Page images

everything had befallen him as Solon had warned him, though his discourse related to all mankind as much as to himself, and especially to those who imagine themselves happy. They say that Cræsus gave this explanation, and that the pile being now kindled, the outer parts began to burn; and that Cyrus, informed by the interpreters of what Cræsus had said, relented, and considering that being but a man, he was yet going to burn another man alive, who had been no way inferior to himself in prosperity, and moreover, fearing retribution, and reflecting that nothing human is constant, commanded the fire to be instantly extinguished, and Cræsus, with those who were about him, to be taken down; and that they with all their endeavours were unable to master the fire. It is related by the Lydians that Crosus, perceiving that Cyrus had altered his resolution, when he saw every man endeavouring to put out the fire, but unable to get the better of it, shouted aloud, invoking Apollo, and besought him, if ever any of his offerings had been agreeable to him, to protect and deliver him from the present danger: they report that he with tears invoked the god, and that on a sudden clouds were seen gathering in the air, which before was serene, and that a violent storm burst forth and vehement rain fell and extinguished the flames; by which Cyrus, perceiving that Creesus was beloved by the gods, and a good man, when he had had him taken down from the pile, asked him the following question: "Who persuaded you, Cræsus, to invade my territories, and to become my enemy instead of my friend ? " He answered: “O king, I have done this for your good, but my own evil fortune, and the god of the Greeks who encouraged me to make war is the cause of all. For no man is so void of understanding as to prefer war before peace; for in the latter, children bury their fathers, in the former, fathers bury their children. But, I suppose, it pleased the gods that these things should be so.”

He thus spoke, and Cyrus, having set him at liberty, placed him by his own side, and showed him great respect; and both he and all those that were with him were astonished at what they saw. But Cræsus, absorbed in thought, remained silent; and presently turning round and beholding the Persians sacking the city of the Lydians, he said, “Does it become me, o king, to tell you what is passing through my mind, or to keep silence on the present occasion?” Cyrus bade him say with confidence whatever he wished; upon which Cresus asked him, saying, “ What is this vast crowd so earnestly employed about?” He answered, “ They are sacking your city, and plundering your riches.” “Not so," Crosus replied; “they are neither sacking my city nor plundering my riches, for they no longer belong to me, but they are ravaging what belongs to you.” The reply of Cresus attracted the attention of Cyrus; he therefore ordered all the rest to withdraw, and asked Cresus what he thought should be done in the present conjuncture. He answered: “Since the gods have made me your servant, I think it my duty to acquaint you, if I perceive anything deserving of remark. The Persians, who are by nature overbearing, are poor. If, therefore, you permit them to plunder and possess great riches, you may expect the following results: whoso acquires the greatest possessions, be assured, will be ready to rebel. Therefore, if you approve what I say, adopt the following plan : place some of your body-guard as sentinels at every gate, with orders to take the booty from all those who would go out, and to acquaint them that the tenth must of necessity be consecrated to Jupiter; thus you will not incur the odium of taking away their property, and they, acknowledging your intention to be just, will readily obey." Cyrus, when he heard this, was exceedingly delighted, as he thought the suggestion a very good one; having therefore commended it highly, and ordered his guards to do what Cræsus suggested, he addressed Cresus as follows: “ Crosus, since you are resolved to display the deeds and words of a true king, ask whatever boon you desire on the instant.” “Sir," he answered, “the most acceptable favour you can bestow upon me is to let me send my fetters to the god of the Grecians, whom I have honoured more than any other deity, and to ask him if it be his custom to deceive those who deserve well of him.” Cyrus asked him what cause he had to complain that induced him to make this request : upon which Cræsus recounted to him all his projects, and the answers of the oracles, and particularly the offerings he had presented; and how he was incited by the oracle to make war against the Persians. When he had said this, he again besought him to grant him leave to reproach the god with these things. But Cyrus, smiling, said, “ You shall not only receive this boon from me, but whatever else you may at any time desire.” When Cræsus heard this, he sent certain Lydians to Delphi with orders to lay his fetters at the entrance of the temple, and to ask the god if he were not ashamed to have encouraged Cræsus by his oracles to make war on the Persians, assuring him that he would put an end to the power of Cyrus, of which war such were the first fruits (commanding them at these words to show the fetters), and at the same time to ask if it were the custom of the Grecian gods to be ungrateful. When the Lydians arrived at Delphi, and had delivered their message, the Pythian is reported to have made this answer: “ The god himself even can not avoid the decrees of fate; and Cræsus has atoned the crime of his ancestor in the fifth generation, who, being one of the bodyguard of the Heraclidæ, was induced by the artifice of a woman to murder his master, and to usurp his dignity, to which he had no right. But although Apollo was desirous that the fall of Sardis might happen in the time of the sons of Cræsus, and not during his reign, yet it was not in his power to avert the fates; but so far as they allowed he accomplished, and conferred the boon on him; for he delayed the capture of Sardis for the space of three years. Let Creesus know, therefore, that he was taken prisoner three years later than the fates had ordained: and in the next place, he came to his relief when he was upon the point of being burned alive. Then, as to the prediction of the oracle, Cræsus had no right to complain; for Apollo foretold him that if he made war on the Persians he would subvert a great empire; and had he desired to be truly informed, he ought to have sent again to inquire whether his own or that of Cyrus was meant. But since he neither understood the oracle nor inquired again, let him lay the blame on himself. And when he last consulted the oracle, he did not understand the answer concerning the mule; for Cyrus was that mule; inasmuch as he was born of parents of different nations, the mother superior, but the father inferior. For she was a Mede, and daughter of Astyages, King of Media; but he was a Persian, subject to the Medes, and though in every respect inferior, married his own mistress.” The Pythian gave this answer to the Lydians, and they carried it back to Sardis, and reported it to Cræsus, and he, when he heard it, acknowledged the fault to be his, and not the god's. Such is the account of the kingdom of Cræsus, and the first subjection of Ionia.

Many other offerings were also consecrated by Cræsus in Greece, besides those already mentioned. For at Thebes of Baotia there is a golden tripod, which he dedicated to Ismenian Apollo; and in Ephesus, the golden heifers, and several of the pillars; and in the Pronæa at Delphi a large golden shield. All these were in existence in my day; but others have been lost. The offerings he dedicated in Branchis, a city of

Crosus was the fifth descendant of Gyges, if we inciude the two extremes; for the house of the Mermnadæ was as follows: Gyges, Ardys, Sadyattes, Alyattes, Cresus.

şim Delphi and his patrimof an en

the Milesians, were, as I am informed, equal in weight and similar to those at Delphi. Now the offerings which he made to Delphi and to Amphiaraus were his own property and the first fruits of his patrimonial riches; but the rest were the produce of the property of an enemy who, before he came to the throne, had set up an adverse faction, endeavouring to raise Pantaleon to the throne: now Pantaleon was the son of Alyattes, but not of the same mother as Cresus, for Alyattes had Cresus by a Carian, and Pantaleon by an Ionian woman. When therefore Cræsus by the will of his father obtained the kingdom, he put his opponent to death by tearing his flesh with a fuller's thistle; and having already vowed all his treasure to the gods, he dedicated it in the manner above described to the places I have mentioned. And this may suffice respecting the offerings.

The Lydian territory does not present many wonders worthy of description, like some other countries, except the gold dust brought down from Mount Tmolus. It exhibits, however, one work the greatest of all, except those of the Egyptians and Babylonians. There is there a monument to Alyattes, father of Cræsus, the basis of which is composed of large stones; the rest is a mound of earth. This fabric was raised by merchants, artificers, and prostitutes. On the summit of this monument remained, even in my day, five termini, upon which were inscriptions, showing how much of the work each class executed, and when measured the work of the women proved to be the greatest. For the daughters of the Lydian common people all prostitute themselves, for the purpose of providing themselves with dowries; and they continue to do so until they marry; and they dispose of themselves in marriage. This monument is six stades and two plethra in circumference, and in breadth thirteen plethra ; contiguous to it is a large lake, which the Lydians say is fed by perpetual springs, and it is called the Gygean Lake. This may suffice for this subject.

The customs of the Lydians differ little from those of the Grecians, except that they prostitute their women. They are the first of all nations we know of that introduced the art of coining gold and silver; and they were the first retailers. The Lydians themselves say that the games which are now common to themselves and the Greeks were their invention; and they say they were invented about the time they sent a colony to Tyrrhenia, of all which they give the following account: During the reign of Atys, son of Manes, King of Lydia, a great scarcity of corn pervaded all Lydia : for some time the Lydians supported it with constancy; but when they saw the evil still continuing they sought for remedies, and some devised one thing, some another; and at that time the games of dice, hucklebones, ball, and all other kinds of games except draughts, were invented, for the Lydians do not claim the invention of this last. And having made these inventions to alleviate the famine, they employed them as follows: they used to play one whole day that they might not be in want of food; and on the next, they ate and abstained from play; thus they passed eighteen years; but when the evil did not abate, on the contrary became still more virulent, their king divided the whole people into two parts, and cast lots which should remain and which quit the country, and over that part whose lot it should be to stay he appointed himself king; and over that part which was to emigrate he appointed his own son, whose name was Tyrrhenus. Those to whose lot it fell to leave their country went down to Smyrna, built ships, and having put all their movables which were of use on board, set sail in search of food and land, until having passed by many nations, they reached the Ombrici, where they built towns, and dwell to this day. From being called Lydians, they changed their name to one after the king's son, who led them out; from him they gave themselves the appellation of Tyrrhenians. The Lydians then were reduced under the power of the Persians.

My history hence proceeds to inquire who Cyrus was that overthrew the power of Creesus, and how the Persians became masters of Asia. In which narration I shall follow those Persians who do not wish to magnify the actions of Cyrus, but to relate the plain truth; though I am aware that there are three other ways of relating Cyrus's history. After the Assyrians had ruled over upper Asia five hundred and twenty years, the Medes first began to revolt from them; and they it seems, in their struggle with the Assyrians for liberty, proved themselves brave men, and having shaken off the yoke, became free; afterward the other nations also did the same as the Medes. When all throughout the continent were independent, they were again reduced under a despotic government in the following manner: There was among the Medes a man famous for wisdom, named Deioces, son of Phraortes. This Deioces, aiming at absolute power, had recourse to the following plan: the Medes were at that time distributed in villages, and Deioces, who was already highly esteemed in his own district, applied himself with great zeal to the exercise of justice; and this he did, since great lawlessness prevailed

« PreviousContinue »