Page images

was boiled flesh, and their drink milk. And when the spies expressed their astonishment at the number of years, he led them to a fountain, by washing in which they became more sleek, as if it had been of oil, and an odour proceeded from it as of violets. The water of this fountain, the spies said, is so weak that nothing is able to float upon it, neither wood, nor such things as are lighter than wood; but everything sinks to the bottom. If this water is truly such as it is said to be, it may be they are long-lived by reason of the abundant use of it. Leaving this fountain, he conducted them to the common prison, where all were fettered with golden chains; for among these Ethiopians brass is the most rare and precious of all metals. After having viewed the prison, they next visited that which is called the table of the sun. After this, they visited last of all their sepulchres, which are said to be prepared from crystal in the following manner: When they have dried the body, either as the Egyptians do, or in some other way, they plaster it all over with gypsum, and paint it, making it as much as possible resemble real life; they then put round it a hollow column made of crystal, which they dig up in abundance, and is easily wrought. The body, being in the middle of the column, is plainly seen, nor does it emit an unpleasant smell, nor is it in any way offensive: and it is all visible 1 as the body itself. The nearest relations keep the column in their houses for a year, offering to it the first fruits of all, and performing sacrifices; after that time they carry it out and place it somewhere near the city.

The spies, having seen everything, returned home; and when they had reported all that had passed, Cambyses, being greatly enraged, immediately marched against the Ethiopians, without making any provision for the subsistence of his army, or once considering that he was going to carry his arms to the remotest parts of the world; but as a madman, and not in possession of his senses, as soon as he heard the report of the Ichthyophagi, he set out on his march, ordering the Greeks who were present to stay behind, and taking with him all his land forces. When the army reached Thebes, he detached about fifty thousand men, and ordered them to reduce the Ammonians to slavery, and to burn the oracular Temple of Jupiter, while he with the rest of his army marched against the Ethiopians. But before the army had passed over a fifth part of the way, all the provisions that they had were ex

"The Egyptian mummies could only be seen in front, the back being covered by a box or coffin ; the Ethiopian bodies could be seen all round, as the column of glass was transparent.

hausted, and after the provisions, the beasts of burden were eaten, and likewise failed. Now if Cambyses, when he learned this, had altered his purpose, and had led back his army, even after his first error, he would have proved himself to be a wise man. But now, without any reflection, he still continued advancing. The soldiers, as long as they could gather any from the earth, supported life by eating herbs; but when they reached the sands, some of them had recourse to a horrid expedient, for taking one man in ten by lot, they devoured him: when Cambyses heard this, shocked at their eating one another, he abandoned his expedition against the Ethiopians, marched back and reached Thebes, after losing a great part from his army. From Thebes he went down to Memphis, and suffered the Greeks to sail away. Thus ended the expedition against the Ethiopians. Those who had been sent on the expedition against the Ammonians, after having set out from Thebes, marched under the conduct of guides, and are known to have reached the city Oasis, which is inhabited by Samians, said to be of the Æschrionian tribe; and they are distant seven days' march from Thebes, across the sands. This country in the Greek language is called the Island of the Blessed. It is said then that the army reached this country; but afterward none, except the Ammonians and those who have heard their report, are able to give any account of them; for they neither reached the Ammonians, nor returned. But the Ammonians make the following report: When they had advanced from this Oasis toward them across the sands, and were about half-way between them and Oasis, as they were taking dinner, a strong and vehement south wind blew, and carrying with it heaps of sand, covered them over, and in this manner they disappeared. The Ammonians say that such was the fate of this army.

When Cambyses arrived at Memphis, Apis, whom the Greeks call Epaphus, appeared to the Egyptians; and when this manifestation took place, the Egyptians immediately put on their richest apparel and kept festive holiday. Cambyses, seeing them thus occupied, and concluding that they made these rejoicings on account of his ill success, summoned the magistrates of Memphis; and when they came into his presence, he asked “why the Egyptians had done nothing of the kind when he was at Memphis before, but did so now, when he had returned with the loss of a great part of his army." They answered, that their god appeared to them, who was accustomed to manifest himself at distant intervals, and that when he did appear then all the Egyptians were used to re

joice and keep a feast. Cambyses, having heard this, said they lied, and as liars he put them to death. Having slain them, he next summoned the priests into his presence; and when the priests gave the same account, he said that he would find out whether a god so tractable had come among the Egyptians; and having said this, he commanded the priests to bring Apis to him; they therefore went away to fetch him. This Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow incapable of conceiving another offspring; and the Egyptians say that lightning descends upon the cow from heaven, and that from thence it brings forth Apis. This calf, which is called Apis, has the following marks: It is black, and has a square spot of white on the forehead; and on the back the figure of an eagle; and in the tail double hairs; and on the tongue a beetle. When the priests brought Apis, Cambyses, like one almost out of his senses, drew his dagger, meaning to strike the belly of Apis, but hit the thigh; then falling into a fit of laughter, he said to the priests: “Ye blockheads, are there such gods as these, consisting of blood and flesh, and sensible of steel? This truly is a god worthy of the Egyptians. But you shall not mock me with impunity." Having spoken thus, he commanded those whose business it was to scourge the priests, and to kill all the Egyptians whom they should find feasting. Thus the festival of the Egyptians was put an end to, and the priests were punished. But Apis, being wounded in the thigh, lay and languished in the temple; and at length, when he had died of the wound, the priests buried him without the knowledge of Cambyses.

But Cambyses, as the Egyptians say, immediately became mad in consequence of this atrocity, though indeed he was not of sound mind before. His first crime he committed against his brother Smerdis, who was born of the same father and mother; him he sent back from Egypt to Persia through envy, because he alone of all the Persians had drawn the bow, which the Ichthyophagi brought from the Ethiopian, within two fingers' breadth: of the other Persians no one was able to do this. After the departure of Smerdis for Persia, Cambyses saw the following vision in his sleep: he imagined that a messenger arrived from Persia and informed him that Smerdis was seated on the royal throne, and touched the heavens with his head. Upon this, fearing for himself, lest his brother should kill him, and reign, he sent Prexaspes, who was a man the most faithful to him of the Persians, to Persia, with orders to kill Smerdis. And he, having gone up to Susa, killed Smerdis; some say, when he had taken him out to PROCESSION OF THE BULL


Photogravure from a painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman in the

Corcoran Art Gallery at Washington.

« PreviousContinue »