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246                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA               FABEWELL


IN the letters by which this chapter is preceded few
general opinions have been expressed on Persia, its
government, and its people, but now that I contemplate
them with some regard to perspective, and have reversed
some of my earlier and hastier judgments, I will, with
the reader's permission, give some of the impressions
formed during a journey extending over nine months,
chiefly in the western and south-western portions of the

On the pillared plain of Persepolis, on the bull-
flanked portals which tower above the Hall of Xerxes,
the Palace of Darius, and the stairways with the sculp-
tured bas-reliefs, which portray the magnificence, the
military triumphs, and the religious ceremonial of the
greatest of the Persian monarchs, runs the stately in-
scription: "I am Xerxes the King, the Great King, the
King of Kings, the King of the many-peopled countries,
the Upholder of the Great World, the son of Darius the
King, the Achsemenian " ; and on the tablets on the rock
of Besitun is inscribed in language as august the claim of
Darius the Mede to a dominion which in his day was
regarded as nearly universal.

The twenty-four centuries which have passed since
these claims were made have seen the ruin, of the Palace-
Temples of Persepolis, the triumph of Islam over Zoro-
astrianism, the devastating sweep of the hordes of Taimur-