Fig. 1. AHURA MAZDA From a bas-relief.
PERSIA has a long past to look back upon--twenty-five centuries of history. She began, in the middle of the sixth century before our era, with a dynasty that created her as a new state, the foundations of whose astounding successes had been laid by its first kings as a result of certain events of which we know nothing. The Persian clan of the Hakhamanish, who spoke an Indo-European dialect, had seized Susa and overthrown a native dynasty that had enjoyed a lengthy period of rule over Susiana, the Elam of the Bible. One of its kings, Cyrus ( 558-528 B.C.), blazed forth as a great conqueror: he destroyed the empire of the Medes, a people akin, as a matter of fact, to the Persians, who had managed with the help of Babylon to take and to ruin Nineveh, the proud Semitic city that dominated Upper Asia; he conquered Crœsus, the King of Phrygia, and seized Asia Minor; he took Babylon by assault. Nothing survived of those states, all annexed without any great resistance, for the Persian policy, hitherto unknown among those cruel and barbarous peoples, consisted in allowing the conquered peoples to live in peace, retaining their religions, their gods, and even at times their own kings. That was how the statues of divinities previously conquered were restored to their former owners, and how the Israelites, in accordance with this principle, recovered possession of the treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem, their gratitude for which appears in the Book of Esdras. It was enough that they should remain in obedience and provide the satraps, or governors, of the newly made provinces with the sums of money or the tribute in kind exacted by the central power. Darius I, after subduing the districts that revolted upon the death of Cambyses, organized that enormous empire which stretched from Egypt to