« PreviousContinue »
in that battle lie scattered about separately (for the bones of the Persians lay apart in one place as they did at first, and those of the Egyptians in another), the skulls of the Persians were so weak that if you should hit them only with a single pebble you would break a hole in them; whereas those of the Egyptians are so hard that you could scarcely fracture them by striking them with a stone. The cause of this, they told me, is as follows, and I readily assented: That the Egyptians begin from childhood and shave their heads, and the bone is thickened by exposure to the sun: from the same cause, also, they are less subject to baldness, for one sees fewer persons bald in Egypt than in any other country. This, then, is the cause of their having such strong skulls: and the reason why the Persians have weak skulls is this: they shade them from the first, wearing tiaras for hats. Now I, myself, saw that such was the case; and I also observed the same thing at Papremis, with respect to those who were slain with Achæmenes, son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan.
The Egyptians, when they were defeated, fled in complete disorder from the battle. When they had shut themselves up in Memphis, Cambyses sent a Mitylenæan bark up the river, with a Persian herald on board, to invite the Egyptians to terms. But they, when they saw the bark entering Memphis, rushed in a mass from the wall, destroyed the ship, and having torn the crew to pieces limb by limb, they carried them into the citadel. After this the Egyptians were besieged, and at length surrendered. The neighbouring Libyans, fearing what had befallen Egypt, gave themselves up, without resistance; and submitted to pay a tribute, and sent presents. In like manner the Cyrenæans and Barcæans, being equally alarmed with the Libyans, did as they had done. But Cambyses received very graciously the presents that came from the Libyans; but was displeased with those of the Cyrenæans, because, as I suppose, they were inconsiderable. For the Cyrenæans sent only five hundred minæ of silver, which he grasped and dispersed with his own hand among the soldiers. On the tenth day after Cambyses had taken the citadel of Memphis, having seated Psammenitus, the King of the Egyptians, who had reigned only six months, at the entrance of the city, by way of insult-having seated him with other Egyptians, he made trial of his courage by the following means: Having dressed his daughter in the habit of a slave, he sent her with a pitcher to fetch water; and he sent with her other virgins selected from the principal families, dressed in the same manner as the king's daughter. As the virgins, with loud lamentation and weeping, came into the presence of their fathers, all the other fathers answered them with wailing and weeping when they beheld their children thus humiliated. But Psammenitus alone, when he saw and knew what was going on, only bent his eyes to the ground. When these water-carriers had passed by, he next sent his son, with two thousand Egyptians of the same age, with halters about their necks and a bridle in their mouths; and they were led out to suffer retribution for those_Mitylenæans who had perished at Memphis with the ship. For the royal judges had given sentence that for each man ten of the principal Egyptians should be put to death. Yet he, when he saw them passing by, and knew that his son was being led out to death, though all the rest of the Egyptians who sat round him wept and made loud lamentations, did the same as he had done in his daughter's case. When these had passed by, it happened that one of his boon companions, a man somewhat advanced in years, who had lost his all, and possessed nothing but such things as a beggar has, asking alms of the soldiery, passed by Psammenitus, the son of Amasis, and the Egyptians seated in the suburbs; but Psammenitus, when he saw him weeping bitterly, and calling his companion by name, smote his head. There were, however, spies there who communicated to Cambyses everything that was done by him at each procession: but Cambyses, surprised at this behaviour, sent a messenger, and inquired of him as follows: "Psammenitus, your master Cambyses inquires why, when you saw your daughter humiliated, and your son led to execution, you did not bewail or lament; and have been so highly concerned for a beggar, who is in no way related to you, as he is informed.” He then asked this question, but Psammenitus answered as follows: “Son of Cyrus, the calamities of my family are too great to be expressed by lamentation; but the griefs of my friend were worthy of tears, who, having fallen from abundance and prosperity, has come to beggary on the threshold of old age.' When this answer was brought back by the messenger, it appeared to Cambyses to be well said; and, as the Egyptians relate, Cresus wept, for he had attended Cambyses into Egypt, and the Persians that were present wept also, and Cambyses himself was touched with pity, and gave immediate orders to preserve his son out of those who were to perish, and to remove him and bring him from the suburbs into his presence. Those who were sent found the son no longer alive, having been the first that suffered; but having removed Psammenitus himself, they conducted him to Cambyses, with whom he afterward lived, without experiencing any violence. And had it not been suspected that he was planning innovations, he would probably have recovered Egypt, so as to have the government intrusted to him. For the Persians are accustomed to honour the sons of kings, and even if they have revolted from them, nevertheless bestow the government upon their children; that such is their custom may be proved from many other examples, and among them by that of Thannyras, the son of Inarus the Libyan, who recovered the government which his father had; and by that of Pausiris, son of Amyrtæus, for he also recovered his father's government: yet none ever did more mischief to the Persians than Inarus and Amyrtæus. But now Psammenitus, devising mischief, received his reward, for he was discovered inciting the Egyptians to revolt; and when he was detected by Cambyses he was compelled to drink the blood of a bull, and died immediately. Such, then, was his end.
Cambyses proceeded from Memphis to the city of Sais, purposing to do what he did effect; for when he entered the palace of Amasis, he presently commanded the dead body of Amasis to be brought out of the sepulchre; and when this was done he gave orders to scourge it, to pull off the hair, to prick it, and to abuse it in every possible manner. But when they were wearied with this employment (for the dead body, since it was embalmed, resisted, and did not at all fall in pieces), Cambyses gave orders to burn it, commanding what is impious. For the Persians consider fire to be a god; therefore to burn the dead is on no account allowed by either nation; not by the Persians, for the reason above mentioned, for they say it is not right to offer to a god the dead body of a man; and by the Egyptians fire is held to be a living beast, and that it devours everything it can lay hold of, and when it is glutted with food it expires with what it has consumed; therefore it is their law, on no account to give a dead body to wild beasts, and for that reason they embalm them, that they may not lie and be eaten by worms. Cambyses, therefore, commanded a thing repugnant to the customs of both nations. However, as the Egyptians say, it was not Amasis that was thus treated, but some other Egyptian of the same stature as Amasis whom the Persians insulted, thinking they insulted Amasis. For they say that Amasis, having been informed by an oracle of what should happen to him after death, in order to remedy the impending evil, buried the body of this very man who was scourged near the door of his own sepulchre, and charged his son to deposit his own in the remotest part of the vault. Now, these commands of Amasis, touching his own burial, and this man, appear to me never to have been given, but the Egyptians falsely boast of them.
Afterward, Cambyses planned three several expeditions: one against the Carthaginians, another against the Ammonians, and a third against the Macrobian Ethiopians, who inhabit that part of Libya which lies upon the South Sea. And in forming his plans he determined to send a naval force against the Carthaginians, and against the Ammonians a detachment of his land forces; and against the Ethiopians, spies in the first instance, who were to see the table of the sun, which was said to exist among the Ethiopians, and besides to explore other things, and to cover their design they were to carry presents to the king. The table of the sun is said to be of the following description: There is a meadow in the suburbs filled with the cooked flesh of all sorts of quadrupeds; in this the several magistrates of the city, for some purpose, place the flesh at night, and in the daytime whoever chooses comes and feasts on it. The inhabitants say that the earth itself, from time to time, produces these things. Such is the description given of what is called the table of the sun. When Cambyses had determined to send the spies, he immediately sent to Elephantine for some of the Ichthyophagi, who understood the Ethiopian language; and while they were fetching these, he commanded the naval force to sail against Carthage. But the Phoenicians refused to obey, for that they were bound by solemn oaths, and that they should act impiously if they made war against their own descendants. As the Phoenicians would not go, the rest were not fit for such an enterprise: thus, therefore, the Carthaginians escaped slavery at the hands of the Persians. For Cambyses did not think it right to employ force toward the Phænicians, because they had voluntarily submitted to the Persians, and the whole naval force depended on them. The Cyprians, too, having given themselves up to the Persians, joined the expedition against Egypt. When the Ichthyophagi came to Cambyses from Elephantine, he despatched them to the Ethiopians, having instructed them what to say, carrying presents consisting of a purple cloak, a golden necklace, bracelets, an alabaster box of ointment, and a cask of palm wine. These Ethiopians, to whom Cambyses sent, are said to be the tallest and handsomest of all men; and they say that they have customs different from those of other nations, and especially the following, with regard to the regal power; for they confer the sovereignty upon the man whom they consider to be of the largest stature, and to possess strength proportionable to his size.
When, therefore, the Ichthyophagi arrived among this people, they gave the presents to the king, and addressed him as follows: "Cambyses, King of the Persians, desirous of becoming your friend and ally, has sent us, bidding us confer with you, and he presents you with these gifts, which are such as he himself most delights in.” But the Ethiopian, knowing that they came as spies, spoke thus to them: Neither has the King of the Persians sent you with presents to me, because he valued my alliance; nor do you speak the truth; for ye are come as spies of my kingdom. Nor is he a just man; for if he were just, he would not desire any other territory than his own; nor would he reduce people into servitude who have done him no injury. However, give him this bow, and say these words to him: 'The King of the Ethiopians advises the King of the Persians, when the Persians can thus easily draw a bow of this size, then to make war on the Macrobian Ethiopians with more numerous forces; but until that time let him thank the gods, who have not inspired the sons of the Ethiopians with a desire of adding another land to their own.' Having spoken thus and unstrung the bow, he delivered it to the comers. Then taking up the purple cloak, he asked what it was, and how made; and when the Ichthyophagi told him the truth respecting the purple, and the manner of dyeing, he said that the men are deceptive, and their garments are deceptive also. Next he inquired about the necklace and bracelets, and when the Ichthyophagi explained to him their use as ornaments, the king, laughing, and supposing them to be fetters, said that they have stronger fetters than these. Thirdly, he inquired about the ointment; and when they told him about its composition and use, he made the same remark as he had on the cloak. But when he came to the wine, and inquired how it was made, being very much delighted with the draught, he further asked what food the king made use of, and what was the longest age to which a Persian lived. They answered, that he fed on bread, describing the nature of wheat; and that the longest period of the life of a Persian was eighty years. Upon this the Ethiopian said that he was not at all surprised if men who fed on dung lived so few years ; and they would not be able to live so many years if they did not refresh themselves with this beverage, showing the wine to the Ichthyophagi: for in this he admitted they were surpassed by the Persians. The Ichthyophagi inquiring in turn of the king concerning the life and diet of the Ethiopians, he said, that most of them attained to a hundred and twenty years, and some even exceeded that term, and that their food