The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio” IV – Media Starts [95-106]

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The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”

IV – Media Starts [95-106]

A – Beginnings of Persia were in the Medes [95-102]

  • On to Cyrus and the Persians… the Assyrians were in Upper Asia for 520 years, when Medes revolted and got their freedom.
  • They had democracies for a short while but turned to kings. A Mede, Deioces, tried to build power, centralize authority and maintain law and order. His fellow villagers liked his style and put him in charge of local justice.
  • He saw more and more complaints and was tired of hearing about it and stopped listening. Lawlessness broke out again. Deioces said we need a king to bring order back.
  • Deioces was at the top of the list. They built him a palace and gave him a guard. He wanted a capital, Agbatana, with city walls, a treasury and a bit of flair.
  • The people lived outside the palace but no one had direct access to the king, only messengers. No one was allowed to see him. He became paranoid of jealous old friends who didn’t think he was so high and mighty.
  • He only “heard” cases written down and he sent out his judgment back by a messenger. He had spies who reported all evil deeds in the land and he’d have the perpetrators punished.
  • He brought Medes into a nation from a few tribes.
  • Deioces ruled 35 years and his son, Phraortes, took over and wanted to expand by attacking Persia and brought them into the fold. He attacked Assyria but died in the attack. He ruled the Medes for 22 years.

B – Scythians, the Plan-Foilers [103-106]

  • His son, Cyaxeres took over and was even more warlike than Dad was. He formalized the military. He fought against the Lydians. He marched on Nineveh to avenge his father’s death. He laid siege to the city but a band of Scythians attacked him.
  • The Scythians wandered into the place while invading Media. The Medes couldn’t handle them and the Scythians ruled Asia for a time.
  • The Scythians planned to go Egypt for some fun and adventure. They met the king of Palestine, who gave them money under the understanding that they wouldn’t go any further. On the way back up north, they pillaged parts of Syria, especially Venus’s temple in Ascalon. Venus gave them a disease to affect future generations.
  • The Scythians were in Asia for 28 years. They demanded tribute and taxes at their own whim and generally angered their subjects. Cyaxeres invited the leaders to a banquet, got them drunk and murdered them. The Medes were back and took Nineveh back. Cyaxeres ruled for 40 years including the Scythian interlude.

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