Page images
PDF
EPUB

more confidence in them than in any other nation ; but that these men, when they were in the open sea, conspired together to throw him overboard and seize his money, and he being aware of this, offered them his money, and entreated them to spare his life. However, he could not prevail on them ; but the sailors ordered him either to kill himself, that he might be buried ashore, or to leap immediately into the sea. They add that Arion, reduced to this strait, entreated them, since such was their determination, to permit him to stand on the poop in his full dress and sing, and he promised when he had sung to make away with himself. The seamen, pleased that they should hear the best singer in the world, retired from the stern to the middle of the vessel. They relate that Arion, having put on all his robes, and taken his harp, stood on the rowing benches and went through the Orthian strain ; that when the strain was ended he leaped into the sea as he was, in his full dress; and the sailors continued their voyage to Corinth: but they say that a dolphin received him on his back, and carried him to Tænarus ; and that he, having landed, proceeded to Corinth in his full dress, and upon his arrival there, related all that had happened; but that Periander, giving no credit to his relation, put Arion under close confinement, and watched anxiously for the seamen : that when they appeared, he summoned them, and inquired if they could give any account of Arion ; but when they answered that he was safe in Italy, and that they had left him flourishing at Tarentum, Arion in that instant appeared before them just as he was when he leaped into the sea ; at which they were so astonished, that being fully convicted, they could no longer deny the fact. These things are reported by the Corinthians and Lesbians; and there is a small brazen statue of Arion at Tænarus, representing a man sitting on a dolphin.

25. Alyattes the Lydian, having waged this long war against the Milesians, afterward died, when he had reigned fifty-seven years. On his recovery from sickness, he was the second son of his family that dedicated at Delphi a large silver bowl, with a saucer of iron inlaid; an object that deserves attention above all the offerings at Delphi. It was made by Glaucus the Chian, who first invented the art of inlaying iron.

26. After the death of Alyattes, his son Croesus, who was then thirty-five years of age, succeeded to the kingdom.

He attacked the Ephesians before any other Grecian people. The Ephesians then being besieged by him, consecrated their city to Diana, by fastening a rope from the temple to the wall. The distance between the old town, which was then besieged, and the temple, is seven stadia. Croesus then attacked these the first, and afterward the several cities of the Ionians and Æolians one after another, alleging different pretenses against different states, imputing graver charges against those in whom he was able to discover greater causes of blame, and against some of them alleging frivolous pretenses. 27. After he had reduced the Grecians in Asia to the payment of tribute, he formed a design to build ships and attack the Islanders. But when all things were ready for the building of ships, Bias of Priene (or, as others say, Pittacus of Mitylene), arriving at Sardis, put a stop to his ship-building by making this reply, when Croesus inquired if he had any news from Greece: “O king, the Islanders are enlisting a large body of cavalry, with intention to make war upon you and Sardis.” Croesus, thinking he had spoken the truth, said, “ May the gods put such a thought into the Islanders, as to attack the sons of the Lydians with horse.” The other answering said, “Sire, you appear to wish - above all things to see the Islanders on horseback

upon the continent; and not without reason. But what can you imagine the Islanders more earnestly desire, after having heard of your resolution to build a fleet in order to attack them, than to catch the Lydians at sea, that they may revenge on you the cause of those Greeks who dwell on the continent, whom you hold in subjection ?" It is related that Croesus was very much pleased with the conclusion, and that being convinced (for he appeared to speak to the purpose), he put a stop to the ship-building, and made an alliance with the Ionians that inhabit the islands.

28. In course of time, when nearly all the nations that dwell within the river Halys, except the Cilicians and Lycians, were subdued; for Creesus held all the rest in subjection: and they were the following, the Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandynians, Chalybians, Paphlagonians, Thracians, both the Thynians and Bithynians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Æolians, and Pamphylians. 29. When these nations were subdued, and Croesus had added them to the Lydians, all the other wise men of that time, as each had oppor

[ocr errors]

tunity, came from Greece to Sardis, which had then attained to the highest degree of prosperity; and among them Solon, an Athenian, who, having made laws for the Athenians at their request, absented himself for ten years, having sailed away under pretense of seeing the world, that he might not be compelled to abrogate any of the laws he had established; for the Athenians could not do it themselves, since they were bound by solemn oaths to observe for ten years whatever laws Solon should enact for them. 30. Solon therefore, having gone abroad for these reasons, and for the purposes of observation, arrived in Egypt at the court of Amasis, and afterward at that of Crosus at Sardis. On his arrival he was hospitably entertained by Creesus, and on the third or fourth day, by order of the king, the attendants conducted him round the treasury, and showed him all their grand and costly contents; and when he had seen and examined every thing sufficiently, Croesus asked him this question : “My Athenian guest, your great fame has reached even to us, as well of your wisdom as of your travels, how that as a philosopher you have traveled through various countries for the purpose of observation ; I am therefore desirous of asking you, who is the most happy man you have seen ?” He asked this question, because he thought himself the most happy of men. But Solon, speaking the truth freely, without any flattery, answered, " Tellus the Athenian.” Creesus, astonished at his answer, eagerly: asked him, “On what account do you deem Tellus the happiest ?" He replied, “Tellus, in the first place, lived in a wellgoverned commonwealth; had sons who were virtuous and good; and he saw children born to them all, and all surviving: in the next place, when he had lived as happily as the condition of human affairs will permit, he ended his life in a most glorious manner; for, coming to the assistance of the Athenians in a battle with their neighbors of Eleusis, he put the enemy to flight, and died nobly. The Athenians buried him at the public charge in the place where he fell, and honored him greatly.”

31. When Solon had roused the attention of Croesus by relating many and happy circumstances concerning Tellus, Crosus, expecting at least to obtain the second place, asked

3

'ETLOTPEDéws. Baehr translates it accurate, diligenter.

whom he had seen next to him. “Cleobis,” said he, “and Biton, for they, being natives of Argos, possessed a sufficient fortune, and had withal such strength of body, that they were both alike victorious in the public games; and moreover the following story is related of them: when the Argives were celebrating a festival of Juno, it was necessary that their mother should be drawn to the temple in a chariot; but the oxen did not come from the field in time; the young men therefore, being pressed for time, put themselves beneath the yoke, and drew the car in which their mother sat; and having conveyed it forty-five stades, they reached the temple. After they had done this in sight of the assembled people, a most happy termination was put to their lives; and in them the Deity clearly showed that it is better for a man to die than to live. For the men of Argos, who stood round, commended the strength of the youths, and the women blessed her as the mother of such sons; but the mother herself, transported with joy both on account of the action and its renown, stood before the image, and prayed that the goddess would grant to Cleobis and Biton, her own sons, who had so highly honored her, the greatest blessing man could receive. After this prayer, when they had sacrificed and partaken of the feast, the youths fell asleep in the temple itself, and never awoke more, but met with such a termination of life. Upon this the Argives, in commemoration of their piety, caused their statues to be made and dedicated at Delphi.” 32. Thus Solon adjudged the second place of felicity to these youths. But Crosus, being enraged, said, “ My Athenian friend, is my happiness, then, so slighted by you as nothing worth, that you do not think me of so much value as private men ?” He answered, “Croesus, do you inquire of me concerning human affairs-of me, who know that the divinity is always jealous, and delights in confusion ? For in lapse of time men are constrained to see many things they would not willingly see, and to suffer many things they would not willingly suffer. Now I put the term of man's life at seventy years; these seventy years, then, give twenty-five thousand two hundred days, without including the intercalary month; and if we add that month4 to every other year, in

4 If the first number 25, 200 is correct, it follows that the year was 360 days; if the number of intercalary days 1050 in 70 years, there will be altogether 26,259, which will give 375 days to the year; so that in

order that the seasons arriving at the proper time may agree, the intercalary months will be thirty-five more in the seventy years, and the days of these months will be one thousand and fifty. Yet in all this number of twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty days, that compose these seventy years, one day produces nothing exactly the same as anoth Thus, then, O Crosus, man is altogether the sport of fortune. You appear to me to be master of immense treasures, and king of many nations; but as relates to what you inquire of me, I can not say till I hear you have ended your life happily. For the richest of men is not more happy than he that has a sufficiency for a day, unless good fortune attend him to the grave, so that he ends his life in happiness. Many men, who abound in wealth, are unhappy; and many, who have only a moderate competency, are fortunate. He that abounds in wealth, and is yet unhappy, surpasses the other only in two things; but the other surpasses the wealthy and the miserable in many things. The former, indeed, is better able to gratify desire, and to bear the blow of adversity. But the latter surpasses him in this; he is not, indeed, equally able to bear misfortune or satisfy desire, but his good fortune wards off these things from him ; and he enjoys the full use of his limbs, he is free from disease and misfortune, he is blessed with good children and a fine form, and if, in addition to all these things, he shall end his life well, he is the man you seek, and may justly be called happy; but before he die we ought to suspend our judgment, and not pronounce him happy, but fortunate. Now it is impossible for any one man to comprehend all these advantages: as no one country suffices to produce every thing for itself, but affords some and wants others, and that which affords the most is the best ; so no human being is in all respects self-sufficient, but possesses one advantage, and is in need of another; he therefore who has constantly enjoyed the most of these, and then ends his life tranquilly, this man,

in

my judgment, О king, deserves the name of happy. We ought therefore to consider the end of every thing, in what way

it will terminate; for the Deity having shown a glimpse of happiness to many, has afterward utterly overthrown them.” spite of the precaution the seasons will be confused. Wyttenbach alters the number of intercalary months and days to make it agree with truth. -Larcher.

« PreviousContinue »