The thought once occurred to us how many1
republics have been overthrown by people who preferred to live under any form of government other than a republican, and again, how many monarchies and how many oligarchies in times past have been abolished by the people. We reflected, moreover, how many of those individuals who have aspired to absolute power have either been deposed once for all and that right quickly; or if they have continued in power, no matter for how short a time, they are objects of wonder as having proved to be wise and happy men. Then, too, we had observed, we thought, that even in private homes some people who had rather more than the usual number of servants and some also who had only a very few were nevertheless, though nominally masters, quite unable to assert their authority over even those few.
And in addition to this, we reflected that2
cowherds are the rulers of their cattle, that grooms are the rulers of their horses, and that all who are called herdsmen might properly be regarded as the rulers of the animals over which they are placed in charge. Now we noticed, as we thought, that all these herds obeyed their keepers more readily than men obey their rulers. For the herds go wherever their keeper directs them and graze in those places to which he leads them and keep out of those from which he excludes them. They allow their keeper, moreover, to enjoy, just as he will, the profits that accrue from them. And then again, we have never known of a herd conspiring against its keeper, either to refuse obedience to him or to deny him the privilege of enjoying the profits that accrue. At the same time, herds are more intractable to strangers than to their rulers and those who derive profit from them. Men, however, conspire against none sooner than against those whom they see attempting to rule over them.
Thus, as we meditated on this analogy, we were inclined to conclude that for man, as he is constituted, it is easier to rule over any and all other creatures than to rule over men. But when we reflected that3
there was one Cyrus, the Persian, who reduced to obedience a vast number of men and cities and nations, we were then compelled to change our opinion and decide that to rule men might be a task neither impossible nor even difficult, if one should only go about it in an intelligent manner. At all events, we know that people obeyed Cyrus willingly, although some of them were distant from him a journey of many days, and others of many months; others, although they had never seen him, and still others who knew well that they never should see him. Nevertheless they were all willing to be his subjects.
But all this is not so surprising after all, so very different was he from all other kings, both those who have inherited their thrones from their fathers and those who have gained their crowns by their own efforts; the Scythian king, for instance, would never be able to extend his rule over any other nation besides his own, although the Scythians are very numerous, but he would be well content if he could maintain himself in power over his own people; so the Thracian king with his Thracians, the Illyrian with his Illyrians, and so also all other nations, we are told. Those in Europe
, at any rate, are said to be free and independent of one another even to this day. But Cyrus, finding the nations in Asia also independent in exactly the same way, started out with a little band of Persians and became the leader of the Medes by their full consent and of the Hyrcanians4
by theirs; he then conquered Syria
, Assyria, Arabia
, both Phrygias, Lydia
, and Babylonia
; he ruled also over Bactria
, and Cilicia
; and he was likewise king of the Sacians, Paphlagonians, Magadidae, and very many other nations, of which one could not even tell the names; he brought under his sway the Asiatic Greeks also; and, descending to the sea, he added both Cyprus
to his empire.
He ruled over these nations, even though they5
did not speak the same language as he, nor one nation the same as another; for all that, he was able to cover so vast a region with the fear which he inspired, that he struck all men with terror and no one tried to withstand him; and he was able to awaken in all so lively a desire to please him, that they always wished to be guided by his will. Moreover, the tribes that he brought into subjection to himself were so many that it is a difficult matter even to travel to them all, in whatever direction one begin one's journey from the palace, whether toward the east or the west, toward the north or the south.
Believing this man to be deserving of all admiration, we have therefore investigated who he was in his origin, what natural endowments he possessed, and what sort of education he had enjoyed, that he so greatly excelled in governing men. Accordingly, what we have found out or think we know concerning him we shall now endeavour to present.