became an easy prey to their more warlike neighbors. The northern mountaineers retained their primitive habits, and consequently their independence, for a much longer period.
3. Religion.-The ancient religion of the Medes must undoubtedly have been that simple creed which is placed before us in the earlier portions of the Zendavesta. Its peculiar characteristic was Dualism, the belief in the existence of two opposite principles of good and evil, nearly if not quite on a par with one another. Ormazd and Ahriman were both self-caused and self-existent, both indestructible, both potent to work their will their warfare had been from all eternity, and would continue to all eternity, though on the whole the struggle was to the disadvantage of the Prince of Darkness. Ormazd was the God of the Arians, the object of their worship and trust; Ahriman was their enemy, an object of fear and abhorrence, but not of any religious rite. Besides Ormazd, the Arians worshipped the sun and moon, under the names of Mithra and Homa; and they 'believed in the existence of numerous spirits or genii, some good, some bad, the subjects and ministers respectively of the two powers of Good and Evil. Their cult was simple, consisting in processions, religious chants and hymns, and a few plain offerings, expressions of devotion and thankfulness. Such was the worship and such the belief which the whole Arian race brought with them from the remote east when they migrated westward. Their migration brought them into contact with the fire-worshippers of Armenia and Mount Zagros, among whom Magism had been established from a remote antiquity. The result was either a combination of the two religions, or in some cases an actual conversion of the conquerors to the faith and worship of the conquered. So far as can be gathered from the scanty materials in our possession, the latter was the case with the Medes. While in Persia the true Arian creed maintained itself, at least to the time of Darius Hystaspis, intolerable purity, in the neighboring kingdom of Media, it was early swallowed up in Magism, which was probably established by Cyaxares or his successor as the religion of the state. The essence of Magism was the worship of the elements, fire, water, air, and earth with a special preference of fire to the remainder. Temples were not allowed, but fire-altars were maintained on various sacred sites, generally mountain-tops, where sacrifices were continually offered, and the flame was never suffered to go out. A hierarchy naturally' followed, to perform these constant rites, and the magi became recognised as a sacred caste entitled to the veneration of the faithful. They claimed in many cases a power of divining the future, and practiced largely those occult arts which are still called by their name in most of the languages of modern Europe. The fear of polluting the elements gaverise to a number of curious superstitions among the professors of the Magian religion (Herod. 1:138); among the rest to the strange practice of neither burying nor burning their dead, but exposing them to be devoured by beasts or birds of prey (Herod. 1:140; Strabo, 15:3, § 20). This custom is still observed by their representatives, the modern Parsees. See Rhode, Heil. Sage der Baktr. Meder und' Perser, p. 820; Abbildungen aus der Mythol. der Alten Welt; Pers. Med. plate 10,11.
4. The language of the ancient Medes was not connected with the Shemitic, but with the Indian, and divided itself into two chief branches, the Zend, spoken in North Media, and the Pehlvi, spoken in Lower Media and Parthia, which last was the dominant tongue among the Parthians (Adelung, Mithridates, 1:256 sq.; Eichhorn, Gesch. der Lit. v. 1,294 sq.).
5. References to the Medes in Scripture.-The references to the Medes in the canonical Scriptures are not very numerous, but they are striking. 'We first hear of certain "cities of the Medes," in which the captive Israelites were placed by "the king of Assyria" on the destruction of Samaria, BC. 721 (2Ki 17:6; 2Ki 18:11). This implies the subjection of Media to Assyria at the time of Shalmaneser, or of Sargon, his successor, and accords (as we have shown) very closely with the account given by the latter of certain military colonies which he planted in the Median country. Soon afterwards Isaiah prophesies the part which the Medes should take in the destruction of Babylon (Isa 13:17; Isa 21:2), and this is again still more distinctly declared by Jeremiah (Jer 51:1,23) who sufficiently indicates the independence of Media in his day (Jer 25:25). Daniel relates, as a historian, the fact of the Medo-Persic conquest (Da 5:28,31), giving an account of the reign of Darius the Mede who appears to have been made viceroy by Cyrus (6:1-28). In Ezra we have a, mention of Achmetha (Ecbatana), "the palace in the province of the Medes," where the decree of Cyrus was found (6:2-5) a notice which accords with the known facts that the Median capital was the seat of government under Cyrus; but a royal residence only and not the seat of government under Darius Hystaspis. Finally, in Esther, the high rank of Media under the Persian kings is marked by the frequent combination of the two names in phrases of honor.
In the apocryphal Scriptures the Medes occupy a more prominent place. The chief scene of one whole book (Tobit) is Media, and in another (Judith) a very striking portion of the narrative belongs to the same country. But the historical character of both these books is with reason doubted, and from neither can we derive any authentic or satisfactory information concerning the people. From the story of Tobias little could be gathered, even if we accepted it as true, while the history of Arphaxad (which seems to be rierely a distorted account of the struggle between the rebel Phraortes and Darius Hystaspis) adds nothing to our knowledge of that contest. The mention of Rhages in both narratives as a Median town and region of importance is geographically correct, and it is historically true that Phraortes suffered his overthrow in the Rhagian district. But beyond these facts the narratives in question contain little that even illustrates the true history of the Median nation.
IV. Literature.-The ancient authorities for the history and geography of Media and the Medes are Herodotus, especially when read with the learned and valuable notes of Rawlinson; Strabo, Xenophon, Ptolemy, Diodorus Siculus, Arrian, and Josephus. The monuments and inscriptions discovered, and in part deciphered, within the last few years, add vastly to our stores of information. The various works and articles of Sir H. Rawlinson referred to in the body of this article serve to set forth: and illustrate their contents. Among modern writers the student may consult Bochart, Cellarius, Ritter; Grote's History of Greece, 3:301-312; Prof. Rawlinison's Ancient Monarchies; Bosanquet's Chronology of the Medes, read before the Royal Asiatic Society, June 5, 1858; Brandis, Rerum Assyriarum tempora emendata, p. 1-14; and Hupfeld's Exercitationum Herodotearum Specimina duo, p. 56 sq. For the present state of the country, see Sir K. Porter's Travels; Kinnier's Persian Empire; Layard's Nineveh and Babylon; Chesney's Euphrates Expedition; Sir H. Rawlinson's articles in the Journal of R. G. S. vols. ix and x; and the valuable dissertations in Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. i.