« PreviousContinue »
danger in so doing, if you are defeated, you will lose, besides, your whole empire; for it is plain that if the Massagetæ are victorious, they will not flee home again, but will march upon your territories: and if you are victorious, your victory is not so complete as if, having crossed over into their territory, you should conquer the Massagetæ, and pursue them in their flight; for I will carry the comparison throughout, it is plain, that if you are victorious over your adversaries you will march directly into the dominions of Tomyris. In addition to what has been now stated, it were a disgrace and intolerable that Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, should give way and retreat before a woman. My opinion therefore is that you should pass over and advance as far as they retire; and then by the following stratagem endeavour to get the better of them: as I hear, the Massagetæ are unacquainted with the Persian luxuries, and are unused to the comforts of life. My opinion then is that, having cut up and dressed abundance of cattle, you should lay out a feast in our camp for these men; and, besides, bowls of unmixed wine without stint, and all other provisions; and that having done this, and having left the weakest part of your army behind, the rest should return again toward the river; for the Massagetæ, if I mistake not, when they see so much excellent fare, will turn to immediately, and after that there remains for us the display of mighty achievements."
Now these two contrary opinions were given. Cyrus, rejecting the former, and approving that of Croesus, bade Tomyris retire, for that he would cross over to her. She accordingly retired, as she had promised at first. But Cyrus having placed Cræsus in the hands of his son Cambyses, to whom he also intrusted the kingdom, and having strictly charged him to honour Crosus, and treat him well, in case his inroad on the Massagetæ should fail; having given these injunctions, and sent them back to Persia, he himself crossed the river with his army. When he had passed the Araxes, and night came on, he saw the following vision, as he was sleeping in the country of the Massagetæ : Cyrus fancied in his sleep that he saw the eldest son of Hystaspes with wings on his shoulders; and that with one of these he overshadowed Asia, and with the other Europe. Now Darius, who was then about twenty years of age, was the eldest son of Hystaspes, son of Arsames, one of the Achæmenides; and he had been left in Persia, for he had not yet attained the age of military service. When, therefore, Cyrus awoke, he considered his dream with attention; and as it seemed to him of great moment, he summoned Hystaspes, and, taking him aside, said: “Hystaspes, your son has been detected plotting against me and my empire; and I will show you how I know it for a certainty. The gods watch over me, and forewarn me of everything that is about to befall me. Now, in the past night, as I was sleeping, I saw the eldest of your sons with wings on his shoulders, and with one of these he overshadowed Asia, and Europe with the other; from this vision it can not be otherwise than that your son is forming designs against me; do you therefore go back to Persia with all speed, and take care, that when I have conquered these people and return home, you bring your son before me to be examined.” Cyrus spoke thus under a persuasion that Darius was plotting against him; but the deity forewarned him that he himself would die in that very expedition, and that his kingdom would devolve on Darius. Hystaspes, however, answered in these words: “God forbid, O king, that a Persian should be born who would plot against you! But if any such there be, may sudden destruction overtake him, for you have made the Persians free instead of being slaves, and instead of being ruled over by others, to rule over all : but if any vision informs you that my son is forming any plot against you, I freely surrender him to you to deal with as you please.” Hystaspes, having given this answer, repassed the Araxes and went to Persia, for the purpose of keeping his son Darius in custody for Cyrus.
Cyrus having advanced one day's march from the Araxes, proceeded to act according to the suggestion of Crosus. After this, when Cyrus and the effective part of the Persian army had marched back to the Araxes, leaving the ineffective part behind, a third division of the army of the Massagetæ attacked those of Cyrus's forces that had been left behind, and, after some resistance, put them to death. Then, seeing the feast laid out, as soon as they had overcome their enemies they lay down and feasted; and being filled with food and wine, fell asleep. But the Persians having attacked them, put many of them to death, and took a still greater number prisoners, and among them the son of Queen Tomyris, who commanded the Massagetæ, and whose name was Spargapises. She, when she heard what had befallen her army and her son, sent a herald to Cyrus with the following message: “Cyrus, insatiate with blood, be not elated with what has now happened, that by the fruit of the vine, with which ye yourselves, when filled with it, so rave, that when it descends into your bodies evil words float on your lips; be not elated that by such a poison you have deceived and conquered my son, instead of by prowess in battle. Now, however, take the good advice that I offer you. Restore my son; depart out of this country unpunished for having insolently disgraced a third division of the army of the Massagetæ. But if you will not do this, I swear by the sun, the Lord of the Massagetæ, that, insatiable as you are, I will glut you with blood." Cyrus, however, paid no attention to this message; but Spargapises, the son of Queen Tomyris, as soon as he recovered from the effects of the wine, and perceived in what a plight he was, begged of Cyrus that he might be freed from his fetters; but as soon as he was set free, and found his hands at liberty, he put himself to death. Such was the end he met with. But Tomyris, finding Cyrus did not listen to her, assembled all her forces, and engaged with him. I think that this battle was the most obstinate that was ever fought between barbarians. And I am informed that it took place in the following manner : it is related that, first of all, they stood at a distance and used their bows, and that afterward, when they had emptied their quivers, they engaged in close fight with their swords and spears, and that thus they continued fighting for a long time, and neither were willing to give way; but at length the Massagetæ got the better, and the greater part of the Persian army was cut in pieces on the spot, and Cyrus himself killed, after he had reigned twenty-nine years.
But Tomyris, having filled a skin with human blood, sought for the body of Cyrus among the slain of the Persians, and, having found it, thrust the head into the skin, and insulting the dead body, said: “Thou hast indeed ruined me though alive and victorious in battle, since thou hast taken my son by stratagem; but I will now glut thee with blood, as I threatened.” Of the many accounts given of the end of Cyrus, this appears to me most worthy of credit.
The Massagetæ resemble the Scythians in their dress and mode of living; they have both horse and foot; for they have some of each ; and bowmen, and javelin-men, who are accustomed to carry battle-axes: they use gold and brass for everything; for in whatever concerns spears, and arrowpoints, and battle-axes, they use brass; but for the head, and belts, and shoulder-pieces, they are ornamented with gold. In like manner with regard to the chests of horses, they put on breastplates of brass; but the bridle-bit and cheek-pieces are ornamented with gold. They make no use of silver or iron, for neither of those metals is found in their country, but they have brass and gold in abundance. Their manners
are as follows: each man marries a wife, but they use the women promiscuously. What the Grecians say the Scythians do is a mistake, for they do it not, but the Massagetæ; for when a Massagetan desires to have the company of a woman he hangs up his quiver in front of her chariot, and has intercourse with her without shame. No particular term of life is prescribed to them; but when a man has attained a great age, all his kinsmen meet, and sacrifice him, together with cattle of several kinds: and when they have boiled the flesh, they feast on it. This death they account the most happy; but they do not eat the bodies of those who die of disease; but bury them in the earth, and think it a great misfortune that they did not reach the age to be sacrificed. They sow nothing, but live on cattle and fish, which the river Araxes yields in abundance, and they are drinkers of milk. They worship the sun only of all the gods, and sacrifice horses to him; and this is the reason of this custom: they think it right to offer the swiftest of all animals to the swiftest of all the gods.
FTER the death of Cyrus, Cambyses succeeded to the
kingdom: he was the son of Cyrus, and Cassandane, the daughter of Pharnaspes, who, having died some time
before, Cyrus both deeply mourned for her himself, and commanded all his subjects to mourn. Cambyses, being the son of this lady and Cyrus, considered the Ionians and Æolians as his hereditary slaves; when, therefore, he made an expedition against Egypt, he took with him others of his subjects, and also some of the Greeks over whom he bore rule.
The Egyptians, before the reign of Psammitichus, considered themselves to be the most ancient of mankind. But afterward Psammitichus, having come to the throne, endeavoured to ascertain who were the most ancient, from that time they consider the Phrygians to have been before them, and themselves before all others. Now, when Psammitichus was unable, by inquiry, to discover any solution of this question, who were the most ancient of men, he devised the following expedient: He gave two new-born children of poor parents to a shepherd, to be brought up among his flocks in the following manner: he gave strict orders that no one should utter a word in their presence, that they should lie in a solitary room by themselves, and that he should bring goats to them at certain times, and that when he had satisfied them with milk he should attend to his other employments. Psammitichus contrived and ordered this, for the purpose of hearing what word the children would first articulate after they had given over their insignificant mewlings; and such accordingly was the result. For when the shepherd had pursued this plan for the space of two years, one day as he opened the door and went in, both the children falling upon him, and holding out their hands, cried “ Becos." The shepherd when he first heard it said nothing; but when this same word was constantly repeated to him whenever he went and tended the