Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE GREAT KING
HIPPIAS, the exiled tyrant of Athens, as we have already seen,
had taken up his abode in Asia Minor, where he made
several unsuccessful attempts to regain his power.
The Greek cities were not ready to help him, however,
so he tried to get another ally. Now, the greatest
ruler in Asia Minor was Darius, the king who won his
throne by the aid of his horse and groom, as you will
see in ancient history.
He was a powerful monarch,—so powerful that the Greeks,
who had built cities all along the coast of Asia Minor,
in the country called Ionia, never spoke of him except
as "The Great King."
Darius' kingdom was so large that it was quite
impossible for one person to govern it without help.
He therefore divided it into satrapies, or provinces,
each of which was under the care of a satrap, or
governor. These men received their orders from the
king, saw that they were obeyed in all the territory
under their care, and kept Darius informed of all that
was going on.
The Great King generally dwelt at Ecbatana, a city
surrounded by seven walls, each painted in a
differ-  ent but very bright color. Inside the seventh and last
wall stood the palace and treasure house, which was
fairly overflowing with gold and precious stones.
As there were armed soldiers at every gate in the seven
walls, only the people to whom the king was willing to
grant an audience could enter.
Now, although so secluded, Darius knew perfectly well
all that was happening in every part of his kingdom,
and even in the neighboring states; for his satraps
sent him messengers daily to report all the news, and
he had many paid spies, whose duty it was to tell him
all they knew.
He was therefore one of the first Eastern rulers who
heard of the revolt of the Athenians; and soon after
this he learned that Hippias had come to Asia, and was
trying to induce the Greek cities to make war against
When Hippias arrived at Ecbatana in search of aid, he
could not immediately see the king, but was obliged to
send in a message written on a waxen tablet. This
passed from hand to hand, and finally reached Darius,
who, recognizing the name at the bottom of the request,
graciously said that he would receive the exiled tyrant