(Heb. Paras', פָּרִס; native Fars, thought to be either from the Zend Pars, "'pure" or "splendid," or from Farash [פָּרָשׁ], "a horse," that animal being abundant there; Sept. Περσίς; Vulg. Perses), the name of one of the interior countries of Hither Asia, varying greatly in application according to time and circumstances. The following account of it embraces the ancient and the modern information, with a special view to Biblical illustration. SEE PERSIAN.
I. Extent and Physical Features. — The name is used in two or three senses geographically and historically.
⇒Bible concordance for PERSIA.
1. "Persia" was strictly the name of a tract of no very large dimensions on the Persian Gulf, which is still known as Fars, or Farsistin, a corruption of the ancient appellation. This tract was bounded on the west by Susiana or Elam, on the north by Media, on the south by the Persian Gulf, and on the east by Carmania, the modern Kerman. It was, speaking generally, an and and unproductive region (Herod. 9:122; Arrian, Exp. — Alex. v. 4; Plato, Leg. iii, p. 695, A); but contained some districts of considerable fertility. The worst part of the country was that towards the south, on the borders of the gulf, which has a climate and soil like Arabia, being sandy and almost without streams, subject to pestilential winds, and in many places covered with particles of salt. Above this miserable region is a tract very far superior to it, consisting of rocky mountains — the continuation of Zagros — among which are found a good many fertile valleys and plains, especially towards the north, in the vicinity of Shiraz. Here is an important stream, the Bendamir, which, flowing through the beautiful valley of Merdasht and by the ruins of Persepolis, is then separated into numerous channels for the purpose of irrigation, and, after fertilizing a large tract of country (the district of Kurjan), ends its course in the salt lake of Baktigan. Vines, oranges, and lemons are produced abundantly in this region; and the wine of Shiraz is celebrated throughout Asia. Farther north an and country again succeeds, the outskirts of the Great Desert, which extends from Kerman to Mazenderan, and from Kashan to Lake Zerrah.
Ptolemy(Geogr. 6:4) divides Persia into a number of provinces, among which the most important are Paraetacene on the north, which was sometimes reckoned to Media (Herod. 1:101; Steph. Byz. ad voc Παραίτακα), and Mardyenl on the south coast, the country of the Mardi. The chief towns were Pasargadae, the ancient, and Persepolis, the later capital. Pasargadve was situated near the modern village of Murgaub, 42 miles nearly due north of Persepolis, and appears to have been the capital till the time of Darius, who chose the far more beautiful site in the valley of the Bendamir, where the Chehel Minar, or "Forty Pillars," still stand. SEE PERPSEPOLIS. Among other cities of less importance were Paraetaca and Gabne in the mountain country, and Taoce upon the coast. See Strab. 15:3, § 1-8; Pliny, H. N. 6:25, 26; Ptolem. Geogr. 6:4; Kinneir, Persian Empire, p. 54-80 Malcolm, Hist. of Persia, 1:2; Ker Porter, Travels, 1:458, etc.; Rich, Journey from Bushire to Persepolis, etc.
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
2. While the district of Fars is the true original Persia, the name is more commonly applied, both in Scripture and by profane authors, to the entire tract which came by degrees to be included within the limits of the Persian empire. This empire extended at one time from India on the east to Egypt and Thrace upon the west, and included, besides portions of Europe and Africa, the whole of Western Asia between the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the Jaxartes upon the north, the Arabian desert, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean upon the south. According to Herodotus (3:89), it was divided into twenty governments, or satrapies; but from the inscriptions it would rather appear that the number varied at different times, and when the empire was most flourishing considerably exceeded twenty. In the inscription upon his tomb at Naksh-i-Rustam, Darius mentions no fewer than thirty countries as subject to him besides Persia Proper. These are — Media, Susiana, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Chorasmia, Zarangia, Arachosia, Sattagydia, Gandaria, India, Scythia, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Saparda, Ionia, (European) Scythia, the islands (of the AEgean), the country of the Scodrae, (European) lonia, the lands of the Tacabri, the Budians, the Cushites or Ethiopians, the Mardians, and the Colchians.
The name "Persia" is not found in the older records of the Bible, but after the Babylonian period it occurs frequently (2Ch 36:20,22; Ezr 4:5 sq.; 6:14 sq.; Es 1:3; Es 8:10; Es 1 Maccabees 1:1), meaning the great Persian kingdom founded by Cyrus. The only passage in Scripture where Persia designates the tract which has been called above "Persia Proper" is Eze 38:5. SEE ELAM.
3. Modern Persia or "Iran" is bounded on the north by the great plain of Khiva, the Caspian Sea, and the Trans-Caucasian provinces of Russia; on the east by Bokhara, Afghanistan, and Beloochistan; on the south by the Strait of Ormuz and the Persian Gulf; and on the west by the Shat-el-Arab and Asiatic Turkey. It contains about 545,000 square miles, and consists for the most part of a great table-land or elevated plateau, which in the center and on the east side is almost a dead level; but on the north, west, and south is covered with a broad belt of mountain-region, here and there interspersed with tracts of desert and small fertile plains. The mountain- system of Persia has its root in the north-west corner of the kingdom, and is a continuation of the Taurus, Armenian, and Caucasian chains. The Taurus chain enters Persia a little to the north-east of Lake Van and then turns in a southeasterly direction, ramifying into numerous parallel chains, which traverse the west and south of the country, covering it for a width of from 100 to 330 miles. At its south-eastern extremity this chin joins the Jebel-Abad, which runs eastward through the center of the province of Kerman, and forms the southern boundary of the plateau. The range is generally limestone, and, like all other mountains of the same character, presents many caves and grottos. The province of Azerbijan, in the north- west, is almost wholly mountainous. — On the east side of Azerbijan, a spur of the Caucasus, separated from it, however, by the valley of the Kur and Araxes, runs southwards at some little distance from and parallel to the shore of the Caspian, at the south-west corner of which it becomes more elevated, and as the majestic range of the Elburz takes an easterly direction, following the line of the Caspian coast at a distance varying from 12 to 60 miles. On reaching Astrabad it divides into three great parallel ranges of somewhat inferior elevation, which pursue first an east, and then a south-east direction, joining the Paropamisus in Afghanistan. Many of the hills in the Elburz are covered with perpetual snow; and the highest peak, Mount Demavend, is more than 20,000 feet above the sea. The Persian mountains are mostly of a primitive character; granite, porphyry, feldspar, and mountain limestone enter largely into their composition; they also, in great part, exhibit indications of volcanic action-Demavend itself being evidently an extinct volcano; and the destructive earthquakes which are still of frequent occurrence in the north and north-west of Persia indicate the presence of subterranean fires. The Elburz on the north, the Zagros on the west, the Kerman mountains on the south, and Afghanistan on the east, are the boundaries of the Persian plateau, which ranges from 2000 to 5000 feet above sea-level, the lowest portion being the Great Salt Desert, in the north-west of Khorassan, which has 2000 feet of elevation above the sea; while the average elevation of the whole plateau above the sea is about 3700 feet. The lower level, out of which the upland rises, is called the Dushtistan, or "Level Country," and stretches along the coast of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Ormuz, south of the Bakhtiyari and Kerman ranges, and also along the Caspian Sea, between it and the Elhurz. The aspect of the plateau, diversified as it is for the most part with hills and valleys, mountains and plains, is, contrary to what might naturally be expected, dreary and forbidding. The interior mountains are everywhere bare and, unrelieved by trees or shrubs, and present the appearance of huge masses of gray rock piled one on the other, or starting in abrupt ridges from the level plain. The plains are equally unattractive; and those which are not deserts consist either of gravel which has been washed down from the mountain slopes or accumulated into deep and extensive beds during some former revolution of nature, or of a hard, dry clay. To render such a country fertile requires the presence of abundant water; but, unfortunately for Persia, nature has been remarkably sparing in this respect. The whole of the east and center of the country is entirely destitute of rivers; the country south of the Kerman mountains is very meagerly supplied, the rivers, such as they are, being almost wholly confined to the western and the Caspian provinces.
Almost the whole of Khorassan, the north half of Kerman, the east of Irak- Ajemi, which form the great central plain, and detached portions of all the other provinces, with the exception of those on the Caspian Sea, forming more than three fourths of the surface of Persia, are desert. In some parts of this waste the surface is dry, and produces a scanty herbage of saline plants; in other parts it is covered with salt marshes, or with a dry, hard, salt crust, sometimes of considerable thickness, which glitters and flashes in the sunlight, forcing the traveler on these inhospitable wastes to wear a shade to protect his eyes; but by far the greater portion of this region consists of sand, sometimes so light and impalpable as to be shifted thither and thither by the slightest breeze. This great central desert contains a few oases, but none of great extent. The largest of the salt deserts of Persia is the "Dasht Beyad," commonly known as the Great Salt Desert of Khorassan, which lies in the north-west of that province, and is 400 miles in length by 250 miles in breadth. Some parts of Persia, however, are of exceeding fertility and beauty; the immense valleys, some of them 100 miles in length, between the various ranges of the Kerman mountains, abound with the rarest and most valuable vegetable productions; great portions of the provinces of Fars, Khuzistan, Ardelan, and Azerbijan have been lavishly endowed by nature with the most luxuriant vegetation; while the Caspian provinces, and the southern slopes of the Elburz, are as beautiful as wood, water, and a fine climate can make them — the mountain-sides being clothed with trees and shrubs, and the plains studded with nature's choicest products.
The climate is necessarily very varied. What the Younger Cyrus is reported to have said to Xenophon regarding the climate, "that people perish with cold at the one extremity, while they are suffocated with heat at the other," is literally true. Persia may be considered to possess three climate — that of the southern Dushtistan, of the elevated plateau, and of the Caspian provinces. In the Dushtistan, the autumnal heats are excessive, those of summer more tolerable, while in winter and spring the climate is delightful. The cold is never intense, and snow seldom falls on the southern slope of the Kerman range. The rains are not heavy, and occur in winter and spring. The district is extremely healthy. On the plateau, the climate of Fars is temperate, and as we proceed northwards, the climate improves, attaining its greatest perfection about Ispahan. Here the winters and summers are equally mild, and the regularity of the seasons appears remarkable to a stranger. To the north and north-west of this the winters are severe; and in Kurdistan, the greater part of Azerbijan, and the region of the Elburz, the climate is quite alpine. The desert region of the center and east, and the country on its border, suffer most oppressive heat during summer and piercing cold in winter. The Caspian provinces, from their general depression below the sea-level, are exposed to a degree of heat in summer almost equal to that of the West Indies, and their winters are mild. Rains, however, are frequent and heavy, and many tracts of low country are marshy and extremely unhealthy. With the exception of the Caspian provinces, the atmosphere of Persia is remarkable above that of all other countries for its dryness and purity, a fact frequently proved by exposing pieces of polished iron to the action of the air, and finding whether or not they rust.
II. Inhabitants. —
1. Classification of the Population. Herodotus tells us that the Persians were divided into ten tribes, of which three were noble, three agricultural, and four nomadic. The noble tribes were the Pasargadee, who dwelt, probably, in the capital and its immediate neighborhood; the Maraphians, who are perhaps represented by the modern Mafi, a Persian tribe which prides itself on its antiquity; and the Maspians, of whom nothing more is known. The three tribes engaged in agriculture were called the Panthialaeans, the Derusiaeans, and the Germanians, or (according to the true orthography) the Carmanians. These last were either the actual inhabitants of Kerman, or settlers of the same race, who remained in Persia while their fellow-tribesmen occupied the adjoining region. The nomadic tribes are said to have been the Dahi, who appear in Scripture as the "Dehavites" (Ezr 4:9), the Mardi, mountaineere famous for their thievish habits (Steph. Byz.), together with the Sagartians and the Derbices or Dropici, colonists from the regions east of the Caspian. The royal race of the Achaemenidae was a phratry or clan of the Pasargadse (Herod. 1:126); to which it is probable that most of the noble houses likewise belonged. Little is heard of the Maraphians, and nothing of the Maspians, in history; it is therefore evident that their nobility was very inferior to that of the leading tribe.
The modern population of Persia is naturally divisible into two classes, the settled and the nomad. The settled population are chiefly Tajiks, the descendants of the ancient Persian race, with an intermixture of foreign blood — Turkish, Tartar, Arab, Armenian, or Georgian. To this class belong the agriculturists, merchants, artisans, etc. From having long been a subject race, they have to a large extent lost their natural independence and manliness of character, and acquired, instead, habits of dishonesty, servility, and cunning. The Tajiks are Mohammedans of the Shiite sect, with the exception of the few remaining Parsees (q.v.) or Guebres who are found in Kerman and Fars, and still retain their purity of race and religious faith. The nomad or pastoral tribes, or eylats (Qyl, a clan), are of four distinct races — Tulkomans, Kurds, Luurs, and Arabs. Their organization is very similar to that which formerly subsisted among the Highland clans of Scotland, with the exception that the former are nomad, while the latter inhabited a fixed locality. Each tribe is ruled by its hereditary chief (ujak), and under him by the heads of the cadet branches (tirehs) of his family. Of the four races, the Turkoman is by far the most numerous, and forms at the present day the ruling race in Persia. The Kurds are few in number, the greater part of their country and race being hinder the sway of Turkey. The Arabs are also few in number, and at the present day can hardly be distinguished from the Persians, having adopted both their manners and language. The Luurs are of nearly pure Persian blood. The nomad races, especially the Turkomans, profess the Sunni creed; they are distinguished from the Tajiks by their courage, manliness, and independence of character; but they are inveterate robbers, and since their entrance into the country in the 10th century it has continually been distracted by civil wars and revolutions. The whole population of Persia is estimated in round numbers at 10,000,000, of whom 3,000,000 are nomads (200,000 of these being Arabs). Classed according to their religious belief, they stand thus: 7,500,000 are Shiites; 500,000 are unorthodox Shiites; 1,500,000 are Sunnites; while the remaining 500,000 are made up of Christians of all denominations (including 200 000 Armenians, 100,000 Nestorians), along with Jews, Guebres, etc.
2. Character and Customs. — The government of Persia was despotic, though there seems to have been a council of state, composed perhaps of the seven princes who "see the king's face" (Ezr 7:14; Es 1:14). These, after the time of Cyrus, may have been the six magnates or their representatives ("his well-wishers," as he names them) who conspired with Darius against the pseudo-Smerdis, along with a prince of the royal house. The sovereign often administered judgment promptly and personally, though he was approached with tedious and stately formalities, as if in some sense he was an impersonation of Ormuzl. The council might speak faithfully, as did Artabanus to Xerxes; or they might be as compliant as when they told the same monarch that, though there was no law permitting him to marry his sister, there was a law allowing him to do as he pleased. The Spartan embassy refused to do the required homage to Xerxes, as in their opinion it amounted to religious worship. In Plutarch (Themist. 27) reference is made to the king, who was to be worshipped ώς εἰκόνα θεοῦ, "as the image of God," and Curtius tells us how much Alexander coveted this deification (8:5, 11). The seven princes of the empire, seem to have been regarded also as representing the seven amshashpands who stand before the throne of Ormuzd. The sculptures at Persepolis tell the same story, and the Visparad directs prayer to to be offered "to the ruler of the country" (Spiegel, Eridn, p. 74). The satraps appointed by Darius are called in Hebrew אֲחִשׁדִּרפּנַים, in Greek σατράπης. in old Persian, as on the inscriptions, khshatrapai — the X in the Hebrew form being usually inserted before the Persian khsh. A district or smaller portion of country was put under a פֶּחָה, or prefect (Es 3:12; Ezr 8:36), the word being allied to the familiar term pacha. This name is applied to the Persian governor west of the Euphrates (Ne 2:7,9; Ne 3:7); also to the governor of Judaea, as Zerubbabel (Hag 1:1; Hag 2:2; and Ne 5:14; Ne 12:26). Another term given to a Jewish prefect is "the Tirshatha," applied to Nehemiah (Ne 8:9; comp. Ezr 2:63; Ne 7:65). The title probably means, as Gesenius says, "your serenity," or, as we have it, "most dread sovereign." The royal scribes kept a regular journal of judicial procedure, and these "chronicles" were deposited in the chief cities. Thus in Ezra we read of the "house of the rolls," in which search was made, by command of Darius, for a copy of the decree of Cyrus concerning the Jews and Jerusalem, and the "record" was found in the palace at Achmetha (Ezr 6:1). In Esther occurs also this incident (Es 6:1-2): "On that night could not the king sleep; and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus" (see also Es 10:2). When the enemies of Daniel were afraid that the king might relent towards a favorite, they pressed upon him this constitutional maxim, "Sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not." As the king solemnly admitted the maxim, he was again pressed with it: "Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, that no decree or statute which the king establisheth may be changed" (Da 6:15). We are not to infer from such language that a royal decree was in every sense irrevocable, or beyond the power of modification or repeal. But the words imply that edicts could not be capriciously altered, and that the despot was bound and regulated by past decisions and precedents. The book of Esther shows, moreover, how a decree, though it could not be reversed, might easily be neutralized. The Jews marked out for assassination got warrant to defend themselves, and to become assassins in turn (Es 8; Es 9). The satrapian form of administration necessitated the employment of posts and means of conveyance. A vivid picture of such an organization — scribes, translators, and couriers — is given in Es 8:9-10. The system is described by Herodotus (8:98). "Nothing mortal," he says, "travels so fast." Relays of men and horses were stationed at due distances, and license was given to the couriers to press men, horses, and ships into their service. This service was called ἀγγαρήϊον — a Tatar word meaning "work without pay." Rawlinson, however, suggests other derivations. The verb αγγαρεύω came to signify to press into service like a Persian ἄγγαρος; and Persian domination brought the wood into Palestine. Compare Mt 5:41; Mr 15:21, where the verb is rendered in the first instance "compel thee to go," and in the second is applied to the soldiers forcing Simon to carry Christ's cross. The Persian revenues were raised partly in money and partly in kind. The queen's wardrobe and toilet were provided for by certain districts, and they were named according to the article which they were taxed to furnish — one being called the Queen's Veil and another the Queen's Girdle. The court, according to Ctesias, consisted of an immense retinue. The only water which the king drank was that of the Choaspes; the salt on his table was imported from Africa, and the wine from Syria. Athenneus (4) depicts at length the royal etiquette and extravagance, such as we have it in the first chapter of Esther. The surveillance of the harem was committed to eunuchs, and the seraglio was often the real governing power. The residences of the monarchs of Persia (who called themselves "king of kings; "see Gesen. Jesa. 1:392; comp. Berfey, Pers. Keilinschr. p. 54, 57, 62) were various. Pasargada, with its royal tombs was most ancient. Persepolis rose not very far from it, and became a treasure-city. After the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom, Cyrus, while preserving a regard for the more ancient cities of the empire, seems to have thought Babylon a more suitable place for the metropolis of Asia; but as it might not be politic, if it were possible, to make a strange place the center of his kingdom, he founded a new city. Susa, where he was still on Persian ground, and yet not far distant from Babylon. There was also Ecbatana, the Median capital. These several royal abodes seem to have been occupied by the later monarchs, according to the season of the year.
Among the people there were minute distinctions of rank and formal salutations. When two persons of equal station met, they kissed on the lips; if one was of slightly lower rank, the kiss was on the cheek; and where the difference was great, the inferior prostrated himself on the ground. They drank wine in large quantities, and often under its influence formally deliberated on public affairs. Polygamy was freely practiced. No one was put to death for a first offense, but ferocity was often shown to captives or rebels. Darius himself says of Phraortes, "I cut off his nose and his ears. He was chained at my door; all the kingdom beheld him; afterwards I crucified him" (Inscription at Behistun, col. 3). The severity of masters towards slaves was wisely restrained (Herod. 1:133, etc.). The Persian youth were taught three things — ἱππεύειν, καὶ τοξεύειν, καὶ ἀληθίζεσθαι — "to ride, to shoot, and to speak truth" (Herod. 1:136). The Persians had made no small progress in the fine arts, especially in architecture, as the ruins of Persepolis testify. These stately and imposing ruins stand on a leveled platform, raised above several terraces — the ascent being by a stair, or double flight of steps the grandest in the world, and yet so gradual in its rise that the traveler may ride up on horseback. The stones are of dark gray marble, often exquisitely polished. Colossal bulls guarded the front of the portals, and the sculptures are not unlike those of Assyria. The space on the upper platform stretches north and south 350 feet, and east and west 380 feet, and is now covered with broken capitais, shafts, etc.; of beautiful workmanship. The pillars are arranged in four divisions — a central group six deep every way, an advanced body of twelve in two ranks, and the same number flanking the center (Sir R. K. Porter). The principal apartments are adorned with sculptures and bass-reliefs, such as the king on his throne and his courtiers around him, with processions of warriors, captives, and bearers of tribute. These sculptures, many of them of the period of Darius and Xerxes, verify the descriptions of Herodotus and Xenophon. The royal pleasure-gardens and hunting-grounds were named פִּרדֵּס, in Greek παράδεισος. The original term is an old Eastern one, and it is vain to seek for a Greek derivation. The kings were passionately fond of hunting, and, as exhibited on the rock sculptures, seem to have followed the pastime in a truly Easter manner. The soldiers were armed with bows and short spears, and protected with small helmets on their heads, and steel-scaled tunics on their bodies. In war they fought bravely, but without discipline, generally gaining their victories by the vigor of their first attack; if they were strenuously resisted, they soon flagged; and if they suffered a repulse, all order was at once lost, and the retreat speedily became a rout. The old Persian dress-tight and close-fitting-was superseded under Cyrus by the more flowing Median vestments; and on the Persepolitan monuments the Persians appear "in long robes, with their hair floating behind."
The Persians were a people of lively and impressible minds, brave and impetuous in war, witty, passionate, for Orientals truthful, not without some spirit of generosity, and of more intellectual capacity than the generality of Asiatics. Their faults were vanity, impulsiveness, a want of perseverance and solidity, and an almost slavish spirit of sycophancy and sevility towards their lords. In the times anterior to Cyrus they were noted for the simplicity of their habits, which offered a strong contrast to the luxuriousness of the Medes; but from the date of the Median overthrow this simplicity began to decline; and it was not very long before their manners became as soft and efeminate as those of any of the conquered peoples.
3. Language. — The spoken language of the ancient Persians was closely akin to the Sanscrit, or ancient language of India (see Schultz, Handbuch der Persischen Sprache, Elbing, 1863, 8vo). We find it in its earliest stage in the Zendavesta — the sacred book of the whole Aryan race, where, however, it is corrupted by a large admixture of later forms. The inscriptions of the Achaemenian kings give us the language in its second stage, and, being free from these later additions, are of the greatest importance towards determining what was primitive, and what more recent in this type of speech. The earliest form of the written characters was the cuneiform (q.v.). Modern Persian is a degenerate representative, being a motley idiom largely impregnated with Arabic; still, however, both in its grammar and its vocabulary, it is mainly Aryan; and, historically, it must be regarded as the continuation of the ancient tongue, just as Italian is of Latin, and modern of ancient Greek (see Adelung, Mithridat. 1:255 sq.; Frank. De Persidis Lingua et Genio [Norimb. 1809]; Wahl, Gesch. d. Morgenland. Sprache u. Literatur, p. 129 sq.; Lassen, in the Zeitschrift f die Kunde des Morgenlandes, VI, 3:488 sq.).
4. Religion. — The religion which the Persians brought with them into Persia Proper seems to have been of a very simple character, differing from natural religion in little, except that it was deeply tainted with dualism. Like the other Aryans, the Persians worshipped one Supreme God, whom they called Aura-mazda (Oromasdes) — a term signifying (as is believed) "the Great Giver of Life." From Oromasdes came all blessings — "he gave the earth, he gave the heavens, he gave mankind, he gave life to mankind" (Inscriptions, passin) — he settled the Persian kings upon their thrones, strengthened them, established them, and granted them victory over all their enemies. The royal inscriptions rarely mention any other god. Occasionally, however, they indicate a slight and modified polytheism. Oromasdes is "the chief of the gods," so that there are other gods besides him; and the highest of these is evidently Mithra (q.v.), who is sometimes invoked to protect the monarch, and is beyond a doubt identical with "the sun." To the worship of the sun as Mithra was probably attached, as in India, the worship of the moon, under the name of Homa, as the third greatest god. Entirely separate from these — their active resister and antagonist — was Ahriman (Arimanius), "the Death-dealing" — the powerful, and (probably) self-existing Evil Spirit, from whom war, disease, frost, hail, poverty, sin, death, and all other evils, had their origin. Ahriman was Satan, carried to an extreme — believed to have an existence of his own, and a real power of resisting and deifying God. Ahriman could create spirits, and as the beneficent Auramazda had surrounded himself with good angels, who were the ministers of his mercies towards mankind, so Ahriman had surrounded himself with evil spirits, to carry out his malevolent purposes. Worship was confined to Auramazda and his good spirits; Ahriman and his daemons were not worshipped. but only hated and feared. SEE ORMUZD.
The character of the original Persian worship was simple. They were not destitute of temples, as Herodotus asserts (Herod. 1:131; comp. Beh. Inscr. col. 1, par. 14, § 5); but they had probably few altars, and certainly no images. Neither do they appear to have had any priests. Processions were formed, and religious chants were sung in the temples, consisting of prayer and praise intermixed, whereby the favor of Auramazda and his good spirits was supposed to be secured to the worshippers. Beyond this it does not appear that they had any religious ceremonies. Sacrifices, apparently, were nusunal, though thank-offerings may have been made in the temples. SEE PARSEES.
From the first entrance of the Persians, as immigrants, into their new territory, they were probably brought into contact with a form of religion very different from their own Magianism, the religion of the Scythic or Turanian population of Western Asia, had long been dominant over the greater portion of the region lying between Mesopotamia and India. The essence of this religion was worship of the elements more especially of the subtlest of all, fire. It was an ancient and imposing system, guarded by the venerable hierarchy of the Magi, boasting its fire-altars where from time immemorial the sacred flame had burned without intermission, and claiming to some extent mysterions and miraculous powers. The simplicity of the Aryan religion was speedily corrupted by its contact with this powerful rival, which presented special attractions to a rude and credulous people. There was a short struggle for pre-eminence, after which the rival systems came to terms. Dualism was retained, together with the names of Auramazda and Ahriman, and the special worship of the sun and moon under the appellations of Mithra and Homa; but to this was superadded the worship of the elements and the whole ceremonial of Magianism, including the divination to which the Magian priesthood made pretense. The worship of other deities, as Tanata or Anaitis, was a still later addition to the religion, which grew more complicated as time went on, but which always maintained as its leading and most essential element that dualistic principle whereon it was originally based. SEE MAGI.
III. History. — In remote antiquity it would appear that the Persians dwelt in the region east of the Caspian, or possibly in a tract still nearer India. The first Fargard of the Vendidad seems to describe their wanderings in these countries, and shows the general line of their progress to have been from east to west, down the course of the Oxus, and then, along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, to Rhages and Media. It is impossible to determine the period of these movements; but there can be no doubt that they were anterior to B.C. 880 at which time the Assyrian kings seem for the first time to have come in contact with Aryan tribes east of Mount Zagros. Probably the Persians accompanied the Medes in their migration from Khorassan, and, after the latter people took possession of the tract extending from the river Kur to Ispahan, proceeded still farther south, and occupied the region between Media and the Persian Gulf. It is uncertain whether they are to be identified with the Bartsu or Partsu of the Assyrian monuments. If so, we may say that from the middle of the 9th to the middle of the 8th century B.C. they occupied South-eastern Armenia, but by the end of the 8th century had removed into the country which thenceforth went by their name. The leader of this last migration would seem to have been a certain Acheemenes. who was recognized as king of the newly occupied territory, and founded the famous dynasty of the Achaemenide-, about B.C. 700. Very little is known of the history of Persia between this date and the accession of Cyrus the Great, near a century and a half later. The crown appears to have descended in a right line through four princes-Teispes, Cambyses I, Cyrus I, and Carmbyses II, who was the father of Cyrus the Conqueror Telspes must have been a prince of some repute, for his daughter Atossa married Pharnaces, king of the distant Cappadocians (Diod. Sic. ap. Phot. Bibliothec. p. 1158). Later, however, the Persians found themselves unable to resist the growing strength of Media, and became tributary to that power about B.C. 630, or a little earlier. The line of native kings was continued on the throne, and the internal administration was probably untouched; but external independence was altogether lost until the revolt under Cyrus.
Of the circumstances under which this revolt took place we have no certain knowledge. The stories told by Herodotus (1:108-129) and Nicolas of Damascus (Fr. 66) are internally improbable; and they are also at variance with the monuments, which prove Cyrus to have been the son of a Persian king. SEE CYRUS. We must therefore discard them, and be content to know that after about seventy or eighty years of subjection, the Persians revolted from the Medes, engaged in a bloody struggle with them, and finally succeeded, not only in establishing their independence, but in changing places with their masters, and becoming the ruling people. The probable date of the revolt is B.C. 558. Its success, by transferring to Persia the dominion previously in the possession of the Medes, placed her at the head of an empire the bounds of which were the Halys upon the west, the Euxine upon the north, Babylonia upon the south, and upon the east the salt desert of Iran. As usual in the East, this success led on to others' Craesus, the Lydian monarch, who had united most of Asia Minor under his sway, venturing to attack the newly risen power, in the hope that it was not vet firmly established, was first repulsed, and afterwards defeated and made prisoner, by Cyrus, who took his capital, and added the Lydian empire to his dominions. This conquest was followed closely by the submission of the Greek settlements on the Asiatic coast, and by the reduction of Caria, Caunus, and Lycia. The empire was soon afterwards extended greatly towards the north-east and east. Cyrus rapidly overran the flat countries beyond the Caspian, planting a city. which he called after himself (Arrian, Exp. Alex. 4:3), on the Jaxartes (Jihfn); after which he seems to have pushed his conquests still farther to the east, adding to his dominions the districts of Herat, Cabul, Candahar, Seistan, and Beloochistan, which were thenceforth included in the empire (see Ctesias, Pers. Exc. § 5 et sq.; and comp. Pliny, H. N. 6:23). In B.C. 539 or 538 Babylon was attacked, and after a stout defense fell before his irresistible bands. SEE BABYLON. This victory first brought the Persians into contact with the Jews. The conquerors found in Babylon an oppressed racelike themselves abhorrers of idols — and professors of a religion in which to a great extent they could sympathize. This race, which the Babylonian monarchs had torn violently from their native land and settled in the vicinity of Babylon, Cyrus determined to restore to their own country; which he did by the remarkable edict recorded in the first chapter of Ezra (Ezr 1:2-4). Thus commenced that friendly connection between the Jews and Persians which prophecy had already foreshadowed (Isa 44:28; Isa 45:1-4), and which forms so remarkable a feature in the Jewish history. After the conquest of Babylon, and the consequent extension of his empire to the borders of Egypt, Cyrus might have been expected to carry out the design which he is said to have entertained (Herod. 1:153) of an expedition against Egypt. Some danger, however, seems to have threatened the north-eastern provinces, in consequence of which his purpose was changed; and he proceeded against the Massagetse or the Derbices, engaged them, but was defeated and slain. He reigned, according to Herodotus, twenty-nine years.
Under his son and successor, Cambyses III, the conquest of Egypt took place (B.C. 525), and the Persian dominions were extended southward to Elephantinb and westward to Euesperidse on the North-African coast. This prince appears to be the Ahasuerus of Ezra (4:6), who was asked to alter Cyrusn's policy towards the Jews, but (apparently) declined all interference. We have in Herodotus (bk. 3) a very complete account of his \warlike expeditions, which at first resulted in the successes above mentioned, but were afterwards unsuccessful, and even disastrous. One army perished in an attempt to reach the temple of Ammon, while another was reduced to the last straits in an expedition against Ethiopia. Perhaps it was in consequence of these misfortunes that, in the absence of Cambyses with the army, a conspiracy was formed against him at court, and a Magian priest, Gomates (Gaumata) by name, professing to be Smerdis (Bardiya), the son of Cyrus, whom his brother Cambyses had put to death secretly, obtained quiet possession of the throne. Cambyses was in Syria when news reached him of this bold attempt; and there is reason to believe that, seized with a sudden disgust, and despairing of the recovery of his crown. he fled to the last resort of the unfortunate, and ended his life by suicide (Behistun Inscription, col. 1, par. 11, § 10). His reign had lasted seven years and five months.
Gomates the Magian found himself thus, without a struggle, master of Persia (B.C. 522). His situation, however, was one of great danger and delicacy. There is reason to believe that he owed his elevation to his fellow-religionists, whose object in placing him upon the throne was to secure the triumph of Magianism over the dualism of the Persians. It was necessary for him therefore to accomplish a religious revolution, which was sure to be distasteful to the Persians, while at the same time he had to keep up the deception on which his claim to the crown was professedly based, and to prevent any suspicion arising that he was not Smerdis, the son of Cyrus. To combine these two aims was difficult; and it would seem that Gomates soon discarded the latter, and entered on a course which must have soon caused his subjects to feel that their ruler was not only no Achaemenian, but no Persian. He destroyed the national temples, substituting for them the fire-altars and abolished the religious chants and other sacred ceremonies of the Oromasdians. He reversed the policy of Cyrus with respect to the Jews, and forbade by an edict the farther building of the Temple (Ezr 4:17-22). SEE ATAXERXES. He courted the favor of the subject nations generally by a remission of tribute for three years, and an exemption during the same space from forced military service (Herod. 3:67). Towards the Persians he was haughty and distant, keeping them as much as possible aloof from his person, and seldom showing himself beyond the walls of his palace. Such conduct made him very unpopular with the proud people which held the first place among his subjects, and the suspicion that he was a mere pretender having after some months ripened into certainty, a revolt broke out, headed by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, a prince of the blood-royal, which in a short time was crowned with complete success. Gomates quitted his capital, and, having thrown himself into a fort in Media, was pursued, attacked, and slain. Darius then, as the chief of the conspiracy, and after his father the next heir to the throne, was at once acknowledged king. The reign of Gomates lasted seven months.
The first efforts of Darius were directed to the re-establishment of the Oromasdian religion in all its purity. He "rebuilt the temples which Gomates the Magian had destroyed, and restored to the people the religious chants and the worship of which Gomates the Magian had deprived them" (Beh. Inscr. col. 1, par. 14). Appealed to in his second year by the Jews, Who wished to resume the construction of their Temple, he not only allowed them, confirming the decree of Cyrus, but assisted the work by grants from his own revenues, whereby the Jews were able to complete the Temple as early as his sixth year (Ezr 6:1-15). During the first part of the reign of Darius the tranquillity of the empire was disturbed by numerous revolts. The provinces regretted the loss of those exemptions which they had obtained from the weakness of the Pseudo-Smerdis, and hoped to shake off the yoke of the new prince before he could grasp firmly the reins of government. The first revolt was that of Babylon, where a native, claiming to be Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabonadius, was made king; but Darius speedily crushed this revolt and executed the pretender. Shortly afterwards a far more extensive rebellion broke out. A Mede, named Phraortes, came forward, and; announcing himself to be "Xathrites, of the race of Cyaxares," assumed the royal title. Media, Armenia, and Assyria immediately acknowledged him — the Median soldiers at the Persian court revolted to him — Parthia and Hyrcania after a little while declared in his favor — while in Sagartia another pretender, making a similar claim of descent from Cyaxares, induced the Sagartians to revolt; and in Margiana, Arachotia, and even Persia Proper, there were insurrections against the authority of the new king. His courage and activity, however, seconded by the valor of his Persian troops and the fidelity of some satraps, carried him successfully through these and other similar difficulties; and the result was that, after five or six years of struggle, he became as firmly seated on his throne as any previous monarch. His talents as an administrator were upon this brought into play. He divided the whole empire into satrapies, and organized that somewhat complicated system of government on which they were henceforth administered (Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2:555-568). He built himself a magnificent palace at Persepolis, and another at Susa. SEE PERSEPOLIS; SEE SHUSHAN. He also applied himself, like his predecessors, to the extension of the empire; conducted an expedition into European Scythia, from which he returned without disgrace; conquered Thrace, Pneonia, and Macedonia towards the west, and a large portion of India on the east, besides (apparently) bringing into subjection a number of petty nations (see the Naksh-i-Rustam Inscription). On the whole he must be pronounced, next to Cyrus, the greatest of the Persian monarchs. The latter part of his reign was, however, clouded by reverses. The disaster of Mardonius at Mount Athos was followed shortly by the defeat of Datis at Marathon; and, before any attempt could be made to avenge the blow, Egypt rose in revolt (B.C. 486), massacred its Persian garrison, and declared itself independent. In the palace at the same time there was dissension; and when, after a reign of thirty-six years, the fourth Persian monarch died (B.C. 485), leaving his throne to a young prince of strong and ungoverned passions, it was evident that the empire had reached its highest point of greatness, and was already verging towards its decline.
Xerxes, the eldest son of Darius by Atossa, daughter of Cyrus, and the first son born to Darius after he mounted the throne, seems to have obtained the crown in part by the favor of his father, over whom Atossa exercised a strong influence, in part by right, as the eldest male descendant of Cyrus, the founder of the empire. His first act was to reduce Egypt to subjection (B.C. 484), after which he began at once to make preparations for his invasion of Greece. It is probable that he was the Ahasuerus of Esther. SEE AHASUERUS. The great feast held in Shushan, the palace, in the third year of his reign, and the repudiation of Vashti, fall into the period preceding the Grecian expedition, while it is probable that he kept open house for the "princes of the provinces, of who would from time to time visit the court, in order to report the state of their preparations for the war. The marriage with Esther, in the seventh year of his reign, falls into the year immediately following his flight from Greece, when he undoubtedly returned to Susa, relinquishing warlike enterprises, and henceforth devoting himself to the pleasures of the seraglio. It is unnecessary to give an account of the well-known expedition against Greece, which ended so disastrously for the invaders. Persia was taught by the defeats of Salamis and Platsea the danger of encountering the Greeks on their side of the AEgean, while she learned at Mycale the retaliation which she had to expect on her own shores at the hands of her infuriated enemies. For a while some vague idea of another invasion seems to have been entertained by the court; but discreeter counsels prevailed, and, relinquishing all aggressive designs, Persia, from this point in her history, stood upon the defensive, and only sought to maintain her own territories intact, without anywhere trenching upon her neighbors. During the rest of the reign of Xerxes, and during part of that of his son and successor, Artaxerxes, she continued at war with the Greeks, who destroyed her fleets, plundered her coasts and stirred up revolt in her provinces; but at last, in B.C. 449, a peace was concluded between the two powers, who then continued on terms of amity for half a century.
A conspiracy in the seraglio having carried off Xerxes (B.C. 465), Artaxerxes his son, called by the Greeks Μακρόχειρ, or "the Long- Handed," succeeded him, after an interval of seven months, during which the conspirator Artabanus occupied the throne. This Artaxerxes, who reigned forty years, is beyond a doubt the king of that name who stood in such a friendly relation towards Ezra (Ezr 7:11-28) and Nehemiah (Ne 2:1-9, etc.). SEE ARTAXERXES. His character, as drawn by Ctesias, is mild but weak; and under his rule the disorders of the empire seem to have increased rapidly. An insurrection in Bactria, headed by his brother Hystaspes, was with difficulty put down in the first year of his reign (B.C. 464), after which a revolt broke out in Egypt, headed by Inarus the Libyan and Amyrtaeus the Egyptian, who, receiving the support of an Athenian fleet, maintained themselves for six years (B.C. 460-455) against the whole power of Persia, but were at last overcome by Megabyzus, satrap of Syria. This powerful and haughty noble soon afterwards (B.C. 447), on occasion of a difference with the court, himself became a rebel, and entered into a contest with his sovereign, which at once betrayed and increased the weakness of the empire. Artaxerxes is the last of the Persian kings who had any special connection with the Jews, and the last but one mentioned in Scripture. His successors were Xerxes II, Sogdianus, Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Mnemon, Artaxerxes Ochus, and Darius Codomannus. These monarchs reigned from B.C. 424 to B.C. 330. None were of much capacity; and during their reigns the decline of the empire was scarcely arrested for a day, unless it were by Ochus, who reconquered Egypt, and gave some other signs of vigor. Had the younger Cyrus succeeded in his attempt, the regeneration of Persia was perhaps possible. After his failure the seraglio grew at once more powerful and more cruel. Eunuchs and women governed the kings, and dispensed the favors of the crown, or wielded its terrors, as their interests or passions moved them. Patriotism and loyalty were alike dead, and the empire must have fallen many years before it did had not the Persians early learned to turn the swords of the Greeks against one another, and at the same time raised the character of their own armies by the employment on a large scale of Greek mercenaries. The collapse of the empire under the attack of Alexander is well known, and requires no description here. On the division of Alexander's dominions among his generals, Persia fell to the Seleucidae, under whom it continued till after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the conquering Parthians advanced their frontier to the Euphrates, and the Persians came to be included among their subject tribes (B.C. 164). Still their nationality was not obliterated. In A.D. 226, three hundred and ninety years after their subjection to the Parthians, and five hundred and fifty-six years after the loss of their independence, the Persians shook off the yoke of their oppressors, and once more became a nation.
The Sassanian kings raised Persia to a height of power and prosperity such as it never before attained, and more than once emperilled the existence of the Eastern empire. The last king was driven from the throne by the Arabs (A.D. 636), who now began to extend their dominion in all directions; and from this. period may be dated the gradual change of character in the native Persian race, for they have been from this time constantly subject to the domination of alien races. During the reigns of Omar (the first of the Arab rulers of Persia), Othman, All, and the Ommiades (634-750), Persia was regarded as an outlying province of the empire, and was ruled by deputy governors; but after the accession of the Abbaside dynasty (A.D. 750), Bagdad became the capital, and Khorassan the favorite province of the early and more energetic rulers of this race, and Persia consequently came to be considered as the center and nucleus of the caliphate. But the rule of the caliphs soon became merely nominal, and ambitious governors, or other aspiring individuals, established independent principalities in various parts of the country. Many of these dynasties were transitory, others lasted for centuries, and created extensive and powerful empires. The chief were the Taherites (820-872), a Turkish dynasty, in Khorassan; the Soffarides (Persian, 869-903), in Seistan, Fars, Irak, and Mazanderan; the Samani, in Transoxiana, Khorassan, and Seistan; the Dilemi (Persian, 933-1056), in Western Persia; and the Ghiznevides, in Eastern Persia. These dynasties supplanted each other, and were finally rooted out by the Seljuks, whose dominion extended from the Hellespont to Afghanistan. A branch of this dynasty, which ruled in Khorezm (now Khiva), gradually acquired the greater part of Persia, driving out the Ghiznevides and their successors, the Ghurides; but they, along with the numerous petty dynasties which had established themselves in the south-western provinces, were all swept away by the Mongols (q.v.) under Genghis-Khan and his grandson Hulaku-Khan, the latter of whom founded a new dynasty, the Perso-Mongol (1253-1335). This race, becoming effeminate, was supplanted by the Eylkhanians in 1335, but an irruption of the Tartars of Turkestan under Timur again freed Persia from the petty dynasties which misruled it. After the death of Timur's son and successor, shall Rokh, the Turkomans took possession of the western part of the country, which, however, they rather preyed upon than governed; while the eastern portion was divided and subdivided among Timir's descendants, till, at the close of the 15th century, they were swept away by the Uzbeksi who joined the whole of Eastern Persia to their newly founded khanate of Khiva. A new dynasty now arose (1500) in Western Persia, the first prince of which (Ismail, the descendant of a long line of devotees and saints, the objects of the highest reverence throughout Western Persia), having become the leader of a number of Turkish tribes who were attached by strong ties of gratitude to his family, overthrew the power of the Turkomans, and seized Azerbijan, which was the seat of their power. Ismail rapidly subdued the western provinces, and in 1511 took Khorassan and Balkh from the Usbeks; but in 1514 he had to encounter a much more formidable enemy — to wit, the mighty Selim (q.v.), the sultan of Turkey, whose zeal for conquest was further inflamed by religious animosity against the Shiites, or "Sectaries," as the followers of Ismail were termed. The Persians were totally defeated in a battle on the frontiers; but Selim reaped no benefit from his victory, and, after his retreat, Ismail attacked and subdued Georgia. The Persians dwell with rapture on the character of this monarch, whom they deem not only to be the restorer of Persia to a prosperous condition, and the founder of a great dynasty, but the establisher of the faith in which they glory as the national religion. His son Tamasp (1523- 1576), a prudent and spirited ruler, repeatedly drove out the predatory Uzbeks from Khorassan, sustained without loss a war with the Turks, and assisted Homayun, the son of Baber, to regain the throne of Delhi. After a considerable period of internal revolution, during which the Turks and Uzbeks attacked the empire without hinderance, shall Abbas I the Great (1585-1628) ascended the throne, restored internal tranquillity, and repelled the invasions of the Uzbeks and Turks. In 1605 he inflicted on the Turks such a terrible defeat as kept them quiet during the rest of his reign, and enabled him to recover the whole of Kurdistan, Mosul, and Diarbekir, which had for a long time been separated from Persia; and, in the east, Candahar was taken from the Great Mogul. Abbas's government was strict, but just and equitable; roads, bridges, caravansaries, and other conveniences for trade were constructed at immense expense, and the improvement and ornamentation of the towns were not neglected. Ispahan more than doubled its population during his reign. His tolerance was remarkable, considering both the opinions of his ancestors and subjects; for he encouraged the Armenian Christians to settle in the country, well knowing that their peaceable and industrious habits would help to advance the prosperity of his kingdom. His successors, shall Sufi (1628-1641), shall Abbas II (1641-1666), and shall Soliman (1666-1694), were undistinguished by any remarkable talents, but the former two were sensible and judicious rulers, and advanced the prosperity of their subjects. During the reign of sultan Hussein (1694-1722), a weak and bigoted fool, priests and slaves were elevated to the most important and responsible offices of the empire, and all who rejected the tenets of the Shiites were persecuted. The consequence was a general discontent, of which the Afghans took advantage by declaring their independence, and seizing Candahar (1709). Their able leader, Mir Vais, died in 1715; but his successors were worthy of him, and one of them, Mahmud, invaded Persia (1722), defeated Hussein's armies, and besieged the king in Ispahan, till the inhabitants were reduced to the extremity of distress. Hussein then abdicated the throne in favor of his conqueror, who, on his accession, immediately devoted his energies to alleviate the distresses and gain the confidence of his new subjects, in both of which objects he thoroughly succeeded. Becoming insane, he was deposed in 1725 by his brother Ashraf (1725-1729); but the atrocious tyranny of the latter was speedily put an end to by the celebrated Nadir Shah, who first raised Tamasp (1729 1732) and his son Abbas II (1732-1736), of the Suffavean race, to the throne, and then, on some frivolous pretext, deposed him, and seized the scepter (1736-1747). But on his death: anarchy again returned; the country was horribly devastated by the rival claimants to the throne; Afghanistan and Beloochistan finally separated from Persia, and the country was split up into a number of small independent states until 1755, when a Kurd, named Kerim Khan (17551779), abolished this state of affairs, re- established peace and unity in Western Persia, and by his wisdom, justice, and warlike talents acquired the esteem of his subjects and the respect of neighboring states. After the usual contests for the succession, accompanied with the usual barbarities and devastations, Kerim was succeeded in 1784 by Ali-Murad, Jaafar, and Luft-Ali, during whose reigns Mazanderan became independent under Aga-Mohammed, a Turkoman eunuch of the Kajar race, who repeatedly defeated the royal armies, and ended by depriving Luft-Ali of his crown (1795). The great eunuch-king (as he is frequently called), who founded the present dynasty, on his accession announced his intention of restoring the kingdom as it had been established by Kerim Khan, and accordingly invaded Khorassan and Georgia, subduing the former country almost without effort. The Georgians besought the aid of Russia; but the Persian monarch, with terrible promptitude, poured his army like a torrent into the country, and devastated it with fire and sword; his conquest was, however, hardly completed, when he was assassinated, May 14, 1797. His nephew, Futteh- Ali (1797-1834), after numerous conflicts, fully established his authority, and completely subdued the rebellious tribes in Khorassan. but the great commotions in Western Europe produced for him bitter fruits. He was dragged into a war with Russia soon after his accession, and, by a treaty concluded in 1791, surrendered to that power Derbend and several districts on the Kur. In 1802 Georgia was declared to be .a Russian province. War with Russia was recommenced by Persia, at the instigation of France; and, after two years of conflicts disastrous to the Persians, the treaty of Gulistan (Oct. 12, 1813) gave to Russia all the Persian possessions to the north of Armenia, and the right of navigation in the Caspian Sea. In 1826 a third war, equally unfortunate for Persia, was commenced with the same power, and cost Persia the remainder of its possessions in Armenia, with Erivan, and a sum of 18,000,000 rubles for the expenses of the war. The severity exercised in procuring this sum by taxation so exasperated the people that they rose in insurrection (Oct. 12, 1829), and murdered the Russian ambassador, his wife, and almost all who belonged to or were connected with the Russian legation. The most humiliating concessions to Russia, and the punishment by mutilation of 1500 of the rioters, alone averted war. The death of the crown prince, Abbas-Mirza, in 1833, seemed to give the final blow to the declining fortunes of Persia, for he was the only man who seriously attempted to raise his country from the state of abasement into which it had fallen. By the assistance of Russia and Britain, Mohammed Shah (1834-1848), the son of Abbas-Mirza, obtained the crown, but the rebellions of his uncles, and the rivalry of Russia and Britain (the former being generally successful) at the Persian court, hastened the demoralization of the country. Mohammed was compelled to grant (1846) to Russia the privilege of building ships of war at Resht and Astrabad, and to agree to surrender all Russian deserters, and Persia became thus more and more dependent on its powerful neighbor. Nazir-uddin succeeded to the throne on his father's death in 1848; and the new government announced energetic reforms, reduction of imposts, etc., but limited itself to these fine promises, and on the contrary, augmented the taxes, suffered the roads, bridges, and other public works to go to ruin, squandered the public money, and summarily disposed of all who protested against their acts. In October, 1856, the Persians took Herat, a town for the permanent possession of which they had striven for a long series of years; and having thus violated the terms of a treaty with Britain, war was declared against them, and a British army was landed on the coast of the gulf, which, under generals Outram and Havelock, repeatedly defeated the Persians, and compelled them to restore Herat (July, 1857). Since that time treaties of commerce have been concluded with the leading European powers; and Russia, Great Britain, Turkey, France, and Italy have consuls in the chief towns, and, with the exception of Italy, are represented by ministers at the court of Teheran.
IV. Literature. — The sources of information regarding the ancient Persian history are:
1. The Jewish, to be elicited chiefly from the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, of which something has been said.
2. Grecian writers. Of these, Ctesias availed himself of the Persian annals, but we have only extracts from his work in Photins. Herodotus appears also to have consulted the native sources of Persian history. Xenophon presents us with the fullest materials, namely, in his Anabasis, his "Hellenica, and especially in his Cyropaedia, which is an imaginary picture of a perfect prince, according to Oriental' conceptions, drawn in the person of Cyrus the elder. Some of the points in which the classical authorities disagree may be found set forth in Eichhorn, Gesch. der A. Welt, 1:82, 83. A representation of the Persian history, according to Oriental authorities, may be found in the Hallische Allgemeine Welfgeschichte, pt. 4. (See also Becker, Weltgeschichte, 1:638 sq.) A very diligent compilation is that of Brissonilus, De Regno Persarum, 1591. Consult especially Heeren, Ideen, 1:1; his Handbuch der G. d. S. Alterth. 1:102; and H. Brochner, Um det jodiske Folks Tilstand i den Persiske Periode (Copenhagen, 1845). A full and valuable list of the older authorities in Persian affairs may be seen in the Bibliotheca Historica of Meusellius, vol. i, pt. ii, p. 28 sq. See also Malcolm, History of Persia from the Earliest Ages to the Present Times (Lond. 1816, 2 vols. 4to); and Sir H. Rawlinson's "Memoir on the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Ancient Persia," published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, vol. 10 and 11: Polak, Persien, dus Land und seine Bewohner (Leips. 1865 sq., 2 vols. 8vo); Friedlainder, De veteribus Persarumr regibus (Hal. 1862, 8vo); Hutchinson, Two Years in Persia (Lond. 1874, 2 vols.); Markham, History of Persia (ibid. 1874). The most complete as well as recent survey of ancient Persia is given in Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies, vol. iii (new edition, Lond. 1871). SEE ELAM; SEE MEDIA.