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Herodotus, The History [431 BC]
The History of Herodotus, 4 vols. trans. George Rawlinson (New York: Tandy-Thomas Co., 1909).
Part of: The History, 4 vols.
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Table of Contents
The Tandy-Thomas Compy.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE HISTORY OF HERODOTUS
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BOOK II PART II
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 Buto, which said, “Six years only shalt thou live upon the earth, and in the seventh thou shalt end thy days.” Mycerinus, indignant, sent an angry message to the oracle, reproaching the god with his injustice: “My father and uncle,” he said, “though they shut up the temples, took no thought of the gods, and destroyed multitudes of men, nevertheless enjoyed a long life; I, who am pious, am to die so soon!” There came in reply a second message from the oracle: “For this very reason is thy life brought so quickly to a close—thou hast not done as it behoved thee. Egypt was fated to suffer affliction one hundred and fifty years—the two kings who preceded thee upon the throne understood this—thou hast not understood it.” Mycerinus, when this answer reached him, perceiving that his doom was fixed, had lamps prepared, which he lighted every day at eventime, and feasted and enjoyed himself unceasingly both day and night, moving about in the marsh-country and the woods, and visiting all the places that he heard were agreeable sojourns. His wish was to prove the oracle false, by turning the nights into days, and so living twelve years in the space of six.
134. 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 Ethiopia. Some of the Greeks call it the work of Rhodôpis* the courtezan, but they report falsely. It seems to me that these persons cannot have any real knowledge who Rhodôpis was; otherwise they would scarcely have ascribed to her a work on which uncounted treasures, so to speak, must have been expended. Rhodôpis also lived during the reign of Amasis, not of Mycerinus, and was thus very many years later than the time of the kings who built the pyramids. She was a Thracian by birth, and was the slave of Iadmon, son of Hephæstopolis, a Samian. Æsop, the fable-writer, was one of her fellow-slaves. That Æsop belonged to Iadmon is proved by many facts—among others, by this. When the Delphians, in obedience to the command of the oracle, made proclamation that if any one claimed compensation for the murder of Æsop he should receive it, the person who at last came forward was Iadmon, grandson of the former Iadmon, and he received the compensation. Æsop therefore must certainly have been the former Iadmon’s slave.
135. Rhodôpis really arrived in Egypt under the conduct of Xantheus the Samian; she was brought there to exercise her trade, but was redeemed for a vast sum by Charaxus, a Mytilenæan, the son of Scamandrônymus, and brother of Sappho the poetess. After thus obtaining her freedom, she remained in Egypt, and, as she was very beautiful, amassed great wealth, for a person in her condition; not, however, enough to enable her to erect such a work as this pyramid. Any one who likes may go and see to what the tenth part of her wealth amounted, and he will thereby learn that her riches must not be imagined to have been very wonderfully great. Wishing to leave a memorial of herself in Greece, she determined to have something made the like of which was not to be found in any temple, and to offer it at the shrine at Delphi. So she set apart a tenth of her possessions, and purchased with the money a quantity of iron spits, such as are fit for roasting oxen whole, whereof she made a present to the oracle. They are still to be seen there, lying of a heap, behind the altar which the Chians dedicated, opposite the sanctuary. Naucratis seems somehow to be the place where such women are most attractive. First there was this Rhodôpis of whom we have been speaking, so celebrated a person that her name came to be familiar to all the Greeks; and, afterwards, there was another, called Archidicé, notorious throughout Greece, though not so much talked of as her predecessor. Charaxus, after ransoming Rhodôpis, returned to Mytilene, and was often lashed by Sappho in her poetry. But enough has been said on the subject of this courtezan.
136. After Mycerinus, the priests said, Asychis ascended the throne. He built the eastern gateway of the temple of Vulcan, which in size and beauty far surpasses the other three. All the four gateways have figures graven on them, and a vast amount of architectural ornament; but the gateway of Asychis is by far the most richly adorned. In the reign of this king, money being scarce and commercial dealings straitened, a law was passed that the borrower might pledge his father’s body† to raise the sum whereof he had need. A proviso was appended to this law, giving the lender authority over the entire sepulchre of the borrower, so that a man who took up money under this pledge, if he died without paying the debt, could not obtain burial either in his own ancestral tomb, or in any other, nor could he during his lifetime bury in his own tomb any member of his family. The same king, desirous of eclipsing all his predecessors upon the throne, left as a monument of his reign a pyramid of brick. It bears an inscription, cut in stone, which runs thus: “Despise me not in comparison with the stone pyramids; for I surpass them all, as much as Jove surpasses the other gods. A pole was plunged into a lake, and the mud which clave thereto was gathered; and bricks were made of the mud, and so I was formed.” Such were the chief actions of this prince.
137. He was succeeded on the throne, they said, by a blind man, a native of Anysis, whose own name also was Anysis. Under him Egypt was invaded by a vast army of Ethiopians, led by Sabacôs, their king. The blind Anysis fled away to the marsh-country, and the Ethiopian was lord of the land for fifty years, during which his mode of rule was the following: When an Egyptian was guilty of an offence, his plan was not to punish him with death: instead of so doing, he sentenced him, according to his crime, to raise the ground to a greater or a less extent in the neighbourhood of the city to which he belonged. Thus the cities came to be even more elevated than they were before. As early as the time of Sesostris, they had been raised by those who dug the canals in his reign; this second elevation of the soil under the Ethiopian king gave them a very lofty position. Among the many cities which thus attained to a great elevation, none (I think) was raised so much as the town called Bubastis, where there is a temple of the goddess Bubastis, which well deserves to be described. Other temples may be grander, and may have cost more in the building, but there is none so pleasant to the eye as this of Bubastis. The Bubastis of the Egyptians is the same as the Artemis (Diana) of the Greeks.
138. The following is a description of this edifice: Excepting the entrance, the whole forms an island. Two artificial channels from the Nile, one on either side of the temple, encompass the building, leaving only a narrow passage by which it is approached. These channels are each a hundred feet wide, and are thickly shaded with trees. The gateway is sixty feet in height, and is ornamented with figures cut upon the stone, six cubits high and well worthy of notice. The temple stands in the middle of the city, and is visible on all sides as one walks round it; for as the city has been raised up by embankment, while the temple has been left untouched in its original condition, you look down upon it wheresoever you are. A low wall runs round the enclosure, having figures engraved upon it, and inside there is a grove of beautiful tall trees growing round the shrine, which contains the image of the goddess. The enclosure is a furlong in length, and the same in breadth. The entrance to it is by a road paved with stone for a distance of about three furlongs, which passes straight through the market-place with an easterly direction, and is about four hundred feet in width. Trees of an extraordinary height grow on each side the road, which conducts from the temple of Bubastis to that of Mercury.
139. The Ethiopian finally quitted Egypt, the priests said, by a hasty flight under the following circumstances. He saw in his sleep a vision: a man stood by his side, and counselled him to gather together all the priests of Egypt and cut every one of them asunder. On this, according to the account which he himself gave, it came into his mind that the gods intended hereby to lead him to commit an act of sacrilege, which would be sure to draw down upon him some punishment either at the hands of gods or men. So he resolved not to do the deed suggested to him, but rather to retire from Egypt, as the time during which it was fated that he should hold the country had now (he thought) expired. For before he left Ethiopia he had been told by oracles which are venerated there, that he was to reign fifty years over Egypt. The years were now expired, and the dream had come to trouble him; he therefore of his own accord withdrew from the land.
140. As soon as Sabacôs 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 Amyrtæus, no one was able to discover the site of this island, which continued unknown to the kings of Egypt who preceded him on the throne for the space of seven hundred years and more. The name which it bears is Elbo. It is about ten furlongs across in each direction.
141. The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called Sethôs. 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 Egypt, the warriors one and all refused to come to his aid. On this the monarch, greatly distressed, entered into the inner sanctuary, and, before the image of the god, bewailed the fate which impended over him. As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that the god came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer, and go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him no hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. Sethôs, then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, who were none of them warriors, but traders, artisans, and market people; and with these marched to Pelusium, which commands the entrance into Egypt, and there pitched his camp. As the two armies lay opposite one another, there came in the night a multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bow-strings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields. Next morning they commenced their flight, and great multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves. There stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a stone statue of Sethôs, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to this effect: “Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods.”
142. 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. Egypt was in no degree affected by these changes; the productions of the land, and of the river, remained the same; nor was there anything unusual either in the diseases or the deaths.
143. When Hecatæus the historian was at Thebes, and, discoursing of his genealogy, traced his descent to a god in the person of his sixteenth ancestor, the priests of Jupiter did to him exactly as they afterwards did to me, though I made no boast of my family. They led me into the inner sanctuary, which is a spacious chamber, and showed me a multitude of colossal statues, in wood, which they counted up, and found to amount to the exact number they had said; the custom being for every high-priest during his lifetime to set up his statue in the temple. As they showed me the figures and reckoned them up, they assured me that each was the son of the one preceding him; and this they repeated throughout the whole line, beginning with the representation of the priest last deceased, and continuing till they had completed the series. When Hecatæus, in giving his genealogy, mentioned a god as his sixteenth ancestor, the priests opposed their genealogy to his, going through this list, and refusing to allow that any man was ever born of a god. Their colossal figures were each, they said, a Pirômis, born of a Pirômis, and the number of them was three hundred and forty-five; through the whole series Pirômis followed Pirômis, and the line did not run up either to a god or a hero. The word Pirômis may be rendered “gentleman.”
144. Of such a nature were, they said, the beings represented by these images—they were very far indeed from being gods. However, in the time anterior to them it was otherwise; then Egypt had gods for its rulers, who dwelt upon the earth with men, one being always supreme above the rest. The last of these was Horus, the son of Osiris, called by the Greeks Apollo. He deposed Typhon, and ruled over Egypt as its last god-king. Osiris is named Dionysus (Bacchus) by the Greeks.
145. 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 Semelé, daughter of Cadmus, is a period of not more than sixteen hundred years; to that of Hercules, son of Alcmêna, is about nine hundred; while to the time of Pan, son of Penelopé (Pan, according to the Greeks, was her child by Mercury), is a shorter space than to the Trojan war,1 eight hundred years or thereabouts.
146. 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 Greece, as was the case with Hercules, son of Amphitryon, Bacchus, son of Semelé, and Pan, son of Penelopé, it might have been said that the last-mentioned personages were men who bore the names of certain previously existing deities. But Bacchus, according to the Greek tradition, was no sooner born than he was sewn up in Jupiter’s thigh, and carried off to Nysa, above Egypt, in Ethiopia; and as to Pan, they do not even profess to know what happened to him after his birth. To me, therefore, it is quite manifest that the names of these gods became known to the Greeks after those of their other deities, and that they count their birth from the time when they first acquired a knowledge of them. Thus far my narrative rests on the accounts given by the Egyptians.
147. 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, they divided Egypt into twelve districts, and set twelve kings over them. These twelve kings, united together by intermarriages, ruled Egypt in peace, having entered into engagements with one another not to depose any of their number, nor to aim at any aggrandisement of one above the rest, but to dwell together in perfect amity. Now the reason why they made these stipulations, and guarded with care against their infraction, was, because at the very first establishment of the twelve kingdoms, an oracle had declared—“That he among them who should pour in Vulcan’s temple a libation from a cup of bronze, would become monarch of the whole land of Egypt.” Now the twelve held their meetings at all the temples.
148. 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 Lake Mœris, in the neighbourhood of the place called the city of Crocodiles. I visited this place, and found it to surpass description; for if all the walls and other great works of the Greeks could be put together in one, they would not equal, either for labour or expense, this Labyrinth; and yet the temple of Ephesus is a building worthy of note, and so is the temple of Samos. The pyramids likewise surpass description, and are severally equal to a number of the greatest works of the Greeks; but the Labyrinth surpasses the pyramids. It has twelve courts, all of them roofed, with gates exactly opposite one another, six looking to the north, and six to the south. A single wall surrounds the entire building. There are two different sorts of chambers throughout—half under ground, half above ground, the latter built upon the former; the whole number of these chambers is three thousand, fifteen hundred of each kind. The upper chambers I myself passed through and saw, and what I say concerning them is from my own observation; of the underground chambers I can only speak from report: for the keepers of the building could not be got to show them, since they contained (as they said) the sepulchres of the kings who built the Labyrinth, and also those of the sacred crocodiles. Thus it is from hearsay only that I can speak of the lower chambers. The upper chambers, however, I saw with my own eyes, and found them to excel all other human productions; for the passages through the houses, and the varied windings of the paths across the courts, excited in me infinite admiration, as I passed from the courts into chambers, and from the chambers into colonnades, and from the colonnades into fresh houses, and again from these into courts unseen before. The roof was throughout of stone, like the walls; and the walls were carved all over with figures; every court was surrounded with a colonnade, which was built of white stones, exquisitely fitted together. At the corner of the Labyrinth stands a pyramid, forty fathoms high, with large figures engraved on it; which is entered by a subterranean passage.
149. Wonderful as is the Labyrinth, the work called the Lake of Mœris, which is close by the Labyrinth, is yet more astonishing. The measure of its circumference is sixty schœnes, or three thousand six hundred furlongs, which is equal to the entire length of Egypt along the sea-coast. The lake stretches in its longest direction from north to south, and in its deepest parts is of the depth of fifty fathoms. It is manifestly an artificial excavation, for nearly in the centre there stand two pyramids, rising to the height of fifty fathoms above the surface of the water, and extending as far beneath, crowned each of them with a colossal statue sitting upon a throne. Thus these pyramids are one hundred fathoms high, which is exactly a furlong (stadium) of six hundred feet: the fathom being six feet in length, or four cubits, which is the same thing, since a cubit measures six, and a foot four, palms. The water of the lake does not come out of the ground, which is here excessively dry, but is introduced by a canal from the Nile. The current sets for six months into the lake from the river, and for the next six months into the river from the lake. While it runs outward it returns a talent of silver daily to the royal treasury from the fish that are taken; but when the current is the other way the return sinks to one-third of that sum.
150. The natives told me that there was a subterranean passage from this lake to the Libyan Syrtis, running westward into the interior by the hills above Memphis. As I could not anywhere see the earth which had been taken out when the excavation was made, and I was curious to know what had become of it, I asked the Egyptians who live closest to the lake where the earth had been put. The answer that they gave me I readily accepted as true, since I had heard of the same thing being done at Nineveh of the Assyrians. There, once upon a time, certain thieves, having formed a plan to get into their possession the vast treasures of Sardanapalus, the Ninevite king, which were laid up in subterranean treasuries, proceeded to tunnel a passage from the house where they lived into the royal palace, calculating the distance and the direction. At nightfall they took the earth from the excavation and carried it to the river Tigris, which ran by Nineveh, continuing to get rid of it in this manner until they had accomplished their purpose. It was exactly in the same way that the Egyptians disposed of the mould from their excavation, except that they did it by day and not by night; for as fast as the earth was dug, they carried it to the Nile, which they knew would disperse it far and wide. Such was the account which I received of the formation of this lake.
151. 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.
152. This was the second time that Psammetichus had been driven into banishment. On a former occasion he had fled from Sabacôs the Ethiopian, who had put his father Necôs to death; and had taken refuge in Syria, from whence, after the retirement of the Ethiop in consequence of his dream, he was brought back by the Egyptians of the Saïtic canton. Now it was his ill-fortune to be banished a second time by the eleven kings, on account of the libation which he had poured from his helmet; on this occasion he fled to the marshes. Feeling that he was an injured man, and designing to avenge himself upon his persecutors, Psammetichus sent to the city of Buto, where there is an oracle of Latona, the most veracious of all the oracles of the Egyptians, and having inquired concerning means of vengeance, received for answer, that “Vengeance would come from the sea, when brazen men should appear.” Great was his incredulity when this answer arrived; for never, he thought, would brazen men arrive to be his helpers. However, not long afterwards certain Carians and Ionians, who had left their country on a voyage of plunder, were carried by stress of weather to Egypt, where they disembarked, all equipped in their brazen armour, and were seen by the natives, one of whom carried the tidings to Psammetichus, and, as he had never before seen men clad in brass, he reported that brazen men had come from the sea and were plundering the plain. Psammetichus, perceiving at once that the oracle was accomplished, made friendly advances to the strangers, and engaged them, by splendid promises, to enter into his service. He then, with their aid and that of the Egyptians who espoused his cause, attacked the eleven and vanquished them.
153. When Psammetichus had thus become sole monarch of Egypt, he built the southern gateway of the temple of Vulcan in Memphis, and also a court for Apis, in which Apis is kept whenever he makes his appearance in Egypt. This court is opposite the gateway of Psammetichus, and is surrounded with a colonnade and adorned with a multitude of figures. Instead of pillars, the colonnade rests upon colossal statues, twelve cubits in height. The Greek name for Apis is Epaphus.
154. 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 Nile, which received the name of “the Camps.” He also made good all the splendid promises by which he had gained their support; and further, he intrusted to their care certain Egyptian children, whom they were to teach the language of the Greeks. These children, thus instructed, became the parents of the entire class of interpreters in Egypt. The Ionians and Carians occupied for many years the places assigned them by Psammetichus, which lay near the sea, a little below the city of Bubastis, on the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. King Amasis, long afterwards, removed the Greeks thence, and settled them at Memphis to guard him against the native Egyptians. From the date of the original settlement of these persons in Egypt, we Greeks, through our intercourse with them, have acquired an accurate knowledge of the several events in Egyptian history, from the reign of Psammetichus downwards; but before his time no foreigners had ever taken up their residence in that land. The docks where their vessels were laid up, and the ruins of their habitations, were still to be seen in my day at the place where they dwelt originally, before they were removed by Amasis. Such was the mode by which Psammetichus became master of Egypt.
155. 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 temple of Latona, situated in the midst of a great city on the Sebennytic mouth of the Nile, at some distance up the river from the sea. The name of the city, as I have before observed, is Buto; and in it are two other temples also, one of Apollo and one of Diana. Latona’s temple, which contains the oracle, is a spacious building with a gateway ten fathoms in height.2 The most wonderful thing that was actually to be seen about this temple was a chapel in the enclosure made of a single stone, the length and height of which were the same, each wall being forty cubits square, and the whole a single block! Another block of stone formed the roof, and projected at the eaves to the extent of four cubits.
156. 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 temple of Apollo built upon it, in which are three distinct altars. Palm-trees grow on it in great abundance, and many other trees, some of which bear fruit, while others are barren. The Egyptians tell the following story in connection with this island, to explain the way in which it first came to float: “In former times, when the isle was still fixed and motionless, Latona, one of the eight gods of the first order, who dwelt in the city of Buto, where now she has her oracle, received Apollo as a sacred charge from Isis, and saved him by hiding him in what is now called the floating island. Typhon meanwhile was searching everywhere in hopes of finding the child of Osiris.” (According to the Egyptians, Apollo and Diana are the children of Bacchus and Isis; while Latona is their nurse and their preserver. They call Apollo, in their language, Horus; Ceres they call Isis; Diana, Bubastis. From this Egyptian tradition, and from no other, it must have been that Æschylus, the son of Euphorion, took the idea, which is found in none of the earlier poets, of making Diana the daughter of Ceres.) The island, therefore, in consequence of this event, was first made to float. Such at least is the account which the Egyptians give.
157. Psammetichus ruled Egypt for fifty-four years, during twenty-nine of which he pressed the siege of Azôtus without intermission, till finally he took the place. Azôtus is a great town in Syria. Of all the cities that we know, none ever stood so long a siege.
158. Psammetichus left a son called Necôs, who succeeded him upon the throne. This prince was the first to attempt the construction of the canal to the Red Sea—a work completed afterwards by Darius the Persian—the length of which is four days’ journey, and the width such as to admit of two triremes being rowed along it abreast. The water is derived from the Nile, which the canal leaves a little above the city of Bubastis, near Patûmus, the Arabian town, being continued thence until it joins the Red Sea. At first it is carried along the Arabian side of the Egyptian plain, as far as the chain of hills opposite Memphis, whereby the plain is bounded, and in which lie the great stone quarries; here it skirts the base of the hills running in a direction from west to east; after which it turns, and enters a narrow pass, trending southwards from this point, until it enters the Arabian Gulf. From the northern sea to that which is called the southern or Erythræan, the shortest and quickest passage, which is from Mount Casius, the boundary between Egypt and Syria, to the Gulf of Arabia, is a distance of exactly one thousand furlongs. But the way by the canal is very much longer, on account of the crookedness of its course. A hundred and twenty thousand of the Egyptians, employed upon the work in the reign of Necôs, lost their lives in making the excavation.3 He at length desisted from his undertaking, in consequence of an oracle which warned him “that he was labouring for the barbarian.” The Egyptians call by the name of barbarians all such as speak a language different from their own.
159. Necôs, 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 Erythræan. These last were built in the Arabian Gulf, where the dry docks in which they lay are still visible. These fleets he employed wherever he had occasion; while he also made war by land upon the Syrians, and defeated them in a pitched battle at Magdolus, after which he made himself master of Cadytis, a large city of Syria. The dress which he wore on these occasions he sent to Branchidæ in Milesia, as an offering to Apollo. After having reigned in all sixteen years, Necôs died, and at his death bequeathed the throne to his son Psammis.
160. 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 Egypt, and explained the reason of their visit, the king summoned an assembly of all the wisest of the Egyptians. They met, and the Eleans having given them a full account of all their rules and regulations with respect to the contests, said that they had come to Egypt for the express purpose of learning whether the Egyptians could improve the fairness of their regulations in any particular. The Egyptians considered awhile, and then made inquiry, “If they allowed their own citizens to enter the lists?” The Eleans answered, “That the lists were open to all Greeks, whether they belonged to Elis or to any other state.” Hereupon the Egyptians observed, “That if this were so, they departed from justice very widely, since it was impossible but that they would favour their own countrymen, and deal unfairly by foreigners. If therefore they really wished to manage the games with fairness, and if this was the object of their coming to Egypt, they advised them to confine the contests to strangers, and allow no native of Elis to be a candidate.” Such was the advice which the Egyptians gave to the Eleans.
161. Psammis reigned only six years. He attacked Ethiopia, and died almost directly afterwards. Apries, his son, succeeded him upon the throne, who, excepting Psammetichus, his great-grandfather, was the most prosperous of all the kings that ever ruled over Egypt. The length of his reign was twenty-five years, and in the course of it he marched an army to attack Sidon, and fought a battle with the king of Tyre by sea. When at length the time came that was fated to bring him woe, an occasion arose which I shall describe more fully in my Libyan history, only touching it very briefly here. An army despatched by Apries to attack Cyrêné having met with a terrible reverse, the Egyptians laid the blame on him, imagining that he had, of malice prepense, sent the troops into the jaws of destruction. They believed he had wished a vast number of them to be slain, in order that he himself might reign with more security over the rest of the Egyptians. Indignant therefore at this usage, the soldiers who returned and the friends of the slain broke instantly into revolt.
162. Apries, on learning these circumstances, sent Amasis to the rebels, to appease the tumult by persuasion. Upon his arrival, as he was seeking 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 Patarbêmis, one of his courtiers, a man of high rank, to Amasis, with orders to bring him alive into his presence. Patarbêmis, 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.” Patarbêmis, 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 Patarbêmis 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.
163. 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 Saïs, 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 to the city of Momemphis, and prepared for the coming fight.
164. 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 Calasirians, who come from different cantons, the whole of Egypt being parcelled out into districts bearing this name.
165. The following cantons furnish the Hermotybians: The cantons of Busiris, Saïs, Chemmis, Paprêmis, that of the island called Prosôpitis, and half of Natho. They number, when most numerous, a hundred and sixty thousand. None of them ever practises a trade, but all are given wholly to war.
166. The cantons of the Calasirians are different—they include the following: The cantons of Thebes, Bubastis, Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes, Sebennytus, Athribis, Pharbæthus, Thmuis, Onuphis, Anysis, and Myecphoris—this last canton consists of an island which lies over against the town of Bubastis. The Calasirians, when at their greatest number, have amounted to two hundred and fifty thousand. Like the Hermotybians, they are forbidden to pursue any trade, and devote themselves entirely to warlike exercises, the son following the father’s calling.
167. 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 practise 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 Greece, particularly among the Lacedæmonians. Corinth is the place where mechanics are least despised.4
168. The warrior class of Egypt had certain special privileges in which none of the rest of the Egyptians participated, except the priests. In the first place each man had twelve aruræ of land assigned him free from tax. (The arura is a square of a hundred Egyptian cubits, the Egyptian cubit being of the same length as the Samian.) All the warriors enjoyed this privilege together; but there were other advantages which came to each in rotation, the same man never obtaining them twice. A thousand Calasirians, and the same number of Hermotybians, formed in alternate years the body-guard of the king; and during their year of service these persons, besides their aruræ, received a daily portion of meat and drink, consisting of five pounds of baked bread, two pounds of beef, and four cups of wine.
169. 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 Momemphis, an engagement presently took place. The foreign troops fought bravely, but were overpowered by numbers, in which they fell very far short of their adversaries. It is said that Apries believed that there was not a god who could cast him down from his eminence, so firmly did he think that he had established himself in his kingdom. But at this time the battle went against him; and, his army being worsted, he fell into the enemy’s hands, and was brought back a prisoner to Saïs, where he was lodged in what had been his own house, but was now the palace of Amasis. Amasis treated him with kindness, and kept him in the palace for a while; but finding his conduct blamed by the Egyptians, who charged him with acting unjustly in preserving a man who had shown himself so bitter an enemy both to them and him, he gave Apries over into the hands of his former subjects, to deal with as they chose. Then the Egyptians took him and strangled him, but having so done they buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers. This tomb is in the temple of Minerva, very near the sanctuary, on the left hand as one enters. The Saïtes buried all the kings who belonged to their canton inside this temple; and thus it even contains the tomb of Amasis, as well as that of Apries and his family. The latter is not so close to the sanctuary as the former, but still it is within the temple. It stands in the court, and is a spacious cloister, built of stone, and adorned with pillars carved so as to resemble palm-trees, and with other sumptuous ornaments. Within the cloister is a chamber with folding doors, behind which lies the sepulchre of the king.
170. Here too, in this same precinct of Minerva at Saïs, is the burial-place of one whom I think it not right to mention in such a connection. It stands behind the temple, against the back wall, which it entirely covers. There are also some large stone obelisks in the enclosure, and there is a lake near them, adorned with an edging of stone. In form it is circular, and in size, as it seemed to me, about equal to the lake in Delos called “the Hoop.”
171. 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 Egypt, and taught them to the Pelasgic women of the Peloponnese. Afterwards, when the inhabitants of the peninsula were driven from their homes by the Dorians, the rites perished. Only in Arcadia, where the natives remained and were not compelled to migrate, their observance continued.
172. After Apries had been put to death in the way that I have described above, Amasis reigned over Egypt. He belonged to the canton of Saïs, being a native of the town called Siouph. At first his subjects looked down on him and held him in small esteem, because he had been a mere private person, and of a house of no great distinction; but after a time Amasis succeeded in reconciling them to his rule, not by severity, but by cleverness. Among his other splendour he had a golden foot-pan, in which his guests and himself were wont upon occasion to wash their feet. This vessel he caused to be broken in pieces, and made of the gold an image of one of the gods, which he set up in the most public place in the whole city; upon which the Egyptians flocked to the image, and worshipped it with the utmost reverence. Amasis, finding this was so, called an assembly, and opened the matter to them, explaining how the image had been made of the foot-pan, wherein they had been wont formerly to wash their feet and to put all manner of filth, yet now it was greatly reverenced. “And truly,” he went on to say, “it had gone with him as with the foot-pan. If he was a private person formerly, yet now he had come to be their king. And so he bade them honour and reverence him.” Such was the mode in which he won over the Egyptians, and brought them to be content to do him service.
173. 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.
174. 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.
175. First of all, therefore, he built the gateway of the temple of Minerva at Saïs, 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 androsphinxes, besides certain stones for the repairs, of a most extraordinary size. Some of these he got from the quarries over against Memphis, but the largest were brought from Elephantine, which is twenty days’ voyage from Saïs. Of all these wonderful masses that which I most admire is a chamber made of a single stone, which was quarried at Elephantine. It took three years to convey this block from the quarry to Saïs: and in the conveyance were employed no fewer than two thousand labourers, who were all from the class of boatmen. The length of this chamber on the outside is twenty-one cubits, its breadth fourteen cubits, and its height eight. The measurements inside are the following: The length, eighteen cubits and five-sixths; the breadth, twelve cubits; and the height, five. It lies near the entrance of the temple, where it was left in consequence of the following circumstance: It happened that the architect, just as the stone had reached the spot where it now stands, heaved a sigh, considering the length of time that the removal had taken, and feeling wearied with the heavy toil. The sigh was heard by Amasis, who, regarding it as an omen, would not allow the chamber to be moved forward any further. Some, however, say that one of the workmen engaged at the levers was crushed and killed by the mass, and that this was the reason of its being left where it now stands.
176. To the other temples of much note Amasis also made magnificent offerings—at Memphis, for instance, he gave the recumbent colossus, in front of the temple of Vulcan, which is seventy-five feet long. Two other colossal statues stand on the same base, each twenty feet high, carved in the stone of Ethiopia, one on either side of the temple. There is also a stone colossus of the same size at Saïs, recumbent like that at Memphis. Amasis finally built the temple of Isis, at Memphis, a vast structure, well worth seeing.
177. 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.
178. Amasis was partial to the Greeks, and, among other favours which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in Egypt the city of Naucratis for their residence. To those who only wished to trade upon the coast, and did not want to fix their abode in the country, he granted certain lands where they might set up altars and erect temples to the gods. Of these temples the grandest and most famous, which is also the most frequented, is that called “the Hellenium.” It was built conjointly by the Ionians, Dorians, and Æolians, the following cities taking part in the work: the Ionian states of Chios, Teos, Phocæa, and Clazomenæ; Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus, and Phasêlis of the Dorians; and Mytilêne of the Æolians. These are the states to whom the temple belongs, and they have the right of appointing the governors of the factory; the other cities which claim a share in the building, claim what in no sense belongs to them. Three nations, however, consecrated for themselves separate temples—the Eginetans one to Jupiter, the Samians to Juno, and the Milesians to Apollo.
179. 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 Naucratis, which had an exclusive privilege.
180. It happened in the reign of Amasis that the temple of Delphi had been accidentally burnt,5 and the Amphictyons had contracted to have it rebuilt for three hundred talents, of which sum one-fourth was to be furnished by the Delphians. Under these circumstances the Delphians went from city to city begging contributions, and among their other wanderings came to Egypt and asked for help. From few other places did they obtain so much—Amasis gave them a thousand talents of alum, and the Greek settlers twenty minæ.
181. A league was concluded by Amasis with the Cyrenæans, by which Cyrêné and Egypt became close friends and allies. He likewise took a wife from that city, either as a sign of his friendly feeling, or because he had a fancy to marry a Greek woman. However this may be, certain it is that he espoused a lady of Cyrêné, by name Ladicé, daughter, some say, of Battus or Arcesilaüs, the king—others, of Critobulus, one of the chief citizens. When the time came to complete the contract, Amasis was struck with weakness. Astonished hereat—for he was not wont to be so afflicted—the king thus addressed his bride: “Woman, thou hast certainly bewitched me—now therefore be sure thou shalt perish more miserably than ever woman perished yet.” Ladicé protested her innocence, but in vain; Amasis was not softened. Hereupon she made a vow internally, that if he recovered within the day (for no longer time was allowed her), she would present a statue to the temple of Venus at Cyrêné. Immediately she obtained her wish, and the king’s weakness disappeared. Amasis loved her greatly ever after, and Ladicé performed her vow. The statue which she caused to be made, and sent to Cyrêné, continued there to my day, standing with its face looking outwards from the city. Ladicé herself, when Cambyses conquered Egypt, suffered no wrong; for Cambyses, on learning of her who she was, sent her back unharmed to her country.
182. Besides the marks of favour already mentioned, Amasis also enriched with offerings many of the Greek temples. He sent to Cyrêné a statue of Minerva covered with plates of gold, and a painted likeness of himself. To the Minerva of Lindus he gave two statues in stone, and a linen corselet well worth inspection. To the Samian Juno he presented two statues of himself, made in wood, which stood in the great temple to my day, behind the doors. Samos was honoured with these gifts on account of the bond of friendship subsisting between Amasis and Polycrates, the son of Æaces: Lindus, for no such reason, but because of the tradition that the daughters of Danaus touched there in their flight from the sons of Ægyptus, and built the temple of Minerva. Such were the offerings of Amasis. He likewise took Cyprus, which no man had ever done before, and compelled it to pay him a tribute.[Back to Table of Contents]
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 Æolic Greeks. The reason of the invasion was the following.1 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 Nitêtis,2 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 Persia as if she had been his own child. Some time afterwards, Cambyses, as he gave her an embrace, happened to call her by her father’s name, whereupon she said to him, “I see, O king, thou knowest not how thou hast been cheated by Amasis; who took me, and, tricking me out with gauds, sent me to thee as his own daughter. But I am in truth the child of Apries, who was his lord and master, until he rebelled against him, together with the rest of the Egyptians, and put him to death.” It was this speech, and the cause of quarrel it disclosed, which roused the anger of Cambyses, son of Cyrus, and brought his arms upon Egypt. Such is the Persian story.
2. The Egyptians, however, claim Cambyses as belonging to them, declaring that he was the son of this Nitêtis. 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 Cassandané, the daughter of Pharnaspes, an Achæmenian, 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.
3. 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 Cassandané, then standing by, broke out into loud praise of them, and admired them exceedingly. But Cassandané, wife of Cyrus, answered, “Though such the children I have borne him, yet Cyrus slights me and gives all his regard to the newcomer from Egypt.” Thus did she express her vexation on account of Nitêtis: whereupon Cambyses, the eldest of her boys, exclaimed, “Mother, when I am a man, I will turn Egypt upside down for you.” He was but ten years old, as the tale runs, when he said this, and astonished all the women, yet he never forgot it afterwards; and on this account, they say, when he came to be a man, and mounted the throne, he made his expedition against Egypt.
4. 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 intelligence about Egypt, Amasis, anxious to recover him, ordered that he should be pursued. He gave the matter in charge to one of the most trusty of the eunuchs, who went in quest of the Halicarnassian in a vessel of war. The eunuch caught him in Lycia, but did not contrive to bring him back to Egypt, for Phanes outwitted him by making his guards drunk, and then escaping into Persia. Now it happened that Cambyses was meditating his attack on Egypt, and doubting how he might best pass the desert, when Phanes arrived, and not only told him all the secrets of Amasis, but advised him also how the desert might be crossed. He counselled him to send an ambassador to the king of the Arabs, and ask him for safe-conduct through the region.
5. Now the only entrance into Egypt is by this desert: the country from Phœnicia to the borders of the city Cadytis belongs to the people called the Palæstine 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 Serbônis, near the place where Mount Casius juts out into the sea. At Lake Serbônis, where the tale goes that Typhon hid himself, Egypt begins. Now the whole tract between Jenysus on the one side, and Lake Serbônis and Mount Casius on the other, and this is no small space, being as much as three days’ journey, is a dry desert without a drop of water.
6. I shall now mention a thing of which few of those who sail to Egypt are aware. Twice a year wine is brought into Egypt from every part of Greece, as well as from Phœnicia, in earthen jars; and yet in the whole country you will nowhere see, as I may say, a single jar. What then, every one will ask, becomes of the jars? This too, I will clear up. The burgomaster of each town has to collect the wine-jars within his district, and to carry them to Memphis, where they are all filled with water by the Memphites, who then convey them to this desert tract of Syria. And so it comes to pass that all the jars which enter Egypt year by year, and are there put up to sale, find their way into Syria, whither all the old jars have gone before them.
7. This way of keeping the passage into Egypt fit for use by storing water there, was begun by the Persians so soon as they became masters of that country. As, however, at the time of which we speak the tract had not yet been so supplied, Cambyses took the advice of his Halicarnassian guest, and sent messengers to the Arabian to beg a safe-conduct through the region. The Arabian granted his prayer, and each pledged faith to the other.
8. 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.
9. 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 Arabia, called the Corys, which empties itself into the Erythræan sea. The Arabian king, they say, made a pipe of the skins of oxen and other beasts, reaching from this river all the way to the desert, and so brought the water to certain cisterns which he had had dug in the desert to receive it. It is a twelve days’ journey from the river to this desert tract. And the water, they say, was brought through three different pipes to three separate places.
10. Psammenitus, son of Amasis, lay encamped at the mouth of the Nile, called the Pelusiac, awaiting Cambyses. For Cambyses, when he went up against Egypt, found Amasis no longer in life: he had died after ruling Egypt forty and four years, during all which time no great misfortune had befallen him. When he died, his body was embalmed, and buried in the tomb which he had himself caused to be made in the temple. After his son Psammenitus had mounted the throne, a strange prodigy occurred in Egypt: Rain fell at Egyptian Thebes, a thing which never happened before, and which, to the present time, has never happened again, as the Thebans themselves testify. In Upper Egypt it does not usually rain at all; but on this occasion, rain fell at Thebes in small drops.
11. 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 Egypt, bethought themselves of a mode whereby they might be revenged on him. Phanes had left sons in Egypt. The mercenaries took these, and leading them to the camp, displayed them before the eyes of their father; after which they brought out a bowl, and, placing it in the space between the two hosts, they led the sons of Phanes, one by one, to the vessel, and slew them over it. When the last was dead, water and wine were poured into the bowl, and all the soldiers tasted of the blood, and so they went to the battle. Stubborn was the fight which followed, and it was not till vast numbers had been slain upon both sides, that the Egyptians turned and fled.
12. 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 skulls3 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 Egypt, where you see fewer bald men than in any other land. Such, then, is the reason why the skulls of the Egyptians are so strong. The Persians, on the other hand, have feeble skulls, because they keep themselves shaded from the first, wearing turbans upon their heads. What I have here mentioned I saw with my own eyes; and I observed also the like at Paprêmis, in the case of the Persians who were killed with Achæmenes, the son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan.
13. The Egyptians who fought in the battle, no sooner turned their backs upon the enemy, than they fled away in complete disorder to Memphis, where they shut themselves up within the walls. Hereupon Cambyses sent a Mytilenæan vessel, with a Persian herald on board, who was to sail up the Nile to Memphis, and invite the Egyptians to a surrender. They, however, when they saw the vessel entering the town, poured forth in crowds from the castle, destroyed the ship, and, tearing the crew limb from limb, so bore them into the fortress. After this Memphis was besieged, and in due time surrendered. Hereon the Libyans who bordered upon Egypt, fearing the fate of that country, gave themselves up to Cambyses without a battle, made an agreement to pay tribute to him, and forthwith sent him gifts. The Cyrenæans too, and the Barcæans, having the same fear as the Libyans, immediately did the like. Cambyses received the Libyan presents very graciously, but not so the gifts of the Cyrenæans. They had sent no more than five hundred minæ of silver, which Cambyses, I imagine, thought too little. He therefore snatched the money from them, and with his own hands scattered it among his soldiers.
14. 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 Mytilenæans who were destroyed, with their vessel, in Memphis. For so had the royal judges given their sentence—“for each Mytilenæan 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, as 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; Crœsus, 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.
15. 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 Egypt, and ruled it as governor. For the Persian wont is to treat the sons of kings with honour, and even to give their fathers’ kingdoms to the children of such as revolt from them. There are many cases from which one may collect that this is the Persian rule, and especially those of Pausiris and Thannyras. Thannyras was son of Inarus the Libyan, and was allowed to succeed his father, as was also Pausiris, son of Amyrtæus; yet certainly no two persons ever did the Persians more damage than Amyrtæus and Inarus. In this case Psammenitus plotted evil, and received his reward accordingly. He was discovered to be stirring up revolt in Egypt, wherefore Cambyses, when his guilt clearly appeared, compelled him to drink bull’s blood,4 which presently caused his death. Such was the end of Psammenitus.
16. After this Cambyses left Memphis, and went to Saïs, wishing to do that which he actually did on his arrival there. He entered the palace of Amasis, and straightway commanded that the body of the king should be brought forth from the sepulchre. When the attendants did according to his commandment, he further bade them scourge the body, and prick it with goads, and pluck the hair from it, and heap upon it all manner of insults. The body, however, having been embalmed, resisted, and refused to come apart, do what they would to it; so the attendants grew weary of their work; whereupon Cambyses bade them take the corpse and burn it. This was truly an impious command to give, for the Persians hold fire to be a god, and never by any chance burn their dead. Indeed this practice is unlawful, both with them and with the Egyptians—with them for the reason above mentioned, since they deem it wrong to give the corpse of a man to a god; and with the Egyptians, because they believe fire to be a live animal, which eats whatever it can seize, and then, glutted with the food, dies with the matter which it feeds upon. Now to give a man’s body to be devoured by beasts is in no wise agreeable to their customs, and indeed this is the very reason why they embalm their dead; namely, to prevent them from being eaten in the grave by worms. Thus Cambyses commanded what both nations accounted unlawful. According to the Egyptians, it was not Amasis who was thus treated, but another of their nation who was of about the same height. The Persians, believing this man’s body to be the king’s, abused it in the fashion described above. Amasis, they say, was warned by an oracle of what would happen to him after his death: in order, therefore, to prevent the impending fate, he buried the body, which afterwards received the blows, inside his own tomb near the entrance, commanding his son to bury him, when he died, in the furthest recess of the same sepulchre. For my own part I do not believe that these orders were ever given by Amasis; the Egyptians, as it seems to me, falsely assert it, to save their own dignity.
17. 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 part of Libya which borders upon the southern sea.5 He judged it best to despatch his fleet against Carthage and to send some portion of his land army to act against the Ammonians, while his spies went into Ethiopia, under the pretence of carrying presents to the king, but in reality to take note of all they saw, and especially to observe whether there was really what is called “the table of the Sun” in Ethiopia.
18. 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.
19. When Cambyses had made up his mind that the spies should go, he forthwith sent to Elephantiné 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 Carthage. But the Phœnicians said they would not go, since they were bound to the Carthaginians by solemn oath, and since besides it would be wicked in them to make war on their own children. Now when the Phœnicians refused, the rest of the fleet was unequal to the undertaking; and so it was that the Carthaginians escaped, and were not enslaved by the Persians. Cambyses thought it not right to force the war upon the Phœnicians, because they had yielded themselves to the Persians, and because upon the Phœnicians all his sea-service depended. The Cyprians had also joined the Persians of their own accord, and took part with them in the expedition against Egypt.
20. As soon as the Icthyophagi arrived from Elephantiné, Cambyses, having told them what they were to say, forthwith despatched them into Ethiopia with these following gifts: to wit, a purple robe, a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an alabaster box of myrrh, and a cask of palm wine. The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent, are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the tallest of all the citizens, and of strength equal to his height, and appoint him to rule over them.
21. 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.’ ”
22. 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.”
23. 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 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.”
24. 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 was 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.
25. When the spies had now seen everything, they returned back to Egypt, and made report to Cambyses, who was stirred to anger by their words. Forthwith he set out on his march against the Ethiopians without having made any provision for the sustenance of his army, or reflected that he was about to wage war in the uttermost parts of the earth. Like a senseless madman as he was, no sooner did he receive the report of the Icthyophagi than he began his march, bidding the Greeks who were with his army remain where they were, and taking only his land force with him. At Thebes, which he passed through on his way, he detached from his main body some fifty thousand men, and sent them against the Ammonians with orders to carry the people into captivity, and burn the oracle of Jupiter. Meanwhile he himself went on with the rest of his forces against the Ethiopians. Before, however, he had accomplished one-fifth part of the distance, all that the army had in the way of provisions failed; whereupon the men began to eat the sumpter-beasts, which shortly failed also. If then, at this time, Cambyses, seeing what was happening, had confessed himself in the wrong, and led his army back, he would have done the wisest thing that he could after the mistake made at the outset; but as it was, he took no manner of heed, but continued to march forward. So long as the earth gave them anything, the soldiers sustained life by eating the grass and herbs; but when they came to the bare sand, a portion of them were guilty of a horrid deed: by tens they cast lots for a man, who was slain to be the food of the others. When Cambyses heard of these doings, alarmed at such cannibalism, he gave up his attack on Ethiopia, and retreating by the way he had come, reached Thebes, after he had lost vast numbers of his soldiers. From Thebes he marched down to Memphis, where he dismissed the Greeks, allowing them to sail home. And so ended the expedition against Ethiopia.
26. The men sent to attack the Ammonians, started from Thebes, having guides with them, and may be clearly traced as far as the city Oasis, which is inhabited by Samians, said to be of the tribe Æschrionia. The place is distant from Thebes seven days’ journey across the sand, and is called in our tongue “the Island of the Blessed.”6 Thus far the army is known to have made its way; but thenceforth nothing is to be heard of them, except what the Ammonians, and those who get their knowledge from them, report. It is certain they neither reached the Ammonians, nor ever came back to Egypt. Further than this, the Ammonians relate as follows: That the Persians set forth from Oasis across the sand, and had reached about half way between that place and themselves, when, as they were at their midday meal, a wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops, and caused them wholly to disappear. Thus, according to the Ammonians, did it fare with this army.
27. About the time when Cambyses arrived at Memphis, Apis appeared to the Egyptians. Now Apis is the god whom the Greeks called Epaphus. As soon as he appeared, straightway all the Egyptians arrayed themselves in their gayest garments, and fell to feasting and jollity: which when Cambyses saw, making sure that these rejoicings were on account of his own ill success, he called before him the officers who had charge of Memphis, and demanded of them, “Why, when he was in Memphis before, the Egyptians had done nothing of this kind, but waited until now, when he had returned with the loss of so many of his troops?” The officers made answer, “That one of their gods had appeared to them, a god who at long intervals of time had been accustomed to show himself in Egypt—and that always on his appearance, the whole of Egypt feasted and kept jubilee.” When Cambyses heard this, he told them that they lied, and as liars he condemned them all to suffer death.
28. 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 Egypt”—and straightway, without another word, he bade them bring Apis to him. So they went out from his presence to fetch the god. Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterwards able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The calf which is so called has the following marks: He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle; the hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue.7
29. When the priests returned, bringing Apis with them, Cambyses, like the hairbrained 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, think ye that gods become like this, of flesh and blood, are 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 land of Egypt, and the priests suffered punishment. Apis, wounded in the thigh, lay some time pining in the temple; at last he died of his wound, and the priests buried him secretly without the knowledge of Cambyses.
30. 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 Susa8 and slew Smerdis. Some say he killed him as they hunted together; others, that he took him down to the Erythræan Sea, and there drowned him.
31. This, it is said, was the first outrage which Cambyses committed. The second was the slaying of his sister, who had accompanied him into Egypt, and lived with him as his wife, though she was his full sister,9 the daughter both of his father and his mother. The way wherein he had made her his wife was the following: It was not the custom of the Persians, before his time, to marry their sisters—but Cambyses, happening to fall in love with one of his, and wishing to take her to wife, as he knew that it was an uncommon thing, called together the royal judges, and put it to them, “whether there was any law which allowed a brother, if he wished, to marry his sister?” Now the royal judges are certain picked men among the Persians, who hold their office for life, or until they are found guilty of some misconduct. By them justice is administered in Persia, and they are the interpreters of the old laws, all disputes being referred to their decision. When Cambyses, therefore, put his question to these judges, they gave him an answer which was at once true and safe—“they did not find any law,” they said, “allowing a brother to take his sister to wife, but they found a law, that the king of the Persians might do whatever he pleased.” And so they neither warped the law through fear of Cambyses, nor ruined themselves by over stiffly maintaining the law; but they brought another quite distinct law to the king’s help, which allowed him to have his wish. Cambyses, therefore, married the object of his love,10 and no long time afterwards he took to wife another sister. It was the younger of these who went with him into Egypt, and there suffered death at his hands.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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 Persia—of his cupbearer. Him Cambyses is said to have once addressed as follows: “What sort of man, Prexaspes, do the Persians think me? What do they say of me?” Prexaspes answered, “Oh! sire, they praise thee greatly in all things but one—they say thou art too much given to love of wine.” Such Prexaspes told him was the judgment of the Persians; whereupon Cambyses, full of rage, made answer, “What? they say now that I drink too much wine, and so have lost my senses, and am gone out of my mind! Then their former speeches about me were untrue.” For once, when the Persians were sitting with him, and Crœsus was by, he had asked them, “What sort of man they thought him compared to his father Cyrus?” Hereon they had answered, “That he surpassed his father, for he was lord of all that his father ever ruled, and further had made himself master of Egypt, and the sea.” Then Crœsus, who was standing near, and misliked the comparison, spoke thus to Cambyses: “In my judgment, O son of Cyrus, thou art not equal to thy father, for thou hast not yet left behind thee such a son as he.” Cambyses was delighted when he heard this reply, and praised the judgment of Crœsus.
35. 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.
36. Hereupon Crœsus 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 lies 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, Crœsus 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 Araxes and fight the Massagetæ in their own land, when they were willing to have passed over into ours. By thy misdirection of thine own affairs thou broughtest ruin upon thyself; and by thy bad counsel, which he followed, thou broughtest ruin upon Cyrus, my father. But thou shalt not escape punishment now, for I have long been seeking to find some occasion against thee.” As he thus spoke, Cambyses took up his bow to shoot at Crœsus; but Crœsus ran hastily out, and escaped. So when Cambyses found that he could not kill him with his bow, he bade his servants seize him and put him to death. The servants, however, who knew their master’s humour, thought it best to hide Crœsus; that so, if Cambyses relented, and asked for him, they might bring him out, and get a reward for having saved his life—if, on the other hand, he did not relent, or regret the loss, they might then despatch him. Not long afterwards, Cambyses did in fact regret the loss of Crœsus, and the servants perceiving it, let him know that he was still alive. “I am glad,” said he, “that Crœsus lives; but as for you who saved him, ye shall not escape my vengeance, but shall all of you be put to death.” And he did even as he had said.
37. Many other wild outrages of this sort did Cambyses commit, both upon the Persians and the allies, while he still stayed at Memphis; among the rest he opened the ancient sepulchres, and examined the bodies that were buried in them. He likewise went into the temple of Vulcan, and made great sport of the image. For the image of Vulcan is very like the Patæci of the Phœnicians, wherewith they ornament the prows of their ships of war. If persons have not seen these, I will explain in a different way—it is a figure resembling that of a pigmy. He went also into the temple of the Cabiri, which it is unlawful for any one to enter except the priests, and not only made sport of the images, but even burnt them. They are made like the statue of Vulcan, who is said to have been their father.
38. 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.”
39. While Cambyses was carrying on this war in Egypt, the Lacedæmonians likewise sent a force to Samos against Polycrates, the son of Æaces, who had by insurrection made himself master of that island. At the outset he divided the state into three parts, and shared the kingdom with his brothers, Pantagnôtus and Syloson; but later, having killed the former and banished the latter, who was the younger of the two, he held the whole island. Hereupon he made a contract of friendship with Amasis, the Egyptian king, sending him gifts, and receiving from him others in return. In a little while his power so greatly increased, that the fame of it went abroad throughout Ionia and the rest of Greece.1 Whenever he turned his arms, success waited on him. He had a fleet of a hundred penteconters, and bowmen to the number of a thousand. Herewith he plundered all, without distinction of friend or foe; for he argued that a friend was better pleased if you gave him back what you had taken from him, than if you spared him at the first. He captured many of the islands, and several towns upon the mainland. Among his other doings he overcame the Lesbians in a sea-fight, when they came with all their forces to the help of Miletus, and made a number of them prisoners. These persons, laden with fetters, dug the moat which surrounds the castle at Samos.
40. 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 Samos. “Amasis to Polycrates thus sayeth: It is a pleasure to hear of a friend and ally prospering; but thy exceeding prosperity does not cause me joy, forasmuch as I know that the gods are envious. My wish for myself, and for those whom I love, is, to be now successful, and now to meet with a check; thus passing through life amid alternate good and ill, rather than with perpetual good fortune. For never yet did I hear tell of any one succeeding in all his undertakings, who did not meet with calamity at last, and come to utter ruin. Now, therefore, give ear to my words, and meet thy good luck in this way: bethink thee which of all thy treasures thou valuest most and canst least bear to part with; take it, whatsoever it be, and throw it away, so that it may be sure never to come any more into the sight of man. Then, if thy good fortune be not thenceforth chequered with ill, save thyself from harm by again doing as I have counselled.”
41. 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 Têlecles, 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.
42. 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.” This 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.
43. 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 herald to Samos, and dissolved the contract of friendship. This he did, that when the great and heavy misfortune came, he might escape the grief which he would have felt if the sufferer had been his bond-friend.
44. It was with this Polycrates, so fortunate in every undertaking, that the Lacedæmonians now went to war. Certain Samians, the same who afterwards founded the city of Cydonia in Crete, had earnestly intreated their help. For Polycrates, at the time when Cambyses, son of Cyrus, was gathering together an armament against Egypt, had sent to beg him not to omit to ask aid from Samos; whereupon Cambyses with much readiness despatched a messenger to the island, and made request that Polycrates would give some ships to the naval force which he was collecting against Egypt. Polycrates straightway picked out from among the citizens such as he thought most likely to stir revolt against him, and manned with them forty triremes, which he sent to Cambyses, bidding him keep the men safe, and never allow them to return home.
45. Now some accounts say that these Samians did not reach Egypt; for that when they were off Carpathus, they took counsel together and resolved to sail no further. But others maintain that they did go to Egypt, and, finding themselves watched, deserted, and sailed back to Samos. There Polycrates went out against them with his fleet, and a battle was fought and gained by the exiles; after which they disembarked upon the island and engaged the land forces of Polycrates, but were defeated, and so sailed off to Lacedæmon. Some relate that the Samians from Egypt overcame Polycrates, but it seems to me untruly; for had the Samians been strong enough to conquer Polycrates by themselves, they would not have needed to call in the aid of the Lacedæmonians. And, moreover, it is not likely that a king who had in his pay so large a body of foreign mercenaries, and maintained likewise such a force of native bowmen, would have been worsted by an army so small as that of the returned Samians. As for his own subjects, to hinder them from betraying him and joining the exiles, Polycrates shut up their wives and children in the sheds built to shelter his ships, and was ready to burn sheds and all in case of need.
46. When the banished Samians reached Sparta, they had audience of the magistrates, before whom they made a long speech, as was natural with persons greatly in want of aid. Accordingly, at this first sitting the Spartans answered them, that they had forgotten the first half of their speech, and could make nothing of the remainder. Afterwards the Samians had another audience, whereat they simply said, showing a bag which they had brought with them, “The bag wants flour.” The Spartans answered that they did not need to have said “the bag”; however, they resolved to give them aid.
47. Then the Lacedæmonians 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 Crœsus, 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 interwoven 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 temple of Minerva in Lindus is just such another.
48. The Corinthians likewise right willingly lent a helping hand towards the expedition against Samos; for a generation earlier, about the time of the seizure of the wine-bowl, they too had suffered insult at the hands of the Samians. It happened that Periander, son of Cypselus, had taken three hundred boys, children of the chief nobles among the Corcyræans, and sent them to Alyattes for eunuchs; the men who had them in charge touched at Samos on their way to Sardis; whereupon the Samians, having found out what was to become of the boys when they reached that city, first prompted them to take sanctuary at the temple of Diana; and after this, when the Corinthians, as they were forbidden to tear the suppliants from the holy place, sought to cut off from them all supplies of food, invented a festival in their behoof, which they celebrate to this day with the self-same rites. Each evening, as night closed in, during the whole time that the boys continued there, choirs of youths and virgins were placed about the temple, carrying in their hands cakes made of sesame and honey, in order that the Corcyræan boys might snatch the cakes, and so get enough to live upon.
49. 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 Corcyra. If, now, after the death of Periander, the Corinthians and Corcyræans had been good friends, it is not to be imagined that the former would ever have taken part in the expedition against Samos for such a reason as this; but as, in fact, the two people have always, ever since the first settlement of the island, been enemies to one another, this outrage was remembered, and the Corinthians bore the Samians a grudge for it. Periander had chosen the youths from among the first families in Corcyra, and sent them a present to Alyattes, to revenge a wrong which he had received. For it was the Corcyræans who began the quarrel and injured Periander by an outrage of a horrid nature.
50. 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, tyrant of Epidaurus, asked them to his court. They went, and Procles treated them with much kindness, as was natural, considering they were his own daughter’s children. At length, when the time for parting came, Procles, as he was sending them on their way, said, “Know you now, my children, who it was that caused your mother’s death?” The elder son took no account of this speech, but the younger, whose name was Lycophron, was sorely troubled at it—so much so, that when he got back to Corinth, looking upon his father as his mother’s murderer, he would neither speak to him, nor answer when spoken to, nor utter a word in reply to all his questionings. So Periander at last, growing furious at such behaviour, banished him from his house.
51. 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.
52. 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, seeing 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 this wealthy Corinth, thou hast brought thyself to a beggar’s life, because thou must resist and treat with anger him whom it least behoves thee to oppose. If there has been a calamity, and thou bearest me ill will on that account, bethink thee that I too feel it, and am the greatest sufferer, in as much as it was by me that the deed was done. For thyself, now that thou knowest how much better a thing it is to be envied than pitied, and how dangerous it is to indulge anger against parents and superiors, come back with me to thy home.” With such words as these did Periander chide his son; but the son made no reply, except to remind his father that he was indebted to the god in the penalty for coming and holding converse with him. Then Periander knew that there was no cure for the youth’s malady, nor means of overcoming it; so he prepared a ship and sent him away out of his sight to Corcyra, which island at that time belonged to him. As for Procles, Periander, regarding him as the true author of all his present troubles, went to war with him as soon as his son was gone, and not only made himself master of his kingdom Epidaurus, but also took Procles himself, and carried him into captivity.
53. 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 Corcyra and recalled Lycophron to take the kingdom. Lycophron, however, did not even deign to ask the bearer of this message a question. But Periander’s heart was set upon the youth, so he sent again to him, this time by his own daughter, the sister of Lycophron, who would, he thought, have more power to persuade him than any other person. Then she, when she reached Corcyra, spoke thus with her brother: “Dost thou wish the kingdom, brother, to pass into strange hands, and our father’s wealth to be made a prey, rather than thyself return to enjoy it? Come back home with me, and cease to punish thyself. It is scant gain, this obstinacy. Why seek to cure evil by evil? Mercy, remember, is by many set above justice. Many, also, while pushing their mother’s claims have forfeited their father’s fortune. Power is a slippery thing—it has many suitors; and he is old and stricken in years—let not thy own inheritance go to another.” Thus did the sister, who had been tutored by Periander what to say, urge all the arguments most likely to have weight with her brother. He, however, made answer, “That so long as he knew his father to be still alive, he would never go back to Corinth.” When the sister brought Periander this reply, he sent to his son a third time by a herald, and said he would come himself to Corcyra, and let his son take his place at Corinth as heir to his kingdom. To these terms Lycophron agreed; and Periander was making ready to pass into Corcyra and his son to return to Corinth, when the Corcyræans, being informed of what was taking place, to keep Periander away, put the young man to death. For this reason it was that Periander took vengeance on the Corcyræans.
54. The Lacedæmonians arrived before Samos with a mighty armament, and forthwith laid siege to the place. In one of the assaults upon the walls, they forced their way to the top of the tower which stands by the sea on the side where the suburb is, but Polycrates came in person to the rescue with a strong force, and beat them back. Meanwhile, at the upper tower, which stood on the ridge of the hill, the besieged, both mercenaries and Samians, made a sally; but after they had withstood the Lacedæmonians a short time, they fled backwards, and the Lacedæmonians, pressing upon them, slew numbers.
55. If now all who were present had behaved that day like Archias and Lycôpas, two of the Lacedæmonians, Samos might have been taken. For these two heroes, following hard upon the flying Samians, entered the city along with them, and, being all alone, and their retreat cut off, were slain within the walls of the place. I myself once fell in with the grandson of this Archias, a man named Archias like his grandsire, and the son of Samius, whom I met at Pitana, to which canton he belonged. He respected the Samians beyond all other foreigners; and he told me that his father was called Samius, because his grandfather Archias died in Samos so gloriously, and that the reason why he respected the Samians so greatly was, that his grandsire was buried with public honours by the Samian people.
56. The Lacedæmonians 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 Peloponnese. There is a silly tale told, that Polycrates struck a quantity of the coin of his country in lead, and, coating it with gold, gave it to the Lacedæmonians, who on receiving it took their departure.2
This was the first expedition into Asia of the Lacedæmonian Dorians.
57. The Samians who had fought against Polycrates, when they knew that the Lacedæmonians were about to forsake them, left Samos themselves, and sailed to Siphnos. They happened to be in want of money; and the Siphnians at that time were at the height of their greatness, no islanders having so much wealth as they. There were mines of gold and silver in their country, and of so rich a yield, that from a tithe of the ores the Siphnians furnished out a treasury at Delphi which was on a par with the grandest there. What the mines yielded was divided year by year among the citizens. At the time when they formed the treasury, the Siphnians consulted the oracle, and asked whether their good things would remain to them many years. The Pythoness made answer as follows:
Now about this time the forum of the Siphnians and their town-hall or prytaneum had been adorned with Parian marble.
58. 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.
59. 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 Trœzenians, 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 temple of Minerva in Egina. The Eginetans took part against the Samians on account of an ancient grudge, since the Samians had first, when Amphicrates was king of Samos, made war on them and done great harm to their island, suffering, however, much damage also themselves. Such was the reason which moved the Eginetans to make this attack.
60. I have dwelt the longer on the affairs of the Samians, because three of the greatest works in all Greece were made by them. One is a tunnel, under a hill one hundred and fifty fathoms high, carried entirely through the base of the hill, with a mouth at either end. The length of the cutting is seven furlongs—the height and width are each eight feet. Along the whole course there is a second cutting, twenty cubits deep and three feet broad, whereby water is brought, through pipes, from an abundant source into the city. The architect of this tunnel was Eupalinus, son of Naustrophus, a Megarian. Such is the first of their great works; the second is a mole in the sea, which goes all round the harbour, near twenty fathoms deep, and in length above two furlongs. The third is a temple; the largest of all the temples known to us, whereof Rhœcus, son of Phileus, a Samian, was first architect. Because of these works I have dwelt longer on the affairs of Samos.
61. While Cambyses, son of Cyrus, after losing his senses, still lingered in Egypt, two Magi, brothers, revolted against him. One of them had been left in Persia by Cambyses as comptroller of his household; and it was he who began the revolt. Aware that Smerdis was dead, and that his death was hid, and known to few of the Persians, while most believed that he was still alive, he laid his plan, and made a bold stroke for the crown. He had a brother—the same of whom I spoke before as his partner in the revolt—who happened greatly to resemble Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, whom Cambyses, his brother, had put to death. And not only was this brother of his like Smerdis in person, but he also bore the selfsame name, to wit, Smerdis. Patizeithes, the other Magus, having persuaded him that he would carry the whole business through, took him and made him sit upon the royal throne. Having so done, he sent heralds through all the land, to Egypt and elsewhere, to make proclamation to the troops that henceforth they were to obey Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, and not Cambyses.
62. The other heralds therefore made proclamation as they were ordered, and likewise the herald whose place it was to proceed into Egypt. He, when he reached Agbatana, in Syria, finding Cambyses and his army there, went straight into the middle of the host, and standing forth before them all, made the proclamation which Patizeithes, the Magus, had commanded. Cambyses no sooner heard him, than believing that what the herald said was true, and imagining that he had been betrayed by Prexaspes (who, he supposed, had not put Smerdis to death when sent into Persia for that purpose), he turned his eyes full upon Prexaspes, and said, “Is this the way, Prexaspes, that thou didst my errand?” “Oh! my liege,” answered the other, “there is no truth in the tidings that Smerdis, thy brother, has revolted against thee, nor hast thou to fear in time to come any quarrel, great or small, with that man. With my own hands I wrought thy will on him, and with my own hands I buried him. If of a truth the dead can leave their graves, expect Astyages the Mede to rise and fight against thee; but if the course of nature be the same as formerly, then be sure no ill will ever come upon thee from this quarter. Now therefore my counsel is, that we send in pursuit of the herald, and strictly question him who it was that charged him to bid us obey king Smerdis.”
63. When Prexaspes had so spoken, and Cambyses had approved his word, 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 in 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 Egypt. The man who gave me my orders was the Magus that Cambyses left in charge of the household; but he said that Smerdis son of Cyrus sent you the message.” In all this the herald spoke nothing but the strict truth. Then Cambyses said thus to Prexaspes: “Thou art free from all blame, Prexaspes, since, as a right good man, thou hast not failed to do the thing which I commanded. But tell me now, which of the Persians can have taken the name of Smerdis, and revolted from me?” “I think, my liege,” he answered, “that I apprehend the whole business. The men who have risen in revolt against thee are the two Magi, Patizeithes, who was left comptroller of thy household, and his brother, who is named Smerdis.”
64. 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 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 Syria. So when Cambyses heard the name of the place, the double shock that he had received, from the revolt of the Magus and from his wound, brought him back to his senses. And he understood now the true meaning of the oracle, and said, “Here then Cambyses, son of Cyrus, is doomed to die.”
65. 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 Egypt I saw in my sleep a vision, which would that I had never beheld! I thought a messenger came to me from my home, and told me that Smerdis sate upon the royal throne, and with his head touched the heavens. Then I feared to be cast from my throne by Smerdis my brother, and I did what was more hasty than wise. Ah! truly, do what they may, it is impossible for men to turn aside the coming fate. I, in my folly, sent Prexaspes to Susa to put my brother to death. So this great woe was accomplished; and I then lived without fear, never imagining that, after Smerdis was dead, I need dread revolt from any other. But herein I had quite mistaken what was about to happen; and so I slew my brother without any need, and nevertheless have lost my crown. For it was Smerdis the Magus, and not Smerdis my brother, of whose rebellion God forewarned me by the vision. The deed is done, however, and Smerdis, son of Cyrus, be sure is lost to you. The Magi have the royal power—Patizeithes, whom I left at Susa to overlook my household, and Smerdis his brother. There was one who would have been bound beyond all others to avenge the wrongs I have suffered from these Magians, but he, alas! has perished by a horrid fate, deprived of life by those nearest and dearest to him. In his default, nothing now remains for me but to tell you, O Persians, what I would wish to have done after I have breathed my last. Therefore, in the name of the gods that watch over our royal house, I charge you all, and specially such of you as are Achæmenids, that ye do not tamely allow the kingdom to go back to the Medes. Recover it one way or another, by force, or fraud; by fraud, if it is by fraud that they have seized on it; by force, if force has helped them in their enterprise. Do this, and then may your land bring you forth fruit abundantly, and your wives bear children, and your herds increase, and freedom be your portion for ever: but do it not—make no brave struggle to regain the kingdom—and then my curse be on you, and may the opposite of all these things happen to you—and not only so, but may you, one and all, perish at the last by such a fate as mine!” Then Cambyses, when he left speaking, bewailed his whole misfortune from beginning to end.
66. 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.
67. 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 Asia mourned his loss exceedingly, except only the Persians. For no sooner did he come to the throne than forthwith he sent round to every nation under his rule, and granted them freedom from war-service and from taxes for the space of three years.
68. 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 Phædima, 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?” Phædima 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.”
69. 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 go 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.” Phædima 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. Phædima 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.
70. 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, arrived at Susa from Persia, whereof his father was governor. On his coming it seemed good to the six to take him likewise into their counsels.
71. After this, the men, being now seven in all,3 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 to-day—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.”
72. 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?” “Otanes,” 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 Persia, and have a message to deliver to the king from my father. An untruth must be spoken, where need requires. For whether men lie, or say true, it is with one and the same object. Men lie, because they think to gain by deceiving others; and speak the truth, because they expect to get something by their true speaking, and to be trusted afterwards in more important matters. Thus, though their conduct is so opposite, the end of both is alike. If there were no gain to be got, your true-speaking man would tell untruths as much as your liar, and your liar would tell the truth as much as your true-speaking man. The door-keeper, who lets us in readily, shall have his guerdon some day or other; but woe to the man who resists us, he must forthwith be declared an enemy. Forcing our way past him, we will press in and go straight to our work.”
73. 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 death-bed—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.
74. 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.
75. 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 Achæmenes, 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 that Persia was now ruled by the Magi. Last of all, with many curses upon the Persians if they did not recover the kingdom, and wreak vengeance on the Magi, he threw himself headlong from the tower into the abyss below. Such was the end of Prexaspes, a man all his life of high repute among the Persians.
76. 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.
77. 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 door-keepers 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.
78. 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 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,4 and he was afraid that if he struck a blow he might kill Gobryas. Then Gobryas, 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.
79. 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.
80. 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 yourselves have 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.”
81. 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 he is 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.”
82. 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 men 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.”
83. 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, or in 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 withdrew and stood aloof from the contest. And still to this day the family of Otanes continues to be the only free family in Persia; those who belong to it submit to the rule of the king only so far as they themselves choose; they are bound, however, to observe the laws of the land like the other Persians.
84. After this the six took council 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.5 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.
85. Now Darius had a groom, a sharp-witted knave, called Œbares. After the meeting had broken up, Darius sent for him, and said, “Œbares, 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,” Œbares 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 Œbares 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.
86. 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 thunder-clap. 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.
87. This is the account which some of the Persians give of the contrivance of Œbares; 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.
88. Thus was Darius, son of Hystaspes, appointed king; and except the Arabians, all they of Asia were subject to him; for Cyrus, and after him Cambyses, had brought them all under. The Arabians were never subject as slaves to the Persians, but had a league of friendship with them from the time when they brought Cambyses on his way as he went into Egypt; for, had they been unfriendly, the Persians could never have made their invasion.
And now Darius contracted marriages6 of the first rank, according to the notions of the Persians: to wit, with two daughters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystône; of whom, Atossa had been twice married before, once to Cambyses, her brother, and once to the Magus, while the other, Artystône, 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 Œbares, got himself the kingdom of the Persians.”
89. This he set up in Persia; and afterwards he proceeded to establish twenty governments of the kind which the Persians call satrapies, assigning to each its governor, and fixing the tribute which was to be paid him by the several nations. And generally he joined together in one satrapy the nations that were neighbours, but sometimes he passed over the nearer tribes, and put in their stead those which were more remote. The following is an account of these governments, and of the yearly tribute which they paid to the king: Such as brought their tribute in silver were ordered to pay according to the Babylonian talent; while the Euboic was the standard measure for such as brought gold. Now the Babylonian talent contains seventy Euboic minæ. During all the reign of Cyrus, and afterwards when Cambyses ruled, there were no fixed tributes, but the nations severally brought gifts to the king. On account of this and other like doings, the Persians say that Darius was a huckster, Cambyses a master, and Cyrus a father; for Darius looked to making a gain in everything; Cambyses was harsh and reckless; while Cyrus was gentle, and procured them all manner of goods.
90. The Ionians, the Magnesians of Asia, the Æolians, 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.
91. The country reaching from the city of Posideïum (built by Amphilochus, son of Amphiaraüs, on the confines of Syria and Cilicia) to the borders of Egypt, excluding therefrom a district which belonged to Arabia, and was free from tax, paid a tribute of three hundred and fifty talents. All Phœnicia, Palestine, Syria, and Cyprus, were herein contained. This was the fifth satrapy.
From Egypt, and the neighbouring parts of Libya, together with the towns of Cyrêné and Barca, which belonged to the Egyptian satrapy, the tribute which came in was seven hundred talents. These seven hundred talents did not include the profits of the fisheries of Lake Mœris, nor the corn furnished to the troops at Memphis. Corn was supplied to 120,000 Persians, who dwelt at Memphis in the quarter called the white Castle, and to a number of auxiliaries. This was the sixth satrapy.
The Sattagydians, the Gandarians, the Dadicæ, and the Aparytæ, who were all reckoned together, paid a tribute of a hundred and seventy talents. This was the seventh satrapy.
Susa, and the other parts of Cissia, paid three hundred talents. This was the eighth satrapy.
92. From Babylonia, and the rest of Assyria, were drawn a thousand talents of silver, and five hundred boy-eunuchs. This was the ninth satrapy.
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, Pausicæ, Pantimathi, and Daritæ, 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 Ægli, the tribute received was three hundred and sixty talents. This was the twelfth satrapy.
93. From Pactyïca, Armenia, and the countries reaching thence to the Euxine, the sum drawn was four hundred talents. This was the thirteenth satrapy.
The Sagartians, Sarangians, Thamanæans, Utians, and Mycians, together with the inhabitants of the islands in the Erythræan 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.
94. 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, Mosynœci, 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.
95. 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.
96. Such was the revenue which Darius derived from Asia and a small part of Libya. Later in his reign the sum was increased by the tribute of the islands, and of the nations of Europe as far as Thessaly. The great king stores away the tribute which he receives after this fashion—he melts it down, and, while it is in a liquid state, runs it into earthen vessels, which are afterwards removed, leaving the metal in a solid mass. When money is wanted, he coins as much of this bullion as the occasion requires.
97. Such then were the governments, and such the amounts of tribute at which they were assessed respectively. Persia alone has not been reckoned among the tributaries—and for this reason, because the country of the Persians is altogether exempt from tax. The following peoples paid no settled tribute, but brought gifts to the king: first, the Ethiopians bordering upon Egypt, who were reduced by Cambyses when he made war on the long-lived Ethiopians, and who dwell about the sacred city of Nysa, and have festivals in honour of Bacchus. The grain on which they and their next neighbours feed is the same as that used by the Calantian Indians. Their dwelling-houses are under ground. Every third year these two nations brought—and they still bring to my day—two chœnices of virgin gold, two hundred logs of ebony, five Ethiopian boys, and twenty elephant tusks. The Colchians, and the neighbouring tribes who dwell between them and the Caucasus—for so far the Persian rule reaches, while north of the Caucasus no one fears them any longer—undertook to furnish a gift, which in my day was still brought every fifth year, consisting of a hundred boys, and the same number of maidens.7 The Arabs brought every year a thousand talents of frankincense. Such were the gifts which the king received over and above the tribute-money.
98. 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 King, is the following: Eastward of India lies a tract which is entirely sand. Indeed, of all the inhabitants of Asia, concerning whom anything certain is known, the Indians dwell the nearest to the east, and the rising of the sun. Beyond them the whole country is desert on account of the sand. The tribes of Indians are numerous, and do not all speak the same language—some are wandering tribes, others not. They who dwell in the marshes along the river, live on raw fish, which they take in boats made of reeds, each formed out of a single joint. These Indians wear a dress of sedge, which they cut in the river and bruise; afterwards they weave it into mats, and wear it as we wear a breast-plate.
99. Eastward of these Indians are another tribe, called Padæans, 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.
100. 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.
101. 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 Persia towards the south: nor had king Darius ever any authority over them.
102. Besides these, there are Indians of another tribe, who border on the city Caspatyrus, and of the country of Pactyïca; these people dwell northward of all the rest of the Indians, and follow nearly the same mode of life as the Bactrians. They are more warlike than any of the other tribes; and from them the men are sent forth who go to procure the gold. For it is in this part of India that the sandy desert lies. Here, in this desert, there live amid the sand great ants, in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes. The Persian king has a number of them, which have been caught by the hunters in the land whereof we are speaking. These ants make their dwellings under ground, and like the Greek ants, which they very much resemble in shape, throw up sand-heaps as they burrow. Now the sand which they throw up is full of gold. The Indians, when they go into the desert to collect this sand, take three camels and harness them together, a female in the middle and a male on either side, in a leading-rein. The rider sits on the female, and they are particular to choose for the purpose one that has just dropped her young; for their female camels can run as fast as horses, while they bear burthens very much better.
103. 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.8
104. 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 Greece, so that the men there are said at that time to drench themselves with water. At noon his heat is much the same in India as in other countries, after which, as the day declines, the warmth is only equal to that of the morning sun elsewhere. Towards evening the coolness increases, till about sunset it becomes very cold.
105. 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.
106. 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 Greece enjoys a climate more excellently tempered than any other country. In India, which, as I observed lately, is the furthest region of the inhabited world towards the east, all the four-footed beasts and the birds are very much bigger than those found elsewhere, except only the horses, which are surpassed by the Median breed called the Nisæan. Gold too is produced there in vast abundance, some dug from the earth, some washed down by the rivers, some carried off in the mode which I have but now described. And further, there are trees which grow wild there, the fruit whereof is a wool exceeding in beauty and goodness that of sheep. The natives make their clothes of this tree-wool.
107. Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ladanum. The Arabians do not get any of these, except the myrrh, without trouble. The frankincense they procure by means of the gum styrax, which the Greeks get from the Phœnicians; this they burn, and thereby obtain the spice. For the trees which bear the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of varied colours, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are of the same kind as the serpents that invade Egypt; and there is nothing but the smoke of the styrax which will drive them from the trees.
108. 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 boldest9 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 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.
109. Now with respect to the vipers and the winged snakes of Arabia, if they increased as fast as their nature would allow, impossible were it for man to maintain himself upon the earth. Accordingly it is found that when the male and female come together, at the very moment of impregnation, the female seizes the male by the neck, and having once fastened, cannot be brought to leave go until she has bit the neck entirely through. And so the male perishes; but after a while he is revenged upon the female by means of the young, which, while still unborn, gnaw a passage through the womb, and then through the belly of their mother, and so make their entrance into the world. Contrariwise, other snakes, which are harmless, lay eggs, and hatch a vast number of young. Vipers are found in all parts of the world; but the winged serpents are nowhere seen except in Arabia, where they are all congregated together. This makes them appear so numerous.
110. 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.
111. 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 Phœnicians, 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 Arabia into other countries.
112. 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 chiefly burn as incense.
113. Concerning the spices of Arabia, let no more be said. The whole country is scented with them, and exhales an odour marvellously sweet. There are also in Arabia two kinds of sheep worthy of admiration, the like of which is nowhere else to be seen; the one kind has long tails, not less than three cubits in length, which, if they were allowed to trail on the ground, would be bruised and fall into sores. As it is, all the shepherds know enough of carpentering to make little trucks for their sheep’s tails. The trucks are placed under the tails, each sheep having one to himself, and the tails are then tied down upon them. The other kind has a broad tail, which is a cubit across sometimes.
114. Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, huge elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony; and the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere else.
115. Now these are the furthest regions of the world in Asia and Libya. Of the extreme tracts of Europe towards the west I cannot speak with any certainty; for I do not allow that there is any river, to which the barbarians give the name of Eridanus, emptying itself into the northern sea, whence (as the tale goes) amber is procured; nor do I know of any islands called the Cassiterides (Tin Islands), whence the tin comes which we use. For in the first place the name Eridanus is manifestly not a barbarian word at all, but a Greek name, invented by some poet or other; and secondly, though I have taken vast pains, I have never been able to get an assurance from an eye-witness that there is any sea on the further side of Europe. Nevertheless, tin and amber do certainly come to us from the ends of the earth.
116. The northern parts of Europe are very much richer in gold than any other region: but how it is procured I have no certain knowledge. The story runs, that the one-eyed Arimaspi purloins it from the griffins; but here too I am incredulous, and cannot persuade myself that there is a race of men born with one eye, who in all else resemble the rest of mankind. Nevertheless it seems to be true that the extreme regions of the earth, which surround and shut up within themselves all other countries, produce the things which are the rarest, and which men reckon the most beautiful.
117. There is a plain in Asia which is shut in on all sides by a mountain-range, and in this mountain-range are five openings. The plain lies on the confines of the Chorasmians, Hyrcanians, Parthians, Sarangians, and Thamanæans, and belonged formerly to the first-mentioned of these peoples. Ever since the Persians, however, obtained the mastery of Asia, it has been the property of the Great King. A mighty river, called the Aces, flows from the hills inclosing the plain; and this stream, formerly splitting into five channels, ran through the five openings in the hills, and watered the lands of the five nations which dwell around. The Persian came, however, and conquered the region, and then it went ill with the people of these lands. The Great King blocked up all the passages between the hills with dykes and flood-gates, and so prevented the water from flowing out. Then the plain within the hills became a sea, for the river kept rising, and the water could find no outlet. From that time the five nations which were wont formerly to have the use of the stream, losing their accustomed supply of water, have been in great distress. In winter, indeed, they have rain from heaven like the rest of the world; but in summer, after sowing their millet and their sesame, they always stood in need of water from the river. When, therefore, they suffer from this want, hastening to Persia, men and women alike, they take their station at the gate of the king’s palace, and wail aloud. Then the king orders the flood-gates to be opened towards the country whose need is greatest, and lets the soil drink until it has had enough; after which the gates on this side are shut, and others are unclosed for the nation which, of the remainder, needs it most. It has been told me that the king never gives the order to open the gates till the suppliants have paid him a large sum of money over and above the tribute.
118. 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.
119. 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 a while 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 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 had spoken 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.
120. About the time of Cambyses’ last sickness, the following events happened. There was a certain Orœtes, a Persian, whom Cyrus had made governor of Sardis. This man conceived a most unholy wish. He had never suffered wrong or had an ill word from Polycrates the Samian—nay, he had not so much as seen him in all his life; yet, notwithstanding, he conceived the wish to seize him and put him to death. This wish, according to the account which the most part give arose from what happened one day as he was sitting with another Persian in the gate of the king’s palace. The man’s name was Mitrobates, and he was ruler of the satrapy of Dascyleium. He and Orœtes had been talking together, and from talking they fell to quarrelling and comparing their merits; whereupon Mitrobates said to Orœtes reproachfully, “Art thou worthy to be called a man, when, near as Samos lies to thy government, and easy as it is to conquer, thou hast omitted to bring it under the dominion of the king? Easy to conquer, said I? Why, a mere common citizen, with the help of fifteen men-at-arms, mastered the island, and is still king of it.” Orœtes, they say, took this reproach greatly to heart; but, instead of seeking to revenge himself on the man by whom it was uttered, he conceived the desire of destroying Polycrates, since it was on Polycrates’ account that the reproach had fallen on him.
121. Another less common version of the story is that Orœtes 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 Orœtes, 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.
122. 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 Orœtes, while residing at Magnesia on the Mæander, sent a Lydian, by name Myrsus, the son of Gyges, with a message to Polycrates at Samos, well knowing what that monarch designed. For Polycrates entertained a design which no other Greek, so far as we know, ever formed before him, unless it were Minos the Cnossian, and those (if there were any such) who had the mastery of the Egæan at an earlier time—Polycrates, I say, was the first of mere human birth who conceived the design of gaining the empire of the sea, and aspired to rule over Ionia and the islands. Knowing then that Polycrates was thus minded, Orœtes sent his message, which ran as follows:
“Orœtes 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 Greece. But if thou doubtest of my wealth, send the trustiest of thy followers, and I will show my treasures to him.”
123. 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, Mæandrius, son of Mæandrius, a Samian, to look into the matter. This was the man who, not very long afterwards, made an offering at the temple of Juno of all the furniture which had adorned the male apartments in the palace of Polycrates, an offering well worth seeing. Orœtes learning that one was coming to view his treasures, contrived as follows: He filled eight great chests almost brimful of stones, and then covering over the stones with gold, corded the chests, and so held them in readiness. When Mæandrius arrived, he was shown this as Orœtes’ treasure, and having seen it returned to Samos.
124. 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 Jove, 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!”
125. Polycrates, however, making light of all the counsel offered him, set sail and went to Orœtes. Many friends accompanied him; among the rest, Democêdes, the son of Calliphon, a native of Crotona, who was a physician, and the best skilled in his art of all men then living. Polycrates, on his arrival at Magnesia, perished miserably, in a way unworthy of his rank and of his lofty schemes. For, if we except the Syracusans, there has never been one of the Greek tyrants who was to be compared with Polycrates for magnificence. Orœtes, however, slew him in a mode which is not fit to be described, and then hung his dead body upon a cross. His Samian followers Orœtes let go free, bidding them thank him that they were allowed their liberty; the rest, who were in part slaves, in part free foreigners, he alike treated as his slaves by conquest. Then was the dream of the daughter of Polycrates fulfilled; for Polycrates, as he hung upon the cross, and rain fell on him, was washed by Jupiter; and he was anointed by the sun, when his own moisture overspread his body. And so the vast good fortune of Polycrates came at last to the end which Amasis the Egyptian king had prophesied in days gone by.
126. It was not long before retribution for the murder of Polycrates overtook Orœtes. After the death of Cambyses, and during all the time that the Magus sat upon the throne, Orœtes 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—Orœtes 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.
127. Darius therefore was no sooner settled upon the throne than he longed to take vengeance upon Orœtes 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 Orœtes, as he understood, had a great power. In truth a thousand Persians attended on him as a bodyguard, and he held the satrapies of Phrygia, Lydia, and Ionia. Darius therefore proceeded by artifice. He called together a meeting of all the chief of the Persians, and thus addressed them: “Who among you, O Persians, will undertake to accomplish me a matter by skill without force or tumult? Force is misplaced where the work wants skilful management. Who, then, will undertake to bring me Orœtes alive, or else to kill him? He never did the Persians any good in his life, and he has wrought us abundant injury. Two of our number, Mitrobates and his son, he has slain; and when messengers go to recall him, even though they have their mandate from me, with an insolence which is not to be endured, he puts them to death. We must kill this man, therefore, before he does the Persians any greater hurt.”
128. 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 Bagæus, son of Artontes. Then Bagæus 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 Sardis. On his arrival he was shown into the presence of Orœtes, when he uncovered the letters one by one, and giving them to the king’s secretary—every satrap has with him a king’s secretary—commanded him to read their contents. Herein his design was to try the fidelity of the bodyguard, and to see if they would be likely to fall away from Orœtes. When therefore he saw that they showed the letters all due respect, and even more highly reverenced their contents, he gave the secretary a paper in which was written, “Persians, king Darius forbids you to guard Orœtes.” The soldiers at these words laid aside their spears. So Bagæus, finding that they obeyed this mandate, took courage, and gave into the secretary’s hands the last letter, wherein it was written, “King Darius commands the Persians who are in Sardis to kill Orœtes.” Then the guards drew their swords and slew him upon the spot. Thus did retribution for the murder of Polycrates the Samian overtake Orœtes the Persian.
129. Soon after the treasures of Orœtes had been conveyed to Sardis, it happened that king Darius, as he leaped from his horse during the chase, sprained his foot. The sprain was one of no common severity, for the ancle-bone was forced quite out of the socket. Now Darius already had at his court certain Egyptians whom he reckoned the best-skilled physicians in all the world; to their aid, therefore, he had recourse; but they twisted the foot so clumsily, and used such violence, that they only made the mischief greater. For seven days and seven nights the king lay without sleep, so grievous was the pain he suffered. On the eighth day of his indisposition, one who had heard before leaving Sardis of the skill of Democêdes the Crotoniat, told Darius, who commanded that he should be brought with all speed into his presence. When, therefore, they had found him among the slaves of Orœtes, quite uncared for by any one, they brought him just as he was, clanking his fetters, and all clothed in rags, before the king.
130. 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 Democêdes 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 Democêdes, 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 Democêdes with two sets of fetters wrought in gold; so Democêdes 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 Democêdes 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 the chest of gold, and gave so bountifully to Democêdes, 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.
131. This Democêdes left his country and became attached to Polycrates in the following way: His father, who dwelt at Crotona, was a man of a savage temper, and treated him cruelly. When, therefore, he could no longer bear such constant ill-usage, Democêdes left his home, and sailed away to Egina. There he set up in business, and succeeded the first year in surpassing all the best-skilled physicians of the place, notwithstanding that he was without instruments, and had with him none of the appliances needful for the practice of his art. In the second year the state of Egina hired his services at the price of a talent; in the third the Athenians engaged him at a hundred minæ; and in the fourth Polycrates at two talents. So he went to Samos, and there took up his abode. It was in no small measure from his success that the Crotoniats came to be reckoned such good physicians; for about this period the physicians of Crotona had the name of being the best, and those of Cyrêné the second best, in all Greece. The Argives, about the same time, were thought to be the first musicians in Greece.
132. After Democêdes had cured Darius at Susa, he dwelt there in a large house, and feasted daily at the king’s table, nor did he lack anything that his heart desired, excepting liberty to return to his country. By interceding for them with Darius, he saved the lives of the Egyptian physicians who had had the care of the king before he came, when they were about to be impaled because they had been surpassed by a Greek; and further, he succeeded in rescuing an Elean soothsayer,1 who had followed the fortunes of Polycrates, and was lying in utter neglect among his slaves. In short, there was no one who stood so high as Democêdes in the favour of the king.
133. 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 Democêdes, and showed it to him. Democêdes 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.
134. On these terms Democêdes 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 Democêdes 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 Scythia. Yet a brief space and all will be accomplished as thou desirest.”
But Atossa rejoined: “Look now, this war with Scythia were best reserved a while—for the Scythians may be conquered at any time. Prithee, lead me thy host first into Greece. I long to be served by some of those Lacedæmonian maids of whom I have heard so much. I want also Argive, and Athenian, and Corinthian women. There is now at the court a man who can tell thee better than any one else in the whole world whatever thou wouldst know concerning Greece, and who might serve thee right well as guide; I mean him who performed the cure on thy foot.”
“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.”
135. 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 Democêdes for their guide, and explore the seacoasts of Greece. Above all, they were to be sure to bring Democêdes back with them, and not suffer him to run away and escape. After he had given these orders, Darius sent for Democêdes, and besought him to serve as guide to the Persians, and when he had shown them the whole of Greece to come back to Persia. He should take, he said, all the valuables he possessed as presents to his father and his brothers, and he should receive on his return a far more abundant store. Moreover, the king added, he would give him, as his contribution towards the presents, a merchant-ship laden with all manner of precious things, which should accompany him on his voyage. Now I do not believe that Darius, when he made these promises, had any guile in his heart: Democêdes, however, who suspected that the king spoke to try him, took care not to snatch at the offers with any haste; but said, “he would leave his own goods behind to enjoy upon his return—the merchant-ship which the king proposed to grant him to carry gifts to his brothers, that he would accept at the king’s hands.” So when Darius had laid his orders upon Democêdes, he sent him and the Persians away to the coast.
136. The men went down to Phœnicia, to Sidon, the Phœnician 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 Italy. There Aristophilides, king of the Tarentines, out of kindness to Democêdes, took the rudders off the Median ships, and detained their crews as spies. Meanwhile Democêdes escaped to Crotona, his native city, whereupon Aristophilides released the Persians from prison, and gave their rudders back to them.
137. The Persians now quitted Tarentum, and sailed to Crotona in pursuit of Democêdes; they found him in the market-place, where they straightway laid violent hands on him. Some of the Crotoniats, who greatly feared the power of the Persians, were willing to give him up; but others resisted, held Democêdes fast, and even struck the Persians with their walking-sticks. They, on their part, kept crying out, “Men of Crotona, beware what you do. It is the king’s runaway slave that you are rescuing. Think you Darius will tamely submit to such an insult? Think you, that if you carry off the man from us, it will hereafter go well with you? Will you not rather be the first persons on whom we shall make war? Will not your city be the first we shall seek to lead away captive?” Thus they spake; but the Crotoniats did not heed them, they rescued Democêdes, and seized also the trading-ship which the Persians had brought with them from Phœnicia. Thus robbed, and bereft of their guide, the Persians gave up all hope of exploring the rest of Greece, and set sail for Asia. As they were departing, Democêdes sent to them, and begged they would inform Darius that the daughter of Milo was affianced to him as his bride. For the name of Milo the wrestler was in high repute with the king. My belief is, that Democêdes hastened his marriage by the payment of a large sum of money for the purpose of showing Darius that he was a man of mark in his own country.
138. The Persians weighed anchor and left Crotona, but, being wrecked on the coast of Iapygia, were made slaves by the inhabitants. From this condition they were rescued by Gillus, a banished Tarentine, who ransomed them at his own cost, and took them back to Darius. Darius offered to repay this service by granting Gillus whatever boon he chose to ask; whereupon Gillus told the king of his misfortune, and begged to be restored to his country. Fearing, however, that he might bring trouble on Greece if a vast armament were sent to Italy on his account, he added that it would content him if the Cnidians undertook to obtain his recall. Now the Cnidians were close friends of the Tarentines, which made him think there was no likelier means of procuring his return. Darius promised, and performed his part; for he sent a messenger to Cnidus, and commanded the Cnidians to restore Gillus. The Cnidians did as he wished, but found themselves unable to persuade the Tarentines, and were too weak to attempt force. Such then was the course which this matter took. These were the first Persians who ever came from Asia to Greece;2 and they were sent to spy out the land for the reason which I have before mentioned.
139. After this, king Darius besieged and took Samos, which was the first city, Greek or Barbarian, that he conquered. The cause of his making war upon Samos was the following: At the time when Cambyses, son of Cyrus, marched against Egypt, vast numbers of Greeks flocked thither; some, as might have been looked for, to push their trade; others, to serve in his army; others again, merely to see the land: among these last was Syloson, son of Æaces, and brother of Polycrates, at that time an exile from Samos. This Syloson, during his stay in Egypt, met with a singular piece of good fortune. He happened one day to put on a scarlet cloak, and thus attired to go into the market-place at Memphis, when Darius, who was one of Cambyses’ body-guard, and not at that time a man of any account, saw him, and taking a strong liking to the dress, went up and offered to purchase it. Syloson perceived how anxious he was, and by a lucky inspiration answered: “There is no price at which I would sell my cloak; but I will give it thee for nothing, if it must needs be thine.” Darius thanked him, and accepted the garment.
140. 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 Susa, and seating himself at the portal of the royal palace, gave out that he was a benefactor of the king. Then the doorkeeper went and told Darius. Amazed at what he heard, the king said thus within himself: “What Greek can have been my benefactor, or to which of them do I owe anything, so lately as I have got the kingdom? Scarcely a man of them all has been here, not more than one or two certainly, since I came to the throne. Nor do I remember that I am in the debt of any Greek. However, bring him in, and let me hear what he means by his boast.” So the doorkeeper ushered Syloson into the presence, and the interpreters asked him who he was, and what he had done that he should call himself a benefactor of the king. Then Syloson told the whole story of the cloak, and said that it was he who had made Darius the present. Hereupon Darius exclaimed, “Oh! thou most generous of men, art thou indeed he who, when I had no power at all, gavest me something, albeit little? Truly the favour is as great as a very grand present would be nowadays. I will therefore give thee in return gold and silver without stint, that thou mayest never repent of having rendered a service to Darius, son of Hystaspes.” “Give me not, O king,” replied Syloson, “either silver or gold; but recover me Samos, my native land, and let that be thy gift to me. It belongs now to a slave of ours, who, when Orœtes put my brother Polycrates to death, became its master. Give me Samos, I beg; but give it unharmed, with no bloodshed—no leading into captivity.”
141. 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.
142. The government of Samos was held at this time by Mæandrius, son of Mæandrius, whom Polycrates had appointed as his deputy. This person conceived the wish to act like the justest of men, but it was not allowed him to do so. On receiving tidings of the death of Polycrates, he forthwith raised an altar to Jove the Protector of Freedom, and assigned it the piece of ground which may still be seen in the suburb. This done, he assembled all the citizens, and spoke to them as follows:
“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 Mæandrius 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.”
143. The man who thus spoke was a certain Telesarchus, one of the leading citizens. Mæandrius, 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 Mæandrius within a short time fell sick: whereupon Lycarêtus, 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.
144. When the Persians whose business it was to restore Syloson reached Samos, not a man was found to lift up his hand against them. Mæandrius and his partisans expressed themselves willing to quit the island upon certain terms, and these terms were agreed to by Otanes. After the treaty was made, the most distinguished of the Persians had their thrones brought, and seated themselves over against the citadel.
145. Now the king Mæandrius had a lightheaded brother—Charilaüs 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 Mæandrius. When this was reported to him, Mæandrius gave orders that Charilaüs 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.”
146. So spake Charilaüs, and Mæandrius 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 underground leading from the citadel to the sea. Mæandrius accordingly took ship and sailed away from Samos; and Charilaüs, having armed all the mercenaries, threw open the gates, and fell upon the Persians, who looked for nothing of the kind, 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.
147. 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.
148. Mæandrius fled from Samos to Lacedæmon, and conveyed thither all the riches which he had brought away from the island, after which he acted as follows: Having placed upon his board all the gold and silver vessels that he had, and bade his servants employ themselves in cleaning them, he himself went and entered into conversation with Cleomenes, son of Anaxandridas, king of Sparta, and as they talked brought him along to his house. There Cleomenes, seeing the plate, was filled with wonder and astonishment; whereon the other begged that he would carry home with him any of the vessels that he liked. Mæandrius said this two or three times; but Cleomenes here displayed surpassing honesty. He refused the gift, and thinking that if Mæandrius made the same offers to others he would get the aid he sought, the Spartan king went straight to the ephors and told them “it would be best for Sparta that the Samian stranger should be sent away from the Peloponnese; for otherwise he might perchance persuade himself or some other Spartan to be base.” The ephors took his advice, and let Mæandrius know by a herald that he must leave the city.
149. Meanwhile the Persians netted Samos, and delivered it up to Syloson, stripped of all its men. After some time, however, this same general Otanes was induced to repeople it by a dream which he had, and a loathsome disease that seized on him.
150. After the armament of Otanes had set sail for Samos, the Babylonians revolted, having made every preparation for defence. During all the time that the Magus was king, and while the seven were conspiring, they had profited by the troubles, and had made themselves ready against a siege. And it happened somehow or other that no one perceived what they were doing. At last when the time came for rebelling openly, they did as follows: Having first set apart their mothers, each man chose besides out of his whole household one woman, whomsoever he pleased; these alone were allowed to live, while all the rest were brought to one place and strangled. The women chosen were kept to make bread for the men; while the others were strangled that they might not consume the stores.
151. When tidings reached Darius of what had happened, he drew together all his power, and began the war by marching straight upon Babylon, and laying siege to the place. The Babylonians, however, cared not a whit for his siege. Mounting upon the battlements that crowned their walls, they insulted and jeered at Darius and his mighty host. One even shouted to them and said, “Why sit ye there, Persians? why do ye not go back to your homes? Till mules foal ye will not take our city.” This was said by a Babylonian who thought that a mule would never foal.
152. 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.
153. 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 sumptermules 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 Babylon might now be taken. For it seemed to him that there was a divine providence in the man having used the phrase, and then his mule having foaled.
154. As soon therefore as he felt within himself that Babylon was fated to be taken, he went to Darius and asked him if he set a very high value on its conquest. When he found that Darius did indeed value it highly, he considered further with himself how he might make the deed his own, and be the man to take Babylon. Noble exploits in Persia are ever highly honoured, and raise their authors to greatness. He therefore reviewed all ways of bringing the city under, but found none by which he could hope to prevail, unless he maimed himself and then went over to the enemy. To do this seeming to him a light matter, he mutilated himself in a way that was utterly without remedy. For he cut off his own nose and ears, and then, clipping his hair close and flogging himself with a scourge, he came in this plight before Darius.
155. 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 because 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 Babylon. I will desert to the enemy as I am, and when I get into their city I will tell them that it is by thee I have been thus treated. I think they will believe my words, and entrust me with a command of troops. Thou, on thy part, must wait till the tenth day after I am entered within the town, and then place near to the gates of Semiramis a detachment of thy army, troops for whose loss thou wilt care little, a thousand men. Wait, after that, seven days, and post me another detachment, two thousand strong, at the Nineveh gates; then let twenty days pass, and at the end of that time station near the Chaldæan gates a body of four thousand. Let neither these nor the former troops be armed with any weapons but their swords—those thou mayest leave them. After the twenty days are over, bid thy whole army attack the city on every side, and put me two bodies of Persians, one at the Belian, the other at the Cissian gates; for I expect, that, on account of my successes, the Babylonians will entrust everything, even the keys of their gates, to me. Then it will be for me and my Persians to do the rest.”
156. 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 look-out, 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.
157. 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 the whole army, and put the keys of their city into his hands.
158. 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 temple of Jupiter Belus; the rest, who did not see it, kept at their posts, till at last they too learnt that they were betrayed.
159. Thus was Babylon taken for the second time. Darius, having become master of the place, destroyed the wall, and tore down all the gates; for Cyrus had done neither the one nor the other when he took Babylon. He then chose out near three thousand of the leading citizens, and caused them to be crucified, while he allowed the remainder still to inhabit the city. Further, wishing to prevent the race of the Babylonians from becoming extinct, he provided wives for them in the room of those whom (as I explained before) they strangled, to save their stores. These he levied from the nations bordering on Babylonia, who were each required to send so large a number to Babylon, that in all there were collected no fewer than fifty thousand. It is from these women that the Babylonians of our times are sprung.
160. 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 Egypt against the Athenians and their allies, was a son of this Zopyrus. And Zopyrus, who fled from Persia to Athens,3 was a son of this Megabyzus.[Back to Table of Contents]
AFTER the taking of Babylon, an expedition was led by Darius into Scythia.1 Asia abounding in men, and vast sums flowing into the treasury, the desire seized him to exact vengeance from the Scyths, who had once in days gone by invaded Media, defeated those who met them in the field, and so begun the quarrel. During the space of eight-and-twenty years, as I have before mentioned, the Scyths continued lords of the whole of Upper Asia. They entered Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians, and overthrew the empire of the Medes, who till they came possessed the sovereignty. On their return to their homes after the long absence of twenty-eight years, a task awaited them little less troublesome than their struggle with the Medes. They found an army of no small size prepared to oppose their entrance. For the Scythian women, when they saw that time went on, and their husbands did not come back, had intermarried with their slaves.
2. 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.2
3. 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 Scythia by digging a broad dyke from the Tauric mountains to the vast lake of the Mæotis. Afterwards, when the Scythians tried to force an entrance, they marched out and engaged them. Many battles were fought, and the Scythians gained no advantage, until at last one of them thus addressed the remainder: “What are we doing, Scythians? We are fighting our slaves, diminishing our own number when we fall, and the number of those that belong to us when they fall by our hands. Take my advice—lay spear and bow aside, and let each man fetch his horsewhip, and go boldly up to them. So long as they see us with arms in our hands, they imagine themselves our equals in birth and bravery; but let them behold us with no other weapon but the whip, and they will feel that they are our slaves, and flee before us.”
4. 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.
5. According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they are the youngest of all nations. Their tradition is as follows. A certain Targitaüs 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. Targitaüs, 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.
6. From Leipoxais sprang the Scythians of the race called Auchatæ; from Arpoxais, the middle brother, those known as the Catiari and Traspians; from Colaxais, the youngest, the Royal Scythians, or Paralatæ. All together they are named Scoloti, after one of their kings: the Greeks, however, call them Scythians.
7. Such is the account which the Scythians give of their origin. They add that from the time of Targitaüs, 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 Scythia is very great, Colaxais gave each of his three sons a separate kingdom, one of which was of ampler size than the other two: in this the gold was preserved. Above, to the northward of the furthest dwellers in Scythia, the country is said to be concealed from sight and made impassable by reason of the feathers which are shed abroad abundantly. The earth and air are alike full of them, and this it is which prevents the eye from obtaining any view of the region.
8. Such is the account which the Scythians give of themselves, and of the country which lies above them. The Greeks who dwell about the Pontus tell a different story. According to them, Hercules, when he was carrying off the cows of Geryon, arrived in the region which is now inhabited by the Scyths, but which was then a desert. Geryon lived outside the Pontus, in an island called by the Greeks Erytheia, near Gades, which is beyond the Pillars of Hercules upon the Ocean. Now some say that the Ocean begins in the east, and runs the whole way round the world; but they give no proof that this is really so.3 Hercules came from thence into the region now called Scythia, and, being overtaken by storm and frost, drew his lion’s skin about him, and fell fast asleep. While he slept, his mares, which he had loosed from his chariot to graze, by some wonderful chance disappeared.
9. 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.”
10. 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 Gelônus, 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 Gelônus, 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 Scythia; and from the circumstance of the goblet which hung from the belt, the Scythians to this day wear goblets at their girdles. This was the only thing which the mother of Scythes did for him. Such is the tale told by the Greeks who dwell around the Pontus.
11. 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 Massagetæ, but with ill success; they therefore quitted their homes, crossed the Araxes, and entered the land of Cimmeria. For the land which is now inhabited by the Scyths was formerly the country of the Cimmerians. On their coming, the natives, who heard how numerous the invading army was, held a council. At this meeting opinion was divided, and both parties stiffly maintained their own view; but the counsel of the Royal tribe was the braver. For the others urged that the best thing to be done was to leave the country, and avoid a contest with so vast a host; but the Royal tribe advised remaining and fighting for the soil to the last. As neither party chose to give way, the one determined to retire without a blow and yield their lands to the invaders; but the other, remembering the good things they had enjoyed in their homes, and picturing to themselves the evils which they had to expect if they gave them up, resolved not to flee, but rather to die and at least be buried in their fatherland. Having thus decided, they drew apart in two bodies, the one as numerous as the other, and fought together. All of the Royal tribe were slain, and the people buried them near the river Tyras, where their grave is still to be seen. Then the rest of the Cimmerians departed, and the Scythians, on their coming, took possession of a deserted land.
12. Scythia still retains traces of the Cimmerians; there are Cimmerian castles, and a Cimmerian ferry, also a tract called Cimmeria, and a Cimmerian Bosphorus. It appears likewise that the Cimmerians, when they fled into Asia to escape the Scyths, made a settlement in the peninsula where the Greek city of Sinôpé was afterwards built. The Scyths, it is plain, pursued them, and missing their road, poured into Media. For the Cimmerians kept the line which led along the sea-shore, but the Scyths in their pursuit held the Caucasus upon their right, thus proceeding inland, and falling upon Media. This account is one which is common both to Greeks and barbarians.
13. Aristeas also, son of Caystrobius, a native of Proconnêsus, says in the course of his poem that rapt 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.4 Thus, even Aristeas does not agree in his account of this region with the Scythians.
14. 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 Proconnêsus 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 dropped 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 Proconnêsus, 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.
15. 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 Proconnêsus and Metapontum. Aristeas then, as the Metapontines affirm, appeared to them in their own country, and ordered them to set up an altar in honour of Apollo, and to place near it a statue to be called that of Aristeas the Proconnêsian. “Apollo,” he told them, “had come to their country once, though he had visited no other Italiots; and he had been with Apollo at the time, not however in his present form, but in the shape of a crow.” Having said so much, he vanished. Then the Metapontines, as they relate, sent to Delphi, and inquired of the god, in what light they were to regard the appearance of this ghost of a man. The Pythoness, in reply, bade them attend to what the spectre said, “for so it would go best with them.” Thus advised, they did as they had been directed: and there is now a statue bearing the name of Aristeas, close by the image of Apollo, in the market-place of Metapontum, with bay-trees around it. But enough has been said concerning Aristeas.
16. 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.
17. Above the mart of the Borysthenites, which is situated in the very centre of the whole sea-coast of Scythia, the first people who inhabit the land are the Callipedæ, a Græco-Scythic race. Next to them, as you go inland, dwell the people called the Alazonians. These two nations in other respects resemble the Scythians in their usages, but sow and eat corn, also onions, garlic, lentils, and millet. Beyond the Alazonians reside Scythian cultivators, who grow corn, not for their own use, but for sale. Still higher up are the Neuri. Northwards of the Neuri the continent, as far as it is known to us, is uninhabited. These are the nations along the course of the river Hypanis, west of the Borysthenes.
18. Across the Borysthenes, the first country after you leave the coast is Hylæa (the Woodland). Above this dwell the Scythian Husbandmen, whom the Greeks living near the Hypanis call Borysthenites, while they call themselves Olbiopolites. These Husbandmen extend eastward, a distance of three days’ journey, to a river bearing the name of Panticapes, while northward the country is theirs for eleven days’ sail up the course of the Borysthenes. Further inland there is a vast tract which is uninhabited. Above this desolate region dwell the Cannibals, who are a people apart, much unlike the Scythians. Above them the country becomes an utter desert; not a single tribe, so far as we know, inhabits it.
19. 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 Hylæa, 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.
20. 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 Mæotis, called Cremni (the Cliffs), and in part to the river Tanais. North of the country of the Royal Scythians are the Melanchlæni (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.
21. When one crosses the Tanais, one is no longer in Scythia; the first region on crossing is that of the Sauromatæ, who, beginning at the upper end of the Palus Mæotis, 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.
22. 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 Thyssagetæ 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 Iyrcæ; 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.
23. 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,5 to have flat noses, and very long chins. These people speak a language of their own, but 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 Argippæans.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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 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.6 Thus our knowledge extends as far as this nation.
27. 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 “spû” for “the eye.”
28. 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 wagons 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.
29. To me it seems that the cold may likewise be the cause which prevents the oxen in Scythia from having horns. There is a line of Homer’s in the Odyssey which gives a support to my opinion:
“Lybia too, where horns bud quick on the foreheads of lambkins.”
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.
30. Here I must express my wonder—additions being what my work always from the very first affected—that in Elis, where the cold is not remarkable, and there is nothing else to account for it, mules are never produced. The Eleans say it is in consequence of a curse; and their habit is, when the breeding-time comes, to take their mares into one of the adjoining countries, and there keep them till they are in foal, when they bring them back again into Elis.
31. 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, or even having any view of those regions, my opinion is, that in the countries above Scythia it always snows—less, of course, in the summer than in the winter-time. Now snow, when it falls, looks like feathers, as every one is aware who has seen it come down close to him. These northern regions, therefore, are uninhabitable, by reason of the severity of the winter; and the Scythians, with their neighbours, call the snow-flakes feathers because, I think, of the likeness which they bear to them. I have now related what is said of the most distant parts of this continent whereof any account is given.
32. 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 really be a work of his.
33. 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 Hyperboreans7 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 Greece, were received first of all by the Dodonæans. Thence they descended to the Maliac Gulf, from which they were carried across into Eubœa, where the people handed them on from city to city, till they came at length to Carystus. The Carystians took them over to Tenos, without stopping at Andros; and the Tenians brought them finally to Delos. Such, according to their own account, was the road by which the offerings reached the Delians. Two damsels, they say, named Hyperoché and Laodicé, brought the first offerings from the Hyperboreans; and with them the Hyperboreans sent five men, to keep them from all harm by the way; these are the persons whom the Delians call “Perpherees,” and to whom great honours were paid at Delos. Afterwards the Hyperboreans, when they found that their messengers did not return, thinking it would be a grievous thing always to be liable to lose the envoys they should send, adopted the following plan: they wrapped their offerings in the wheaten straw, and bearing them to their borders, charged their neighbours to send them forward from one nation to another, which was done accordingly, and in this way the offerings reached Delos. I myself know of a practice like this, which obtains with the women of Thrace and Pæonia. They in their sacrifices to the queenly Diana bring wheaten straw always with their offerings. Of my own knowledge I can testify that this is so.
34. The damsels sent by the Hyperboreans died in Delos; and in their honour all the Delian girls and youths are wont to cut off their hair. The girls, before their marriage-day, cut off a curl, and twining it round a distaff, lay it upon the grave of the strangers. This grave is on the left as one enters the precinct of Diana, and has an olive-tree growing on it. The youths wind some of their hair round a kind of grass, and, like the girls, place it upon the tomb. Such are the honours paid to these damsels by the Delians.
35. They add that, once before, there came to Delos by the same road as Hyperoché and Laodicé, two other virgins from the Hyperboreans, whose names were Argé and Opis. Hyperoché and Laodicé came to bring to Ilithyia the offering which they had laid upon themselves, in acknowledgment of their quick labours; but Argé and Opis came at the same time as the gods of Delos, and are honoured by the Delians in a different way. For the Delian women make collections in these maidens’ names, and invoke them in the hymn which Olen, a Lycian, composed for them; and the rest of the islanders, and even the Ionians, have been taught by the Delians to do the like. This Olen, who came from Lycia, made the other old hymns also which are sung in Delos. The Delians add, that the ashes from the thigh-bones burnt upon the altar are scattered over the tomb of Opis and Argé. Their tomb lies behind the temple of Diana, facing the east, near the banqueting-hall of the Ceians. Thus much then, and no more, concerning the Hyperboreans.
36. 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.
37. The Persians inhabit a country upon the southern or Erythræan 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.
38. 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 Phœnicia, to the Triopic promontory. This is one of the tracts, and is inhabited by thirty different nations.
39. The other starts from the country of the Persians, and stretches into the Erythræan sea, containing first Persia, then Assyria, and after Assyria, Arabia. It ends, that is to say it is considered to end, though it does not really come to a termination, at the Arabian gulf—the gulf whereinto Darius conducted the canal which he made from the Nile. Between Persia and Phœnicia lies a broad and ample tract of country, after which the region I am describing skirts our sea, stretching from Phœnicia along the coast of Palestine-Syria till it comes to Egypt, where it terminates. This entire tract contains but three nations. The whole of Asia west of the country of the Persians, is comprised in these two regions.
40. 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 Erythræan sea, and on the north by the Caspian and the river Araxes, which flows towards the rising sun. Till you reach India the country is peopled; but further east it is void of inhabitants, and no one can say what sort of region it is. Such then is the shape, and such the size of Asia.
41. Libya belongs to one of the above-mentioned tracts, for it adjoins on Egypt. In Egypt the tract is at first a narrow neck, the distance from our sea to the Erythræan not exceeding a hundred thousand fathoms, or, in other words, a thousand furlongs; but from the point where the neck ends, the tract which bears the name of Libya is of very great breadth.
42. For my part I am astonished that men should ever have divided Libya, Asia, and Europe as they have, for they are exceedingly unequal. Europe extends the entire length of the other two, and for breadth will not even (as I think) bear to be compared with them. As for Libya, we know it to be washed on all sides by the sea, except where it is attached to Asia. This discovery was first made by Necôs,8 the Egyptian king, who on desisting from the canal which he had begun between the Nile and the Arabian Gulf, sent to sea a number of ships manned by Phœnicians, with orders to make for the Pillars of Hercules, and return to Egypt through them, and by the Mediterranean. The Phœnicians took their departure from Egypt by way of the Erythræan Sea, and so sailed into the southern ocean. When autumn came, they went ashore, wherever they might happen to be, and having sown a tract of land with corn, waited until the grain was fit to cut. Having reaped it, they again set sail; and thus it came to pass that two whole years went by, and it was not till the third year that they doubled the Pillars of Hercules, and made good their voyage home. On their return, they declared—I for my part do not believe them, but perhaps others may—that in sailing round Libya they had the sun upon their right hand. In this way was the extent of Libya first discovered.
43. Next to these Phœnicians the Carthaginians, according to their own accounts, made the voyage. For Sataspes, son of Teaspes the Achæmenian, did not circumnavigate Libya, though he was sent to do so; but fearing the length and desolateness of the journey, he turned back and left unaccomplished the task which had been set him by his mother. This man had used violence towards a maiden, the daughter of Zopyrus, son of Megabyzus, and King Xerxes was about to impale him for the offence, when his mother, who was a sister of Darius, begged him off, undertaking to punish his crime more heavily than the king himself had designed. She would force him, she said, to sail round Libya and return to Egypt by the Arabian Gulf. Xerxes gave his consent; and Sataspes went down to Egypt, and there got a ship and crew, with which he set sail for the Pillars of Hercules. Having passed the Straits, he doubled the Libyan headland, known as Cape Soloeis, and proceeded southward. Following this course for many months over a vast stretch of sea, and finding that more water than he had crossed still lay before him, he put about and came back to Egypt. Thence proceeding to the court he made report to Xerxes, that at the farthest point to which he had reached the coast was occupied by a dwarfish race, who wore a dress made from the palm-tree. These people, whenever he landed, left their towns and fled away to the mountains; his men, however, did them no wrong, only entering into their cities and taking some of their cattle. The reason why he had not sailed quite round Libya was, he said, because the ship stopped, and would not go any further. Xerxes, however, did not accept this account for true; and so Sataspes, as he had failed to accomplish the task set him, was impaled by the king’s orders in accordance with the former sentence. One of his eunuchs, on hearing of his death, ran away with a great portion of his wealth, and reached Samos, where a certain Samian seized the whole. I know the man’s name well, but I shall willingly forget it here.
44. Of the greater part of Asia, Darius was the discoverer. Wishing to know where the Indus (which is the only river save one that produces crocodiles) emptied itself into the sea, he sent a number of men, on whose truthfulness he could rely, and among them Scylax of Caryanda, to sail down the river. They started from the city of Caspatyrus, in the region called Pactyïca, and sailed down the stream in an easterly direction to the sea. Here they turned westward, and, after a voyage of thirty months, reached the place from which the Egyptian king, of whom I spoke above, sent the Phœnicians to sail round Libya. After this voyage was completed, Darius conquered the Indians, and made use of the sea in those parts. Thus all Asia, except the eastern portion, has been found to be similarly circumstanced with Libya.
45. But the boundaries of Europe are quite unknown, and there is not a man who can say whether any sea girds it round either on the north or on the east, while in length it undoubtedly extends as far as both the other two. For my part I cannot conceive why three names, and women’s names especially, should ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one, nor why the Egyptian Nile and the Colchian Phasis (or according to others the Mæotic Tanais and Cimmerian ferry) should have been fixed upon for the boundary lines;9 nor can I even say who gave the three tracts their names, or whence they took the epithets. According to the Greeks in general, Libya was so called after a certain Libya, a native woman, and Asia after the wife of Prometheus. The Lydians, however, put in a claim to the latter name, which they declare was not derived from Asia the wife of Prometheus, but from Asies, the son of Cotys, and grandson of Manes, who also gave name to the tribe Asias at Sardis. As for Europe, no one can say whether it is surrounded by the sea or not, neither is it known whence the name of Europe was derived, nor who gave it name, unless we say that Europe was so called after the Tyrian Europé, and before her time was nameless, like the other divisions. But it is certain that Europé was an Asiatic, and never even set foot on the land which the Greeks now call Europe, only sailing from Phœnicia to Crete, and from Crete to Lycia. However, let us quit these matters. We shall ourselves continue to use the names which custom sanctions.
46. 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 wagons the only houses that they possess, how can they fail of being unconquerable, and unassailable even?
47. 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 Tanias. The courses of these streams I shall now proceed to describe.
48. 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 waters of several tributaries. Now the tributaries which swell its flood are the following: first, on the side of Scythia, these five—the stream called by the Scythians Porata, and by the Greeks Pyretus, the Tiarantus, the Ararus, the Naparis, and the Ordessus. The first-mentioned is a great stream, and is the easternmost of the tributaries. The Tiarantus is of less volume, and more to the west. The Ararus, Naparis, and Ordessus fall into the Ister between these two. All the above-mentioned are genuine Scythian rivers, and go to swell the current of the Ister.
49. From the country of the Agathyrsi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from the heights of Hæmus descend with a northern course three mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and the Tibisis, and pour their waters into it. Thrace gives it three tributaries, the Athrys, the Noës, and the Artanes, which all pass through the country of the Crobyzian Thracians. Another tributary is furnished by Pæonia, namely, the Scius; this river, rising near Mount Rhodopé, forces its way through the chain of Hæmus, and so reaches the Ister. From Illyria comes another stream, the Angrus, which has a course from south to north, and after watering the Triballian plain, falls into the Brongus, which falls into the Ister. So the Ister is augmented by these two streams, both considerable. Besides all these, the Ister receives also the waters of the Carpis and the Alpis,1 two rivers running in a northerly direction from the country above the Umbrians. For the Ister flows through the whole extent of Europe, rising in the country of the Celts (the most westerly of all the nations of Europe, excepting the Cynetians), and thence running across the continent till it reaches Scythia, whereof it washes the flanks.
50. 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.
51. This, then, is one of the great Scythian rivers; the next to it is the Tyras, which rises from a great lake separating Scythia from the land of the Neuri, and runs with a southerly course to the sea. Greeks dwell at the mouth of the river, who are called Tyritæ.
52. The third river is the Hypanis. This stream rises within the limits of Scythia, and has its source in another vast lake, around which wild white horses graze. The lake is called, properly enough, the Mother of the Hypanis. The Hypanis, rising here, during the distance of five days’ navigation is a shallow stream, and the water sweet and pure; thence, however, to the sea, which is a distance of four days, it is exceedingly bitter. This change is caused by its receiving into it at that point a brook the waters of which are so bitter that, although it is but a tiny rivulet, it nevertheless taints the entire Hypanis, which is a large stream among those of the second order. The source of this bitter spring is on the borders of the Scythian Husbandmen, where they adjoin upon the Alazonians; and the place where it rises is called in the Scythic tongue Exampæus, which means in our language, “The Sacred Ways.” The spring itself bears the same name. The Tyras and the Hypanis approach each other in the country of the Alazonians, but afterwards separate, and leave a wide space between their streams.
53. 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 only the Nile, with which no stream can possibly compare. It has upon its banks the loveliest and most excellent pasturages for cattle; it contains abundance of the most delicious fish; its water is most pleasant to the taste; its stream is limpid, while all the other rivers near it are muddy; the richest harvests spring up along its course, and where the ground is not sown, the heaviest crops of grass; while salt forms in great plenty about its mouth without human aid, and large fish are taken in it of the sort called Antacæi, without any prickly bones, and good for pickling.2 Nor are these the whole of its marvels. As far inland as the place named Gerrhus, which is distant forty days’ voyage from the sea, its course is known, and its direction is from north to south; but above this no one has traced it, so as to say through what countries it flows. It enters the territory of the Scythian Husbandmen after running for some time across a desert region, and continues for ten days’ navigation to pass through the land which they inhabit. It is the only river besides the Nile the sources of which are unknown to me, as they are also (I believe) to all the other Greeks. Not long before it reaches the sea the Borysthenes is joined by the Hypanis, which pours its waters into the same lake. The land that lies between them, a narrow point like the beak of a ship, is called Cape Hippolaüs. Here is a temple dedicated to Ceres, and opposite the temple upon the Hypanis is the dwelling-place of the Borysthenites. But enough has been said of these streams.
54. 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 Hylæa, and empties itself into the Borysthenes.
55. 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 Carcinitis, leaving Hylæa and the course of Achilles to the right.
56. 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.
57. 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 into another still larger lake, the Palus Mæotis, whereby the country of the Royal Scythians is divided from that of the Sauromatæ. The Tanais receives the waters of a tributary stream, called the Hyrgis.
58. Such then are the rivers of chief note in Scythia. The grass which the land produces is more apt to generate gall in the beasts that feed on it than any other grass which is known to us, as plainly appears on the opening of their carcasses.
59. 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 Neptune. In the Scythic tongue Vesta is called Tabiti, Jupiter (very properly, in my judgment) Papœus, Tellus Apia, Apollo Œtosyrus, Celestial Venus Artimpasa, and Neptune Thamimasadas. They use no images, altars, or temples, except in the worship of Mars; but in his worship they do use them.
60. 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.
61. As Scythia, however, is utterly barren of firewood, a plan has had to be contrived for boiling the flesh, which is the following. After flaying the beasts, they take out all the bones, and (if they possess such gear) put the flesh into boilers made in the country, which are very like the cauldrons of the Lesbians, except that they are of a much larger size; then placing the bones of the animals beneath the cauldron, they set them alight, and so boil the meat. If they do not happen to possess a cauldron, they make the animal’s paunch hold the flesh, and pouring in at the same time a little water, lay the bones under and light them. The bones burn beautifully; and the paunch easily contains all the flesh when it is stripped from the bones, so that by this plan your ox is made to boil himself, and other victims also to do the like. When the meat is all cooked, the sacrificer offers a portion of the flesh and of the entrails, by casting it on the ground before him. They sacrifice all sorts of cattle, but most commonly horses.
62. 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 wagon-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.
63. 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.
64. 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,3 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 is 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.
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. Scythia has an abundance of soothsayers, who foretell the future by means of a number of willow wands. A large bundle of these wands is brought and laid on the ground. The soothsayer unties the bundle, and places each wand by itself, at the same time uttering his prophecy: then, while he is still speaking, he gathers the rods together again, and makes them up once more into a bundle. This mode of divination is of home growth in Scythia. The Enarees, or woman-like men, have another method which they say Venus taught them. It is done with the inner bark of the linden-tree. They take a piece of this bark, and, splitting it into three strips, keep twining the strips about their fingers, and untwining them, while they prophesy.
68. 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 forsworn 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.
69. The mode of their execution is the following: a wagon 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 wagon. It often happens that the oxen and the soothsayers are both consumed together, but sometimes the pole of the wagon 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.
70. Oaths among the Scyths are accompanied with the following ceremonies: a large earthen 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.
71. 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 cyperus, frankincense, parsley-seed, and anise-seed, after which they sew up the opening, enclose the body in wax, and, placing it on a wagon, 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, 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 ozier 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 cupbearer, his cook, his groom, his lacquey, his messengers, 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.
72. 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.
73. 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 wagon 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.
74. 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:4 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.
75. 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.
76. 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 Scythia, touched at Cyzicus. There he found the inhabitants celebrating with much pomp and magnificence a festival to the Mother of the Gods, and was himself induced to make a vow to the goddess, whereby he engaged, if he got back safe and sound to his home, that he would give her a festival and a night-procession in all respects like those which he had seen in Cyzicus. When, therefore, he arrived in Scythia, he betook himself to the district called the Woodland, which lies opposite the Course of Achilles, and is covered with trees of all manner of different kinds, and there went through all the sacred rites with the tabour in his hand, and the images tied to him. While thus employed, he was noticed by one of the Scythians, who went and told King Saulius what he had seen. Then King Saulius came in person, and when he perceived what Anacharsis was about, he shot at him with an arrow and killed him. To this day, if you ask the Scyths about Anacharsis, they pretend ignorance of him, because of his Grecian travels and adoption of the customs of foreigners. I learned, however, from Timnes, the steward of Ariapithes, that Anacharsis was paternal uncle to the Scythian king Idanthyrsus, being the son of Gnurus, who was the son of Lycus and the grandson of Spargapithes. If Anacharsis were really of this house, it must have been by his own brother that he was slain, for Idanthyrsus was a son of the Saulius who put Anacharsis to death.
77. 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 Lacedæmonians; who, however, 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.
78. 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 Istria. Bred up by her, Scylas, gained an acquaintance with the Greek language and letters. Some time afterwards, Ariapithes was treacherously slain by Spargapithes, king of the Agathyrsi; whereupon Scylas succeeded to the throne, and married one of his father’s wives, a woman named Opœa. This Opœa was a Scythian by birth, and had brought Ariapithes a son called Oricus. Now when Scylas found himself king of Scythia, as he disliked the Scythic mode of life, and was attached, by his bringing up, to the manners of the Greeks, he made it his usual practice, whenever he came with his army to the town of the Borysthenites, who, according to their own account, are colonists of the Milesians,—he made it his practice, I say, to leave the army before the city, and, having entered within the walls by himself, and carefully closed the gates, to exchange his Scythian dress for Grecian garments, and in this attire to walk about the forum, without guards or retinue. The Borysthenites kept watch at the gates, that no Scythian might see the king thus apparelled. Scylas, meanwhile, lived exactly as the Greeks, and even offered sacrifices to the gods according to the Grecian rites. In this way he would pass a month, or more, with the Borysthenites, after which he would clothe himself again in his Scythian dress, and so take his departure. This he did repeatedly, and even built himself a house in Borysthenes, and married a wife there who was a native of the place.
79. 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.
80. 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 Thrace. Octamasadas, discovering whither he had fled, marched after him, and had reached the Ister, when he was met by the forces of the Thracians. The two armies were about to engage, but before they joined battle, Sitalces sent a message to Octamasadas to this effect—“Why should there be trial of arms betwixt thee and me? Thou art my own sister’s son, and thou hast in thy keeping my brother. Surrender him into my hands, and I will give thy Scylas back to thee. So neither thou nor I will risk our armies.” Sitalces sent this message to Octamasadas, by a herald, and Octamasadas, with whom a brother of Sitalces had formerly taken refuge, accepted the terms. He surrendered his own uncle to Sitalces, and obtained in exchange his brother Scylas. Sitalces took his brother with him and withdrew; but Octamasadas beheaded Scylas upon the spot. Thus rigidly do the Scythians maintain their own customs, and thus severely do they punish such as adopt foreign usages.
81. What the population of Scythia is, I was not able to learn with certainty; the accounts which I received varied from one another. I heard from some that they were very numerous indeed; others made their numbers but scanty for such a nation as the Scyths. Thus much, however, I witnessed with my own eyes. There is a tract called Exampæus between the Borysthenes and the Hypanis. I made some mention of it in a former place, where I spoke of the bitter stream which rising there flows into the Hypanis, and renders the water of that river undrinkable. Here then stands a brazen bowl, six times as big as that at the entrance of the Euxine, which Pausanias, the son of Cleombrotus, set up. Such as have never seen that vessel may understand me better if I say that the Scythian bowl holds with ease six hundred amphoræ, and is of the thickness of six fingers’ breadth. The natives gave me the following account of the manner in which it was made. One of their kings, by name Ariantas, wishing to know the number of his subjects, ordered them all to bring him, on pain of death, the point off one of their arrows. They obeyed; and he collected thereby a vast heap of arrow-heads, which he resolved to form into a memorial that might go down to posterity. Accordingly he made of them this bowl, and dedicated it at Exampæus. This was all that I could learn concerning the number of the Scythians.
82. 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.
83. 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 from Susa.
84. It was then that a certain Persian, by name Œobazus, 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.” Œobazus was overjoyed, expecting that all his children would be excused from serving; the king however bade his attendants take the three sons of Œobazus and forthwith put them to death. Thus they were all left behind, but not till they had been deprived of life.
85. When Darius, on his march from Susa, reached the territory of Chalcedon, on the shores of the Bosphorus, where the bridge had been made, he took ship and sailed thence to the Cyanean Islands, which, according to the Greeks, once floated. He took his seat also in the temple and surveyed the Pontus, which is indeed well worthy of consideration. There is not in the world any other sea so wonderful: it extends in length eleven thousand one hundred furlongs, and its breadth, at the widest part, is three thousand three hundred. The mouth is but four furlongs wide; and this strait called the Bosphorus, and across which the bridge of Darius had been thrown, is a hundred and twenty furlongs in length, reaching from the Euxine to the Propontis. The Propontis is five hundred furlongs across, and fourteen hundred long. Its waters flow into the Hellespont, the length of which is four hundred furlongs, and the width no more than seven. The Hellespont opens into the wide sea called the Egean.
86. 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 Thermôdon, where the Pontus is wider than at any other place, is a sail of three days and two nights; which makes three hundred and thirty thousand fathoms, or three thousand three hundred furlongs. Such is the plan on which I have measured the Pontus, the Bosphorus, and the Hellespont, and such is the account which I have to give of them. The Pontus has also a lake belonging to it, not very much inferior to itself in size. The waters of this lake run into the Pontus: it is called the Mæotis, and also the Mother of the Pontus.
87. 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 temple of Bacchus at Byzantium, and was covered with Assyrian writing. The spot where Darius bridged the Bosphorus was, I think, but I speak only from conjecture, half-way between the city of Byzantium and the temple at the mouth of the strait.
88. Darius was so pleased with the bridge thrown across the strait by the Samian Mandrocles, that he not only bestowed upon him all the customary presents, but gave him ten of every kind. Mandrocles, by 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 temple of Juno at Samos, attaching to it the inscription following:
Such was the memorial of his work which was left by the architect of the bridge.
89. Darius, after rewarding Mandrocles, passed into Europe, while he ordered the Ionians to enter the Pontus, and sail to the mouth of the Ister. There he bade them throw a bridge across the stream and await his coming. The Ionians, Æolians, and Hellespontians were the nations which furnished the chief strength of his navy. So the fleet, threading the Cyanean Isles, proceeded straight to the Ister, and, mounting the river to the point where its channels separate, a distance of two days’ voyage from the sea, yoked the neck of the stream. Meantime Darius, who had crossed the Bosphorus by the bridge over it, marched through Thrace; and happening upon the sources of the Tearus, pitched his camp and made a stay of three days.
90. 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 Heræum near Perinthus, and Apollonia on the Euxine, a two days’ journey from each. This river, the Tearus, is a tributary of the Contadesdus, which runs into the Agrianes, and that into the Hebrus. The Hebrus empties itself into the sea near the city of Ænus.
91. 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.
92. 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.
93. Before arriving at the Ister, the first people whom he subdued were the Getæ,5 who believe in their immortality. The Thracians of Salymdessus, and those who dwelt above the cities of Apollonia and Mesembria—the Scyrmiadæ and Nipsæans, as they are called—gave themselves up to Darius without a struggle; but the Getæ obstinately defending themselves, were forthwith enslaved, notwithstanding that they are the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes.
94. The belief of the Getæ 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 Gebeleïzis 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.
95. 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 Samos, returned to his own country. The Thracians at that time lived in a wretched way, and were a poor ignorant race; Zalmoxis, therefore, who by his commerce with the Greeks, and especially with one who was by no means their most contemptible philosopher, Pythagoras to wit, was acquainted with the Ionic mode of life and with manners more refined than those current among his countrymen, had a chamber built, in which from time to time he received and feasted all the principal Thracians, using the occasion to teach them that neither he, nor they, his boon companions, nor any of their posterity would ever perish, but that they would all go to a place where they would live for aye in the enjoyment of every conceivable good. While he was acting in this way, and holding this kind of discourse, he was constructing an apartment underground, into which, when it was completed, he withdrew, vanishing suddenly from the eyes of the Thracians, who greatly regretted his loss, and mourned over him as one dead. He meanwhile abode in his secret chamber three full years, after which he came forth from his concealment, and showed himself once more to his countrymen, who were thus brought to believe in the truth of what he had taught them. Such is the account of the Greek.
96. 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 Getæ, I now bid him farewell. As for the Getæ themselves, the people who observe the practices described above, they were now reduced by the Persians, and accompanied the army of Darius.
97. 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 Mytilenæans, Coës 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 Coës 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.”
98. 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 Scythia, untie every day one of the knots. If I do not return before the last day to which the knots will hold out, then leave your station, and sail to your several homes. Meanwhile, understand that my resolve is changed, and that you are to guard the bridge with all care, and watch over its safety and preservation. By so doing ye will oblige me greatly.” When Darius had thus spoken, he set out on his march with all speed.
99. Before you come to Scythia, on the seacoast, lies Thrace. The land here makes a sweep, and then Scythia begins, the Ister falling into the sea at this point with its mouth facing the east. Starting from the Ister I shall now describe the measurements of the seacoast of Scythia. Immediately that the Ister is crossed, Old Scythia begins, and continues as far as the city called Carcinitis, fronting towards the south wind and the mid-day. Here upon the same sea, there lies a mountainous tract projecting into the Pontus, which is inhabited by the Tauri, as far as what is called the Rugged Chersonese, which runs out into the sea upon the east. For the boundaries of Scythia extend on two sides to two different seas, one upon the south, and the other towards the east, as is also the case with Attica. And the Tauri occupy a position in Scythia like that which a people would hold in Attica, who, being foreigners and not Athenians, should inhabit the highland of Sunium, from Thoricus to the township of Anaphlystus, if this tract projected into the sea somewhat further than it does. Such, to compare great things with small, is the Tauric territory. For the sake of those who may not have made the voyage round these parts of Attica, I will illustrate in another way. It is as if in Iapygia a line were drawn from Port Brundusium to Tarentum, and a people different from the Iapygians inhabited the promontory. These two instances may suggest a number of others where the shape of the land closely resembles that of Taurica.
100. 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 Mæotis, as far as the river Tanais, which empties itself into that lake at its upper end. As for the inland boundaries of Scythia, if we start from the Ister, we find it enclosed by the following tribes, first the Agathyrsi, next the Neuri, then the Androphagi, and last of all, the Melanchlæni.
101. 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 Mæotis, while the distance from the coast inland to the country of the Melanchlæni, who dwell above Scythia, is a journey of twenty days. I reckon the day’s journey at two hundred furlongs. Thus the two sides which run straight inland are four thousand furlongs each, and the transverse sides at right angles to these are also of the same length, which gives the full size to Scythia.
102. 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 Melanchlæni, the Gelôni, the Budini, and the Sauromatæ.
103. 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.
104. 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.
105. 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 scourage, 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 Scythia say, that every Neurian once a year becomes a wolf for a few days, at the end of which time he is restored to his proper shape.6 Not that I believe this, but they constantly affirm it to be true, and are even ready to back their assertion with an oath.
106. 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.
107. The Melanchlæni wear, all of them, black cloaks, and from this derive the name which they bear. Their customs are Scythic.
108. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair.7 There is a city in their territory, called Gelônus, 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 Gelôni 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.
109. The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Gelôni, 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 Gelôni, 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 Gelôni; 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.
110. It is reported of the Sauromatæ, that when the Greeks fought with the Amazons, whom the Scythians call Oior-pata, or “manslayers,” 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 Thermôdon, 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 Mæotis 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.
111. 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,8 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.
112. 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.
113. 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.
114. 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 wagons, 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.”
115. 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 Scythia by our ravages. As you like us for wives, grant the request we make of you. Let us leave this country together, and go and dwell beyond the Tanais.” Again the youths complied.
116. 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 Mæotis. Here they came to the country where they now live, and took up their abode in it. The women of the Sauromatæ 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.
117. The Sauromatæ speak the language of Scythia, but have never talked it correctly, because the Amazons learnt it imperfectly at the first. Their marriage-law lays it down that no girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle. Sometimes it happens that a woman dies unmarried at an advanced age, having never been able in her whole lifetime to fulfil the condition.
118. 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 Scythia, without molesting any nation by the way. Then it would have been plain to all that Scythia alone was aimed at. But now, what has his conduct been? From the moment of his entrance into Europe he has subjugated without exception every nation that lay in his path. All the tribes of the Thracians have been brought under his sway, and among them even our next neighbours, the Getæ.”
119. 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 Gelôni, Budini, and Sauromatæ 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 Melanchlæni, 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.”
120. 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 Sauromatæ, and if the Persians advanced in the direction of the Tanais, should retreat along the shores of the Palus Mæotis 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 Gelôni 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.
121. 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 wagons, 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.
122. 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 grew 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 Sauromatæ, and entered that of the Budini.
123. As long as the march of the Persian army lay through the countries of the Scythians and Sauromatæ, 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 Thyssagetæ, out of whose land four great streams flow. These rivers all traverse the country of the Mæotians, and fall in the Palus Mæotis. Their names are the Lycus, the Oarus, the Tanais, and the Syrgis.
124. 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 Scythia. On their complete disappearance, Darius, seeing nothing more of them, left his forts half finished, and returned towards the west. He imagined that the Scythians whom he had seen were the entire nation, and that they had fled in that direction.
125. He now quickened his march, and entering Scythia, fell in with the two combined divisions of the Scythian army, and instantly gave them chase. They kept to their plan of retreating before him at the distance of a day’s march; and, he still following them hotly, they led him, as had been previously settled, into the territories of the nations that had refused to become their allies, and first of all into the country of the Melanchlæni. Great disturbance was caused among this people by the invasion of the Scyths first, and then of the Persians. So, having harassed them after this sort, the Scythians led the way into the land of the Androphagi, with the same result as before; and thence passed onwards into Neuris, where their coming likewise spread dismay among the inhabitants. Still retreating they approached the Agathyrsi; but this people, which had witnessed the flight and terror of their neighbours, did not wait for the Scyths to invade them, but sent a herald to forbid them to cross their borders, and to forewarn them, that, if they made the attempt, it would be resisted by force of arms. The Agathyrsi then proceeded to the frontier, to defend their country against the invaders. As for the other nations, the Melanchlæni, the Androphagi, and the Neuri, instead of defending themselves, when the Scyths and Persians overran their lands, they forgot their threats, and fled away in confusion to the deserts lying towards the north. The Scythians, when the Agathyrsi forbade them to enter their country, refrained; and led the Persians back from the Neurian district into their own land.
126. 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 then shouldest cease to run away—thou hast but to bring thy lord earth and water, and to come at once to a conference.”
127. 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.
128. When the Scythian kings heard the name of slavery they were filled with rage, and despatched the division under Scopasis, to which the Sauromatæ 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.
129. 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.
130. The Scythians, when they perceived signs that the Persians were becoming alarmed, took steps to induce them not to quit Scythia, in the hope, if they stayed, of inflicting on them the greater injury, when their supplies should altogether fail. To effect this, they would leave some of their cattle exposed with the herdsmen, while they themselves moved away to a distance: the Persians would make a foray, and take the beasts, whereupon they would be highly elated.
131. 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.
132. 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 the meanings which the Persians assigned to the gifts.
133. The single division of the Scyths, which in the early part of the war had been appointed to keep guard about the Palus Mæotis, 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.
134. 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 foot9 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.”
135. 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.
136. 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 Sauromatæ, the Budini, and the Gelôni, 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.”
137. 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 Ionia. But Histiæus the Milesian opposed this advice. “It is through Darius,” he said, “that we enjoy our thrones in our several states. If his power be overturned, I cannot continue lord of Miletus, nor ye of your cities. For there is not one of them which will not prefer democracy to kingly rule.” Then the other captains, who, till Histiæus spoke, were about to vote with Miltiades, changed their minds, and declared in favour of the last speaker.
138. 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, Metrodôrus of Proconnêsus, Aristagoras of Cyzicus, and Ariston of Byzantium; the Ionian princes—Strattis of Chios, Æaces of Samos, Laodamas of Phocæa, and Histiæus of Miletus, the man who had opposed Miltiades. Only one Æolian of note was present, to wit, Aristagoras of Cymé.
139. Having resolved to follow the advice of Histiæus, 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 could not do to pleasure them. Such were the additions made to the resolution of Histiæus; and then Histiæus 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.”
140. 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.
141. 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 Histiæus the Milesian. The fellow did as he was bid; and Histiæus, hearing him at the very first summons, brought the fleet to assist in conveying the army across, and once more made good the bridge.
142. By these means the Persians escaped from Scythia, while the Scyths sought for them in vain, again missing their track.1 And hence the Scythians are accustomed to say of the Ionians, by way of reproach, that, if they be looked upon as freemen, they are the basest and most dastardly of all mankind—but if they be considered as under servitude, they are the faithfullest of slaves, and the most fondly attached to their lords.
143. Darius having passed through Thrace, reached Sestos in the Chersonese, whence he crossed by the help of his fleet into Asia, leaving a Persian, named Megabazus, commander on the European side. This was the man on whom Darius once conferred special honour by a compliment which he paid him before all the Persians. He was about to eat some pomegranates, and had opened the first, when his brother Artabanus asked him “what he would like to have in as great plenty as the seeds of the pomegranate?” Darius answered: “Had I as many men like Megabazus as there are seeds here, it would please me better than to be lord of Greece.” Such was the compliment wherewith Darius honoured the general to whom at this time he gave the command of the troops left in Europe, amounting in all to some eighty thousand men.
144. 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 Byzantium, that the Chalcedonians made their settlement seventeen years earlier than the Byzantines. “Then,” said he, “the Chalcedonians must at that time have been labouring under blindness—otherwise, when so far more excellent a site was open to them, they would never have chosen one so greatly inferior.” Megabazus now, having been appointed to take the command upon the Hellespont, employed himself in the reduction of all those states which had not of their own accord joined the Medes.
145. About this very time another great expedition was undertaken against Libya, on a pretext which I will relate when I have premised certain particulars. The descendants of the Argonauts in the third generation,2 driven out of Lemnos by the Pelasgi who carried off the Athenian women from Brauron, took ship and went to Lacedæmon, where, seating themselves on Mount Taygetum, they proceeded to kindle their fires. The Lacedæmonians, seeing this, sent a herald to inquire of them “who they were, and from what region they had come;” whereupon they made answer, “that they were Minyæ, sons of the heroes by whom the ship Argo was manned; for these persons had stayed awhile in Lemnos, and had there become their progenitors.” On hearing this account of their descent, the Lacedæmonians sent to them a second time, and asked, “what was their object in coming to Lacedæmon, and there kindling their fires?” They answered, “that driven from their own land by the Pelasgi, they had come, as was most reasonable, to their fathers; and their wish was to dwell with them in their country, partake their privileges, and obtain allotments of land. It seemed good to the Lacedæmonians to receive the Minyæ among them on their own terms; to assign them lands, and enroll them in their tribes. What chiefly moved them to this was the consideration that the sons of Tyndarus had sailed on board the Argo. The Minyæ, on their part, forthwith married Spartan wives, and gave the wives, whom they had married in Lemnos, to Spartan husbands.
146. However, before much time had elapsed, the Minyæ began to wax wanton, demanded to share the throne, and committed other impieties: whereupon the Lacedæmonians passed on them sentence of death, and, seizing them, cast them into prison. Now the Lacedæmonians never put criminals to death in the daytime, but always at night. When the Minyæ, 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 Minyæ, 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.
147. 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 Lacedæmon. This Theras, by birth a Cadmeian, was uncle on the mother’s side to the two sons of Aristodêmus, 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 Callisté, certain descendants of Membliarus, the son of Pœciles, a Phœnician. (For Cadmus, the son of Agenor, when he was sailing in search of Europé, 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 Phœnicians, and with them his own kinsman Membliarus. Callisté had been inhabited by this race for eight generations of men, before the arrival of Theras from Lacedæmon.)
148. 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 Minyæ, having escaped from their prison, had taken up their station upon Mount Taygetum; and the Lacedæmonians, 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 Minyæ, 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, Phryxæ, Pyrgus, Epium, and Nudium; whereof the greater part were in my day demolished by the Eleans.
149. 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 Œolycus, a name which afterwards grew to be the only one by which he was known. This Œolycus was the father of Ægeus, from whom sprang the Ægîdæ, a great tribe in Sparta. The men of this tribe lost at one time all their children, whereupon they were bidden by an oracle to build a temple to the furies of Laïus and Œdipus; they complied, and the mortality ceased. The same thing happened in Thera to the descendants of these men.
150. Thus far the history is delivered without variation both by the Theræans and the Lacedæmonians; but from this point we have only the Theræan narrative. Grinus (they say), the son of Æsanius, 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 Euphemidæ. On Grinus consulting the oracle about sundry matters, the Pythoness gave him for answer, “that he should found a city in Libya.” Grinus replied to this: “I, O king! am too far advanced in years, and too inactive, for such a work. Bid one of these youngsters undertake it.” As he spoke, he pointed towards Battus; and thus the matter rested for that time. When the embassy returned to Thera, small account was taken of the oracle by the Theræans, as they were quite ignorant where Libya was, and were not so venturesome as to send out a colony in the dark.
151. 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 Theræans upon this sent to Delphi, and were reminded reproachfully, that they had never colonised Libya. So, as there was no help for it, they sent messengers to Crete, to inquire whether any of the Cretans, or of the strangers sojourning among them, had ever travelled as far as Libya: and these messengers of theirs, in their wanderings about the island, among other places visited Itanus, where they fell in with a man, whose name was Corôbius, a dealer in purple. In answer to their inquiries, he told them that contrary winds had once carried him to Libya, where he had gone ashore on a certain island which was named Platea. So they hired this man’s services, and took him back with them to Thera. A few persons then sailed from Thera to reconnoitre. Guided by Corôbius to the island of Platea, they left him there with provisions for a certain number of months, and returned home with all speed to give their countrymen an account of the island.
152. During their absence, which was prolonged beyond the time that had been agreed upon, Corôbius’ provisions failed him. He was relieved, however, after a while by a Samian vessel, under the command of a man named Colæus, which, on its way to Egypt, was forced to put in at Platea. The crew, informed by Corôbius of all the circumstances, left him sufficient food for a year. They themselves quitted the island; and, anxious to reach Egypt, made sail in that direction, but were carried out of their course by a gale of wind from the east. The storm not abating, they were driven past the pillars of Hercules, and at last, by some special guiding providence, reached Tartessus. This trading town was in those days a virgin port, unfrequented by the merchants. The Samians, in consequence, made by the return-voyage, a profit greater than any Greeks before their day, excepting Sostratus, son of Laodamas, an Eginetan, with whom no one else can compare. From the tenth part of their gains, amounting to six talents, the Samians made a brazen vessel, in shape like an Argive wine-bowl, adorned with the heads of griffins standing out in high relief. This bowl, supported by three kneeling colossal figures in bronze, of the height of seven cubits, was placed as an offering in the temple of Juno at Samos. The aid given to Corôbius was the original cause of that close friendship which afterwards united the Cyrenæans and Theræans with the Samians.
153. The Theræans who had left Corôbius at Platea, when they reached Thera, told their countrymen that they had colonised an island on the coast of Libya. They of Thera, upon this, resolved that men should be sent to join the colony from each of their seven districts, and that the brothers in every family should draw lots to determine who were to go. Battus was chosen to be king and leader of the colony. So these men departed for Platea on board of two penteconters.
154. Such is the account which the Theræans give. In the sequel of the history their accounts tally with those of the people of Cyrêné; but in what they relate of Battus these two nations differ most widely. The following is the Cyrenaic story. There was once a king named Etearchus, who ruled over Axus, a city in Crete, and had a daughter named Phronima. This girl’s mother having died, Etearchus married a second wife; who no sooner took up her abode in his house than she proved a true step-mother to poor Phronima, always vexing her, and contriving against her every sort of mischief. At last she taxed her with light conduct; and Etearchus, persuaded by his wife that the charge was true, bethought himself of a most barbarous mode of punishment. There was a certain Theræan, named Themison, a merchant, living at Axus. This man Etearchus invited to be his friend and guest, and then induced him to swear that he would do him any service he might require. No sooner had he given the promise, than the king fetched Phronima, and, delivering her into his hands, told him to carry her away and throw her into the sea. Hereupon Themison, full of indignation at the fraud whereby his oath had been procured, dissolved forthwith the friendship, and, taking the girl with him, sailed away from Crete. Having reached the open main, to acquit himself of the obligation under which he was laid by his oath to Etearchus, he fastened ropes about the damsel, and, letting her down into the sea, drew her up again, and so made sail for Thera.
155. At Thera, Polymnêstus, 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 Cyrenæans and Theræans, 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 why the Pythoness addressed him as she did: she knew he was to be a king in Libya, and so she used the Libyan word in speaking to him. For after he had grown to man’s estate, he made a journey to Delphi, to consult the oracle about his voice; when, upon his putting his question, the Pythoness thus replied to him:
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 Libya—an impossible thing! what power have I? what followers?” Thus he spake, but he did not persuade the Pythoness to give him any other response; so when he found that she persisted in her former answer, he left her speaking, and set out on his return to Thera.
156. After a while, everything began to go wrong both with Battus and with the rest of the Theræans, whereupon these last, ignorant of the cause of their sufferings, sent to Delphi to inquire for what reason they were afflicted. The Pythoness in reply told them, “that if they and Battus would make a settlement at Cyrêné in Libya, things would go better with them.” Upon this the Theræans sent out Battus3 with two penteconters, and with these he proceeded to Libya, but within a little time, not knowing what else to do, the men returned and arrived off Thera. The Theræans, when they saw the vessels approaching, received them with showers of missiles, would not allow them to come near the shore, and ordered the men to sail back from whence they came. Thus compelled to return, they settled on an island near the Libyan coast, which (as I have already said) was called Platea. In size it is reported to have been about equal to the city of Cyrêné, as it now stands.
157. 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:
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 Libya. So, taking with them the man whom they had left upon the island, they made a settlement on the mainland directly opposite Platea, fixing themselves at a place called Aziris, which is closed in on both sides by the most beautiful hills, and on one side is washed by a river.
158. 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 calculations 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.”
159. During the lifetime of Battus, the founder of the colony, who reigned forty years, and during that of his son Arcesilaüs, who reigned sixteen, the Cyrenæans continued at the same level, neither more nor fewer in number than they were at first. But in the reign of the third king, Battus, surnamed the Happy, the advice of the Pythoness brought Greeks from every quarter into Libya, to join the settlement.4 The Cyrenæans had offered to all comers a share in their lands; and the oracle had spoken as follows:
Thus a great multitude were collected together to Cyrêné, and the Libyans of the neighbourhood found themselves stripped of large portions of their lands. So they, and their king Adicran, being robbed and insulted by the Cyrenæans, sent messengers to Egypt, and put themselves under the rule of Apries, the Egyptian monarch; who, upon this, levied a vast army of Egyptians, and sent them against Cyrêné. The inhabitants of that place left their walls and marched out in force to the district of Irasa, where, near the spring called Thesté, they engaged the Egyptian host, and defeated it. The Egyptians, who had never before made trial of the prowess of the Greeks, and so thought but meanly of them, were routed with such slaughter that but a very few of them ever got back home. For this reason, the subjects of Apries, who laid the blame of the defeat on him, revolted from his authority.
160. This Battus left a son called Arcesilaüs, who, when he came to the throne, had dissensions with his brothers, which ended in their quitting him and departing to another region of Libya, where, after consulting among themselves, they founded the city, which is still called by the name then given to it, Barca. At the same time they endeavoured to induce the Libyans to revolt from Cyrêné. Not long afterwards Arcesilaüs made an expedition against the Libyans who had received his brothers and been prevailed upon to revolt; and they, fearing his power, fled to their countrymen who dwelt towards the east. Arcesilaüs pursued, and chased them to a place called Leucon, which is in Libya, where the Libyans resolved to risk a battle. Accordingly they engaged the Cyrenæans, and defeated them so entirely that as many as seven thousand of their heavy-armed were slain in the fight. Arcesilaüs, after this blow, fell sick, and, whilst he was under the influence of a draught which he had taken, was strangled by Learchus, one of his brothers. This Learchus was afterwards entrapped by Eryxo, the widow of Arcesilaüs, and put to death.
161. Battus, Arcesilaüs’ son, succeeded to the kingdom, a lame man, who limped in his walk. Their late calamities now induced the Cyrenæans to send to Delphi and inquire of the god what form of government they had best set up to secure themselves prosperity. The Pythoness answered by recommending them to fetch an arbitrator from Mantinea in Arcadia. Accordingly they sent; and the Mantineans gave them a man named Demônax, a person of high repute among the citizens; who, on his arrival at Cyrêné, having first made himself acquainted with all the circumstances, proceeded to enroll the people in three tribes. One he made to consist of the Theræans and their vassals; another of the Peloponnesians and Cretans; and a third of the various islanders. Besides this, he deprived the king Battus of his former privileges, only reserving for him certain sacred lands and offices;5 while, with respect to the powers which had hitherto been exercised by the king, he gave them all into the hands of the people.
162. Thus matters rested during the lifetime of this Battus, but when his son Arcesilaüs came to the throne, great disturbance arose about the privileges. For Arcesilaüs, son of Battus the lame and Pheretima, refused to submit to the arrangements of Demônax the Mantinean, and claimed all the powers of his forefathers. In the contention which followed, Arcesilaüs was worsted, whereupon he fled to Samos, while his mother took refuge at Salamis in the island of Cyprus. Salamis was at that time ruled by Evelthon, the same who offered at Delphi the censer which is in the treasury of the Corinthians, a work deserving of admiration. Of him Pheretima made request, that he would give her an army, whereby she and her son might regain Cyrêné. But Evelthon, preferring to give her anything rather than an army, made her various presents. Pheretima accepted them all, saying, as she took them: “Good is this too, O king! but better were it to give me the army which I crave at thy hands.” Finding that she repeated these words each time that he presented her with a gift, Evelthon at last sent her a golden spindle and distaff, with the wool ready for spinning. Again she uttered the same speech as before, whereupon Evelthon rejoined: “These are the gifts I present to women, not armies.”
163. At Samos, meanwhile, Arcesilaüs was collecting troops by the promise of granting them lands. Having in this way drawn together a vast host, he sent to Delphi to consult the oracle about his restoration. The answer of the Pythoness was this: “Loxias grants thy race to rule over Cyrêné, till four kings Battus, four Arcesilaüs by name, have passed away. Beyond this term of eight generations of men, he warns you not to seek to extend your reign. Thou, for thy part, be gentle, when thou art restored. If thou findest the oven full of jars, bake not the jars; but be sure to speed them on their way. If, however, thou heatest the oven, then avoid the island—else thou wilt die thyself, and with thee the most beautiful bull.
164. So spake the Pythoness. Arcesilaüs upon this returned to Cyrêné, taking with him the troops which he had raised in Samos. There he obtained possession of the supreme power; whereupon, forgetful of the oracle, he took proceedings against those who had driven him into banishment. Some of them fled from him and quitted the country for good; others fell into his hands and were sent to suffer death in Cyprus. These last happening on their passage to put in through stress of weather at Cnidus, the Cnidians rescued them, and sent them off to Thera. Another body found a refuge in the great tower of Aglômachus, a private edifice, and were there destroyed by Arcesilaüs, who heaped wood around the place, and burnt them to death. Aware, after the deed was done, that this was what the Pythoness meant when she warned him, if he found the jars in the oven, not to bake them, he withdrew himself of his own accord from the city of Cyrêné, believing that to be the island of the oracle, and fearing to die as had been prophesied. Being married to a relation of his own, a daughter of Alazir, at that time king of the Barcæans, he took up his abode with him. At Barca, however, certain of the citizens, together with a number of Cyrenean exiles, recognising him as he walked in the forum, killed him; they slew also at the same time Alazir, his father-in-law. So Arcesilaüs, wittingly or unwittingly, disobeyed the oracle, and thereby fulfilled his destiny.
165. Pheretima, the mother of Arcesilaüs, during the time that her son, after working his own ruin, dwelt at Barca, continued to enjoy all his privileges at Cyrêné, managing the government, and taking her seat at the council-board. No sooner, however, did she hear of the death of her son at Barca, then, leaving Cyrêné, she fled in haste to Egypt. Arcesilaüs had claims for service done to Cambyses, son of Cyrus; since it was by him that Cyrêné was put under the Persian yoke, and a rate of tribute agreed upon. Pheretima therefore went straight to Egypt, and presenting herself as a suppliant before Aryandes, entreated him to avenge her wrongs. Her son, she said, had met his death on account of his being so well affected towards the Medes.
166. Now Aryandes had been made governor of Egypt by Cambyses. He it was who in after times was punished with death by Darius for seeking to rival him. Aware, by report and also by his own eyesight, that Darius wished to leave a memorial of himself, such as no king had ever left before, Aryandes resolved to follow his example, and did so, till he got his reward. Darius had refined gold to the last perfection of purity in order to have coins struck of it: Aryandes, in his Egyptian government, did the very same with silver, so that to this day there is no such pure silver anywhere as the Aryandic. Darius, when this came to his ears, brought another charge, a charge of rebellion, against Aryandes, and put him to death.
167. At the time of which we are speaking Aryandes, moved with compassion for Pheretima, granted her all the forces which there were in Egypt, both land and sea. The command of the army he gave to Amasis, a Maraphian; while Badres, one of the tribe of the Pasargadæ, was appointed to lead the fleet. Before the expedition, however, left Egypt, he sent a herald to Barca to inquire who it was that had slain king Arcesilaüs. The Barcæans replied “that they, one and all, acknowledged the deed—Arcesilaüs had done them many and great injuries.” After receiving this reply, Aryandes gave the troops orders to march with Pheretima. Such was the cause which served as a pretext for this expedition: its real object was, I believe, the subjugation of Libya.6 For Libya is inhabited by many and various races, and of these but a very few were subjects of the Persian king, while by far the larger number held Darius in no manner of respect.
168. The Libyans dwell in the order which I will now describe. Beginning on the side of Egypt, the first Libyans are the Adyrmachidæ. These people have, in most points, the same customs as the Egyptians, but use the costume of the Libyans. Their women wear on each leg a ring made of bronze, they let their hair grow long, and when they catch any vermin on their persons, bite it and throw it away. In this they differ from all the other Libyans. They are also the only tribe with whom the custom obtains of bringing all women about to become brides before the king, that he may choose such as are agreeable to him. The Adyrmachidæ extend from the borders of Egypt to the harbour called Port Plynus.
169. Next to the Adyrmachidæ are the Gilligammæ, who inhabit the country westward as far as the island of Aphrodisias. Off this tract is the island of Platea, which the Cyrenæans colonised. Here too, upon the mainland, are Port Menelaü, and Aziris, where the Cyrenæans once lived. The Silphium begins to grow in this region, extending from the island of Platea on the one side to the mouth of the Syrtis on the other. The customs of the Gilligammæ are like those of the rest of their countrymen.
170. The Asbystæ adjoin the Gilligammæ upon the west. They inhabit the regions above Cyrêné, but do not reach to the coast, which belongs to the Cyrenæans. Four-horse chariots are in more common use among them than among any other Libyans. In most of their customs they ape the manners of the Cyrenæans.
171. Westward of the Asbystæ dwell the Auschisæ, 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 Barcæans. Their customs are like those of the Libyans above Cyrêné.
172. The Nasamonians, a numerous people, are the western neighbours of the Auschisæ. 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 Massagetæ. 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;7 if there be no liquid to be had, they take up dust from the ground, and put their tongues to it.
173. On the country of the Nasamonians borders that of the Psylli, who were swept away under the following circumstances. The southwind 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 south-wind—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.
174. 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 fellowmen, have no weapon of war, and do not know how to defend themselves.
175. These border the Nasamonians on the south: westward along the sea-shore their neighbours are the Macæ, 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 Libya, which is bare. It is distant two hundred furlongs from the sea.
176. Adjoining the Macæ 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.
177. 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.
178. 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 lake Tritônis. Here, in this lake is an island called Phla, which it is said the Lacedæmonians were to have colonised, according to an oracle.
179. The following is the story as it is commonly told. When Jason had finished building the Argo at the foot of Mount Pelion, he took on board the usual hecatomb, and moreover a brazen tripod. Thus equipped, he set sail, intending to coast round the Peloponnese, and so to reach Delphi. The voyage was prosperous as far as Malea; but at that point a gale of wind from the north came on suddenly, and carried him out of his course to the coast of Libya; where, before he discovered the land, he got among the shallows of Lake Tritônis. As he was turning it in his mind how he should find his way out, Triton (they say) appeared to him, and offered to show him the channel, and secure him a safe retreat, if he would give him the tripod. Jason complying, was shown by Triton the passage through the shallows; after which the god took the tripod, and, carrying it to his own temple, seated himself upon it, and, filled with prophetic fury, delivered to Jason and his companions a long prediction. “When a descendant,” he said, “of one of the Argo’s crew should seize and carry off the brazen tripod, then by inevitable fate would a hundred Grecian cities be built around Lake Tritônis.” The Libyans of that region, when they heard the words of this prophecy, took away the tripod and hid it.
180. The next tribe beyond the Machlyans is the tribe of the Auseans. Both these nations inhabit the borders of Lake Tritônis, being separated from one another by the river Triton. Both also wear their hair long, but the Machlyans let it grow at the back of the head, while the Auseans have it long in front. The Ausean maidens keep year by year a feast in honour of Minerva, whereat their custom is to draw up in two bodies, and fight with stones and clubs. They say that these are rites which have come down to them from their fathers, and that they honour with them their native goddess, who is the same as the Minerva (Athené) of the Grecians. If any of the maidens die of the wounds they receive, the Auseans declare that such are false maidens. Before the fight is suffered to begin, they have another ceremony. One of the virgins, the loveliest of the number, is selected from the rest; a Corinthian helmet and a complete suit of Greek armour are publicly put upon her; and, thus adorned, she is made to mount into a chariot, and led around the whole lake in a procession. What arms they used for the adornment of their damsels before the Greeks came to live in their country, I cannot say. I imagine they dressed them in Egyptian armour, for I maintain that both the shield and the helmet came into Greece from Egypt. The Auseans declare that Minerva is the daughter of Neptune and the Lake Tritônis—they say she quarrelled with her father, and applied to Jupiter, who consented to let her be his child; and so she became his adopted daughter. These people do not marry or live in families, but dwell together like the gregarious beasts. When their children are full-grown, they are brought before the assembly of the men, which is held every third month, and assigned to those whom they most resemble.
181. 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 Pillars of Hercules. Throughout this ridge, at the distance of about ten days’ journey from one another, heaps of salt in large lumps lie upon hills. At the top of every hill there gushes forth from the middle of the salt a stream of water, which is both cold and sweet. Around dwell men who are the last inhabitants of Libya on the side of the desert, living, as they do, more inland than the wild-beast district. Of these nations the first is that of the Ammonians, who dwell at a distance of ten days’ journey from Thebes, and have a temple derived from that of the Theban Jupiter. For at Thebes likewise, as I mentioned above, the image of Jupiter has a face like that of a ram. The Ammonians have another spring besides that which rises from the salt.8 The water of this stream is lukewarm at early dawn; at the time when the market fills it is much cooler; by noon it has grown quite cold; at this time, therefore, they water their gardens. As the afternoon advances the coldness goes off till, about sunset, the water is once more lukewarm; still the heat increases, and at midnight it boils furiously. After this time it again begins to cool, and grows less and less hot till morning comes. This spring is called “the Fountain of the Sun.”
182. 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.
183. 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 Lotophagi, 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.
184. 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’ journey 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.
185. 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’ journey, 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 Libya; if it were otherwise, the walls of these houses could not stand. The salt quarried is of two colours, white and purple. Beyond the ridge, southwards, in the direction of the interior, the country is a desert, with no springs, no beasts, no rain, no wood, and altogether destitute of moisture.
186. Thus from Egypt as far as Lake Tritônis Libya is inhabited by wandering tribes, whose drink is milk, and their food the flesh of animals. Cow’s flesh however none of these tribes ever taste, but abstain from it for the same reason as the Egyptians, neither do they any of them breed swine. Even at Cyrêné, the women think it wrong to eat the flesh of the cow, honouring in this Isis, the Egyptian goddess, whom they worship both with fasts and festivals.9 The Barcæan women abstain, not from cow’s flesh only, but also from the flesh of swine.
187. West of Lake Tritônis 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.
188. 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 Lake Tritônis worship in addition Triton, Neptune, and Minerva, the last especially.
189. The dress wherewith Minerva’s statues are adorned, and her Ægis, were derived by the Greeks from the women of Libya. For except that the garments of the Libyan women are of leather, and their fringes made of leathern thongs instead of serpents, in all else the dress of both is exactly alike. The name too itself shows that the mode of dressing the Pallasstatues came from Libya. For the Libyan women wear over their dress goat-skins stripped of the hair, fringed at their edges, and coloured with vermilion; and from these goat-skins the Greeks get their word Ægis (goat-harness). I think for my part that the loud cries uttered in our sacred rites came also from thence; for the Libyan women are greatly given to such cries and utter them very sweetly. Likewise the Greeks learnt from the Libyans to yoke four horses to a chariot.
190. 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.
191. 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 the head, 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 Troy. Their country and the remainder of Libya towards the west is far fuller of wild beasts, and of wood, than the country of the wandering people. For the eastern side of Libya, where the wanderers dwell, is low and sandy, as far as the river Triton; but westward of that the land of the husbandmen is very hilly, and abounds with forests and wild beasts. For this is the tract in which the huge serpents are found, and the lions, the elephants, the bears, the aspicks, and the horned asses. Here too are the dog-faced creatures, and the creatures without heads, whom the Libyans declare to have their eyes in their breasts; and also the wild men, and the wild women,10 and many other far less fabulous beasts.
192. 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, hyænas, porcupines, wild ram, 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 Libya. There are, however, three sorts of mice in these parts; the first are called two-footed; the next, zegeries, which is a Libyan word meaning “hills”; and the third, urchins. Weasels also are found in the Silphium-region, much like the Tartessian. So many, therefore, are the animals belonging to the land of the wandering Libyans, in so far at least as my researches have been able to reach.
193. Next to the Maxyan Libyans are the Zavecians, whose wives drive their chariots to battle.
194. 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.
195. 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.
196. 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.
197. 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 south of Libya. The Phœnicians and the Greeks are incomers.
198. It seems to me that Libya is not to compare for goodness of soil with either Asia or Europe, except the Cinyps-region, which is named after the river that waters it. This piece of land is equal to any country in the world for cereal crops, and is in nothing like the rest of Libya. For the soil here is black, and springs of water abound; so that there is nothing to fear from drought; nor do heavy rains (and it rains in that part of Libya) do any harm when they soak the ground. The returns of the harvest come up to the measure which prevails in Babylonia. The soil is likewise good in the country of the Euesperites; for there the land brings forth in the best years a hundred-fold. But the Cinyps-region yields three hundred-fold.
199. The country of the Cyrenæans, which is the highest tract within the part of Libya inhabited by the wandering tribes, has three seasons that deserve remark. First the crops along the sea-coast begin to ripen, and are ready for the harvest and the vintage; after they have been gathered in, the crops of the middle tract above the coast-region (the hill-country, as they call it) need harvesting; while about the time when this middle crop is housed, the fruits ripen and are fit for cutting in the highest tract of all. So that the produce of the first tract has been all eaten and drunk by the time that the last harvest comes in. And the harvest-time of the Cyrenæans continues thus for eight full months. So much concerning these matters.
200. When the Persians sent from Egypt by Aryandes to help Pheretima, reached Barca, they laid siege to the town, calling on those within to give up the men who had been guilty of the murder of Arcesilaüs. The townspeople, however, as they had one and all taken part in the deed, refused to entertain the proposition. So the Persians beleaguered Barca for nine months, in the course of which they dug several mines from their own lines to the walls, and likewise made a number of vigorous assaults. But their mines were discovered by a man who was a worker in brass, who went with a brazen shield all round the fortress, and laid it on the ground inside the city. In other places the shield, when he laid it down, was quite dumb; but where the ground was undermined, there the brass of the shield rang. Here, therefore, the Barcæans countermined, and slew the Persian diggers. Such was the way in which the mines were discovered; as for the assaults, the Barcæans beat them back.
201. When much time had thus 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 Barcæans 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 Barcæans 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 Barcæans, 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 Barcæans that the oath should continue “so long as the ground whereon they stood was firm.” When, therefore, the bridge was once broken, the oath ceased to hold.
202. Such of the Barcæans 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 Battiadæ, and those who had taken no part in the murder, to whom she handed over the possession of the town.
203. The Persians now set out on their return home, carrying with them the rest of the Barcæans, whom they had made their slaves. On their way they came to Cyrêné; and the Cyrenæans, out of regard for an oracle, let them pass through the town. During the passage, Bares, the commander of the fleet, advised to seize the place; but Amasis, the leader of the land-force, would not consent; “because,” he said, “they had only been charged to attack the one Greek city of Barca.” When, however, they had passed through the town, and were encamped upon the hill of Lycæan Jove, it repented them that they had not seized Cyrêné, and they endeavoured to enter it a second time. The Cyrenæans, however, would not suffer this; whereupon, though no one appeared to offer them battle, yet a panic came upon the Persians, and they ran a distance of full sixty furlongs before they pitched their camp. Here as they lay, a messenger came to them from Aryandes, ordering them home. Then the Persians besought the men of Cyrêné to give them provisions for the way, and, these consenting, they set off on their return to Egypt. But the Libyans now beset them, and, for the sake of their clothes and harness, slew all who dropped behind and straggled, during the whole march homewards.
204. The furthest point of Libya reached by this Persian host was the city of Euesperides. The Barcæans carried into slavery were sent from Egypt to the King; and Darius assigned them a village in Bactria for their dwelling-place. To this village they gave the name of Barca, and it was to my time an inhabited place in Bactria.
205. Nor did Pheretima herself end her days happily. For on her return to Egypt from Libya, directly after taking vengeance on the people of Barca, she was overtaken by a most horrid death. Her body swarmed with worms, which ate her flesh while she was still alive. Thus do men, by over-harsh punishments, draw down upon themselves the anger of the gods. Such then, and so fierce, was the vengeance which Pheretima, daughter of Battus, took upon the Barcæans.
[* ]Her real name was Doricha, and Rhodopis, “the rosy-cheeked,” was merely an epithet. It was under this name of Doricha that she was mentioned by Sappho; and that Herodotus was not mistaken in calling her Rhodopis, as Athenæus supposes, is fully proved by Strabo. Rhodopis when liberated remained in Egypt; where even before Greeks resorted to that country foreign women often followed the occupations of the modern “Almeh.” They are figured on the monuments dancing and playing musical instruments to divert parties of guests, and are distinguished by their head-dress from native Egyptian women. The reason of her having been confounded with Nitocris was owing, as Zoega suggested, to the latter having also been called “the rosy-cheeked,” like the Egyptian Queen, who is described by Eusebius (from Manetho) as “flaxen haired with rosy cheeks.”
[† ]The Egyptians, like other people, found the necessity of enacting new laws concerning debt at different times. This of Asychis gave the creditor the right of taking possession of the tomb of the debtor, which was the greatest pledge, since he could not be buried unless the debt had been paid. It was the right of burial he lost, not the body of the father, as fathers could not be supposed to die conveniently to stand security for their sons, and the law would have foreseen the possibility of there being many sons of one father. Usury was forbidden, as with the Jews and Moslems; and the interest was not allowed to increase beyond double the original sum.
[1 ]The dates for the Trojan war vary almost two centuries. Duris placed it as early as 1335. Clemens in 1149. Isocrates, Ephorus, Democritus, and Phanias, seem to have inclined to the later, Herodotus, Thucydides, the author of the Life of Homer, and the compiler of the Parian Marble, to the earlier period. The date now usually received, 1183, is that of Eratosthenes, whose chronology was purely artificial, and rested on no solid basis.
[2 ]Herodotus says, “the most wonderful thing that was actually to be seen,” because he considers that the wonder of the floating island, which he “did not see,” would, if true, have been still more astonishing.
[3 ]This calls to mind the loss of life when the Alexandrian canal was made by Mohammed Ali; but we may suppose the numbers greatly exaggerated. Mohammed Ali lost 10,000 men. The reason was that they were collected from distant parts of the country, and taken to the spot, and, no food being provided for them, those whose families failed to send them provisions died of hunger, and some few from fatigue or accidents.
[4 ]It is curious to find this trait in a Dorian state. But the situation of Corinth led so naturally to extensive trade, and thence to that splendour and magnificence of living by which the useful and ornamental arts are most encouraged, that, in spite of Dorian pride and exclusiveness, the mechanic’s occupation came soon to be regarded with a good deal of favour.
[5 ]The temple at Delphi was burnt in the year 548, consequently in the 21st year of Amasis. According to one account, it was purposely destroyed by the Pisistratidæ. But this was probably a calumny.
[1 ]Dahlmann has well remarked, that the alliance of Egypt with Lydia was quite sufficient ground of quarrel, without further personal motives. And Herodotus had already told us that the subjugation of Egypt was among the designs of Cyrus. Indeed, two motives of a public character, each by itself enough to account for the attack, urged the Persian arms in this direction; viz., revenge, and the lust of conquest.
[2 ]This account, which Herodotus says was that of the Persians, is utterly inadmissible, as Nitêtis would have been more than forty years of age when Cambyses came to the throne. That of the Egyptians, who pretended that Cambyses was the son of a daughter of Apries, is quite eastern, and resembles the Persian story of Alexander the Great having been born of a Persian princess. The name Nitêtis is Egyptian, and answers to Athenodora, or Athenodota in Greek. The Egyptian statement that Nitêtis was sent to Cyrus, is more plausible on the score of her age; but it is not probable. Athenæus makes the demand come from Cambyses, and places this war among those caused by women. May the story have originated in a Nitocris having been married to Nebuchadnezzar?
[3 ]The thickness of the Egyptian skull is observable in the mummies; and those of the modern Egyptians fortunately possess the same property of hardness, to judge from the blows they bear from the Turks, and in their combats among themselves.
[4 ]There seems to have been a widespread belief among the ancients that bull’s blood was poisonous. According to Eusebius, Midas, King of Phrygia, killed himself by drinking bull’s blood 694. Themistocles is said to have died in the same way. Also Smerdis. According to Ctesias, Psammenitus was carried prisoner to Susa.
[5 ]The seat of these long-lived Ethiopians is very uncertain. Their country must have lain beyond the Straits of Babelmandel. Heeren places them near Cape Guardafui. He recognises their customs in the stories told by Cosmas of the people of Sasu, and their descendants in the modern Somaulies. The descriptions of Homer possibly referred to this people, whom Ephorus also regarded as the remotest of mankind towards the south. It is quite a distinct question whether the embassy of Cambyses, if a real event, was to them, or whether he had any particular designs against their liberty. His Ethiopian expedition was undoubtedly a fact, but it had probably no more definite object than the conquest of the Ethiopians generally.
[6 ]Exaggerated notions of the beauty and fertility of the oases, derived from the contrast they presented to the barren wilderness around them, prevailed in very early times. They are grassy tracts, covered with palm-trees, and somewhat scantily supplied with water. I the 2d and 3d centuries they were used by the Romans as places of banishment.
[7 ]Apis was supposed to be the image of the soul of Osiris, and he was the sacred emblem of that God; but he is sometimes figured as a man with a bull’s head (probably the origin of the Minotaur), and is called Apis-Osiris, which justifies the assertion of Strabo that “Apis was the same as Osiris.” He is usually called Apis or “Hapi, the living bull.”
[8 ]From this passage, as well as from several others, it would appear that Susa had become the chief residence of the Persian court as early as the time of Cambyses.
[9 ]The Egyptians were permitted to marry their sisters by the same father or mother. Both were forbidden by the Levitical law; but in Patriarchal times a man was permitted to marry a sister, the daughter of his father only. The Egyptian custom is one of those pointed at in Levit. xviii. 3.
[10 ]This was Atossa, the mother of Xerxes, who was the wife successively of Cambyses, the Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspis. In latter times still worse incest was permitted to the kings. Artaxerxes Mnemon married two of his own daughters.
[1 ]Among the measures whereby he attained the popularity which enabled him to make himself king, it is mentioned that he was in the habit of lending his rich hangings and valuable plate to any one who wanted them for a wedding-feast or other banquet of more than common importance.
[2 ]This tale may have been false, yet it is not without its value. It shows the general opinion of the corruptibility of the Spartans. The peculiar attractions possessed by the vetitum nefas may account for the greater openness of the Spartans to bribery than the other Greeks. It seems to have been generally recognised through Greece that avarice and corruptibility were among the chief failings of the Spartan character.
[3 ]Writers of great eminence have seen in this conspiracy of the Seven Persians a movement of the nation under the leadership of the seven great heads of tribes or families, and not a mere casual junction of individuals. Niebuhr maintains that throughout the whole Persian history there were seven families who had a rank greatly beyond all the rest. And certainly there is a passage in the book of Ezra (vii. 14), and another in the book of Esther (i. 14), which favour the notion of seven princes or councillors who stood in some very special relation to the king.
[4 ]The Persian, like the Assyrian, palaces, consisted of one or more central halls or courts, probably open to the sky, on which adjoined a number of ceiled chambers of small size, without windows, and only lighted through the doorway, which opened into the court. Modern houses in Persia are often on the same plan—there being a central hall or Iwan rising to the top of the building, and round it “small rooms in two or three separate stories, opening by windows into it, whilst the inner chambers, having no windows at all, have no more light than that which reaches them through the door.”
[5 ]So far as can be traced, this rule was always observed. Darius, besides his wives from the family of the Achæmenidæ, married Phædima, daughter of Otanes, and a daughter of Gobryas. Xerxes took to wife Amestris, daughter of Onophas, the son of Otanes.
[6 ]Darius had married a daughter of Gobryas before his accession. He also took to wife his niece, Phratagûne, the daughter of his brother Artanes. Still the idea of De Hammer, that Mahomet’s institution of four wives was derived from an ancient custom of the Oriental nations may be correct. And this may be an instance of the practice. For the daughter of Gobryas may have been dead before the accession of Darius, and he may not have married Phratagûne till after the death of one of the four wives mentioned in the text.
[7 ]It is curious to find the practise of exporting their children so ancient in these regions. Circassia still supplies wives to almost all the wealthy Turks, and the Mamelukes are said to have been composed entirely of those who had been brought when young from the same country. (See Rennell’s Geography of Herodotus, p. 525, note.)
[8 ]This is of course untrue, and it is difficult to understand how Herodotus could entertain such a notion. There is no real difference, as regards the anatomy of the leg, between the horse and the camel.
[9 ]The courage of the lion has been called in question by Gordon Cumming, Dr. Livingstone and others, whose experience certainly tends to lower the character of the king of brutes. Still, under the pressure of hunger, or where he has cubs to defend, the boldness of the lion is remarkable. President Roosevelt’s recent experiences in South Africa bear out this view. [T. M. A.]
[1 ]Elis about this time appears to have furnished soothsayers to all Greece. The Phocians had an Elean soothsayer, named Tellias. And at Platæa the soothsayers on both sides were of the same nation. The gift was hereditary in certain families.
[2 ]In the mind of Herodotus this voyage is of the greatest importance. It is the first step towards the invasion of Greece, and so a chief link in the chain of his History. Whether Darius attached much importance to it is a different matter. We must bear in mind that the details have evidently come from the descendants of Democêdes, with whom Herodotus would have been brought into contact in Magna Græcia. The whole colouring of the story, therefore, would be what Democêdes, plainly a vain-glorious man, chose to make it.
[3 ]This is probably the latest event recorded by Herodotus. It is mentioned by Ctesias almost immediately before the death of Artaxerxes, and so belongs most likely to the year 426 or 425. There are, however, no means of exactly fixing its date. Zopyrus led the Athenians against Caunus, which he hoped to be able to bring over; but the Caunians resisted, and Zopyrus lost his life in the attempt.
[1 ]It has been supposed that the notice in the Behistun Inscription of an expedition of Darius against the Sacæ (Saka), refers to this invasion. But the scanty fragments of the text, which alone remain, and the representation of the leader in the train of captured rebels, lead rather to the conclusion that Asiatic Scyths—old subjects of the Persian monarchy—are intended.
[2 ]That is, eyesight which is requisite for agricultural pursuits is not needed for the offices which a pastoral people requires of its slaves. The Scythians, therefore, being a pastoral people, could manage with blind slaves; and by blinding their slaves they rendered it impossible for them either to revolt or to run away.
[3 ]Herodotus considered that the eastern and northern boundaries of the earth were unknown, and that the general belief that the sea encompassed the land was a pure conjecture resting on no certain data.
[4 ]The poem of Aristeas may have had no special historical foundation, but it indicated an important general fact, viz., the perpetual pressure on one another of the nomadic hordes which from time immemorial have occupied the vast steppes of Central and Northern Asia, and of Eastern Europe. Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Tatars, and Turkomans, have in turn been precipitated upon Europe by this cause, while Mongols, Kirghis, Eleuths, Calmucks, and Cossacks, have disputed the possession of Asia.
[5 ]Although a race of men absolutely without hair may be a fable, yet it is a fact that scanty hair characterises several of the wandering tribes of Northern Asia.
[6 ]It has been usual to scout as fables all stories of Amazons, or even of any established equality in any nation of women with men. But the travels of Dr. Livingstone have proved that in parts of Southern Africa such a position is actually occupied by the female sex to this day (and among the Nairs of Malabar the institutions all incline to a gynocracy, each woman having several husbands, and property passing through the female line in preference to the male).
[7 ]Very elaborate accounts have been given of the Hyperboreans both in ancient and modern times. Hecatæus of Abdera, a contemporary of Alexander the Great, wrote a book concerning them. They are, however, in reality not a historical, but an ideal nation. The North Wind being given a local seat in certain mountains called Rhipæan, it was supposed there must be a country above the north wind, which would not be cold, and which would have inhabitants. Ideal perfections were gradually ascribed to this region. According to Pindar, Hercules brought from it the olive, which grew thickly there about the sources of the Danube. When the country had been made thus charming, it was natural to attach good qualities to the inhabitants. Accordingly they were made worshippers of Apollo, observers of justice, and vegetarians.
[8 ]We may infer, from Necos’ ordering the Phœnicians to come round by the “Pillars of Hercules,” that the form of Africa was already known, and that this was not the first expedition which had gone round it. The fact of their seeing the sun rise on their right as they returned northwards, which Herodotus doubted, is the very proof of their having gone round the Cape, and completed the circuit.
[9 ]The earliest Greek geographers divided the world into two portions only, Europe and Asia, in the latter of which they included Libya. This was the division of Hecatæus.
[1 ]It is interesting to find in Herodotus this first trace of the word Alp, by which, from the time of Polybius, the great European chain has been known. At the present day it is applied in the country itself, not to the high mountain tops, but to the green pastures on their slopes. It can hardly have been at any time the real name of a river.
[2 ]The sturgeon of the Dnieper have to this day a great reputation. Caviare is made from the roes of these fish at Kherson and Nicolaef.
[3 ]This custom of cutting off heads is common to many barbarous and semi-barbarous nations. In the Assyrian sculptures we frequently see decapitated corpses, and Assyrians carrying off the heads of their foes. According to Diodorus, the Gauls spent the whole of the day following on the battle of the Allia in thus mutilating the dead. David hewing off the head of Goliah is a familiar instance. Herodotus furnishes another in the conduct which he ascribes to Artaphernes. In the East, the mutilation of fallen enemies is almost universal. Poseidonius of Apamea spoke of himself as an eye-witness of the practice in Gaul; and Strabo calls it a general custom of the northern nations. Even now there are head-hunting tribes in the Philippine Islands.
[4 ]Hemp is not now cultivated in these regions. It forms, however, an item of some importance among the exports of Southern Russia, being brought from the north by water-carriage. It would seem from the text that in the time of Herodotus the plant was grown in Scythia proper. He speaks like an eye-witness. Herodotus appears in this instance to have confounded together two things in reality quite distinct, viz., intoxication from the fumes of hemp-seed, and indulgence in the vapour-bath.
[5 ]The identity of the Getæ with the Goths of later times is more than a plausible conjecture. It may be regarded as historically certain. Moreover, the compounds, Massa-getæ, Thyssa-getæ, Tyri-getæ, have a striking analogy to the later names of Visi-goths and Ostro-goths.
[6 ]As Herodotus recedes from the sea his accounts become more mythic and less trustworthy. Still the Neuri must be regarded as a real nation. They seem, in the time of Herodotus, to have inhabited the modern Lithuania and Volhynia, extending eastward perhaps as far as the government of Smolensk.
[7 ]These physical characteristics of the Budini are very remarkable, and would give them a far better title to be considered the ancestors of the German race, than the Androphagi and Melanchlæni, to whom Heeren grants that honour. The nomade races which people the entire tract from the Don to the North Pacific, have universally dark eyes and hair. May not the Budini have been a remnant of the Cimmerians to whom the woody country between the upper Don and Volga furnished a protection?
[8 ]That is to say, as they are all alike beardless, they took them for an army of youths.
[9 ]We now hear for the first time of the Scythians having infantry. It is scarcely possible that they really possessed any such force. The nomade nations of these countries have always lived on horseback, and are utterly helpless on foot. If they had had a force of foot-soldiers, Darius might have compelled them to a general engagement.
[1 ]That Darius led an expedition into Scythia, across the Canal of Constantinople and the Danube, may be regarded as historically certain; it is a point in which Ctesias himself did not venture to contradict Herodotus. The passage of the Straits, and of the river, by bridges made by Greeks of Greek ships, and the presence of Miltiades, on both occasions, must be taken to be facts as assured as the battle of Marathon itself. Again, the general result of the expedition—negative rather than positive—that Darius penetrated to some distance into Scythia, and returned without obtaining any remarkable success, or experiencing any very overwhelming loss, may be regarded as ascertained.
[2 ]The myth ran, that in Lemnos at the time of the Argonautic expedition there were no males, the women having revenged their ill-treatment upon the men by murdering them all. The Argonauts touched at the island, and were received with great favour. They stayed some months, and the subsequent population of the island was the fruit of this visit. Hypsipylé, the queen, had twin sons by Jason. Sophocles wrote a tragedy, which is lost, upon this piece of ancient story.
[3 ]Menecles of Barca, who lived about 120, gave a much more prosaic account of these matters. According to him, there were violent factions at Thera, and Battus, who was the leader of one, being worsted, was driven into banishment with his partisans. Under these circumstances he applied to the Delphic oracle, and asked whether he should renew the struggle or lead out a colony. The oracle, thus appealed to, recommended the latter course; and suggested Africa by advising a settlement “on the continent.”
[4 ]If we may regard as historical the part said to have been taken by the oracle in the founding and establishment of this colony, it will appear that an influence over the destinies of Greece was exercised by the Delphian priests in early times, which has seldom been fully recognised. The want of a settlement on the African coast, for the general interests of Greece, is felt; the Delphians determine to have it supplied. They fix on Thera, a Dorian settlement, and the most southern of all the Cyclades, as the point from which the colonisation will most conveniently proceed. They order the colony to be sent out, refuse to be content with anything short of a settlement upon the mainland, watch the progress of the settlement when it is made, and at the fitting moment cause the redundant population of Greece to flow towards it. The powerful and flourishing Greek state of Cyrene is, according to this statement, the absolute creation of the priests of Delphi.
[5 ]The early kings of the various Grecian states, like those of Rome, were uniformly priests likewise.
[6 ]Dahlmann’s remark is just: “Here a human infirmity seems to have stolen upon Herodotus. . . . An exaggerated representation, which does not correspond with the truth, of the real importance of this affair has imposed itself upon Herodotus, who was anxious to collect together his information concerning the Libyan nations. No attempt to subjugate Libya appears in the expedition itself.
[7 ]So the Mahometan law of ablution allows sand to be used where water cannot be procured.
[8 ]The salt of the Ammonians was considered to be of such excellent quality, that it was sent to Persia for the use of the Great King. It is still very abundant, the houses even been built of it.
[9 ]The Greeks, on settling in Africa, appear to have adopted many customs from their “barbarian” neighbours. As their monarchs took the name of Battus, the native term for “king,” so the citizens generally conformed to African manners. The Cyrenean Greeks took the costume of the country.
[10 ]Apes of some large species were probably intended, pongos possibly, or chimpanzees. Compare Hanno’s Narrative: “At the bottom of this bay lay an island like the former, having a lake, and in this lake another island, full of wild people. Far the greater proportion were women, whose bodies were covered with hair, and whom our interpreters called Gorillæ. Though we pursued the men, we could not catch any of them, since all fled from us, escaping over the precipices, and defending themselves with stones. However we took three women; but they attacked their conductors with their hands and teeth, and could not be prevailed on to accompany us. We therefore killed and flayed them, and brought their skins with us to Carthage.” Our early voyagers used much the same language: “We came to another yle, where the folk bin alle skynned roughe hear, as a rough best, saf only the face, and the pawme of the hand.”