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When he arrived in Babylon, he decided to send1 out satraps to govern the nations he had subdued. But the commanders of the garrisons in the citadels and the colonels in command of the guards throughout the country he wished to be responsible to no one but himself. This provision he made with the purpose that if any of the satraps, on the strength of the wealth or the men at their command, should break out into open insolence or attempt to refuse obedience, they might at once find opposition in their province. [2] In the wish, therefore, to secure this result, he resolved first to call together his chief officers and inform them in advance, so that when they went they might know on what understanding they were going; for he believed that if he did so, they would take it more kindly; whereas he thought that they might take it ill, if any of them discovered the conditions after being installed as satraps, for then they would think that this policy had been adopted from distrust of them personally. [3] And so he called them together and spoke as follows:

“My friends, we have in the subjugated states garrisons with their officers, whom we left behind there at the time; and when I came away I left them with orders not to trouble themselves with any business other than to hold the forts. These, therefore, I will not remove from their positions, for they have carried out my instructions faithfully; but I have decided to send satraps there, besides, to govern the people, receive the tribute, pay the militia, and attend to any other business that needs attention. [4] I have further decided that any of you2 who remain here, and to whom I may occasionally give the trouble of going on business for me to those nations, shall have lands and houses there; so that they may have tribute paid to them here and, whenever they go there, they may lodge in residences of their own.” [5]

Thus he spoke, and to many of his friends he gave houses and servants in the various states which he had subdued. And even to this day those properties, some in one land, some in another, continue in the possession of the descendants of those who then received them, while the owners themselves reside at court. [6]

“And then,” Cyrus resumed, “we must take care that those who go as satraps to such countries shall be men of the right sort, who will bear in mind to send back here what there is good and desirable in their several provinces, in order that we also who remain here may have a share of the good things that are to be found everywhere. And that will be no more than fair; for if any danger threatens anywhere, it is we who shall have to ward it off.” [7]

With these words he concluded his address on3 that occasion; and then he chose out from the number of his friends those whom he saw eager to go on the conditions named and who seemed to him best qualified, and sent them as satraps to the following countries: Megabyzus to Arabia, Artabatas to Cappadocia, Artacamas to Phrygia Major, Chrysantas to Lydia and Ionia, Adusius to Caria (it was he for whom the Carians had petitioned), and Pharnuchus to Aeolia and Phrygia on the Hellespont. [8]

He sent out no Persians as satraps over Cilicia or Cyprus or Paphlagonia, because these he thought joined his expedition against Babylon voluntarily; he did, however, require even these nations to pay tribute. [9]

As Cyrus then organized the service, so is it even to this day: the garrisons upon the citadels are immediately under the king's control, and the colonels in command of the garrisons receive their appointment from the king and are enrolled upon the king's list. [10]

And he gave orders to all the satraps he sent4 out to imitate him in everything that they saw him do: they were, in the first place, to organize companies of cavalry and charioteers from the Persians who went with them and from the allies; to require as many as received lands and palaces to attend at the satrap's court and exercising proper self-restraint to put themselves at his disposal in whatever he demanded; to have the boys that were born to them educated at the local court, just as was done at the royal court; and to take the retinue at his gates out hunting and to exercise himself and them in the arts of war. [11]

“And whoever I find has the largest number5 of chariots to show and the largest number of the most efficient horsemen in proportion to his power,” Cyrus added, “him will I honour as a valuable ally and as a valuable fellow-protector of the sovereignty of the Persians and myself. And with you also, just as with me, let the most deserving be set in the most honourable seats; and let your table, like mine, feed first your own household and then, too, be bountifully arrayed so as to give a share to your friends and to confer some distinction day by day upon any one who does some noble act. [12]

“Have parks, too, and keep wild animals in them; and do not have your food served you unless you have first taken exercise, nor have fodder given to your horses unless they have been exercised. For I should not be able with merely human strength single-handed to ensure the permanence of the fortunes of all of you; but as I must be valiant and have those about me valiant, in order to help you; so you likewise must be valiant yourselves and have those about you valiant, in order to be my allies. [13]

“Please observe also that among all the directions I am now giving you, I give no orders to slaves. I try to do myself everything that I say you ought to do. And even as I bid you follow my example, so do you also instruct those whom you appoint to office to follow yours.” [14]

And as Cyrus then effected his organization, even so unto this day all the garrisons under the king are kept up, and all the courts of the governors are attended with service in the same way; so all households, great and small, are managed; and by all men in authority the most deserving of their guests are given preference with seats of honour; all the official journeying are conducted on the same plan and all the political business is centralized in a few heads of departments. [15]

When he had told them how they should proceed to carry out his instructions, he gave each one a force of soldiers and sent them off; and he directed them all to make preparations, with the expectation that there would be an expedition the next year and a review of the men, arms, horses, and chariots. [16]

We have noticed also that this regulation is6 still in force, whether it was instituted by Cyrus, as they affirm, or not: year by year a man makes the circuit of the provinces with an army, to help any satrap that may need help, to humble any one that may be growing rebellious, and to adjust matters if any one is careless about seeing the taxes paid or protecting the inhabitants, or to see that the land is kept under cultivation, or if any one is neglectful of anything else that he has been ordered to attend to; but if he cannot set it right, it is his business to report it to the king, and he, when he hears of it, takes measures in regard to the offender. And those of whom the report often goes out that “the king's son is coming,” or “the king's brother” or “the king's eye,” these belong to the circuit commissioners; though sometimes they do not put in an appearance at all, for each of them turns back, wherever he may be, when the king commands. [17]

We have observed still another device of7 Cyrus to cope with the magnitude of his empire; by means of this institution he would speedily discover the condition of affairs, no matter how far distant they might be from him: he experimented to find out how great a distance a horse could cover in a day when ridden hard but so as not to break down, and then he erected post-stations at just such distances and equipped them with horses and men to take care of them; at each one of the stations he had the proper official appointed to receive the letters that were delivered and to forward them on, to take in the exhausted horses and riders and send on fresh ones. [18] They say, moreover, that sometimes this express does not stop all night, but the night-messengers succeed the day-messengers in relays, and when that is the case, this express, some say, gets over the ground faster than the cranes. If their story is not literally true, it is at all events undeniable that this is the fastest overland travelling on earth; and it is a fine thing to have immediate intelligence of everything, in order to attend to it as quickly as possible. [19]

Now, when the year had gone round, he8 collected his army together at Babylon, containing, it is said, about one hundred and twenty thousand horse, about two thousand scythe-bearing chariots and about six hundred thousand foot. [20] And when these had been made ready for him, he started out on that expedition on which he is said to have subjugated all the nations that fill the earth from where one leaves Syria even to the Indian Ocean. His next expedition is said to have gone to Egypt and to have subjugated that country also. [21]

From that time on his empire was bounded on the east by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Black Sea, on the west by Cyprus and Egypt, and on the south by Ethiopia. The extremes of his empire are uninhabitable, on the one side because of the heat, on another because of the cold, on another because of too much water, and on the fourth because of too little. [22] Cyrus himself made his home in the9 centre of his domain, and in the winter season he spent seven months in Babylon, for there the climate is warm; in the spring he spent three months in Susa, and in the height of summer two months in Ecbatana. By so doing, they say, he enjoyed the warmth and coolness of perpetual spring-time. [23]

People, moreover, were so devoted to him10 that those of every nation thought they did themselves an injury if they did not send to Cyrus the most valuable productions of their country, whether the fruits of the earth, or animals bred there, or manufactures of their own arts; and every city did the same. And every private individual thought he should become a rich man if he should do something to please Cyrus. And his theory was correct; for Cyrus would always accept that of which the givers had an abundance, and he would give in return that of which he saw that they were in want.

1 Cyrus institutes satrapies

2 The duties and privileges of satraps

3 Cyrus appoints the satraps

4 Further duties of satraps

5 He gives them instructions

6 Plans adopted for the visitation of the provinces

7 Cyrus inaugurates a postal system

8 Cyrus completes his conquests

9 He locates his residences

10 His personal popularity

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ANGARI´A
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), MA´NSIO
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