10 The Magi being slain, the glory
of the noblemen, in having recovered the kingdom, was indeed great, but proved far greater
in this, that when they came to debate about the disposal of it, they were able to act in concert. They were so equal in
merit and nobility of birth, that their very equality would have rendered it hard for the people to make a selection from
them. They themselves, therefore, contrived a method by which they might refer the judgment respecting them to
religion20 and fortune, and agreed that, on an appointed day, they should all
bring their horses early
in the morning before the palace, and that he whose horse should neigh first, on the rising of the sun,21 should be king. For the Persians believe the sun to be the only god, and regard horses as sacred
to the god.
Among the conspirators was Darius the son of Hystaspes, to whom, when he felt anxious about his chance of the kingdom, his
groom said that, “if that matter was the only obstacle to his success, there would not be the least difficulty about it.” The
groom then took the horse, in the night before the appointed day, to the place agreed upon, and there let him cover a mare,
thinking that from the pleasure of the leap would result what actually came to pass. On the next day, accordingly, when they
were all met at the appointed hour, the horse of Darius, recognizing the place, set up a neigh from desire for the mare, and,
while the other horses were silent, was the first to give a fortunate signal for his master. Such was the moderation of the
other nobles, that when they heard the omen, they immediately leaped from their horses, and saluted Darius as king. The whole
people too, following the judgment of their chiefs, acknowledged him as their ruler. Thus the kingdom of the Persians,
recovered by the valour of seven of its noblest men, was by so easy a mode of decision conferred upon one of them. It is
incredible that they should have resigned, with so much patience, their pretensions to a kingdom, for which, in order to
recover it from the Magi, they had not hesitated to expose their lives. However, besides possessing gracefulness of person,
and merit deserving of such an empire, Darius was related to the preceding kings; and, in the beginning of his reign, he took
to wife the daughter of Cyrus, in order to strengthen his kingdom by a royal marriage, so that it might not so much seem
transferred to a stranger, as to be restored to Cyrus’s
Some time after, when the Assyrians had revolted and seized upon Babylon, and the capture of the city proved difficult, so
that the king was in great anxiety about it, Zopyrus, one of the assassins of the Magi, caused himself to be mangled with
stripes, in his own house, over his whole body, and his nose, ears, and lips to be cut off, and in this condition presented
himself unexpectedly before the king; when he privately informed Darius, who was astonished, and inquired the cause and
author of so dire an outrage, with what object he had done it, and, having settled his plan of action for the future, set out
for Babylon in the character of a deserter. There he showed the people his lacerated body; complained of the barbarity of the
king, by whom, in the competition for the throne, he had been defeated, not by merit but by fortune, not by the judgment of
men but by the neighing of a horse; and bade them form an opinion, from his treatment of his friends, what was to be
apprehended by his enemies; exhorting them not to trust to their walls more than to their arms, and to allow him, whose
resentment was fresher, to carry on the war in common with them. The nobleness and bravery of the man was known to them all:
nor did they doubt of his sincerity, of which they had the wounds on his person, and the marks of his ill-usage, as proofs.
He was therefore chosen general by the suffrages of all; and, having received a small body of men, and the Persians, once or
twice, purposely retreating from the field, he fought some successful battles. At last he betrayed the whole army, with which
he had been entrusted, to Darius. and brought the city under his power. Some time after, Darius made war upon the Scythians,
as shall be related in the following book.
1 Principio rerum.] “In the beginning of things,” i.e., as soon as there was any government at all.
2 Penes reges.] See Sallust, Cat. i. 2; Cic. Leg. 2, 11, de Off. ii. 12; Arist. Polit. i.
3 See Sall. Cat. 2; Tacit. Ann. iii. 26; Ov. Met. i. 89.
4 Justin, ii. 3, makes Sesostris fifteen hundred years older than Ninus; but the truth is that his age and
actions are equally involved in obscurity, though Usher says that he was the son of the Amenophis who perished in the Red
Sea, and that, consequently, he began his reign A.M. 2513. But Reitz, on Herod. ii. 102, fixes his death in A.M. 2713,
eighty-seven years before the taking of Troy. Marsham, again, in his Can. Chr. p. 22, follows Josephus (Ant. viii. 4) in
placing him much later, and in making him the same with Shishak, who took Jerusalem and plundered the temple, A.M. 3013, two
hundred and thirteen years after Troy was taken. Diodorus Siculus, who speaks of his actions, i. 53-58, settles nothing
certain concerning his age.Wetzel.
5 Herodotus, iv. 5, calls the first king of Scythia Targitaus.
6 Continua possessione.] His establishment of his power over the countries was immediately consequent
on his subjugation of them.
7 By Diodorus, ii. 6, he is called Oxyartes. See also Plin H. N. xxx. 1 ; August. De Civ. Dei. xxi.
14.Wetzel. Concerning the age of Zoroaster all is uncertainty; such is the difference of opinions about it.
Agathias and others think that he must have lived at a later date, about the commencement of the Persian empire. See Marsham
in Canon. Aegypt. ad Sec. ix.Gronovius. It has not yet been shown that Zoroaster the king and Zoroaster the
Magus were the same person.
8 See Diodorus, xi. 4; Plutarch in Amator.; Aelian. Var. Hist. vii. 1; Polyaen. Stratag. vii. “Conon apud
Photium, Narr. ix. states, that Semiramis was not the wife but the daughter of Ninus or Ninyas, and says, eam ignaram cum
filio concubuisse, and afterwards, re cognita, married him; after which occurrence it was lawful among the
Persians for sons commisceri matribus.”Vossius. To the concubitus cum equo Pliny alludes, H. N.
9 Concerning the real builder of Babylon, see Strab. xvi. init. ; Diod. Sic. ii. 17; Q. Curt. v. 1, 42;
Euseb. Chron. init.; Jerome on Hos. c. xi.; Herod. i. 184.; Amm, Marcell. xxii. 20.Lemaire.
10 Arenae vice.] Understand sand mixed with lime.Berneccerus. But the signification of
arena is not always confined to that of sand; it sometimes means earth or mud. Thus Virgil,
Georg. i. 105, has male pinguis arenae; and, speaking of the Nile, says, Viridem Aegyptum nigra foecundat
arena. Dübner’s edition has arenati vice, I know not on what authority.
11 Nemo.] Justin has forgotten the expeditions of Hercules and Bacchus.Lemaire.
12 Sive fortunae ipsius sive spei suae puerum nutrire.] She hoped that the child would be restored to
the regal station or fortune in which it had been born.Lemaire.
13 This word has been received into the text instead of the old Barce (which was a city of Cyrene, into
which country the arms of Cyrus had not yet penetrated), on the conjecture of Bongarsius and authority of Ctesias, who states
that this city, situated near Ecbatana, was given to Croesus.Wetzel.
14 Ex universa Graecia.] This is not true. Croesus having asked aid of the Athenians and Lacedaemonians
by advice of the Delphic oracle, the Lacedaemonians were proceeding to assist him, but having heard, at the commencement of
their march, of his defeat, they went back. Herod i. 53, 69, 70, 77, 82, 152.Wetzel.
15 That is, the kingdom of Lydia, which included almost all Asia Minor. Herod. i.
16 Securos.] I have adopted securos from Aldus, instead of the other reading saucios, for
which Freinshemius happily conjectured sopitos. Though it should be observed that Justin, xxiv. 8, has mero
17 Parricidium.] See Festus in voce Parrici, and note on Sall. Cat. c. 14, Bohn’s Cl. Library.
18 Sponte evaginato.] Justin seems to think that there was something miraculous in the unsheathing of
the sword. Herodotus, iii. 64, says the sword fell from the sheath by accident, the cap at the end of the sheath having
dropped off; observing, however, that the occurrence took place on the spot where Cambyses had previously wounded the god
19 The rest of the Magi conspired to support the one who was made king.
20 Religioni.] To the gods, who might signify their will by omens.Wetzel.
21 Inter solis ortum.] The old editions have ante solis ortum, but inter, which
Bongarsius took from his manuscripts, agrees better with the account of Herodotus, who has H(LI/OU A)NATE/LLONTOS, and A(/MA
TW|= H(LI/W| A)NI/ONTI. Inter ortum solis is equivalent to dum sol oritur.Vorstius.