PERSEUS

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PERSIA

except its magnificent ruins. It was generally designated The Glory of the East, and, according to ancient writers, "no other city could be compared with it either in beauty or in wealth." It was nearly or wholly destroyed by Alexander the Great in his conquest of Persia, and is scarcely mentioned in history afterward.

Perseus (pr's-us), in Greek mythology the son of Zeus and Dana. He was brought up on one of the Cyclades, where Polydectes reigned, who, wishing to get rid of him, sent him when yet a- youth ^o brmg the head of Medusa the Gorgon. Perseus set forth under the protection of Athene and Hermes, the former of whom gave him a mirror by which he could see the monster without looking at her (for that would have changed him into stone), and the latter a sickle, while the nymphs provided him with winged sandals and a helmet of Hades or invisible cap. After numerous wonderful adventures he reached the abode of Medusa, who dwelt near Tartessus on the coast of the ocean, and succeeded in cutting off her head, which he put into a bag a,-A carried off. On his return he visited Eth'opia, where he liberated and married the beautiful Andromeda, who had been fastened to a rock and left as a prey to a terrible sea-monster. He then rescued his mother from Polydectes, whom he turned into stone. Perseus was worshipped as a hero in various parts of Greece and, according to Herodotus, in Egypt too. In ancient works of art the figure of Perseus much resembles that of Hermes.

Persia (per'sha), called by the natives Iran, the most extensive and powerful native kingdom of western Asia, is bounded on the north by the Caspian Sea and the Asiatic provinces of Russia", on the east by Afghanistan and Baluchistan; on the south by the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Ormuz and the Persian Gulf; and on the west by Asiatic Turkey. It extends about 900 miles from east to west and 700 from north to south, and has an area of 628,000 square miles. It consists for the most part of an elevated plateau, which in the center and on the east is almost a dead level, but on the northwest and south is covered with mountain chains.

Climate. The climate is exceedingly varied. The younger Cyrus is reported to have said to Xenophon that "people perish with cold at one extremity of the country, while they are suffocated with heat at the other." Persia, in fact, may be said to possess three climates : that of the gulf-coast, that of the elevated plateau and that of the Caspian provinces. Along the southern coast the heat of summer and autumn is severe, while in winter and spring the climate is delightful. On the plateau there are considerable differences of climate and considerable variation from heat to cold. About Ispahan the

winters and summers are equally mild; but to the north and northwest of this the winters are severe; and the desert region of the center and east and the country on its border endure oppressive heat in summer and piercing cold in winter. The Caspian provinces in the north, on account of their general depression below the sea, are exposed to a degree of heat in summer almost equal to that of the West Indies, and their winters are mild. Rains, however, are frequent, and many tracts of low country are unhealthy. Except in the Caspian provinces the atmosphere is remarkable for dryness and purity.

Products. The cultivated portions, when supplied with moisture, either by rainfall or irrigation, are very fertile. In some places two crops can be raised in the year. The principal products are wheat (the best in the world), barley, corn, sugar and rice. The vine flourishes in several provinces, and the wines of Shiraz are celebrated in eastern poetry. Opium and tobacco are among the considerable exports, together with wool, cotton and the fine, Persian, hand-made carpets. Pearl-fishing also is a growing industry, together with the mining of turquoises and precious stones. Mulberries are largely cultivated, and silk is one of the most important productions of the country. The cultivation of silk has greatly diminished of late years, however, on account of the silk-worm disease. Among the domestic animals the horse, ass and camel hold first place. The horses are larger and handsomer than those of Arabia, but less fleet. Salt is the principal mineral product, although copper, lead, ai.timony and some other minerals abound in certain localities. Considerable coal has been mined in the mountains near Teheran.

Transportation. The chief ports are on the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and the centers of commerce are Tabriz, Teheran and Ispahan. Persia has a system of telegraphs and the beginning of a railway system.

People. The settled portion of the population are chiefly descendants of the ancient Persian race with an intermixture of foreign blood. They are Mohammedans of the Sha'h sect, except the Sunnis and the 9,000 Parsis (q.v.), who retain the ancient faith of Zoroaster. The nomads or pastoral tribes are of four distinct races: Turks, Kurds, Lurs and Arabs. Of these nomad races the Turkish is the most numerous, the present Kajr dynasty belonging to it. The nomad races are distinguished for courage, manliness and independence of character; but they are inveterate robbers, and have been the cause of many revolutions and civil wars. There is a population of 70,000 native Christians: the Nestorians of Urumiah and Telmais and the Armenians whose principal settlement is at Ispahan. Including those