The Second Monarchy, Being The Persian, Began Under Cyrus, Darius Being His Uncle And Father In-Law Reigned With Him About Two Years
By William Butler Yeats
Cyrus Cambyses Son of Persia King,
Whom Lady Mandana did to him bring,
She daughter unto great Astiages,
He in descent the seventh from Arbaces.
Cambyses was of Achemenes race,
Who had in Persia the Lieftenants place
When Sardanapalus was overthrown,
And from that time had held it as his own.
Cyrus, Darius Daughter took to wife,
And so unites two Kingdomes without strife.
Darius unto Mandana was brother,
Adopts her son for his, having no other.
This is of Cyrus the true pedegree,
Whose Ancestors were royal in degree:
His Mothers dream, and Grand-Sires cruelty,
His preservation, in his misery,
His nourishment afforded by a Bitch,
Are fit for such, whose ears for Fables itch.
He in his younger dayes an Army led,
Against great Cressus then of Lidia head;
Who over-curious of wars event,
For information to Apollo went:
And the ambiguous Oracle did trust,
So overthrown by Cyrus, as was just;
Who him prasues to Sardis, takes the Town,
Where all that dare resist are slaughter’d down;
Disguised Cressus hop’d to scape i’th’ throng,
Who had no might to save himself from wrong;
But as he past, his Son who was born dumb,
With pressing grief and sorrow overcome:
Among the tumult, bloud-shed, and the strife,
Brake his long silence, cry’d, spare Cressus life:
Cressus thus known, it was great Cyrus doom,
(A hard decree) to ashes he consume;
Then on a wood pile set, where all might eye,
He Solon, Solon, Solon, thrice did cry.
The Reason of those words Cyrus demands,
Who Solon was? to whom he lifts his hands;
Then to the King he makes this true report,
That Solon sometimes at his stately Court,
His Treasures, pleasures, pomp and power did see,
And viewing all, at all nought mov’d was he:
That Cressus angry, urg’d him to express,
If ever King equal’d his happiness.
(Quoth he) that man for happy we commend,
Whose happy life attains an happy end.
Cyrus with pitty mov’d, knowing Kings stand,
Now up and down, as fortune turns her hand,
Weighing the Age, and greatness of the Prince,
(His Mothers Uncle) stories do evince:
Gave him his life, and took him for a friend,
Did to him still his chief designs commend.
Next war the restless Cyrus thought upon,
Was conquest of the stately Babilon,
Now treble wall’d, and moated so about,
That all the world they need not fear nor doubt;
To drain this ditch, he many Sluces cut,
But till convenient time their heads kept shut;
That night Belshazzar feasted all his rout,
He cut those banks, and let the River out,
And to the walls securely marches on,
Not finding a defendant thereupon;
Enters the Town, the sottish King he slayes,
Upon Earths richest spoyles his Souldiers preys;
Here twenty years provision good he found,
Forty five miles this City scarce could round;
This head of Kingdomes Chaldees excellence,
For Owles and Satyres made a residence;
Yet wondrous monuments this stately Queen,
A thousand years had after to be seen.
Cyrus doth now the Jewish Captives free,
An Edict made, the Temple builded be,
He with his Uncle Daniel sets on high,
And caus’d his foes in Lions Den to dye.
Long after this he ‘gainst the Scythians goes,
And Tomris Son and Army overthrows;
Which to revenge she hires a mighty power,
And sets on Cyrus, in a fatal hour;
There routs his Host, himself she prisoner takes,
And at one blow (worlds head) she headless makes
The which she bath’d, within a But of bloud,
Using such taunting words, as she thought good.
But Xenophon reports he di’d in’s bed,
In honour, peace, and wealth, with a grey head;
And in his Town of Passagardes lyes,
Where some long after sought in vain for prize,
But in his Tombe, was only to be found
Two Scythian boys, a Sword and Target round:
And Alexander coming to the same,
With honours great, did celebrate his fame.
Three daughters and two Sons he left behind,
Innobled more by birth, then by their mind;
Thirty two years in all this Prince did reign,
But eight whilst Babylon, he did retain:
And though his conquests made the earth to groan,
Now quiet lyes under one marble stone.
And with an Epitaph, himself did make,
To shew how little Land he then should take.
Cambyses no wayes like his noble Sire,
Yet to inlarge his State had some desire,
His reign with bloud and Incest first begins,
Then sends to find a Law, for these his sins;
That Kings with Sisters match, no Law they find,
But that the Persian King may act his mind:
He wages war the fifth year of his reign,
‘Gainst Egypts King, who there by him was slain.
And all of Royal Blood, that came to hand,
He seized first of Life, and then of Land,
(But little Narus scap’d that cruel fate,
Who grown a man, resum’d again his State.)
He next to Cyprus sends his bloudy Host,
Who landing soon upon that fruitful Coast,
Made Evelthon their King with bended knee,
To hold his own, of his free Courtesie.
Their Temple he destroys, not for his Zeal,
For he would be profest, God of their weal;
Yea, in his pride, he ventured so farre,
To spoyle the Temple of great Jupiter:
But as they marched o’re those desert sands,
The stormed dust o’rewhelm’d his daring bands;
But scorning thus, by Jove to be outbrav’d,
A second Army he had almost grav’d,
But vain he found to fight with Elements,
So left his sacrilegious bold intents.
The Egyptian Apis then he likewise slew,
Laughing to scorn, that sottish Calvish Crew:
If all this heat had been for pious end,
Cambyses to the Clouds we might commend.
But he that ‘fore the Gods himself prefers,
Is more profane then gross Idolaters;
He after this, upon suspition vain,
Unjustly caus’d his brother to be slain.
Praxaspes into Persia then is sent,
To act in secret, this his lewd intent:
His Sister (whom Incestuously he wed,)
Hearing her harmless brother thus was dead.
His wofull death with tears did so bemoan,
That by her husbands charge, she caught her own,
She with her fruit at once were both undone
Who would have born a Nephew and a son.
Oh hellesh husband, brother, uncle, Sire,
Thy cruelty all ages will admire.
This strange severity he sometimes us’d
Upon a Judge, for taking bribes accus’d,
Flay’d him alive, hung up his stuffed skin
Over his seat, then plac’d his son therein,
To whom he gave this in remembrance,
Like fault must look for the like recompence.
His cruelty was come unto that height,
He spar’d nor foe, nor friend, nor favourite.
‘Twould be no pleasure, but a tedious thing
To tell the facts of this most bloody King,
Feared of all, but lov’d of few or none,
All wisht his short reign past before ’twas done.
At last two of his Officers he hears
Had set one Smerdis up, of the same years,
And like in feature to his brother dead,
Ruling, as they thought best under this head.
The people ignorant of what was done,
Obedience yielded as to Cyrus son.
Toucht with this news to Persia he makes,
But in the way his sword just vengeance takes,
Unsheathes, as he his horse mounted on high,
And with a mortal thrust wounds him ith’ thigh,
Which ends before begun his home-bred warr:
So yields to death, that dreadfull Conquerour.
Grief for his brothers death he did express,
And more, because he died Issueless.
The male line of great Cyrus now had end,
The Female to many Ages did extend.
A Babylon in Egypt did he make,
And Meroe built for his fair Sisters sake.
Eight years he reign’d, a short, yet too long time
Cut off in’s wickedness in’s strength and prime.
The inter regnum between Cambyses And Darius Histaspes.
Childless Cambyses on the sudden dead,
(The Princes meet, to chuse one in his stead,
Of which the chief was seven, call’d Satrapes,
Who like to Kings, rul’d Kingdomes as they please,
Descended all of Achemenes bloud,
And Kinsmen in account to th’King they stood.
And first these noble Magi ‘gree upon,
To thrust th’ imposter Smerdis out of Throne:
Then Forces instantly they raise, and rout
This King with his Conspirators so stout,
But yet ‘fore this was done much bloud was shed,
And two of these great Peers in Field lay dead.
Some write that sorely hurt they scap’d away,
But so, or no, sure ’tis they won the day.
All things in peace, and Rebels throughly quell’d,
A Consultation by those States was held,
What form of government now to erect
The old, or new, which best, in what respect
The greater part declin’d a Monarchy
So late crusht by their Princes tyranny,
And thought the people would more happy be
If govern’d by an Aristocracy:
But others thought (none of the dullest brain)
That better one then many tyrants reign.
What Arguments they us’d, I know not well,
Too politick, its like, for me to tell,
But in conclusion they all agree,
Out of the seven a Monarch chosen be.
All envy to avoid, this was thought on
Upon a green to meet by rising sun,
And he whose horse before the rest should neigh,
Of all the Peers should have precedency.
They all attend on the appointed hour,
Praying to fortune for a kingly power.
Then mounting on their snorting coursers proud,
Darius lusty Stallion neigh’d full loud.
The Nobles all alight, bow to their King,
And joyfull acclamations shrill they ring.
A thousand times, long live the King they cry,
Let Tyranny with dead Cambyses dye:
Then all attend him to his royall room:
Thanks for all this to’s crafty stable-groom.
Darius by election made a King,
His title to make strong, omits no thing:
He two of Cyrus daughters then doth wed,
Two of his Neeces takes to Nuptial bed,
By which he cuts their hopes for future time,
That by such steps to Kingdomes often clime.
And now a King by mariage choice and blood:
Three strings to’s bow, the least of which is good;
Yet firmly more, the peoples hearts to bind.
Made wholsome, gentle laws which pleas’d each mind.
His courtesie and affability.
Much gain’d the hearts of his nobility.
Yet notwithstanding all he did so well,
The Babylonians ‘gainst their prince rebell.
An host he rais’d the city to reduce;
But men against those walls were of no use.
Then brave Zopirus for his masters good,
His manly face disfigures, spares no blood:
With his own hands cutts off his ears and nose,
And with a faithfull fraud to th’ town he goes,
Tells them how harshly the proud king had dealt,
That for their sakes his cruelty he felt,
Desiring of the Prince to raise the siege,
This violence was done him by his Liege.
This told, for entrance he stood not long;
For they believ’d his nose more then his tongue.
With all the city’s strength they him betrust,
If he command, obey the greatest must.
When opportunity he saw was fit
Delivers up the town, and all in it.
To loose a nose, to win a town’s no shame,
But who dares venture such a stake for th’ game.
Then thy disgrace, thine honour’s manifold,
Who doth deserve a statue made of gold.
Nor can Darius in his Monarchy,
Scarce find enough to thank thy loyalty:
Yet o’re thy glory we must cast this vail,
Thy craft more then thy valour did prevail.
Darius in the second of his reign
An Edict for the Jews publish’d again:
The Temple to rebuild, for that did rest
Since Cyrus time, Cambises did molest.
He like a King now grants a Charter large,
Out of his own revennues bears the charge,
Gives Sacrifices, wheat, wine, oyle and salt,
Threats punishment to him that through default
Shall let the work or keep back any thing
Of what is freely granted by the King:
And on all Kings he poures out Execrations
That shall once dare to rase those firm foundations
They thus backt by the King, in spight of foes
Built on and prosper’d till their house they close,
And in the sixth year of his friendly reign,
Set up a Temple (though a less) again:
Darius on the Scythians made a war,
Entring that larg and barren Country far:
A Bridge he made, which serv’d for boat & barge
O’re Ister fair, with labour and with charge.
But in that desert ‘mongst his barbarous foes
Sharp wants, not swords, his valour did oppose,
His Army fought with hunger and with cold,
Which to assail his royal Camp was bold.
By these alone his host was pincht so sore,
He warr’d defensive, not offensive more.
The Salvages did laugh at his distress,
Their minds by Hiroglyphicks they express,
A Frog a Mouse, a bird, an arrow sent,
The King will needs interpret their intent,
Possession of water, earth and air,
But wise Gobrias reads not half so fair:
(Quoth he) like frogs in water we must dive,
Or like to mice under the earth must live,
Or fly like birds in unknown wayes full quick,
Or Scythian arrows in our sides must stick.
The King seeing his men and victuals spent,
This fruitless war began late to repent,
Return’d with little honour, and less gain.
His enemies scarce seen, then much less slain.
He after this intends Greece to invade,
But troubles in Less Asia him staid,
Which husht, he straight so orders his affairs,
For Attaca an army he prepares;
But as before, so now with ill success
Return’d with wondrous loss, and honourless.
Athens perceiving now their desperate state
Arm’d all they could, which eleven thousand made
By brave Miltiades their chief being led:
Darius multitudes before them fled.
At Marathon this bloudy field was fought,
Where Grecians prov’d themselves right souldiers stout
The Persians to their gallies post with speed
Where an Athenian shew’d a valiant deed,
Pursues his flying foes then on the sand,
He stayes a lauching gally with his hand,
Which soon cut off, inrag’d, he with his left,
Renews his hold, and when of that bereft,
His whetted teeth he claps in the firm wood,
Off flyes his head, down showres his frolick bloud,
Go Persians, carry home that angry piece,
As the best Trophe which ye won in Greece,
Darius light, yet heavy home returns,
And for revenge, his heart still restless burnes,
His Queen Atossa Author of this stirr,
For Grecian maids (’tis said) to wait on her.
She lost her aim, her Husband he lost more,
His men his coyne, his honour, and his store;
And the ensuing year ended his Life,
(Tis thought) through grief of this successless strife
Thirty six years this noble Prince did reign,
Then to his second Son did all remain.
Xerxes. Darius, and Atossa’s Son,
Grand child to Cyrus, now sits on the Throne:
(His eldest brother put beside the place,
Because this was, first born of Cyrus race.)
His Father not so full of lenity,
As was his Son of pride and cruelty;
He with his Crown receives a double war,
The Egyptians to reduce, and Greece to marr,
The first begun, and finish’d in such haste,
None write by whom, nor how, ’twas over past.
But for the last, he made such preparation,
As if to dust, he meant, to grinde that nation;
Yet all his men, and Instruments of slaughter,
Produced but derision and laughter,
Sage Artabanus Counsel had he taken,
And’s Couzen young Mardonius forsaken,
His Souldiers credit, wealth at home had staid,
And Greece such wondrous triumphs ne’r had made.
The first dehorts and layes before his eyes
His Fathers ill success, in’s enterprize,
Against the Scythians and Grecians too,
What Infamy to’s honour did accrew.
Flatt’ring Mardonius on the other side,
With conquest of all Europe, feeds his pride:
Vain Xerxes thinks his counsel hath most wit,
That his ambitious humour best can fit;
And by this choice unwarily posts on,
To present loss, future subversion.
Although he hasted, yet four years was spent
In great provisions, for this great intent:
His Army of all Nations was compounded,
That the vast Persian government surrounded.
His Foot was seventeen hundred thousand strong,
Eight hundred thousand horse to these belong
His Camels, beasts for carriage numberless,
For Truths asham’d, how many to express;
The charge of all, he severally commended
To Princes, of the Persian bloud descended:
But the command of these commanders all,
Unto Mardonius made their General;
(He was the Son of the fore nam’d Gobrius,
Who married the Sister of Darius.)
Such his land Forces were, then next a fleet,
Of two and twenty thousand Gallies meet
Man’d with Phenicians and Pamphylians
Cipriots, Dorians and Cilicians,
Lycians, Carians and Ionians,
Eolians and the Helespontines.
Besides the vessels for his transportation,
Which to three thousand came (by best relation)
Brave Artemisia, Hallicarnassus Queen
In person present for his aid was seen,
Whose Gallyes all the rest in neatness pass,
Save the Zidonians, where Xerxes was:
But hers she kept still seperate from the rest,
For to command alone, she judg’d was best.
O noble Queen, thy valour I commend;
But pitty ’twas thine aid thou here didst lend.
At Sardis in Lydia, all these do meet,
Whether rich Pythias comes Xerxes to greet,
Feasts all this multitude of his own charge,
Then gives the King a king-like gift full large,
Three thousand talents of the purest gold,
Which mighty sum all wondred to behold:
Then humbly to the king he makes request,
One of his five sons there might be releas’d,
To be to’s age a comfort and a stay,
The other four he freely gave away.
The king calls for the youth, who being brought,
Cuts him in twain for whom his Sire besought,
Then laid his parts on both sides of the way,
‘Twixt which his souldiers marcht in good array.
For his great love is this thy recompence?
Is this to do like Xerxes or a Prince?
Thou shame of kings, of men the detestation,
I Rhetorick want to pour out execration.
First thing he did that’s worthy of recount,
A Sea passage cut behind Athos mount.
Next o’re the Helespont a bridge he made
Of Boats together coupled, and there laid:
But winds and waves those iron bands did break;
To cross the sea such strength he found too weak,
Then whips the sea, and with a mind most vain
He fetters casts therein the same to chain.
The work-men put to death the bridge that made,
Because they wanted skill the same to’ve staid.
Seven thousand Gallyes chain’d by Tyrians skill,
Firmly at last accomplished his will.
Seven dayes and nights, his host without least stay
Was marching o’re this new devised way.
Then in Abidus plains mustring his forces,
He gloryes in his squadrons and his horses.
Long viewing them, thought it great happiness,
One king so many subjects should possess:
But yet this sight from him produced tears,
That none of those could live an hundred years.
What after did ensue had he foreseen,
Of so long time his thoughts had never been.
Of Artubanus he again demands
How of this enterprise his thoughts now stands,
His answer was, both sea and land he fear’d,
Which was not vain as after soon appear’d.
But Xerxes resolute to Thrace goes first,
His Host all Lissus drinks, to quench their thirst;
And for his Cattel, all Pissyrus Lake
Was scarce enough, for each a draught to take:
Then marching on to th’ streight Thermopyle,
The Spartan meets him brave Leonade;
This ‘twixt the mountains lyes (half Acre wide)
That pleasant Thessaly from Greece divide
Two dayes and nights, a fight they there maintain,
Till twenty thousand Persians fell down slain;
And all that Army then dismaid, had fled,
But that a Fugitive discovered.
How some might o’re the mountains go about,
And wound the backs of those brave warriors stout
They thus behem’d with multitude of Foes,
Laid on more fiercely their deep mortal blows.
None cries for quarter nor yet seeks to run;
But on their ground they die each Mothers Son.
O noble Greeks, how now degenerate,
Where is the valour of your ancient State?
When as one thousand could a million daunt,
Alas! it is Leonades you want.
This shameful victory cost Xerxes dear,
Among the rest, two brothers he lost there;
And as at Land, so he at Sea was crost,
Four hundred stately Ships by storms was lost;
Of Vessels small almost innumerable,
The Harbour to contain them was not able,
Yet thinking to out match his Foes at Sea,
Enclos’d their Fleet i’th’ streight of Eubea:
But they as fortunate at Sea as Land,
In this streight as the other firmly stand.
And Xerxes mighty Gallyes battered so,
That their split sides witness’d his overthrow;
Then in the streight of Salamis he try’d,
If that small number his great force could ‘bide:
But he in daring of his forward Foe,
Received there a shameful overthrow.
Twice beaten thus at Sea he warr’d no more,
But then the Phocians Country wasted sore;
They no way able to withstand his force,
That brave Themistocles takes this wise course,
In secret manner word to Xerxes sends,
That Greeks to break his Bridg shortly intends:
And as a friend warns him what e’re he do
For his Retreat, to have an eye thereto,
He hearing this, his thoughts & course home bended
Much fearing that which never was intended.
Yet ‘fore he went to help out his expence,
Part of his Host to Delphos sent from thence,
To rob the wealthy Temple of Apollo,
But mischief sacriledge doth ever follow.
Two mighty Rocks brake from Parnassus hill,
And many thousands of those men did kill;
Which accident the rest affrighted so,
With empty hands they to their Master go:
He finding all, to tend to his decay,
Fearing his Bridge, no longer there would stay.
Three hundred thousand yet he left behind,
With his Mardonius Index of his mind;
Who for his sake he knew would venture farre,
(Chief instigator of this hapless warr.)
He instantly to Athens sends for peace,
That all Hostility from thence forth cease;
And that with Xerxes they would be at one,
So should all favour to their State be shown.
The Spartans fearing Athens would agree,
As had Macedon, Thebes, and Thessaly,
And leave them out, this Shock now to sustain,
By their Ambassador they thus complain,
That Xerxes quarrel was ‘gainst Athens State,
And they had helpt them as Confederate;
If in their need they should forsake their friends,
Their infamy would last till all things ends:
But the Athenians this peace detest,
And thus reply’d unto Mardon’s request.
That whil’st the Sun did run his endless Course
Against the Persians, they would bend their force;
Nor could the brave Ambassador he sent,
With Rhetorick gain better Complement:
A Macedonian born, and great Commander,
No less then grand-Sire to great Alexander
Mardonius proud hearing this Answer stout,
To add more to his numbers layes about;
And of those Greeks which by his Skill he’d won,
He fifty thousand joyns unto his own:
The other Greeks which were Confederate
In all one hundred and ten thousand made.
The Athenians could but forty thousand Arme,
The rest had weapons would do little harm;
But that which helpt defects, and made them bold,
Was victory by Oracle foretold.
Then for one battel shortly all provide,
Where both their Controversies they’l decide;
Ten dayes these Armyes did each other face,
Mardonius finding victuals wast apace,
No longer dar’d, but bravely on-set gave,
The other not a hand nor Sword would wave,
Till in the Intrails of their Sacrifice
The signal of their victory did rise,
Which found like Greeks they fight, the Persians fly,
And troublesome Mardonius now must dye.
All’s lost, and of three hundred thousand men,
Three thousand only can run home agen.
For pitty let those few to Xerxes go,
To certifie his final overthrow:
Same day the small remainder of his Fleet,
The Grecians at Mycale in Asia meet.
And there so utterly they wrackt the same,
Scarce one was left to carry home the Fame;
Thus did the Greeks consume, destroy, disperse
That Army, which did fright the Universe.
Scorn’d Xerxes hated for his cruelty,
Yet ceases not to act his villany.
His brothers wife solicites to his will,
The chast and beautious Dame refused still;
Some years by him in this vain suit was spent,
Nor prayers, nor gifts could win him least content;
Nor matching of her daughter to his Son,
But she was still as when he first begun:
When jealous Queen Amestris of this knew,
She Harpy like upon the Lady flew,
Cut off her breasts, her lips her nose and ears,
And leavs her thus besmear’d in blood and tears.
Straight comes her Lord, and finds his wife thus ly,
The sorrow of his heart did close his Eye:
He dying to behold that wounding sight,
Where he had sometime gaz’d with great delight,
To see that face where rose, and Lillyes stood,
O’reflown with Torrents of her guiltless bloud,
To see those breasts where Chastity did dwell,
Thus cut and mangled by a Hag of Hell:
With loaden heart unto the King he goes,
Tells as he could his unexpressed woes;
But for his deep complaints and showres of tears,
His brothers recompence was nought but jears:
The grieved prince finding nor right, nor love,
To Bactria his houshold did remove.
His brother sent soon after him a crew,
With him and his most barbarously there slew:
Unto such height did grow his cruelty,
Of life no man had least security.
At last his Uncle did his death conspire,
And for that end his Eunuch he did hire;
Who privately him smother’d in his bed,
But yet by search he was found murthered;
Then Artabanus hirer of this deed,
That from suspition he might be fre’d:
Accus’d Darius Xerxes eldest Son,
To be the Author of the crime was done.
And by his craft order’d the matter so,
That the Prince innocent to death did goe:
But in short time this wickedness was known,
For which he died, and not he alone,
But all his Family was likewise slain:
Such Justice in the Persian Court did reign.
The eldest son thus immaturely dead,
The second was inthron’d in’s fathers stead.
Amongst the Monarchs, next this prince had place
The best that ever sprung of Cyrus race.
He first war with revolted Egypt made,
To whom the perjur’d Grecians lent their aid:
Although to Xerxes they not long before
A league of amity had firmly swore,
Which had they kept, Greece had more nobly done
Then when the world they after overrun.
Greeks and Egyptians both he overthrows,
And payes them both according as he owes,
Which done, a sumptuous feast makes like a king
Where ninescore dayes are spent in banquetting.
His Princes, Nobles, and his Captains calls,
To be partakers of these Festivals:
His hangings white and green, and purple dye,
With gold and silver beds, most gorgeously.
The royal wine in golden cups did pass,
To drink more then he list, none bidden was:
Queen Vasthi also feasts, but ‘fore tis ended,
She’s from her Royalty (alas) suspended,
And one more worthy placed in her room,
By Memucans advice so was the doom.
What Esther was and did, the story read,
And how her Country-men from spoyle she freed,
Of Hamans fall, and Mordicaes great Rise,
The might of th’ prince, the tribute of the Isles.
Good Ezra in the seventh year of his reign,
Did for the Jews commission large obtain,
With gold and silver, and what ere they need:
His bounty did Darius far exceed.
And Nehemiah in his twentieth year,
Went to Jerusalem his city dear,
Rebuilt those walls which long in rubbish lay,
And o’re his opposites still got the day,
Unto this King Themistocles did fly,
When under Ostracisme he did lye:
For such ingratitude did Athens show,
(This valiant Knight whom they so much did owe)
Such royal bounty from his prince he found,
That in his loyalty his heart was bound.
The king not little joyfull of this chance,
Thinking his Gresian warrs now to advance,
And for that end great preparation made
Fair Attica a third time to invade.
His grand-Sires old disgrace did vex him sore,
His Father Xerxes loss and shame much more.
For punishment their breach of oath did call
This noble Greek, now fit for General.
Provisions then and season being fit,
To Themistocles this warr he doth commit,
Who for his wrong he could not chuse but deem
His Country nor his Friends would much esteem:
But he all injury had soon forgit;
And to his native land could bear no hate,
Nor yet disloyal to his Prince would prove,
By whom oblig’d by bounty, and by love;
Either to wrong, did wound his heart so sore,
To wrong himself by death he chose before:
In this sad conflict marching on his wayes,
Strong poyson took, so put an end to’s dayes.
The King this noble Captain having lost,
Disperst again his newly levied host:
Rest of his time in peace he did remain,
And di’d the two and forti’th of his reign.
Three sons great Artaxerxes left behind;
The eldest to succeed, that was his mind:
His second Brother with him fell at strife,
Stil making war, till first had lost his life:
Then the Surviver is by Nothus slain,
Who now sole Monarch doth of all remain.
The two first sons (are by Historians thought)
By fair Queen Esther to her husband brought:
If so they were the greater was her moan,
That for such graceless wretches she did groan.
Revolting Egypt ‘gainst this King rebels,
His Garisons drives out that ‘mongst them dwells;
Joyns with the Greeks, and so maintain their right
For sixty years, maugre the Persians might.
A second trouble after this succeeds,
Which from remissness in Less Asia breeds.
Amorges, whom for Vice-Roy he ordain’d,
Revolts, treasure and people having gain’d,
Plunders the Country, & much mischief wrought
Before things could to quietness be brought.
The King was glad with Sparta to make peace,
That so he might those troubles soon appease:
But they in Asia must first restore
All towns held by his Ancestors before.
The King much profit reaped by this league,
Regains his own, then doth the Rebel break,
Whose strength by Grecians help was overthrown,
And so each man again possest his own.
This King Cambises-like his sister wed,
To which his pride, more then his lust him led:
For Persian Kings then deem’d themselves so good
No match was high enough but their own blood.
Two sons she bore, the youngest Cyrus nam’d,
A Prince whose worth by Xenophon is fam’d:
His Father would no notice of that take
Prefers his brother for his birthrights sake.
But Cyrus scorns his brothers feeble wit,
And takes more on him then was judged fit.
The King provoked sends for him to th’ Court,
Meaning to chastise him in sharpest sort,
But in his slow approach, e’re he came there
His Father di’d, so put an end to’s fear.
‘Bout nineteen years this Nothus reigned, which run,
His large Dominions left to’s eldest Son.
Mnemon now set upon his Fathers Throne,
Yet fears all he enjoys, is not his own:
Still on his Brother casts a jealous eye,
Judging his actions tends to’s injury.
Cyrus on th’ other side weighs in his mind,
What help in’s enterprize he’s like to find;
His Interest in th’ Kingdome now next heir,
More dear to’s Mother then his brother farr:
His brothers little love like to be gone,
Held by his Mothers Intercession.
These and like motives hurry him amain,
To win by force, what right could not obtain;
And thought it best now in his Mothers time,
By lower steps towards the top to climbe:
If in his enterprize he should fall short,
She to the King would make a fair report,
He hop’d if fraud nor force the Crown would gain
Her prevalence, a pardon might obtain.
From the Lieutenant first he takes away
Some Towns, commodious in less Asia,
Pretending still the profit of the King,
Whose Rents and Customes duly he sent in;
The King finding Revenues now amended,
For what was done seemed no whit offended.
Then next he takes the Spartans into pay,
One Greek could make ten Persians run away.
Great care was his pretence those Souldiers stout,
The Rovers in Pisidia should drive out;
But lest some blacker news should fly to Court,
Prepares himself to carry the report:
And for that end five hundred Horse he chose;
With posting speed on t’wards the king he goes:
But fame more quick, arrives ere he comes there,
And fills the Court with tumult, and with fear.
The old Queen and the young at bitter jarrs,
The last accus’d the first for these sad warrs,
The wife against the mother still doth cry
To be the Author of conspiracy.
The King dismaid, a mighty host doth raise,
Which Cyrus hears, and so foreslows his pace:
But as he goes his forces still augments,
Seven hundred Greeks repair for his intents,
And others to be warm’d by this new sun
In numbers from his brother dayly run.
The fearfull King at last musters his forces,
And counts nine hundred thousand Foot & horses.
Three hundred thousand he to Syria sent
To keep those streights his brother to prevent.
Their Captain hearing but of Cyrus name,
Forsook his charge to his eternal shame.
This place so made by nature and by art,
Few might have kept it, had they had a heart.
Cyrus dispair’d a passage there to gain,
So hir’d a fleet to waft him o’re the Main:
The ‘mazed King was then about to fly
To Bactria and for a time there lye,
Had not his Captains sore against his will
By reason and by force detain’d him still,
Up then with speed a mighty trench he throws
For his security against his foes.
Six yards the depth and forty miles in length,
Some fifty or else sixty foot in breadth;
Yet for his brothers coming durst not stay,
He safest was when farthest out of th’ way.
Cyrus finding his camp, and no man there,
Was not a little jocund at his fear.
On this he and his souldiers careless grow,
And here and there in carts their arms they throw
When suddenly their scouts come in and cry,
Arm, Arm, the King with all his host is nigh.
In this confusion each man as he might
Gets on his arms, arrayes himself for fight,
And ranged stood by great Euphrates side
The brunt of that huge multitude to ‘bide,
Of whose great numbers their intelligence
Was gather’d by the dust that rose from thence,
Which like a mighty cloud darkned the sky,
And black and blacker grew, as they drew nigh:
But when their order and their silence saw,
That, more then multitudes their hearts did awe;
For tumult and confusion they expected,
And all good discipline to be neglected.
But long under their fears they did not stay,
For at first charge the Persians ran away,
Which did such courage to the Grecians bring,
They all adored Cyrus for their King:
So had he been, and got the victory,
Had not his too much valour put him by.
He with six hundred on a Squadron set,
Of thousands six wherein the King was yet,
And brought his Souldiers on so gallantly,
They ready were to leave their King and fly;
Whom Cyrus spies cryes loud, I see the man,
And with a full carreer at him he ran:
And in his speed a dart him hit i’th’ eye,
Down Cyrus falls, and yields to destiny:
His Host in chase knows not of this disaster,
But treads down all, so to advance their master;
But when his head they spy upon a Lance,
Who knows the sudden change made by this chance
Senseless & mute they stand, yet breath out groans,
Nor Gorgons head like this transform’d to stones.
After this trance, revenge new Spirits blew,
And now more eagerly their Foes pursue;
And heaps on heaps such multitudes they laid,
Their Arms grew weary by their slaughters made.
The King unto a Country Village flyes,
And for a while unkingly there he lyes.
At last displays his Ensigne on a Hill,
Hoping by that to make the Greeks stand still;
But was deceiv’d. to him they run amain,
The King upon the spur runs back again:
But they too faint still to pursue their game,
Being Victors oft, now to their Camp they came.
nor lackt they any of their number small,
Nor wound receiv’d, but one among them all:
The King with his disperst, also incamp’d,
With Infamy upon each Forehead stamp’d.
His hurri’d thoughts he after recollects,
Of this dayes Cowardize he fears th’ effects.
If Greeks in their own Country should declare,
What dastards in the Field the Persians are,
They in short time might place one in his Throne;
And rob him both of Scepter and of Crown;
To hinder their return by craft or force,
He judg’d his wisest and his safest Course.
Then sends, that to his Tent, they streight address,
And there all wait, his mercy weaponless;
The Greeks with scorn reject his proud Commands
Asking no favour, where they fear’d no bands:
The troubled King his Herrld sends again,
And sues for peace, that they his friends remain,
The smiling Greeks reply, they first must bait,
They were too hungry to Capitulate;
The King great store of all provision sends,
And Courtesie to th’ utmost he pretends,
Such terrour on the Persians then did fall,
They quak’d to hear them, to each other call.
The King perplext, there dares not let them stay;
And fears as much, to let them march away,
But Kings ne’re want such as can serve their will,
Fit Instruments t’ accomplish what is ill.
As Tyssaphernes knowing his masters mind,
Their chief Commanders feasts and yet more kind,
With all the Oaths and deepest Flattery,
Gets them to treat with him in privacy,
But violates his honour and his word,
And Villain like there puts them all to th’ Sword.
The Greeks seeing their valiant Captains slain,
Chose Xenophon to lead them home again:
But Tissaphernes what he could devise,
Did stop the way in this their enterprize.
But when through difficulties all they brake,
The Country burnt, they no relief might take.
But on they march through hunger & through cold
O’re mountains, rocks and hills as lions bold,
Nor Rivers course, nor Persians force could stay,
But on to Trabesond they kept their way:
There was of Greeks setled a Colony,
Who after all receiv’d them joyfully.
Thus finishing their travail, danger, pain,
In peace they saw their native soyle again.
The Greeks now (as the Persian king suspects)
The Asiaticks cowardize detects,
The many victoryes themselves did gain,
The many thousand Persians they had slain,
And how their nation with facillity,
Might gain the universal Monarchy.
They then Dercilladus send with an host,
Who with the Spartans on the Asian coast,
Town after town with small resistance take,
Which rumour makes great Artaxerxes quake.
The Greeks by this success encourag’d so,
Their King Agesilaus doth over goe,
By Tissaphernes is encountered,
Lieftenant to the King, but soon he fled.
Which overthrow incens’d the King so sore,
That Tissaphern must be Viceroy no more.
Tythraustes then is placed in his stead,
Commission hath to take the others head:
Of that perjurious wretch this was the fate,
Whom the old Queen did bear a mortal hate.
Tythraustes trusts more to his wit then Arms,
And hopes by craft to quit his Masters harms;
He knows that many Towns in Greece envyes
The Spartan State, which now so fast did rise;
To them he thirty thousand Tallents sent
With suit, their Arms against their Foes be bent;
They to their discontent receiving hire,
With broyles and quarrels sets all Greece on fire:
Agesilaus is call’d home with speed,
To defend, more then offend, there was need,
Their winnings lost, and peace their glad to take
On such conditions as the King will make.
Dissention in Greece continued so long,
Till many a Captain fell, both wise and strong,
Whose courage nought but death could ever tame
‘Mongst these Epiminandes wants no fame,
Who had (as noble Raileigh doth evince)
All the peculiar virtues of a Prince;
But let us leave these Greeks to discord bent,
And turn to Persia, as is pertinent.
The King from forreign parts now well at ease,
His home-bred troubles sought how to appease;
The two Queens by his means seem to abate,
Their former envy and inveterate hate:
But the old Queen implacable in strife,
By poyson caus’d, the young one lose her life.
The King highly inrag’d doth hereupon
From Court exile her unto Babilon:
But shortly calls her home, her counsells prize,
(A Lady very wicked, but yet wise)
Then in voluptuousness he leads his life,
And weds his daughter for a second wife.
But long in ease and pleasure did not lye,
His sons sore vext him by disloyalty.
Such as would know at large his warrs and reign,
What troubles in his house he did sustain,
His match incestuous, cruelties of th’ Queen,
His life may read in Plutarch to be seen.
Forty three years he rul’d, then turn’d to dust,
A King nor good, nor valiant, wise nor just.
Ochus a wicked and Rebellious son
Succeeds in th’ throne, his father being gone.
Two of his brothers in his Fathers dayes
(To his great grief) most subtilly he slayes:
And being King, commands those that remain,
Of brethren and of kindred to be slain.
Then raises forces, conquers Egypt land,
Which in rebellion sixty years did stand:
And in the twenty third of’s cruel raign
Was by his Eunuch the proud Bagoas slain.
Arsames or Arses.
Arsames plac’d now in his fathers stead,
By him that late his father murthered.
Some write that Arsames was Ochus brother,
Inthron’d by Bagoas in the room of th’ other:
But why his brother ‘fore his son succeeds
I can no reason give, ’cause none I read.
His brother, as tis said, long since was slain,
And scarce a Nephew left that now might reign:
What acts he did time hath not now left pen’d,
But most suppose in him did Cyrus end,
Whose race long time had worne the diadem,
But now’s divolved to another stem.
Three years he reign’d, then drank of ‘s fathers cup
By the same Eunuch who first set him up.
Darius by this Bagoas set in throne,
(Complotter with him in the murther done)
And was no sooner setled in his reign,
But Bagoas falls to’s practices again,
And the same sauce had served him no doubt,
But that his treason timely was found out,
And so this wretch (a punishment too small)
Lost but his life for horrid treasons all.
This Codomanus now upon the stage
Was to his Predecessors Chamber page.
Some write great Cyrus line was not yet run,
But from some daughter this new king was sprung
If so, or not, we cannot tell, but find
That several men will have their several mind;
Yet in such differences we may be bold,
With learned and judicious still to hold;
And this ‘mongst all’s no Controverred thing,
That this Darius, was last Persian King,
Whose Wars, and losses we may better tell,
In Alexander’s reign who did him quell,
How from the top of worlds felicity,
He fell to depth of greatest misery.
Whose honours, treasures, pleasures had short stay,
One deluge came and swept them all away.
And in the sixth year of his hapless reign,
Of all did scarce his winding Sheet retain:
And last, a sad Catastrophe to end,
Him to the grave did Traitor Bessus send.