THE INDO-EUROPEAN PERSIANS CONQUER THE SEMITIC AND THE EGYPTIAN WORLD
 THE world of Egypt and Babylon and Assyria and Phoenicia
had existed almost thirty centuries and the venerable
races of the Fertile Valley were getting old and tired. Their
doom was sealed when a new and more energetic race appeared
upon the horizon. We call this race the Indo-European race,
because it conquered not only Europe but also made itself the
ruling class in the country which is now known as British India.
These Indo-Europeans were white men like the Semites
but they spoke a different language which is regarded as the
common ancestor of all European tongues with the exception
of Hungarian and Finnish and the Basque dialects of Northern
When we first hear of them, they had been living along the
shores of the Caspian Sea for many centuries. But one day
they had packed their tents and they had wandered forth in
search of a new home. Some of them had moved into the
mountains of Central Asia and for many centuries they had
lived among the peaks which surround the plateau of Iran and
that is why we call them Aryans. Others had followed the
setting sun and they had taken possession of the plains of
Europe as I shall tell you when I give you the story of Greece
 For the moment we must follow the Aryans. Under the
leadership of Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) who was their great
teacher many of them had left their mountain homes to follow
the swiftly flowing Indus river on its way to the sea.
Others had preferred to stay among the hills of western
Asia and there they had founded the half-independent communities
of the Medes and the Persians, two peoples whose
names we have copied from the old Greek history-books. In
the seventh century before the birth of Christ, the Medes had
established a kingdom of their own called Media, but this
perished when Cyrus, the chief of a clan known as the Anshan,
made himself king of all the Persian tribes and started upon
a career of conquest which soon made him and his children the
undisputed masters of the whole of western Asia and of Egypt.
THE STORY OF A WORD
Indeed, with such energy did these Indo-European Persians
push their triumphant campaigns in the west that they soon
 found themselves in serious difficulties with certain other
Indo-European tribes which centuries before had moved into Europe
and had taken possession of the Greek peninsula and the islands
of the AEgean Sea.
THE INDO-EUROPEANS AND THEIR NEIGHBOURS
These difficulties led to the three famous wars between
Greece and Persia during which King Darius and King
Xerxes of Persia invaded the northern part of the peninsula.
They ravaged the lands of the Greeks and tried very hard to
get a foothold upon the European continent.
But in this they did not succeed. The navy of Athens
proved unconquerable. By cutting off the lines of supplies
of the Persian armies, the Greek sailors invariably forced the
Asiatic rulers to return to their base.
It was the first encounter between Asia, the ancient
teacher, and Europe, the young and eager pupil. A great
many of the other chapters of this book will tell you how the
struggle between east and west has continued until this very