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First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
FOLIO LXX verso

Darius, a son of Hystaspis (Histaspis), the fourth king of the Persians, began his reign in the 70th year of the Jewish captivity; and, together with six other nobles, slew Smerdis and his brother Patizithes (Patizitem). They agreed among themselves that the one whose horse should neigh first on the following morning should become king of Persia. Darius so arranged matters with his master of the stables that his horse neighed before all the others, and in consequence, he was presently chosen king. When he received the kingdom, he married Atossa (Atosam), the daughter of Cambyses. By her he begot Xerxes and other sons. He gave Zerubbabel (Zorobabel) authority to lead the Jews back to Jerusalem, to restore to them the vessels of the Temple, and to give them annually twenty talents of silver. And so the Temple was built. Before Darius died, Egypt seceded from him.

Darius, king of Persia (521-485 BCE), was the son of Hystaspis. He was one of the seven Persian chiefs who destroyed the usurper Smerdis (Folio LXIX recto and note). The chiefs agreed that the one of them whose horse neighed first at the appointed time should become king, and by this token Darius was chosen. He married Atossa and Arystone, the two daughters of Cyrus, and Parmis, daughter of Cyrus's son Smerdis, and Phaldime, daughter of Otanes, one of the seven chiefs. He set his vast empire in order, dividing it into twenty satrapies, assigning to each its amount of tribute. Persia proper was exempted from all taxes except such as it had been accustomed to pay. The Babylonians revolted but were put down. Later Darius invaded Scythia, marching far into the interior of modern Russian; but after losing a number of men by famine, and being unable to meet the enemy, he was obliged to retreat.

On his return to Asia Darius sent part of his forces under Magabasus, to subdue Thrace and Macedonia, which thus became subject to the Persian Empire. The most important event in this reign was the commencement of the great war between the Persians and the Greeks. In 501 the Ionian Greeks revolted; they were assisted by the Athenians, who burnt Sardis. Thereby they provoked the hostility of Darius. In 492 Mardonius was sent to invade Greece with a large army, but he lost a large part of his fleet and land forces. He was recalled, and Artaphernes appointed to command the invading army but they were again defeated, this time by Miltiades at Marathon. Darius now called out the whole force of his empire to subdue Greece, but after three years of preparation his attention was diverted by the rebellion of Egypt. He died in 485, leaving the execution of his plans to his son Xerxes.

Xerxes (Xerses), son of Darius and Atossa, and fifth king of Persia, began to reign in the 104th year of the Jewish captivity; and he reigned twenty years. He appeared to be the successor of his father's wishes, to honor and worship the God of Israel. He treated the Israelites with kindness and was very friendly to Esdra, the priest. Yet he followed his father's cruelty and grimness. He conquered Egypt, and became the ruler of entire Asia. He swept over Greece with war and an innumerable host of warriors. He burned Athens and killed many people. But finally he was twice wounded by Leonidas, the Spartan prince, and pursued so strongly that he, whose ships formerly swarmed over the seas, was barely able in fear to make good his escape on a small fishing craft. Some time later he was slain by Artabanus, his commander.[Xerxes was king of Persia from 485 to 465 BCE. His father Darius had died in the midst of his preparations against Greece, which had been interrupted by the revolt of the Egyptians. The first care of Xerxes was to reduce these people to submission. This done, he returned to Persia, leaving his brother as governor of Egypt. In the spring of 480 he set out from Sardis on his memorable expedition against Greece. He crossed the Hellespont by a bridge of boats, and continued his march through the Thracian Chersonese till he reached the plain of Doriscus. His land forces contained forty-six nations. In his march through Thrace and Macedonia he received further accession of strength, and when he reached Thermopylae his land and sea forces are said to have amounted to 2,641,610 fighting men (obviously an exaggeration!). Xerxes continued his march through Thrace. After joining his fleet at Therme, he marched through Macedonia and Thessaly without meeting with any opposition until he reached Thermopylae. Here the Greeks opposed him. His fleet was overtaken by a violent storm and he lost at least 400 ships of war, as well as an immense number of transports. He attempted to force his way through the pass of Thermopylae, but was repulsed again and again by Leonidas, until the treachery of a Greek from neighboring Malis, named Ephialtes, enabled him to fall on the rear of the Greeks. Leonidas and his Spartans refused to leave, and were all slain. Then followed the memorable battle of Salamis, in which the Greeks won a glorious naval victory. Xerxes witnessed the battle from a lofty seat on the shore, but only to behold the defeat and dispersion of his mighty fleet. He became alarmed for his own safety and resolved to leave Greece immediately. Leaving behind Mardonius, who undertook to complete the conquest with 300,000 of his troops, Xerxes returned to Sardis. And though the war continued for several years longer, the invasion proved a failure in the end. In 465 Xerxes was murdered by Artabanus, who aspired to the kingship of Persia. He was succeeded by his son Artaxerxes I.]

Artabanus, the sixth king of Persia, began to reign; and he reigned for seven months, which the historians call a year. Since Xerxes had died and had left behind two sons, Darius and Artaxerxes (Artaxerses), Artabanus instigated the younger brother to slay the elder one, saying that the elder brother had slain their father. But Vado (Vagabasus), who had knowledge of this evil deed, disclosed all to Artaxerxes, who in consequence of that mustered his troops as if about to count them. Artaxerxes, pretending that his armor was too short, went about to exchange it for that of Artabanus, who was among them. But when Artabanus was exposed, he and his seven sons were stabbed to death by order of Artaxerxes. And so the latter avenged himself upon Artabanus for the death of his father and brother.[Artabanus was a Hyrcanian, and commander of the bodyguard of Xerxes, whom he treacherously assassinated in 465 BCE, with a view of setting himself upon the Persian throne. According to Aristotle he had previously killed Xerxes' son Darius, and was afraid that the father would avenge him. According to Ctesias, Justin and Diodorus, he killed Xerxes first, and then pretended that Darius had murdered him, and instigated his brother Artaxerxes to avenge the deed. During the first four months of the reign of Artaxerxes I, Artabanus was the ruling power in the state; for this reason some erroneously reckon him as king for seven months. However, as soon as Artaxerxes learned the truth about the murder of his father and brother, he slew Artabanus and his sons. ]

Artaxerxes, the seventh king of the Persians, reigned forty years. He was the most handsome of men; but his arms were so long that they reached to his knees; for this reason he was called Longimanus (Long-hands). From the very beginning he levied heavy taxes upon the Persians, for he spent much gold and silver in the construction of buildings in which to deposit tribute money and the interest that accrued from it, in anticipation of public needs. Being an advocate of peace, all men loved him. Ezra, the priest and highly enlightened prophet, brought renown to his kingdom. Nehemiah was his and Darius' cupbearer.

Artaxerxes I, surnamed Macrocheir in Greek (‘Long-hand') and translated as Longimanus in Latin (‘Long-hands') because his right hand was longer than his left, was the younger son of Xerxes, and was raised to the throne in 465 BCE by the vizier Artabanus, the murderer of his father. After a few months he became aware of the crimes of the vizier, and slew him and his sons. On the whole his reign was peaceful, and he was famed for his mild and magnanimous character. Nepos says he was exceedingly beautiful and valiant. According to Nehemiah, his cupbearer, he was kind, but a rather weak monarch. His reign was disturbed by several insurrections. The war with Athens was terminated in 448, Cyprus and Egypt being ceded to the Persians. In his reign the Jewish religion was definitely sanctioned by law in Jerusalem on the basis of an edict granted by the king to the Babylonian priest Ezra in 458 BCE, and the appointment of Nehemiah as governor of Judea in 445 BCE.

Artaxerxes died in December 425. A great many tablets dated from his reign have been found in Nippur, and a few at other places in Babylonia; but inscriptions of the king himself are not extant. His grandson mentions his buildings in Susa.

Democritus of Abdera (Aberides)[Democritus was born at Abdera in Greece. His father possessed so much property and wealth that he was able to entertain Xerxes on his march through Abdera. The tradition that he blinded himself that he might be less disturbed in his pursuit is probably the invention of a later age, fond of anecdotes of that character. His studies embrace the natural sciences, mathematics, mechanics, grammar, music, philosophy, and various useful arts. With Leucippus he invented the atomic theory of matter. For his biography see note, Folio XXII verso.], the philosopher, flourished at this time. At first he listened to Chaldean Magi, and even as a child he became well versed in theology and in astrology. He journeyed to Persia by sea to study geometry there, and later went to Chaldea and to Athens to acquire knowledge of spiritual matters. At Athens he made the acquaintance of Socrates. He finally returned home, a very learned man; and he gave away his paternal inheritance for the common good. Democritus said that he preferred that peace of mind which poverty affords, rather than to be enslaved by the cares of wealth. He betook himself to a small garden by the city wall in order that he might observe nature in solitude, and, as Cicero says in the fifth book of his Tusculum Disputations, so that his mind might prove more productive. In order that he might not see the conduct of evil disposed citizens, he put out his own eyes. He lived 109 years. From his aphorisms we consider this one best: It is more agreeable to keep moderation in your life than excess in another; for moderation is the medicine of necessity.

Heraclitus, the philosopher, was held in esteem at this time. His books were so obscure that they were hardly understood by other philosophers. Toward the end of his life he was asked to say something remarkable; but he answered not. Instead, he twirled his finger about in a steady motion. According to Macrobius, he stated that the soul was a spark of stellar existence.[Heraclitus of Ephesus, was a philosopher, generally considered as belonging to the Ionian school, though he differed from their principles in many respects. In his youth he traveled extensively, and after his return to Ephesus the chief magistracy was offered to him, which however, he transferred to his brother. He appears afterwards to have become a complete recluse, rejecting even the kindnesses offered by Darius, and at last retreating to the mountains, where he lived on pot herbs. Some time later he was compelled by illness, consequent on such meager fare, to retire to Ephesus, where he died at the age of sixty. He flourished about 513 BCE. He wrote a work that contained his philosophical views. From the obscurity of his style he gained the title of the Obscure or the Riddler. He considered fire to be the primary form of all matter; but by fire he meant to describe only clear light fluid, "self-kindled and self-extinguished," and therefore not differing materially from the air of Anaximenes. His most famous utterance, cited in several authors, but most famously by Plato ( 402a), is: "You can't step twice into the same river." His ideas on flux and paradox/the unity of opposites still provoke philosophical discussion today.]