Page images
PDF
EPUB

by the rod.” When the Lacedæmonians heard this answer reported, they laid aside their design against all Arcadia, and relying on an equivocal oracle, led an army against Tegea only, carrying fetters with them, as if they would surely reduce the Tegeans to slavery. But being defeated in an engagement, as many of them as were taken alive were compelled to vork, wearing the fetters they had brought, and measuring the lands of the Tegeans with a rod. Those fetters in which they were bound were, even in my time, preserved in Tegea, suspended around the Temple of Alean Minerva.

In the first war they had constantly fought against the Tegeans with ill success; but in the time of Cræsus, and during the reign of Anaxandrides and Ariston at Lacedæmon, they had at length become superior in the war, and they became so in the following manner: when they had always been worsted in battle by the Tegeans, they sent to inquire of the oracle at Delphi what god they should propitiate, in order to become victorious over the Tegeans. The Pythian answered, they should become so when they had brought back the bones of Orestes, the son of Agamemnon. But as they were unable to find the sepulchre of Orestes, they sent again to inquire of the god in what spot Orestes lay interred, and the Pythian gave this answer to the inquiries of those who came to consult her: “In the level plain of Arcadia lies Tegea, where two winds by hard compulsion blow, and stroke answers to stroke, and woe lies on woe. There lifeengendering earth contains Agamemnon's son; convey him home, and you will be victorious over Tegea.” When the Lacedæmonians heard this, they were as far from the discovery as ever, though they searched everywhere: till Lichas, one of the Spartans who are called Agathoergi, found it. These Agathoergi consist of citizens who are discharged from serying in the cavalry, such as are senior, five in every year; it is their duty during the year in which they are discharged from the cavalry not to remain inactive, but go to different places where they are sent by the Spartan commonwealth. Lichas, who was one of these persons, discovered it in Tegea, both meeting with good fortune and employing sagacity. For as the Lacedæmonians had at that time intercourse with the Tegeans, he, coming to a smithy, looked attentively at the iron being forged, and was struck with wonder when he saw what was done. The smith, perceiving his astonishment, desisted from his work, and said: “O Laconian stranger, you would certainly have been astonished had you seen what I saw, since you are so surprised at the working of iron. For as I was endeavouring to sink a well in this inclosure, in digging I came to a coffin seven cubits long; and because I did not believe that men were ever taller than they now are, I opened it, and saw that the body was equal to the coffin in length, and after I had measured it I covered it up again.” The man told him what he had seen, but Lichas, reflecting on what was said, conjectured from the words of the oracle that this must be the body of Orestes, forming his conjecture on the following reasons : seeing the smith's two bellows, he discerned in them the two winds, and in the anvil and hammer the stroke answering to stroke, and in the iron that was being forged the woe that lay on woe; representing it in this way, that iron had been invented to the injury of man. Having made this conjecture, he returned to Sparta, and gave the Lacedæmonians an account of the whole matter; they brought a feigned charge against him, and sent him into banishment. He then, going back to Tegea, related his misfortune to the smith, and wished to hire the inclosure from him, but he would not let it. But in time, when he had persuaded him, he took up his abode there, and having opened the sepulchre and collected the bones, he carried them away with him to Sparta. From that time, whenever they made trial of each other's strength, the Lacedæmonians were by far superior in war; and the greater part of Peloponnesus had been already subdued by them.

Croesus being informed of all these things, sent ambassadors to Sparta with presents, and to request their alliance, having given them orders what to say; and when they were arrived they spoke as follows: “ Crosus, King of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent us with this message: 'O Lacedæmonians, since the Deity has directed me by an oracle to unite myself to a Grecian friend, therefore (for I am informed that you are pre-eminent in Greece) I invite you in obedience to the oracle, being desirous of becoming your friend and ally, without treachery or guile.'” Cræsus made this proposal through his ambassadors. And the Lacedæmonians, who had before heard of the answer given by the oracle to Crosus, were gratified at the coming of the Lydians, and exchanged pledges of friendship and alliance: and indeed certains favours had been formerly conferred on them by Crosus, for when the Lacedæmonians sent to Sardis to purchase gold, wishing to use it in erecting the statue of Apollo that now stands at Thornax in Laconia, Cresus gave it as a present to them when they were desirous of purchasing it. For this reason then, and because he had selected them from all the Greeks, and desired their friendship, the Lacedæmonians accepted his offer of alliance; and in the first place they promised to be ready at his summons; and in the next, having made a brazen bowl, capable of containing three hundred amphoræ, and covered it outside to the rim with various figures, they sent it to him, being desirous of making Cræsus a present in return. But this bowl never reached Sardis, for one of the two following reasons: the Lacedæmonians say, that when this bowl, on its way to Sardis, was off Samos, the Samians having heard of it, sailed out in long ships, and took it away by force. On the other hand, the Samians affirm that when the Lacedæmonians who were conveying the bowl found they were too late, and heard that Sardis was taken, and Creesus a prisoner, they sold the bowl in Samos, and that some private persons who bought it dedicated it in the Temple of Juno. And perhaps they who sold it, when they returned to Sparta, might say that they had been robbed of it by the Samians. So it is then respecting this bowl.

Cræsus, misinterpreting the oracle, prepared to invade Cappadocia, hoping to overthrow Cyrus and the power of the Persians. While Cræsus was preparing for his expedition against the Persians, a certain Lydian, who before that time was esteemed a wise man, and on this occasion acquired a very great name in Lydia, gave him advice in these words (the name of this person was Sandanis): “O king, you are preparing to make war against a people who wear leather trousers, and the rest of their garments of leather; who inhabit a barren country, and feed not on such things as they choose, but such as they can get. Besides, they do not habitually use wine, but drink water; nor have they figs to eat, nor anything that is good. In the first place, then, if you should conquer, what will you take from them, since they have nothing? On the other hand, if you should be conquered, consider what good things you will lose. For when they have tasted of our good things, they will become fond of them, nor will they be driven from them. As for me, I thank the gods that they have not put it into the thoughts of the Persians to make war on the Lydians.” In saying this, he did not persuade Cræsus. Now before they subdued the Lydians, the Persians possessed nothing either luxurious or good. The Cappadocians are by the Greeks called Syrians; these Syrians, before the establishment of the Persian power, were subject to the Medes, but then to Cyrus. For the boundary of the Median empire and the Lydian was the river Halys, which flows from the mountains of Armenia through Cilicia, and afterward has the Matienians on the right and the Phrygians on the other side; then passing these and flowing up toward the north, it skirts the Syrian Cappadocians on one side, and the Paphlagonians on the left. Thus the river Halys divides almost the whole of lower Asia, from the sea opposite Cyprus to the Euxine: this is the isthmus of that whole country; as to the length of the journey, it takes five days for a well-girt man.

Cræsus invaded Cappadocia for the following reasons, as well from a desire of adding it to his own dominions, as, especially, from his confidence in the oracle, and a wish to punish Cyrus on account of Astyages. For Cyrus, son of Cambyses, had subjugated Astyages, son of Cyaxares, who was brotherin-law of Cræsus, and King of the Medes. He had become brother-in-law to Cræsus in the following manner: a band of Scythian nomads having risen in rebellion, withdrew into Media; at that time Cyaxares, son of Phraortes, grandson of Deioces, ruled over the Medes; he at first received these Scythians kindly, as being suppliants, so much so that, esteeming them very highly, he intrusted some youths to them to learn their language and the use of the bow. In course of time it happened that these Scythians, who were constantly going out to hunt, and who always brought home something, on one occasion took nothing. On their returning emptyhanded, Cyaxares (for he was, as he proved, of a violent temper) treated them with most opprobrious language. The Scythians, having met with this treatment from Cyaxares, and considering it undeserved by them, determined to kill one of the youths that were being educated under their care, and having prepared the flesh as they used to dress the beasts taken in hunting, to serve it up to Cyaxares as if it were game; and then to make their escape immediately to Alyattes, son of Sadyattes, at Sardis. This accordingly was done: Cyaxares and his guests feasted on this flesh, and the Scythians having done this, became suppliants to Alyattes. After this (for Alyattes refused to deliver up the Scythians to Cyaxares when he demanded them) war lasted between the Lydians and the Medes for five years; during this period the Medes often defeated the Lydians, and often the Lydians defeated the Medes, and during this time they had a kind of nocturnal engagement. In the sixth year, when they were carrying on the war with nearly equal success, on occasion of an engagement, it happened that in the heat of the battle day was suddenly turned into night. This change of the day Thales the Milesian

' The long flowing dresses of the ancients made it necessary to gird them up when they wished to move expeditiously.

had foretold to the Ionians, fixing beforehand this year as the very period in which the change actually took place. The Lydians and Medes, seeing night succeeding in the place of day, desisted from fighting, and both showed a great anxiety to make peace. Syennesis 1 the Cilician, and Labynetus 2 the Babylonian, were the mediators of their reconciliation; these were they who hastened the treaty between them, and made a matrimonial connection; for they persuaded Alyattes to give his daughter Aryenis in marriage to Astyages, son of Cyaxares. For, without strong necessity, agreements are not wont to remain firm. These nations in their federal contracts observe the same ceremonies as the Greeks, and in addition, when they have cut their arms to the outer skin, they lick up one another's blood.

Cyrus had subdued this same Astyages, his grandfather by the mother's side, for reasons which I shall hereafter relate. Cræsus, alleging this against him, sent to consult the oracle, if he should make war on the Persians; and when an ambiguous answer came back, he, interpreting it to his own advantage, led his army against the territory of the Persians. When he arrived at the river Halys, Cresus transported his forces, as I believe by the bridges which are now there. But the common opinion of the Grecians is that Thales the Milesian procured him a passage. For, while Cræsus was in doubt how his army should pass over the river (for they say that these bridges were not at that time in existence), Thales, who was in the camp, caused the stream, which flowed along the left of the army, to flow likewise on the right; he contrived it thus: having begun above the camp, he dug a deep trench, in the shape of a half moon, so that the river, being turned into this, from its old channel, might pass in the rear of the camp pitched where it then was, and afterward, having passed by the camp, might fall into its former course; so that as soon as the river was divided into two streams it became fordable in both. Some say that the ancient channel of the river was entirely dried up; but this I can not assent to: for how then could they have crossed it on their return? Cræsus, after passing the river with his army, came to a place called Pteria, in Cappadocia. (Now Pteria is the strongest position of the whole of this country, and is situated over against Sinope, a city on the Euxine Sea.) Here he

i Syennesis seems to have been a name common to the kings of Cilicia, In addition to the one here mentioned, we meet with another in the time of Darius, and a third in the time of Xerxes.

• The same, says Prideaux, with the Nebuchadnezzar of Scripture,

« PreviousContinue »