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pursued in every village: whatever maidens were of a marriageable age, they used to collect together and bring in a body to one place; around them stood a crowd of men. Then a crier, having made them stand up one by one, offered them for sale, beginning with the most beautiful; and when she had been sold for a large sum, he put up another who was next in beauty. They were sold on condition that they should be married. Such men among the Babylonians as were rich and desirous of marrying used to bid against one another, and purchase the handsomest. But such of the lower classes as were desirous of marrying did not require a beautiful form, but were willing to take the plainer damsels with a sum of money. For when the crier had finished selling the handsomest of the maidens, he made the ugliest stand up, or one that was a cripple, and put her up to auction for the person who would marry her with the least sum until she was adjudged to the man who offered to take the smallest sum. This money was obtained from the sale of the handsome maidens; and thus the beautiful ones portioned out the ugly and the crippled. A father was not allowed to give his daughter in marriage to whom he pleased, neither might a purchaser carry off a maiden without security, but he was first obliged to give security that he would certainly marry her, and then he might take her away. If they did not agree, a law was enacted that the money should be repaid. It was also lawful for any one who pleased to come from another village and purchase. Such was their best institution; it has not, however, continued to exist. They have lately adopted another regulation to prevent them from ill treating the women, or carrying them away to another city; for now that, since the taking of the city, they have been harshly treated, and ruined in fortune, all the meaner sort, from want of a livelihood, prostitute their daughters. They have also this other custom, second to the former in wisdom. They bring out their sick to the market-place, for they have no physicians; then those who pass by the sick person confer with him about the disease to discover whether they have themselves been afflicted with the same disease as the sick person, or have seen others so afflicted: thus the passers-by confer with him, and advise him to have recourse to the same treatment as that by which they escaped a similar disease, or as they have known cure others. And they are not allowed to pass by a sick person in silence without inquiring into the nature of his distemper. They embalm the dead in honey, and their funeral lamentations are like those of the Egyptians. Whenever a Babylonian has had intercourse with his wife, he sits over burning incense, and his wife does the same in some other place; at break of day both wash, for they will not touch any vessel till they have washed. The same practice is observed by the Arabians.
The most disgraceful of the Babylonian customs is the following: every native woman is obliged, once in her life, to sit in the Temple of Venus and have intercourse with some stranger. And many disdaining to mix with the rest, being proud on account of their wealth, come in covered carriages, and take up their station at the temple with a numerous train of servants attending them. But the far greater part do thus: many sit down in the Temple of Venus, wearing a crown of cord round their heads; some are continually coming in, and others are going out. Passages marked out in a straight line lead in every direction through the women, along which strangers pass and make their choice. When a woman has once seated herself, she must not return home till some stranger has thrown a piece of silver into her lap and lain with her outside the temple. He who throws the silver must say thus, “I beseech the goddess Mylitta to favour thee": for the Assyrians call Venus Mylitta. The silver may be ever so small, but she will not reject it, inasmuch as it is not lawful for her to do so, for such silver is accounted sacred. The woman follows the first man that throws, and refuses no one. But when she has had intercourse and has absolved herself from her obligation to the goddess, she returns home; ind after that time, however great a sum you may give her, vou will not gain possession of her. Those that are endowed ith beauty and symmetry of shape are soon set free; but the deformed are detained a long time, from inability to satisfy the law, for some wait for a space of three or four years. In some parts of Cyprus there is a custom very similar. These customs, then, prevail among the Babylonians. There are three tribes among them that eat nothing but fish; these, when they have taken and dried them in the sun, they treat in the following manner: they put them into a mortar, and having pounded them with a pestle, sift them through a fine cloth; then, whoever pleases, kneads them into a cake, or bakes them like bread.
When Cyrus had conquered this nation, he was anxious to reduce the Massagetæ to subjection. Now, this nation is said to be both powerful and valiant, dwelling toward the east and the rising sun beyond the river Araxes, over against the Issedonians; there are some who say that this nation is Scythian. The Araxes is reported by some persons to be greater, by others less, than the Ister; they say that there are many islands in it, some nearly equal in size to Lesbos; and that in them are men who during the summer feed upon all manner of roots, which they dig out of the ground; and that they store up for food ripe fruits which they find on the trees, and feed upon these during the winter. They add that they have discovered other trees that produce fruit of a peculiar kind, which the inhabitants, when they meet together in companies, and have lit a fire, throw on the fire, as they sit round in a circle; and that by inhaling the fumes of the burning fruit that has been thrown on they become intoxicated by the odour, just as the Greeks do by wine; and that the more fruit is thrown on the more intoxicated they become, until they rise up to dance and betake themselves to singing. In this manner these islanders are reported to live. The river Araxes flows from the Matienian Mountains, whence also springs the river Gyndes, which Cyrus distributed into the three hundred and sixty trenches; and it gushes out from forty springs, all of which, except one, discharge themselves into fens and swamps, in which it is said men live who feed on raw fish and clothe themselves in the skins of sea-calves; but the one stream of the Araxes flows through an unobstructed channel into the Caspian Sea. The Caspian is a sea by itself, having no communication with any other sea; for the whole of that which the Grecians navigate, and that beyond the Pillars, called the Atlantic, and the Red Sea, are all one. But the Caspian is a separate sea of itself, being in length a fifteen days' voyage for a rowing-boat; and in breadth, where it is widest, an eight days' voyage. On the western shore of this sea stretches the Caucasus, which is in extent the largest, and in height the loftiest of all mountains; it contains within itself many and various nations of men, who for the most part live upon the produce of wild fruit trees. In this country, it is said, there are trees which produce leaves of such a nature ihat by rubbing them and mixing them with water the people paint figures on their garments; these figures, they say, do not wash out, but grow old with the wool, as if they had been woven in from the first. It is said that sexual intercourse among these people takes place openly, as with cattle. The Caucasus, then, bounds the western side of this sea, which is called the Caspian; and on the east, toward the rising sun, succeeds a plain in extent unbounded in the prospect. A great portion of this extensive plain is inhabited by the Massagetæ, against whom Cyrus resolved to make war'; for the motives that urged and incited him to this enterprise were many and powerful; first of all his birth, which he thought was something more than human; and secondly, the good fortune which had attended him in his wars; for wherever Cyrus directed his arms it was impossible for that nation to escape.
A woman whose husband was dead was Queen of the Massagetæ; her name was Tomyris; and Cyrus sent ambassadors under pretence of wooing her, and made her an offer of marriage. But Tomyris, being aware that he was not wooing her, but the kingdom of the Massagetæ, forbade their approach. Upon this Cyrus, perceiving his artifice ineffectual, marched to the Araxes, and openly prepared to make war on the Massagetæ, by throwing bridges over the river and building turrets on the boats which carried over his army. While he was employed in this work, Tomyris sent a herald to him with this message: "King of the Medes, desist from your great exertions; for you can not know if they will terminate to your advantage; and having desisted, reign over your own dominions, and bear to see me governing what is mine. But if you will not attend to my advice, and prefer everything before peace; in a word, if you are very anxious to make trial of the Massagetæ, toil no longer in throwing a bridge over the river; but do you cross over to our side, while we retire three days' march from the river; or if you had rather receive us on your side, do you the like.” When Cyrus heard this proposal, he called a council of the principal Persians; and having assembled them, he laid the matter before them, and demanded their opinion as to what he should do: they unanimously advised him to let Tomyris pass with her army into his territory. But Creesus the Lydian, who was present and disapproved this advice, delivered a contrary opinion to that which was put forward, and said: “O king, I assured you long ago that, since Jupiter delivered me into your hands, I would to the utmost of my power avert whatever misfortune I should see impending over your house; and my own calamities, sad as they are, have been lessons to me. If you think yourself immortal, and that you command an army that is so too, it were needless for me to make known to you my opinion. But if you know that you too are a man, and that you command such as are men, learn this first of all, that there is a wheel in human affairs, which, continually revolving, does not suffer the same persons to be always successful. Now, therefore, I hold an opinion touching the matter before us, wholly at variance with that already given. For if we shall receive the enemy into this country, there is this