Translated by George Rawlinson
THESE are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the Barbarians from losing their due meed of glory; and withal to put on record what were their grounds of feuds.
According to the Persians best informed in history, the
Phoenicians began to quarrel. This people, who had formerly dwelt on the shores
At a later period, certain Greeks, with whose name they are
unacquainted, but who would probably be Cretans, made a landing at
In the next generation afterwards, according to the same authorities, Alexander the son of Priam, bearing these events in mind, resolved to procure himself a wife out of Greece by violence, fully persuaded, that as the Greeks had not given satisfaction for their outrages, so neither would he be forced to make any for his. Accordingly he made prize of Helen; upon which the Greeks decided that, before resorting to other measures, they would send envoys to reclaim the princess and require reparation of the wrong. Their demands were met by a reference to the violence which had been offered to Medea, and they were asked with what face they could now require satisfaction, when they had formerly rejected all demands for either reparation or restitution addressed to them.
Hitherto the injuries on either side had been mere acts of
common violence; but in what followed the Persians consider that the Greeks
were greatly to blame, since before any attack had been made on Europe, they
led an army into
Such is the account which the Persians give of these
matters. They trace to the attack upon
Croesus, son of Alyattes, by birth a Lydian, was lord of all
the nations to the west of the river Halys. This stream, which separates
The sovereignty of
Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world. This fancy had strange consequences. There was in his bodyguard a man whom he specially favoured, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs of greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to him he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters went on for a while. At length, one day, Candaules, who was fated to end ill, thus addressed his follower: “I see thou dost not credit what I tell thee of my lady’s loveliness; but come now, since men’s ears are less credulous than their eyes, contrive some means whereby thou mayst behold her naked.” At this the other loudly exclaimed, saying, “What most unwise speech is this, master, which thou hast uttered? Wouldst thou have me behold my mistress when she is naked? Bethink thee that a woman, with her clothes, puts off her bashfulness. Our fathers, in time past, distinguished right and wrong plainly enough, and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by them. There is an old saying, ‘Let each look on his own.’ I hold thy wife for the fairest of all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, ask me not to do wickedly.”
Gyges thus endeavoured to decline the king’s proposal, trembling lest some dreadful evil should befall him through it. But the king replied to him, “Courage, friend; suspect me not of the design to prove thee by this discourse; nor dread thy mistress, lest mischief be. thee at her hands. Be sure I will so manage that she shall not even know that thou hast looked upon her. I will place thee behind the open door of the chamber in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest she will follow me. There stands a chair close to the entrance, on which she will lay her clothes one by one as she takes them off. Thou wilt be able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, when she is moving from the chair toward the bed, and her back is turned on thee, be it thy care that she see thee not as thou passest through the doorway.”
Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. Then Candaules, when bedtime came, led Gyges into his sleeping-chamber, and a moment after the queen followed. She entered, and laid her garments on the chair, and Gyges gazed on her. After a while she moved toward the bed, and her back being then turned, he glided stealthily from the apartment. As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and instantly divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her shame impelled her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, purposing to take vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted her. For among the Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians generally, it is reckoned a deep disgrace, even to a man, to be seen naked.
No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. But in the morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose from among her retinue such as she knew to be most faithful to her, and preparing them for what was to ensue, summoned Gyges into her presence. Now it had often happened before that the queen had desired to confer with him, and he was accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore obeyed the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had occurred. Then she addressed these words to him: “Take thy choice, Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay Candaules, and thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian throne, or die this moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, obeying all behests of thy master, behold what is not lawful for thee. It must needs be that either he perish by whose counsel this thing was done, or thou, who sawest me naked, and so didst break our usages.” At these words Gyges stood awhile in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he earnestly besought the queen that she would not compel him to so hard a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity was indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice of life for himself, and replied by this inquiry: “If it must be so, and thou compellest me against my will to put my lord to death, come, let me hear how thou wilt have me set on him.” “Let him be attacked,” she answered, “on the spot where I was by him shown naked to you, and let the assault be made when he is asleep.”
All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell, Gyges, seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely either slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed his mistress into the sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him carefully behind the self-same door. Then Gyges, when the king was fallen asleep, entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead. Thus did the wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges, of whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, made mention in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.
Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne by an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their king, the people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of Gyges came to terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic oracle declared him king of the Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he should yield the throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle was given in his favour he became king. The Pythoness, however, added that, in the fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the Heraclides; a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their princes took any account till it was fulfilled. Such was the way in which the Mermnadae deposed the Heraclides, and themselves obtained the sovereignty.
When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no small
As soon as Gyges was king he made an in-road on
Ardys took Priene and made war upon
This prince waged war with the Medes under Cyaxares, the grandson of Deioces, drove the Cimmerians out of Asia, conquered Smyrna, the Colophonian colony, and invaded Clazomenae. From this last contest he did not come off as he could have wished, but met with a sore defeat; still, however, in the course of his reign, he performed other actions very worthy of note, of which I will now proceed to give an account.
Inheriting from his father a war with the Milesians, he pressed the siege against the city by attacking it in the following manner. When the harvest was ripe on the ground he marched his army into Milesia to the sound of pipes and harps, and flutes masculine and feminine. The buildings that were scattered over the country he neither pulled down nor burnt, nor did he even tear away the doors, but left them standing as they were. He cut down, however, and utterly destroyed all the trees and all the corn throughout the land, and then returned to his own dominions. It was idle for his army to sit down before the place, as the Milesians were masters of the sea. The reason that he did not demolish their buildings was that the inhabitants might be tempted to use them as homesteads from which to go forth to sow and till their lands; and so each time that he invaded the country he might find something to plunder.
In this way he carried on the war with the Milesians for
eleven years, in the course of which he inflicted on them two terrible blows;
one in their own country in the district of Limeneium, the other in the plain
of the Maeander. During six of these eleven years, Sadyattes, the son of Ardys
who first lighted the flames of this war, was king of
It was in the twelfth year of the war that the following
mischance occurred from the firing of the harvest-fields. Scarcely had the corn
been set alight by the soldiers when a violent wind carried the flames against
Thus much I know from information given me by the Delphians; the remainder of the story the Milesians add.
The answer made by the oracle came to the ears of Periander,
son of Cypselus, who was a very close friend to Thrasybulus, tyrant of
Alyattes, the moment that the words of the oracle were
reported to him, sent a herald to
The purpose for which he gave these orders was the
following. He hoped that the Sardian herald, seeing so great store of corn upon
the ground, and all the city given up to festivity, would inform Alyattes of
it, which fell out as he anticipated. The herald observed the whole, and when
he had delivered his message, went back to
This Periander, who apprised Thrasybulus of the oracle, was
son of Cypselus, and tyrant of
He had lived for many years at the court of Periander, when
a longing came upon him to sail across to
Having brought the war with the Milesians to a close, and
reigned over the
On the death of Alyattes, Croesus, his son, who was
thirty-five years old, succeeded to the throne. Of the Greek cities,
In this way he made himself master of all the Greek cities
Croesus afterwards, in the course of many years, brought under his sway almost all the nations to the west of the Halys. The Lycians and Cilicians alone continued free; all the other tribes he reduced and held in subjection. They were the following: the Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandynians, Chalybians, Paphlagonians, Thynian and Bithynian Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians and Pamphylians.
When all these conquests had been added to the Lydian
empire, and the prosperity of Sardis was now at its height, there came thither,
one after another, all the sages of Greece living at the time, and among them
Solon, the Athenian. He was on his travels, having left
On this account, as well as to see the world, Solon set out
upon his travels, in the course of which he went to
Thus did Solon admonish Croesus by the example of Tellus,
enumerating the manifold particulars of his happiness. When he had ended,
Croesus inquired a second time, who after Tellus seemed to him the happiest,
expecting that at any rate, he would be given the second place. “Cleobis and
Bito,” Solon answered; “they were of Argive race; their fortune was enough for
their wants, and they were besides endowed with so much bodily strength that
they had both gained prizes at the Games. Also this tale is told of them:—There
was a great festival in honour of the goddess Juno at
When Solon had thus assigned these youths the second place,
Croesus broke in angrily, “What, stranger of
“Oh! Croesus,” replied the other, “thou askedst a question concerning the condition of man, of one who knows that the power above us is full of jealousy, and fond of troubling our lot. A long life gives one to witness much, and experience much oneself, that one would not choose. Seventy years I regard as the limit of the life of man. In these seventy years are contained, without reckoning intercalary months, twenty-five thousand and two hundred days. Add an intercalary month to every other year, that the seasons may come round at the right time, and there will be, besides the seventy years, thirty-five such months, making an addition of one thousand and fifty days. The whole number of the days contained in the seventy years will thus be twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty, whereof not one but will produce events unlike the rest. Hence man is wholly accident. For thyself, oh! Croesus, I see that thou art wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations; but with respect to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer to give, until I hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For assuredly he who possesses great store of riches is no nearer happiness than he who has what suffices for his daily needs, unless it so hap that luck attend upon him, and so he continue in the enjoyment of all his good things to the end of life. For many of the wealthiest men have been unfavoured of fortune, and many whose means were moderate have had excellent luck. Men of the former class excel those of the latter but in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability to withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck keeps him clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: he is whole of limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his children, and comely to look upon. If, in addition to all this, he end his life well, he is of a truth the man of whom thou art in search, the man who may rightly be termed happy. Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single human being is complete in every respect—something is always lacking. He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of ‘happy.’ But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin.”
Such was the speech which Solon addressed to Croesus, a speech which brought him neither largess nor honour. The king saw him depart with much indifference, since he thought that a man must be an arrant fool who made no account of present good, but bade men always wait and mark the end.
After Solon had gone away a dreadful vengeance, sent of God, came upon Croesus, to punish him, it is likely, for deeming himself the happiest of men. First he had a dream in the night, which foreshowed him truly the evils that were about to befall him in the person of his son. For Croesus had two sons, one blasted by a natural defect, being deaf and dumb; the other, distinguished far above all his co-mates in every pursuit. The name of the last was Atys. It was this son concerning whom he dreamt a dream that he would die by the blow of an iron weapon. When he woke, he considered earnestly with himself, and, greatly alarmed at the dream, instantly made his son take a wife, and whereas in former years the youth had been wont to command the Lydian forces in the field, he now would not suffer him to accompany them. All the spears and javelins, and weapons used in the wars, he removed out of the male apartments, and laid them in heaps in the chambers of the women, fearing lest perhaps one of the weapons that hung against the wall might fall and strike him.
Now it chanced that while he was making arrangements for the
wedding, there came to
It chanced that at this very same time there was in the Mysian Olympus a huge monster of a boar, which went forth often from this mountain country, and wasted the corn-fields of the Mysians. Many a time had the Mysians collected to hunt the beast, but instead of doing him any hurt, they came off always with some loss to themselves. At length they sent ambassadors to Croesus, who delivered their message to him in these words: “Oh! king, a mighty monster of a boar has appeared in our parts, and destroys the labour of our hands. We do our best to take him, but in vain. Now therefore we beseech thee to let thy son accompany us back, with some chosen youths and hounds, that we may rid our country of the animal.” Such was the tenor of their prayer.
But Croesus bethought him of his dream, and answered, “Say no more of my son going with you; that may not be in any wise. He is but just joined in wedlock, and is busy enough with that. I will grant you a picked band of Lydians, and all my huntsmen and hounds; and I will charge those whom I send to use all zeal in aiding you to rid your country of the brute.”
With this reply the Mysians were content; but the king’s son, hearing what the prayer of the Mysians was, came suddenly in, and on the refusal of Croesus to let him go with them, thus addressed his father: “Formerly, my father, it was deemed the noblest and most suitable thing for me to frequent the wars and hunting-parties, and win myself glory in them; but now thou keepest me away from both, although thou hast never beheld in me either cowardice or lack of spirit. What face meanwhile must I wear as I walk to the forum or return from it? What must the citizens, what must my young bride think of me? What sort of man will she suppose her husband to be? Either, therefore, let me go to the chase of this boar, or give me a reason why it is best for me to do according to thy wishes.”
Then Croesus answered, “My son, it is not because I have seen in thee either cowardice or aught else which has displeased me that I keep thee back; but because a vision which came before me in a dream as I slept, warned me that thou wert doomed to die young, pierced by an iron weapon. It was this which first led me to hasten on thy wedding, and now it hinders me from sending thee upon this enterprise. Fain would I keep watch over thee, if by any means I may cheat fate of thee during my own lifetime. For thou art the one and only son that I possess; the other, whose hearing is destroyed, I regard as if he were not.”
“Ah! father,” returned the youth, “I blame thee not for keeping watch over me after a dream so terrible; but if thou mistakest, if thou dost not apprehend the dream aright, ‘tis no blame for me to show thee wherein thou errest. Now the dream, thou saidst thyself, foretold that I should die stricken by an iron weapon. But what hands has a boar to strike with? What iron weapon does he wield? Yet this is what thou fearest for me. Had the dream said that I should die pierced by a tusk, then thou hadst done well to keep me away; but it said a weapon. Now here we do not combat men, but a wild animal. I pray thee, therefore, let me go with them.”
“There thou hast me, my son,” said Croesus, “thy interpretation is better than mine. I yield to it, and change my mind, and consent to let thee go.”
Then the king sent for Adrastus, the Phrygian, and said to him, “Adrastus, when thou wert smitten with the rod of affliction—no reproach, my friend—I purified thee, and have taken thee to live with me in my palace, and have been at every charge. Now, therefore, it behoves thee to requite the good offices which thou hast received at my hands by consenting to go with my son on this hunting party, and to watch over him, if perchance you should be attacked upon the road by some band of daring robbers. Even apart from this, it were right for thee to go where thou mayest make thyself famous by noble deeds. They are the heritage of thy family, and thou too art so stalwart and strong.”
Adrastus answered, “Except for thy request, Oh! king, I would rather have kept away from this hunt; for methinks it ill beseems a man under a misfortune such as mine to consort with his happier compeers; and besides, I have no heart to it. On many grounds I had stayed behind; but, as thou urgest it, and I am bound to pleasure thee (for truly it does behove me to requite thy good offices), I am content to do as thou wishest. For thy son, whom thou givest into my charge, be sure thou shalt receive him back safe and sound, so far as depends upon a guardian’s carefulness.”
Thus assured, Croesus let them depart, accompanied by a band
of picked youths, and well provided with dogs of chase. When they reached
If it was a heavy blow to the father to learn that his child was dead, it yet more strongly affected him to think that the very man whom he himself once purified had done the deed. In the violence of his grief he called aloud on Jupiter Catharsius to be a witness of what he had suffered at the stranger’s hands. Afterwards he invoked the same god as Jupiter Ephistius and Hetaereus—using the one term because he had unwittingly harboured in his house the man who had now slain his son; and the other, because the stranger, who had been sent as his child’s guardian, had turned out his most cruel enemy.
Presently the Lydians arrived, bearing the body of the youth, and behind them followed the homicide. He took his stand in front of the corse, and, stretching forth his hands to Croesus, delivered himself into his power with earnest entreaties that he would sacrifice him upon the body of his son—“his former misfortune was burthen enough; now that he had added to it a second, and had brought ruin on the man who purified him, he could not bear to live.” Then Croesus, when he heard these words, was moved with pity towards Adrastus, notwithstanding the bitterness of his own calamity; and so he answered, “Enough, my friend; I have all the revenge that I require, since thou givest sentence of death against thyself. But in sooth it is not thou who hast injured me, except so far as thou hast unwittingly dealt the blow. Some god is the author of my misfortune, and I was forewarned of it a long time ago.” Croesus after this buried the body of his son, with such honours as befitted the occasion. Adrastus, son of Gordias, son of Midas, the destroyer of his brother in time past, the destroyer now of his purifier, regarding himself as the most unfortunate wretch whom he had ever known, so soon as all was quiet about the place, slew himself upon the tomb. Croesus, bereft of his son, gave himself up to mourning for two full years.
At the end of this time the grief of Croesus was interrupted
by intelligence from abroad. He learnt that Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, had
destroyed the empire of Astyages, the son of Cyaxares; and that the Persians
were becoming daily more powerful. This led him to consider with himself
whether it were possible to check the growing power of that people before it
came to a head. With this design he resolved to make instant trial of the
several oracles in
The messengers who were despatched to make trial of the
oracles were given the following instructions: they were to keep count of the
days from the time of their leaving Sardis, and, reckoning from that date, on
the hundredth day they were to consult the oracles, and to inquire of them what
Croesus the son of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was doing at that moment. The
answers given them were to be taken down in writing, and brought back to him.
None of the replies remain on record except that of the oracle at
I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean;
I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth;
Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered
Boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron-
Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it.
These words the Lydians wrote down at the mouth of the
Pythoness as she prophesied, and then set off on their return to
Such then was the answer returned to Croesus from
After this Croesus, having resolved to propitiate the
Delphic god with a magnificent sacrifice, offered up three thousand of every
kind of sacrificial beast, and besides made a huge pile, and placed upon it
couches coated with silver and with gold, and golden goblets, and robes and
vests of purple; all which he burnt in the hope of thereby making himself more
secure of the favour of the god. Further he issued his orders to all the people
of the land to offer a sacrifice according to their means. When the sacrifice
was ended, the king melted down a vast quantity of gold, and ran it into
ingots, making them six palms long, three palms broad, and one palm in
thickness. The number of ingots was a hundred and seventeen, four being of
refined gold, in weight two talents and a half; the others of pale gold, and in
weight two talents. He also caused a statue of a lion to be made in refined
gold, the weight of which was ten talents. At the time when the
On the completion of these works Croesus sent them away to Delphi, and with them two bowls of an enormous size, one of gold, the other of silver, which used to stand, the latter upon the right, the former upon the left, as one entered the temple. They too were moved at the time of the fire; and now the golden one is in the Clazomenian treasury, and weighs eight talents and forty-two minae; the silver one stands in the corner of the ante-chapel, and holds six hundred amphorae. This is known because the Delphians fill it at the time of the Theophania. It is said by the Delphians to be a work of Theodore the Samian, and I think that they say true, for assuredly it is the work of no common artist. Croesus sent also four silver casks, which are in the Corinthian treasury, and two lustral vases, a golden and a silver one. On the former is inscribed the name of the Lacedaemonians, and they claim it as a gift of theirs, but wrongly, since it was really given by Croesus. The inscription upon it was cut by a Delphian, who wished to pleasure the Lacedaemonians. His name is known to me, but I forbear to mention it. The boy, through whose hand the water runs, is (I confess) a Lacedaemonian gift, but they did not give either of the lustral vases. Besides these various offerings, Croesus sent to Delphi many others of less account, among the rest a number of round silver basins. Also he dedicated a female figure in gold, three cubits high, which is said by the Delphians to be the statue of his baking-woman; and further, he presented the necklace and the girdles of his wife.
These were the offerings sent by Croesus to
The messengers who had the charge of conveying these treasures to the shrines, received instructions to ask the oracles whether Croesus should go to war with the Persians and if so, whether he should strengthen himself by the forces of an ally. Accordingly, when they had reached their destinations and presented the gifts, they proceeded to consult the oracles in the following terms:—“Croesus, of Lydia and other countries, believing that these are the only real oracles in all the world, has sent you such presents as your discoveries deserved, and now inquires of you whether he shall go to war with the Persians, and if so, whether he shall strengthen himself by the forces of a confederate.” Both the oracles agreed in the tenor of their reply, which was in each case a prophecy that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, and a recommendation to him to look and see who were the most powerful of the Greeks, and to make alliance with them.
At the receipt of these oracular replies Croesus was overjoyed, and feeling sure now that he would destroy the empire of the Persians, he sent once more to Pytho, and presented to the Delphians, the number of whom he had ascertained, two gold staters apiece. In return for this the Delphians granted to Croesus and the Lydians the privilege of precedency in consulting the oracle, exemption from all charges, the most honourable seat at the festivals, and the perpetual right of becoming at pleasure citizens of their town.
After sending these presents to the Delphians, Croesus a third time consulted the oracle, for having once proved its truthfulness, he wished to make constant use of it. The question whereto he now desired an answer was—“Whether his kingdom would be of long duration?” The following was the reply of the Pythoness:—
Wait till the time shall come when a mule is monarch of Media;
Then, thou delicate Lydian, away to the pebbles of Hermus;
Haste, oh! haste thee away, nor blush to behave like a coward.
Of all the answers that had reached him, this pleased him
far the best, for it seemed incredible that a mule should ever come to be king
of the Medes, and so he concluded that the sovereignty would never depart from
himself or his seed after him. Afterwards he turned his thoughts to the
alliance which he had been recommended to contract, and sought to ascertain by
inquiry which was the most powerful of the Grecian states. His inquiries
pointed out to him two states as pre-eminent above the rest. These were the
Lacedaemonians and the Athenians, the former of Doric, the latter of Ionic
blood. And indeed these two nations had held from very, early times the most
distinguished place in Greece, the being a Pelasgic, the other a Hellenic
people, and the one having never quitted its original seats, while the other
had been excessively migratory; for during the reign of Deucalion, Phthiotis
was the country in which the Hellenes dwelt, but under Dorus, the son of
Hellen, they moved to the tract at the base of Ossa and Olympus, which is
called Histiaeotis; forced to retire from that region by the Cadmeians, they
settled, under the name of Macedni, in the chain of Pindus. Hence they once
more removed and came to Dryopis; and from Dryopis having entered the
What the language of the Pelasgi was I cannot say with any certainty. If, however, we may form a conjecture from the tongue spoken by the Pelasgi of the present day—those, for instance, who live at Creston above the Tyrrhenians, who formerly dwelt in the district named Thessaliotis, and were neighbours of the people now called the Dorians—or those again who founded Placia and Scylace upon the Hellespont, who had previously dwelt for some time with the Athenians—or those, in short, of any other of the cities which have dropped the name but are in fact Pelasgian; if, I say, we are to form a conjecture from any of these, we must pronounce that the Pelasgi spoke a barbarous language. If this were really so, and the entire Pelasgic race spoke the same tongue, the Athenians, who were certainly Pelasgi, must have changed their language at the same time that they passed into the Hellenic body; for it is a certain fact that the people of Creston speak a language unlike any of their neighbours, and the same is true of the Placianians, while the language spoken by these two people is the same; which shows that they both retain the idiom which they brought with them into the countries where they are now settled.
The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied.
On inquiring into the condition of these two nations,
Croesus found that one, the Athenian, was in a state of grievous oppression and
distraction under Pisistratus, the son of Hippocrates, who was at that time
tyrant of Athens. Hippocrates, when he was a private citizen, is said to have
gone once upon a time to
However, after a little time, the partisans of Megacles and
those of Lycurgus agreed to forget their differences, and united to drive him
out. So Pisistratus, having by the means described first made himself master of
Pisistratus, having thus recovered the sovereignty, married,
according to agreement, the daughter of Megacles. As, however, he had already a
family of grown up sons, and the Alcmaeonidae were supposed to be under a
curse, he determined that there should be no issue of the marriage. His wife at
first kept this matter to herself, but after a time, either her mother
questioned her, or it may be that she told it of her own accord. At any rate,
she informed her mother, and so it reached her father’s ears. Megacles,
indignant at receiving an affront from such a quarter, in his anger instantly
made up his differences with the opposite faction, on which Pisistratus, aware
of what was planning against him, took himself out of the country. Arrived at
In the eleventh year of their exile the family of
Pisistratus set sail from
Now has the cast been made, the net is out-spread in the water,
Through the moonshiny night the tunnies will enter the meshes.
Such was the prophecy uttered under a divine inspiration.
Pisistratus, apprehending its meaning, declared that he accepted the oracle,
and instantly led on his army. The Athenians from the city had just finished
their midday meal, after which they had betaken themselves, some to dice,
others to sleep, when Pisistratus with his troops fell upon them and put them
to the rout. As soon as the flight began, Pisistratus bethought himself of a
most wise contrivance, whereby the might be induced to disperse and not unite
in a body any more. He mounted his sons on horseback and sent them on in front
to overtake the fugitives, and exhort them to be of good cheer, and return each
man to his home. The Athenians took the advice, and Pisistratus became for the
third time master of
Upon this he set himself to root his power more firmly, by
the aid of a numerous body of mercenaries, and by keeping up a full exchequer,
partly supplied from native sources, partly from the countries about the river
Strymon. He also demanded hostages from many of the Athenians who had remained
at home, and not left
Such was the condition of the Athenians when Croesus made
inquiry concerning them. Proceeding to seek information concerning the
Lacedaemonians, he learnt that, after passing through a period of great
depression, they had lately been victorious in a war with the people of Tegea;
for, during the joint reign of Leo and Agasicles, kings of Sparta, the
Lacedaemonians, successful in all their other wars, suffered continual defeat
at the hands of the Tegeans. At a still earlier period they had been the very
worst governed people in
Oh! thou great Lycurgus, that com’st to my beautiful dwelling,
Dear to love, and
to all who sit in the halls of
Whether to hail thee a god I know not, or only a mortal,
But my hope is strong that a god thou wilt prove, Lycurgus.
Some report besides, that the Pythoness delivered to him the
entire system of laws which are still observed by the Spartans. The
Lacedaemonians, however. themselves assert that Lycurgus, when he was guardian
of his nephew, Labotas, king of
On the death of Lycurgus they built him a temple, and ever
since they have worshipped him with the utmost reverence. Their soil being good
and the population numerous, they sprang up rapidly to power, and became a
flourishing people. In consequence they soon ceased to be satisfied to stay
quiet; and, regarding the Arcadians as very much their inferiors, they sent to
consult the oracle about conquering the whole of
Many the men that
They will never allow thee. It is not I that am niggard.
I will give thee to dance in Tegea, with noisy foot-fall,
And with the measuring line mete out the glorious champaign.
When the Lacedaemonians received this reply, leaving the
rest of Arcadia untouched, they marched against the Tegeans, carrying with them
fetters, so confident had this oracle (which was, in truth, but of base metal)
made them that they would enslave the Tegeans. The battle, however, went
against them, and many fell into the enemy’s hands. Then these persons, wearing
the fetters which they had themselves brought, and fastened together in a
string, measured the Tegean plain as they executed their labours. The fetters
in which they worked were still, in my day, preserved at Tegea where they hung
round the walls of the
Throughout the whole of this early contest with the Tegeans,
the Lacedaemonians met with nothing but defeats; but in the time of Croesus,
under the kings Anaxandrides and Aristo, fortune had turned in their favour, in
the manner which I will now relate. Having been worsted in every engagement by
their enemy, they sent to
Level and smooth is the plain where Arcadian Tegea standeth;
There two winds are ever, by strong necessity, blowing,
Counter-stroke answers stroke, and evil lies upon evil.
There all-teeming Earth doth harbour the son of Atrides;
Bring thou him to thy city, and then be Tegea’s master.
After this reply, the Lacedaemonians were no nearer discovering the burial-place than before, though they continued to search for it diligently; until at last a man named Lichas, one of the Spartans called Agathoergi, found it. The Agathoergi are citizens who have just served their time among the knights. The five eldest of the knights go out every year, and are bound during the year after their discharge to go wherever the State sends them, and actively employ themselves in its service.
Lichas was one of this body when, partly by good luck, partly by his own wisdom, he discovered the burial-place. Intercourse between the two States existing just at this time, he went to Tegea, and, happening to enter into the workshop of a smith, he saw him forging some iron. As he stood marvelling at what he beheld, he was observed by the smith who, leaving off his work, went up to him and said,
“Certainly, then, you Spartan stranger, you would have been wonderfully surprised if you had seen what I have, since you make a marvel even of the working in iron. I wanted to make myself a well in this room, and began to dig it, when what think you? I came upon a coffin seven cubits long. I had never believed that men were taller in the olden times than they are now, so I opened the coffin. The body inside was of the same length: I measured it, and filled up the hole again.”
Such was the man’s account of what he had seen. The other,
on turning the matter over in his mind, conjectured that this was the body of
Orestes, of which the oracle had spoken. He guessed so, because he observed
that the smithy had two bellows, which he understood to be the two winds, and
the hammer and anvil would do for the stroke and the counterstroke, and the
iron that was being wrought for the evil lying upon evil. This he imagined
might be so because iron had been discovered to the hurt of man. Full of these
conjectures, he sped back to
Croesus, informed of all these circumstances, sent
“Croesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent us to speak thus to you: ‘Oh Lacedaemonians, the god has bidden me to make the Greek my friend; I therefore apply to you, in conformity with the oracle, knowing that you hold the first rank in Greece, and desire to become your friend and ally in all true faith and honesty.’”
Such was the message which Croesus sent by his heralds. The Lacedaemonians, who were aware beforehand of the reply given him by the oracle, were full of joy at the coming of the messengers, and at once took the oaths of friendship and alliance: this they did the more readily as they had previously contracted certain obligations towards him. They had sent to Sardis on one occasion to purchase some gold, intending to use it on a statue of Apollo—the statue, namely, which remains to this day at Thornax in Laconia, when Croesus, hearing of the matter, gave them as a gift the gold which they wanted.
This was one reason why the Lacedaemonians were so willing
to make the alliance: another was, because Croesus had chosen them for his
friends in preference to all the other Greeks. They therefore held themselves
in readiness to come at his summons, and not content with so doing, they
further had a huge vase made in bronze, covered with figures of animals all
round the outside of the rim, and large enough to contain three hundred
amphorae, which they sent to Croesus as a return for his presents to them. The
vase, however, never reached
Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, led
his forces into
“Thou art about, oh! king, to make war against men who wear
leathern trousers, and have all their other garments of leather; who feed not
on what they like, but on what they can get from a soil that is sterile and
unkindly; who do not indulge in wine, but drink water; who possess no figs nor
anything else that is good to eat. If, then, thou conquerest them, what canst
thou get from them, seeing that they have nothing at all? But if they conquer
thee, consider how much that is precious thou wilt lose: if they once get a
taste of our pleasant things, they will keep such hold of them that we shall
never be able to make them loose their grasp. For my part, I am thankful to the
gods that they have not put it into the hearts of the Persians to invade
Croesus was not persuaded by this speech, though it was true
enough; for before the conquest of
The Cappadocians are known to the Greeks by the name of Syrians. Before the rise of the Persian power, they had been subject to the Medes; but at the present time they were within the empire of Cyrus, for the boundary between the Median and the Lydian empires was the river Halys. This stream, which rises in the mountain country of Armenia, runs first through Cilicia; afterwards it flows for a while with the Matieni on the right, and the Phrygians on the left: then, when they are passed, it proceeds with a northern course, separating the Cappadocian Syrians from the Paphlagonians, who occupy the left bank, thus forming the boundary of almost the whole of Lower Asia, from the sea opposite Cyprus to the Euxine. Just there is the neck of the peninsula, a journey of five days across for an active walker.
There were two motives which led Croesus to attack Cappadocia: firstly, he coveted the land, which he wished to add to his own dominions; but the chief reason was that he wanted to revenge on Cyrus the wrongs of Astyages, and was made confident by the oracle of being able so to do: for Astyages, son of Cyaxares and king of the Medes, who had been dethroned by Cyrus, son of Cambyses, was Croesus’ brother by marriage. This marriage had taken place under circumstances which I will now relate. A band of Scythian nomads, who had left their own land on occasion of some disturbance, had taken refuge in Media. Cyaxares, son of Phraortes, and grandson of Deioces, was at that time king of the country. Recognising them as suppliants, he began by treating them with kindness, and coming presently to esteem them highly, he intrusted to their care a number of boys, whom they were to teach their language and to instruct in the use of the bow. Time passed, and the Scythians employed themselves, day after day, in hunting, and always brought home some game; but at last it chanced that one day they took nothing. On their return to Cyaxares with empty hands, that monarch, who was hot-tempered, as he showed upon the occasion, received them very rudely and insultingly. In consequence of this treatment, which they did not conceive themselves to have deserved, the Scythians determined to take one of the boys whom they had in charge, cut him in pieces, and then dressing the flesh as they were wont to dress that of the wild animals, serve it up to Cyaxares as game: after which they resolved to convey themselves with all speed to Sardis, to the court of Alyattes, the son of Sadyattes. The plan was carried out: Cyaxares and his guests ate of the flesh prepared by the Scythians, and they themselves, having accomplished their purpose, fled to Alyattes in the guise of suppliants.
Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place. The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on. Syennesis of Cilicia, and Labynetus of Babylon, were the persons who mediated between the parties, who hastened the taking of the oaths, and brought about the exchange of espousals. It was they who advised that Alyattes should give his daughter Aryenis in marriage to Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, knowing, as they did, that without some sure bond of strong necessity, there is wont to be but little security in men’s covenants. Oaths are taken by these people in the same way as by the Greeks, except that they make a slight flesh wound in their arms, from which each sucks a portion of the other’s blood.
Cyrus had captured this Astyages, who was his mother’s father, and kept him prisoner, for a reason which I shall bring forward in another of my history. This capture formed the ground of quarrel between Cyrus and Croesus, in consequence of which Croesus sent his servants to ask the oracle if he should attack the Persians; and when an evasive answer came, fancying it to be in his favour, carried his arms into the Persian territory. When he reached the river Halys, he transported his army across it, as I maintain, by the bridges which exist there at the present day; but, according to the general belief of the Greeks, by the aid of Thales the Milesian. The tale is that Croesus was in doubt how he should get his army across, as the bridges were not made at that time, and that Thales, who happened to be in the camp, divided the stream and caused it to flow on both sides of the army instead of on the left only. This he effected thus:—Beginning some distance above the camp, he dug a deep channel, which he brought round in a semicircle, so that it might pass to rearward of the camp; and that thus the river, diverted from its natural course into the new channel at the point where this left the stream, might flow by the station of the army, and afterwards fall again into the ancient bed. In this way the river was split into two streams, which were both easily fordable. It is said by some that the water was entirely drained off from the natural bed of the river. But I am of a different opinion; for I do not see how, in that case, they could have crossed it on their return.
Having passed the Halys with the forces under his command,
Croesus entered the district of Cappadocia which is called Pteria. It lies in
the neighbourhood of the city of
Croesus laid the blame of his ill success on the number of
his troops, which fell very short of the enemy; and as on the next day Cyrus
did not repeat the attack, he set off on his return to
While Croesus was still in this mind, all the suburbs of
Cyrus, however, when Croesus broke up so suddenly from his
quarters after the battle at Pteria, conceiving that he had marched away with
the intention of disbanding his army, considered a little, and soon saw that it
was advisable for him to advance upon Sardis with all haste, before the Lydians
could get their forces together a second time. Having thus determined, he lost
no time in carrying out his plan. He marched forward with such speed that he
was himself the first to announce his coming to the Lydian king. That monarch,
placed in the utmost difficulty by the turn of events which had gone so
entirely against all his calculations, nevertheless led out the Lydians to
battle. In all
The two armies met in the plain before
When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order
of battle on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, he adopted a
device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, suggested to him. He collected
together all the camels that had come in the train of his army to carry the
provisions and the baggage, and taking off their loads, he mounted riders upon
them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded to advance in front of his other
troops against the Lydian horse; behind them were to follow the foot soldiers,
and last of all the cavalry. When his arrangements were complete, he gave his
troops orders to slay all the other Lydians who came in their way without
mercy, but to spare Croesus and not kill him, even if he should be seized and
offer resistance. The reason why Cyrus opposed his camels to the enemy’s horse
was because the horse has a natural dread of the camel, and cannot abide either
the sight or the smell of that animal. By this stratagem he hoped to make Croesus’s
horse useless to him, the horse being what he chiefly depended on for victory.
The two armies then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses,
seeing and smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it came
to pass that all Croesus’s hopes withered away. The Lydians, however, behaved
manfully. As soon as they understood what was happening, they leaped off their
horses, and engaged with the Persians on foot. The combat was long; but at
last, after a great slaughter on both sides, the Lydians turned and fled. They
were driven within their walls and the Persians laid siege to
Thus the siege began. Meanwhile Croesus, thinking that the
place would hold out no inconsiderable time, sent off fresh heralds to his
allies from the beleaguered town. His former messengers had been charged to bid
them assemble at Sardis in the course of the fifth month; they whom he now sent
were to say that he was already besieged, and to beseech them to come to his
aid with all possible speed. Among his other allies Croesus did not omit to
It chanced, however, that the Spartans were themselves just
at this time engaged in a quarrel with the Argives about a place called Thyrea,
which was within the limits of
Although the Spartans were engaged with these matters when
the herald arrived from
The following is the way in which
With respect to Croesus himself, this is what befell him at
the taking of the town. He had a son, of whom I made mention above, a worthy
youth, whose only defect was that he was deaf and dumb. In the days of his
prosperity Croesus had done the utmost that be could for him, and among other
plans which he had devised, had sent to
Lydian, wide-ruling monarch, thou wondrous simple Croesus,
Wish not ever to hear in thy palace the voice thou hast prayed for
Uttering intelligent sounds. Far better thy son should be silent!
Ah! woe worth the day when thine car shall first list to his
When the town was taken, one of the Persians was just going to kill Croesus, not knowing who he was. Croesus saw the man coming, but under the pressure of his affliction, did not care to avoid the blow, not minding whether or no he died beneath the stroke. Then this son of his, who was voiceless, beholding the Persian as he rushed towards Croesus, in the agony of his fear and grief burst into speech, and said, “Man, do not kill Croesus.” This was the first time that he had ever spoken a word, but afterwards he retained the power of speech for the remainder of his life.
Thus was Sardis taken by the Persians, and Croesus himself fell into their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, and been besieged in his capital fourteen days; thus too did Croesus fulfill the oracle, which said that he should destroy a mighty empire by destroying his own. Then the Persians who had made Croesus prisoner brought him before Cyrus. Now a vast pile had been raised by his orders, and Croesus, laden with fetters, was placed upon it, and with him twice seven of the sons of the Lydians. I know not whether Cyrus was minded to make an offering of the to some god or other, or whether he had vowed a vow and was performing it, or whether, as may well be, he had heard that Croesus was a holy man, and so wished to see if any of the heavenly powers would appear to save him from being burnt alive. However it might be, Cyrus was thus engaged, and Croesus was already on the pile, when it entered his mind in the depth of his woe that there was a divine warning in the words which had come to him from the lips of Solon, “No one while he lives is happy.” When this thought smote him he fetched a long breath, and breaking his deep silence, groaned out aloud, thrice uttering the name of Solon. Cyrus caught the sounds, and bade the interpreters inquire of Croesus who it was he called on. They drew near and asked him, but he held his peace, and for a long time made no answer to their questionings, until at length, forced to say something, he exclaimed, “One I would give much to see converse with every monarch.” Not knowing what he meant by this reply, the interpreters begged him to explain himself; and as they pressed for an answer, and grew to be troublesome, he told them how, a long time before, Solon, an Athenian, had come and seen all his splendour, and made light of it; and how whatever he had said to him had fallen out exactly as he foreshowed, although it was nothing that especially concerned him, but applied to all mankind alike, and most to those who seemed to themselves happy. Meanwhile, as he thus spoke, the pile was lighted, and the outer portion began to blaze. Then Cyrus, hearing from the interpreters what Croesus had said, relented, bethinking himself that he too was a man, and that it was a fellow-man, and one who had once been as blessed by fortune as himself, that he was burning alive; afraid, moreover, of retribution, and full of the thought that whatever is human is insecure. So he bade them quench the blazing fire as quickly as they could, and take down Croesus and the other Lydians, which they tried to do, but the flames were not to be mastered.
Then, the Lydians say that Croesus, perceiving by the efforts made to quench the fire that Cyrus had relented, and seeing also that all was in vain, and that the men could not get the fire under, called with a loud voice upon the god Apollo, and prayed him, if he ever received at his hands any acceptable gift, to come to his aid, and deliver him from his present danger. As thus with tears he besought the god, suddenly, though up to that time the sky had been clear and the day without a breath of wind, dark clouds gathered, and the storm burst over their heads with rain of such violence, that the flames were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by this that Croesus was a good man and a favourite of heaven, asked him after he was taken off the pile, “Who it was that had persuaded him to lead an army into his country, and so become his foe rather than continue his friend?” to which Croesus made answer as follows: “What I did, oh! king, was to thy advantage and to my own loss. If there be blame, it rests with the god of the Greeks, who encouraged me to begin the war. No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons. But the gods willed it so.”
Thus did Croesus speak. Cyrus then ordered his fetters to be taken off, and made him sit down near himself, and paid him much respect, looking upon him, as did also the courtiers, with a sort of wonder. Croesus, wrapped in thought, uttered no word. After a while, happening to turn and perceive the Persian soldiers engaged in plundering the town, he said to Cyrus, “May I now tell thee, oh! king, what I have in my mind, or is silence best?” Cyrus bade him speak his mind boldly. Then he put this question: “What is it, oh! Cyrus, which those men yonder are doing so busily?” “Plundering thy city,” Cyrus answered, “and carrying off thy riches.” “Not my city,” rejoined the other, “nor my riches. They are not mine any more. It is thy wealth which they are pillaging.”
Cyrus, struck by what Croesus had said, bade all the court to withdraw, and then asked Croesus what he thought it best for him to do as regarded the plundering. Croesus answered, “Now that the gods have made me thy slave, oh! Cyrus, it seems to me that it is my part, if I see anything to thy advantage, to show it to thee. Thy subjects, the Persians, are a poor people with a proud spirit. If then thou lettest them pillage and possess themselves of great wealth, I will tell thee what thou hast to expect at their hands. The man who gets the most, look to having him rebel against thee. Now then, if my words please thee, do thus, oh! king:—Let some of thy bodyguards be placed as sentinels at each of the city gates, and let them take their booty from the soldiers as they leave the town, and tell them that they do so because the tenths are due to Jupiter. So wilt thou escape the hatred they would feel if the plunder were taken away from them by force; and they, seeing that what is proposed is just, will do it willingly.”
Cyrus was beyond measure pleased with this advice, so
excellent did it seem to him. He praised Croesus highly, and gave orders to his
bodyguard to do as he had suggested. Then, turning to Croesus, he said, “Oh!
Croesus, I see that thou are resolved both in speech and act to show thyself a
virtuous prince: ask me, therefore, whatever thou wilt as a gift at this
moment.” Croesus replied, “Oh! my lord, if thou wilt suffer me to send these
fetters to the god of the Greeks, whom I once honoured above all other gods,
and ask him if it is his wont to deceive his benefactors—that will be the
highest favour thou canst confer on me.” Cyrus upon this inquired what charge
he had to make against the god. Then Croesus gave him a full account of all his
projects, and of the answers of the oracle, and of the offerings which he had
sent, on which he dwelt especially, and told him how it was the encouragement
given him by the oracle which had led him to make war upon
The Lydians went to
Such was the answer of the Pythoness. The Lydians returned
Besides the offerings which have been already mentioned, there are many others in various parts of Greece presented by Croesus; as at Thebes in Boeotia, where there is a golden tripod, dedicated by him to Ismenian Apollo; at Ephesus, where the golden heifers, and most of the columns are his gift; and at Delphi, in the temple of Pronaia, where there is a huge shield in gold, which he gave. All these offerings were still in existence in my day; many others have perished: among them those which he dedicated at Branchidae in Milesia, equal in weight, as I am informed, and in all respects like to those at Delphi. The Delphian presents, and those sent to Amphiaraus, came from his own private property, being the first-fruits of the fortune which he inherited from his father; his other offerings came from the riches of an enemy, who, before he mounted the throne, headed a party against him, with the view of obtaining the crown of Lydia for Pantaleon. This Pantaleon was a son of Alyattes, but by a different mother from Croesus; for the mother of Croesus was a Carian woman, but the mother of Pantaleon an Ionian. When, by the appointment of his father, Croesus obtained the kingly dignity, he seized the man who had plotted against him, and broke him upon the wheel. His property, which he had previously devoted to the service of the gods, Croesus applied in the way mentioned above. This is all I shall say about his offerings.
The Lydians have very nearly the same customs as the Greeks,
with the exception that these last do not bring up their girls in the same way.
So far as we have any knowledge, they were the first nation to introduce the
use of gold and silver coin, and the first who sold goods by retail. They claim
also the invention of all the games which are common to them with the Greeks.
These they declare that they invented about the time when they colonised
Tyrrhenia, an event of which they give the following account. In the days of
Atys, the son of Manes, there was great scarcity through the whole
Thus far I have been engaged in showing how the Lydians were brought under the Persian yoke. The course of my history now compels me to inquire who this Cyrus was by whom the Lydian empire was destroyed, and by what means the Persians had become the lords paramount of Asia. And herein I shall follow those Persian authorities whose object it appears to be not to magnify the exploits of Cyrus, but to relate the simple truth. I know besides three ways in which the story of Cyrus is told, all differing from my own narrative.
The Assyrians had held the Empire of Upper Asia for the space of five hundred and twenty years, when the Medes set the example of revolt from their authority. They took arms for the recovery of their freedom, and fought a battle with the Assyrians, in which they behaved with such gallantry as to shake off the yoke of servitude, and to become a free people. Upon their success the other nations also revolted and regained their independence.
Thus the nations over that whole extent of country obtained the blessing of self-government, but they fell again under the sway of kings, in the manner which I will now relate. There was a certain Mede named Deioces, son of Phraortes, a man of much wisdom, who had conceived the desire of obtaining to himself the sovereign power. In furtherance of his ambition, therefore, he formed and carried into execution the following scheme. As the Medes at that time dwelt in scattered villages without any central authority, and lawlessness in consequence prevailed throughout the land, Deioces, who was already a man of mark in his own village, applied himself with greater zeal and earnestness than ever before to the practice of justice among his fellows. It was his conviction that justice and injustice are engaged in perpetual war with one another. He therefore began his course of conduct, and presently the men of his village, observing his integrity, chose him to be the arbiter of all their disputes. Bent on obtaining the sovereign power, he showed himself an honest and an upright judge, and by these means gained such credit with his fellow-citizens as to attract the attention of those who lived in the surrounding villages. They had long been suffering from unjust and oppressive judgments; so that, when they heard of the singular uprightness of Deioces, and of the equity of his decisions, they joyfully had recourse to him in the various quarrels and suits that arose, until at last they came to put confidence in no one else.
The number of complaints brought before him continually increasing, as people learnt more and more the fairness of his judgments, Deioces, feeling himself now all important, announced that he did not intend any longer to hear causes, and appeared no more in the seat in which he had been accustomed to sit and administer justice. “It did not square with his interests,” he said, “to spend the whole day in regulating other men’s affairs to the neglect of his own.” Hereupon robbery and lawlessness broke out afresh, and prevailed through the country even more than heretofore; wherefore the Medes assembled from all quarters, and held a consultation on the state of affairs. The speakers, as I think, were chiefly friends of Deioces. “We cannot possibly,” they said, “go on living in this country if things continue as they now are; let us therefore set a king over us, that so the land may be well governed, and we ourselves may be able to attend to our own affairs, and not be forced to quit our country on account of anarchy.” The assembly was persuaded by these arguments, and resolved to appoint a king.
It followed to determine who should be chosen to the office.
When this debate began the claims of Deioces and his praises were at once in
every mouth; so that presently all agreed that he should be king. Upon this he
required a palace to be built for him suitable to his rank, and a guard to be
given him for his person. The Medes complied, and built him a strong and large
palace, on a spot which he himself pointed out, and likewise gave him liberty
to choose himself a bodyguard from the whole nation. Thus settled upon the
throne, he further required them to build a single great city, and,
disregarding the petty towns in which they had formerly dwelt, make the new
capital the object of their chief attention. The Medes were again obedient, and
built the city now called Agbatana, the walls of which are of great size and
strength, rising in circles one within the other. The plan of the place is that
each of the walls should out-top the one beyond it by the battlements. The
nature of the ground, which is a gentle hill, favours this arrangement in some
degree, but it was mainly effected by art. The number of the circles is seven,
the royal palace and the treasuries standing within the last. The circuit of
the outer wall is very nearly the same with that of
All these fortifications Deioces caused to be raised for himself and his own palace. The people were required to build their dwellings outside the circuit of the walls. When the town was finished, he proceeded to arrange the ceremonial. He allowed no one to have direct access to the person of the king, but made all communication pass through the hands of messengers, and forbade the king to be seen by his subjects. He also made it an offence for any one whatsoever to laugh or spit in the royal presence. This ceremonial, of which he was the first inventor, Deioces established for his own security, fearing that his compeers, who were brought up together with him, and were of as good family as he, and no whit inferior to him in manly qualities, if they saw him frequently would be pained at the sight, and would therefore be likely to conspire against him; whereas if they did not see him, they would think him quite a different sort of being from themselves.
After completing these arrangements, and firmly settling himself upon the throne, Deioces continued to administer justice with the same strictness as before. Causes were stated in writing, and sent in to the king, who passed his judgment upon the contents, and transmitted his decisions to the parties concerned: besides which he had spies and eavesdroppers in all parts of his dominions, and if he heard of any act of oppression, he sent for the guilty party, and awarded him the punishment meet for his offence.
Thus Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and ruled over them alone. Now these are the tribes of which they consist: the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, and the Magi.
Having reigned three-and-fifty years, Deioces was at his
death succeeded by his son Phraortes. This prince, not satisfied with a
dominion which did not extend beyond the single nation of the Medes, began by
attacking the Persians; and marching an army into their country, brought them
under the Median yoke before any other people. After this success, being now at
the head of two nations, both of them powerful, he proceeded to conquer
On the death of Phraortes his son Cyaxares ascended the
throne. Of him it is reported that he was still more war-like than any of his
ancestors, and that he was the first who gave organisation to an Asiatic army,
dividing the troops into companies, and forming distinct bodies of the
spearmen, the archers, and the cavalry, who before his time had been mingled in
one mass, and confused together. He it was who fought against the Lydians on
the occasion when the day was changed suddenly into night, and who brought
under his dominion the whole of
The distance from the Palus Maeotis to the river Phasis and
the Colchians is thirty days’ journey for a lightly-equipped traveller. From
Colchis to cross into Media does not take long—there is only a single
intervening nation, the Saspirians, passing whom you find yourself in Media.
This however was not the road followed by the Scythians, who turned out of the
straight course, and took the upper route, which is much longer, keeping the
Caucasus upon their right. The Scythians, having thus invaded Media, were
opposed by the Medes, who gave them battle, but, being defeated, lost their
empire. The Scythians became masters of
After this they marched forward with the design of invading
The dominion of the Scythians over
Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, succeeded to the throne. He
had a daughter who was named Mandane concerning whom he had a wonderful dream.
He dreamt that from her such a stream of water flowed forth as not only to fill
his capital, but to flood the whole of
Thus Cambyses (for so was the Persian called) wedded
Mandane, and took her to his home, after which, in the very first year,
Astyages saw another vision. He fancied that a vine grew from the womb of his
daughter, and overshadowed the whole of
When Harpagus had thus answered, the child was given into his hands, clothed in the garb of death, and he hastened weeping to his home. There on his arrival he found his wife, to whom he told all that Astyages had said. “What then,” said she, “is it now in thy heart to do?” “Not what Astyages requires,” he answered; “no, he may be madder and more frantic still than he is now, but I will not be the man to work his will, or lend a helping hand to such a murder as this. Many things forbid my slaying him. In the first place the boy is my own kith and kin; and next Astyages is old, and has no son. If then when he dies the crown should go to his daughter—that daughter whose child he now wishes to slay by my hand—what remains for me but danger of the fearfullest kind? For my own safety, indeed, the child must die; but some one belonging to Astyages must take his life, not I or mine.”
So saying he sent off a messenger to fetch a certain Mitradates, one of the herdsmen of Astyages, whose pasturages he knew to be the fittest for his purpose, lying as they did among mountains infested with wild beasts. This man was married to one of the king’s female slaves, whose Median name was Spaco, which is in Greek Cyno, since in the Median tongue the word “Spaca” means a bitch. The mountains, on the skirts of which his cattle grazed, lie to the north of Agbatana, towards the Euxine. That part of Media which borders on the Saspirians is an elevated tract, very mountainous, and covered with forests, while the rest of the Median territory is entirely level ground. On the arrival of the herdsman, who came at the hasty summons, Harpagus said to him—“Astyages requires thee to take this child and lay him in the wildest part of the hills, where he will be sure to die speedily. And he bade me tell thee, that if thou dost not kill the boy, but anyhow allowest him to escape, he will put thee to the most painful of deaths. I myself am appointed to see the child exposed.”
The herdsman on hearing this took the child in his arms, and went back the way he had come till he reached the folds. There, providentially, his wife, who had been expecting daily to be put to bed, had just, during the absence of her husband, been delivered of a child. Both the herdsman and his wife were uneasy on each other’s account, the former fearful because his wife was so near her time, the woman alarmed because it was a new thing for her husband to be sent for by Harpagus. When therefore he came into the house upon his return, his wife, seeing him arrive so unexpectedly, was the first to speak, and begged to know why Harpagus had sent for him in such a hurry. “Wife,” said he, “when I got to the town I saw and heard such things as I would to heaven I had never seen such things as I would to heaven had never happened to our masters. Every one was weeping in Harpagus’s house. It quite frightened me, but I went in. The moment I stepped inside, what should I see but a baby lying on the floor, panting and whimpering, and all covered with gold, and wrapped in clothes of such beautiful colours. Harpagus saw me, and directly ordered me to take the child my arms and carry him off, and what was I to do with him, think you? Why, to lay him in the mountains, where the wild beasts are most plentiful. And he told me it was the king himself that ordered it to be done, and he threatened me with such dreadful things if I failed. So I took the child up in my arms, and carried him along. I thought it might be the son of one of the household slaves. I did wonder certainly to see the gold and the beautiful baby-clothes, and I could not think why there was such a weeping in Harpagus’s house. Well, very soon, as I came along, I got at the truth. They sent a servant with me to show me the way out of the town, and to leave the baby in my hands; and he told me that the child’s mother is the king’s daughter Mandane, and his father Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and that the king orders him to be killed; and look, here the child is.”
With this the herdsman uncovered the infant, and showed him to his wife, who, when she saw him, and observed how fine a child and how beautiful he was, burst into tears, and clinging to the knees of her husband, besought him on no account to expose the babe; to which he answered, that it was not possible for him to do otherwise, as Harpagus would be sure to send persons to see and report to him, and he was to suffer a most cruel death if he disobeyed. Failing thus in her first attempt to persuade her husband, the woman spoke a second time, saying, “If then there is no persuading thee, and a child must needs be seen exposed upon the mountains, at least do thus. The child of which I have just been delivered is stillborn; take it and lay it on the hills, and let us bring up as our own the child of the daughter of Astyages. So shalt thou not be charged with unfaithfulness to thy lord, nor shall we have managed badly for ourselves. Our dead babe will have a royal funeral, and this living child will not be deprived of life.”
It seemed to the herdsman that this advice was the best under the circumstances. He therefore followed it without loss of time. The child which he had intended to put to death he gave over to his wife, and his own dead child he put in the cradle wherein he had carried the other, clothing it first in all the other’s costly attire, and taking it in his arms he laid it in the wildest place of all the mountain-range. When the child had been three days exposed, leaving one of his helpers to watch the body, he started off for the city, and going straight to Harpagus’s house, declared himself ready to show the corpse of the boy. Harpagus sent certain of his bodyguard, on whom he had the firmest reliance, to view the body for him, and, satisfied with their seeing it, gave orders for the funeral. Thus was the herdsman’s child buried, and the other child, who was afterwards known by the name of Cyrus, was taken by the herdsman’s wife, and brought up under a different name.
When the boy was in his tenth year, an accident which I will now relate, caused it to be discovered who he was. He was at play one day in the village where the folds of the cattle were, along with the boys of his own age, in the street. The other boys who were playing with him chose the cowherd’s son, as he was called, to be their king. He then proceeded to order them about some he set to build him houses, others he made his guards, one of them was to be the king’s eye, another had the office of carrying his messages; all had some task or other. Among the boys there was one, the son of Artembares, a Mede of distinction, who refused to do what Cyrus had set him. Cyrus told the other boys to take him into custody, and when his orders were obeyed, he chastised him most severely with the whip. The son of Artembares, as soon as he was let go, full of rage at treatment so little befitting his rank, hastened to the city and complained bitterly to his father of what had been done to him by Cyrus. He did not, of course, say “Cyrus,” by which name the boy was not yet known, but called him the son of the king’s cowherd. Artembares, in the heat of his passion, went to Astyages, accompanied by his son, and made complaint of the gross injury which had been done him. Pointing to the boy’s shoulders, he exclaimed, “Thus, oh! king, has thy slave, the son of a cowherd, heaped insult upon us.”
At this sight and these words Astyages, wishing to avenge the son of Artembares for his father’s sake, sent for the cowherd and his boy. When they came together into his presence, fixing his eyes on Cyrus, Astyages said, “Hast thou then, the son of so mean a fellow as that, dared to behave thus rudely to the son of yonder noble, one of the first in my court?” “My lord,” replied the boy, “I only treated him as he deserved. I was chosen king in play by the boys of our village, because they thought me the best for it. He himself was one of the boys who chose me. All the others did according to my orders; but he refused, and made light of them, until at last he got his due reward. If for this I deserve to suffer punishment, here I am ready to submit to it.”
While the boy was yet speaking Astyages was struck with a suspicion who he was. He thought he saw something in the character of his face like his own, and there was a nobleness about the answer he had made; besides which his age seemed to tally with the time when his grandchild was exposed. Astonished at all this, Astyages could not speak for a while. At last, recovering himself with difficulty, and wishing to be quit of Artembares, that he might examine the herdsman alone, he said to the former, “I promise thee, Artembares, so to settle this business that neither thou nor thy son shall have any cause to complain.” Artembares retired from his presence, and the attendants, at the bidding of the king, led Cyrus into an inner apartment. Astyages then being left alone with the herdsman, inquired of him where he had got the boy, and who had given him to him; to which he made answer that the lad was his own child, begotten by himself, and that the mother who bore him was still alive with him in his house. Astyages remarked that he was very ill-advised to bring himself into such great trouble, and at the same time signed to his bodyguard to lay hold of him. Then the herdsman, as they were dragging him to the rack, began at the beginning, and told the whole story exactly as it happened, without concealing anything, ending with entreaties and prayers to the king to grant him forgiveness.
Astyages, having got the truth of the matter from the herdsman, was very little further concerned about him, but with Harpagus he was exceedingly enraged. The guards were bidden to summon him into the presence, and on his appearance Astyages asked him, “By what death was it, Harpagus, that thou slewest the child of my daughter whom I gave into thy hands?” Harpagus, seeing the cowherd in the room, did not betake himself to lies, lest he should be confuted and proved false, but replied as follows:—“Sire, when thou gavest the child into my hands I instantly considered with myself how I could contrive to execute thy wishes, and yet, while guiltless of any unfaithfulness towards thee, avoid imbruing my hands in blood which was in truth thy daughter’s and thine own. And this was how I contrived it. I sent for this cowherd, and gave the child over to him, telling him that by the king’s orders it was to be put to death. And in this I told no lie, for thou hadst so commanded. Moreover, when I gave him the child, I enjoined him to lay it somewhere in the wilds of the mountains, and to stay near and watch till it was dead; and I threatened him with all manner of punishment if he failed. Afterwards, when he had done according to all that I commanded him, and the child had died, I sent some of the most trustworthy of my eunuchs, who viewed the body for me, and then I had the child buried. This, sire, is the simple truth, and this is the death by which the child died.”
Thus Harpagus related the whole story in a plain, straightforward way; upon which Astyages, letting no sign escape him of the anger that he felt, began by repeating to him all that he had just heard from the cowherd, and then concluded with saying, “So the boy is alive, and it is best as it is. For the child’s fate was a great sorrow to me, and the reproaches of my daughter went to my heart. Truly fortune has played us a good turn in this. Go thou home then, and send thy son to be with the new comer, and to-night, as I mean to sacrifice thank-offerings for the child’s safety to the gods to whom such honour is due, I look to have thee a guest at the banquet.”
Harpagus, on hearing this, made obeisance, and went home rejoicing to find that his disobedience had turned out so fortunately, and that, instead of being punished, he was invited to a banquet given in honour of the happy occasion. The moment he reached home he called for his son, a youth of about thirteen, the only child of his parents, and bade him go to the palace, and do whatever Astyages should direct. Then, in the gladness of his heart, he went to his wife and told her all that had happened. Astyages, meanwhile, took the son of Harpagus, and slew him, after which he cut him in pieces, and roasted some portions before the fire, and boiled others; and when all were duly prepared, he kept them ready for use. The hour for the banquet came, and Harpagus appeared, and with him the other guests, and all sat down to the feast. Astyages and the rest of the guests had joints of meat served up to them; but on the table of Harpagus, nothing was placed except the flesh of his own son. This was all put before him, except the hands and feet and head, which were laid by themselves in a covered basket. When Harpagus seemed to have eaten his fill, Astyages called out to him to know how he had enjoyed the repast. On his reply that he had enjoyed it excessively, they whose business it was brought him the basket, in which were the hands and feet and head of his son, and bade him open it, and take out what he pleased. Harpagus accordingly uncovered the basket, and saw within it the remains of his son. The sight, however, did not scare him, or rob him of his self-possession. Being asked by Astyages if he knew what beast’s flesh it was that he had been eating, he answered that he knew very well, and that whatever the king did was agreeable. After this reply, he took with him such morsels of the flesh as were uneaten, and went home, intending, as I conceive, to collect the remains and bury them.
Such was the mode in which Astyages punished Harpagus:
afterwards, proceeding to consider what he should do with Cyrus, his
grandchild, he sent for the Magi, who formerly interpreted his dream in the way
which alarmed him so much, and asked them how they had expounded it. They
answered, without varying from what they had said before, that “the boy must needs
be a king if he grew up, and did not die too soon.” Then Astyages addressed
them thus: “The boy has escaped, and lives; he has been brought up in the
country, and the lads of the village where he lives have made him their king.
All that kings commonly do he has done. He has had his guards, and his
doorkeepers, and his messengers, and all the other usual officers. Tell me,
then, to what, think you, does all this tend?” The Magi answered, “If the boy
survives, and has ruled as a king without any craft or contrivance, in that
case we bid thee cheer up, and feel no more alarm on his account. He will not
reign a second time. For we have found even oracles sometimes fulfilled in an
unimportant way; and dreams, still oftener, have wondrously mean accomplishments.”
“It is what I myself most incline to think,” Astyages rejoined; “the boy having
been already king, the dream is out, and I have nothing more to fear from him.
Nevertheless, take good heed and counsel me the best you can for the safety of
my house and your own interests.” “Truly,” said the Magi in reply, “it very
much concerns our interests that thy kingdom be firmly established; for if it
went to this boy it would pass into foreign hands, since he is a Persian: and
then we Medes should lose our freedom, and be quite despised by the Persians,
as being foreigners. But so long as thou, our fellow-countryman, art on the
throne, all manner of honours are ours, and we are even not without some share
in the government. Much reason therefore have we to forecast well for thee and
for thy sovereignty. If then we saw any cause for present fear, be sure we
would not keep it back from thee. But truly we are persuaded that the dream has
had its accomplishment in this harmless way; and so our own fears being at
rest, we recommend thee to banish thine. As for the boy, our advice is that
thou send him away to
Astyages heard their answer with pleasure, and calling Cyrus
into his presence, said to him, “My child, I was led to do thee a wrong by a
dream which has come to nothing: from that wrong thou wert saved by thy own
good fortune. Go now with a light heart to
With these words Astyages dismissed his grandchild. On his arrival at the house of Cambyses, he was received by his parents, who, when they learnt who he was, embraced him heartily, having always been convinced that he died almost as soon as he was born. So they asked him by what means he had chanced to escape; and he told them how that till lately he had known nothing at all about the matter, but had been mistaken—oh! so widely!—and how that he had learnt his history by the way, as he came from Media. He had been quite sure that he was the son of the king’s cowherd, but on the road the king’s escort had told him all the truth; and then he spoke of the cowherd’s wife who had brought him up, and filled his whole talk with her praises; in all that he had to tell them about himself, it was always Cyno—Cyno was everything. So it happened that his parents, catching the name at his mouth, and wishing to persuade the Persians that there was a special providence in his preservation, spread the report that Cyrus, when he was exposed, was suckled by a bitch. This was the sole origin of the rumour.
Afterwards, when Cyrus grew to manhood, and became known as the bravest and most popular of all his compeers, Harpagus, who was bent on revenging himself upon Astyages, began to pay him court by gifts and messages. His own rank was too humble for him to hope to obtain vengeance without some foreign help. When therefore he saw Cyrus, whose wrongs were so similar to his own, growing up expressly (as it were) to be the avenger whom he needed, he set to work to procure his support and aid in the matter. He had already paved the way for his designs, by persuading, severally, the great Median nobles, whom the harsh rule of their monarch had offended, that the best plan would be to put Cyrus at their head, and dethrone Astyages. These preparations made, Harpagus, being now ready for revolt, was anxious to make known his wishes to Cyrus, who still lived in Persia; but as the roads between Media and Persia were guarded, he had to contrive a means of sending word secretly, which he did in the following way. He took a hare, and cutting open its belly without hurting the fur, he slipped in a letter containing what he wanted to say, and then carefully sewing up the paunch, he gave the hare to one of his most faithful slaves, disguising him as a hunter with nets, and sent him off to Persia to take the game as a present to Cyrus, bidding him tell Cyrus, by word of mouth, to paunch the animal himself, and let no one be present at the time.
All was done as he wished, and Cyrus, on cutting the hare
open, found the letter inside, and read as follows:—“Son of Cambyses, the gods
assuredly watch over thee, or never wouldst thou have passed through thy many
wonderful adventures—now is the time when thou mayst avenge thyself upon
Astyages, thy murderer. He willed thy death, remember; to the gods and to me
thou owest that thou art still alive. I think thou art not ignorant of what he
did to thee, nor of what I suffered at his hands because I committed thee to
the cowherd, and did not put thee to death. Listen now to me, and obey my
words, and all the empire of Astyages shall be thine. Raise the standard of
Cyrus, on receiving the tidings contained in this letter, set himself to consider how he might best persuade the Persians to revolt. After much thought, he hit on the following as the most expedient course: he wrote what he thought proper upon a roll, and then calling an assembly of the Persians, he unfolded the roll, and read out of it that Astyages appointed him their general. “And now,” said he, “since it is so, I command you to go and bring each man his reaping-hook.” With these words he dismissed the assembly.
Now the Persian nation is made up of many tribes. Those
which Cyrus assembled and persuaded to revolt from the Medes were the principal
ones on which all the others are dependent. These are the
When, in obedience to the orders which they had received,
the Persians came with their reaping-hooks, Cyrus led them to a tract of
ground, about eighteen or twenty furlongs each way, covered with thorns, and
ordered them to clear it before the day was out. They accomplished their task;
upon which he issued a second order to them, to take the bath the day
following, and again come to him. Meanwhile he collected together all his
father’s flocks, both sheep and goats, and all his oxen, and slaughtered them,
and made ready to give an entertainment to the entire Persian army. Wine, too,
and bread of the choicest kinds were prepared for the occasion. When the morrow
came, and the Persians appeared, he bade them recline upon the grass, and enjoy
themselves. After the feast was over, he requested them to tell him “which they
liked best, to-day’s work, or yesterday’s?” They answered that “the contrast
was indeed strong: yesterday brought them nothing but what was bad, to-day
everything that was good.” Cyrus instantly seized on their reply, and laid bare
his purpose in these words: “Ye men of
The Persians, who had long been impatient of the Median dominion, now that they had found a leader, were delighted to shake off the yoke. Meanwhile Astyages, informed of the doings of Cyrus, sent a messenger to summon him to his presence. Cyrus replied, “Tell Astyages that I shall appear in his presence sooner than he will like.” Astyages, when he received this message, instantly armed all his subjects, and, as if God had deprived him of his senses, appointed Harpagus to be their general, forgetting how greatly he had injured him. So when the two armies met and engaged, only a few of the Medes, who were not in the secret, fought; others deserted openly to the Persians; while the greater number counterfeited fear, and fled.
Astyages, on learning the shameful flight and dispersion of his army, broke out into threats against Cyrus, saying, “Cyrus shall nevertheless have no reason to rejoice”; and directly he seized the Magian interpreters, who had persuaded him to allow Cyrus to escape, and impaled them; after which, he armed all the Medes who had remained in the city, both young and old; and leading them against the Persians, fought a battle, in which he was utterly defeated, his army being destroyed, and he himself falling into the enemy’s hands.
Harpagus then, seeing him a prisoner, came near, and exulted over him with many jibes and jeers. Among other cutting speeches which he made, he alluded to the supper where the flesh of his son was given him to eat, and asked Astyages to answer him now, how he enjoyed being a slave instead of a king? Astyages looked in his face, and asked him in return, why he claimed as his own the achievements of Cyrus? “Because,” said Harpagus, “it was my letter which made him revolt, and so I am entitled to all the credit of the enterprise.” Then Astyages declared that “in that case he was at once the silliest and the most unjust of men: the silliest, if when it was in his power to put the crown on his own head, as it must assuredly have been, if the revolt was entirely his doing, he had placed it on the head of another; the most unjust, if on account of that supper he had brought slavery on the Medes. For, supposing that he was obliged to invest another with the kingly power, and not retain it himself, yet justice required that a Mede, rather than a Persian, should receive the dignity. Now, however, the Medes, who had been no parties to the wrong of which he complained, were made slaves instead of lords, and slaves moreover of those who till recently had been their subjects.”
Thus after a reign of thirty-five years, Astyages lost his
crown, and the Medes, in consequence of his cruelty, were brought under the
rule of the Persians. Their empire over the parts of
The customs which I know the Persians to observe are the following: they have no images of the gods, no temples nor altars, and consider the use of them a sign of folly. This comes, I think, from their not believing the gods to have the same nature with men, as the Greeks imagine. Their wont, however, is to ascend the summits of the loftiest mountains, and there to offer sacrifice to Jupiter, which is the name they give to the whole circuit of the firmament. They likewise offer to the sun and moon, to the earth, to fire, to water, and to the winds. These are the only gods whose worship has come down to them from ancient times. At a later period they began the worship of Urania, which they borrowed from the Arabians and Assyrians. Mylitta is the name by which the Assyrians know this goddess, whom the Arabians call Alitta, and the Persians Mitra.
To these gods the Persians offer sacrifice in the following manner: they raise no altar, light no fire, pour no libations; there is no sound of the flute, no putting on of chaplets, no consecrated barley-cake; but the man who wishes to sacrifice brings his victim to a spot of ground which is pure from pollution, and there calls upon the name of the god to whom he intends to offer. It is usual to have the turban encircled with a wreath, most commonly of myrtle. The sacrificer is not allowed to pray for blessings on himself alone, but he prays for the welfare of the king, and of the whole Persian people, among whom he is of necessity included. He cuts the victim in pieces, and having boiled the flesh, he lays it out upon the tenderest herbage that he can find, trefoil especially. When all is ready, one of the Magi comes forward and chants a hymn, which they say recounts the origin of the gods. It is not lawful to offer sacrifice unless there is a Magus present. After waiting a short time the sacrificer carries the flesh of the victim away with him, and makes whatever use of it he may please.
Of all the days in the year, the one which they celebrate most is their birthday. It is customary to have the board furnished on that day with an ampler supply than common. The richer Persians cause an ox, a horse, a camel, and an ass to be baked whole and so served up to them: the poorer classes use instead the smaller kinds of cattle. They eat little solid food but abundance of dessert, which is set on table a few dishes at a time; this it is which makes them say that “the Greeks, when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth mention served up to them after the meats; whereas, if they had more put before them, they would not stop eating.” They are very fond of wine, and drink it in large quantities. To vomit or obey natural calls in the presence of another is forbidden among them. Such are their customs in these matters.
It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of weight when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when they are sober, the decision to which they came the night before is put before them by the master of the house in which it was made; and if it is then approved of, they act on it; if not, they set it aside. Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the matter under the influence of wine.
When they meet each other in the streets, you may know if the persons meeting are of equal rank by the following token: if they are, instead of speaking, they kiss each other on the lips. In the case where one is a little inferior to the other, the kiss is given on the cheek; where the difference of rank is great, the inferior prostrates himself upon the ground. Of nations, they honour most their nearest neighbours, whom they esteem next to themselves; those who live beyond these they honour in the second degree; and so with the remainder, the further they are removed, the less the esteem in which they hold them. The reason is that they look upon themselves as very greatly superior in all respects to the rest of mankind, regarding others as approaching to excellence in proportion as they dwell nearer to them; whence it comes to pass that those who are the farthest off must be the most degraded of mankind. Under the dominion of the Medes, the several nations of the empire exercised authority over each other in this order. The Medes were lords over all, and governed the nations upon their borders, who in their turn governed the States beyond, who likewise bore rule over the nations which adjoined on them. And this is the order which the Persians also follow in their distribution of honour; for that people, like the Medes, has a progressive scale of administration and government.
There is no nation which so readily adopts foreign customs as the Persians. Thus, they have taken the dress of the Medes, considering it superior to their own; and in war they wear the Egyptian breastplate. As soon as they hear of any luxury, they instantly make it their own: and hence, among other novelties, they have learnt unnatural lust from the Greeks. Each of them has several wives, and a still larger number of concubines.
Next to prowess in arms, it is regarded as the greatest proof of manly excellence to be the father of many sons. Every year the king sends rich gifts to the man who can show the largest number: for they hold that number is strength. Their sons are carefully instructed from their fifth to their twentieth year, in three things alone,—to ride, to draw the bow, and to speak the truth. Until their fifth year they are not allowed to come into the sight of their father, but pass their lives with the women. This is done that, if the child die young, the father may not be afflicted by its loss.
To my mind it is a wise rule, as also is the following—that the king shall not put any one to death for a single fault, and that none of the Persians shall visit a single fault in a slave with any extreme penalty; but in every case the services of the offender shall be set against his misdoings; and, if the latter be found to outweigh the former, the aggrieved party shall then proceed to punishment.
The Persians maintain that never yet did any one kill his own father or mother; but in all such cases they are quite sure that, if matters were sifted to the bottom, it would be found that the child was either a changeling or else the fruit of adultery; for it is not likely, they say, that the real father should perish by the hands of his child.
They hold it unlawful to talk of anything which it is unlawful to do. The most disgraceful thing in the world, they think, is to tell a lie; the next worst, to owe a debt: because, among other reasons, the debtor is obliged to tell lies. If a Persian has the leprosy he is not allowed to enter into a city, or to have any dealings with the other Persians; he must, they say, have sinned against the sun. Foreigners attacked by this disorder, are forced to leave the country: even white pigeons are often driven away, as guilty of the same offence. They never defile a river with the secretions of their bodies, nor even wash their hands in one; nor will they allow others to do so, as they have a great reverence for rivers. There is another peculiarity, which the Persians themselves have never noticed, but which has not escaped my observation. Their names, which are expressive of some bodily or mental excellence, all end with the same letter—the letter which is called San by the Dorians, and Sigma by the Ionians. Any one who examines will find that the Persian names, one and all without exception, end with this letter.
Thus much I can declare of the Persians with entire certainty, from my own actual knowledge. There is another custom which is spoken of with reserve, and not openly, concerning their dead. It is said that the body of a male Persian is never buried, until it has been torn either by a dog or a bird of prey. That the Magi have this custom is beyond a doubt, for they practise it without any concealment. The dead bodies are covered with wax, and then buried in the ground.
The Magi are a very peculiar race, different entirely from the Egyptian priests, and indeed from all other men whatsoever. The Egyptian priests make it a point of religion not to kill any live animals except those which they offer in sacrifice. The Magi, on the contrary, kill animals of all kinds with their own hands, excepting dogs and men. They even seem to take a delight in the employment, and kill, as readily as they do other animals, ants and snakes, and such like flying or creeping things. However, since this has always been their custom, let them keep to it. I return to my former narrative.
Immediately after the conquest of
Now the Ionians of Asia, who meet at the Panionium, have
built their cities in a region where the air and climate are the most beautiful
in the whole world: for no other region is equally blessed with
Of the Ionians at this period, one people, the Milesians,
were in no danger of attack, as Cyrus had received them into alliance. The
islanders also had as yet nothing to fear, since
In the same way the Dorians of the region which is now
called the Pentapolis, but which was formerly known as the Doric Hexapolis,
exclude all their Dorian neighbours from their temple, the Triopium: nay, they
have even gone so far as to shut out from it certain of their own body who were
guilty of an offence against the customs of the place. In the games which were
anciently celebrated in honour of the Triopian Apollo, the prizes given to the
victors were tripods of brass; and the rule was that these tripods should not
be carried away from the temple, but should then and there be dedicated to the
god. Now a man of
The Ionians founded twelve cities in Asia, and refused to enlarge the number, on account (as I imagine) of their having been divided into twelve States when they lived in the Peloponnese; just as the Achaeans, who drove them out, are at the present day. The first city of the Achaeans after Sicyon, is Pellene, next to which are Aegeira, Aegae upon the Crathis, a stream which is never dry, and from which the Italian Crathis received its name,—Bura, Helice—where the Ionians took refuge on their defeat by the Achaean invaders—Aegium, Rhypes, Patreis, Phareis, Olenus on the Peirus, which is a large river—Dyme and Tritaeeis, all sea-port towns except the last two, which lie up the country.
These are the twelve divisions of what is now Achaea, and
was formerly Ionia; and it was owing to their coming from a country so divided
that the Ionians, on reaching Asia, founded their twelve States: for it is the
height of folly to maintain that these Ionians are more Ionian than the rest,
or in any respect better born, since the truth is that no small portion of them
were Abantians from Euboea, who are not even Ionians in name; and, besides,
there were mixed up with the emigration Minyae from Orchomenus, Cadmeians,
Dryopians, Phocians from the several cities of Phocis, Molossians, Arcadian
Pelasgi, Dorians from Epidaurus, and many other distinct tribes. Even those who
came from the Prytaneum of Athens, and reckon themselves the purest Ionians of
all, brought no wives with them to the new country, but married Carian girls,
whose fathers they had slain. Hence these women made a law, which they bound
themselves by an oath to observe, and which they handed down to their daughters
after them, “That none should ever sit at meat with her husband, or call him by
his name”; because the invaders slew their fathers, their husbands, and their
sons, and then forced them to become their wives. It was at
The kings, too, whom they set over them, were either
Lycians, of the blood of Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, or Pylian Caucons of the
blood of Codrus, son of Melanthus; or else from both those families. But since
these Ionians set more store by the name than any of the others, let them pass
for the pure-bred Ionians; though truly all are Ionians who have their origin
The Panionium is a place in
The above-mentioned, then, are the twelve towns of the
Ionians. The Aeolic cities are the following:—Cyme, called also Phriconis,
Larissa, Neonteichus, Temnus, Cilla, Notium, Aegiroessa, Pitane, Aegaeae,
Myrina, and Gryneia. These are the eleven ancient cities of the Aeolians.
Originally, indeed, they had twelve cities upon the mainland, like the Ionians,
but the Ionians deprived them of
The following is the way in which the loss of
These, then, were all the Aeolic cities upon the mainland,
with the exception of those about
When the deputies of the Ionians and Aeolians, who had
journeyed with all speed to
Cyrus is said, on hearing the speech of the herald, to have asked some Greeks who were standing by, “Who these Lacedaemonians were, and what was their number, that they dared to send him such a notice?” When he had received their reply, he turned to the Spartan herald and said, “I have never yet been afraid of any men, who have a set place in the middle of their city, where they come together to cheat each other and forswear themselves. If I live, the Spartans shall have troubles enough of their own to talk of, without concerning themselves about the Ionians.” Cyrus intended these words as a reproach against all the Greeks, because of their having market-places where they buy and sell, which is a custom unknown to the Persians, who never make purchases in open marts, and indeed have not in their whole country a single market-place.
After this interview Cyrus quitted
No sooner, however, was Cyrus gone from
When Cyrus, on his way to Agbatana, received these tidings,
he returned to Croesus and said, “Where will all this end, Croesus, thinkest
thou? It seemeth that these Lydians will not cease to cause trouble both to
themselves and others. I doubt me if it were not best to sell them all for
slaves. Methinks what I have now done is as if a man were to ‘kill the father
and then spare the child.’ Thou, who wert something more than a father to thy
people, I have seized and carried off, and to that people I have entrusted
their city. Can I then feel surprise at their rebellion?” Thus did Cyrus open
to Croesus his thoughts; whereat the latter, full of alarm lest Cyrus should
Croesus thought the Lydians would even so be better off than
if they were sold for slaves, and therefore gave the above advice to Cyrus,
knowing that, unless he brought forward some notable suggestion, he would not
be able to persuade him to alter his mind. He was likewise afraid lest, after
escaping the danger which now pressed, the Lydians at some future time might
revolt from the Persians and so bring themselves to ruin. The advice pleased
Cyrus, who consented to forego his anger and do as Croesus had said. Thereupon
he summoned to his presence a certain Mede, Mazares by name, and charged him to
issue orders to the Lydians in accordance with the terms of Croesus’ discourse.
Further, he commanded him to sell for slaves all who had joined the Lydians in
their attack upon
Pactyas, when news came of the near approach of the army sent
against him, fled in terror to Cyme. Mazares, therefore, the Median general,
who had marched on
Hither therefore the Cymaeans sent their deputies to make inquiry at the shrine, “What the gods would like them to do with the Lydian, Pactyas?” The oracle told them, in reply, to give him up to the Persians. With this answer the messengers returned, and the people of Cymd were ready to surrender him accordingly; but as they were preparing to do so, Aristodicus, son of Heraclides, a citizen of distinction, hindered them. He declared that he distrusted the response, and believed that the messengers had reported it falsely; until at last another embassy, of which Aristodicus himself made part, was despatched, to repeat the former inquiry concerning Pactyas.
On their arrival at the shrine of the god, Aristodicus, speaking on behalf of the whole body, thus addressed the oracle: “Oh! king, Pactyas the Lydian, threatened by the Persians with a violent death, has come to us for sanctuary, and lo, they ask him at our hands, calling upon our nation to deliver him up. Now, though we greatly dread the Persian power, yet have we not been bold to give up our suppliant, till we have certain knowledge of thy mind, what thou wouldst have us to do.” The oracle thus questioned gave the same answer as before, bidding them surrender Pactyas to the Persians; whereupon Aristodicus, who had come prepared for such an answer, proceeded to make the circuit of the temple, and to take all the nests of young sparrows and other birds that he could find about the building. As he was thus employed, a voice, it is said, came forth from the inner sanctuary, addressing Aristodicus in these words: “Most impious of men, what is this thou hast the face to do? Dost thou tear my suppliants from my temple?” Aristodicus, at no loss for a reply, rejoined, “Oh, king, art thou so ready to protect thy suppliants, and dost thou command the Cymaeans to give up a suppliant?” “Yes,” returned the god, “I do command it, that so for the impiety you may the sooner perish, and not come here again to consult my oracle about the surrender of suppliants.”
On the receipt of this answer the Cymaeans, unwilling to
bring the threatened destruction on themselves by giving up the man, and afraid
of having to endure a siege if they continued to harbour him, sent Pactyas away
to Mytilene. On this Mazares despatched envoys to the Mytilenaeans to demand
the fugitive of them, and they were preparing to give him up for a reward (I
cannot say with certainty how large, as the bargain was not completed), when
the Cymaeans hearing what the Mytilenaeans were about, sent a vessel to Lesbos,
and conveyed away Pactyas to
Meanwhile Mazares, after he had recovered Pactyas from the Chians, made war upon those who had taken part in the attack on Tabalus, and in the first place took Priene and sold the inhabitants for slaves, after which he overran the whole plain of the Maeander and the district of Magnesia, both of which he gave up for pillage to the soldiery. He then suddenly sickened and died.
Upon his death Harpagus was sent down to the coast to
succeed to his command. He also was of the race of the Medes, being the man
whom the Median king, Astyages, feasted at the unholy banquet, and who lent his
aid to Place Cyrus upon the throne. Appointed by Cyrus to conduct the war in
these parts, he entered
Now the Phocaeans were the first of the Greeks who performed
long voyages, and it was they who made the Greeks acquainted with the Adriatic
and with Tyrrhenia, with
Harpagus, having advanced against the Phocaeans with his
army, laid siege to their city, first, however, offering them terms. “It would
content him,” he said, “if the Phocaeans would agree to throw down one of their
battlements, and dedicate one dwelling-house to the king.” The Phocaeans,
sorely vexed at the thought of becoming slaves, asked a single day to
deliberate on the answer they should return, and besought Harpagus during that
day to draw off his forces from the walls. Harpagus replied, “that he
understood well enough what they were about to do, but nevertheless he would
grant their request.” Accordingly the troops were withdrawn, and the Phocaeans
forthwith took advantage of their absence to launch their penteconters, and put
on board their wives and children, their household goods, and even the images
of their gods, with all the votive offerings from the fanes except the
paintings and the works in stone or brass, which were left behind. With the
rest they embarked, and putting to sea, set sail for
The rest of the Phocaeans who kept their oath, proceeded without stopping upon their voyage, and when they came to Cyrnus established themselves along with the earlier settlers at Alalia and built temples in the place. For five years they annoyed their neighbours by plundering and pillaging on all sides, until at length the Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians leagued against them, and sent each a fleet of sixty ships to attack the town. The Phocaeans, on their part, manned all their vessels, sixty in number, and met their enemy on the Sardinian sea. In the engagement which followed the Phocaeans were victorious, but their success was only a sort of Cadmeian victory.’ They lost forty ships in the battle, and the twenty which remained came out of the engagement with beaks so bent and blunted as to be no longer serviceable. The Phocaeans therefore sailed back again to Alalia, and taking their wives and children on board, with such portion of their goods and chattels as the vessels could bear, bade adieu to Cyrnus and sailed to Rhegium.
The Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians, who had got into their
hands many more than the Phocaeans from among the crews of the forty vessels
that were destroyed, landed their captives upon the coast after the fight, and
stoned them all to death. Afterwards, when sheep, or oxen, or even men of the
district of Agylla passed by the spot where the murdered Phocaeans lay, their
bodies became distorted, or they were seized with palsy, or they lost the use
of some of their limbs. On this the people of Agylla sent to
Thus fared it with the men of the city of
Of all the Ionians these two states alone, rather than
submit to slavery, forsook their fatherland. The others (I except Miletus)
resisted Harpagus no less bravely than those who fled their country, and
performed many feats of arms, each fighting in their own defence, but one after
another they suffered defeat; the cities were taken, and the inhabitants
submitted, remaining in their respective countries, and obeying the behests of
their new lords.
It was while the Ionians were in this distress, but still,
amid it all, held their meetings, as of old, at the Panionium, that Bias of
Priene, who was present at the festival, recommended (as I am informed) a
project of the very highest wisdom, which would, had it been embraced, have
enabled the Ionians to become the happiest and most flourishing of the Greeks.
He exhorted them “to join in one body, set sail for Sardinia, and there found a
single Pan-Ionic city; so they would escape from slavery and rise to great
fortune, being masters of the largest island in the world, exercising dominion
even beyond its bounds; whereas if they stayed in Ionia, he saw no prospect of
their ever recovering their lost freedom.” Such was the counsel which Bias gave
the Ionians in their affliction. Before their misfortunes began, Thales, a man
After conquering the Ionians, Harpagus proceeded to attack the Carians, the Caunians, and the Lycians. The Ionians and Aeolians were forced to serve in his army. Now, of the above nations the Carians are a race who came into the mainland from the islands. In ancient times they were subjects of king Minos, and went by the name of Leleges, dwelling among the isles, and, so far as I have been able to push my inquiries, never liable to give tribute to any man. They served on board the ships of king Minos whenever he required; and thus, as he was a great conqueror and prospered in his wars, the Carians were in his day the most famous by far of all the nations of the earth. They likewise were the inventors of three things, the use of which was borrowed from them by the Greeks; they were the first to fasten crests on helmets and to put devices on shields, and they also invented handles for shields. In the earlier times shields were without handles, and their wearers managed them by the aid of a leathern thong, by which they were slung round the neck and left shoulder. Long after the time of Minos, the Carians were driven from the islands by the Ionians and Dorians, and so settled upon the mainland. The above is the account which the Cretans give of the Carians: the Carians themselves say very differently. They maintain that they are the aboriginal inhabitants of the part of the mainland where they now dwell, and never had any other name than that which they still bear; and in proof of this they show an ancient temple of Carian Jove in the country of the Mylasians, in which the Mysians and Lydians have the right of worshipping, as brother races to the Carians: for Lydus and Mysus, they say, were brothers of Car. These nations, therefore, have the aforesaid right; but such as are of a different race, even though they have come to use the Carian tongue, are excluded from this temple.
The Caunians, in my judgment, are aboriginals; but by their
own account they came from
The Lycians are in good truth anciently from
Of these nations, the Carians submitted to Harpagus without
performing any brilliant exploits. Nor did the Greeks who dwelt in
Fence not the isthmus off, nor dig it through-
Jove would have made an island, had he wished.
So the Cnidians ceased digging, and when Harpagus advanced with his army, they gave themselves up to him without striking a blow.
When Harpagus, after these successes, led his forces into
the Xanthian plain, the Lycians of Xanthus went out to meet him in the field:
though but a small band against a numerous host, they engaged in battle, and
performed many glorious exploits. Overpowered at last, and forced within their
walls, they collected into the citadel their wives and children, all their
treasures, and their slaves; and having so done, fired the building, and burnt
it to the ground. After this, they bound themselves together by dreadful oaths,
and sallying forth against the enemy, died sword in hand, not one escaping.
Those Lycians who now claim to be Xanthians, are foreign immigrants, except
eighty families, who happened to be absent from the country, and so survived
the others. Thus was
While the lower parts of
Assyria possesses a vast number of great cities, whereof the
most renowned and strongest at this time was
And here I may not omit to tell the use to which the mould dug out of the great moat was turned, nor the manner wherein the wall was wrought. As fast as they dug the moat the soil which they got from the cutting was made into bricks, and when a sufficient number were completed they baked the bricks in kilns. Then they set to building, and began with bricking the borders of the moat, after which they proceeded to construct the wall itself, using throughout for their cement hot bitumen, and interposing a layer of wattled reeds at every thirtieth course of the bricks. On the top, along the edges of the wall, they constructed buildings of a single chamber facing one another, leaving between them room for a four-horse chariot to turn. In the circuit of the wall are a hundred gates, all of brass, with brazen lintels and side-posts. The bitumen used in the work was brought to Babylon from the Is, a small stream which flows into the Euphrates at the point where the city of the same name stands, eight days’ journey from Babylon. Lumps of bitumen are found in great abundance in this river.
The city is divided into two portions by the river which
runs through the midst of it. This river is the Euphrates, a broad, deep, swift
stream, which rises in
The outer wall is the main defence of the city. There is, however, a second inner wall, of less thickness than the first, but very little inferior to it in strength. The centre of each division of the town was occupied by a fortress. In the one stood the palace of the kings, surrounded by a wall of great strength and size: in the other was the sacred precinct of Jupiter Belus, a square enclosure two furlongs each way, with gates of solid brass; which was also remaining in my time. In the middle of the precinct there was a tower of solid masonry, a furlong in length and breadth, upon which was raised a second tower, and on that a third, and so on up to eight. The ascent to the top is on the outside, by a path which winds round all the towers. When one is about half-way up, one finds a resting-place and seats, where persons are wont to sit some time on their way to the summit. On the topmost tower there is a spacious temple, and inside the temple stands a couch of unusual size, richly adorned, with a golden table by its side. There is no statue of any kind set up in the place, nor is the chamber occupied of nights by any one but a single native woman, who, as the Chaldaeans, the priests of this god, affirm, is chosen for himself by the deity out of all the women of the land.
They also declare—but I for my part do not credit it—that
the god comes down in person into this chamber, and sleeps upon the couch. This
is like the story told by the Egyptians of what takes place in their city of
Below, in the same precinct, there is a second temple, in which is a sitting figure of Jupiter, all of gold. Before the figure stands a large golden table, and the throne whereon it sits, and the base on which the throne is placed, are likewise of gold. The Chaldaeans told me that all the gold together was eight hundred talents’ weight. Outside the temple are two altars, one of solid gold, on which it is only lawful to offer sucklings; the other a common altar, but of great size, on which the full-grown animals are sacrificed. It is also on the great altar that the Chaldaeans burn the frankincense, which is offered to the amount of a thousand talents’ weight, every year, at the festival of the God. In the time of Cyrus there was likewise in this temple a figure of a man, twelve cubits high, entirely of solid gold. I myself did not see this figure, but I relate what the Chaldaeans report concerning it. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, plotted to carry the statue off, but had not the hardihood to lay his hands upon it. Xerxes, however, the son of Darius, killed the priest who forbade him to move the statue, and took it away. Besides the ornaments which I have mentioned, there are a large number of private offerings in this holy precinct.
Many sovereigns have ruled over this city of
The later of the two queens, whose name was Nitocris, a
wiser princess than her predecessor, not only left behind her, as memorials of
her occupancy of the throne, the works which I shall presently describe, but
also, observing the great power and restless enterprise of the Medes, who had
taken so large a number of cities, and among them Nineveh, and expecting to be
attacked in her turn, made all possible exertions to increase the defences of
her empire. And first, whereas the river Euphrates, which traverses the city,
ran formerly with a straight course to Babylon, she, by certain excavations
which she made at some distance up the stream, rendered it so winding that it
comes three several times in sight of the same village, a village in Assyria,
which is called Ardericea; and to this day, they who would go from our sea to
Babylon, on descending to the river touch three times, and on three different
days, at this very place. She also made an embankment along each side of the
Euphrates, wonderful both for breadth and height, and dug a basin for a lake a
great way above Babylon, close alongside of the stream, which was sunk
everywhere to the point where they came to water, and was of such breadth that
the whole circuit measured four hundred and twenty furlongs. The soil dug out
of this basin was made use of in the embankments along the waterside. When the
excavation was finished, she had stones brought, and bordered with them the
entire margin of the reservoir. These two things were done, the river made to
wind, and the lake excavated, that the stream might be slacker by reason of the
number of curves, and the voyage be rendered circuitous, and that at the end of
the voyage it might be necessary to skirt the lake and so make a long round.
All these works were on that side of
While the soil from the excavation was being thus used for
the defence of the city, Nitocris engaged also in another undertaking, a mere
by-work compared with those we have already mentioned. The city, as I said, was
divided by the river into two distinct portions. Under the former kings, if a
man wanted to pass from one of these divisions to the other, he had to cross in
a boat; which must, it seems to me, have been very troublesome. Accordingly,
while she was digging the lake, Nitocris be. thought herself of turning it to a
use which should at once remove this inconvenience, and enable her to leave
another monument of her reign over
It was this same princess by whom a remarkable deception was planned. She had her tomb constructed in the upper part of one of the principal gateways of the city, high above the heads of the passers by, with this inscription cut upon it:—“If there be one among my successors on the throne of Babylon who is in want of treasure, let him open my tomb, and take as much as he chooses—not, however, unless he be truly in want, for it will not be for his good.” This tomb continued untouched until Darius came to the kingdom. To him it seemed a monstrous thing that he should be unable to use one of the gates of the town, and that a sum of money should be lying idle, and moreover inviting his grasp, and he not seize upon it. Now he could not use the gate, because, as he drove through, the dead body would have been over his head. Accordingly he opened the tomb; but instead of money, found only the dead body, and a writing which said—“Hadst thou not been insatiate of pelf, and careless how thou gottest it, thou wouldst not have broken open the sepulchres of the dead.”
The expedition of Cyrus was undertaken against the son of
this princess, who bore the same name as his father Labynetus, and was king of
the Assyrians. The Great King, when he goes to the wars, is always supplied
with provisions carefully prepared at home, and with cattle of his own. Water
too from the river Choaspes, which flows by
Cyrus on his way to
Having, however, thus wreaked his vengeance on the Gyndes, by
dispersing it through three hundred and sixty channels, Cyrus, with the first
approach of the ensuing spring, marched forward against
Cyrus was now reduced to great perplexity, as time went on
and he made no progress against the place. In this distress either some one
made the suggestion to him, or he bethought himself of a plan, which he
proceeded to put in execution. He placed a portion of his army at the point
where the river enters the city, and another body at the back of the place where
it issues forth, with orders to march into the town by the bed of the stream,
as soon as the water became shallow enough: he then himself drew off with the
unwarlike portion of his host, and made for the place where Nitocris dug the
basin for the river, where he did exactly what she had done formerly: he turned
the Euphrates by a canal into the basin, which was then a marsh, on which the
river sank to such an extent that the natural bed of the stream became
fordable. Hereupon the Persians who had been left for the purpose at Babylon by
the, river-side, entered the stream, which had now sunk so as to reach about
midway up a man’s thigh, and thus got into the town. Had the Babylonians been
apprised of what Cyrus was about, or had they noticed their danger, they would
never have allowed the Persians to enter the city, but would have destroyed
them utterly; for they would have made fast all the street-gates which gave
upon the river, and mounting upon the walls along both sides of the stream,
would so have caught the enemy, as it were, in a trap. But, as it was, the
Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city. Owing to the vast
size of the place, the inhabitants of the central parts (as the residents at
Babylon declare) long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew
nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued
dancing and revelling until they learnt the capture but too certainly. Such,
then, were the circumstances of the first taking of
Among many proofs which I shall bring forward of the power
and resources of the Babylonians, the following is of special account. The
whole country under the dominion of the Persians, besides paying a fixed
tribute, is parcelled out into divisions, which have to supply food to the
Great King and his army during different portions of the year. Now out of the
twelve months which go to a year, the district of Babylon furnishes food during
four, the other of Asia during eight; by the which it appears that Assyria, in
respect of resources, is one-third of the whole of
But little rain falls in
But that which surprises me most in the land, after the city
itself, I will now proceed to mention. The boats which come down the river to
The dress of the Babylonians is a linen tunic reaching to the feet, and above it another tunic made in wool, besides which they have a short white cloak thrown round them, and shoes of a peculiar fashion, not unlike those worn by the Boeotians. They have long hair, wear turbans on their heads, and anoint their whole body with perfumes. Every one carries a seal, and a walking-stick, carved at the top into the form of an apple, a rose, a lily, an eagle, or something similar; for it is not their habit to use a stick without an ornament.
Of their customs, whereof I shall now proceed to give an account, the following (which I understand belongs to them in common with the Illyrian tribe of the Eneti) is the wisest in my judgment. Once a year in each village the maidens of age to marry were collected all together into one place; while the men stood round them in a circle. Then a herald called up the damsels one by one, and offered them for sale. He began with the most beautiful. When she was sold for no small sum of money, he offered for sale the one who came next to her in beauty. All of them were sold to be wives. The richest of the Babylonians who wished to wed bid against each other for the loveliest maidens, while the humbler wife-seekers, who were indifferent about beauty, took the more homely damsels with marriage-portions. For the custom was that when the herald had gone through the whole number of the beautiful damsels, he should then call up the ugliest—a cripple, if there chanced to be one—and offer her to the men, asking who would agree to take her with the smallest marriage-portion. And the man who offered to take the smallest sum had her assigned to him. The marriage-portions were furnished by the money paid for the beautiful damsels, and thus the fairer maidens portioned out the uglier. No one was allowed to give his daughter in marriage to the man of his choice, nor might any one carry away the damsel whom he had purchased without finding bail really and truly to make her his wife; if, however, it turned out that they did not agree, the money might be paid back. All who liked might come even from distant villages and bid for the women. This was the best of all their customs, but it has now fallen into disuse. They have lately hit upon a very different plan to save their maidens from violence, and prevent their being torn from them and carried to distant cities, which is to bring up their daughters to be courtesans. This is now done by all the poorer of the common people, who since the conquest have been maltreated by their lords, and have had ruin brought upon their families.
The following custom seems to me the wisest of their institutions next to the one lately praised. They have no physicians, but when a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had his disease themselves or have known any one who has suffered from it, they give him advice, recommending him to do whatever they found good in their own case, or in the case known to them; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence without asking him what his ailment is.
They bury their dead in honey, and have funeral lamentations like the Egyptians. When a Babylonian has consorted with his wife, he sits down before a censer of burning incense, and the woman sits opposite to him. At dawn of day they wash; for till they are washed they will not touch any of their common vessels. This practice is observed also by the Arabians.
The Babylonians have one most shameful custom. Every woman
born in the country must once in her life go and sit down in the precinct of
Venus, and there consort with a stranger. Many of the wealthier sort, who are
too proud to mix with the others, drive in covered carriages to the precinct,
followed by a goodly train of attendants, and there take their station. But the
larger number seat themselves within the holy enclosure with wreaths of string
about their heads—and here there is always a great crowd, some coming and
others going; lines of cord mark out paths in all directions the women, and the
strangers pass along them to make their choice. A woman who has once taken her
seat is not allowed to return home till one of the strangers throws a silver
coin into her lap, and takes her with him beyond the holy ground. When he
throws the coin he says these words—“The goddess Mylitta prosper thee.” (Venus
is called Mylitta by the Assyrians.) The silver coin may be of any size; it cannot
be refused, for that is forbidden by the law, since once thrown it is sacred.
The woman goes with the first man who throws her money, and rejects no one.
When she has gone with him, and so satisfied the goddess, she returns home, and
from that time forth no gift however great will prevail with her. Such of the
women as are tall and beautiful are soon released, but others who are ugly have
to stay a long time before they can fulfil the law. Some have waited three or
four years in the precinct. A custom very much like this is found also in
certain parts of the
Such are the customs of the Babylonians generally. There are likewise three tribes among them who eat nothing but fish. These are caught and dried in the sun, after which they are brayed in a mortar, and strained through a linen sieve. Some prefer to make cakes of this material, while others bake it into a kind of bread.
When Cyrus had achieved the conquest of the Babylonians, he
conceived the desire of bringing the Massagetae under his dominion. Now the
Massagetae are said to be a great and warlike nation, dwelling eastward, toward
the rising of the sun, beyond the river
As for the Araxes, it is, according to some accounts,
larger, according to others smaller than the Ister (
The Caspian is a sea by itself, having no connection with
any other. The sea frequented by the Greeks, that beyond the Pillars of
Hercules, which is called the
On the west then, as I have said, the Caspian Sea is bounded
by the range of
At this time the Massagetae were ruled by a queen, named
Tomyris, who at the death of her husband, the late king, had mounted the
throne. To her Cyrus sent ambassadors, with instructions to court her on his
part, pretending that he wished to take her to wife. Tomyris, however, aware
that it was her kingdom, and not herself, that he courted, forbade the men to
approach. Cyrus, therefore, finding that he did not advance his designs by this
deceit, marched towards the
While the Persian leader was occupied in these labours, Tomyris sent a herald to him, who said, “King of the Medes, cease to press this enterprise, for thou canst not know if what thou art doing will be of real advantage to thee. Be content to rule in peace thy own kingdom, and bear to see us reign over the countries that are ours to govern. As, however, I know thou wilt not choose to hearken to this counsel, since there is nothing thou less desirest than peace and quietness, come now, if thou art so mightily desirous of meeting the Massagetae in arms, leave thy useless toil of bridge-making; let us retire three days’ march from the river bank, and do thou come across with thy soldiers; or, if thou likest better to give us battle on thy side the stream, retire thyself an equal distance.” Cyrus, on this offer, called together the chiefs of the Persians, and laid the matter before them, requesting them to advise him what he should do. All the votes were in favour of his letting Tomyris cross the stream, and giving battle on Persian ground.
But Croesus the Lydian, who was present at the meeting of the chiefs, disapproved of this advice; he therefore rose, and thus delivered his sentiments in opposition to it: “Oh! my king! I promised thee long since, that, as Jove had given me into thy hands, I would, to the best of my power, avert impending danger from thy house. Alas! my own sufferings, by their very bitterness, have taught me to be keen-sighted of dangers. If thou deemest thyself an immortal, and thine army an army of immortals, my counsel will doubtless be thrown away upon thee. But if thou feelest thyself to be a man, and a ruler of men, lay this first to heart, that there is a wheel on which the affairs of men revolve, and that its movement forbids the same man to be always fortunate. Now concerning the matter in hand, my judgment runs counter to the judgment of thy other counsellors. For if thou agreest to give the enemy entrance into thy country, consider what risk is run! Lose the battle, and therewith thy whole kingdom is lost. For assuredly, the Massagetae, if they win the fight, will not return to their homes, but will push forward against the states of thy empire. Or if thou gainest the battle, why, then thou gainest far less than if thou wert across the stream, where thou mightest follow up thy victory. For against thy loss, if they defeat thee on thine own ground, must be set theirs in like case. Rout their army on the other side of the river, and thou mayest push at once into the heart of their country. Moreover, were it not disgrace intolerable for Cyrus the son of Cambyses to retire before and yield ground to a woman? My counsel, therefore, is that we cross the stream, and pushing forward as far as they shall fall back, then seek to get the better of them by stratagem. I am told they are unacquainted with the good things on which the Persians live, and have never tasted the great delights of life. Let us then prepare a feast for them in our camp; let sheep be slaughtered without stint, and the winecups be filled full of noble liquor, and let all manner of dishes be prepared: then leaving behind us our worst troops, let us fall back towards the river. Unless I very much mistake, when they see the good fare set out, they will forget all else and fall to. Then it will remain for us to do our parts manfully.”
Cyrus, when the two plans were thus placed in contrast before him, changed his mind, and preferring the advice which Croesus had given, returned for answer to Tomyris that she should retire, and that he would cross the stream. She therefore retired, as she had engaged; and Cyrus, giving Croesus into the care of his son Cambyses (whom he had appointed to succeed him on the throne), with strict charge to pay him all respect and treat him well, if the expedition failed of success; and sending them both back to Persia, crossed the river with his army.
The first night after the passage, as he slept in the
enemy’s country, a vision appeared to him. He seemed to see in his sleep the
eldest of the sons of Hystaspes, with wings upon his shoulders, shadowing with
the one wing Asia, and
Thus Cyrus spoke, in the belief that he was plotted against by Darius; but he missed the true meaning of the dream, which was sent by God to forewarn him, that he was to die then and there, and that his kingdom was to fall at last to Darius.
Hystaspes made answer to Cyrus in these words:—“Heaven
forbid, sire, that there should be a Persian living who would plot against
thee! If such an one there be, may a speedy death overtake him! Thou foundest
the Persians a race of slaves, thou hast made them free men: thou foundest them
subject to others, thou hast made them lords of all. If a vision has announced
that my son is practising against thee, lo, I resign him into thy hands to deal
with as thou wilt.” Hystaspes, when he had thus answered, recrossed the Araxes
and hastened back to
Meanwhile Cyrus, having advanced a day’s march from the river, did as Croesus had advised him, and, leaving the worthless portion of his army in the camp, drew off with his good troops towards the river. Soon afterwards, a detachment of the Massagetae, one-third of their entire army, led by Spargapises, son of the queen Tomyris, coming up, fell upon the body which had been left behind by Cyrus, and on their resistance put them to the sword. Then, seeing the banquet prepared, they sat down and began to feast. When they had eaten and drunk their fill, and were now sunk in sleep, the Persians under Cyrus arrived, slaughtered a great multitude, and made even a larger number prisoners. Among these last was Spargapises himself.
When Tomyris heard what had befallen her son and her army, she sent a herald to Cyrus, who thus addressed the conqueror:—“Thou bloodthirsty Cyrus, pride not thyself on this poor success: it was the grape-juice—which, when ye drink it, makes you so mad, and as ye swallow it down brings up to your lips such bold and wicked words—it was this poison wherewith thou didst ensnare my child, and so overcamest him, not in fair open fight. Now hearken what I advise, and be sure I advise thee for thy good. Restore my son to me and get thee from the land unharmed, triumphant over a third part of the host of the Massagetae. Refuse, and I swear by the sun, the sovereign lord of the Massagetae, bloodthirsty as thou art, I will give thee thy fill of blood.”
To the words of this message Cyrus paid no manner of regard. As for Spargapises, the son of the queen, when the wine went off, ‘and he saw the extent of his calamity, he made request to Cyrus to release him from his bonds; then, when his prayer was granted, and the fetters were taken from his limbs, as soon as his hands were free, he destroyed himself.
Tomyris, when she found that Cyrus paid no heed to her advice, collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him battle. Of all the combats in which the barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest. The following, as I understand, was the manner of it:—First, the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other; then, when their quivers were empty, they closed and fought hand-to-hand with lances and daggers; and thus they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground. At length the Massagetae prevailed. The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years. Search was made among the slain by order of the queen for the body of Cyrus, and when it was found she took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corse, “I live and have conquered thee in fight, and yet by thee am I ruined, for thou tookest my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give thee thy fill of blood.” Of the many different accounts which are given of the death of Cyrus, this which I have followed appears to me most worthy of credit.
In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favourite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.
The following are some of their customs;—Each man has but
one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the
Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does
not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old,
all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at
the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and
feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a
man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing
his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but
live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the
On the death of Cyrus, Cambyses his son by Cassandane
daughter of Pharnaspes took the kingdom. Cassandane had died in the lifetime of
Cyrus, who had made a great mourning for her at her death, and had commanded
all the subjects of his empire to observe the like. Cambyses, the son of this
lady and of Cyrus, regarding the Ionian and Aeolian Greeks as vassals of his
father, took them with him in his expedition against
Now the Egyptians, before the reign of their king Psammetichus, believed themselves to be the most ancient of mankind. Since Psammetichus, however, made an attempt to discover who were actually the primitive race, they have been of opinion that while they surpass all other nations, the Phrygians surpass them in antiquity. This king, finding it impossible to make out by dint of inquiry what men were the most ancient, contrived the following method of discovery:—He took two children of the common sort, and gave them over to a herdsman to bring up at his folds, strictly charging him to let no one utter a word in their presence, but to keep them in a sequestered cottage, and from time to time introduce goats to their apartment, see that they got their fill of milk, and in all other respects look after them. His object herein was to know, after the indistinct babblings of infancy were over, what word they would first articulate. It happened as he had anticipated. The herdsman obeyed his orders for two years, and at the end of that time, on his one day opening the door of their room and going in, the children both ran up to him with outstretched arms, and distinctly said “Becos.” When this first happened the herdsman took no notice; but afterwards when he observed, on coming often to see after them, that the word was constantly in their mouths, he informed his lord, and by his command brought the children into his presence. Psammetichus then himself heard them say the word, upon which he proceeded to make inquiry what people there was who called anything “becos,” and hereupon he learnt that “becos” was the Phrygian name for bread. In consideration of this circumstance the Egyptians yielded their claims, and admitted the greater antiquity of the Phrygians.
That these were the real facts I learnt at
Now with regard to mere human matters, the accounts which
they gave, and in which all agreed, were the following. The Egyptians, they
said, were the first to discover the solar year, and to portion out its course
into twelve parts. They obtained this knowledge from the stars. (To my mind
they contrive their year much more cleverly than the Greeks, for these last
every other year intercalate a whole month, but the Egyptians, dividing the
year into twelve months of thirty days each, add every year a space of five
days besides, whereby the circuit of the seasons is made to return with
uniformity.) The Egyptians, they went on to affirm, first brought into use the
names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected
altars, images, and temples to the gods; and also first engraved upon stone the
figures of animals. In most of these cases they proved to me that what they
said was true. And they told me that the first man who ruled over
What they said of their country seemed to me very
reasonable. For any one who sees
The following is the general character of the region. In the first place, on approaching it by sea, when you are still a day’s sail from the land, if you let down a sounding-line you will bring up mud, and find yourself in eleven fathoms’ water, which shows that the soil washed down by the stream extends to that distance.
The length of the country along shore, according to the
bounds that we assign to
From the coast inland as far as
As one proceeds beyond
The greater portion of the country above described seemed to
me to be, as the priests declared, a tract gained by the inhabitants. For the
whole region above
In Arabia, not far from
Thus I give credit to those from whom I received this account of Egypt, and am myself, moreover, strongly of the same opinion, since I remarked that the country projects into the sea further than the neighbouring shores, and I observed that there were shells upon the hills, and that salt exuded from the soil to such an extent as even to injure the pyramids; and I noticed also that there is but a single hill in all Egypt where sand is found, namely, the hill above Memphis; and further, I found the country to bear no resemblance either to its borderland Arabia, or to Libya—nay, nor even to Syria, which forms the seaboard of Arabia; but whereas the soil of Libya is, we know, sandy and of a reddish hue, and that of Arabia and Syria inclines to stone and clay, Egypt has a soil that is black and crumbly, as being alluvial and formed of the deposits brought down by the river from Ethiopia.
One fact which I learnt of the priests is to me a strong
evidence of the origin of the country. They said that when Moeris was king, the
Nile overflowed all
And certes, in thus speaking of the Greeks the Egyptians say nothing but what is true. But now let me tell the Egyptians how the case stands with themselves. If, as I said before, the country below Memphis, which is the land that is always rising, continues to increase in height at the rate at which it has risen in times gone by, how will it be possible for the inhabitants of that region to avoid hunger, when they will certainly have no rain, and the river will not be able to overflow their cornlands? At present, it must be confessed, they obtain the fruits of the field with less trouble than any other people in the world, the rest of the Egyptians included, since they have no need to break up the ground with the plough, nor to use the hoe, nor to do any of the work which the rest of mankind find necessary if they are to get a crop; but the husbandman waits till the river has of its own accord spread itself over the fields and withdrawn again to its bed, and then sows his plot of ground, and after sowing turns his swine into it—the swine tread in the corn—after which he has only to await the harvest. The swine serve him also to thrash the grain, which is then carried to the garner.
If then we choose to adopt the views of the Ionians
If, then, my judgment on these matters be right, the Ionians
are mistaken in what they say of
Here I take my leave of the opinions of the Ionians, and
proceed to deliver my own sentiments on these subjects. I consider
My judgment as to the extent of
So said the oracle. Now the Nile, when it overflows, floods not only the Delta, but also the tracts of country on both sides the stream which are thought to belong to Libya and Arabia, in some places reaching to the extent of two days’ journey from its banks, in some even exceeding that distance, but in others falling short of it.
Concerning the nature of the river, I was not able to gain any information either from the priests or from others. I was particularly anxious to learn from them why the Nile, at the commencement of the summer solstice, begins to rise, and continues to increase for a hundred days—and why, as soon as that number is past, it forthwith retires and contracts its stream, continuing low during the whole of the winter until the summer solstice comes round again. On none of these points could I obtain any explanation from the inhabitants, though I made every inquiry, wishing to know what was commonly reported—they could neither tell me what special virtue the Nile has which makes it so opposite in its nature to all other streams, nor why, unlike every other river, it gives forth no breezes from its surface.
Some of the Greeks, however, wishing to get a reputation for
cleverness, have offered explanations of the phenomena of the river, for which
they have accounted in three different ways. Two of these I do not think it
worth while to speak of, further than simply to mention what they are. One
pretends that the Etesian winds cause the rise of the river by preventing the
Nile-water from running off into the sea. But in the first place it has often
happened, when the Etesian winds did not blow, that the Nile has risen
according to its usual wont; and further, if the Etesian winds produced the
effect, the other rivers which flow in a direction opposite to those winds
ought to present the same phenomena as the Nile, and the more so as they are
all smaller streams, and have a weaker current. But these rivers, of which
there are many both in
The second opinion is even more unscientific than the one
just mentioned, and also, if I may so say, more marvellous. It is that the
The third explanation, which is very much more plausible
than either of the others, is positively the furthest from the truth; for there
is really nothing in what it says, any more than in the other theories. It is,
that the inundation of the
As for the writer who attributes the phenomenon to the ocean, his account is involved in such obscurity that it is impossible to disprove it by argument. For my part I know of no river called Ocean, and I think that Homer, or one of the earlier poets, invented the name, and introduced it into his poetry.
Perhaps, after censuring all the opinions that have been put
forward on this obscure subject, one ought to propose some theory of one’s own.
I will therefore proceed to explain what I think to be the reason of the
To explain, however, more at length, the case is this. The
sun, in his passage across the upper parts of
It is the sun also, in my opinion, which, by heating the
space through which it passes, makes the air in
And with respect to the fact that no breeze blows from the
Let us leave these things, however, to their natural course,
to continue as they are and have been from the beginning. With regard to the
sources of the
No other information on this head could I obtain from any
quarter. All that I succeeded in learning further of the more distant portions
of the Nile, by ascending myself as high as Elephantine and making inquiries
concerning the parts beyond, was the following:—As one advances beyond
On leaving this city, and again mounting the stream, in the
same space of time which it took you to reach the capital from Elephantine, you
come to the Deserters, who bear the name of Asmach. This word, translated into
our language, means “the men who stand on the left hand of the king.” These
Deserters are Egyptians of the warrior caste, who, to the number of two hundred
and forty thousand, went over to the Ethiopians in the reign of king
Psammetichus. The cause of their desertion was the following:—Three garrisons
were maintained in
Thus the course of the Nile is known, not only throughout
I did hear, indeed, what I will now relate, from certain
Here let me dismiss Etearchus the Ammonian, and his story,
only adding that (according to the Cyrenaeans) he declared that the Nasamonians
got safe back to their country, and that the men whose city they had reached
were a nation of sorcerers. With respect to the river which ran by their town,
Etearchus conjectured it to be the
Now as this river flows through regions that are inhabited,
its course is perfectly well known; but of the sources of the Nile no one can
give any account, since Libya, the country through which it passes, is desert
and without inhabitants. As far as it was possible to get information by
inquiry, I have given a description of the stream. It enters
In other countries the priests have long hair, in Egypt their heads are shaven; elsewhere it is customary, in mourning, for near relations to cut their hair close: the Egyptians, who wear no hair at any other time, when they lose a relative, let their beards and the hair of their heads grow long. All other men pass their lives separate from animals, the Egyptians have animals always living with them; others make barley and wheat their food; it is a disgrace to do so in Egypt, where the grain they live on is spelt, which some call zea. Dough they knead with their feet; but they mix mud, and even take up dirt, with their hands. They are the only people in the world—they at least, and such as have learnt the practice from them—who use circumcision. Their men wear two garments apiece, their women but one. They put on the rings and fasten the ropes to sails inside; others put them outside. When they write or calculate, instead of going, like the Greeks, from left to right, they move their hand from right to left; and they insist, notwithstanding, that it is they who go to the right, and the Greeks who go to the left. They have two quite different kinds of writing, one of which is called sacred, the other common.
They are religious to excess, far beyond any other race of men, and use the following ceremonies:—They drink out of brazen cups, which they scour every day: there is no exception to this practice. They wear linen garments, which they are specially careful to have always fresh washed. They practise circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely. The priests shave their whole body every other day, that no lice or other impure thing may adhere to them when they are engaged in the service of the gods. Their dress is entirely of linen, and their shoes of the papyrus plant: it is not lawful for them to wear either dress or shoes of any other material. They bathe twice every day in cold water, and twice each night; besides which they observe, so to speak, thousands of ceremonies. They enjoy, however, not a few advantages. They consume none of their own property, and are at no expense for anything; but every day bread is baked for them of the sacred corn, and a plentiful supply of beef and of goose’s flesh is assigned to each, and also a portion of wine made from the grape. Fish they are not allowed to eat; and beans—which none of the Egyptians ever sow, or eat, if they come up of their own accord, either raw or boiled—the priests will not even endure to look on, since they consider it an unclean kind of pulse. Instead of a single priest, each god has the attendance of a college, at the head of which is a chief priest; when one of these dies, his son is appointed in his room.
Male kine are reckoned to belong to Epaphus, and are therefore tested in the following manner:—One of the priests appointed for the purpose searches to see if there is a single black hair on the whole body, since in that case the beast is unclean. He examines him all over, standing on his legs, and again laid upon his back; after which he takes the tongue out of his mouth, to see if it be clean in respect of the prescribed marks (what they are I will mention elsewhere); he also inspects the hairs of the tail, to observe if they grow naturally. If the animal is pronounced clean in all these various points, the priest marks him by twisting a piece of papyrus round his horns, and attaching thereto some sealing-clay, which he then stamps with his own signet-ring. After this the beast is led away; and it is forbidden, under the penalty of death, to sacrifice an animal which has not been marked in this way.
The following is their manner of sacrifice:—They lead the
victim, marked with their signet, to the altar where they are about to offer
it, and setting the wood alight, pour a libation of wine upon the altar in
front of the victim, and at the same time invoke the god. Then they slay the
animal, and cutting off his head, proceed to flay the body. Next they take the
head, and heaping imprecations on it, if there is a market-place and a body of
Greek traders in the city, they carry it there and sell it instantly; if,
however, there are no Greeks among them, they throw the head into the river.
The imprecation is to this effect:—They pray that if any evil is impending
either over those who sacrifice, or over universal
The disembowelling and burning are, however, different in different sacrifices. I will mention the mode in use with respect to the goddess whom they regard as the greatest, and honour with the chiefest festival. When they have flayed their steer they pray, and when their prayer is ended they take the paunch of the animal out entire, leaving the intestines and the fat inside the body; they then cut off the legs, the ends of the loins, the shoulders, and the neck; and having so done, they fill the body of the steer with clean bread, honey, raisins, figs, frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatics. Thus filled, they burn the body, pouring over it great quantities of oil. Before offering the sacrifice they fast, and while the bodies of the victims are being consumed they beat themselves. Afterwards, when they have concluded this part of the ceremony, they have the other parts of the victim served up to them for a repast.
The male kine, therefore, if clean, and the male calves, are
used for sacrifice by the Egyptians universally; but the females they are not
allowed to sacrifice, since they are sacred to
Such Egyptians as possess a temple of the Theban Jove, or live in the Thebaic canton, offer no sheep in sacrifice, but only goats; for the Egyptians do not all worship the same gods, excepting Isis and Osiris, the latter of whom they say is the Grecian Bacchus. Those, on the contrary, who possess a temple dedicated to Mendes, or belong to the Mendesian canton, abstain from offering goats, and sacrifice sheep instead. The Thebans, and such as imitate them in their practice, give the following account of the origin of the custom:—“Hercules,” they say, “wished of all things to see Jove, but Jove did not choose to be seen of him. At length, when Hercules persisted, Jove hit on a device—to flay a ram, and, cutting off his head, hold the head before him, and cover himself with the fleece. In this guise he showed himself to Hercules.” Therefore the Egyptians give their statues of Jupiter the face of a ram: and from them the practice has passed to the Ammonians, who are a joint colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language between the two; hence also, in my opinion, the latter people took their name of Ammonians, since the Egyptian name for Jupiter is Amun. Such, then, is the reason why the Thebans do not sacrifice rams, but consider them sacred animals. Upon one day in the year, however, at the festival of Jupiter, they slay a single ram, and stripping off the fleece, cover with it the statue of that god, as he once covered himself, and then bring up to the statue of Jove an image of Hercules. When this has been done, the whole assembly beat their breasts in mourning for the ram, and afterwards bury him in a holy sepulchre.
The account which I received of this Hercules makes him one
of the twelve gods. Of the other Hercules, with whom the Greeks are familiar, I
could hear nothing in any part of
In the wish to get the best information that I could on
these matters, I made a voyage to
The Greeks tell many tales without due investigation, and among them the following silly fable respecting Hercules:—“Hercules,” they say, “went once to Egypt, and there the inhabitants took him, and putting a chaplet on his head, led him out in solemn procession, intending to offer him a sacrifice to Jupiter. For a while he submitted quietly; but when they led him up to the altar and began the ceremonies, he put forth his strength and slew them all.” Now to me it seems that such a story proves the Greeks to be utterly ignorant of the character and customs of the people. The Egyptians do not think it allowable even to sacrifice cattle, excepting sheep, and the male kine and calves, provided they be pure, and also geese. How, then, can it be believed that they would sacrifice men? And again, how would it have been possible for Hercules alone, and, as they confess, a mere mortal, to destroy so many thousands? In saying thus much concerning these matters, may I incur no displeasure either of god or hero!
I mentioned above that some of the Egyptians abstain from
sacrificing goats, either male or female. The reason is the following:—These
Egyptians, who are the Mendesians, consider Pan to be one of the eight gods who
existed before the twelve, and Pan is represented in
The pig is regarded among them as an unclean animal, so much so that if a man in passing accidentally touch a pig, he instantly hurries to the river, and plunges in with all his clothes on. Hence, too, the swineherds, notwithstanding that they are of pure Egyptian blood, are forbidden to enter into any of the temples, which are open to all other Egyptians; and further, no one will give his daughter in marriage to a swineherd, or take a wife from among them, so that the swineherds are forced to intermarry among themselves. They do not offer swine in sacrifice to any of their gods, excepting Bacchus and the Moon, whom they honour in this way at the same time, sacrificing pigs to both of them at the same full moon, and afterwards eating of the flesh. There is a reason alleged by them for their detestation of swine at all other seasons, and their use of them at this festival, with which I am well acquainted, but which I do not think it proper to mention. The following is the mode in which they sacrifice the swine to the Moon:—As soon as the victim is slain, the tip of the tail, the spleen, and the caul are put together, and having been covered with all the fat that has been found in the animal’s belly, are straightway burnt. The remainder of the flesh is eaten on the same day that the sacrifice is offered, which is the day of the full moon: at any other time they would not so much as taste it. The poorer sort, who cannot afford live pigs, form pigs of dough, which they bake and offer in sacrifice.
To Bacchus, on the eve of his feast, every Egyptian
sacrifices a hog before the door of his house, which is then given back to the
swineherd by whom it was furnished, and by him carried away. In other respects
the festival is celebrated almost exactly as Bacchic festivals are in
Melampus, the son of Amytheon, cannot (I think) have been
ignorant of this ceremony—nay, he must, I should conceive, have been well
acquainted with it. He it was who introduced into
Almost all the names of the gods came into
Besides these which have been here mentioned, there are many
other practices whereof I shall speak hereafter, which the Greeks have borrowed
In early times the Pelasgi, as I know by information which I
Whence the gods severally sprang, whether or no they had all
existed from eternity, what forms they bore—these are questions of which the
Greeks knew nothing until the other day, so to speak. For Homer and Hesiod were
the first to compose Theogonies, and give the gods their epithets, to allot
them their several offices and occupations, and describe their forms; and they
lived but four hundred years before my time, as I believe. As for the poets who
are thought by some to be earlier than these, they are, in my judgment,
decidedly later writers. In these matters I have the authority of the
The following tale is commonly told in
This was what I heard from the priests at
My own opinion of these matters is as follows:—I think that,
if it be true that the Phoenicians carried off the holy women, and sold them
for slaves, the one into Libya and the other into Greece, or Pelasgia (as it
was then called), this last must have been sold to the Thesprotians.
Afterwards, while undergoing servitude in those parts, she built under a real
oak a temple to Jupiter, her thoughts in her new abode reverting—as it was
likely they would do, if she had been an attendant in a
The Dodonaeans called the women doves because they were
foreigners, and seemed to them to make a noise like birds. After a while the
dove spoke with a human voice, because the woman, whose foreign talk had
previously sounded to them like the chattering of a bird, acquired the power of
speaking what they could understand. For how can it be conceived possible that
a dove should really speak with the voice of a man? Lastly, by calling the dove
black the Dodonaeans indicated that the woman was an Egyptian. And certainly
the character of the oracles at
The Egyptians were also the first to introduce solemn
assemblies, processions, and litanies to the gods; of all which the Greeks were
taught the use by them. It seems to me a sufficient proof of this that in
The Egyptians do not hold a single solemn assembly, but
several in the course of the year. Of these the chief, which is better attended
than any other, is held at the city of
The following are the proceedings on occasion of the
assembly at Bubastis:—Men and women come sailing all together, vast numbers in
each boat, many of the women with castanets, which they strike, while some of
the men pipe during the whole time of the voyage; the remainder of the
voyagers, male and female, sing the while, and make a clapping with their
hands. When they arrive opposite any of the towns upon the banks of the stream,
they approach the shore, and, while some of the women continue to play and
sing, others call aloud to the females of the place and load them with abuse,
while a certain number dance, and some standing up uncover themselves. After
proceeding in this way all along the river-course, they reach
The ceremonies at the feast of Isis in the city of
At Heliopolis and Buto the assemblies are merely for the purpose of sacrifice; but at Papremis, besides the sacrifices and other rites which are performed there as elsewhere, the following custom is observed:—When the sun is getting low, a few only of the priests continue occupied about the image of the god, while the greater number, armed with wooden clubs, take their station at the portal of the temple. Opposite to them is drawn up a body of men, in number above a thousand, armed, like the others, with clubs, consisting of persons engaged in the performance of their vows. The image of the god, which is kept in a small wooden shrine covered with plates of gold, is conveyed from the temple into a second sacred building the day before the festival begins. The few priests still in attendance upon the image place it, together with the shrine containing it, on a four-wheeled car, and begin to drag it along; the others stationed at the gateway of the temple, oppose its admission. Then the votaries come forward to espouse the quarrel of the god, and set upon the opponents, who are sure to offer resistance. A sharp fight with clubs ensues, in which heads are commonly broken on both sides. Many, I am convinced, die of the wounds that they receive, though the Egyptians insist that no one is ever killed.
The natives give the subjoined account of this festival. They say that the mother of the god Mars once dwelt in the temple. Brought up at a distance from his parent, when he grew to man’s estate he conceived a wish to visit her. Accordingly he came, but the attendants, who had never seen him before, refused him entrance, and succeeded in keeping him out. So he went to another city and collected a body of men, with whose aid he handled the attendants very roughly, and forced his way in to his mother. Hence they say arose the custom of a fight with sticks in honour of Mars at this festival.
The Egyptians first made it a point of religion to have no converse with women in the sacred places, and not to enter them without washing, after such converse. Almost all other nations, except the Greeks and the Egyptians, act differently, regarding man as in this matter under no other law than the brutes. Many animals, they say, and various kinds of birds, may be seen to couple in the temples and the sacred precincts, which would certainly not happen if the gods were displeased at it. Such are the arguments by which they defend their practice, but I nevertheless can by no means approve of it. In these points the Egyptians are specially careful, as they are indeed in everything which concerns their sacred edifices.
The number of domestic animals in
The cats on their decease are taken to the city of
The following are the peculiarities of the crocodile:—During the four winter months they eat nothing; they are four-footed, and live indifferently on land or in the water. The female lays and hatches her eggs ashore, passing the greater portion of the day on dry land, but at night retiring to the river, the water of which is warmer than the night-air and the dew. Of all known animals this is the one which from the smallest size grows to be the greatest: for the egg of the crocodile is but little bigger than that of the goose, and the young crocodile is in proportion to the egg; yet when it is full grown, the animal measures frequently seventeen cubits and even more. It has the eyes of a pig, teeth large and tusk-like, of a size proportioned to its frame; unlike any other animal, it is without a tongue; it cannot move its under-jaw, and in this respect too it is singular, being the only animal in the world which moves the upper-jaw but not the under. It has strong claws and a scaly skin, impenetrable upon the back. In the water it is blind, but on land it is very keen of sight. As it lives chiefly in the river, it has the inside of its mouth constantly covered with leeches; hence it happens that, while all the other birds and beasts avoid it, with the trochilus it lives at peace, since it owes much to that bird: for the crocodile, when he leaves the water and comes out upon the land, is in the habit of lying with his mouth wide open, facing the western breeze: at such times the trochilus goes into his mouth and devours the leeches. This benefits the crocodile, who is pleased, and takes care not to hurt the trochilus.
The crocodile is esteemed sacred by some of the Egyptians,
by others he is treated as an enemy. Those who live near
The modes of catching the crocodile are many and various. I shall only describe the one which seems to me most worthy of mention. They bait a hook with a chine of pork and let the meat be carried out into the middle of the stream, while the hunter upon the bank holds a living pig, which he belabours. The crocodile hears its cries, and making for the sound, encounters the pork, which he instantly swallows down. The men on the shore haul, and when they have got him to land, the first thing the hunter does is to plaster his eyes with mud. This once accomplished, the animal is despatched with ease, otherwise he gives great trouble.
The hippopotamus, in the canton of Papremis, is a sacred
animal, but not in any other part of
Otters also are found in the
They have also another sacred bird called the phoenix which
I myself have never seen, except in pictures. Indeed it is a great rarity, even
In the neighbourhood of
I went once to a certain place in Arabia, almost exactly
opposite the city of
The ibis is a bird of a deep-black colour, with legs like a crane; its beak is strongly hooked, and its size is about that of the land-rail. This is a description of the black ibis which contends with the serpents. The commoner sort, for there are two quite distinct species, has the head and the whole throat bare of feathers; its general plumage is white, but the head and neck are jet black, as also are the tips of the wings and the extremity of the tail; in its beak and legs it resembles the other species. The winged serpent is shaped like the water-snake. Its wings are not feathered, but resemble very closely those of the bat. And thus I conclude the subject of the sacred animals.
With respect to the Egyptians themselves, it is to be remarked that those who live in the corn country, devoting themselves, as they do, far more than any other people in the world, to the preservation of the memory of past actions, are the best skilled in history of any men that I have ever met. The following is the mode of life habitual to them:—For three successive days in each month they purge the body by means of emetics and clysters, which is done out of a regard for their health, since they have a persuasion that every disease to which men are liable is occasioned by the substances whereon they feed. Apart from any such precautions, they are, I believe, next to the Libyans, the healthiest people in the world—an effect of their climate, in my opinion, which has no sudden changes. Diseases almost always attack men when they are exposed to a change, and never more than during changes of the weather. They live on bread made of spelt, which they form into loaves called in their own tongue cyllestis. Their drink is a wine which they obtain from barley, as they have no vines in their country. Many kinds of fish they eat raw, either salted or dried in the sun. Quails also, and ducks and small birds, they eat uncooked, merely first salting them. All other birds and fishes, excepting those which are set apart as sacred, are eaten either roasted or boiled.
In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in which there is a wooden image of a corpse, carved and painted to resemble nature as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two cubits in length. As he shows it to each guest in turn, the servant says, “Gaze here, and drink and be merry; for when you die, such will you be.”
The Egyptians adhere to their own national customs, and
adopt no foreign usages. Many of these customs are worthy of note: among others
their song, the Linus, which is sung under various names not only in Egypt but
in Phoenicia, in Cyprus, and in other places; and which seems to be exactly the
same as that in use among the Greeks, and by them called Linus. There were very
many things in
There is another custom in which the Egyptians resemble a
particular Greek people, namely the Lacedaemonians. Their young men, when they
meet their elders in the streets, give way to them and step aside; and if an
elder come in where young men are present, these latter rise from their seats.
In a third point they differ entirely from all the nations of
They wear a linen tunic fringed about the legs, and called calasiris; over this they have a white woollen garment thrown on afterwards. Nothing of woollen, however, is taken into their temples or buried with them, as their religion forbids it. Here their practice resembles the rites called Orphic and Bacchic, but which are in reality Egyptian and Pythagorean; for no one initiated in these mysteries can be buried in a woollen shroud, a religious reason being assigned for the observance.
The Egyptians likewise discovered to which of the gods each month and day is sacred; and found out from the day of a man’s birth what he will meet with in the course of his life, and how he will end his days, and what sort of man he will be—discoveries whereof the Greeks engaged in poetry have made a use. The Egyptians have also discovered more prognostics than all the rest of mankind besides. Whenever a prodigy takes place, they watch and record the result; then, if anything similar ever happens again, they expect the same consequences.
With respect to divination, they hold that it is a gift which no mortal possesses, but only certain of the gods: thus they have an oracle of Hercules, one of Apollo, of Minerva, of Diana, of Mars, and of Jupiter. Besides these, there is the oracle of Latona at Buto, which is held in much higher repute than any of the rest. The mode of delivering the oracles is not uniform, but varies at the different shrines.
Medicine is practised among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more: thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines, and some those which are not local.
The following is the way in which they conduct their mournings and their funerals:—On the death in any house of a man of consequence, forthwith the women of the family beplaster their heads, and sometimes even their faces, with mud; and then, leaving the body indoors, sally forth and wander through the city, with their dress fastened by a band, and their bosoms bare, beating themselves as they walk. All the female relations join them and do the same. The men too, similarly begirt, beat their breasts separately. When these ceremonies are over, the body is carried away to be embalmed.
There are a set of men in
If persons wish to avoid expense, and choose the second process, the following is the method pursued:—Syringes are filled with oil made from the cedar-tree, which is then, without any incision or disembowelling, injected into the abdomen. The passage by which it might be likely to return is stopped, and the body laid in natrum the prescribed number of days. At the end of the time the cedar-oil is allowed to make its escape; and such is its power that it brings with it the whole stomach and intestines in a liquid state. The natrum meanwhile has dissolved the flesh, and so nothing is left of the dead body but the skin and the bones. It is returned in this condition to the relatives, without any further trouble being bestowed upon it.
The third method of embalming, which is practised in the case of the poorer classes, is to clear out the intestines with a clyster, and let the body lie in natrum the seventy days, after which it is at once given to those who come to fetch it away.
The wives of men of rank are not given to be embalmed immediately after death, nor indeed are any of the more beautiful and valued women. It is not till they have been dead three or four days that they are carried to the embalmers. This is done to prevent indignities from being offered them. It is said that once a case of this kind occurred: the man was detected by the information of his fellow-workman.
Whensoever any one, Egyptian or foreigner, has lost his life by falling a prey to a crocodile, or by drowning in the river, the law compels the inhabitants of the city near which the body is cast up to have it embalmed, and to bury it in one of the sacred repositories with all possible magnificence. No one may touch the corpse, not even any of the friends or relatives, but only the priests of the Nile, who prepare it for burial with their own hands—regarding it as something more than the mere body of a man—and themselves lay it in the tomb.
The Egyptians are averse to adopt Greek customs, or, in a
word, those of any other nation. This feeling is almost universal among them.
At Chemmis, however, which is a large city in the Thebaic canton, near
Neapolis, there is a square enclosure sacred to Perseus, son of Danae. Palm
trees grow all round the place, which has a stone gateway of an unusual size,
surmounted by two colossal statues, also in stone. Inside this precinct is a
temple, and in the temple an image of Perseus. The people of Chemmis say that
Perseus often appears to them, sometimes within the sacred enclosure, sometimes
in the open country: one of the sandals which he has worn is frequently
found—two cubits in length, as they affirm—and then all
The customs hitherto described are those of the Egyptians
who live above the marsh-country. The inhabitants of the marshes have the same
customs as the rest, as well in those matters which have been mentioned above
as in respect of marriage, each Egyptian taking to himself, like the Greeks, a
single wife; but for greater cheapness of living the marsh-men practise certain
peculiar customs, such as these following. They gather the blossoms of a
certain water-lily, which grows in great abundance all over the flat country at
the time when the Nile rises and floods the regions along its banks—the
Egyptians call it lotus—they gather, I say, the blossoms of this plant and dry
them in the sun, after which they extract from the centre of each blossom a
substance like the head of a poppy, which they crush and make into bread. The
root of the lotus is likewise eatable, and has a pleasant sweet taste: it is
round, and about the size of an apple. There is also another species of the
Gregarious fish are not found in any numbers in the rivers;
they frequent the lagunes, whence, at the season of breeding, they proceed in
shoals towards the sea. The males lead the way, and drop their milt as they go,
while the females, following close behind, eagerly swallow it down. From this
they conceive, and when, after passing some time in the sea, they begin to be
in spawn, the whole shoal sets off on its return to its ancient haunts. Now,
however, it is no longer the males, but the females, who take the lead: they
swim in front in a body, and do exactly as the males did before, dropping,
little by little, their grains of spawn as they go, while the males in the rear
devour the grains, each one of which is a fish. A portion of the spawn escapes
and is not swallowed by the males, and hence come the fishes which grow
afterwards to maturity. Whan any of this sort of fish are taken on their
passage to the sea, they are found to have the left side of the head scarred
and bruised; while if taken on their return, the marks appear on the right. The
reason is that as they swim down the Nile seaward, they keep close to the bank
of the river upon their left, and returning again up stream they still cling to
the same side, hugging it and brushing against it constantly, to be sure that
they miss not their road through the great force of the current. When the
The Egyptians who live in the marshes use for the anointing
of their bodies an oil made from the fruit of the sillicyprium, which is known
among them by the name of “kiki.” To obtain this they plant the sillicyprium
(which grows wild in
The contrivances which they use against gnats, wherewith the country swarms, are the following. In the parts of Egypt above the marshes the inhabitants pass the night upon lofty towers, which are of great service, as the gnats are unable to fly to any height on account of the winds. In the marsh-country, where there are no towers, each man possesses a net instead. By day it serves him to catch fish, while at night he spreads it over the bed in which he is to rest, and creeping in, goes to sleep underneath. The gnats, which, if he rolls himself up in his dress or in a piece of muslin, are sure to bite through the covering, do not so much as attempt to pass the net.
The vessels used in
The former of these cities, which is a place of note, is
assigned expressly to the wife of the ruler of
Thus far I have spoken of
The priests said that Min was the first king of
Next, they read me from a papyrus the names of three hundred
and thirty monarchs, who (they said) were his successors upon the throne. In this
number of generations there were eighteen Ethiopian kings, and one queen who
was a native; all the rest were kings and Egyptians. The queen bore the same
name as the Babylonian princess, namely, Nitocris. They said that she succeeded
her brother; he had been king of
The other kings, they said, were personages of no note or distinction, and left no monuments of any account, with the exception of the last, who was named Moeris. He left several memorials of his reign—the northern gateway of the temple of Vulcan, the lake excavated by his orders, whose dimensions I shall give presently, and the pyramids built by him in the lake, the size of which will be stated when I describe the lake itself wherein they stand. Such were his works: the other kings left absolutely nothing.
Passing over these monarchs, therefore, I shall speak of the
king who reigned next, whose name was Sesostris. He, the priests said, first of
all proceeded in a fleet of ships of war from the
In this way he traversed the whole continent of Asia, whence
he passed on into Europe, and made himself master of Scythia and of
There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race.
Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself.
After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in
Colchis and in
I will add a further proof to the identity of the Egyptians
and the Colchians. These two nations weave their linen in exactly the same way,
and this is a way entirely unknown to the rest of the world; they also in their
whole mode of life and in their language resemble one another. The Colchian
linen is called by the Greeks Sardinian, while that which comes from
The pillars which Sesostris erected in the conquered countries
have for the most part disappeared; but in the part of
This Sesostris, the priests went on to say, upon his return home, accompanied by vast multitudes of the people whose countries he had subdued, was received by his brother, whom he had made viceroy of Egypt on his departure, at Daphnae near Pelusium, and invited by him to a banquet, which he attended, together with his sons. Then his brother piled a quantity of wood all round the building, and having so done set it alight. Sesostris, discovering what had happened, took counsel instantly with his wife, who had accompanied him to the feast, and was advised by her to lay two of their six sons upon the fire, and so make a bridge across the flames, whereby the rest might effect their escape. Sesostris did as she recommended, and thus while two of his sons were burnt to death, he himself and his other children were saved.
The king then returned to his own land and took vengeance
upon his brother, after which he proceeded to make use of the multitudes whom
he had brought with him from the conquered countries, partly to drag the huge
masses of stone which were moved in the course of his reign to the temple of
Vulcan—partly to dig the numerous canals with which the whole of Egypt is
intersected. By these forced labours the entire face of the country was
changed; for whereas
Sesostris also, they declared, made a division of the soil
Sesostris was king not only of
On the death of Sesostris, his son Pheron, the priests said,
mounted the throne. He undertook no warlike expeditions; being struck with
blindness, owing to the following circumstance. The river had swollen to the
unusual height of eighteen cubits, and had overflowed all the fields, when, a
sudden wind arising, the water rose in great waves. Then the king, in a spirit
of impious violence, seized his spear, and hurled it into the strong eddies of
the stream. Instantly he was smitten with disease of the eyes, from which after
a little while he became blind, continuing without the power of vision for ten
years. At last, in the eleventh year, an oracular announcement reached him from
the city of
Pheron, they said, was succeeded by a man of
The priests, in answer to my inquiries on the subject of
Helen, informed me of the following particulars. When Alexander had carried off
As soon as he received the intelligence, Thonis sent a
message to Proteus, who was at
Thonis, on receiving these orders, arrested Alexander, and stopped the departure of his ships; then, taking with him Alexander, Helen, the treasures, and also the fugitive slaves, he went up to Memphis. When all were arrived, Proteus asked Alexander, “who he was, and whence he had come?” Alexander replied by giving his descent, the name of his country, and a true account of his late voyage. Then Proteus questioned him as to how he got possession of Helen. In his reply Alexander became confused, and diverged from the truth, whereon the slaves interposed, confuted his statements, and told the whole history of the crime. Finally, Proteus delivered judgment as follows: “Did I not regard it as a matter of the utmost consequence that no stranger driven to my country by adverse winds should ever be put to death, I would certainly have avenged the Greek by slaying thee. Thou basest of men,—after accepting hospitality, to do so wicked a deed! First, thou didst seduce the wife of thy own host—then, not content therewith, thou must violently excite her mind, and steal her away from her husband. Nay, even so thou wert not satisfied, but on leaving, thou must plunder the house in which thou hadst been a guest. Now then, as I think it of the greatest importance to put no stranger to death, I suffer thee to depart; but the woman and the treasures I shall not permit to be carried away. Here they must stay, till the Greek stranger comes in person and takes them back with him. For thyself and thy companions, I command thee to begone from my land within the space of three days—and I warn you, that otherwise at the end of that time you will be treated as enemies.”
Such was the tale told me by the priests concerning the arrival of Helen at the court of Proteus. It seems to me that Homer was acquainted with this story, and while discarding it, because he thought it less adapted for epic poetry than the version which he followed, showed that it was not unknown to him. This is evident from the travels which he assigns to Alexander in the Iliad—and let it be borne in mind that he has nowhere else contradicted himself—making him be carried out of his course on his return with Helen, and after divers wanderings come at last to Sidon in Phoenicia. The passage is in the Bravery of Diomed, and the words are as follows:—
There were the robes, many-coloured, the work of Sidonian women:
Over the broad sea brought, that way, the high-born Helen.
In the Odyssey also the same fact is alluded to, in these words:—
Such, so wisely prepared, were the drugs that her stores
Excellent; gift which once Polydamna, partner of Thonis,
Gave her in
Potent to cure in part, in part as potent to injure.
Menelaus too, in the same poem, thus addresses Telemachus:—
Much did I long to
return, but the Gods still kept me in
Angry because I had failed to pay them their hecatombs duly.
In these places Homer shows himself acquainted with the
voyage of Alexander to
From these various passages, and from that about
I made inquiry of the priests whether the story which the
Greeks tell about
So Menelaus travelled to
Such is the account given by the Egyptian priests, and I am
myself inclined to regard as true all that they say of Helen from the following
considerations:—If Helen had been at
(1.) When Proteus died, Rhampsinitus, the priests informed
me, succeeded to the throne. His monuments were the western gateway of the
(2.) When the king next paid a visit to the apartment, he was astonished to see that the money was sunk in some of the vessels wherein it was stored away. Whom to accuse, however, he knew not, as the seals were all perfect, and the fastenings of the room secure. Still each time that he repeated his visits, he found that more money was gone. The thieves in truth never stopped, but plundered the treasury ever more and more. At last the king determined to have some traps made, and set near the vessels which contained his wealth. This was done, and when the thieves came, as usual, to the treasure-chamber, and one of them entering through the aperture, made straight for the jars, suddenly he found himself caught in one of the traps. Perceiving that he was lost, he instantly called his brother and telling him what had happened, entreated him to enter as quickly as possible and cut off his head, that when his body should be discovered it might not be recognised, which would have the effect of bringing ruin upon both. The other thief thought the advice good, and was persuaded to follow it then, fitting the stone into its place, he went home, taking with him his brother’s head.
(3.) When day dawned, the king came into the room, and marvelled greatly to see the body of the thief in the trap without a head, while the building was still whole, and neither entrance nor exit was to be seen anywhere. In this perplexity he commanded the body of the dead man to be hung up outside the palace wall, and set a guard to watch it, with orders that if any persons were seen weeping or lamenting near the place, they should be seized and brought before him. When the mother heard of this exposure of the corpse of her son, she took it sorely to heart, and spoke to her surviving child, bidding him devise some plan or other to get back the body, and threatening, that if he did not exert himself, she would go herself to the king, and denounce him as the robber.
(4.) The son said all he could to persuade her to let the matter rest, but in vain; she still continued to trouble him, until at last he yielded to her importunity, and contrived as follows:—Filling some skins with wine, he loaded them on donkeys, which he drove before him till he came to the place where the guards were watching the dead body, when pulling two or three of the skins towards him, he untied some of the necks which dangled by the asses’ sides. The wine poured freely out, whereupon he began to beat his head, and shout with all his might, seeming not to know which of the donkeys he should turn to first. When the guards saw the wine running, delighted to profit by the occasion, they rushed one and all into the road, each with some vessel or other, and caught the liquor as it was spilling. The driver pretended anger, and loaded them with abuse; whereon they did their best to pacify him, until at last he appeared to soften, and recover his good humour, drove his asses aside out of the road, and set to work to rearrange their burthens; meanwhile, as he talked and chatted with the guards, one of them began to rally him, and make him laugh, whereupon he gave them one of the skins as a gift. They now made up their minds to sit down and have a drinking-bout where they were, so they begged him to remain and drink with them. Then the man let himself be persuaded, and stayed. As the drinking went on, they grew very friendly together, so presently he gave them another skin, upon which they drank so copiously that they were all overcome with the liquor, and growing drowsy lay down, and fell asleep on the spot. The thief waited till it was the dead of the night, and then took down the body of his brother; after which, in mockery, he shaved off the right side of all the soldiers’ beards, and so left them. Laying his brother’s body upon the asses, he carried it home to his mother, having thus accomplished the thing that she had required of him.
(5.) When it came to the king’s ears that the thief’s body was stolen away, he was sorely vexed. Wishing, therefore, whatever it might cost, to catch the man who had contrived the trick, he had recourse (the priests said) to an expedient, which I can scarcely credit. He sent his own daughter to the common stews, with orders to admit all comers, but to require every man to tell her what was the cleverest and wickedest thing he had done in the whole course of his life. If any one in reply told her the story of the thief, she was to lay hold of him and not allow him to get away. The daughter did as her father willed, whereon the thief, who was well aware of the king’s motive, felt a desire to outdo him in craft and cunning. Accordingly he contrived the following plan:—He procured the corpse of a man lately dead, and cutting of one of the arms at the shoulder, put it under his dress, and so went to the king’s daughter. When she put the question to him as she had done to all the rest, he replied that the wickedest thing he had ever done was cutting off the head of his brother when he was caught in a trap in the king’s treasury, and the cleverest was making the guards drunk and carrying off the body. As he spoke, the princess caught at him, but the thief took advantage of the darkness to hold out to her the hand of the corpse. Imagining it to be his own hand, she seized and held it fast; while the thief, leaving it in her grasp, made his escape by the door.
(6.) The king, when word was brought him of this fresh success, amazed at the sagacity and boldness of the man, sent messengers to all the towns in his dominions to proclaim a free pardon for the thief, and to promise him a rich reward, if he came and made himself known. The thief took the king at his word, and came boldly into his presence; whereupon Rhampsinitus, greatly admiring him, and looking on him as the most knowing of men, gave him his daughter in marriage. “The Egyptians,” he said, “excelled all the rest of the world in wisdom, and this man excelled all other Egyptians.”
The same king, I was also informed by the priests,
afterwards descended alive into the region which the Greeks call Hades, and
there played at dice with Ceres, sometimes winning and sometimes suffering
defeat. After a while he returned to earth, and brought with him a golden
napkin, a gift which he had received from the goddess. From this descent of
Rhampsinitus into Hades, and return to earth again, the Egyptians, I was told,
instituted a festival, which they certainly celebrated in my day. On what
occasion it was that they instituted it, whether upon this or upon any other, I
cannot determine. The following are the ceremonies:—On a certain day in the
year the priests weave a mande, and binding the eyes of one of their number with
a fillet, they put the mantle upon him, and take him with them into the roadway
conducting to the
Such as think the tales told by the Egyptians credible are free to accept them for history. For my own part, I propose to myself throughout my whole work faithfully to record the traditions of the several nations. The Egyptians maintain that Ceres and Bacchus preside in the realms below. They were also the first to broach the opinion that the soul of man is immortal and that, when the body dies, it enters into the form of an animal which is born at the moment, thence passing on from one animal into another, until it has circled through the forms of all the creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the air, after which it enters again into a human frame, and is born anew. The whole period of the transmigration is (they say) three thousand years. There are Greek writers, some of an earlier, some of a later date, who have borrowed this doctrine from the Egyptians, and put it forward as their own. I could mention their names, but I abstain from doing so.
Till the death of Rhampsinitus, the priests said,
The pyramid was built in steps, battlement-wise, as it is called, or, according to others, altar-wise. After laying the stones for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their places by means of machines formed of short wooden planks. The first machine raised them from the ground to the top of the first step. On this there was another machine, which received the stone upon its arrival, and conveyed it to the second step, whence a third machine advanced it still higher. Either they had as many machines as there were steps in the pyramid, or possibly they had but a single machine, which, being easily moved, was transferred from tier to tier as the stone rose—both accounts are given, and therefore I mention both. The upper portion of the pyramid was finished first, then the middle, and finally the part which was lowest and nearest the ground. There is an inscription in Egyptian characters on the pyramid which records the quantity of radishes, onions, and garlic consumed by the labourers who constructed it; and I perfectly well remember that the interpreter who read the writing to me said that the money expended in this way was 1600 talents of silver. If this then is a true record, what a vast sum must have been spent on the iron tools used in the work, and on the feeding and clothing of the labourers, considering the length of time the work lasted, which has already been stated, and the additional time—no small space, I imagine—which must have been occupied by the quarrying of the stones, their conveyance, and the formation of the underground apartments.
The wickedness of Cheops reached to such a pitch that, when he had spent all his treasures and wanted more, he sent his daughter to the stews, with orders to procure him a certain sum—how much I cannot say, for I was not told; she procured it, however, and at the same time, bent on leaving a monument which should perpetuate her own memory, she required each man to make her a present of a stone towards the works which she contemplated. With these stones she built the pyramid which stands midmost of the three that are in front of the great pyramid, measuring along each side a hundred and fifty feet.
Cheops reigned, the Egyptians said, fifty years, and was succeeded at his demise by Chephren, his brother.
Chephren imitated the conduct of his predecessor, and, like
him, built a pyramid, which did not, however, equal the dimensions of his
brother’s. Of this I am certain, for I measured them both myself. It has no
subterraneous apartments, nor any canal from the
Thus the affliction of
After Chephren, Mycerinus (they said), son of Cheops, ascended the throne. This prince disapproved the conduct of his father, re-opened the temples, and allowed the people, who were ground down to the lowest point of misery, to return to their occupations, and to resume the practice of sacrifice. His justice in the decision of causes was beyond that of all the former kings. The Egyptians praise him in this respect more highly than any of their other monarchs, declaring that he not only gave his judgments with fairness, but also, when any one was dissatisfied with his sentence, made compensation to him out of his own purse, and thus pacified his anger. Mycerinus had established his character for mildness, and was acting as I have described, when the stroke of calamity fell on him. First of all his daughter died, the only child that he possessed. Experiencing a bitter grief at this visitation, in his sorrow he conceived the wish to entomb his child in some unusual way. He therefore caused a cow to be made of wood, and after the interior had been hollowed out, he had the whole surface coated with gold; and in this novel tomb laid the dead body of his daughter.
The cow was not placed under ground, but continued visible
to my times: it was at
Concerning these colossal figures and the sacred cow, there is also another tale narrated, which runs thus: “Mycerinus was enamoured of his daughter, and offered her violence—the damsel for grief hanged herself, and Mycerinus entombed her in the cow. Then her mother cut off the hands of all her tiring—maids, because they had sided with the father, and betrayed the child; and so the statues of the maids have no hands.” All this is mere fable in my judgment, especially what is said about the hands of the colossal statues. I could plainly see that the figures had only lost their hands through the effect of time. They had dropped off, and were still lying on the ground about the feet of the statues.
As for the cow, the greater portion of it is hidden by a scarlet coverture; the head and neck, however, which are visible, are coated very thickly with gold, and between the horns there is a representation in gold of the orb of the sun. The figure is not erect, but lying down, with the limbs under the body; the dimensions being fully those of a large animal of the kind. Every year it is taken from the apartment where it is kept, and exposed to the light of day—this is done at the season when the Egyptians beat themselves in honour of one of their gods, whose name I am unwilling to mention in connection with such a matter. They say that the daughter of Mycerinus requested her father in her dying moments to allow her once a year to see the sun.
After the death of his daughter, Mycerinus was visited with
a second calamity, of which I shall now proceed to give an account. An oracle
reached him from the town of
He too left a pyramid, but much inferior in size to his
father’s. It is a square, each side of which falls short of three plethra by
twenty feet, and is built for half its height of the stone of
Rhodopis really arrived in
After Mycerinus, the priests said, Asychis ascended the
throne. He built the eastern gateway of the
He was succeeded on the throne, they said, by a blind man, a
native of Anysis, whose own name also was Anysis. Under him
The following is a description of this edifice:—Excepting
the entrance, the whole forms an island. Two artificial channels from the
The Ethiopian finally quitted
As soon as Sabacos was gone, the blind king left the
marshes, and resumed the government. He had lived in the marsh-region the whole
time, having formed for himself an island there by a mixture of earth and
ashes. While he remained, the natives had orders to bring him food unbeknown to
the Ethiopian, and latterly, at his request, each man had brought him, with the
food, a certain quantity of ashes. Before Amyrtaeus, no one was able to
discover the site of this island, which continued unknown to the kings of
The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called
Sethos. This monarch despised and neglected the warrior class of the Egyptians,
as though he did not need their services. Among other indignities which he
offered them, he took from them the lands which they had possessed under all
the previous kings, consisting of twelve acres of choice land for each warrior.
Afterwards, therefore, when Sanacharib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians,
marched his vast army into
Thus far I have spoken on the authority of the Egyptians and
their priests. They declare that from their first king to this last-mentioned
monarch, the priest of Vulcan, was a period of three hundred and forty-one
generations; such, at least, they say, was the number both of their kings, and
of their high-priests, during this interval. Now three hundred generations of
men make ten thousand years, three generations filling up the century; and the
remaining forty-one generations make thirteen hundred and forty years. Thus the
whole number of years is eleven thousand, three hundred and forty; in which
entire space, they said, no god had ever appeared in a human form; nothing of
this kind had happened either under the former or under the later Egyptian
kings. The sun, however, had within this period of time, on four several
occasions, moved from his wonted course, twice rising where he now sets, and
twice setting where he now rises.
When Hecataeus the historian was at
Of such a nature were, they said, the beings represented by
these images—they were very far indeed from being gods. However, in the times
anterior to them it was otherwise; then
The Greeks regard Hercules, Bacchus, and Pan as the youngest of the gods. With the Egyptians, contrariwise, Pan is exceedingly ancient, and belongs to those whom they call “the eight gods,” who existed before the rest. Hercules is one of the gods of the second order, who are known as “the twelve”; and Bacchus belongs to the gods of the third order, whom the twelve produced. I have already mentioned how many years intervened according to the Egyptians between the birth of Hercules and the reign of Amasis. From Pan to this period they count a still longer time; and even from Bacchus, who is the youngest of the three, they reckon fifteen thousand years to the reign of that king. In these matters they say they cannot be mistaken, as they have always kept count of the years, and noted them in their registers. But from the present day to the time of Bacchus, the reputed son of Semele, daughter of Cadmus, is a period of not more than sixteen hundred years; to that of Hercules, son of Alcmena, is about nine hundred; while to the time of Pan, son of Penelope (Pan, according to the Greeks, was her child by Mercury), is a shorter space than to the Trojan war, eight hundred years or thereabouts.
It is open to all to receive whichever he may prefer of
these two traditions; my own opinion about them has been already declared. If
indeed these gods had been publicly known, and had grown old in
In what follows I have the authority, not of the Egyptians
only, but of others also who agree with them. I shall speak likewise in part
from my own observation. When the Egyptians regained their liberty after the
reign of the priest of Vulcan, unable to continue any while without a king,
To bind themselves yet more closely together, it seemed good
to them to leave a common monument. In pursuance of this resolution they made
the Labyrinth which lies a little above
Wonderful as is the Labyrinth, the work called the
The natives told me that there was a subterranean passage
from this lake to the Libyan Syrtis, running westward into the interior by the
The twelve kings for some time dealt honourably by one another, but at length it happened that on a certain occasion, when they had met to worship in the temple of Vulcan, the high-priest on the last day of the festival, in bringing forth the golden goblets from which they were wont to pour the libations, mistook the number and brought eleven goblets only for the twelve princes. Psammetichus was standing last, and, being left without a cup, he took his helmet, which was of bronze, from off his head, stretched it out to receive the liquor, and so made his libation. All the kings were accustomed to wear helmets, and all indeed wore them at this very time. Nor was there any crafty design in the action of Psammetichus. The eleven, however, when they came to consider what had been done, and bethought them of the oracle which had declared “that he who, of the twelve, should pour a libation from a cup of bronze, the same would be king of the whole land of Egypt,” doubted at first if they should not put Psammetichus to death. Finding, however, upon examination, that he had acted in the matter without any guilty intent, they did not think it would be just to kill him; but determined, instead, to strip him of the chief part of his power and to banish him to the marshes, forbidding him to leave them or to hold any communication with the rest of Egypt.
This was the second time that Psammetichus had been driven
into banishment. On a former occasion he had fled from Sabacos the Ethiopian,
who had put his father Necos to death; and had taken refuge in
When Psammetichus had thus become sole monarch of
To the Ionians and Carians who had lent him their assistance
Psammetichus assigned as abodes two places opposite to each other, one on
either side of the
I have already made mention more than once of the Egyptian
oracle, and, as it well deserves notice, I shall now proceed to give an account
of it more at length. It is a
This, as I have said, was what astonished me the most, of
all the things that were actually to be seen about the temple. The next
greatest marvel was the island called Chemmis. This island lies in the middle
of a broad and deep lake close by the temple, and the natives declare that it
floats. For my own part I did not see it float, or even move; and I wondered
greatly, when they told me concerning it, whether there be really such a thing
as a floating island. It has a grand
Psammetichus left a son called Necos, who succeeded him upon
the throne. This prince was the first to attempt the construction of the canal
Necos, when he gave up the construction of the canal, turned
all his thoughts to war, and set to work to build a fleet of triremes, some
intended for service in the northern sea, and some for the navigation of the
Erythraean. These last were built in the
In the reign of Psammis, ambassadors from Elis arrived in
Egypt, boasting that their arrangements for the conduct of the Olympic Games
were the best and fairest that could be devised, and fancying that not even the
Egyptians, who surpassed all other nations in wisdom, could add anything to
their perfection. When these persons reached
Psammis reigned only six years. He attacked
Apries, on learning these circumstances, sent Amasis to the rebels to appease the tumult by persuasion. Upon his arrival, as he was seek. ing to restrain the malcontents by his exhortations, one of them, coming behind him, put a helmet on his head, saying, as he put it on, that he thereby crowned him king. Amasis was not altogether displeased at the action, as his conduct soon made manifest; for no sooner had the insurgents agreed to make him actually their king than he prepared to march with them against Apries. That monarch, on tidings of these events reaching him, sent Patarbemis, one of his courtiers, a man of high rank, to Amasis with orders to bring him alive into his presence. Patarbemis, on arriving at the place where Amasis was, called on him to come back with him to the king, whereupon Amasis broke a coarse jest, and said, “Prythee take that back to thy master.” When the envoy, notwithstanding this reply, persisted in his request, exhorting Amasis to obey the summons of the king, he made answer “that this was exactly what he had long been intending to do; Apries would have no reason to complain of him on the score of delay; he would shortly come himself to the king, and bring others with him.” Patarbemis, upon this, comprehending the intention of Amasis, partly from his replies and partly from the preparations which he saw in progress, departed hastily, wishing to inform the king with all speed of what was going on. Apries, however, when he saw him approaching without Amasis, fell into a paroxysm of rage, and not giving himself time for reflection, commanded the nose and ears of Patarbemis to be cut off. Then the rest of the Egyptians, who had hitherto espoused the cause of Apries, when they saw a man of such note among them so shamefully outraged, without a moment’s hesitation went over to the rebels, and put themselves at the disposal of Amasis.
Apries, informed of this new calamity, armed his
mercenaries, and led them against the Egyptians: this was a body of Carians and
Ionians, numbering thirty thousand men, which was now with him at Says, where
his palace stood—a vast building, well worthy of notice. The army of Apries
marched out to attack the host of the Egyptians, while that of Amasis went
forth to fight the strangers; and now both armies drew near the city of
The Egyptians are divided into seven distinct classes—these
are, the priests, the warriors, the cowherds, the swineherds, the tradesmen,
the interpreters, and the boatmen. Their titles indicate their occupations. The
warriors consist of Hermotybians and Calascirians, who come from different
cantons, the whole of
The following cantons furnish the Hermotybians:—The cantons
The cantons of the Calascirians are different—they include
the following:—The cantons of
Whether the Greeks borrowed from the Egyptians their notions
about trade, like so many others, I cannot say for certain. I have remarked that
the Thracians, the Scyths, the Persians, the Lydians, and almost all other
barbarians, hold the citizens who practice trades, and their children, in less
repute than the rest, while they esteem as noble those who keep aloof from
handicrafts, and especially honour such as are given wholly to war. These ideas
prevail throughout the whole of
The warrior class in
When Apries, at the head of his mercenaries, and Amasis, in
command of the whole native force of the Egyptians, encountered one another
near the city of
Here too, in this same precinct of Minerva at
On this lake it is that the Egyptians represent by night his
sufferings whose name I refrain from mentioning, and this representation they
call their Mysteries. I know well the whole course of the proceedings in these
ceremonies, but they shall not pass my lips. So too, with regard to the
mysteries of Ceres, which the Greeks term “the Thesmophoria,” I know them, but
I shall not mention them, except so far as may be done without impiety. The
daughters of Danaus brought these rites from
After Apries had been put to death in the way that I have
described above, Amasis reigned over
The following was the general habit of his life:—from early dawn to the time when the forum is wont to fill, he sedulously transacted all the business that was brought before him; during the remainder of the day he drank and joked with his guests, passing the time in witty and, sometimes, scarce seemly conversation. It grieved his friends that he should thus demean himself, and accordingly some of them chid him on the subject, saying to him—“Oh! king, thou dost but ill guard thy royal dignity whilst thou allowest thyself in such levities. Thou shouldest sit in state upon a stately throne, and busy thyself with affairs the whole day long. So would the Egyptians feel that a great man rules them, and thou wouldst be better spoken of. But now thou conductest thyself in no kingly fashion.” Amasis answered them thus:—“Bowmen bend their bows when they wish to shoot; unbrace them when the shooting is over. Were they kept always strung they would break, and fail the archer in time of need. So it is with men. If they give themselves constantly to serious work, and never indulge awhile in pastime or sport, they lose their senses, and become mad or moody. Knowing this, I divide my life between pastime and business.” Thus he answered his friends.
It is said that Amasis, even while he was a private man, had the same tastes for drinking and jesting, and was averse to engaging in any serious employment. He lived in constant feasts and revelries, and whenever his means failed him, he roamed about and robbed people. On such occasions the persons from whom he had stolen would bring him, if he denied the charge, before the nearest oracle; sometimes the oracle would pronounce him guilty of the theft, at other times it would acquit him. When afterwards he came to be king, he neglected the temples of such gods as had declared that he was not a thief, and neither contributed to their adornment nor frequented them for sacrifice, since he regarded them as utterly worthless and their oracles as wholly false: but the gods who had detected his guilt he considered to be true gods whose oracles did not deceive, and these he honoured exceedingly.
First of all, therefore, he built the gateway of the temple
of Minerva at Sais, which is an astonishing work, far surpassing all other buildings
of the same kind both in extent and height, and built with stones of rare size
and excellency. In the next place, he presented to the temple a number of large
colossal statues and several prodigious andro-sphinxes, besides certain stones
for the repairs, of a most extraordinary size. Some of these he got from the
quarries over against
To the other temples of much note Amasis also made
It is said that the reign of Amasis was the most prosperous time that Egypt ever saw,—the river was more liberal to the land, and the land brought forth more abundantly for the service of man than had ever been known before; while the number of inhabited cities was not less than twenty thousand. It was this king Amasis who established the law that every Egyptian should appear once a year before the governor of his canton, and show his means of living; or, failing to do so, and to prove that he got an honest livelihood, should be put to death. Solon the Athenian borrowed this law from the Egyptians, and imposed it on his countrymen, who have observed it ever since. It is indeed an excellent custom.
Amasis was partial to the Greeks, and among other favours
which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in
In ancient times there was no factory but Naucratis in the
whole of Egypt; and if a person entered one of the other mouths of the Nile, he
was obliged to swear that he had not come there of his own free will. Having so
done, he was bound to sail in his ship to the Canobic mouth, or were that
impossible owing to contrary winds, he must take his wares by boat all round
the Delta, and so bring them to
It happened in the reign of Amasis that the
A league was concluded by Amasis with the Cyrenaeans, by
Besides the marks of favour already mentioned, Amasis also
enriched with offerings many of the Greek temples. He sent to
The above-mentioned Amasis was the Egyptian king against
whom Cambyses, son of Cyrus, made his expedition; and with him went an army
composed of the many nations under his rule, among them being included both
Ionic and Aeolic Greeks. The reason of the invasion was the following.
Cambyses, by the advice of a certain Egyptian, who was angry with Amasis for
having torn him from his wife and children and given him over to the Persians,
had sent a herald to Amasis to ask his daughter in marriage. His adviser was a
physician, whom Amasis, when Cyrus had requested that he would send him the
most skilful of all the Egyptian eye-doctors, singled out as the best from the
whole number. Therefore the Egyptian bore Amasis a grudge, and his reason for
urging Cambyses to ask the hand of the king’s daughter was, that if he
complied, it might cause him annoyance; if he refused, it might make Cambyses
his enemy. When the message came, Amasis, who much dreaded the power of the
Persians, was greatly perplexed whether to give his daughter or no; for that
Cambyses did not intend to make her his wife, but would only receive her as his
concubine, he knew for certain. He therefore cast the matter in his mind, and
finally resolved what he would do. There was a daughter of the late king
Apries, named Nitetis, a tall and beautiful woman, the last survivor of that
royal house. Amasis took this woman, and decking her out with gold and costly
garments, sent her to
The Egyptians, however, claim Cambyses as belonging to them, declaring that he was the son of this Nitetis. It was Cyrus, they say, and not Cambyses, who sent to Amasis for his daughter. But here they mis-state the truth. Acquainted as they are beyond all other men with the laws and customs of the Persians, they cannot but be well aware, first, that it is not the Persian wont to allow a bastard to reign when there is a legitimate heir; and next, that Cambyses was the son of Cassandane, the daughter of Pharnaspes, an Achaemenian, and not of this Egyptian. But the fact is that they pervert history in order to claim relationship with the house of Cyrus. Such is the truth of this matter.
I have also heard another account, which I do not at all
believe: that a Persian lady came to visit the wives of Cyrus, and seeing how
tall and beautiful were the children of Cassandane, then standing by, broke out
into loud praise of them, and admired them exceedingly. But Cassandane, wife of
Cyrus, answered, “Though such the children I have borne him, yet Cyrus slights
me and gives all his regard to the new-comer from
There was another matter, quite distinct, which helped to
bring about the expedition. One of the mercenaries of Amasis, a Halicarnassian,
Phanes by name, a man of good judgment, and a brave warrior, dissatisfied for
some reason or other with his master, deserted the service, and taking ship,
fled to Cambyses, wishing to get speech with him. As he was a person of no
small account among the mercenaries, and one who could give very exact
Now the only entrance into Egypt is by this desert: the
country from Phoenicia to the borders of the city Cadytis belongs to the people
called the Palaestine Syrians; from Cadytis, which it appears to me is a city
almost as large as Sardis, the marts upon the coast till you reach Jenysus are
the Arabian king’s; after Jenysus the Syrians again come in, and extend to Lake
Serbonis, near the place where Mount Casius juts out into the sea. At
I shall now mention a thing of which few of those who sail
This way of keeping the passage into
The Arabs keep such pledges more religiously than almost any other people. They plight faith with the forms following. When two men would swear a friendship, they stand on each side of a third: he with a sharp stone makes a cut on the inside of the hand of each near the middle finger, and, taking a piece from their dress, dips it in the blood of each, and moistens therewith seven stones lying in the midst, calling the while on Bacchus and Urania. After this, the man who makes the pledge commends the stranger (or the citizen, if citizen he be) to all his friends, and they deem themselves bound to stand to the engagement. They have but these two gods, to wit, Bacchus and Urania; and they say that in their mode of cutting the hair, they follow Bacchus. Now their practice is to cut it in a ring, away from the temples. Bacchus they call in their language Orotal, and Urania, Alilat.
When therefore the Arabian had pledged his faith to the
messengers of Cambyses, he straightway contrived as follows:—he filled a number
of camels’ skins with water, and loading therewith all the live camels that he
possessed, drove them into the desert, and awaited the coming of the army. This
is the more likely of the two tales that are told. The other is an improbable
story, but, as it is related, I think that I ought not to pass it by. There is
a great river in
Psammenitus, son of Amasis, lay encamped at the mouth of
The Persians crossed the desert, and, pitching their camp
close to the Egyptians, made ready for battle. Hereupon the mercenaries in the
pay of Psammenitus, who were Greeks and Carians, full of anger against Phanes
for having brought a foreign army upon
On the field where this battle was fought I saw a very
wonderful thing which the natives pointed out to me. The bones of the slain lie
scattered upon the field in two lots, those of the Persians in one place by themselves,
as the bodies lay at the first—those of the Egyptians in another place apart
from them. If, then, you strike the Persian skulls, even with a pebble, they
are so weak, that you break a hole in them; but the Egyptian skulls are so
strong, that you may smite them with a stone and you will scarcely break them
in. They gave me the following reason for this difference, which seemed to me
likely enough:—The Egyptians (they said) from early childhood have the head
shaved, and so by the action of the sun the skull becomes thick and hard. The
same cause prevents baldness in
The Egyptians who fought in the battle, no sooner turned
their backs upon the enemy, than they fled away in complete disorder to
Ten days after the fort had fallen, Cambyses resolved to try the spirit of Psammenitus, the Egyptian king, whose whole reign had been but six months. He therefore had him set in one of the suburbs, and many other Egyptians with him, and there subjected him to insult. First of all he sent his daughter out from the city, clothed in the garb of a slave, with a pitcher to draw water. Many virgins, the daughters of the chief nobles, accompanied her, wearing the same dress. When the damsels came opposite the place where their fathers sate, shedding tears and uttering cries of woe, the fathers, all but Psammenitus, wept and wailed in return, grieving to see their children in so sad a plight; but he, when he had looked and seen, bent his head towards the ground. In this way passed by the water-carriers. Next to them came Psammenitus’ son, and two thousand Egyptians of the same age with him—all of them having ropes round their necks and bridles in their mouths—and they too passed by on their way to suffer death for the murder of the Mytilenaeans who were destroyed, with their vessel, in Memphis. For so had the royal judges given their sentence for each Mytilenaean ten of the noblest Egyptians must forfeit life.” King Psammenitus saw the train pass on, and knew his son was being led to death, but while the other Egyptians who sate around him wept and were sorely troubled, he showed no further sign than when he saw his daughter. And now, when they too were gone, it chanced that one of his former boon-companions, a man advanced in years, who had been stripped of all that he had and was a beggar, came where Psammenitus, son of Amasis, and the rest of the Egyptians were, asking alms from the soldiers. At this sight the king burst into tears, and weeping out aloud, called his friend by his name, and smote himself on the head. Now there were some who had been set to watch Psammenitus and see what he would do as each train went by; so these persons went and told Cambyses of his behaviour. Then he, astonished at what was done, sent a messenger to Psammenitus, and questioned him, saying, “Psammenitus, thy lord Cambyses asketh thee why, when thou sawest thy daughter brought to shame, and thy son on his way to death, thou didst neither utter cry nor shed tear, while to a beggar, who is, he hears, a stranger to thy race, thou gavest those marks of honour.” To this question Psammenitus made answer, “O son of Cyrus, my own misfortunes were too great for tears; but the woe of my friend deserved them. When a man falls from splendour and plenty into beggary at the threshold of old age, one may well weep for him.” When the messenger brought back this answer, Cambyses owned it was just; Croesus, likewise, the Egyptians say, burst into tears—for he too had come into Egypt with Cambyses—and the Persians who were present wept. Even Cambyses himself was touched with pity, and he forthwith gave an order that the son of Psammenitus should be spared from the number of those appointed to die, and Psammenitus himself brought from the suburb into his presence.
The messengers were too late to save the life of Psammenitus’
son, who had been cut in pieces the first of all; but they took Psammenitus
himself and brought him before the king. Cambyses allowed him to live with him,
and gave him no more harsh treatment; nay, could he have kept from
intermeddling with affairs, he might have recovered
After this Cambyses left
After this Cambyses took counsel with himself, and planned
three expeditions. One was against the Carthaginians, another against the
Ammonians, and a third against the long-lived Ethiopians, who dwelt in that
Now the table of the Sun according to the accounts given of it may be thus described:—It is a meadow in the skirts of their city full of the boiled flesh of all manner of beasts, which the magistrates are careful to store with meat every night, and where whoever likes may come and eat during the day. The people of the land say that the earth itself brings forth the food. Such is the description which is given of this table.
When Cambyses had made up his mind that the spies should go,
he forthwith sent to Elephantine for certain of the Icthyophagi who were
acquainted with the Ethiopian tongue; and, while they were being fetched,
issued orders to his fleet to sail against
As soon as the Icthyophagi arrived from Elephantine,
Cambyses, having told them what they were to say, forthwith despatched them
The Icthyophagi on reaching this people, delivered the gifts to the king of the country, and spoke as follows:—“Cambyses, king of the Persians, anxious to become thy ally and sworn friend, has sent us to hold converse with thee, and to bear thee the gifts thou seest, which are the things wherein he himself delights the most.” Hereon the Ethiopian, who knew they came as spies, made answer:—“The king of the Persians sent you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my sworn friend—nor is the account which ye give of yourselves true, for ye are come to search out my kingdom. Also your king is not a just man—for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say—‘The king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians—till then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to covet countries which do not belong to them.’
So speaking, he unstrung the bow, and gave it into the hands of the messengers. Then, taking the purple robe, he asked them what it was, and how it had been made. They answered truly, telling him concerning the purple, and the art of the dyer—whereat he observed “that the men were deceitful, and their garments also.” Next he took the neck-chain and the armlets, and asked about them. So the Icthyophagi explained their use as ornaments. Then the king laughed, and fancying they were fetters, said, “the Ethiopians had much stronger ones.” Thirdly, he inquired about the myrrh, and when they told him how it was made and rubbed upon the limbs, he said the same as he had said about the robe. Last of all he came to the wine, and having learnt their way of making it, he drank a draught, which greatly delighted him; whereupon he asked what the Persian king was wont to eat, and to what age the longest-lived of the Persians had been known to attain. They told him that the king ate bread, and described the nature of wheat—adding that eighty years was the longest term of man’s life among the Persians. Hereat he remarked, “It did not surprise him, if they fed on dirt, that they died so soon; indeed he was sure they never would have lived so long as eighty years, except for the refreshment they got from that drink (meaning the wine), wherein he confessed the Persians surpassed the Ethiopians.”
The Icthyophagi then in their turn questioned the king concerning the term of life, and diet of his people, and were told that most of them lived to be a hundred and twenty years old, while some even went beyond that age—they ate boiled flesh, and had for their drink nothing but milk. When the Icthyophagi showed wonder at the number of the years, he led them to a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil—and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom. If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use of the water from it which makes them so long-lived. When they quitted the fountain the king led them to a prison, where the prisoners were all of them bound with fetters of gold. Among these Ethiopians copper is of all metals the most scarce and valuable. After they had seen the prison, they were likewise shown what is called “the table of the Sun.”
Also, last of all, they were allowed to behold the coffins of the Ethiopians, which are made (according to report) of crystal, after the following fashion:—When the dead body has been dried, either in the Egyptian, or in some other manner, they cover the whole with gypsum, and adorn it with painting until it is as like the living man as possible. Then they place the body in a crystal pillar which has been hollowed out to receive it, crystal being dug up in great abundance in their country, and of a kind very easy to work. You may see the corpse through the pillar within which it lies; and it neither gives out any unpleasant odour, nor is it in any respect unseemly; yet there is no part that is not as plainly visible as if the body were bare. The next of kin keep the crystal pillar in their houses for a full year from the time of the death, and give it the first fruits continually, and honour it with sacrifice. After the year is out they bear the pillar forth, and set it up near the town.
When the spies had now seen everything, they returned back
The men sent to attack the Ammonians, started from
About the time when Cambyses arrived at
When they were dead, he called the priests to his presence,
and questioning them received the same answer; whereupon he observed, “That he
would soon know whether a tame god had really come to dwell in
When the priests returned bringing Apis with them, Cambyses,
like the harebrained person that he was, drew his dagger, and aimed at the
belly of the animal, but missed his mark, and stabbed him in the thigh. Then he
laughed, and said thus to the priests:—“Oh! blockheads, and think ye that gods
become like this, of flesh and blood, and sensible to steel? A fit god indeed
for Egyptians, such an one! But it shall cost you dear that you have made me
your laughing-stock.” When he had so spoken, he ordered those whose business it
was to scourge the priests, and if they found any of the Egyptians keeping
festival to put them to death. Thus was the feast stopped throughout the
And now Cambyses, who even before had not been quite in his
right mind, was forthwith, as the Egyptians say, smitten with madness for this
crime. The first of his outrages was the slaying of Smerdis, his full brother,
whom he had sent back to Persia from Egypt out of envy, because he drew the bow
brought from the Ethiopians by the Icthyophagi (which none of the other
Persians were able to bend) the distance of two fingers’ breadth. When Smerdis
was departed into Persia, Cambyses had a vision in his sleep—he thought a
messenger from Persia came to him with tidings that Smerdis sat upon the royal
throne and with his head touched the heavens. Fearing therefore for himself,
and thinking it likely that his brother would kill him and rule in his stead,
Cambyses sent into Persia Prexaspes, whom he trusted beyond all the other
Persians, bidding him put Smerdis to death. So this Prexaspes went up to
This, it is said, was the first outrage which Cambyses
committed. The second was the slaying of his sister, who had accompanied him
Concerning the manner of her death, as concerning that of Smerdis, two different accounts are given. The story which the Greeks tell is that Cambyses had set a young dog to fight the cub of a lioness—his wife looking on at the time. Now the dog was getting the worse, when a pup of the same litter broke his chain, and came to his brother’s aid—then the two dogs together fought the lion, and conquered him. The thing greatly pleased Cambyses, but his sister who was sitting by shed tears. When Cambyses saw this, he asked her why she wept: whereon she told him, that seeing the young dog come to his brother’s aid made her think of Smerdis, whom there was none to help. For this speech, the Greeks say, Cambyses put her to death. But the Egyptians tell the story thus:—The two were sitting at table, when the sister took a lettuce, and stripping the leaves off, asked her brother “when he thought the lettuce looked the prettiest—when it had all its leaves on, or now that it was stripped?” He answered, “When the leaves were on.” “But thou,” she rejoined, “hast done as I did to the lettuce, and made bare the house of Cyrus.” Then Cambyses was wroth, and sprang fiercely upon her, though she was with child at the time. And so it came to pass that she miscarried and died.
Thus mad was Cambyses upon his own kindred, and this either from his usage of Apis, or from some other among the many causes from which calamities are wont to arise. They say that from his birth he was afflicted with a dreadful disease, the disorder which some call “the sacred sickness.” It would be by no means strange, therefore, if his mind were affected in some degree, seeing that his body laboured under so sore a malady.
He was mad also upon others besides his kindred; among the
rest, upon Prexaspes, the man whom he esteemed beyond all the rest of the
Persians, who carried his messages, and whose son held the office—an honour of
no small account in
Recollecting these answers, Cambyses spoke fiercely to Prexaspes, saying, “Judge now thyself, Prexaspes, whether the Persians tell the truth, or whether it is not they who are mad for speaking as they do. Look there now at thy son standing in the vestibule—if I shoot and hit him right in the middle of the heart, it will be plain the Persians have no grounds for what they say: if I miss him, then I allow that the Persians are right, and that I am out of my mind.” So speaking he drew his bow to the full, and struck the boy, who straightway fell down dead. Then Cambyses ordered the body to be opened, and the wound examined; and when the arrow was found to have entered the heart, the king was quite overjoyed, and said to the father with a laugh, “Now thou seest plainly, Prexaspes, that it is not I who am mad, but the Persians who have lost their senses. I pray thee tell me, sawest thou ever mortal man send an arrow with a better aim?” Prexaspes, seeing that the king was not in his right mind, and fearing for himself, replied, “Oh! my lord, I do not think that God himself could shoot so dexterously.” Such was the outrage which Cambyses committed at this time: at another, he took twelve of the noblest Persians, and, without bringing any charge worthy of death against them, buried them all up to the neck.
Hereupon Croesus the Lydian thought it right to admonish
Cambyses, which he did in these words following:—“Oh! king, allow not thyself
to give way entirely to thy youth, and the heat of thy temper, but check and
control thyself. It is well to look to consequences, and in forethought is true
wisdom. Thou layest hold of men, who are thy fellow-citizens, and, without
cause of complaint, slayest them—thou even puttest children to death—bethink
thee now, if thou shalt often do things like these, will not the Persians rise
in revolt against thee? It is by thy father’s wish that I offer thee advice; he
charged me strictly to give thee such counsel as I might see to be most for thy
good.” In thus advising Cambyses, Croesus meant nothing but what was friendly.
But Cambyses answered him, “Dost thou presume to offer me advice? Right well
thou ruledst thy own country when thou wert a king, and right sage advice thou
gavest my father Cyrus, bidding him cross the
Many other wild outrages of this sort did Cambyses commit,
both upon the Persians and the allies, while he still stayed at
Thus it appears certain to me, by a great variety of proofs, that Cambyses was raving mad; he would not else have set himself to make a mock of holy rites and long-established usages. For if one were to offer men to choose out of all the customs in the world such as seemed to them the best, they would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their own; so convinced are they that their own usages far surpass those of all others. Unless, therefore, a man was mad, it is not likely that he would make sport of such matters. That people have this feeling about their laws may be seen by very many proofs: among others, by the following. Darius, after he had got the kingdom, called into his presence certain Greeks who were at hand, and asked—“What he should pay them to eat the bodies of their fathers when they died?” To which they answered, that there was no sum that would tempt them to do such a thing. He then sent for certain Indians, of the race called Callatians, men who eat their fathers, and asked them, while the Greeks stood by, and knew by the help of an interpreter all that was said — “What he should give them to burn the bodies of their fathers at their decease?” The Indians exclaimed aloud, and bade him forbear such language. Such is men’s wont herein; and Pindar was right, in my judgment, when he said, “Law is the king o’er all.”
While Cambyses was carrying on this war in
The exceeding good fortune of Polycrates did not escape the
notice of Amasis, who was much disturbed thereat. When therefore his successes
continued increasing, Amasis wrote him the following letter, and sent it to
When Polycrates read this letter, and perceived that the advice of Amasis was good, he considered carefully with himself which of the treasures that he had in store it would grieve him most to lose. After much thought he made up his mind that it was a signet-ring which he was wont to wear, an emerald set in gold, the workmanship of Theodore, son of Telecles, a Samian. So he determined to throw this away; and, manning a penteconter, he went on board, and bade the sailors put out into the open sea. When he was now a long way from the island, he took the ring from his finger, and, in the sight of all those who were on board, flung it into the deep. This done, he returned home, and gave vent to his sorrow.
Now it happened five or six days afterwards that a fisherman caught a fish so large and beautiful that he thought it well deserved to be made a present of to the king. So he took it with him to the gate of the palace, and said that he wanted to see Polycrates. Then Polycrates allowed him to come in, and the fisherman gave him the fish with these words following—“Sir king, when I took this prize, I thought I would not carry it to market, though I am a poor man who live by my trade. I said to myself, it is worthy of Polycrates and his greatness; and so I brought it here to give it to you.” The speech pleased the king, who thus spoke in reply:—“Thou didst right well, friend, and I am doubly indebted, both for the gift, and for the speech. Come now, and sup with me.” So the fisherman went home, esteeming it a high honour that he had been asked to sup with the king. Meanwhile the servants, on cutting open the fish, found the signet of their master in its belly. No sooner did they see it than they seized upon it, and hastening to Polycrates with great joy, restored it to him, and told him in what way it had been found. The king, who saw something providential in the matter, forthwith wrote a letter to Amasis, telling him all that had happened, what he had himself done, and what had been the upshot—and despatched the letter to Egypt.
When Amasis had read the letter of Polycrates, he perceived
that it does not belong to man to save his fellow-man from the fate which is in
store for him; likewise he felt certain that Polycrates would end ill, as he
prospered in everything, even finding what he had thrown away. So he sent a
It was with this Polycrates, so fortunate in every
undertaking, that the Lacedaemonians now went to war. Certain Samians, the same
who afterwards founded the city of
Now some accounts say that these Samians did not reach
When the banished Samians reached
Then the Lacedaemonians made ready and set forth to the
attack of Samos, from a motive of gratitude, if we may believe the Samians,
because the Samians had once sent ships to their aid against the Messenians;
but as the Spartans themselves say, not so much from any wish to assist the
Samians who begged their help, as from a desire to punish the people who had
seized the bowl which they sent to Croesus, and the corselet which Amasis, king
of Egypt, sent as a present to them. The Samians made prize of this corselet
the year before they took the bowl—it was of linen, and had a vast number of
figures of animals inwoven into its fabric, and was likewise embroidered with
gold and tree-wool. What is most worthy of admiration in it is that each of the
twists, although of fine texture, contains within it three hundred and sixty
threads, all of them clearly visible. The corselet which Amasis gave to the
The Corinthians likewise right willingly lent a helping hand
towards the expedition against
And this went on for so long, that at last the Corinthians
who had charge of the boys gave them up, and took their departure, upon which
the Samians conveyed them back to
After Periander had put to death his wife Melissa, it
chanced that on this first affliction a second followed of a different kind.
His wife had borne him two sons, and one of them had now reached the age of
seventeen, the other of eighteen years, when their mother’s father, Procles,
The younger son gone, he turned to the elder and asked him, “what it was that their grandfather had said to them?” Then he related in how kind and friendly a fashion he had received them; but, not having taken any notice of the speech which Procles had uttered at parting, he quite forgot to mention it. Periander insisted that it was not possible this should be all—their grandfather must have given them some hint or other—and he went on pressing him, till at last the lad remembered the parting speech and told it. Periander, after he had turned the whole matter over in his thoughts, and felt unwilling to give way at all, sent a messenger to the persons who had opened their houses to his outcast son, and forbade them to harbour him. Then the boy, when he was chased from one friend, sought refuge with another, but was driven from shelter to shelter by the threats of his father, who menaced all those that took him in, and commanded them to shut their doors against him. Still, as fast as he was forced to leave one house he went to another, and was received by the inmates; for his acquaintance, although in no small alarm, yet gave him shelter, as he was Periander’s son.
At last Periander made proclamation that whoever harboured
his son or even spoke to him, should forfeit a certain sum of money to Apollo.
On hearing this no one any longer liked to take him in, or even to hold
converse with him, and he himself did not think it right to seek to do what was
forbidden; so, abiding by his resolve, he made his lodging in the public
porticos. When four days had passed in this way, Periander, secing how wretched
his son was, that he neither washed nor took any food, felt moved with
compassion towards him; wherefore, foregoing his anger, he approached him, and
said, “Which is better, oh! my son, to fare as now thou farest, or to receive
my crown and all the good things that I possess, on the one condition of
submitting thyself to thy father? See, now, though my own child, and lord of
As time went on, and Periander came to be old, he found
himself no longer equal to the oversight and management of affairs. Seeing,
therefore, in his eldest son no manner of ability, but knowing him to be dull
and blockish, he sent to
The Lacedaemonians arrived before
If now all who were present had behaved that day like
Archias and Lycopas, two of the Lacedaemonians,
The Lacedaemonians besieged Samos during forty days, but not
making any progress before the place, they raised the siege at the end of that
time, and returned home to the
This was the first expedition into
The Samians who had fought against Polycrates, when they
knew that the Lacedaemonians were about to forsake them, left
Prytanies’seat shines white in the
White-browed all the forum-need then of a true seer’s wisdom-
Danger will threat from a wooden host, and a herald in scarlet.
Now about this time the forum of the Siphnians and their townhall or prytaneum had been adorned with Parian marble.
The Siphnians, however, were unable to understand the oracle, either at the time when it was given, or afterwards on the arrival of the Samians. For these last no sooner came to anchor off the island than they sent one of their vessels, with an ambassage on board, to the city. All ships in these early times were painted with vermilion; and this was what the Pythoness had meant when she told them to beware of danger “from a wooden host, and a herald in scarlet.” So the ambassadors came ashore and besought the Siphnians to lend them ten talents; but the Siphnians refused, whereupon the Samians began to plunder their lands. Tidings of this reached the Siphnians, who straightway sallied forth to save their crops; then a battle was fought, in which the Siphnians suffered defeat, and many of their number were cut off from the city by the Samians, after which these latter forced the Siphnians to give them a hundred talents.
With this money they bought of the Hermionians the island of
Hydrea, off the coast of the Peloponnese, and this they gave in trust to the
Troezenians, to keep for them, while they themselves went on to Crete, and
founded the city of Cydonia. They had not meant, when they set sail, to settle
there, but only to drive out the Zacynthians from the island. However they
rested at Cydonia, where they flourished greatly for five years. It was they
who built the various temples that may still be seen at that place, and among
them the fane of Dictyna. But in the sixth year they were attacked by the
Eginetans, who beat them in a sea-fight, and, with the help of the Cretans,
reduced them all to slavery. The beaks of their ships, which carried the figure
of a wild boar, they sawed off, and laid them up in the
I have dwelt the longer on the affairs of the Samians,
because three of the greatest works in all
While Cambyses, son of Cyrus, after losing his senses, still
The other heralds therefore made proclamation as they were
ordered, and likewise the herald whose place it was to proceed into
When Prexaspes had so spoken, and Cambyses had approved his
words, the herald was forthwith pursued, and brought back to the king. Then
Prexaspes said to him, “Sirrah, thou bear’st us a message, sayst thou, from
Smerdis, son of Cyrus. Now answer truly, and go thy way scathless. Did Smerdis
have thee to his presence and give thee thy orders, or hadst thou them from one
of his officers?” The herald answered, “Truly I have not set eyes on Smerdis
son of Cyrus, since the day when king Cambyses led the Persians into
Cambyses no sooner heard the name of Smerdis than he was
struck with the truth of Prexaspes’ words, and the fulfilment of his own
dream—the dream, I mean, which he had in former days, when one appeared to him
in his sleep and told him that Smerdis sate upon the royal throne, and with his
head touched the heavens. So when he saw that he had needlessly slain his
brother Smerdis, he wept and bewailed his loss: after which, smarting with
vexation as he thought of all his ill luck, he sprang hastily upon his steed,
meaning to march his army with all haste to Susa against the Magus. As he made
his spring, the button of his sword-sheath fell off, and the bared point
entered his thigh, wounding him exactly where he had himself once wounded the
Egyptian god Apis. Then Cambyses, feeling that he had got his death-wound,
inquired the name of the place where he was, and was answered, “Agbatana.” Now
before this it had been told him by the oracle at Buto that he should end his
days at Agbatana. He, however, had understood the Median Agbatana, where all
his treasures were, and had thought that he should die there in a good old age;
but the oracle meant Agbatana in
At this time he said no more; but twenty days afterwards he
called to his presence all the chief Persians who were with the army, and
addressed them as follows:—“Persians, needs must I tell you now what hitherto I
have striven with the greatest care to keep concealed. When I was in
Whereupon the Persians, seeing their king weep, rent the garments that they had on, and uttered lamentable cries; after which, as the bone presently grew carious, and the limb gangrened, Cambyses, son of Cyrus, died. He had reigned in all seven years and five months, and left no issue behind him, male or female. The Persians who had heard his words, put no faith in anything that he said concerning the Magi having the royal power; but believed that he spoke out of hatred towards Smerdis, and had invented the tale of his death to cause the whole Persian race to rise up in arms against him. Thus they were convinced that it was Smerdis the son of Cyrus who had rebelled and now sate on the throne. For Prexaspes stoutly denied that he had slain Smerdis, since it was not safe for him, after Cambyses was dead, to allow that a son of Cyrus had met with death at his hands.
Thus then Cambyses died, and the Magus now reigned in
security, and passed himself off for Smerdis the son of Cyrus. And so went by
the seven months which were wanting to complete the eighth year of Cambyses.
His subjects, while his reign lasted, received great benefits from him,
insomuch that, when he died, all the dwellers in
In the eighth month, however, it was discovered who he was in the mode following. There was a man called Otanes, the son of Pharnaspes, who for rank and wealth was equal to the greatest of the Persians. This Otanes was the first to suspect that the Magus was not Smerdis the son of Cyrus, and to surmise moreover who he really was. He was led to guess the truth by the king never quitting the citadel, and never calling before him any of the Persian noblemen. As soon, therefore, as his suspicions were aroused he adopted the following measures:—One of his daughters, who was called Phaedima, had been married to Cambyses, and was taken to wife, together with the rest of Cambyses’ wives, by the Magus. To this daughter Otanes sent a message, and inquired of her “who it was whose bed she shared,—was it Smerdis the son of Cyrus, or was it some other man?” Phaedima in reply declared she did not know—Smerdis the son of Cyrus she had never seen, and so she could not tell whose bed she shared. Upon this Otanes sent a second time, and said, “If thou dost not know Smerdis son of Cyrus thyself, ask queen Atossa who it is with whom ye both live—she cannot fail to know her own brother.” To this the daughter made answer, “I can neither get speech with Atossa, nor with any of the women who lodge in the palace. For no sooner did this man, be he who he may, obtain the kingdom, than he parted us from one another, and gave us all separate chambers.”
This made the matter seem still more plain to Otanes. Nevertheless he sent a third message to his daughter in these words following:—“Daughter, thou art of noble blood—thou wilt not shrink from a risk which thy father bids thee encounter. If this fellow be not Smerdis the son of Cyrus, but the man whom I think him to be, his boldness in taking thee to be his wife, and lording it over the Persians, must not be allowed to pass unpunished. Now therefore do as I command—when next he passes the night with thee, wait till thou art sure he is fast asleep, and then feel for his ears. If thou findest him to have ears, then believe him to be Smerdis the son of Cyrus, but if he has none, know him for Smerdis the Magian.” Phaedima returned for answer, “It would be a great risk. If he was without ears, and caught her feeling for them, she well knew he would make away with her—nevertheless she would venture.” So Otanes got his daughter’s promise that she would do as he desired. Now Smerdis the Magian had had his ears cut off in the lifetime of Cyrus son of Cambyses, as a punishment for a crime of no slight heinousness. Phaedima therefore, Otanes’ daughter, bent on accomplishing what she had promised her father, when her turn came, and she was taken to the bed of the Magus (in Persia a man’s wives sleep with him in their turns), waited till he was sound asleep, and then felt for his ears. She quickly perceived that he had no ears; and of this, as soon as day dawned, she sent word to her father.
Then Otanes took to him two of the chief Persians,
Aspathines and Gobryas, men whom it was most advisable to trust in such a
matter, and told them everything. Now they had already of themselves suspected
how the matter stood. When Otanes therefore laid his reasons before them they
at once came into his views; and it was agreed that each of the three should
take as companion in the work the Persian in whom he placed the greatest
confidence. Then Otanes chose Intaphernes, Gobryas Megabyzus, and Aspathines
Hydarnes. After the number had thus become six, Darius, the son of Hystaspes,
After this, the men, being now seven in all, met together to exchange oaths, and hold discourse with one another. And when it came to the turn of Darius to speak his mind, he said as follows:—“Methought no one but I knew that Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, was not now alive, and that Smerdis the Magian ruled over us; on this account I came hither with speed, to compass the death of the Magian. But as it seems the matter is known to you all, and not to me only, my judgment is that we should act at once, and not any longer delay. For to do so were not well.” Otanes spoke upon this:—“Son of Hystaspes,” said he, “thou art the child of a brave father, and seemest likely to show thyself as bold a gallant as he. Beware, however, of rash haste in this matter; do not hurry so, but proceed with soberness. We must add to our number ere we adventure to strike the blow.” “Not so,” Darius rejoined; “for let all present be well assured that if the advice of Otanes guide our acts, we shall perish most miserably. Some one will betray our plot to the Magians for lucre’s sake. Ye ought to have kept the matter to yourselves, and so made the venture; but as ye have chosen to take others into your secret, and have opened the matter to me, take my advice and make the attempt today—or if not, if a single day be suffered to pass by, be sure that I will let no one betray me to the Magian. I myself will go to him, and plainly denounce you all.”
Otanes, when he saw Darius so hot, replied, “But if thou
wilt force us to action, and not allow a day’s delay, tell us, I pray thee, how
we shall get entrance into the palace, so as to set upon them. Guards are
placed everywhere, as thou thyself well knowest—for if thou hast not seen, at
least thou hast heard tell of them. How are we to pass these guards, I ask
thee?” answered Darius, “there are many things easy enough in act, which by
speech it is hard to explain. There are also things concerning which speech is
easy, but no noble action follows when the speech is done. As for these guards,
ye know well that we shall not find it hard to make our way through them. Our rank
alone would cause them to allow us to enter—shame and fear alike forbidding
them to say us nay. But besides, I have the fairest plea that can be conceived
for gaining admission. I can say that I have just come from
After Darius had thus said, Gobryas spoke as follows:—“Dear friends, when will a fitter occasion offer for us to recover the kingdom, or, if we are not strong enough, at least die in the attempt? Consider that we Persians are governed by a Median Magus, and one, too, who has had his ears cut off! Some of you were present when Cambyses lay upon his deathbed—such, doubtless, remember what curses he called down upon the Persians if they made no effort to recover the kingdom. Then, indeed, we paid but little heed to what he said, because we thought he spoke out of hatred to set us against his brother. Now, however, my vote is that we do as Darius has counselled—march straight in a body to the palace from the place where we now are, and forthwith set upon the Magian.” So Gobryas spake, and the others all approved.
While the seven were thus taking counsel together, it so chanced that the following events were happening:—The Magi had been thinking what they had best do, and had resolved for many reasons to make a friend of Prexaspes. They knew how cruelly he had been outraged by Cambyses, who slew his son with an arrow; they were also aware that it was by his hand that Smerdis the son of Cyrus fell, and that he was the only person privy to that prince’s death; and they further found him to be held in the highest esteem by all the Persians. So they called him to them, made him their friend, and bound him by a promise and by oaths to keep silence about the fraud which they were practising upon the Persians, and not discover it to any one; and they pledged themselves that in this case they would give him thousands of gifts of every sort and kind. So Prexaspes agreed, and the Magi, when they found that they had persuaded him so far, went on to another proposal, and said they would assemble the Persians at the foot of the palace wall, and he should mount one of the towers and harangue them from it, assuring them that Smerdis the son of Cyrus, and none but he, ruled the land. This they bade him do, because Prexaspes was a man of great weight with his countrymen, and had often declared in public that Smerdis the son of Cyrus was still alive, and denied being his murderer.
Prexaspes said he was quite ready to do their will in the
matter; so the Magi assembled the people, and placed Prexaspes upon the top of
the tower, and told him to make his speech. Then this man, forgetting of set
purpose all that the Magi had intreated him to say, began with Achaeamenes, and
traced down the descent of Cyrus; after which, when he came to that king, he
recounted all the services that had been rendered by him to the Persians, from
whence he went on to declare the truth, which hitherto he had concealed, he
said, because it would not have been safe for him to make it known, but now
necessity was laid on him to disclose the whole. Then he told how, forced to it
by Cambyses, he had himself taken the life of Smerdis, son of Cyrus, and how
And now the seven Persians, having resolved that they would attack the Magi without more delay, first offered prayers to the gods and then set off for the palace, quite unacquainted with what had been done by Prexaspes. The news of his doings reached them upon their way, when they had accomplished about half the distance. Hereupon they turned aside out of the road, and consulted together. Otanes and his party said they must certainly put off the business, and not make the attack when affairs were in such a ferment. Darius, on the other hand, and his friends, were against any change of plan, and wished to go straight on, and not lose a moment. Now, as they strove together, suddenly there came in sight two pairs of vultures, and seven pairs of hawks, pursuing them, and the hawks tore the vultures both with their claws and bills. At this sight the seven with one accord came in to the opinion of Darius, and encouraged by the omen hastened on towards the palace.
At the gate they were received as Darius had foretold. The guards, who had no suspicion that they came for any ill purpose, and held the chief Persians in much reverence, let them pass without difficulty—it seemed as if they were under the special protection of the gods—none even asked them any question. When they were now in the great court they fell in with certain of the eunuchs, whose business it was to carry the king’s messages, who stopped them and asked what they wanted, while at the same time they threatened the doorkeepers for having let them enter. The seven sought to press on, but the eunuchs would not suffer them. Then these men, with cheers encouraging one another, drew their daggers, and stabbing those who strove to withstand them, rushed forward to the apartment of the males.
Now both the Magi were at this time within, holding counsel upon the matter of Prexaspes. So when they heard the stir among the eunuchs, and their loud cries, they ran out themselves, to see what was happening. Instantly perceiving their danger, they both flew to arms; one had just time to seize his bow, the other got hold of his lance; when straightway the fight began. The one whose weapon was the bow found it of no service at all; the foe was too near, and the combat too close to allow of his using it. But the other made a stout defence with his lance, wounding two of the seven, Aspathines in the leg, and Intaphernes in the eye. This wound did not kill Intaphernes, but it cost him the sight of that eye. The other Magus, when he found his bow of no avail, fled into a chamber which opened out into the apartment of the males, intending to shut to the doors. But two of the seven entered the room with him, Darius and Gobryas. Gobryas seized the Magus and grappled with him, while Darius stood over them, not knowing what to do; for it was dark, and he was afraid that if he struck a blow he might kill Gobryas. Then Gobyras, when he perceived that Darius stood doing nothing, asked him, “why his hand was idle?” “I fear to hurt thee,” he answered. “Fear not,” said Gobryas; “strike, though it be through both.” Darius did as he desired, drove his dagger home, and by good hap killed the Magus.
Thus were the Magi slain; and the seven, cutting off both the heads, and leaving their own wounded in the palace, partly because they were disabled, and partly to guard the citadel, went forth from the gates with the heads in their hands, shouting and making an uproar. They called out to all the Persians whom they met, and told them what had happened, showing them the heads of the Magi, while at the same time they slew every Magus who fell in their way. Then the Persians, when they knew what the seven had done, and understood the fraud of the Magi, thought it but just to follow the example set them, and, drawing their daggers, they killed the Magi wherever they could find any. Such was their fury, that, unless night had closed in, not a single Magus would have been left alive. The Persians observe this day with one accord, and keep it more strictly than any other in the whole year. It is then that they hold the great festival, which they call the Magophonia. No Magus may show himself abroad during the whole time that the feast lasts; but all must remain at home the entire day.
And now when five days were gone, and the hubbub had settled down, the conspirators met together to consult about the situation of affairs. At this meeting speeches were made, to which many of the Greeks give no credence, but they were made nevertheless. Otanes recommended that the management of public affairs should be entrusted to the whole nation. “To me,” he said, “it seems advisable, that we should no longer have a single man to rule over us—the rule of one is neither good nor pleasant. Ye cannot have forgotten to what lengths Cambyses went in his haughty tyranny, and the haughtiness of the Magi ye have yourselves experienced. How indeed is it possible that monarchy should be a well-adjusted thing, when it allows a man to do as he likes without being answerable? Such licence is enough to stir strange and unwonted thoughts in the heart of the worthiest of men. Give a person this power, and straightway his manifold good things puff him up with pride, while envy is so natural to human kind that it cannot but arise in him. But pride and envy together include all wickedness—both of them leading on to deeds of savage violence. True it is that kings, possessing as they do all that heart can desire, ought to be void of envy; but the contrary is seen in their conduct towards the citizens. They are jealous of the most virtuous among their subjects, and wish their death; while they take delight in the meanest and basest, being ever ready to listen to the tales of slanderers. A king, besides, is beyond all other men inconsistent with himself. Pay him court in moderation, and he is angry because you do not show him more profound respect—show him profound respect, and he is offended again, because (as he says) you fawn on him. But the worst of all is, that he sets aside the laws of the land, puts men to death without trial, and subjects women to violence. The rule of the many, on the other hand, has, in the first place, the fairest of names, to wit, isonomy; and further it is free from all those outrages which a king is wont to commit. There, places are given by lot, the magistrate is answerable for what he does, and measures rest with the commonalty. I vote, therefore, that we do away with monarchy, and raise the people to power. For the people are all in all.”
Such were the sentiments of Otanes. Megabyzus spoke next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy:—“In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy,” he observed, “I fully concur; but his recommendation that we should call the people to power seems to me not the best advice. For there is nothing so void of understanding, nothing so full of wantonness, as the unwieldy rabble. It were folly not to be borne, for men, while seeking to escape the wantonness of a tyrant, to give themselves up to the wantonness of a rude unbridled mob. The tyrant, in all his doings, at least knows what is he about, but a mob is altogether devoid of knowledge; for how should there be any knowledge in a rabble, untaught, and with no natural sense of what is right and fit? It rushes wildly into state affairs with all the fury of a stream swollen in the winter, and confuses everything. Let the enemies of the Persians be ruled by democracies; but let us choose out from the citizens a certain number of the worthiest, and put the government into their hands. For thus both we ourselves shall be among the governors, and power being entrusted to the best men, it is likely that the best counsels will prevail in the state.”
This was the advice which Megabyzus gave, and after him Darius came forward, and spoke as follows:—“All that Megabyzus said against democracy was well said, I think; but about oligarchy he did not speak advisedly; for take these three forms of government—democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy—and let them each be at their best, I maintain that monarchy far surpasses the other two. What government can possibly be better than that of the very best man in the whole state? The counsels of such a man are like himself, and so he governs the mass of the people to their heart’s content; while at the same time his measures against evil-doers are kept more secret than in other states. Contrariwise, in oligarchies, where men vie with each other in the service of the commonwealth, fierce enmities are apt to arise between man and man, each wishing to be leader, and to carry his own measures; whence violent quarrels come, which lead to open strife, often ending in bloodshed. Then monarchy is sure to follow; and this too shows how far that rule surpasses all others. Again, in a democracy, it is impossible but that there will be malpractices: these malpractices, however, do not lead to enmities, but to close friendships, which are formed among those engaged in them, who must hold well together to carry on their villainies. And so things go on until a man stands forth as champion of the commonalty, and puts down the evil-doers. Straightway the author of so great a service is admired by all, and from being admired soon comes to be appointed king; so that here too it is plain that monarchy is the best government. Lastly, to sum up all in a word, whence, I ask, was it that we got the freedom which we enjoy?—did democracy give it us, or oligarchy, or a monarch? As a single man recovered our freedom for us, my sentence is that we keep to the rule of one. Even apart from this, we ought not to change the laws of our forefathers when they work fairly; for to do so is not well.”
Such were the three opinions brought forward at this
meeting; the four other Persians voted in favour of the last. Otanes, who
wished to give his countrymen a democracy, when he found the decision against
him, arose a second time, and spoke thus before the assembly:—“Brother
conspirators, it is plain that the king who is to be chosen will be one of
ourselves, whether we make the choice by casting lots for the prize, or by
letting the people decide which of us they will have to rule over them, in or
any other way. Now, as I have neither a mind to rule nor to be ruled, I shall
not enter the lists with you in this matter. I withdraw, however, on one
condition—none of you shall claim to exercise rule over me or my seed for ever.”
The six agreed to these terms, and Otanes withdraw and stood aloof from the
contest. And still to this day the family of Otanes continues to be the only
free family in
After this the six took counsel together, as to the fairest way of setting up a king: and first, with respect to Otanes, they resolved, that if any of their own number got the kingdom, Otanes and his seed after him should receive year by year, as a mark of special honour, a Median robe, and all such other gifts as are accounted the most honourable in Persia. And these they resolved to give him, because he was the man who first planned the outbreak, and who brought the seven together. These privileges, therefore, were assigned specially to Otanes. The following were made common to them all:—It was to be free to each, whenever he pleased, to enter the palace unannounced, unless the king were in the company of one of his wives; and the king was to be bound to marry into no family excepting those of the conspirators. Concerning the appointment of a king, the resolve to which they came was the following:—They would ride out together next morning into the skirts of the city, and he whose steed first neighed after the sun was up should have the kingdom.
Now Darius had a groom, a sharp-witted knave, called Oebares. After the meeting had broken up, Darius sent for him, and said, “Oebares, this is the way in which the king is to be chosen—we are to mount our horses, and the man whose horse first neighs after the sun is up is to have the kingdom. If then you have any cleverness, contrive a plan whereby the prize may fall to us, and not go to another.” “Truly, master,” Oebares answered, “if it depends on this whether thou shalt be king or no, set thine heart at ease, and fear nothing: I have a charm which is sure not to fail.” “If thou hast really aught of the kind,” said Darius, “hasten to get it ready. The matter does not brook delay, for the trial is to be to-morrow.” So Oebares when he heard that, did as follows:—When night came, he took one of the mares, the chief favourite of the horse which Darius rode, and tethering it in the suburb, brought his master’s horse to the place; then, after leading him round and round the mare several times, nearer and nearer at each circuit, he ended by letting them come together.
And now, when the morning broke, the six Persians, according to agreement, met together on horseback, and rode out to the suburb. As they went along they neared the spot where the mare was tethered the night before, whereupon the horse of Darius sprang forward and neighed. just at the same time, though the sky was clear and bright, there was a flash of lightning, followed by a thunderclap. It seemed as if the heavens conspired with Darius, and hereby inaugurated him king: so the five other nobles leaped with one accord from their steeds, and bowed down before him and owned him for their king.
This is the account which some of the Persians gave of the contrivance of Oebares; but there are others who relate the matter differently. They say that in the morning he stroked the mare with his hand, which he then hid in his trousers until the sun rose and the horses were about to start, when he suddenly drew his hand forth and put it to the nostrils of his master’s horse, which immediately snorted and neighed.
Thus was Darius, son of Hystaspes, appointed king; and,
except the Arabians, all they of
And now Darius contracted marriages of the first rank, according to the notions of the Persians: to wit, with two daughters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystone; of whom, Atossa had been twice married before, once to Cambyses, her brother, and once to the Magus, while the other, Artystone, was a virgin. He married also Parmys, daughter of Smerdis, son of Cyrus; and he likewise took to wife the daughter of Otanes, who had made the discovery about the Magus. And now when his power was established firmly throughout all the kingdoms, the first thing that he did was to set up a carving in stone, which showed a man mounted upon a horse, with an inscription in these words following:—“Darius, son of Hystaspes, by aid of his good horse” (here followed the horse’s name), “and of his good groom Oebares, got himself the kingdom of the Persians.”
This he set up in
The Ionians, the Magnesians of Asia, the Aeolians, the Carians, the Lycians, the Milyans, and the Pamphylians, paid their tribute in a single sum, which was fixed at four hundred talents of silver. These formed together the first satrapy.
The Mysians, Lydians, Lasonians, Cabalians, and Hygennians paid the sum of five hundred talents. This was the second satrapy.
The Hellespontians, of the right coast as one enters the straits, the Phrygians, the Asiatic Thracians, the Paphlagonians, the Mariandynians’ and the Syrians paid a tribute of three hundred and sixty talents. This was the third satrapy.
The Cilicians gave three hundred and sixty white horses, one for each day in the year, and five hundred talents of silver. Of this sum one hundred and forty talents went to pay the cavalry which guarded the country, while the remaining three hundred and sixty were received by Darius. This was the fourth satrapy.
The country reaching from the city of
The Sattagydians, the Gandarians, the Dadicae, and the Aparytae, who were all reckoned together, paid a tribute of a hundred and seventy talents. This was the seventh satrapy.
From Babylonia, and the rest of
Agbatana, and the other parts of Media, together with the Paricanians and Orthocorybantes, paid in all four hundred and fifty talents. This was the tenth satrapy.
The Caspians, Pausicae, Pantimathi, and Daritae, were joined in one government, and paid the sum of two hundred talents. This was the eleventh satrapy.
From the Bactrian tribes as far as the Aegli the tribute received was three hundred and sixty talents. This was the twelfth satrapy.
The Sagartians, Sarangians, Thamanaeans, Utians, and Mycians, together with the inhabitants of the islands in the Erythraean sea, where the king sends those whom he banishes, furnished altogether a tribute of six hundred talents. This was the fourteenth satrapy.
The Sacans and Caspians gave two hundred and fifty talents. This was the fifteenth satrapy.
The Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, and Arians, gave three hundred. This was the sixteenth satrapy.
The Paricanians and Ethiopians of Asia furnished a tribute of four hundred talents. This was the seventeenth satrapy.
The Matienians, Saspeires, and Alarodians were rated to pay two hundred talents. This was the eighteenth satrapy.
The Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mosynoeci, and Mares had to pay three hundred talents. This was the nineteenth satrapy.
The Indians, who are more numerous than any other nation with which we are acquainted, paid a tribute exceeding that of every other people, to wit, three hundred and sixty talents of gold-dust. This was the twentieth satrapy.
If the Babylonian money here spoken of be reduced to the Euboic scale, it will make nine thousand five hundred and forty such talents; and if the gold be reckoned at thirteen times the worth of silver, the Indian gold-dust will come to four thousand six hundred and eighty talents. Add these two amounts together and the whole revenue which came in to Darius year by year will be found to be in Euboic money fourteen thousand five hundred and sixty talents, not to mention parts of a talent.
Such was the revenue which Darius derived from Asia and a
small part of
Such then were the governments, and such the amounts of
tribute at which they were assessed respectively.
The way in which the Indians get the plentiful supply of
gold which enables them to furnish year by year so vast an amount of gold-dust
to the kind is the following:—eastward of
Eastward of these Indians are another tribe, called Padaeans, who are wanderers, and live on raw flesh. This tribe is said to have the following customs:—If one of their number be ill, man or woman, they take the sick person, and if he be a man, the men of his acquaintance proceed to put him to death, because, they say, his flesh would be spoilt for them if he pined and wasted away with sickness. The man protests he is not ill in the least; but his friends will not accept his denial—in spite of all he can say, they kill him, and feast themselves on his body. So also if a woman be sick, the women, who are her friends, take her and do with her exactly the same as the men. If one of them reaches to old age, about which there is seldom any question, as commonly before that time they have had some disease or other, and so have been put to death—but if a man, notwithstanding, comes to be old, then they offer him in sacrifice to their gods, and afterwards eat his flesh.
There is another set of Indians whose customs are very different. They refuse to put any live animal to death, they sow no corn, and have no dwelling-houses. Vegetables are their only food. There is a plant which grows wild in their country, bearing seed, about the size of millet-seed, in a calyx: their wont is to gather this seed and having boiled it, calyx and all, to use it for food. If one of them is attacked with sickness, he goes forth into the wilderness, and lies down to die; no one has the least concern either for the sick or for the dead.
All the tribes which I have mentioned live together like the
brute beasts: they have also all the same tint of skin, which approaches that
of the Ethiopians. Their country is a long way from
Besides these, there are Indians of another tribe, who
border on the city of
As the Greeks are well acquainted with the shape of the camel, I shall not trouble to describe it; but I shall mention what seems to have escaped their notice. The camel has in its hind legs four thigh-bones and four knee-joints.
When the Indians therefore have thus equipped themselves
they set off in quest of the gold, calculating the time so that they may be
engaged in seizing it during the most sultry part of the day, when the ants
hide themselves to escape the heat. The sun in those parts shines fiercest in
the morning, not, as elsewhere, at noonday; the greatest heat is from the time
when he has reached a certain height, until the hour at which the market
closes. During this space he burns much more furiously than at midday in
When the Indians reach the place where the gold is, they fill their bags with the sand, and ride away at their best speed: the ants, however, scenting them, as the Persians say, rush forth in pursuit. Now these animals are, they declare, so swift, that there is nothing in the world like them: if it were not, therefore, that the Indians get a start while the ants are mustering, not a single gold-gatherer could escape. During the flight the male camels, which are not so fleet as the females, grow tired, and begin to drag, first one, and then the other; but the females recollect the young which they have left behind, and never give way or flag. Such, according to the Persians, is the manner in which the Indians get the greater part of their gold; some is dug out of the earth, but of this the supply is more scanty.
It seems as if the extreme regions of the earth were blessed
by nature with the most excellent productions, just in the same way that
The Arabians say that the whole world would swarm with these serpents, if they were not kept in check in the way in which I know that vipers are. Of a truth Divine Providence does appear to be, as indeed one might expect beforehand, a wise contriver. For timid animals which are a prey to others are all made to produce young abundantly, that so the species may not be entirely eaten up and lost; while savage and noxious creatures are made very unfruitful. The hare, for instance, which is hunted alike by beasts, birds, and men, breeds so abundantly as even to superfetate, a thing which is true of no other animal. You find in a hare’s belly, at one and the same time, some of the young all covered with fur, others quite naked, others again just fully formed in the womb, while the hare perhaps has lately conceived afresh. The lioness, on the other hand, which is one of the strongest and boldest of brutes, brings forth young but once in her lifetime, and then a single cub; she cannot possibly conceive again, since she loses her womb at the same time that she drops her young. The reason of this is that as soon as the cub begins to stir inside the dam, his claws, which are sharper than those of any other animal, scratch the womb; as the time goes on, and he grows bigger, he tears it ever more and more; so that at last, when the birth comes, there is not a morsel in the whole womb that is sound.
Now with respect to the vipers and the winged snakes of
Such, then, is the way in which the Arabians obtain their frankincense; their manner of collecting the cassia is the following:—They cover all their body and their face with the hides of oxen and other skins, leaving only holes for the eyes, and thus protected go in search of the cassia, which grows in a lake of no great depth. All round the shores and in the lake itself there dwell a number of winged animals, much resembling bats, which screech horribly, and are very valiant. These creatures they must keep from their eyes all the while that they gather the cassia.
Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect the
cinnamon. Where the wood grows, and what country produces it, they cannot
tell—only some, following probability, relate that it comes from the country in
which Bacchus was brought up. Great birds, they say, bring the sticks which we
Greeks, taking the word from the Phoenicians, call cinnamon, and carry them up
into the air to make their nests. These are fastened with a sort of mud to a
sheer face of rock, where no foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to
get the cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and asses
and beasts of burthen that die in their land into large pieces, which they
carry with them into those regions, and Place near the nests: then they
withdraw to a distance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of
meat and fly with them up to their nests; which, not being able to support the
weight, break off and fall to the ground. Hereupon the Arabians return and
collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from
Ledanum, which the Arabs call ladanum, is procured in a yet stranger fashion. Found in a most inodorous place, it is the sweetest-scented of all substances. It is gathered from the beards of he-goats, where it is found sticking like gum, having come from the bushes on which they browse. It is used in many sorts of unguents, and is what the Arabs burn chiefly as incense.
Concerning the spices of
Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the
Now these are the farthest regions of the world in Asia and
The northern parts of
There is a plain in
Of the seven Persians who rose up against the Magus, one, Intaphernes, lost his life very shortly after the outbreak, for an act of insolence. He wished to enter the palace and transact a certain business with the king. Now the law was that all those who had taken part in the rising against the Magus might enter unannounced into the king’s presence, unless he happened to be in private with his wife. So Intaphernes would not have any one announce him, but, as he belonged to the seven, claimed it as his right to go in. The doorkeeper, however, and the chief usher forbade his entrance, since the king, they said, was with his wife. But Intaphernes thought they told lies; so, drawing his scymitar, he cut off their noses and their ears, and, hanging them on the bridle of his horse, put the bridle round their necks, and so let them go.
Then these two men went and showed themselves to the king, and told him how it had come to pass that they were thus treated. Darius trembled lest it was by the common consent of the six that the deed had been done; he therefore sent for them all in turn, and sounded them to know if they approved the conduct of Intaphernes. When he found by their answers that there had been no concert between him and them, he laid hands on Intaphernes, his children, and all his near kindred; strongly suspecting that he and his friends were about to raise a revolt. When all had been seized and put in chains, as malefactors condemned to death, the wife of Intaphernes came and stood continually at the palace-gates, weeping and wailing sore. So Darius after a while, seeing that she never ceased to stand and weep, was touched with pity for her, and bade a messenger go to her and say, “Lady, king Darius gives thee as a boon the life of one of thy kinsmen—choose which thou wilt of the prisoners.” Then she pondered awhile before she answered, “If the king grants me the life of one alone, I make choice of my brother.” Darius, when he heard the reply, was astonished, and sent again, saying, “Lady, the king bids thee tell him why it is that thou passest by thy husband and thy children, and preferrest to have the life of thy brother spared. He is not so near to thee as thy children, nor so dear as thy husband.” She answered, “O king, if the gods will, I may have another husband and other children when these are gone. But as my father and my mother are no more, it is impossible that I should have another brother. This was my thought when I asked to have my brother spared.” Then it seemed to Darius that the lady spoke well, and he gave her, besides the life that she had asked, the life also of her eldest son, because he was greatly pleased with her. But he slew all the rest. Thus one of the seven died, in the way I have described, very shortly after the insurrection.
About the time of Cambyses’ last sickness, the following
events happened. There was a certain Oroetes, a Persian, whom Cyrus had made
Another less common version of the story is that Oroetes sent a herald to Samos to make a request, the nature of which is not stated; Polycrates was at the time reclining in the apartment of the males, and Anacreon the Teian was with him; when therefore the herald came forward to converse, Polycrates, either out of studied contempt for the power of Oroetes, or it may be merely by chance, was lying with his face turned away towards the wall; and so he lay all the time that the herald spake, and when he ended, did not even vouchsafe him a word.
Such are the two reasons alleged for the death of
Polycrates; it is open to all to believe which they please. What is certain is
that Oroetes, while residing at Magnesia on the Maeander, sent a Lydian, by name
Myrsus, the son of Gyges, with a message to Polycrates at
“Oroetes to Polycrates thus sayeth: I hear thou raisest thy
thoughts high, but thy means are not equal to thy ambition. Listen then to my
words, and learn how thou mayest at once serve thyself and preserve me. King
Cambyses is bent on my destruction—of this I have warning from a sure hand.
Come thou, therefore, and fetch me away, me and all my wealth—share my wealth
with me, and then, so far as money can aid, thou mayest make thyself master of
the whole of
Polycrates, when he heard this message, was full of joy, and
straightway approved the terms; but, as money was what he chiefly desired,
before stirring in the business he sent his secretary, Maeandrius, son of
Maeandrius, a Samian, to look into the matter. This was the man who, not very
long afterwards, made an offering at the
On hearing his account, Polycrates, notwithstanding many warnings given him by the soothsayers, and much dissuasion of his friends, made ready to go in person. Even the dream which visited his daughter failed to check him. She had dreamed that she saw her father hanging high in air, washed by love, and anointed by the sun. Having therefore thus dreamed, she used every effort to prevent her father from going; even as he went on board his penteconter crying after him with words of evil omen. Then Polycrates threatened her that, if he returned in safety, he would keep her unmarried many years. She answered, “Oh! that he might perform his threat; far better for her to remain long unmarried than to be bereft of her father!”
Polycrates, however, making light of all the counsel offered
him, set sail and went to Oroetes. Many friends accompanied him; among the
rest, Democedes, the son of Calliphon, a native of
It was not long before retribution for the murder of Polycrates overtook Oroetes. After the death of Cambyses, and during all the time that the Magus sat upon the throne, Oroetes remained in Sardis, and brought no help to the Persians, whom the Medes had robbed of the sovereignty. On the contrary, amid the troubles of this season, he slew Mitrobates, the satrap of Dascyleium, who had cast the reproach upon him in the matter of Polycrates; and he slew also Mitrobates’s son, Cranaspes—both men of high repute among the Persians. He was likewise guilty of many other acts of insolence; among the rest, of the following:—there was a courier sent to him by Darius whose message was not to his mind—Oroetes had him waylaid and murdered on his road back to the king; the man and his horse both disappeared, and no traces were left of either.
Darius therefore was no sooner settled upon the throne than
he longed to take vengeance upon Oroetes for all his misdoings, and especially
for the murder of Mitrobates and his son. To send an armed force openly against
him, however, he did not think advisable, as the whole kingdom was still
unsettled, and he too was but lately come to the throne, while Oroetes, as he
understood, had a great power. In truth a thousand Persians attended on him as
a bodyguard, and he held the satrapies of
Thus spoke Darius; and straightway thirty of those present
came forward and offered themselves for the work. As they strove together,
Darius interfered, and bade them have recourse to the lot. Accordingly lots
were cast, and the task fell to Bagaeus, son of Artontes. Then Bagaeus caused
many letters to be written on divers matters, and sealed them all with the
king’s signet; after which he took the letters with him, and departed for
Soon after the treasures of Oroetes had been conveyed to
As soon as he was entered into the presence, Darius asked him if he knew medicine—to which he answered “No,” for he feared that if he made himself known he would lose all chance of ever again beholding Greece. Darius, however, perceiving that he dealt deceitfully, and really understood the art, bade those who had brought him to the presence go fetch the scourges and the pricking-irons. Upon this Democedes made confession, but at the same time said, that he had no thorough knowledge of medicine—he had but lived some time with a physician, and in this way had gained a slight smattering of the art. However, Darius put himself under his care, and Democedes, by using the remedies customary among the Greeks, and exchanging the violent treatment of the Egyptians for milder means, first enabled him to get some sleep, and then in a very little time restored him altogether, after he had quite lost the hope of ever having the use of his foot. Hereupon the king presented Democedes with two sets of fetters wrought in gold; so Democedes asked if he meant to double his sufferings because he had brought him back to health? Darius was pleased at the speech, and bade the eunuchs take Democedes to see his wives, which they did accordingly, telling them all that this was the man who had saved the king’s life. Then each of the wives dipped with a saucer into a chest of gold, and gave so bountifully to Democedes, that a slave named Sciton, who followed him, and picked up the staters which fell from the saucers, gathered together a great heap of gold.
This Democedes left his country and became attached to
Polycrates in the following way:—His father, who dwelt at
After Democedes had cured Darius at
Moreover, within a little while it happened that Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who was married to Darius, had a boil form upon her breast, which, after it burst, began to spread and increase. Now so long as the sore was of no great size, she hid it through shame and made no mention of it to any one; but when it became worse, she sent at last for Democedes, and showed it to him. Democedes said that he would make her well, but she must first promise him with an oath that if he cured her she would grant him whatever request he might prefer; assuring her at the same time that it should be nothing which she could blush to hear.
On these terms Democedes applied his art, and soon cured the abscess; and Atossa, when she had heard his request, spake thus one night to Darius:—
“It seemeth to me strange, my lord, that, with the mighty power which is thine, thou sittest idle, and neither makest any conquest, nor advancest the power of the Persians. Methinks that one who is so young, and so richly endowed with wealth, should perform some noble achievement to prove to the Persians that it is a man who governs them. Another reason, too, should urge thee to attempt some enterprise. Not only does it befit thee to show the Persians that a man rules them, but for thy own peace thou shouldest waste their strength in wars lest idleness breed revolt against thy authority. Now, too, whilst thou art still young, thou mayest well accomplish some exploit; for as the body grows in strength the mind too ripens, and as the body ages, the mind’s powers decay, till at last it becomes dulled to everything.”
So spake Atossa, as Democedes had instructed her. Darius
answered:—“Dear lady, thou hast uttered the very thoughts that occupy my brain.
I am minded to construct a bridge which shall join our continent with the
other, and so carry war into
But Atossa rejoined:—“Look now, this war with
“Dear lady,” Darius answered, “since it is thy wish that we try first the valour of the Greeks, it were best, methinks, before marching against them, to send some Persians to spy out the land; they may go in company with the man thou mentionest, and when they have seen and learnt all, they can bring us back a full report. Then, having a more perfect knowledge of them, I will begin the war.”
Darius, having so spoke, put no long distance between the
word and the deed, but as soon as day broke he summoned to his presence fifteen
Persians of note, and bade them take Democedes for their guide, and explore the
The men went down to Phoenicia, to Sidon, the Phoenician
town, where straightway they fitted out two triremes and a trading-vessel,
which they loaded with all manner of precious merchandise; and, everything
being now ready, they set sail for Greece. When they had made the land, they
kept along the shore and examined it, taking notes of all that they saw; and in
this way they explored the greater portion of the country, and all the most
famous regions, until at last they reached Tarentum in
The Persians now quitted Tarentum, and sailed to
The Persians weighed anchor and left Crotona, but, being
wrecked on the coast of
After this, king Darius besieged and took
Poor Syloson felt at the time that he had fooled away his
cloak in a very simple manner; but afterwards, when in the course of years
Cambyses died, and the seven Persians rose in revolt against the Magus, and
Darius was the man chosen out of the seven to have the kingdom, Syloson learnt
that the person to whom the crown had come was the very man who had coveted his
cloak in Egypt, and to whom he had freely given it. So he made his way to
When he heard this, Darius sent off an army, under Otanes, one of the seven, with orders to accomplish all that Syloson had desired. And Otanes went down to the coast and made ready to cross over.
The government of
“Ye know, friends, that the sceptre of Polycrates, and all his power, has passed into my hands, and if I choose I may rule over you. But what I condemn in another I will, if I may, avoid myself. I never approved the ambition of Polycrates to lord it over men as good as himself, nor looked with favour on any of those who have done the like. Now therefore, since he has fulfilled his destiny, I lay down my office, and proclaim equal rights. All that I claim in return is six talents from the treasures of Polycrates, and the priesthood of Jove the Protector of Freedom, for myself and my descendants for ever. Allow me this, as the man by whom his temple has been built, and by whom ye yourselves are now restored to liberty.” As soon as Maeandrius had ended, one of the Samians rose up and said, “As if thou wert fit to rule us, base-born and rascal as thou art! Think rather of accounting for the monies which thou hast fingered.”
The man who thus spoke was a certain Telesarchus, one of the leading citizens. Maeandrius, therefore, feeling sure that if he laid down the sovereign power some one else would become tyrant in his room, gave up the thought of relinquishing it. Withdrawing to the citadel, he sent for the chief men one by one, under pretence of showing them his accounts, and as fast as they came arrested them and put them in irons. So these men were bound; and Maeandrius within a short time fell sick: whereupon Lycaretus, one of his brothers, thinking that he was going to die, and wishing to make his own accession to the throne the easier, slew all the prisoners. It seemed that the Samians did not choose to be a free people.
When the Persians whose business it was to restore Syloson
Now the king Maeandrius had a lightheaded brother—Charilaus by name—whom for some offence or other he had shut up in prison: this man heard what was going on, and peering through his bars, saw the Persians sitting peacefully upon their seats, whereupon he exclaimed aloud, and said he must speak with Maeandrius. When this was reported to him, Maeandrius gave orders that Charilaus should be released from prison and brought into his presence. No sooner did he arrive than he began reviling and abusing his brother, and strove to persuade him to attack the Persians. “Thou meanest-spirited of men,” he said, “thou canst keep me, thy brother, chained in a dungeon, notwithstanding that I have done nothing worthy of bonds; but when the Persians come and drive thee forth a houseless wanderer from thy native land, thou lookest on, and hast not the heart to seek revenge, though they might so easily be subdued. If thou, however, art afraid, lend me thy soldiers, and I will make them pay dearly for their coming here. I engage too to send thee first safe out of the island.”
So spake Charilaus, and Maeandrius gave consent; not (I believe) that he was so void of sense as to imagine that his own forces could overcome those of the king, but because he was jealous of Syloson, and did not wish him to get so quietly an unharmed city. He desired therefore to rouse the anger of the Persians against Samos, that so he might deliver it up to Syloson with its power at the lowest possible ebb; for he knew well that if the Persians met with a disaster they would be furious against the Samians, while he himself felt secure of a retreat at any time that he liked, since he had a secret passage under ground leading from the citadel to the sea. Maeandrius accordingly took ship and sailed away from Samos; and Charilaus, having armed all the mercenaries, threw open the gates, and fell upon the Persians, who looked for nothing less, since they supposed that the whole matter had been arranged by treaty. At the first onslaught therefore all the Persians of most note, men who were in the habit of using litters, were slain by the mercenaries; the rest of the army, however, came to the rescue, defeated the mercenaries, and drove them back into the citadel.
Then Otanes, the general, when he saw the great calamity which had befallen the Persians, made up his mind to forget the orders which Darius had given him, “not to kill or enslave a single Samian, but to deliver up the island unharmed to Syloson,” and gave the word to his army that they should slay the Samians, both men and boys, wherever they could find them. Upon this some of his troops laid siege to the citadel, while others began the massacre, killing all they met, some outside, some inside the temples.
Maeandrius fled from Samos to
Meanwhile the Persians netted
After the armament of Otanes had set sail for
When tidings reached Darius of what had happened, he drew
together all his power, and began the war by marching straight upon
Now when a year and seven months had passed, Darius and his army were quite wearied out, finding that they could not anyhow take the city. All stratagems and all arts had been used, and yet the king could not prevail—not even when he tried the means by which Cyrus made himself master of the place. The Babylonians were ever upon the watch, and he found no way of conquering them.
At last, in the twentieth month, a marvellous thing happened
to Zopyrus, son of the Megabyzus who was among the seven men that overthrew the
Magus. One of his sumpter-mules gave birth to a foal. Zopyrus, when they told
him, not thinking that it could be true, went and saw the colt with his own
eyes; after which he commanded his servants to tell no one what had come to
pass, while he himself pondered the matter. Calling to mind then the words of
the Babylonian at the beginning of the siege, “Till mules foal ye shall not
take our city”—he thought, as he reflected on this speech, that
As soon therefore as he felt within himself that
Wrath stirred within the king at the sight of a man of his
lofty rank in such a condition; leaping down from his throne, he exclaimed
aloud, and asked Zopyrus who it was that had disfigured him, and what he had
done to be so treated. Zopyrus answered, “There is not a man in the world, but
thou, O king, that could reduce me to such a plight—no stranger’s hands have
wrought this work on me, but my own only. I maimed myself I could not endure
that the Assyrians should laugh at the Persians.” “Wretched man,” said Darius,
“thou coverest the foulest deed with the fairest possible name, when thou
sayest thy maiming is to help our siege forward. How will thy disfigurement,
thou simpleton, induce the enemy to yield one day the sooner? Surely thou hadst
gone out of thy mind when thou didst so misuse thyself.” “Had I told thee,”
rejoined the other, “what I was bent on doing, thou wouldest not have suffered
it; as it is, I kept my own counsel, and so accomplished my plans. Now,
therefore, if there be no failure on thy part, we shall take
Having left these instructions, Zopyrus fled towards the gates of the town, often looking back, to give himself the air of a deserter. The men upon the towers, whose business it was to keep a lookout, observing him, hastened down, and setting one of the gates slightly ajar, questioned him who he was, and on what errand he had come. He replied that he was Zopyrus, and had deserted to them from the Persians. Then the doorkeepers, when they heard this, carried him at once before the Magistrates. Introduced into the assembly, he began to bewail his misfortunes, telling them that Darius had maltreated him in the way they could see, only because he had given advice that the siege should be raised, since there seemed no hope of taking the city. “And now,” he went on to say, “my coming to you, Babylonians, will prove the greatest gain that you could possibly receive, while to Darius and the Persians it will be the severest loss. Verily he by whom I have been so mutilated shall not escape unpunished. And truly all the paths of his counsels are known to me.” Thus did Zopyrus speak.
The Babylonians, seeing a Persian of such exalted rank in so grievous a plight, his nose and ears cut off, his body red with marks of scourging and with blood, had no suspicion but that he spoke the truth, and was really come to be their friend and helper. They were ready, therefore, to grant him anything that he asked; and on his suing for a command, they entrusted to him a body of troops, with the help of which he proceeded to do as he had arranged with Darius. On the tenth day after his flight he led out his detachment, and surrounding the thousand men, whom Darius according to agreement had sent first, he fell upon them and slew them all. Then the Babylonians, seeing that his deeds were as brave as his words, were beyond measure pleased, and set no bounds to their trust. He waited, however, and when the next period agreed on had elapsed, again with a band of picked men he sallied forth, and slaughtered the two thousand. After this second exploit, his praise was in all mouths. Once more, however, he waited till the interval appointed had gone by, and then leading the troops to the place where the four thousand were, he put them also to the sword. This last victory gave the finishing stroke to his power, and made him all in all with the Babylonians: accordingly they committed to him the command of their whole army, and put the keys of their city into his hands.
Darius now, still keeping to the plan agreed upon, attacked
the walls on every side, whereupon Zopyrus played out the remainder of his
stratagem. While the Babylonians, crowding to the walls, did their best to
resist the Persian assault, he threw open the Cissian and the Belian gates, and
admitted the enemy. Such of the Babylonians as witnessed the treachery, took
refuge in the
As for Zopyrus, he was considered by Darius to have
surpassed, in the greatness of his achievements, all other Persians, whether of
former or of later times, except only Cyrus—with whom no Persian ever yet
thought himself worthy to compare. Darius, as the story goes, would often say
that “he had rather Zopyrus were unmaimed, than be master of twenty more
Babylons.” And he honoured Zopyrus greatly; year by year he presented him with
all the gifts which are held in most esteem among the Persians; he gave him
likewise the government of Babylon for his life, free from tribute; and he also
granted him many other favours. Megabyzus, who held the command in
After the taking of
Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, to use them in preparing their milk. The plan they follow is to thrust tubes made of bone, not unlike our musical pipes, up the vulva of the mare, and then to blow into the tubes with their mouths, some milking while the others blow. They say that they do this because when the veins of the animal are full of air, the udder is forced down. The milk thus obtained is poured into deep wooden casks, about which the blind slaves are placed, and then the milk is stirred round. That which rises to the top is drawn off, and considered the best part; the under portion is of less account. Such is the reason why the Scythians blind all those whom they take in war; it arises from their not being tillers of the ground, but a pastoral race.
When therefore the children sprung from these slaves and the
Scythian women grew to manhood, and understood the circumstances of their
birth, they resolved to oppose the army which was returning from Media. And,
first of all, they cut off a tract of country from the rest of
The Scythians followed this counsel, and the slaves were so astounded, that they forgot to fight, and immediately ran away. Such was the mode in which the Scythians, after being for a time the lords of Asia, and being forced to quit it by the Medes, returned and settled in their own country. This inroad of theirs it was that Darius was anxious to avenge, and such was the purpose for which he was now collecting an army to invade them.
According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they are the youngest of all nations. Their tradition is as follows. A certain Targitaus was the first man who ever lived in their country, which before his time was a desert without inhabitants. He was a child—I do not believe the tale, but it is told nevertheless—of Jove and a daughter of the Borysthenes. Targitaus, thus descended, begat three sons, Leipoxais, Arpoxais, and Colaxais, who was the youngest born of the three. While they still ruled the land, there fell from the sky four implements, all of gold—a plough, a yoke, a battle-axe, and a drinking-cup. The eldest of the brothers perceived them first, and approached to pick them up; when lo! as he came near, the gold took fire, and blazed. He therefore went his way, and the second coming forward made the attempt, but the same thing happened again. The gold rejected both the eldest and the second brother. Last of all the youngest brother approached, and immediately the flames were extinguished; so he picked up the gold, and carried it to his home. Then the two elder agreed together, and made the whole kingdom over to the youngest born.
From Leipoxais sprang the Scythians of the race called Auchatae; from Arpoxais, the middle brother, those known as the Catiari and Traspians; from Colaxais, the youngest, the Royal Scythians, or Paralatae. All together they are named Scoloti, after one of their kings: the Greeks, however, call them Scythians.
Such is the account which the Scythians give of their
origin. They add that from the time of Targitaus, their first king, to the
invasion of their country by Darius, is a period of one thousand years, neither
less nor more. The Royal Scythians guard the sacred gold with most especial care,
and year by year offer great sacrifices in its honour. At this feast, if the
man who has the custody of the gold should fall asleep in the open air, he is
sure (the Scythians say) not to outlive the year. His pay therefore is as much
land as he can ride round on horseback in a day. As the extent of
Such is the account which the Scythians give of themselves,
and of the country which lies above them. The Greeks who dwell about the
On waking, he went in quest of them, and, after wandering over the whole country, came at last to the district called “the Woodland,” where he found in a cave a strange being, between a maiden and a serpent, whose form from the waist upwards was like that of a woman, while all below was like a snake. He looked at her wonderingly; but nevertheless inquired, whether she had chanced to see his strayed mares anywhere. She answered him, “Yes, and they were now in her keeping; but never would she consent to give them back, unless he took her for his mistress.” So Hercules, to get his mares back, agreed; but afterwards she put him off and delayed restoring the mares, since she wished to keep him with her as long as possible. He, on the other hand, was only anxious to secure them and to get away. At last, when she gave them up, she said to him, “When thy mares strayed hither, it was I who saved them for thee: now thou hast paid their salvage; for lo! I bear in my womb three sons of thine. Tell me therefore when thy sons grow up, what must I do with them? Wouldst thou wish that I should settle them here in this land, whereof I am mistress, or shall I send them to thee?” Thus questioned, they say, Hercules answered, “When the lads have grown to manhood, do thus, and assuredly thou wilt not err. Watch them, and when thou seest one of them bend this bow as I now bend it, and gird himself with this girdle thus, choose him to remain in the land. Those who fail in the trial, send away. Thus wilt thou at once please thyself and obey me.”
Hereupon he strung one of his bows—up to that time he had
carried two—and showed her how to fasten the belt. Then he gave both bow and
belt into her hands. Now the belt had a golden goblet attached to its clasp. So
after he had given them to her, he went his way; and the woman, when her
children grew to manhood, first gave them severally their names. One she called
Agathyrsus, one Gelonus, and the other, who was the youngest, Scythes. Then she
remembered the instructions she had received from Hercules, and, in obedience
to his orders, she put her sons to the test. Two of them, Agathyrsus and
Gelonus, proving unequal to the task enjoined, their mother sent them out of
the land; Scythes, the youngest, succeeded, and so he was allowed to remain.
From Scythes, the son of Hercules, were descended the after kings of
There is also another different story, now to be related, in
which I am more inclined to put faith than in any other. It is that the
wandering Scythians once dwelt in Asia, and there warred with the Massagetae,
but with ill success; they therefore quitted their homes, crossed the Araxes,
and entered the
Aristeas also, son of Caystrobius, a native of Proconnesus, says in the course of his poem that wrapt in Bacchic fury he went as far as the Issedones. Above them dwelt the Arimaspi, men with one eye; still further, the gold-guarding griffins; and beyond these, the Hyperboreans, who extended to the sea. Except the Hyperboreans, all these nations, beginning with the Arimaspi, were continually encroaching upon their neighbours. Hence it came to pass that the Arimaspi drove the Issedonians from their country, while the Issedonians dispossessed the Scyths; and the Scyths, pressing upon the Cimmerians, who dwelt on the shores of the Southern Sea, forced them to leave their land. Thus even Aristeas does not agree in his account of this region with the Scythians.
The birthplace of Aristeas, the poet who sung of these things, I have already mentioned. I will now relate a tale which I heard concerning him both at Proconnesus and at Cyzicus. Aristeas, they said, who belonged to one of the noblest families in the island, had entered one day into a fuller’s shop, when he suddenly dropt down dead. Hereupon the fuller shut up his shop, and went to tell Aristeas’ kindred what had happened. The report of the death had just spread through the town, when a certain Cyzicenian, lately arrived from Artaca, contradicted the rumour, affirming that he had met Aristeas on his road to Cyzicus, and had spoken with him. This man, therefore, strenuously denied the rumour; the relations, however, proceeded to the fuller’s shop with all things necessary for the funeral, intending to carry the body away. But on the shop being opened, no Aristeas was found, either dead or alive. Seven years afterwards he reappeared, they told me, in Proconnesus, and wrote the poem called by the Greeks The Arimaspeia, after which he disappeared a second time. This is the tale current in the two cities above-mentioned.
What follows I know to have happened to the Metapontines of
Italy, three hundred and forty years after the second disappearance of
Aristeas, as I collect by comparing the accounts given me at Proconnesus and
With regard to the regions which lie above the country whereof this portion of my history treats, there is no one who possesses any exact knowledge. Not a single person can I find who professes to be acquainted with them by actual observation. Even Aristeas, the traveller of whom I lately spoke, does not claim—and he is writing poetry—to have reached any farther than the Issedonians. What he relates concerning the regions beyond is, he confesses, mere hearsay, being the account which the Issedonians gave him of those countries. However, I shall proceed to mention all that I have learnt of these parts by the most exact inquiries which I have been able to make concerning them.
Above the mart of the Borysthenites, which is situated in
the very centre of the whole sea-coast of
Across the Borysthenes, the first country after you leave
the coast is Hylaea (the
Crossing the Panticapes, and proceeding eastward of the Husbandmen, we come upon the wandering Scythians, who neither plough nor sow. Their country, and the whole of this region, except Hylaea, is quite bare of trees. They extend towards the east a distance of fourteen’ days’ journey, occupying a tract which reaches to the river Gerrhus.
On the opposite side of the Gerrhus is the Royal district, as it is called: here dwells the largest and bravest of the Scythian tribes, which looks upon all the other tribes in the light of slaves. Its country reaches on the south to Taurica, on the east to the trench dug by the sons of the blind slaves, the mart upon the Palus Maeotis, called Cremni (the Cliffs), and in part to the river Tanais. North of the country of the Royal Scythians are the Melanchaeni (Black-Robes), a people of quite a different race from the Scythians. Beyond them lie marshes and a region without inhabitants, so far as our knowledge reaches.
When one crosses the Tanais, one is no longer in Scythia; the first region on crossing is that of the Sauromatae, who, beginning at the upper end of the Palus Maeotis, stretch northward a distance of fifteen days’ journey, inhabiting a country which is entirely bare of trees, whether wild or cultivated. Above them, possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind.
Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a desert, seven days’ journey across; after which, if one inclines somewhat to the east, the Thyssagetae are reached, a numerous nation quite distinct from any other, and living by the chase. Adjoining them, and within the limits of the same region, are the people who bear the name of Iyrcae; they also support themselves by hunting, which they practise in the following manner. The hunter climbs a tree, the whole country abounding in wood, and there sets himself in ambush; he has a dog at hand, and a horse, trained to lie down upon its belly, and thus make itself low; the hunter keeps watch, and when he sees his game, lets fly an arrow; then mounting his horse, he gives the beast chase, his dog following hard all the while. Beyond these people, a little to the east, dwells a distinct tribe of Scyths, who revolted once from the Royal Scythians, and migrated into these parts.
As far as their country, the tract of land whereof I have been speaking is all a smooth plain, and the soil deep; beyond you enter on a region which is rugged and stony. Passing over a great extent of this rough country, you come to a people dwelling at the foot of lofty mountains, who are said to be all—both men and women—bald from their birth, to have flat noses, and very long chins. These people speak a language of their own,. the dress which they wear is the same as the Scythian. They live on the fruit of a certain tree, the name of which is Ponticum; in size it is about equal to our fig-tree, and it bears a fruit like a bean, with a stone inside. When the fruit is ripe, they strain it through cloths; the juice which runs off is black and thick, and is called by the natives “aschy.” They lap this up with their tongues, and also mix it with milk for a drink; while they make the lees, which are solid, into cakes, and eat them instead of meat; for they have but few sheep in their country, in which there is no good pasturage. Each of them dwells under a tree, and they cover the tree in winter with a cloth of thick white felt, but take off the covering in the summer-time. No one harms these people, for they are looked upon as sacred—they do not even possess any warlike weapons. When their neighbours fall out, they make up the quarrel; and when one flies to them for refuge, he is safe from all hurt. They are called the Argippaeans.
Up to this point the territory of which we are speaking is very completely explored, and all the nations between the coast and the bald-headed men are well known to us. For some of the Scythians are accustomed to penetrate as far, of whom inquiry may easily be made, and Greeks also go there from the mart on the Borysthenes, and from the other marts along the Euxine. The Scythians who make this journey communicate with the inhabitants by means of seven interpreters and seven languages.
Thus far, therefore, the land is known; but beyond the bald-headed men lies a region of which no one can give any exact account. Lofty and precipitous mountains, which are never crossed, bar further progress. The bald men say, but it does not seem to me credible, that the people who live in these mountains have feet like goats; and that after passing them you find another race of men, who sleep during one half of the year. This latter statement appears to me quite unworthy of credit. The region east of the bald-headed men is well known to be inhabited by the Issedonians, but the tract that lies to the north of these two nations is entirely unknown, except by the accounts which they give of it.
The Issedonians are said to have the following customs. When a man’s father dies, all the near relatives bring sheep to the house; which are sacrificed, and their flesh cut in pieces, while at the same time the dead body undergoes the like treatment. The two sorts of flesh are afterwards mixed together, and the whole is served up at a banquet. The head of the dead man is treated differently: it is stripped bare, cleansed, and set in gold. It then becomes an ornament on which they pride themselves, and is brought out year by year at the great festival which sons keep in honour of their fathers’ death, just as the Greeks keep their Genesia. In other respects the Issedonians are reputed to be observers of justice: and it is to be remarked that their women have equal authority with the men. Thus our knowledge extends as far as this nation.
The regions beyond are known only from the accounts of the Issedonians, by whom the stories are told of the one-eyed race of men and the gold-guarding griffins. These stories are received by the Scythians from the Issedonians, and by them passed on to us Greeks: whence it arises that we give the one-eyed race the Scythian name of Arimaspi, “arima” being the Scythic word for “one,” and “spu” for “the eye.”
The whole district whereof we have here discoursed has winters of exceeding rigour. During eight months the frost is so intense that water poured upon the ground does not form mud, but if a fire be lighted on it mud is produced. The sea freezes, and the Cimmerian Bosphorus is frozen over. At that season the Scythians who dwell inside the trench make warlike expeditions upon the ice, and even drive their waggons across to the country of the Sindians. Such is the intensity of the cold during eight months out of the twelve; and even in the remaining four the climate is still cool. The character of the winter likewise is unlike that of the same season in any other country; for at that time, when the rains ought to fall in Scythia, there is scarcely any rain worth mentioning, while in summer it never gives over raining; and thunder, which elsewhere is frequent then, in Scythia is unknown in that part of the year, coming only in summer, when it is very heavy. Thunder in the winter-time is there accounted a prodigy; as also are earthquakes, whether they happen in winter or summer. Horses bear the winter well, cold as it is, but mules and asses are quite unable to bear it; whereas in other countries mules and asses are found to endure the cold, while horses, if they stand still, are frost-bitten.
To me it seems that the cold may likewise be the cause which
prevents the oxen in
He means to say what is quite true, that in warm countries the horns come early. So too in countries where the cold is severe animals either have no horns, or grow them with difficulty—the cold being the cause in this instance.
Here I must express my wonder—additions being what my work
always from the very first affected—that in
With respect to the feathers which are said by the Scythians
to fill the air, and to prevent persons from penetrating into the remoter parts
of the continent, even having any view of those regions, my opinion is that in
the countries above
Of the Hyperboreans nothing is said either by the Scythians or by any of the other dwellers in these regions, unless it be the Issedonians. But in my opinion, even the Issedonians are silent concerning them; otherwise the Scythians would have repeated their statements, as they do those concerning the one-eyed men. Hesiod, however, mentions them, and Homer also in the Epigoni, if that be really a work of his.
But the persons who have by far the most to say on this
subject are the Delians. They declare that certain offerings, packed in wheaten
straw, were brought from the country of the Hyperboreans into Scythia, and that
the Scythians received them and passed them on to their neighbours upon the
west, who continued to pass them on until at last they reached the Adriatic.
From hence they were sent southward, and when they came to
The damsels sent by the Hyperboreans died in
They add that, once before, there came to
As for the tale of Abaris, who is said to have been a Hyperborean, and to have gone with his arrow all round the world without once eating, I shall pass it by in silence. Thus much, however, is clear: if there are Hyperboreans, there must also be Hypernotians. For my part, I cannot but laugh when I see numbers of persons drawing maps of the world without having any reason to guide them; making, as they do, the ocean-stream to run all round the earth, and the earth itself to be an exact circle, as if described by a pair of compasses, with Europe and Asia just of the same size. The truth in this matter I will now proceed to explain in a very few words, making it clear what the real size of each region is, and what shape should be given them.
The Persians inhabit a country upon the southern or Erythraean sea; above them, to the north, are the Medes; beyond the Medes, the Saspirians; beyond them, the Colchians, reaching to the northern sea, into which the Phasis empties itself. These four nations fill the whole space from one sea to the other.
West of these nations there project into the sea two tracts which I will now describe; one, beginning at the river Phasis on the north, stretches along the Euxine and the Hellespont to Sigeum in the Troas; while on the south it reaches from the Myriandrian gulf, which adjoins Phoenicia, to the Triopic promontory. This is one of the tracts, and is inhabited by thirty different nations.
The other starts from the country of the Persians, and
stretches into the Erythraean sea, containing first
Beyond the tract occupied by the Persians, Medes,
Saspirians, and Colchians, towards the east and the region of the sunrise, Asia
is bounded on the south by the Erythraean sea, and on the north by the Caspian
and the river
For my part I am astonished that men should ever have
Next to these Phoenicians the Carthaginians, according to
their own accounts, made the voyage. For Sataspes, son of Teaspes the Achaemenian,
did not circumnavigate
Of the greater part of Asia Darius was the discoverer.
Wishing to know where the
But the boundaries of
The Euxine sea, where Darius now went to war, has nations dwelling around it, with the one exception of the Scythians, more unpolished than those of any other region that we know of. For, setting aside Anacharsis and the Scythian people, there is not within this region a single nation which can be put forward as having any claims to wisdom, or which has produced a single person of any high repute. The Scythians indeed have in one respect, and that the very most important of all those that fall under man’s control, shown themselves wiser than any nation upon the face of the earth. Their customs otherwise are not such as I admire. The one thing of which I speak is the contrivance whereby they make it impossible for the enemy who invades them to escape destruction, while they themselves are entirely out of his reach, unless it please them to engage with him. Having neither cities nor forts, and carrying their dwellings with them wherever they go; accustomed, moreover, one and all of them, to shoot from horseback; and living not by husbandry but on their cattle, their waggons the only houses that they possess, how can they fail of being unconquerable, and unassailable even?
The nature of their country, and the rivers by which it is intersected, greatly favour this mode of resisting attacks. For the land is level, well watered, and abounding in pasture; while the rivers which traverse it are almost equal in number to the canals of Egypt. Of these I shall only mention the most famous and such as are navigable to some distance from the sea. They are, the Ister, which has five mouths; the Tyras, the Hypanis, the Borysthenes, the Panticapes, the Hypacyris, the Gerrhus, and the Tanais. The courses of these streams I shall now proceed to describe.
The Ister is of all the rivers with which we are acquainted
the mightiest. It never varies in height, but continues at the same level
summer and winter. Counting from the west it is the first of the Scythian
rivers, and the reason of its being the greatest is that it receives the water
of several tributaries. Now the tributaries which swell its flood are the
following: first, on the side of
From the country of the Agathyrsi comes down another river,
the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from the heights of Haemus
descend with a northern course three mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and
the Tibisis, and pour their waters into it.
All these streams, then, and many others, add their waters to swell the flood of the Ister, which thus increased becomes the mightiest of rivers; for undoubtedly if we compare the stream of the Nile with the single stream of the Ister, we must give the preference to the Nile, of which no tributary river, nor even rivulet, augments the volume. The Ister remains at the same level both summer and winter—owing to the following reasons, as I believe. During the winter it runs at its natural height, or a very little higher, because in those countries there is scarcely any rain in winter, but constant snow. When summer comes, this snow, which is of great depth, begins to melt, and flows into the Ister, which is swelled at that season, not only by this cause but also by the rains, which are heavy and frequent at that part of the year. Thus the various streams which go to form the Ister are higher in summer than in winter, and just so much higher as the sun’s power and attraction are greater; so that these two causes counteract each other, and the effect is to produce a balance, whereby the Ister remains always at the same level.
This, then, is one of the great Scythian rivers; the next to
it is the Tyras, which rises from a great lake separating
The third river is the Hypanis. This stream rises within the
The fourth of the Scythian rivers is the Borysthenes. Next
to the Ister, it is the greatest of them all; and, in my judgment, it is the
most productive river, not merely in Scythia, but in the whole world, excepting
Next in succession comes the fifth river, called the Panticapes, which has, like the Borysthenes, a course from north to south, and rises from a lake. The space between this river and the Borysthenes is occupied by the Scythians who are engaged in husbandry. After watering their country, the Panticapes flows through Hylaea, and empties itself into the Borysthenes.
The sixth stream is the Hypacyris, a river rising from a
lake, and running directly through the middle of the Nomadic Scythians. It
falls into the sea near the city of
The seventh river is the Gerrhus, which is a branch thrown out by the Borysthenes at the point where the course of that stream first begins to be known, to wit, the region called by the same name as the stream itself, viz. Gerrhus. This river on its passage towards the sea divides the country of the Nomadic from that of the Royal Scyths. It runs into the Hypacyris.
The eighth river is the Tanais, a stream which has its source, far up the country, in a lake of vast size, and which empties itself into another still larger lake, the Palus Maeotis, whereby the country of the Royal Scythians is divided from that of the Sauromatae. The Tanais receives the waters of a tributary stream, called the Hyrgis.
Such then are the rivers of chief note in
Thus abundantly are the Scythians provided with the most
important necessaries. Their manners and customs come now to be described. They
worship only the following gods, namely, Vesta, whom they reverence beyond all
the rest, Jupiter, and Tellus, whom they consider to be the wife of Jupiter;
and after these Apollo, Celestial Venus, Hercules, and Mars. These gods are
worshipped by the whole nation: the Royal Scythians offer sacrifice likewise to
The manner of their sacrifices is everywhere and in every case the same; the victim stands with its two fore-feet bound together by a cord, and the person who is about to offer, taking his station behind the victim, gives the rope a pull, and thereby throws the animal down; as it falls he invokes the god to whom he is offering; after which he puts a noose round the animal’s neck, and, inserting a small stick, twists it round, and so strangles him. No fire is lighted, there is no consecration, and no pouring out of drink-offerings; but directly that the beast is strangled the sacrificer flays him, and then sets to work to boil the flesh.
Such are the victims offered to the other gods, and such is the mode in which they are sacrificed; but the rites paid to Mars are different. In every district, at the seat of government, there stands a temple of this god, whereof the following is a description. It is a pile of brushwood, made of a vast quantity of fagots, in length and breadth three furlongs; in height somewhat less, having a square platform upon the top, three sides of which are precipitous, while the fourth slopes so that men may walk up it. Each year a hundred and fifty waggon-loads of brushwood are added to the pile, which sinks continually by reason of the rains. An antique iron sword is planted on the top of every such mound, and serves as the image of Mars: yearly sacrifices of cattle and of horses are made to it, and more victims are offered thus than to all the rest of their gods. When prisoners are taken in war, out of every hundred men they sacrifice one, not however with the same rites as the cattle, but with different. Libations of wine are first poured upon their heads, after which they are slaughtered over a vessel; the vessel is then carried up to the top of the pile, and the blood poured upon the scymitar. While this takes place at the top of the mound, below, by the side of the temple, the right hands and arms of the slaughtered prisoners are cut off, and tossed on high into the air. Then the other victims are slain, and those who have offered the sacrifice depart, leaving the hands and arms where they may chance to have fallen, and the bodies also, separate.
Such are the observances of the Scythians with respect to sacrifice. They never use swine for the purpose, nor indeed is it their wont to breed them in any part of their country.
In what concerns war, their customs are the following. The Scythian soldier drinks the blood of the first man he overthrows in battle. Whatever number he slays, he cuts off all their heads, and carries them to the king; since he is thus entitled to a share of the booty, whereto he forfeits all claim if he does not produce a head. In order to strip the skull of its covering, he makes a cut round the head above the ears, and, laying hold of the scalp, shakes the skull out; then with the rib of an ox he scrapes the scalp clean of flesh, and softening it by rubbing between the hands, uses it thenceforth as a napkin. The Scyth is proud of these scalps, and hangs them from his bridle-rein; the greater the number of such napkins that a man can show, the more highly is he esteemed among them. Many make themselves cloaks, like the capotes of our peasants, by sewing a quantity of these scalps together. Others flay the right arms of their dead enemies, and make of the skin, which stripped off with the nails hanging to it, a covering for their quivers. Now the skin of a man is thick and glossy, and would in whiteness surpass almost all other hides. Some even flay the entire body of their enemy, and stretching it upon a frame carry it about with them wherever they ride. Such are the Scythian customs with respect to scalps and skins.
The skulls of their enemies, not indeed of all, but of those whom they most detest, they treat as follows. Having sawn off the portion below the eyebrows, and cleaned out the inside, they cover the outside with leather. When a man is poor, this is all that he does; but if he is rich, he also lines the inside with gold: in either case the skull is used as a drinking-cup. They do the same with the skulls of their own kith and kin if they have been at feud with them, and have vanquished them in the presence of the king. When strangers whom they deem of any account come to visit them, these skulls are handed round, and the host tells how that these were his relations who made war upon him, and how that he got the better of them; all this being looked upon as proof of bravery.
Once a year the governor of each district, at a set place in his own province, mingles a bowl of wine, of which all Scythians have a right to drink by whom foes have been slain; while they who have slain no enemy are not allowed to taste of the bowl, but sit aloof in disgrace. No greater shame than this can happen to them. Such as have slain a very large number of foes, have two cups instead of one, and drink from both.
Whenever the Scythian king falls sick, he sends for the three soothsayers of most renown at the time, who come and make trial of their art in the mode above described. Generally they say that the king is ill because such or such a person, mentioning his name, has sworn falsely by the royal hearth. This is the usual oath among the Scythians, when they wish to swear with very great solemnity. Then the man accused of having foresworn himself is arrested and brought before the king. The soothsayers tell him that by their art it is clear he has sworn a false oath by the royal hearth, and so caused the illness of the king—he denies the charge, protests that he has sworn no false oath, and loudly complains of the wrong done to him. Upon this the king sends for six new soothsayers, who try the matter by soothsaying. If they too find the man guilty of the offence, straightway he is beheaded by those who first accused him, and his goods are parted among them: if, on the contrary, they acquit him, other soothsayers, and again others, are sent for, to try the case. Should the greater number decide in favour of the man’s innocence, then they who first accused him forfeit their lives.
The mode of their execution is the following: a waggon is loaded with brushwood, and oxen are harnessed to it; the soothsayers, with their feet tied together, their hands bound behind their backs, and their mouths gagged, are thrust into the midst of the brushwood; finally the wood is set alight, and the oxen, being startled, are made to rush off with the waggon. It often happens that the oxen and the soothsayers are both consumed together, but sometimes the pole of the waggon is burnt through, and the oxen escape with a scorching. Diviners—lying diviners, they call them—are burnt in the way described, for other causes besides the one here spoken of. When the king puts one of them to death, he takes care not to let any of his sons survive: all the male offspring are slain with the father, only the females being allowed to live.
Oaths among the Scyths are accompanied with the following ceremonies: a large earthern bowl is filled with wine, and the parties to the oath, wounding themselves slightly with a knife or an awl, drop some of their blood into the wine; then they plunge into the mixture a scymitar, some arrows, a battle-axe, and a javelin, all the while repeating prayers; lastly the two contracting parties drink each a draught from the bowl, as do also the chief men among their followers.
The tombs of their kings are in the land of the Gerrhi, who dwell at the point where the Borysthenes is first navigable. Here, when the king dies, they dig a grave, which is square in shape, and of great size. When it is ready, they take the king’s corpse, and, having opened the belly, and cleaned out the inside, fill the cavity with a preparation of chopped cypress, frankincense, parsley-seed, and anise-seed, after which they sew up the opening, enclose the body in wax, and, placing it on a waggon, carry it about through all the different tribes. On this procession each tribe, when it receives the corpse, imitates the example which is first set by the Royal Scythians; every man chops off a piece of his ear, crops his hair close, and makes a cut all round his arm, lacerates his forehead and his nose, and thrusts an arrow through his left hand. Then they who have the care of the corpse carry it with them to another of the tribes which are under the Scythian rule, followed by those whom they first visited. On completing the circuit of all the tribes under their sway, they find themselves in the country of the Gerrhi, who are the most remote of all, and so they come to the tombs of the kings. There the body of the dead king is laid in the grave prepared for it, stretched upon a mattress; spears are fixed in the ground on either side of the corpse, and beams stretched across above it to form a roof, which is covered with a thatching of osier twigs. In the open space around the body of the king they bury one of his concubines, first killing her by strangling, and also his cup-bearer, his cook, his groom, his lacquey, his messenger, some of his horses, firstlings of all his other possessions, and some golden cups; for they use neither silver nor brass. After this they set to work, and raise a vast mound above the grave, all of them vying with each other and seeking to make it as tall as possible.
When a year is gone by, further ceremonies take place. Fifty of the best of the late king’s attendants are taken, all native Scythians—for, as bought slaves are unknown in the country, the Scythian kings choose any of their subjects that they like, to wait on them—fifty of these are taken and strangled, with fifty of the most beautiful horses. When they are dead, their bowels are taken out, and the cavity cleaned, filled full of chaff, and straightway sewn up again. This done, a number of posts are driven into the ground, in sets of two pairs each, and on every pair half the felly of a wheel is placed archwise; then strong stakes are run lengthways through the bodies of the horses from tail to neck, and they are mounted up upon the fellies, so that the felly in front supports the shoulders of the horse, while that behind sustains the belly and quarters, the legs dangling in mid-air; each horse is furnished with a bit and bridle, which latter is stretched out in front of the horse, and fastened to a peg. The fifty strangled youths are then mounted severally on the fifty horses. To effect this, a second stake is passed through their bodies along the course of the spine to the neck; the lower end of which projects from the body, and is fixed into a socket, made in the stake that runs lengthwise down the horse. The fifty riders are thus ranged in a circle round the tomb, and so left.
Such, then, is the mode in which the kings are buried: as for the people, when any one dies, his nearest of kin lay him upon a waggon and take him round to all his friends in succession: each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed.
Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that it is a much coarser and taller plant: some grows wild about the country, some is produced by cultivation: the Thracians make garments of it which closely resemble linen; so much so, indeed, that if a person has never seen hemp he is sure to think they are linen, and if he has, unless he is very experienced in such matters, he will not know of which material they are.
The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapour serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water. Their women make a mixture of cypress, cedar, and frankincense wood, which they pound into a paste upon a rough piece of stone, adding a little water to it. With this substance, which is of a thick consistency, they plaster their faces all over, and indeed their whole bodies. A sweet odour is thereby imparted to them, and when they take off the plaster on the day following, their skin is clean and glossy.
The Scythians have an extreme hatred of all foreign customs,
particularly of those in use among the Greeks, as the instances of Anacharsis,
and, more lately, of Scylas, have fully shown. The former, after he had
travelled over a great portion of the world, and displayed wherever he went
many proofs of wisdom, as he sailed through the Hellespont on his return to
I have heard, however, another tale, very different from this, which is told by the Peloponnesians: they say, that Anacharsis was sent by the king of the Scyths to make acquaintance with Greece—that he went, and on his return home reported that the Greeks were all occupied in the pursuit of every kind of knowledge, except the Lacedaemonians; who, however, alone knew how to converse sensibly. A silly tale this, which the Greeks have invented for their amusement! There is no doubt that Anacharsis suffered death in the mode already related, on account of his attachment to foreign customs, and the intercourse which he held with the Greeks.
Scylas, likewise, the son of Ariapithes, many years later,
met with almost the very same fate. Ariapithes, the Scythian king, had several
sons, among them this Scylas, who was the child, not of a native Scyth, but of
a woman of
But when the time came that was ordained to bring him woe, the occasion of his ruin was the following. He wanted to be initiated in the Bacchic mysteries, and was on the point of obtaining admission to the rites, when a most strange prodigy occurred to him. The house which he possessed, as I mentioned a short time back, in the city of the Borysthenites, a building of great extent and erected at a vast cost, round which there stood a number of sphinxes and griffins carved in white marble, was struck by lightning from on high, and burnt to the ground. Scylas, nevertheless, went on and received the initiation. Now the Scythians are wont to reproach the Greeks with their Bacchanal rage, and to say that it is not reasonable to imagine there is a god who impels men to madness. No sooner, therefore, was Scylas initiated in the Bacchic mysteries than one of the Borysthenites went and carried the news to the Scythians “You Scyths laugh at us” he said, “because we rave when the god seizes us. But now our god has seized upon your king, who raves like us, and is maddened by the influence. If you think I do not tell you true, come with me, and I will show him to you.” The chiefs of the Scythians went with the man accordingly, and the Borysthenite, conducting them into the city, placed them secretly on one of the towers. Presently Scylas passed by with the band of revellers, raving like the rest, and was seen by the watchers. Regarding the matter as a very great misfortune they instantly departed, and came and told the army what they had witnessed.
When, therefore, Scylas, after leaving Borysthenes, was
about returning home, the Scythians broke out into revolt. They put at their
head Octamasadas, grandson (on the mother’s side) of Teres. Then Scylas, when
he learned the danger with which he was threatened, and the reason of the
disturbance, made his escape to
What the population of
The country has no marvels except its rivers, which are larger and more numerous than those of any other land. These, and the vastness of the great plain, are worthy of note, and one thing besides, which I am about to mention. They show a footmark of Hercules, impressed on a rock, in shape like the print of a man’s foot, but two cubits in length. It is in the neighbourhood of the Tyras. Having described this, I return to the subject on which I originally proposed to discourse.
The preparations of Darius against the Scythians had begun,
messengers had been despatched on all sides with the king’s commands, some
being required to furnish troops, others to supply ships, others again to
bridge the Thracian Bosphorus, when Artabanus, son of Hystaspes and brother of
Darius, entreated the king to desist from his expedition, urging on him the
great difficulty of attacking Scythia. Good, however, as the advice of
Artabanus was, it failed to persuade Darius. He therefore ceased his
reasonings; and Darius, when his preparations were complete, led his army forth
It was then that a certain Persian, by name Oeobazus, the father of three sons, all of whom were to accompany the army, came and prayed the king that he would allow one of his sons to remain with him. Darius made answer, as if he regarded him in the light of a friend who had urged a moderate request, “that he would allow them all to remain.” Oeobazus was overjoyed, expecting that all his children would be excused from serving; the king, however, bade his attendants take the three sons of Oeobazus and forthwith put them to death. Thus they were all left behind, but not till they had been deprived of life.
When Darius, on his march from
The mode in which these distances have been measured is the
following. In a long day a vessel generally accomplishes about seventy thousand
fathoms, in the night sixty thousand. Now from the mouth of the Pontus to the
river Phasis, which is the extreme length of this sea, is a voyage of nine days
and eight nights, which makes the distance one million one hundred and ten
thousand fathoms, or eleven thousand one hundred furlongs. Again, from Sindica,
to Themiscyra on the river Thermodon, where the
Darius, after he had finished his survey, sailed back to the
bridge, which had been constructed for him by Mandrocles a Samian. He likewise
surveyed the Bosphorus, and erected upon its shores two pillars of white
marble, whereupon he inscribed the names of all the nations which formed his
army—on the one pillar in Greek, on the other in Assyrian characters. Now his
army was drawn from all the nations under his sway; and the whole amount, without
reckoning the naval forces, was seven hundred thousand men, including cavalry.
The fleet consisted of six hundred ships. Some time afterwards the Byzantines
removed these pillars to their own city, and used them for an altar which they
erected to Orthosian Diana. One block remained behind: it lay near the
Darius was so pleased with the bridge thrown across the
strait by the Samain Mandrocles, that he not only bestowed upon him all the
customary presents, but gave him ten of every kind. Mandrocles, by the way of
offering first-fruits from these presents, caused a picture to be painted which
showed the whole of the bridge, with King Darius sitting in a seat of honour,
and his army engaged in the passage. This painting he dedicated in the
The fish-fraught Bosphorus bridged, to Juno’s fane
Did Mandrocles this proud memorial bring;
When for himself a crown he’d skill to gain,
Such was the memorial of his work which was left by the architect of the bridge.
Darius, after rewarding Mandrocles, passed into Europe,
while he ordered the Ionians to enter the
Now the Tearus is said by those who dwell near it, to be the
most healthful of all streams, and to cure, among other diseases, the scab
either in man or beast. Its sources, which are eight and thirty in number, all
flowing from the same rock, are in part cold, in part hot. They lie at an equal
distance from the town of
Here then, on the banks of the Tearus, Darius stopped and pitched his camp. The river charmed him so, that he caused a pillar to be erected in this place also, with an inscription to the following effect: “The fountains of the Tearus afford the best and most beautiful water of all rivers: they were visited, on his march into Scythia, by the best and most beautiful of men, Darius, son of Hystaspes, king of the Persians, and of the whole continent.” Such was the inscription which he set up at this place.
Marching thence, he came to a second river, called the Artiscus, which flows through the country of the Odrysians. Here he fixed upon a certain spot, where every one of his soldiers should throw a stone as he passed by. When his orders were obeyed, Darius continued his march, leaving behind him great hills formed of the stones cast by his troops.
Before arriving at the Ister, the first people whom he subdued were the Getae, who believe in their immortality. The Thracians of Salmydessus, and those who dwelt above the cities of Apollonia and Mesembria—the Scyrmiadae and Nipsaeans, as they are called—gave themselves up to Darius without a struggle; but the Getae obstinately defending themselves, were forthwith enslaved, notwithstanding that they are the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes.
The belief of the Getae in respect of immortality is the following. They think that they do not really die, but that when they depart this life they go to Zalmoxis, who is called also Gebeleizis by some among them. To this god every five years they send a messenger, who is chosen by lot out of the whole nation, and charged to bear him their several requests. Their mode of sending him is this. A number of them stand in order, each holding in his hand three darts; others take the man who is to be sent to Zalmoxis, and swinging him by his hands and feet, toss him into the air so that he falls upon the points of the weapons. If he is pierced and dies, they think that the god is propitious to them; but if not, they lay the fault on the messenger, who (they say) is a wicked man: and so they choose another to send away. The messages are given while the man is still alive. This same people, when it lightens and thunders, aim their arrows at the sky, uttering threats against the god; and they do not believe that there is any god but their own.
I am told by the Greeks who dwell on the shores of the
Hellespont and the Pontus, that this Zalmoxis was in reality a man, that he
lived at Samos, and while there was the slave of Pythagoras son of Mnesarchus.
After obtaining his freedom he grew rich, and leaving
I for my part neither put entire faith in this story of Zalmoxis and his underground chamber, nor do I altogether discredit it: but I believe Zalmoxis to have lived long before the time of Pythagoras. Whether there was ever really a man of the name, or whether Zalmoxis is nothing but a native god of the Getae, I now bid him farewell. As for the Getae themselves, the people who observe the practices described above, they were now reduced by the Persians, and accompanied the army of Darius.
When Darius, with his land forces, reached the Ister, he made his troops cross the stream, and after all were gone over gave orders to the Ionians to break the bridge, and follow him with the whole naval force in his land march. They were about to obey his command, when the general of the Mytilenaeans, Coes son of Erxander, having first asked whether it was agreeable to the king to listen to one who wished to speak his mind, addressed him in the words following:—“Thou art about, Sire, to attack a country no part of which is cultivated, and wherein there is not a single inhabited city. Keep this bridge, then, as it is, and leave those who built it to watch over it. So if we come up with the Scythians and succeed against them as we could wish, we may return by this route; or if we fail of finding them, our retreat will still be secure. For I have no fear lest the Scythians defeat us in battle, but my dread is lest we be unable to discover them, and suffer loss while we wander about their territory. And now, mayhap, it will be said, I advise thee thus in the hope of being myself allowed to remain behind; but in truth I have no other design than to recommend the course which seems to me the best; nor will I consent to be among those left behind, but my resolve is, in any case, to follow thee.” The advice of Coes pleased Darius highly, who thus replied to him:—“Dear Lesbian, when I am safe home again in my palace, be sure thou come to me, and with good deeds will I recompense thy good words of to-day.”
Having so said, the king took a leathern thong, and tying
sixty knots in it, called together the Ionian tyrants, and spoke thus to
them:—“Men of Ionia, my former commands to you concerning the bridge are now
withdrawn. See, here is a thong: take it, and observe my bidding with respect
to it. From the time that I leave you to march forward into
Before you come to Scythia, on the sea coast, lies
Beyond this tract, we find the Scythians again in possession
of the country above the Tauri and the parts bordering on the eastern sea, as
also of the whole district lying west of the Cimmerian Bosphorus and the Palus
Maeotis, as far as the river Tanais, which empties itself into that lake at its
upper end. As for the inland boundaries of
Scythia then, which is square in shape, and has two of its
sides reaching down to the sea, extends inland to the same distance that it
stretches along the coast, and is equal every way. For it is a ten days’
journey from the Ister to the Borysthenes, and ten more from the Borysthenes to
the Palus Maeotis, while the distance from the coast inland to the country of
the Melanchaeni, who dwell above
The Scythians, reflecting on their situation, perceived that they were not strong enough by themselves to contend with the army of Darius in open fight. They, therefore, sent envoys to the neighbouring nations, whose kings had already met, and were in consultation upon the advance of so vast a host. Now they who had come together were the kings of the Tauri, the Agathyrsi, the Neuri, the Androphagi, the Melanchaeni, the Geloni, the Budini, and the Sauromatae.
The Tauri have the following customs. They offer in sacrifice to the Virgin all shipwrecked persons, and all Greeks compelled to put into their ports by stress of weather. The mode of sacrifice is this. After the preparatory ceremonies, they strike the victim on the head with a club. Then, according to some accounts, they hurl the trunk from the precipice whereon the temple stands, and nail the head to a cross. Others grant that the head is treated in this way, but deny that the body is thrown down the cliff—on the contrary, they say, it is buried. The goddess to whom these sacrifices are offered the Tauri themselves declare to be Iphigenia the daughter of Agamemnon. When they take prisoners in war they treat them in the following way. The man who has taken a captive cuts off his head, and carrying it to his home, fixes it upon a tall pole, which he elevates above his house, most commonly over the chimney. The reason that the heads are set up so high, is (it is said) in order that the whole house may be under their protection. These people live entirely by war and plundering.
The Agathyrsi are a race of men very luxurious, and very fond of wearing gold on their persons. They have wives in common, that so they may be all brothers, and, as members of one family, may neither envy nor hate one another. In other respects their customs approach nearly to those of the Thracians.
The Neurian customs are like the Scythian. One generation
before the attack of Darius they were driven from their land by a huge
multitude of serpents which invaded them. Of these some were produced in their
own country, while others, and those by far the greater number, came in from
the deserts on the north. Suffering grievously beneath this scourge, they
quitted their homes, and took refuge with the Budini. It seems that these
people are conjurers: for both the Scythians and the Greeks who dwell in
The manners of the Androphagi are more savage than those of any other race. They neither observe justice, nor are governed, by any laws. They are nomads, and their dress is Scythian; but the language which they speak is peculiar to themselves. Unlike any other nation in these parts, they are cannibals.
The Melanchaeni wear, all of them, black cloaks, and from this derive the name which they bear. Their customs are Scythic.
The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair. There is a city in their territory, called Gelonus, which is surrounded with a lofty wall, thirty furlongs each way, built entirely of wood. All the houses in the place and all the temples are of the same material. Here are temples built in honour of the Grecian gods, and adorned after the Greek fashion with images, altars, and shrines, all in wood. There is even a festival, held every third year in honour of Bacchus, at which the natives fall into the Bacchic fury. For the fact is that the Geloni were anciently Greeks, who, being driven out of the factories along the coast, fled to the Budini and took up their abode with them. They still speak a language half Greek, half Scythian.
The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads; unlike any of the neighbouring races, they eat lice. The Geloni on the contrary, are tillers of the soil, eat bread, have gardens, and both in shape and complexion are quite different from the Budini. The Greeks notwithstanding call these latter Geloni; but it is a mistake to give them the name. Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face. With the skins of this last the natives border their capotes: and they also get from them a remedy, which is of virtue in diseases of the womb.
It is reported of the Sauromatae, that when the Greeks fought with the Amazons, whom the Scythians call Oior-pata or “man-slayers,” as it may be rendered, Oior being Scythic for “man,” and pata for “to slay”—It is reported, I say, that the Greeks after gaining the battle of the Thermodon, put to sea, taking with them on board three of their vessels all the Amazons whom they had made prisoners; and that these women upon the voyage rose up against the crews, and massacred them to a man. As however they were quite strange to ships, and did not know how to use either rudder, sails, or oars, they were carried, after the death of the men, where the winds and the waves listed. At last they reached the shores of the Palus Maeotis and came to a place called Cremni or “the Cliffs,” which is in the country of the free Scythians. Here they went ashore, and proceeded by land towards the inhabited regions; the first herd of horses which they fell in with they seized, and mounting upon their backs, fell to plundering the Scythian territory.
The Scyths could not tell what to make of the attack upon them—the dress, the language, the nation itself, were alike unknown whence the enemy had come even, was a marvel. Imagining, however, that they were all men of about the same age, they went out against them, and fought a battle. Some of the bodies of the slain fell into their hands, whereby they discovered the truth. Hereupon they deliberated, and made a resolve to kill no more of them, but to send against them a detachment of their youngest men, as near as they could guess equal to the women in number, with orders to encamp in their neighbourhood, and do as they saw them do—when the Amazons advanced against them, they were to retire, and avoid a fight—when they halted, the young men were to approach and pitch their camp near the camp of the enemy. All this they did on account of their strong desire to obtain children from so notable a race.
So the youths departed, and obeyed the orders which had been given them. The Amazons soon found out that they had not come to do them any harm; and so they on their part ceased to offer the Scythians any molestation. And now day after day the camps approached nearer to one another; both parties led the same life, neither having anything but their arms and horses, so that they were forced to support themselves by hunting and pillage.
At last an incident brought two of them together—the man easily gained the good graces of the woman, who bade him by signs (for they did not understand each other’s language) to bring a friend the next day to the spot where they had met—promising on her part to bring with her another woman. He did so, and the woman kept her word. When the rest of the youths heard what had taken place, they also sought and gained the favour of the other Amazons.
The two camps were then joined in one, the Scythians living with the Amazons as their wives; and the men were unable to learn the tongue of the women, but the women soon caught up the tongue of the men. When they could thus understand one another, the Scyths addressed the Amazons in these words—“We have parents, and properties, let us therefore give up this mode of life, and return to our nation, and live with them. You shall be our wives there no less than here, and we promise you to have no others.” But the Amazons said—“We could not live with your women—our customs are quite different from theirs. To draw the bow, to hurl the javelin, to bestride the horse, these are our arts of womanly employments we know nothing. Your women, on the contrary, do none of these things; but stay at home in their waggons, engaged in womanish tasks, and never go out to hunt, or to do anything. We should never agree together. But if you truly wish to keep us as your wives, and would conduct yourselves with strict justice towards us, go you home to your parents, bid them give you your inheritance, and then come back to us, and let us and you live together by ourselves.”
The youths approved of the advice, and followed it. They
went and got the portion of goods which fell to them, returned with it, and
rejoined their wives, who then addressed them in these words following:—“We are
ashamed, and afraid to live in the country where we now are. Not only have we
stolen you from your fathers, but we have done great damage to
Crossing the Tanais they journeyed eastward a distance of three days’ march from that stream, and again northward a distance of three days’ march from the Palus Maeotis. Here they came to the country where they now live, and took up their abode in it. The women of the Sauromatae have continued from that day to the present to observe their ancient customs, frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands, sometimes even unaccompanied; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men.
The Sauromatae speak the language of
The envoys of the Scythians, on being introduced into the
presence of the kings of these nations, who were assembled to deliberate, made
it known to them that the Persian, after subduing the whole of the other
continent, had thrown a bridge over the strait of the Bosphorus, and crossed
into the continent of Europe, where he had reduced the Thracians, and was now
making a bridge over the Ister, his aim being to bring under his sway all
Europe also. “Stand ye not aloof then from this contest,” they went on to say,
“look not on tamely while we are perishing—but make common cause with us, and
together let us meet the enemy. If ye refuse, we must yield to the pressure,
and either quit our country, or make terms with the invaders. For what else is
left for us to do, if your aid be withheld from us? The blow, be sure, will not
light on you more gently upon this account. The Persian comes against you no
less than against us: and will not be content, after we are conquered, to leave
you in peace. We can bring strong proof of what we here advance. Had the
Persian leader indeed come to avenge the wrongs which he suffered at our hands
when we enslaved his people, and to war on us only, he would have been bound to
march straight upon
The assembled princes of the nations, after hearing all that the Scythians had to say, deliberated. At the end opinion was divided—the kings of the Geloni, Budini, and Sauromatae were of accord, and pledged themselves to give assistance to the Scythians; but the Agathyrsian and Neurian princes, together with the sovereigns of the Androphagi, the Melanchaeni, and the Tauri, replied to their request as follows:—“If you had not been the first to wrong the Persians, and begin the war, we should have thought the request you make just;—we should then have complied with your wishes, and joined our arms with yours. Now, however, the case stands thus—you, independently of us, invaded the land of the Persians, and so long as God gave you the power, lorded it over them: raised up now by the same God, they are come to do to you the like. We, on our part, did no wrong to these men in the former war, and will not be the first to commit wrong now. If they invade our land, and begin aggressions upon us, we will not suffer them; but, till we see this come to pass, we will remain at home. For we believe that the Persians are not come to attack us, but to punish those who are guilty of first injuring them.”
When this reply reached the Scythians, they resolved, as the neighbouring nations refused their alliance, that they would not openly venture on any pitched battle with the enemy, but would retire before them, driving off their herds, choking up all the wells and springs as they retreated, and leaving the whole country bare of forage. They divided themselves into three bands, one of which, namely, that commanded by Scopasis, it was agreed should be joined by the Sauromatae, and if the Persians advanced in the direction of the Tanais, should retreat along the shores of the Palus Maeotis and make for that river; while if the Persians retired, they should at once pursue and harass them. The two other divisions, the principal one under the command of Idanthyrsus, and the third, of which Taxacis was king, were to unite in one, and, joined by the detachments of the Geloni and Budini, were, like the others, to keep at the distance of a day’s march from the Persians, falling back as they advanced, and doing the same as the others. And first, they were to take the direction of the nations which had refused to join the alliance, and were to draw the war upon them: that so, if they would not of their own free will engage in the contest, they might by these means be forced into it. Afterwards, it was agreed that they should retire into their own land, and, should it on deliberation appear to them expedient, join battle with the enemy.
When these measures had been determined on, the Scythians went out to meet the army of Darius, sending on in front as scouts the fleetest of their horsemen. Their waggons wherein their women and their children lived, and all their cattle, except such a number as was wanted for food, which they kept with them, were made to precede them in their retreat, and departed, with orders to keep marching, without change of course, to the north.
The scouts of the Scythians found the Persian host advanced three days’ march from the Ister, and immediately took the lead of them at the distance of a day’s march, encamping from time to time, and destroying all that grow on the ground. The Persians no sooner caught sight of the Scythian horse than they pursued upon their track, while the enemy retired before them. The pursuit of the Persians was directed towards the single division of the Scythian army, and thus their line of march was eastward toward the Tanais. The Scyths crossed the river and the Persians after them, still in pursuit. in this way they passed through the country of the Sauromatae, and entered that of the Budini.
As long as the march of the Persian army lay through the countries of the Scythians and Sauromatae, there was nothing which they could damage, the land being waste and barren; but on entering the territories of the Budini, they came upon the wooden fortress above mentioned, which was deserted by its inhabitants and left quite empty of everything. This place they burnt to the ground; and having so done, again pressed forward on the track of the retreating Scythians, till, having passed through the entire country of the Budini, they reached the desert, which has no inhabitants, and extends a distance of seven days’ journey above the Budinian territory. Beyond this desert dwell the Thyssagetae, out of whose land four great streams flow. These rivers all traverse the country of the Maeotians, and fall into the Palus Maeotis. Their names are the Lycus, the Oarus, the Tanais, and the Syrgis.
When Darius reached the desert, he paused from his pursuit,
and halted his army upon the Oarus. Here he built eight large forts, at an
equal distance from one another, sixty furlongs apart or thereabouts, the ruins
of which were still remaining in my day. During the time that he was so
occupied, the Scythians whom he had been following made a circuit by the higher
regions, and re-entered
He now quickened his march, and entering
This had gone on so long, and seemed so interminable, that Darius at last sent a horseman to Idanthyrsus, the Scythian king, with the following message:—“Thou strange man, why dost thou keep on flying before me, when there are two things thou mightest do so easily? If thou deemest thyself able to resist my arms, cease thy wanderings and come, let us engage in battle. Or if thou art conscious that my strength is greater than thine—even so thou shouldest cease to run away—thou hast but to bring thy lord earth and water, and to come at once to a conference.”
To this message Idanthyrsus, the Scythian king, replied:—“This is my way, Persian. I never fear men or fly from them. I have not done so in times past, nor do I now fly from thee. There is nothing new or strange in what I do; I only follow my common mode of life in peaceful years. Now I will tell thee why I do not at once join battle with thee. We Scythians have neither towns nor cultivated lands, which might induce us, through fear of their being taken or ravaged, to be in any hurry to fight with you. If, however, you must needs come to blows with us speedily, look you now, there are our fathers’ tombs—seek them out, and attempt to meddle with them—then ye shall see whether or no we will fight with you. Till ye do this, be sure we shall not join battle, unless it pleases us. This is my answer to the challenge to fight. As for lords, I acknowledge only Jove my ancestor, and Vesta, the Scythian queen. Earth and water, the tribute thou askedst, I do not send, but thou shalt soon receive more suitable gifts. Last of all, in return for thy calling thyself my lord, I say to thee, ‘Go weep.’” (This is what men mean by the Scythian mode of speech.) So the herald departed, bearing this message to Darius.
When the Scythian kings heard the name of slavery they were filled with rage, and despatched the division under Scopasis to which the Sauromatae were joined, with orders that they should seek a conference with the Ionians, who had been left at the Ister to guard the bridge. Meanwhile the Scythians who remained behind resolved no longer to lead the Persians hither and thither about their country, but to fall upon them whenever they should be at their meals. So they waited till such times, and then did as they had determined. In these combats the Scythian horse always put to flight the horse of the enemy; these last, however, when routed, fell back upon their foot, who never failed to afford them support; while the Scythians, on their side, as soon as they had driven the horse in, retired again, for fear of the foot. By night too the Scythians made many similar attacks.
There was one very strange thing which greatly advantaged the Persians, and was of equal disservice to the Scyths, in these assaults on the Persian camp. This was the braying of the asses and the appearance of the mules. For, as I observed before, the land of the Scythians produces neither ass nor mule, and contains no single specimen of either animal, by reason of the cold. So, when the asses brayed, they frightened the Scythian cavalry; and often, in the middle of a charge, the horses, hearing the noise made by the asses, would take fright and wheel round, pricking up their ears, and showing astonishment. This was owing to their having never heard the noise, or seen the form, of the animal before: and it was not without some little influence on the progress of the war.
The Scythians, when they perceived signs that the Persians
were becoming alarmed, took steps to induce them not to quit
This they did several times, until at last Darius was at his wits’ end; hereon the Scythian princes, understanding how matters stood, despatched a herald to the Persian camp with presents for the king: these were, a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. The Persians asked the bearer to tell them what these gifts might mean, but he made answer that he had no orders except to deliver them, and return again with all speed. If the Persians were wise, he added, they would find out the meaning for themselves. So when they heard this, they held a council to consider the matter.
Darius gave it as his opinion that the Scyths intended a surrender of themselves and their country, both land and water, into his hands. This he conceived to be the meaning of the gifts, because the mouse is an inhabitant of the earth, and eats the same food as man, while the frog passes his life in the water; the bird bears a great resemblance to the horse, and the arrows might signify the surrender of all their power. To the explanation of Darius, Gobryas, one of the seven conspirators against the Magus, opposed another which was as follows:—“Unless, Persians, ye can turn into birds and fly up into the sky, or become mice and burrow under the ground, or make yourselves frogs, and take refuge in the fens, ye will never make escape from this land, but die pierced by our arrows. Such were meanings which the Persians assigned to the gifts.
The single division of the Scyths, which in the early part of the war had been appointed to keep guard about the Palus Maeotis, and had now been sent to get speech of the Ionians stationed at the Ister, addressed them, on reaching the bridge, in these words—“Men of Ionia, we bring you freedom, if ye will only do as we recommend. Darius, we understand, enjoined you to keep your guard here at this bridge just sixty days; then, if he did not appear, you were to return home. Now, therefore, act so as to be free from blame, alike in his sight, and in ours. Tarry here the appointed time, and at the end go your ways.” Having said this, and received a promise from the Ionians to do as they desired, the Scythians hastened back with all possible speed.
After the sending of the gifts to Darius, the part of the Scythian army which had not marched to the Ister, drew out in battle array horse and foot against the Persians, and seemed about to come to an engagement. But as they stood in battle array, it chanced that a hare started up between them and the Persians, and set to running; when immediately all the Scyths who saw it, rushed off in pursuit, with great confusion and loud cries and shouts. Darius, hearing the noise, inquired the cause of it, and was told that the Scythians were all engaged in hunting a hare. On this he turned to those with whom he was wont to converse, and said:—“These men do indeed despise us utterly: and now I see that Gobryas was right about the Scythian gifts. As, therefore, his opinion is now mine likewise, it is time we form some wise plan whereby we may secure ourselves a safe return to our homes.” “Ah! sire,” Gobryas rejoined, “I was well nigh sure, ere I came here, that this was an impracticable race—since our coming I am yet more convinced of it, especially now that I see them making game of us. My advice is, therefore, that, when night falls, we light our fires as we are wont to do at other times, and leaving behind us on some pretext that portion of our army which is weak and unequal to hardship, taking care also to leave our asses tethered, retreat from Scythia, before our foes march forward to the Ister and destroy the bridge, or the Ionians come to any resolution which may lead to our ruin.”
So Gobryas advised; and when night came, Darius followed his counsel, and leaving his sick soldiers, and those whose loss would be of least account, with the asses also tethered about the camp, marched away. The asses were left that their noise might be heard: the men, really because they were sick and useless, but under the pretence that he was about to fall upon the Scythians with the flower of his troops, and that they meanwhile were to guard his camp for him. Having thus declared his plans to the men whom he was deserting, and having caused the fires to be lighted, Darius set forth, and marched hastily towards the Ister. The asses, aware of the departure of the host, brayed louder than ever; and the Scythians, hearing the sound, entertained no doubt of the Persians being still in the same place.
When day dawned, the men who had been left behind, perceiving that they were betrayed by Darius, stretched out their hands towards the Scythians, and spoke as. befitted their situation. The enemy no sooner heard, than they quickly joined all their troops in one, and both portions of the Scythian army—alike that which consisted of a single division, and that made up of two—accompanied by all their allies, the Sauromatae, the Budini, and the Geloni, set off in pursuit, and made straight for the Ister. As, however, the Persian army was chiefly foot, and had no knowledge of the routes, which are not cut out in Scythia; while the Scyths were all horsemen and well acquainted with the shortest way; it so happened that the two armies missed one another, and the Scythians, getting far ahead of their adversaries, came first to the bridge. Finding that the Persians were not yet arrived, they addressed the Ionians, who were aboard their ships, in these words:—“Men of Ionia, the number of your days is out, and ye do wrong to remain. Fear doubtless has kept you here hitherto: now, however, you may safely break the bridge, and hasten back to your homes, rejoicing that you are free, and thanking for it the gods and the Scythians. Your former lord and master we undertake so to handle, that he will never again make war upon any one.”
The Ionians now held a council. Miltiades the Athenian, who
was king of the Chersonesites upon the Hellespont, and their commander at the
Ister, recommended the other generals to do as the Scythians wished, and
restore freedom to
The following were the voters on this occasion—all of them men who stood high in the esteem of the Persian king: the tyrants of the Hellespont—Daphnis of Abydos, Hippoclus of Lampsacus, Herophantus of Parium, Metrodorus of Proconnesus, Aristagoras of Cyzicus, and Ariston of Byzantium; the Ionian princes—Strattis of Chios, Aeaces of Samos, Laodamas of Phocaea, and Histiaeus of Miletus, the man who had opposed Miltiades. Only one Aeolian of note was present, to wit, Aristagoras of Cyme.
Having resolved to follow the advice of Histiaeus, the Greek leaders further determined to speak and act as follows. In order to appear to the Scythians to be doing something, when in fact they were doing nothing of consequence, and likewise to prevent them from forcing a passage across the Ister by the bridge, they resolved to break up the part of the bridge which abutted on Scythia, to the distance of a bowshot from the river bank; and to assure the Scythians, while the demolition was proceeding, that there was nothing which they would not do to pleasure them. Such were the additions made to the resolution of Histiaeus; and then Histiaeus himself stood forth and made answer to the Scyths in the name of all the Greeks.—“Good is the advice which ye have brought us, Scythians, and well have ye done to come here with such speed. Your efforts have now put us into the right path; and our efforts shall not be wanting to advance your cause. Your own eyes see that we are engaged in breaking the bridge; and, believe us, we will work zealously to procure our own freedom. Meantime, while we labour here at our task, be it your business to seek them out, and, when found, for our sakes, as well as your own, to visit them with the vengeance which they so well deserve.”
Again the Scyths put faith in the promises of the Ionian chiefs, and retraced their steps, hoping to fall in with the Persians. They missed, however, the enemy’s whole line of march; their own former acts being to blame for it. Had they not ravaged all the pasturages of that region, and filled in all the wells, they would have easily found the Persians whenever they chose. But, as it turned out, the measures which seemed to them so wisely planned were exactly what caused their failure. They took a route where water was to be found and fodder could be got for their horses, and on this track sought their adversaries, expecting that they too would retreat through regions where these things were to be obtained. The Persians, however, kept strictly to the line of their former march, never for a moment departing from it; and even so gained the bridge with difficulty. It was night when they arrived, and their terror, when they found the bridge broken up, was great; for they thought that perhaps the Ionians had deserted them.
Now there was in the army of Darius a certain man, an Egyptian, who had a louder voice than any other man in the world. This person was bid by Darius to stand at the water’s edge, and call Histiaeus the Milesian. The fellow did as he was bid; and Histiaeus, hearing him at the very first summons, brought the fleet to assist in conveying the army across, and once more made good the bridge.
By these means the Persians escaped from
Darius, having passed through
This same Megabazus got himself an undying remembrance among
the Hellespontians, by a certain speech which he made. It came to his
knowledge, while he was staying at
About this very time another great expedition was undertaken
However, before much time had elapsed, the Minyae began to wax wanton, demanded to share the throne, and committed other impieties: whereupon the Lacedaemonians passed on them sentence of death, and, seizing them, cast them into prison. Now the Lacedaemonians never put criminals to death in the daytime, but always at night. When the Minyae, accordingly, were about to suffer, their wives, who were not only citizens, but daughters of the chief men among the Spartans, entreated to be allowed to enter the prison, and have some talk with their lords; and the Spartans, not expecting any fraud from such a quarter, granted their request. The women entered the prison. gave their own clothes to their husbands, and received theirs in exchange: after which the Minyae, dressed in their wives’ garments, and thus passing for women, went forth. Having effected their escape in this manner, they seated themselves once more upon Taygetum.own land
It happened that at this very time Theras, son of Autesion
(whose father Tisamenus was the son of Thersander, and grandson of Polynices),
was about to lead out a colony from Lacedaemon This Theras, by birth a
Cadmeian, was uncle on the mother’s side to the two sons of Aristodemus,
Procles and Eurysthenes, and, during their infancy, administered in their right
the royal power. When his nephews, however, on attaining to man’s estate, took
the government, Theras, who could not bear to be under the authority of others
after he had wielded authority so long himself, resolved to leave Sparta and
cross the sea to join his kindred. There were in the island now called Thera,
but at that time Calliste, certain descendants of Membliarus, the son of
Poeciles, a Phoenician. (For Cadmus, the son of Agenor, when he was sailing in
search of Europe, made a landing on this island; and, either because the
country pleased him, or because he had a purpose in so doing, left there a
number of Phoenicians, and with them his own kinsman Membliarus. Calliste had
been inhabited by this race for eight generations of men, before the arrival of
Theras now, having with him a certain number of men from each of the tribes, was setting forth on his expedition hitherward. Far from intending to drive out the former inhabitants, he regarded them as his near kin, and meant to settle among them. It happened that just at this time the Minyae, having escaped from their prison, had taken up their station upon Mount Taygetum; and the Lacedaemonians, wishing to destroy them, were considering what was best to be done, when Theras begged their lives, undertaking to remove them from the territory. His prayer being granted, he took ship, and sailed, with three triaconters, to join the descendants of Membliarus. He was not, however, accompanied by all the Minyae, but only by some few of them. The greater number fled to the land of the Paroreats and Caucons, whom they drove out, themselves occupying the region in six bodies, by which were afterwards built the towns of Lepreum, Macistus, Phryxae, Pyrgus, Epium, and Nudium; whereof the greater part were in my day demolished by the Eleans.
The island was called Thera after the name of its founder.
This same Theras had a son, who refused to cross the sea with him; Theras
therefore left him behind, “a sheep,” as he said, “among wolves.” From this
speech his son came to be called Oeolycus, a name which afterwards grew to be
the only one by which he was known. This Oeolycus was the father of Aegeus,
from whom sprang the Aegidae, a great tribe in
Thus far the history is delivered without variation both by
the Theraeans and the Lacedaemonians; but from this point we have only the
Theraean narrative. Grinus (they say), the son of Aesanius, a descendant of
Theras, and king of the island of Thera, went to Delphi to offer a hecatomb on
behalf of his native city. He was accompanied by a large number of the
citizens, and among the rest by Battus, the son of Polymnestus, who belonged to
the Minyan family of the Euphemidae. On Grinus consulting the oracle about sundry
matters, the Pythoness gave him for answer, “that he should found a city in
Seven years passed from the utterance of the oracle, and not
a drop of rain fell in Thera: all the trees in the island, except one, were
killed with the drought. The Theraeans upon this sent to Delphi, and were
reminded reproachfully that they had never colonised
During their absence, which was prolonged beyond the time
that had been agreed upon, Corobius provisions failed him. He was relieved,
however, after a while by a Samian vessel, under the command of a man named
Colaeus, which, on its way to
The Theraeans who had left Corobius at Platea, when they
reached Thera, told their countrymen that they had colonised an island on the
Such is the account which the Theraeans give. In the sequel
of the history their accounts tally with those of the people of
At Thera, Polymnestus, one of the chief citizens of the
place, took Phronima to be his concubine. The fruit of this union was a son,
who stammered and had a lisp in his speech. According to the Cyrenaeans and
Theraeans the name given to the boy was Battus: in my opinion, however, he was
called at the first something else, and only got the name of Battus after his
arrival in Libya, assuming it either in consequence of the words addressed to
him by the Delphian oracle, or on account of the office which he held. For, in
the Libyan tongue, the word “Battus” means “a king.” And this, I think, was the
reason the Pythoness addressed him as she did: she he was to be a king in
Battus, thou camest to ask of thy voice; but Phoebus Apollo
establish a city in
which was as if she had said in her own tongue, “King, thou
camest to ask of thy voice.” Then he replied, “Mighty lord, I did indeed come
hither to consult thee about my voice, but thou speakest to me of quite other
matters, bidding me colonise
After a while, everything began to go wrong both with Battus
and with the rest of the Theraeans, whereupon these last, ignorant of the cause
of their sufferings, sent to
In this place they continued two years, but at the end of that time, as their ill luck still followed them, they left the island to the care of one of their number, and went in a body to Delphi, where they made complaint at the shrine to the effect that, notwithstanding they had colonised Libya, they prospered as poorly as before. Hereon the Pythoness made them the following answer:—
better than I, fair
Better the stranger than he who has trod it? Oh! clever
Battus and his friends, when they heard this, sailed back to
Platea: it was plain the god would not hold them acquitted of the colony till
they were absolutely in
Here they remained six years, at the end of which time the Libyans induced them to move, promising that they would lead them to a better situation. So the Greeks left Aziris and were conducted by the Libyans towards the west, their journey being so arranged, by the calculation of their guides, that they passed in the night the most beautiful district of that whole country, which is the region called Irasa. The Libyans brought them to a spring, which goes by the name of Apollo’s fountain, and told them—“Here, Grecians, is the proper place for you to settle; for here the sky leaks.”
During the lifetime of Battus, the founder of the colony,
who reigned forty years, and during that of his son Arcesilaus, who reigned
sixteen, the Cyrenaeans continued at the same level, neither more nor fewer in
number than they were at the first. But in the reign of the third king, Battus,
surnamed the Happy, the advice of the Pythoness brought Greeks from every
He that is backward to share in the pleasant Libyan acres,
Sooner or later, I warn him, will feel regret at his folly.
Thus a great multitude were collected together to
This Battus left a son called Arcesilaus, who, when he came
to the throne, had dissensions with his brothers, which ended in their quitting
him and departing to another region of
Battus, Arcesilaus’ son, succeeded to the kingdom, a lame
man, who limped in his walk. Their late calamities now induced the Cyrenaeans
to send to
Thus matters rested during the lifetime of this Battus, but
when his son Arcesilaus came to the throne, great disturbance arose about the
privileges. For Arcesilaus, son of Battus the lame and Pheretima, refused to
submit to the arrangements of Demonax the Mantinean, and claimed all the powers
of his forefathers. In the contention which followed Arcesilaus was worsted,
whereupon he fled to Samos, while his mother took refuge at
So spake the Pythoness. Arcesilaus upon this returned to
Pheretima, the mother of Arcesilaus, during the time that
her son, after working his own ruin, dwelt at Barca, continued to enjoy all his
Now Aryandes had been made governor of
At the time of which we are speaking Aryandes, moved with
compassion for Pheretima, granted her all the forces which there were in
The Libyans dwell in the order which I will now describe.
Beginning on the side of
Next to the Adyrmachidae are the Gilligammae, who inhabit
the country westward as far as the
The Asbystae adjoin the Gilligammae upon the west. They
inhabit the regions above
Westward of the Asbystae dwell the Auschisae, who possess
the country above Barca, reaching, however, to the sea at the place called
Euesperides. In the middle of their territory is the little tribe of the
Cabalians, which touches the coast near Tauchira, a city of the Barcaeans. Their
customs are like those of the Libyans above
The Nasamonians, a numerous people, are the western neighbours of the Auschisae. In summer they leave their flocks and herds upon the sea-shore, and go up the country to a place called Augila, where they gather the dates from the palms, which in those parts grow thickly, and are of great size, all of them being of the fruit-bearing kind. They also chase the locusts, and, when caught, dry them in the sun, after which they grind them to powder, and, sprinkling this upon their milk, so drink it. Each man among them has several wives, in their intercourse with whom they resemble the Massagetae. The following are their customs in the swearing of oaths and the practice of augury. The man, as he swears, lays his hand upon the tomb of some one considered to have been pre-eminently just and good, and so doing swears by his name. For divination they betake themselves to the sepulchres of their own ancestors, and, after praying, lie down to sleep upon their graves; by the dreams which then come to them they guide their conduct. When they pledge their faith to one another, each gives the other to drink out of his hand; if there be no liquid to be had, they take up dust from the ground, and put their tongues to it.
On the country of the Nasamonians borders that of the Psylli, who were swept away under the following circumstances. The south-wind had blown for a long time and dried up all the tanks in which their water was stored. Now the whole region within the Syrtis is utterly devoid of springs. Accordingly the Psylli took counsel among themselves, and by common consent made war upon the southwind—so at least the Libyans say, I do but repeat their words—they went forth and reached the desert; but there the south-wind rose and buried them under heaps of sand: whereupon, the Psylli being destroyed, their lands passed to the Nasamonians.
Above the Nasamonians, towards the south, in the district where the wild beasts abound, dwell the Garamantians, who avoid all society or intercourse with their fellow-men, have no weapon of war, and do not know how to defend themselves.
These border the Nasamonians on the south: westward along
the sea-shore their neighbours are the Macea, who, by letting the locks about
the crown of their head grow long, while they clip them close everywhere else,
make their hair resemble a crest. In war these people use the skins of
ostriches for shields. The river Cinyps rises among them from the height called
“the Hill of the Graces,” and runs from thence through their country to the
sea. The Hill of the Graces is thickly covered with wood, and is thus very
unlike the rest of
Adjoining the Macae are the Gindanes, whose women wear on their legs anklets of leather. Each lover that a woman has gives her one; and she who can show the most is the best esteemed, as she appears to have been loved by the greatest number of men. A promontory jutting out into the sea from the country of the Gindanes is inhabited by the Lotophagi, who live entirely on the fruit of the lotus-tree. The lotus fruit is about the size of the lentisk berry, and in sweetness resembles the date. The Lotophagi even succeed in obtaining from it a sort of wine.
The sea-coast beyond the Lotophagi is occupied by the
Machlyans, who use the lotus to some extent, though not so much as the people
of whom we last spoke. The Machlyans reach as far as the great river called the
Triton, which empties itself into the great
The following is the story as it is commonly told. When
Jason had finished building the Argo at the foot of
The next tribe beyond the Machlyans is the tribe of the
Auseans. Both these nations inhabit the borders of
Such are the tribes of wandering Libyans dwelling upon the
sea-coast. Above them inland is the wild-beast tract: and beyond that, a ridge
of sand, reaching from Egyptian Thebes to the
Next to the Ammonians, at the distance of ten days’ journey along the ridge of sand, there is a second salt-hill like the Ammonian, and a second spring. The country round is inhabited, and the place bears the name of Augila. Hither it is that the Nasamonians come to gather in the dates.
Ten days’ journey from Augila there is again a salt-hill and a spring; palms of the fruitful kind grow here abundantly, as they do also at the other salt-hills. This region is inhabited by a nation called the Garamantians, a very powerful people, who cover the salt with mould, and then sow their crops. From thence is the shortest road to the Lutophagi, a journey of thirty days. In the Garamantian country are found the oxen which, as they graze, walk backwards. This they do because their horns curve outwards in front of their heads, so that it is not possible for them when grazing to move forwards, since in that case their horns would become fixed in the ground. Only herein do they differ from other oxen, and further in the thickness and hardness of their hides. The Garamantians have four-horse chariots, in which they chase the Troglodyte Ethiopians, who of all the nations whereof any account has reached our ears are by far the swiftest of foot. The Troglodytes feed on serpents, lizards, and other similar reptiles. Their language is unlike that of any other people; it sounds like the screeching of bats.
At the distance of ten days’ journey from the Garamantians there is again another salt-hill and spring of water; around which dwell a people, called the Atarantians, who alone of all known nations are destitute of names. The title of Atarantians is borne by the whole race in common; but the men have no particular names of their own. The Atarantians, when the sun rises high in the heaven, curse him, and load him with reproaches, because (they say) he burns and wastes both their country and themselves. Once more at the distance of ten days’ there is a salt-hill, a spring, and an inhabited tract. Near the salt is a mountain called Atlas, very taper and round; so lofty, moreover, that the top (it is said) cannot be seen, the clouds never quitting it either summer or winter. The natives call this mountain “the Pillar of Heaven”; and they themselves take their name from it, being called Atlantes. They are reported not to eat any living thing, and never to have any dreams.
As far as the Atlantes the names of the nations inhabiting
the sandy ridge are known to me; but beyond them my knowledge fails. The ridge
itself extends as far as the Pillars of Hercules, and even further than these;
and throughout the whole distance, at the end of every ten days’ there is a
salt-mine, with people dwelling round it who all of them build their houses
with blocks of the salt. No rain falls in these parts of
West of Lake Tritonis the Libyans are no longer wanderers, nor do they practise the same customs as the wandering people, or treat their children in the same way. For the wandering Libyans, many of them at any rate, if not all—concerning which I cannot speak with certainty—when their children come to the age of four years, burn the veins at the top of their heads with a flock from the fleece of a sheep: others burn the veins about the temples. This they do to prevent them from being plagued in their after lives by a flow of rheum from the head; and such they declare is the reason why they are so much more healthy than other men. Certainly the Libyans are the healthiest men that I know; but whether this is what makes them so, or not, I cannot positively say—the healthiest certainly they are. If when the children are being burnt convulsions come on, there is a remedy of which they have made discovery. It is to sprinkle goat’s water upon the child, who thus treated, is sure to recover. In all this I only repeat what is said by the Libyans.
The rites which the wandering Libyans use in sacrificing are
the following. They begin with the ear of the victim, which they cut off and
throw over their house: this done, they kill the animal by twisting the neck.
They sacrifice to the Sun and Moon, but not to any other god. This worship is
common to all the Libyans. The inhabitants of the parts about
The dress wherewith Minerva’s statues are adorned, and her
Aegis, were derived by the Greeks from the women of
All the wandering tribes bury their dead according to the fashion of the Greeks, except the Nasamonians. They bury them sitting, and are right careful when the sick man is at the point of giving up the ghost, to make him sit and not let him die lying down. The dwellings of these people are made of the stems of the asphodel, and of rushes wattled together. They can be carried from place to place. Such are the customs of the afore-mentioned tribes.
Westward of the river Triton and adjoining upon the Auseans,
are other Libyans who till the ground, and live in houses: these people are
named the Maxyans. They let the hair grow long on the right side of their
heads, and shave it close on the left; they besmear their bodies with red
paint; and they say that they are descended from the men of
Among the wanderers are none of these, but quite other
animals; as antelopes, gazelles, buffaloes, and asses, not of the horned sort,
but of a kind which does not need to drink; also oryxes, whose horns are used
for the curved sides of citherns, and whose size is about that of the ox;
foxes, hyaenas porcupines, wild rams, dictyes, jackals, panthers, boryes,
land-crocodiles about three cubits in length, very like lizards, ostriches, and
little snakes, each with a single horn. All these animals are found here, and
likewise those belonging to other countries, except the stag and the wild boar;
but neither stag nor wild-boar are found in any part of
Next to the Maxyan Libyans are the Zavecians, whose wives drive their chariots to battle.
On them border the Gyzantians; in whose country a vast deal of honey is made by bees; very much more, however, by the skill of men. The people all paint themselves red, and eat monkeys, whereof there is inexhaustible store in the hills.
Off their coast, as the Carthaginians report, lies an island, by name Cyraunis, the length of which is two hundred furlongs, its breadth not great, and which is soon reached from the mainland. Vines and olive trees cover the whole of it, and there is in the island a lake, from which the young maidens of the country draw up gold-dust, by dipping into the mud birds’ feathers smeared with pitch. If this be true, I know not; I but write what is said. It may be even so, however; since I myself have seen pitch drawn up out of the water from a lake in Zacynthus. At the place I speak of there are a number of lakes; but one is larger than the rest, being seventy feet every way, and two fathoms in depth. Here they let down a pole into the water, with a bunch of myrtle tied to one end, and when they raise it again, there is pitch sticking to the myrtle, which in smell is like to bitumen, but in all else is better than the pitch of Pieria. This they pour into a trench dug by the lake’s side; and when a good deal has thus been got together, they draw it off and put it up in jars. Whatever falls into the lake passes underground, and comes up in the sea, which is no less than four furlongs distant. So then what is said of the island off the Libyan coast is not without likelihood.
The Carthaginians also relate the following:—There is a country in Libya, and a nation, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which they are wont to visit, where they no sooner arrive but forthwith they unlade their wares, and, having disposed them after an orderly fashion along the beach, leave them, and, returning aboard their ships, raise a great smoke. The natives, when they see the smoke, come down to the shore, and, laying out to view so much gold as they think the worth of the wares, withdraw to a distance. The Carthaginians upon this come ashore and look. If they think the gold enough, they take it and go their way; but if it does not seem to them sufficient, they go aboard ship once more, and wait patiently. Then the others approach and add to their gold, till the Carthaginians are content. Neither party deals unfairly by the other: for they themselves never touch the gold till it comes up to the worth of their goods, nor do the natives ever carry off the goods till the gold is taken away.
These be the Libyan tribes whereof I am able to give the
names; and most of these cared little then, and indeed care little now, for the
king of the Medes. One thing more also I can add concerning this region,
namely, that, so far as our knowledge reaches, four nations, and no more,
inhabit it; and two of these nations are indigenous, while two are not. The two
indigenous are the Libyans and Ethiopians, who dwell respectively in the north
and the south of
It seems to me that
The country of the Cyrenaeans, which is the highest tract
within the part of
When the Persians sent from
When much time had been consumed, and great numbers had fallen on both sides, nor had the Persians lost fewer than their adversaries, Amasis, the leader of the land-army, perceiving that, although the Barcaeans would never be conquered by force, they might be overcome by fraud, contrived as follows One night he dug a wide trench, and laid light planks of wood across the opening, after which he brought mould and placed it upon the planks, taking care to make the place level with the surrounding ground. At dawn of day he summoned the Barcaeans to a parley: and they gladly hearkening, the terms were at length agreed upon. Oaths were interchanged upon the ground over the hidden trench, and the agreement ran thus—“So long as the ground beneath our feet stands firm, the oath shall abide unchanged; the people of Barca agree to pay a fair sum to the king, and the Persians promise to cause no further trouble to the people of Barca.” After the oath, the Barcaeans, relying upon its terms, threw open all their gates, went out themselves beyond the walls, and allowed as many of the enemy as chose to enter. Then the Persians broke down their secret bridge, and rushed at speed into the town—their reason for breaking the bridge being that so they might observe what they had sworn; for they had promised the Barcaeans that the oath should continue “so long as the ground whereon they stood was firm.” When, therefore, the bridge was once broken down, the oath ceased to hold.
Such of the Barcaeans as were most guilty the Persians gave up to Pheretima, who nailed them to crosses all round the walls of the city. She also cut off the breasts of their wives, and fastened them likewise about the walls. The remainder of the people she gave as booty to the Persians, except only the Battiadae and those who had taken no part in the murder, to whom she handed over the possession of the town.
The Persians now set out on their return home, carrying with
them the rest of the Barcaeans, whom they had made their slaves. On their way
they came to
The furthest point of Libya reached by this Persian host was
the city of
Nor did Pheretima herself end her days happily. For on her
The Persians left behind by King Darius in
Such was the affair of the Paeonians, which happened a long
time previously. At this time the Perinthians, after a brave struggle for
freedom, were overcome by numbers, and yielded to Megabazus and his Persians.
After Perinthus had been brought under, Megabazus led his host through
The Thracians are the most powerful people in the world, except, of course, the Indians; and if they had one head, or were agreed among themselves, it is my belief that their match could not be found anywhere, and that they would very far surpass all other nations. But such union is impossible for them, and there are no means of ever bringing it about. Herein therefore consists their weakness. The Thracians bear many names in the different regions of their country, but all of them have like usages in every respect, excepting only the Getae, the Trausi, and those who dwell above the people of Creston.
Now the manners and customs of the Getae, who believe in their immortality, I have already spoken of. The Trausi in all else resemble the other Thracians, but have customs at births and deaths which I will now describe. When a child is born all its kindred sit round about it in a circle and weep for the woes it will have to undergo now that it is come into the world, making mention of every ill that falls to the lot of humankind; when, on the other hand, a man has died, they bury him with laughter and rejoicings, and say that now he is free from a host of sufferings, and enjoys the completest happiness.
The Thracians who live above the Crestonaeans observe the following customs. Each man among them has several wives; and no sooner does a man die than a sharp contest ensues among the wives upon the question which of them all the husband loved most tenderly; the friends of each eagerly plead on her behalf, and she to whom the honour is adjudged, after receiving the praises both of men and women, is slain over the grave by the hand of her next of kin, and then buried with her husband. The others are sorely grieved, for nothing is considered such a disgrace.
The Thracians who do not belong to these tribes have the customs which follow. They sell their children to traders. On their maidens they keep no watch, but leave them altogether free, while on the conduct of their wives they keep a most strict watch. Brides are purchased of their parents for large sums of money. Tattooing among them marks noble birth, and the want of it low birth. To be idle is accounted the most honourable thing, and to be a tiller of the ground the most dishonourable. To live by war and plunder is of all things the most glorious. These are the most remarkable of their customs.
The gods which they worship are but three, Mars, Bacchus, and Dian. Their kings, however, unlike the rest of the citizens, worship Mercury more than any other god, always swearing by his name, and declaring that they are themselves sprung from him.
Their wealthy ones are buried in the following fashion. The body is laid out for three days; and during this time they kill victims of all kinds, and feast upon them, after first bewailing the departed. Then they either burn the body or else bury it in the ground. Lastly, they raise a mound over the grave, and hold games of all sorts, wherein the single combat is awarded the highest prize. Such is the mode of burial among the Thracians.
As regards the region lying north of this country no one can
say with any certainty what men inhabit it. It appears that you no sooner cross
the Ister than you enter on an interminable wilderness. The only people of whom
I can hear as dwelling beyond the Ister are the race named Sigynnae, who wear,
they say, a dress like the Medes, and have horses which are covered entirely
with a coat of shaggy hair, five fingers in length. They are a small breed,
flat-nosed, and not strong enough to bear men on their backs; but when yoked to
chariots, they are among the swiftest known, which is the reason why the people
of that country use chariots. Their borders reach down almost to the Eneti upon
According to the account which the Thracians give, the country beyond the Ister is possessed by bees, on account of which it is impossible to penetrate farther. But in this they seem to me to say what has no likelihood; for it is certain that those creatures are very impatient of cold. I rather believe that it is on account of the cold that the regions which lie under the Bear are without inhabitants. Such then are the accounts given of this country, the sea-coast whereof Megabazus was now employed in subjecting to the Persians.
King Darius had no sooner crossed the Hellespont and reached
It chanced in the meantime that King Darius saw a sight
which determined him to bid Megabazus remove the Paeonians from their seats in
Europe and transport them to
King Darius was full of wonder both at what they who had
watched the woman told him, and at what he had himself seen. So he commanded
that she should be brought before him. And the woman came; and with her
appeared her brothers, who had been watching everything a little way off. Then
Darius asked them of what nation the woman was; and the young men replied that
they were Paeonians, and she was their sister. Darius rejoined by asking, “Who
the Paeonians were, and in what part of the world they lived? and, further,
what business had brought the young men to
So Darius wrote letters to Megabazus, the commander whom he
had left behind in
Now when the Paeonians heard that the Persians were marching
against them, they gathered themselves together, and marched down to the
sea-coast, since they thought the Persians would endeavour to enter their
country on that side. Here then they stood in readiness to oppose the army of
Megabazus. But the Persians, who knew that they had collected, and were gone to
keep guard at the pass near the sea, got guides, and taking the inland route
before the Paeonians were aware, poured down upon their cities, from which the
men had all marched out; and finding them empty, easily got possession of them.
Then the men, when they heard that all their towns were taken, scattered this
way and that to their homes, and gave themselves up to the Persians. And so
these tribes of the Paeonians, to wit, the Siropaeonians, the Paeoplians and
all the others as far as
They on the other hand who dwelt about
The Paeonians therefore—at least such of them as had been
conquered—were led away into
So the Persians sent upon this errand, when they reached the court, and were brought into the presence of Amyntas, required him to give earth and water to King Darius. And Amyntas not only gave them what they asked, but also invited them to come and feast with him; after which he made ready the board with great magnificence, and entertained the Persians in right friendly fashion. Now when the meal was over, and they were all set to the drinking, the Persians said—
“Dear Macedonian, we Persians have a custom when we make a great feast to bring with us to the board our wives and concubines, and make them sit beside us. Now then, as thou hast received us so kindly, and feasted us so handsomely, and givest moreover earth and water to King Darius, do also after our custom in this matter.”
Then Amyntas answered—“O, Persians! we have no such custom as this; but with us men and women are kept apart. Nevertheless, since you, who are our lords, wish it, this also shall be granted to you.”
When Amyntas had thus spoken, he bade some go and fetch the women. And the women came at his call and took their seats in a row over against the Persians. Then, when the Persians saw that the women were fair and comely, they spoke again to Amyntas and said, that “what had been done was not wise; for it had been better for the women not to have come at all, than to come in this way, and not sit by their sides, but remain over against them, the torment of their eyes.” So Amyntas was forced to bid the women sit side by side with the Persians. The women did as he ordered; and then the Persians, who had drunk more than they ought, began to put their hands on them, and one even tried to give the woman next him a kiss.
King Amyntas saw, but he kept silence, although sorely grieved, for he greatly feared the power of the Persians. Alexander, however, Amyntas’ son, who was likewise there and witnessed the whole, being a young man and unacquainted with suffering, could not any longer restrain himself. He therefore, full of wrath, spake thus to Amyntas:—“Dear father, thou art old and shouldst spare thyself. Rise up from table and go take thy rest; do not stay out the drinking. I will remain with the guests and give them all that is fitting.”
Amyntas, who guessed that Alexander would play some wild prank, made answer:—“Dear son, thy words sound to me as those of one who is well nigh on fire, and I perceive thou sendest me away that thou mayest do some wild deed. I beseech thee make no commotion about these men, lest thou bring us all to ruin, but bear to look calmly on what they do. For myself, I will e’en withdraw as thou biddest me.”
Amyntas, when he had thus besought his son, went out; and Alexander said to the Persians, “Look on these ladies as your own, dear strangers, all or any of them—only tell us your wishes. But now, as the evening wears, and I see you have all had wine enough, let them, if you please, retire, and when they have bathed they shall come back again.” To this the Persians agreed, and Alexander, having got the women away, sent them off to the harem, and made ready in their room an equal number of beardless youths, whom he dressed in the garments of the women, and then, arming them with daggers, brought them in to the Persians, saying as he introduced them, “Methinks, dear Persians, that your entertainment has fallen short in nothing. We have set before you all that we had ourselves in store, and all that we could anywhere find to give you—and now, to crown the whole, we make over to you our sisters and our mothers, that you may perceive yourselves to be entirely honoured by us, even as you deserve to be—and also that you may take back word to the king who sent you here, that there was one man, a Greek, the satrap of Macedonia, by whom you were both feasted and lodged handsomely.” So speaking, Alexander set by the side of each Persian one of those whom he had called Macedonian women, but who were in truth men. And these men, when the Persians began to be rude, despatched them with their daggers.
So the ambassadors perished by this death, both they and also their followers. For the Persians had brought a great train with them, carriages, and attendants, and baggage of every kind—all of which disappeared at the same time as the men themselves. Not very long afterwards the Persians made strict search for their lost embassy; but Alexander, with much wisdom, hushed up the business, bribing those sent on the errand, partly with money, and partly with the gift of his own sister Gygaea, whom he gave in marriage to Bubares, a Persian, the chief leader of the expedition which came in search of the lost men. Thus the death of these Persians was hushed up, and no more was said of it.
Now that the men of this family are Greeks, sprung from
Perdiccas, as they themselves affirm, is a thing which I can declare of my own
knowledge, and which I will hereafter make plainly evident. That they are so
has been already adjudged by those who manage the Pan-Hellenic contest at
Megabazus, having reached the Hellespont with the Paeonians,
crossed it, and went up to
With these words Megabazus easily persuaded Darius, who thought he had shown true foresight in this matter. Darius therefore sent a messenger to Myrcinus, who said, “These be the words of the king to thee, O Histiaeus! I have looked to find a man well affectioned towards me and towards my greatness; and I have found none whom I can trust like thee. Thy deeds, and not thy words only, have proved thy love for me. Now then, since I have a mighty enterprise in hand, I pray thee come to me, that I may show thee what I purpose!”
Histiaeus, when he heard this, put faith in the words of the
messenger; and, as it seemed to him a grand thing to be the king’s counsellor,
he straightway went up to
When Darius had thus spoken he made Artaphernes, his brother by the father’s side, governor of Sardis, and taking Histiaeus with him, went up to Susa. He left as general of all the troops upon the sea-coast Otanes, son of Sisamnes, whose father King Cambyses slew and flayed, because that he, being of the number of the royal judges, had taken money to give an unrighteous sentence. Therefore Cambyses slew and flayed Sisamnes, and cutting his skin into strips, stretched them across the seat of the throne whereon he had been wont to sit when he heard causes. Having so done Cambyses appointed the son of Sisamnes to be judge in his father’s room, and bade him never forget in what way his seat was cushioned.
Accordingly this Otanes, who had occupied so strange a
throne, became the successor of Megabazus in his command, and took first of all
Now the Lemnians stood on their defence, and fought
gallantly; but they were brought low in course of time. Such as outlived the
struggle were placed by the Persians under the government of Lycaretus, the
brother of that Maeandrius who was tyrant of
Afterwards, but for no long time, there was a respite from
suffering. Then from Naxos and
Now the way in which the Parians healed their differences
was the following. A number of the chief Parians came to
It was, however, from the two cities above mentioned that
troubles began now to gather again about
“I cannot engage to furnish you with such a power as were
needful to force you, against their will, upon the Naxians who hold the city;
for I know they can bring into the field eight thousand bucklers, and have also
a vast number of ships of war. But I will do all that lies in my power to get
you some aid, and I think I can manage it in this way. Artaphernes happens to
be my friend. Now he is a son of Hystaspes, and brother to King Darius. All the
When the Naxians heard this, they empowered Aristagoras to
manage the matter for them as well as he could, and told him to promise gifts
and pay for the soldiers, which (they said) they would readily furnish, since
they had great hope that the Naxians, so soon as they saw them returned, would
render them obedience, and likewise the other islanders. For at that time not
one of the
So Aristagoras went to
When Aristagoras heard this he was greatly rejoiced, and
went home in good heart to
Megabates set sail, and, touching at
“What has thou to do with these matters? Wert thou not sent here by Artaphernes to obey me, and to sail whithersoever I ordered? Why dost meddle so?
Thus spake Aristagoras. The other, in high dudgeon at such
language, waited till the night, and then despatched a boat to
Now the Naxians up to this time had not had any suspicion
that the armament was directed against them; as soon, therefore, as the message
reached them, forthwith they brought within their walls all that they had in
the open field, and made themselves ready against a siege by provisioning their
town both with food and drink. Thus was Naxos placed in a posture of defence;
and the Persians, when they crossed the sea from
And now Aristagoras found himself quite unable to make good
his promises to Artaphernes; nay, he was even hard pressed to meet the claims
whereto he was liable for the pay of the troops; and at the same time his fear
was great, lest, owing to the failure of the expedition and his own quarrel
with Megabates, he should be ousted from the government of Miletus. These
manifold alarms had already caused him to contemplate raising a rebellion, when
the man with the marked head came from
Such, then, were the views which led Histiaeus to despatch his messenger; and it so chanced that all these several motives to revolt were brought to bear upon Aristagoras at one and the same time.
Accordingly, at this conjuncture Aristagoras held a council of his trusty friends, and laid the business before them, telling them both what he had himself purposed, and what message had been sent him by Histiaeus. At this council all his friends were of the same way of thinking, and recommended revolt, except only Hecataeus the historian. He, first of all, advised them by all means to avoid engaging in war with the king of the Persians, whose might he set forth, and whose subject nations he enumerated. As however he could not induce them to listen to this counsel, he next advised that they should do all that lay in their power to make themselves masters of the sea. “There was one only way,” he said, “so far as he could see, of their succeeding in this. Miletus was, he knew, a weak state—but if the treasures in the temple at Branchidae, which Croesus the Lydian gave to it, were seized, he had strong hopes that the mastery of the sea might be thereby gained; at least it would give them money to begin the war, and would save the treasures from falling into the hands of the enemy.” Now these treasures were of very great value, as I showed in the first part of my History. The assembly, however, rejected the counsel of Hecataeus, while, nevertheless, they resolved upon a revolt. One of their number, it was agreed, should sail to Myus, where the fleet had been lying since its return from Naxos, and endeavour to seize the captains who had gone there with the vessels.
Iatragoras accordingly was despatched on this errand, and he took with guile Oliatus the son of Ibanolis the Mylassian, and Histiaeus the son of Tymnes the Termerean-Coes likewise, the son of Erxander, to whom Darius gave Mytilene, and Aristagoras the son of Heraclides the Cymaean, and also many others. Thus Aristagoras revolted openly from Darius; and now he set to work to scheme against him in every possible way. First of all, in order to induce the Milesians to join heartily in the revolt, he gave out that he laid down his own lordship over Miletus, and in lieu thereof established a commonwealth: after which, throughout all Ionia he did the like; for from some of the cities he drove out their tyrants, and to others, whose goodwill he hoped thereby to gain, he handed theirs over, thus giving up all the men whom he had seized at the Naxian fleet, each to the city whereto he belonged.
Now the Mytileneans had no sooner got Coes into their power, than they led him forth from the city and stoned him; the Cymaeans, on the other hand, allowed their tyrant to go free; as likewise did most of the others. And so this form of government ceased throughout all the cities. Aristagoras the Milesian, after he had in this way put down the tyrants, and bidden the cities choose themselves captains in their room, sailed away himself on board a trireme to Lacedaemon; for he had great need of obtaining the aid of some powerful ally.
Then the Ephors and Elders took counsel together, and laid this proposal before the king:—“Since thou art so fond, as we see thee to be, of thy present wife, do what we now advise, and gainsay us not, lest the Spartans make some unwonted decree concerning thee. We ask thee not now to put away thy wife to whom thou art married—give her still the same love and honour as ever—but take thee another wife beside, who may bear thee children.”
When he heard this offer, Anaxandridas gave way—and henceforth he lived with two wives in two separate houses, quite against all Spartan custom.
In a short time, the wife whom he had last married bore him a son, who received the name of Cleomenes; and so the heir to the throne was brought into the world by her. After this, the first wife also, who in time past had been barren, by some strange chance conceived, and came to be with child. Then the friends of the second wife, when they heard a rumour of the truth, made a great stir, and said it was a false boast, and she meant, they were sure, to bring forward as her own a supposititious child. So they raised an outcry against her; and therefore, when her full time was come, the Ephors, who were themselves incredulous, sat round her bed, and kept a strict watch on the labour. At this time then she bore Dorieus, and after him, quickly, Leonidas, and after him, again quickly, Cleombrotus. Some even say that Leonidas and Cleombrotus were twins. On the other hand, the second wife, the mother of Cleomenes (who was a daughter of Prinetadas, the son of Demarmenus), never gave birth to a second child.
Now Cleomenes, it is said, was not right in his mind; indeed
he verged upon madness; while Dorieus surpassed all his co-mates, and looked
confidently to receiving the kingdom on the score of merit. When, therefore,
after the death of Anaxandridas, the Spartans kept to the law, and made
Cleomenes, his eldest son, king in his room, Dorieus, who had imagined that he
should be chosen, and who could not bear the thought of having such a man as
Cleomenes to rule over him, asked the Spartans to give him a body of men, and
left Sparta with them in order to found a colony. However, he neither took
counsel of the oracle at Delphi as to the place whereto he should go, nor
observed any of the customary usages; but left
Dorieus returned to the Peloponnese; whereupon Antichares
the Eleonian gave him a counsel (which he got from the oracle of Laius), to
“found the city of
Just at this time, the Sybarites say, they and their king
Telys were about to make war upon
Both parties likewise adduce testimonies to the truth of what they say. The Sybarites show a temple and sacred precinct near the dry stream of the Crastis, which they declare that Dorieus, after taking their city, dedicated to Minerva Crastias. And further, they bring forward the death of Dorieus as the surest proof; since he fell, they say, because he disobeyed the oracle. For had he in nothing varied from the directions given him, but confined himself to the business on which he was sent, he would assuredly have conquered the Erycian territory, and kept possession of it, instead of perishing with all his followers. The Crotoniats, on the other hand, point to the numerous allotments within their borders which were assigned to Callias the Elean by their countrymen, and which to my day remained in the possession of his family; while Dorieus and his descendants (they remark) possess nothing. Yet if Dorieus had really helped them in the Sybaritic war, he would have received very much more than Callias. Such are the testimonies which are adduced on either side; it is open to every man to adopt whichever view he deems the best.
Certain Spartans accompanied Dorieus on his voyage as
co-founders, to wit, Thessalus, Paraebates, Celeas, and Euryleon. These men and
all the troops under their command reached
Another man who accompanied Dorieus, and died with him, was
Philip the son of Butacidas, a man of Crotona; who, after he had been betrothed
to a daughter of Telys the Sybarite, was banished from Crotona, whereupon his
marriage came to nought; and he in his disappointment took ship and sailed to
Such then was the end of Dorieus, who if he had brooked the
rule of Cleomenes, and remained in
Cleomenes, however, was still king when Aristagoras, tyrant
So they proceeded no further at that time. When, however, the day appointed for the answer came, and the two once more met, Cleomenes asked Aristagoras, “how many days’ journey it was from the sea of the Ionians to the king’s residence?” Hereupon Aristagoras, who had managed the rest so cleverly, and succeeded in deceiving the king, tripped in his speech and blundered; for instead of concealing the truth, as he ought to have done if he wanted to induce the Spartans to cross into Asia, he said plainly that it was a journey of three months. Cleomenes caught at the words, and, preventing Aristagoras from finishing what he had begun to say concerning the road, addressed him thus:—“Milesian stranger, quit Sparta before sunset. This is no good proposal that thou makest to the Lacedaemonians, to conduct them a distance of three months’ journey from the sea.” When he had thus spoken, Cleomenes went to his home.
But Aristagoras took an olive-bough in his hand, and
hastened to the king’s house, where he was admitted by reason of his
suppliant’s pliant’s guise. Gorgo, the daughter of Cleomenes, and his only
child, a girl of about eight or nine years of age, happened to be there,
standing by her father’s side. Aristagoras, seeing her, requested Cleomenes to
send her out of the room before he began to speak with him; but Cleomenes told
him to say on, and not mind the child. So Aristagoras began with a promise of
ten talents if the king would grant him his request, and when Cleomenes shook
his head, continued to raise his offer till it reached fifty talents; whereupon
the child spoke:—“Father,” she said, “get up and go, or the stranger will
certainly corrupt thee.” Then Cleomenes, pleased at the warning of his child,
withdrew and went into another room. Aristagoras quitted
Now the true account of the road in question is the
following:—Royal stations exist along its whole length, and excellent
caravanserais; and throughout, it traverses an inhabited tract, and is free
from danger. In
If then the royal road be measured aright, and the parasang equals, as it does, thirty furlongs, the whole distance from Sardis to the palace of Memnon (as it is called), amounting thus to 450 parasangs, would be 13,500 furlongs. Travelling then at the rate of 150 furlongs a day, one will take exactly ninety days to perform the journey.
Thus when Aristagoras the Milesian told Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian that it was a three months’ journey from the sea up to the king, he said no more than the truth. The exact distance (if any one desires still greater accuracy) is somewhat more; for the journey from Ephesus to Sardis must be added to the foregoing account; and this will make the whole distance between the Greek Sea and Susa (or the city of Memnon, as it is called) 14,040 furlongs; since Ephesus is distant from Sardis 540 furlongs. This would add three days to the three months’ journey.
When Aristagoras left
Now the dream of Hipparchus was the following:—The night before the Panathenaic festival, he thought he saw in his sleep a tall and beautiful man, who stood over him, and read him the following riddle:—
Bear thou unbearable woes with the all-bearing heart of a lion;
Never, be sure, shall wrong-doer escape the reward of
As soon as day dawned he sent and submitted his dream to the interpreters, after which he offered the averting sacrifices, and then went and led the procession in which he perished.
The family of the Gephyraeans, to which the murderers of
Hipparchus belonged, according to their own account, came originally from
Now the Phoenicians who came with Cadmus, and to whom the Gephyraei belonged, introduced into Greece upon their arrival a great variety of arts, among the rest that of writing, whereof the Greeks till then had, as I think, been ignorant. And originally they shaped their letters exactly like all the other Phoenicians, but afterwards, in course of time, they changed by degrees their language, and together with it the form likewise of their characters. Now the Greeks who dwelt about those parts at that time were chiefly the Ionians. The Phoenician letters were accordingly adopted by them, but with some variation in the shape of a few, and so they arrived at the present use, still calling the letters Phoenician, as justice required, after the name of those who were the first to introduce them into Greece. Paper rolls also were called from of old “parchments” by the Ionians, because formerly when paper was scarce they used, instead, the skins of sheep and goats—on which material many of the barbarians are even now wont to write.
I myself saw Cadmeian characters engraved upon some tripods
Me did Amphitryon place, from the far Teleboans coming.
This would be about the age of Laius, the son of Labdacus, the son of Polydorus, the son of Cadmus.
Another of the tripods has this legend in the hexameter measure:—
I to far-shooting Phoebus was offered by Scaeus the boxer,
When he had won at the games- a wondrous beautiful offering.
This might be Scaeus, the son of Hippocoon; and the tripod, if dedicated by him, and not by another of the same name, would belong to the time of Oedipus, the son of Laius.
The third tripod has also an inscription in hexameters, which runs thus:—
King Laodamas gave this tripod to far-seeing Phoebus,
When he was set on the throne- a wondrous beautiful offering.
It was in the reign of this Laodamas, the son of Eteocles, that the Cadmeians were driven by the Argives out of their country, and found a shelter with the Encheleans. The Gephyraeans at that time remained in the country, but afterwards they retired before the Boeotians, and took refuge at Athens, where they have a number of temples for their separate use, which the other Athenians are not allowed to enter—among the rest, one of Achaean Ceres, in whose honour they likewise celebrate special orgies.
Having thus related the dream which Hipparchus saw, and
traced the descent of the Gephyraeans, the family whereto his murderers
belonged, I must proceed with the matter whereof I was intending before to
speak; to wit, the way in which the Athenians got quit of their tyrants. Upon
the death of Hipparchus, Hippias, who was king, grew harsh towards the
Athenians; and the Alcaeonidae, an Athenian family which had been banished by
the Pisistratidae, joined the other exiles, and endeavoured to procure their
own return, and to free
These same men, if we may believe the Athenians, during
their stay at Delphi persuaded the Pythoness by a bribe to tell the Spartans,
whenever any of them came to consult the oracle, either on their own private
affairs or on the business of the state, that they must free Athens. So the
Lacedaemonians, when they found no answer ever returned to them but this, sent
at last Anchimolius, the son of Aster—a man of note among their citizens—at the
head of an army against Athens, with orders to drive out the Pisistratidae,
albeit they were bound to them by the closest ties of friendship. For they
esteemed the things of heaven more highly than the things of men. The troops
went by sea and were conveyed in transports. Anchimolius brought them to an
anchorage at Phalerum; and there the men disembarked. But the Pisistratidae,
who had previous knowledge of their intentions, had sent to Thessaly, between
which country and
Afterwards, the Lacedaemonians despatched a larger force
And now there had been small chance of the Pisistratidae
falling into the hands of the Spartans, who did not even design to sit down
before the place, which had moreover been well provisioned beforehand with
stores both of meat and drink,—nay, it is likely that after a few days’
blockade the Lacedaemonians would have quitted Attica altogether, and gone back
to Sparta—had not an event occurred most unlucky for the besieged, and most
advantageous for the besiegers. The children of the Pisistratidae were made
prisoners, as they were being removed out of the country. By this calamity all
their plans were deranged, and-as the ransom of their children—they consented
to the demands of the Athenians, and agreed within five days’ time to quit
The power of
My belief is that in acting thus he did but imitate his
maternal grandfather, Clisthenes, king of
Such were his doings in the matter of Adrastus. With respect to the Dorian tribes, not choosing the Sicyonians to have the same tribes as the Argives, he changed all the old names for new ones; and here he took special occasion to mock the Sicyonians, for he drew his new names from the words “pig,” and “ass,” adding thereto the usual tribe-endings; only in the case of his own tribe he did nothing of the sort, but gave them a name drawn from his own kingly office. For he called his own tribe the Archelai, or Rulers, while the others he named Hyatae, or Pig-folk, Oneatae, or Assfolk, and Choereatae, or Swine-folk. The Sicyonians kept these names, not only during the reign of Clisthenes, but even after his death, by the space of sixty years: then, however, they took counsel together, and changed to the well-known names of Hyllaeans, Pamphylians, and Dymanatae, taking at the same time, as a fourth name, the title of Aegialeans, from Aegialeus the son of Adrastus.
Thus had Clisthenes the Sicyonian done. The Athenian Clisthenes, who was grandson by the mother’s side of the other, and had been named after him, resolved, from contempt (as I believe) of the Ionians, that his tribes should not be the same as theirs; and so followed the pattern set him by his namesake of Sicyon. Having brought entirely over to his own side the common people of Athens, whom he had before disdained, he gave all the tribes new names, and made the number greater than formerly; instead of the four phylarchs he established ten; he likewise placed ten demes in each of the tribes; and he was, now that the common people took his part, very much more powerful than his adversaries.
Isagoras in his turn lost ground; and therefore, to
counter-plot his enemy, he called in Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian, who had
already, at the time when he was besieging the Pisistratidae, made a contract
of friendship with him. A charge is even brought against Cleomenes that he was
on terms of too great familiarity with Isagoras’s wife. At this time the first
thing that he did was to send a herald and require that Clisthenes, and a large
number of Athenians besides, whom he called “The Accursed,” should leave
The way in which “The Accursed” at
When the message of Cleomenes arrived, requiring Clisthenes
and “The Accursed” to quit the city, Clisthenes departed of his own accord.
Cleomenes, however, notwithstanding his departure, came to
So these men died in prison. The Athenians directly
afterwards recalled Clisthenes, and the seven hundred families which Cleomenes
had driven out; and, further, they sent envoys to Sardis, to make an alliance
with the Persians, for they knew that war would follow with Cleomenes and the
Lacedaemonians. When the ambassadors reached
Meanwhile Cleomenes, who considered himself to have been
insulted by the Athenians both in word and deed, was drawing a force together
from all parts of the Peloponnese, without informing any one of his object;
which was to revenge himself on the Athenians, and to establish Isagoras, who
had escaped with him from the citadel, as despot of Athens. Accordingly, with a
large army, he invaded the district of Eleusis, while the Boeotians, who had
concerted measures with him, took Oenoe and Hysiae, two country towns upon the
frontier; and at the same time the Chalcideans, on another side, plundered
divers places in
As the two hosts were about to engage, first of all the
Corinthians, bethinking themselves that they were perpetrating a wrong, changed
their minds, and drew off from the main army. Then Demaratus, son of Ariston,
who was himself king of
This was the fourth time that the Dorians had invaded
So when the Spartan army had broken up from its quarters
thus ingloriously, the Athenians, wishing to revenge themselves, marched first
against the Chalcideans. The Boeotians, however, advancing to the aid of the
latter as far as the Euripus, the Athenians thought it best to attack them
first. A battle was fought accordingly; and the Athenians gained a very
complete victory, killing a vast number of the enemy, and taking seven hundred
of them alive. After this, on the very same day, they crossed into
Gave bonds for insults; and, the ransom paid,
From the full tenths these steeds for Pallas made.
Thus did the Athenians increase in strength. And it is plain enough, not from this instance only, but from many everywhere, that freedom is an excellent thing since even the Athenians, who, while they continued under the rule of tyrants, were not a whit more valiant than any of their neighbours, no sooner shook off the yoke than they became decidedly the first of all. These things show that, while undergoing oppression, they let themselves be beaten, since then they worked for a master; but so soon as they got their freedom, each man was eager to do the best he could for himself. So fared it now with the Athenians.
Meanwhile the Thebans, who longed to be revenged on the
Athenians, had sent to the oracle, and been told by the Pythoness that of their
own strength they would be unable to accomplish their wish: “they must lay the
matter,” she said, “before the many-voiced, and ask the aid of those nearest
them.” The messengers, therefore, on their return, called a meeting, and laid
the answer of the oracle before the people, who no sooner heard the advice to
“ask the aid of those nearest them” than they exclaimed—“What! are not they who
dwell the nearest to us the men of
As they were thus discoursing one with another, a certain man, informed of the debate, cried out-”Methinks that I understand what course the oracle would recommend to us. Asopus, they say, had two daughters, Thebe and Egina. The god means that, as these two were sisters, we ought to ask the Eginetans to lend us aid.” As no one was able to hit on any better explanation, the Thebans forthwith sent messengers to Egina, and, according to the advice of the oracle, asked their aid, as the people “nearest to them.” In answer to this petition the Eginetans said that they would give them the Aeacidae for helpers.
The Thebans now, relying on the assistance of the Aeacidae, ventured to renew the war; but they met with so rough a reception, that they resolved to send to the Eginetans again, returning the Aeacidae, and beseeching them to send some men instead. The Eginetans, who were at that time a most flourishing people, elated with their greatness, and at the same time calling to mind their ancient feud with Athens, agreed to lend the Thebans aid, and forthwith went to war with the Athenians, without even giving them notice by a herald. The attention of these latter being engaged by the struggle with the Boeotians, the Eginetans in their ships of war made descents upon Attica, plundered Phalerum, and ravaged a vast number of the townships upon the sea-board, whereby the Athenians suffered very grievous damage.
The ancient feud between the Eginetans and Athenians arose
out of the following circumstances. Once upon a time the
Anciently, and even down to the time when this took place,
the Eginetans were in all things subject to the Epidaurians, and had to cross
over to Epidaurus for the trial of all suits in which they were engaged one
with another. After this, however, the Eginetans built themselves ships, and,
growing proud, revolted from the Epidaurians. Having thus come to be at enmity
with them, the Eginetans, who were masters of the sea, ravaged
After the robbery of the images the Epidaurians ceased to
make the stipulated payments to the Athenians, wherefore the Athenians sent to
After this the Athenians relate that they sent a trireme to Egina with certain citizens on board, and that these men, who bore commission from the state, landed in Egina, and sought to take the images away, considering them to be their own, inasmuch as they were made of their wood. And first they endeavoured to wrench them from their pedestals, and so carry them off; but failing herein, they in the next place tied ropes to them, and set to work to try if they could haul them down. In the midst of their hauling suddenly there was a thunderclap, and with the thunderclap an earthquake; and the crew of the trireme were forthwith seized with madness, and, like enemies, began to kill one another; until at last there was but one left, who returned alone to Phalerum.
Such is the account given by the Athenians. The Eginetans
deny that there was only a single vessel—“Had there been only one,” they say,
“or no more than a few, they would easily have repulsed the attack, even if
they had had no fleet at all; but the Athenians came against them with a large
number of ships, wherefore they gave way, and did not hazard a battle.” They do
not however explain clearly whether it was from a conviction of their own
inferiority at sea that they yielded, or whether it was for the purpose of
doing that which in fact they did. Their account is that the Athenians,
disembarking from their ships, when they found that no resistance was offered,
made for the statues, and failing to wrench them from their pedestals, tied
ropes to them and began to haul. Then, they say—and some people will perhaps
believe them, though I for my part do not—the two statues, as they were being
dragged and hauled, fell down both upon their knees; in which attitude they
still remain. Such, according to them, was the conduct of the Athenians; they
meanwhile, having learnt beforehand what was intended, had prevailed on the
Argives to hold themselves in readiness; and the Athenians accordingly were but
just landed on their coasts when the Argives came to their aid. Secretly and
silently they crossed over from
The Argives and the Eginetans both agree in giving this
account; and the Athenians themselves acknowledge that but one of their men
returned alive to
In very truth, however, this dress is not originally Ionian, but Carian; for anciently the Greek women all wore the costume which is now called the Dorian. It is said further that the Argives and Eginetans made it a custom, on this same account, for their women to wear brooches half as large again as formerly, and to offer brooches rather than anything else in the temple of these goddesses. They also forbade the bringing of anything Attic into the temple, were it even a jar of earthenware, and made a law that none but native drinking vessels should be used there in time to come. From this early age to my own day the Argive and Eginetan women have always continued to wear their brooches larger than formerly, through hatred of the Athenians.
Such then was the origin of the feud which existed between the Eginetans and the Athenians. Hence, when the Thebans made their application for succour, the Eginetans, calling to mind the matter of images, gladly lent their aid to the Boeotians. They ravaged all the sea-coast of Attica; and the Athenians were about to attack them in return, when they were stopped by the oracle of Delphi, which bade them wait till thirty years had passed from the time that the Eginetans did the wrong, and in the thirty-first year, having first set apart a precinct for Aeacus, then to begin the war. “So should they succeed to their wish,” the oracle said; “but if they went to war at once, though they would still conquer the island in the end, yet they must go through much suffering and much exertion before taking it.” On receiving this warning the Athenians set apart a precinct for Aeacus—the same which still remains dedicated to him in their market-place—but they could not hear with any patience of waiting thirty years, after they had suffered such grievous wrong at the hands of the Eginetans.
Accordingly they were making ready to take their revenge when a fresh stir on the part of the Lacedaemonians hindered their projects. These last had become aware of the truth—how that the Alcmaeonidae had practised on the Pythoness, and the Pythoness had schemed against themselves, and against the Pisistratidae; and the discovery was a double grief to them, for while they had driven their own sworn friends into exile, they found that they had not gained thereby a particle of good will from Athens. They were also moved by certain prophecies, which declared that many dire calamities should befall them at the hands of the Athenians. Of these in times past they had been ignorant; but now they had become acquainted with them by means of Cleomenes, who had brought them with him to Sparta, having found them in the Athenian citadel, where they had been left by the Pisistratidae when they were driven from Athens: they were in the temple, and Cleomenes having discovered them, carried them off.
So when the Lacedaemonians obtained possession of the
prophecies, and saw that the Athenians were growing in strength, and had no
mind to acknowledge any subjection to their control, it occurred to them that,
if the people of Attica were free, they would be likely to be as powerful as
themselves, but if they were oppressed by a tyranny, they would be weak and
submissive. Under this feeling they sent and recalled Hippias, the son of
Pisistratus, from Sigeum upon the
“Friends and brothers in arms, we are free to confess that
we did lately a thing which was not right. Misled by counterfeit oracles, we
drove from their country those who were our sworn and true friends, and who
had, moreover, engaged to keep Athens in dependence upon us; and we delivered
the government into the hands of an unthankful people—a people who no sooner
got their freedom by our means, and grew in power, than they turned us and our
king, with every token of insult, out of their city. Since then they have gone
on continually raising their thoughts higher, as their neighbours of Boeotia
(SS 1.) Such was the address of the Spartans. The greater number of the allies listened without being persuaded. None however broke silence but Sosicles the Corinthian, who exclaimed—
“Surely the heaven will soon be below, and the earth above,
and men will henceforth live in the sea, and fish take their place upon the dry
land, since you, Lacedaemonians, propose to put down free governments in the
No one honours thee now, Aetion, worthy of honour-
Labda shall soon be a mother- her offspring a rock, that will
Fall on the kingly
race, and right the city of
By some chance this address of the oracle to Aetion came to
the ears of the Bacchiadae, who till then had been unable to perceive the
meaning of another earlier prophecy which likewise bore upon
When mid the rocks an eagle shall bear a carnivorous lion,
Mighty and fierce, he shall loosen the limbs of many beneath them-
Brood ye well upon this, all ye Corinthian people,
Ye who dwell by
fair Peirene, and beetling
(SS 3.) The Bacchiadae had possessed this oracle for some
time; but they were quite at a loss to know what it meant until they heard the
response given to Aetion; then however they at once perceived its meaning,
since the two agreed so well together. Nevertheless, though the bearing of the
first prophecy was now clear to them, they remained quiet, being minded to put
to death the child which Aetion was expecting. As soon, therefore, as his wife
was delivered, they sent ten of their number to the township where Aetion
lived, with orders to make away with the baby. So the men came to Petra, and
went into Aetion’s house, and there asked if they might see the child; and
Labda, who knew nothing of their purpose, but thought their inquiries arose
from a kindly feeling towards her husband, brought the child, and laid him in
the arms of one of them. Now they had agreed by the way that whoever first got
hold of the child should dash it against the ground. It happened, however, by a
providential chance, that the babe, just as Labda put him into the man’s arms,
smiled in his face. The man saw the smile, and was touched with pity, so that
he could not kill it; he therefore passed it on to his next neighbour, who gave
it to a third; and so it went through all the ten without any one choosing to
be the murderer. The mother received her child back; and the men went out of
the house, and stood near the door, and there blamed and reproached one
another; chiefly however accusing the man who had first had the child in his
arms, because he had not done as had been agreed upon. At last, after much time
had been thus spent, they resolved to go into the house again and all take part
in the murder. (SS 4.) But it was fated that evil should come upon Corinth from
the progeny of Aetion; and so it chanced that Labda, as she stood near the
door, heard all that the men said to one another, and fearful of their changing
their mind, and returning to destroy her baby, she carried him off and hid him
in what seemed to her the most unlikely place to be suspected, viz., a ‘cypsel’
or corn-bin. She knew that if they came back to look for the child, they would
search all her house; and so indeed they did, but not finding the child after
looking everywhere, they thought it best to go away, and declare to those by
whom they had been sent that they had done their bidding. And thus they
reported on their return home. (SS 5.) Aetion’s son grew up, and, in
remembrance of the danger from which he had escaped, was named Cypselus, after
the cornbin. When he reached to man’s estate, he went to
See there comes to my dwelling a man much favour’d of fortune,
Cypselus, son of
Aetion, and king of the glorious
He and his children too, but not his children’s children.
Such was the oracle; and Cypselus put so much faith in it
that he forthwith made his attempt, and thereby became master of
When Sosicles, the deputy from
Hippias hereupon withdrew; and Amyntas the Macedonian
offered him the city of
War accordingly continued, with many and various incidents,
whereof the following was one. In a battle which was gained by the Athenians,
the poet Alcaeus took to flight, and saved himself, but lost his arms, which
fell into the hands of the conquerors. They hung them up in the
On the return of Hippias to Asia from Lacedaemon, he moved
heaven and earth to set Artaphernes against the Athenians, and did all that lay
in his power to bring
The Athenians had come to this decision, and were already in
bad odour with the Persians, when Aristagoras the Milesian, dismissed from
Aristagoras sailed away in advance, and when he reached
“Men of Paeonia, Aristagoras, king of
When the Paeonians heard this, they were exceedingly
rejoiced, and, taking with them their wives and children, they made all speed
to the coast; a few only remaining in
The Athenians now arrived with a fleet of twenty sail, and
brought also in their company five triremes of the Eretrians; which had joined
the expedition, not so much out of goodwill towards
The Ionians sailed with this fleet to
Though, however, they took the city, they did not succeed in plundering it; for, as the houses in Sardis were most of them built of reeds, and even the few which were of brick had a reed thatching for their roof, one of them was no sooner fired by a soldier than the flames ran speedily from house to house, and spread over the whole place. As the fire raged, the Lydians and such Persians as were in the city, inclosed on every side by the flames, which had seized all the skirts of the town, and finding themselves unable to get out, came in crowds into the market-place, and gathered themselves upon the banks of the Pactolus This stream, which comes down from Mount Tmolus, and brings the Sardians a quantity of gold-dust, runs directly through the market place of Sardis, and joins the Hermus, before that river reaches the sea. So the Lydians and Persians, brought together in this way in the market-place and about the Pactolus, were forced to stand on their defence; and the Ionians, when they saw the enemy in part resisting, in part pouring towards them in dense crowds, took fright, and drawing off to the ridge which is called Tmolus when night came, went back to their ships.
So ended this encounter. Afterwards the Athenians quite
forsook the Ionians, and, though Aristagoras besought them much by his
ambassadors, refused to give him any further help. Still the Ionians,
notwithstanding this desertion, continued unceasingly their preparations to
carry on the war against the Persian king, which their late conduct towards him
had rendered unavoidable. Sailing into the Hellespont, they brought
All the Cyprians too, excepting those of Amathus, of their
own proper motion espoused the Ionian cause. The occasion of their revolting
from the Medes was the following. There was a certain Onesilus, younger brother
of Gorgus, king of
While Onesilus was engaged in the siege of Amathus, King
Darius received tidings of the taking and burning of
Then he summoned into his presence Histiaeus if
Histiaeus answered—“What words are these, O king, to which
thou hast given utterance? I advise aught from which unpleasantness of any
kind, little or great, should come to thee! What could I gain by so doing? Or
what is there that I lack now? Have I not all that thou hast, and am I not
thought worthy to partake all thy counsels? If my lieutenant has indeed done as
thou sayest, be sure he has done it all of his own head. For my part, I do not
think it can really be that the Milesians and my lieutenant have raised a rebellion
against thee. But if they have indeed committed aught to thy hurt, and the
tidings are true which have come to thee, judge thou how ill-advised thou wert
to remove me from the sea-coast. The Ionians, it seems, have waited till I was
no longer in sight, and then sought to execute that which they long ago
desired; whereas, if I had been there, not a single city would have stirred.
Suffer me then to hasten at my best speed to Ionia, that I may place matters
there upon their former footing, and deliver up to thee the deputy of
Histiaeus spoke thus, wishing to deceive the king; and
Darius, persuaded by his words, let him go; only bidding him be sure to do as
he had promised, and afterwards come back to