Bar Hebraeus’ Chronography The Kings of the Persians

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Here beginneth the Sixth Series, which passeth from the Kings of the Medes to the Kings of the Persians.


AFTER DARIUS the MEDE, CYRUS the PERSIAN [reigned] thirty-one years; some manuscripts have [thirty]-nine and others [thirty]-three years. This CYRUS having slain DARIUS the MEDE made an end of the kingdom[s] of the CHALDEANS, and the ASSYRIANS, and the MEDES, and set up the kingdom of the PERSIANS. And he made BABYLON the place of his abode (i.e. capital), and he also appointed DANIEL, the upright man, administrator of his kingdom. And DANIEL was full of zeal and he smashed the idol of BEL, the god of the BABYLONIANS, who was the first king of the CHALDEANS, the father of NINOS, who built NINEVEH. And DANIEL also slew the SERPENT, and became hated by the BABYLONIANS, and he was cast a second time into a cave (or, cage) wherein there were seven lions. And the prophet HABAKKUK was sent from JUDAH and brought food to him, and he was also delivered from the lions and his enemies perished.

Now DANIEL in reckoning up the years of the Captivity, thought that the seventy years which had been decreed for the people by the word of the Lord by the hand of JEREMIAH, had already been fulfilled, and he fasted and prayed for twenty-one days, making supplication for the return of the people. Then he saw a terrifying vision by the river DEKLATH (TIGRIS), namely that of a man clothed in byssus, and he said unto him, ‘Behold, I have to contend for twenty-one days against the governor of the PERSIANS [30] for the sending away of the people’. And in the first year of his kingdom he sent away five myriads (but not all of them, because the seventy years were not as yet fulfilled) by the hands of ZURBABHEL and ISHO’ BAR-YOZADAK. And he commanded them to build the Temple of JERUSALEM according to the prophecy of ISAIAH; but the building was obstructed by the peoples who were round about them, for forty-six years, as JOHN the Evangelist wrote, until the sixth year of DARIUS, the son of HYSTASPES.


After CYRUS the PERSIAN, CAMBYSES his son reigned for eight years; the HEBREWS say that he was called NEBUCHADNEZZAR.

And in his time JUDITH, who slew HOLOPHERNES, the man of MAGHOGH, that is to say the TURK. And in the sixth year of his reign they overthrew TYRE wholly.


After CAMBYSES two brothers who were MAGIANS [reigned] for seven months, and these months are reckoned with the years of CAMBYSES.


After the two brothers who were MAGIANS, DARIUS, the son of HYSTASPES, [reigned] for thirty-six years. In his second year the seventy years of the Captivity came to an end, according to CLEMENS, and EUSEBIUS, and ANDRONICUS, and the testimony of [the prophets] HAGGAI and ZECHARIAH. And in his sixth year the HOUSE (i.e. Temple) was finished in the month of ‘IYAR. Its height was sixty cubits, its breadth was twenty cubits. The years from the first building of SOLOMON to this year of the completion of the second building added together are five hundred and eight years. At this time PYTHAGORAS the philosopher died, having lived ninety-five [years]. And DEMOCRITUS and DIOGENES, the philosophers; and ANAXAGORAS, the physicist, and PINDAR and SIMONIDES, the musicians; and HIPPOCRATES, the physician; and PROTAGORAS and ISOCRATES, the sophists; and ARISTOPHANES and ‘APCALIS (EUPOLES?), the introducers of comedy, were known (or, famous).

Of all these he who was the most triumphant in the world was HIPPOCRATES, the master and teacher of physicians until the present day. He used to live in the city of EMESA, and from time to time he would go to DAMASCUS and live in those gardens, the site of which is known at the present day, and is called the ‘Porch of HIPPOCRATES’. He was a godlike man, and he healed the sick gratuitously. It is related that ‘ARDASHiR, the king of the PERSIANS, was sick and he sent a message to him [31] saying that he must come and heal him; and that he would give him the half of his kingdom; but HIPPOCRATES would not go, because of the fee which [the King] had promised him. The following works of his are extant: The Book of Aphorisms, the Book of Prognosis, the Book of Peeled Barley, the Book of Humours, the Book of the Kastrom (i.e. Belly), the Book of Water and Air, the Book of the Nature of Man, the Book of Headaches (?), and the Book of Diatiki (Covenant).


Ater DARIUS, his son ‘AHSHIRASH (AHASUERUS) [reigned] twenty-one years. In his second year he subjugated EGYPT. In his eleventh year he came to ATHENS and burnt it with fire. In his time HAMAN, the AMALEKITE, sought to make an end of the JEWS who remained from the Captivity. ESTHER and MORDECAI put on sackcloth, and the Lord made the wickedness of HAMAN to recoil on his own head. And certain people say that if this story had been current in the time of EZRA, who wrote about everything which happened at this period, he would not have kept silence about it, and would have mentioned it.


After AHASUERUS, ARTABANUS his own son reigned seven months, and these months are reckoned with the years of AHASUERUS.


And after ARTABANUS, ‘ARYOCH, that is ARTAXERXES LONGIMANUS, [reigned] forty-one years. And in his ninth year he commanded ‘AZRA (EZRA) the scribe to go up and build JERUSALEM, that is to say the city, after the Temple was built. And a vision of God appeared unto EZRA the scribe, and he made a copy of [the Book of] the Prophets from memory, because their Books were burnt when [the city] was captured. And in his twentieth year NEHEMIAH, the cup-bearer (shakya), was sent to build JERUSALEM. Now although this man was a Hebrew by race, he was a eunuch, and the cup-bearer of ARTAXERXES; and he persuaded the king and the queen and went up. Now the Jews who were in JERUSALEM had no holy fire, because they had cast it into a pit when they were carried away captives. And NEHEMIAH commanded and they brought some of the clay (or, soil) from that pit and cast it upon the wood of the altar, and it burst into flame after it had been extinguished for one hundred and forty-six years. And NEHEMIAH remained in JERUSALEM for twelve years. And from this time of ARTAXERXES one reckoneth the seventy weeks which are written in DANIEL, and which make four hundred and ninety years, and they agree with the year three hundred and sixty-six of the GREEKS, in the second year of NERO, in whose days JERUSALEM was besieged. Hitherto [32] writers have collected the [numbers of the years] from the Books of the Prophets and EZRA, but from this time onward [they have taken them] from the Book of the MACCABEES, and from the historians JOSEPHUS and AFRICANUS. In the third year of this ARTAXERXES, SOCRATES the philosopher was born, and he was poisoned at the end of his days.


After ‘ARYOCH another ARTAXERXES [reigned] for two months.


After this other ARTAXERXES, SAGHDIANOS [reigned] for seven months, and these months are added to the two preceding months.


After SAGHDIANOS, DARIUS NOTHUS [reigned] nineteen years. In his fifteenth year EGYPT rebelled against the PERSIANS, and the EGYPTIANS set up a native king after one hundred and twenty-four years [of foreign rule]. And after NEHEMIAH had finished [building] the whole of the wall of JERUSALEM he returned to BABYLON. And PLATO promulgated [his] opinion about the three uncreated beings, viz. God, Matter, and Silence. And he taught the migration of souls from bodies to bodies, even for insects and reptiles; and he advised that women be common property. EPICURUS clung to his teaching, and ARISTOTLE, at the age of seventy, listened to wisdom from PLATO.


After DARIUS NOTHUS, ARTAXERXES the Governor [reigned] forty years. And in his fifteenth year AFRICANUS, the Dictator of the ROMANS, laid waste CARTHAGE (?), and he called that country ‘AFRIKI after his own name. The HEBREWS call this ARTAXERXES ‘ASVIROS’, and because of this JOHN thought that the [events of] the story of ESTHER took place [in his reign]. In the translation of the SEVENTY he is called ‘ARTAXERXES’.


After ARTAXERXES the Governor, ARTAXERXES OCHUS [reigned] twenty-seven years. This [king] was a man of power and he reigned over EGYPT, and once again the IGHUPTAYE (EGYPTIANS) became subject to the PERSIANS; the king of EGYPT, whose name was NAKTANABOS (i.e. NEKHT-HER-HEBIT), fled to ETHIOPIA. He saw by means of magical incantations that very many armies were advancing against him; and it is said that he was the unlawful father of ALEXANDER [the Great]. OCHUS also conquered the JEWS and made them bearers of tribute to him; and he settled them by the side of the CASPIAN SEA, in the city of HYRCANIA. And at this time PHILIP, the father of ALEXANDER, reigned in MACEDONIA twenty-seven years. And in the thirteenth year [33] of OCHUS the Persian, and the eighth [year] of PHILIP, ALEXANDER [the Great] was born in HELLAS, and the name of his mother was OLYMPIAS.


After OCHUS, PARSIS (‘ARSIS) his son [reigned] four years. At this time SOCRATES, and PLATO, and ARISTOTLE, the philosophers, were famous. PLATO died at the age of eighty-two years, and SPOSIPOS (SPEUSIPPUS), the son of his uncle, and not ARISTOTLE, stood in his place, even though he was his disciple, but he did not agree with his opinion, especially on the subject of the migration of souls from bodies to bodies, which he opposed strongly.

At this time MANASSEH, the brother of ONIAS (?), the high priest of the JEWS, built a great temple in MOUNT GARZIM (GERIZIM), which was like that which was in JERUSALEM, and ALEXANDER, the son of King PHILIP, became a disciple of ARISTOTLE. SOCRATES and PLATO received wisdom from PYTHAGORAS the Great. After the death of SOCRATES, PLATO became famous. THEON, the ALEXANDRIAN, estimates that PLATO composed thirty-three books, among them being the Book of ‘POLITIKON’, and the Book of LAWS, and the Book of PHAEDO, and the Book of TIMAUS. PLATO was of noble origin both on his father’s and mother’s side, for his father was descended from POSIDION, and his mother from SOLON, the lawgiver of the ATHENIANS. Others say that when PLATO was a youth he was greatly skilled in the poetic art, and that when he was being trained under SOCRATES and he saw that [his master] held the poetic art in contempt, he burnt the books of poetry which he possessed, and cleaved to SOCRATES, and was a disciple of his for fifty years; and from him he learned pythagorean wisdom. And when he died he left many estates (or, gardens), and two slaves, and a cup and a pinax, and an ornament which he used to put in his ear in his childhood as a mark of the nobility of his race. And the rest of his possessions he spent in providing dowries for his brother’s daughters; and he also divided some of his goods among his friends. Over his grave is written, ‘Here is laid a godlike man, who was superior to all men in wisdom, and in modesty , and in righteous habits. Therefore, every one who praiseth wisdom, [34] it is PLATO whom he praiseth, because in him was the greater part of wisdom.’ And on the other side of the grave is written, ‘O thou Earth, though thou hidest the body of PLATO, thou canst never draw nigh to his soul, because it never dieth’.

ARISTOTLE was the son of NICOMACHUS, the physician from STAGIRA, a village in the country of MACEDONIA, and his race (i.e. pedigree), both through his father and mother, went back to the ASKLEPIADES; and for a period of twenty years he was an auditor of PLATO. And on a certain occasion when he was with the rest of the disciples, and was still uninitiated, PLATO said unto those who were initiated, ‘Mind (or, understanding) hath not come, the philosopher is remote from the truth, deaf are his hearers’. ARISTOTLE was held in very great honour by kings and ALEXANDER administered the affairs of his kingdom under his direction. And when he went to war with the kings of the earth, ARISTOTLE held his peace, and he began to write books on linguistics, and natural objects, and divine (i.e. celestial) objects, and the care (i.e. study) of customs. His stature was handsome, [his complexion] fair (or, white), the eyes and mouth small, the cheek broad, the beard crisp, the nose broad, his eyes were light blue (?). When he was walking by himself his gait was hurried, and when he was with other people he walked leisurely. And with the reading of books he sometimes, it seems, abolished sleep. He put restraint on every word, and inquired carefully into the force thereof. Being asked a question, he did not answer quickly, but only after a time. He loved songs (ballads or, metrical poetry). And when a man was disputing (or,debating) with him, he never cared whether he (i.e. the man) gained the victory or not, all that concerned him was the truth. And if he was in the wrong he admitted it, and when the truth [lay] with his fellow debater, he testified to the correctness thereof willingly. And his apparel, and his food, and his drink, and his marriage, and his motions were praiseworthy. He died at the age of sixty-eight years, and he left a son, and a daughter, and a wife, and slaves and maidservants, and many possessions.

And there rose up in doctrine in his stead THEOPHRASTUS, his brother’s son. And when he died he made a beautiful (i.e. wise) will with directions for the members of his household and his disciples.

And of SOCRATES it is said, ‘This man beggared himself completely. He loved labours, and hated the delights and gratifications of the body. He used to live in a pit (or, well) [35] and not in a house. And a certain man said unto him: ‘If the pit becometh broken what wilt thou do?’ And he replied, ‘If the pit be broken, the place which is in the pit will not be broken’. He used to say, ‘The external beauty of the body maketh known the interior beauty of the soul’. And when the ATHENIANS saw that he always selected good-looking youths to instruct, they thought that he was a lover of boys. And because he blamed and severely rebuked the king for his luxurious life, he instructed his sons ANITOS and MILITOS, and they accused him of sodomy; so he killed him with poison. St. GREGORY, the Theologian, mentions this SOCRATES in the second part [of his work], saying, ‘The love of beauty of SOCRATES! Though I am ashamed I must say “the love of boys”, though he was modest (or, chaste) in things which are to be praised’ (?).


After PARSIS, DARIUS the son of ‘ARSHACH (‘ARSHAM) [reigned] six years. And in the first year of his reign, ALEXANDER [the Great], who was twenty years old, was reigning. He was three cubits in height, and he was much greater than any of the kings who were before him. He conquered many countries, and he destroyed thirty-five kings and his camp contained twelve myriads of men. And in the sixth year of DARIUS, and also of ALEXANDER, they joined in battle at ISSUS in CILICIA, and ALEXANDER conquered and DARIUS was slain, and the kingdom of the PERSIANS came to an end.