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SASSANIDAE.

hand a stag by its horns, and in the left a spear. The obverse of the second represents the head oi Pavor, and the reverse a biga, which one man drives at full speed, while the other is fighting from behind. On the obverse of the third is the head of Venus, and on the reverse Victory. The heads of Pallor and Pavor are introduced, because the Hostilii claimed descent from Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome, who is said to have vowed temples to Pallor and Pavor in his battle with the Veientes (Liv. i. 27). Hence Lactantius says (i. 20) that this king was the first who figured Pallor and Pavor, and introduced their worship. (Eckhel, vol. v. p. 226.)

SASSANIDAE, the name of a dynasty which reigned in Persia from A. d. 226 to a. d. 65].

1. ardishir or ardshir, the artaxerxes ('A/)Ta|6/>|77s) of the Romans and Greeks, the founder of the dynasty of the Sassanidae, reigned from a. d. 226—240. Pie was a son of one Babek, an inferior officer, who was the son of Sassan, per­haps a person of some consequence, since his royal descendants chose to call themselves after him. The Persian Zlnut-al-Tuarikh makes Sassan a descendant from Bahman, who was in his turn de­scended from one Isfendear, who lived many cen­turies before Ardishir ; but these statements cannot be regarded as historical. Some assign a very low origin to Ardishir, but it seems that his family was rather above than below the middle classes. They were natives of, and settled in the province of Fars, or Persia Proper, and they professed the ancient faith of Zoroaster and his priests, the Magi. These circumstances are of great importance in the life of Ardishir, as will be seen hereafter. Ardishir served with distinction in the army of Artabanus, the king of Parthia, was rewarded with ingratitude, and took revenge in revolt. He obtained assistance from several grandees, and having met with suc­cess, claimed the throne on the plea of being de­scended from the ancient kings of Persia, the progeny of the great Cyrus. His lofty scheme became popular, and deserved to be so. During the long rule of the Arsacidae, and in consequence of their intimate connections with the West, Greek customs, principles, arts, literature, and fashions, in short a Greek civilisation had gradually spread over the Persian, or, as it was then called from the ruling tribe, the Parthian empire. This new spirit introduced itself even into the religion, for although the Arsacidae of Parthia publicly confessed the creed of Zoroaster, their faith, and that of the court party was mixed up with the principles of the Greek religion and philosophy. The people, how­ever, were still firm adherents of the faith, the laws, and the customs of their forefathers, and the new spirit which came from the West was looked upon by them with the same dislike and hatred as, in modern times, European civilisation is detested and despised by the modern Orientals. Ardishir appealed to the sympathy of the people, and he gained his great object. It seems that he spent many years in warlike efforts against Artabanus, till at last his progress became so alarming that the king took the field against him with all his forces. In a. d. 226 Artabanus was defeated, in a decisive battle, in the plain of Hormuz, not far from the Persian Gulf; and Ardishir thereupon assumed the pompous, but national title of Shahin-shah, or " King of Kings." That year is conse­quently considered as the beginning of the new

SASSANIDAE.

Sassanian dynasty. Defeated in two other battles*, Artabanus surrendered to his rival, and was put to death ; whereupon the authority of Ardishir was acknowledged throughout the whole extent of the Parthian, now again the Persian, empire. One of his first legislative acts was the restoration of the pure religion of Zoroaster and the worship of fire, in consequence of which the numerous Christians in Persia had to suffer many vexations, but the real persecutions against them began only at a later period. The reigning branch of the Parthian Arsacidae was exterminated, but some collateral branches were suffered to live and to enjoy the privileges of Persian grandees, who, along with the Magi, formed a sort of senate ; and the Arsacidae who ruled in Bactria and Armenia remained for some time in the undisturbed possession of their sovereign power. Ardishir having thus succeeded in establishing his authority at home, turned his views abroad, and began with a display of over­bearing insolence almost unparalleled in history. He sent a menacing embassy to Constantinople, demanding from the emperor Alexander Sevens the immediate cession of all those portions of the Roman empire that had belonged to Persia in the time of Cyrus and Xerxes, that is, the whole of the Roman possessions in Asia, as well as Egypt. Modesty, perhaps, prevented him from claiming the plain of Marathon and the sea of Salamis also. This absurd demand is remarkable, in so far as it showed the national pride of the Persians, and the power of their historical re­collections. An immediate war between the two empires was the direct consequence. As the leading events of this war are related in the life of Alexander Severus [severus] we need only mention here that, notwithstanding an army com­posed, in addition to infantry, of 170,000 horsemen, clad in armour, 700 elephants, with towers and archers, and 1800 war-chariots, bristling with scythes, the great king was unable to subdue the Romans ; nor could Alexander Severus do more than preserve his own dominions. After a severe contest and much bloodshed and devastation, peace was restored, shortly after the murder of Alex­ander in 237, each nation retaining the possessions which they held before the breaking out of the war. However, the war against king Chosroes of Armenia, the ally of the Romans, was carried on as before, till the death of Ardishir in 240. Eastern and Western writers coincide in stating that Ar­dishir was an extraordinary man, and much could be said of his wisdom and kingly qualities, were it consistent with the plan of this work to give more than condensed sketches of the lives of the Persian kings. His reign, however, offers so many subjects for reflection, and is so startling an event in the his­tory of Roman and Greek influence in the East, as to deserve the particular attention of the student, who must henceforth be prepared to witness the decline of that refined and beautiful spirit whose progress beyond the Euphrates he has followed with delight ever since the conquest of Alexander the Great. To sum up the leading facts of this decline, the writer quotes the observations which he has made in another work. (Biograph. Diction, of the U K. S. s. v. Arsaces, xxviii.)

" The accession of Artaxerxes forms a ne\v aera in the history of Persia. During the long reign of the Arsacidae the influence of Greek civilisation which was introduced by Alexander and his sue-

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