Page images
PDF
EPUB

contractors; then taking some of the nap from the garment of each, he smears seven stones, placed between them, with the blood; and as he does this, he invokes Bacchus and Urania. When this ceremony is completed, the person who pledges his faith, binds his friends as sureties to the stranger, or the citizen, if the contract be made with a citizen, and the friends also hold themselves obliged to observe the engagement. They acknowledge no other gods than Bacchus and Urania, and they say that their hair is cut in the same way as Bacchus's is cut; but they cut it in a circular form, shearing it round the temples. They call Bacchus, Orotal; and Urania, Alilat. 9. When therefore the Arabian had exchanged pledges with the ambassadors who came from Cambyses, he adopted the following contrivance: having filled camels' skins with water, he loaded them on all his living camels; and having done this, he drove them to the arid region, and there awaited the army of Cambyses. This is the most credible of the accounts that are given; yet it is right that one less credible should be mentioned, since it is likewise affirmed. There is a large river in Arabia called Corys, which discharges itself into that called the Red Sea. From this river then it is said that the king of the Arabians, having sewn together a pipe of ox-hides and other skins, reaching in length to the arid region, conveyed the water through it; and that in the arid region he dug large reservoirs, to receive and preserve the water. It is a twelve days' journey from the river to the arid region; he therefore conveyed water through three several pipes into three different places. 10. Psammenitus the son of Amasis lay encamped at that called the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile, awaiting Cambyses; for Cambyses did not find Amasis alive when he marched against Egypt; but Amasis died after a reign of forty-four years, during which no great calamity had befallen him. But having died, and being embalmed, he was buried in the sepulchre that is in the sacred precinct, which he himself had built." During the reign of Psammenitus son of Amasis, a most remarkable prodigy befel the Egyptians; for rain fell at Egyptian Thebes, which had never happened before, nor since, to my time, as the Thebans themselves affirm. For no * See Book II. chap. 169.

rain ever falls in the upper regions of Egypt; but at that time rain fell in drops at Thebes. 11. The Persians, having marched through the arid region, halted near the Egyptians, as if with a design of engaging; there the auxiliaries of the Egyptians, consisting of Greeks and Carians, condemning Phanes because he had led a foreign army against Egypt, adopted the following expedient against him : Phanes had left his sons in Egypt; these they brought to the camp, within sight of their father, and placed a bowl midway between the two armies, then dragging the children one by one, they slew them over the bowl. When they slaughtered all the children, they poured wine and water into the bowl; and, after all the auxiliaries had drank of the blood, they immediately joined battle. A hard battle having been fought, and when great numbers had fallen on both sides, the Egyptians were put to flight, 12. Here I saw a very surprising fact, which the people of the country informed me of For as the bones of those who were killed in that battle lie scattered about separately, (for the bones of the Persians lay apart in one place, as they did at first, and those of the Egyptians in another,) the skulls of the Persians were so weak, that if you should hit them only with a single pebble, you would break a hole in them ; whereas those of the Egyptians are so hard, that you could scarcely fracture them by striking them with a stone. The cause of this, they told me, is as follows, and I readily assented; that the Egyptians begin from childhood and shave their heads, and the bone is thickened by exposure to the sun : from the same cause also they are less subject to baldness, for one sees fewer persons bald in Egypt than in any other country. This, then, is the cause of their having such strong skulls: and the reason why the Persians have weak skulls is this; they shade them from the first, wearing tiaras for hats. Now, I myself saw that such was the case; and I also observed the same thing at Papremis, with respect to those who were slain with Achaemenes” son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan. 13. The Egyptians, when they were defeated, fled in complete disorder from the battle. When they had shut themselves up in Memphis, Cambyses sent a Mitylenaean bark up the river, with a Persian herald on board, to invite the Egyptians to terms. But they, when they saw the bark * See Book VII. chap. 7.

entering Memphis, rushed in a mass from the wall, destroyed the ship, and having torn the crew to pieces, limb by limb, they carried them into the citadel. After this the Egyptians were besieged, and at length surrendered. The neighbouring Libyans, fearing what had befallen Egypt, gave themselves up without resistance; and submitted to pay a tribute, and sent presents. In like manner the Cyrenaeans and Barcaeans, being equally alarmed with the Libyans, did as they had done. But Cambyses received very graciously the presents that came from the Libyans; but was displeased with those of the Cyrenaeans, as I suppose, because they were inconsiderable. For the Cyrenaeans sent only five hundred minae of silver, which he grasped and dispersed with his own hand among the soldiers. 14. On the tenth day after Cambyses had taken the citadel of Memphis, having seated Psammenitus, the king of the Egyptians, who had reigned only six months, at the entrance of the city, by way of insult, —having seated him with other Egyptians, he made trial of his courage by the following means. Having dressed his daughter in the habit of a slave, he sent her with a pitcher to fetch water; and he sent with her other virgins selected from the principal families, dressed in the same manner as the king's daughter. As the virgins, with loud lamentation and weeping, came into the presence of their fathers, all the other fathers answered them with wailing and weeping, when they beheld their children thus humiliated. But Psammenitus alone, when he saw and knew what was going on, only bent his eyes to the ground. When these water-carriers had passed by, he next sent his son, with two thousand Egyptians of the same age, with halters about their necks, and a bridle in their mouths; and they were led out to suffer retribution for those Mitylenaeans who had perished at Memphis with the ship. For the royal judges had given sentence, that for each man ten of the principal Egyptians should be put to death. Yet he, when he saw them passing by, and knew that his son was being led out to death, though all the rest of the Egyptians who sat round him wept and made loud lamentations, did the same as he had done in his daughter's case. When these had passed by, it happened that one of his boon-companions, a man somewhat advanced in years, who had lost his all, and possessed nothing but such things as a beggar has, asking alms of the soldiery, passed by Psammenitus the son of Amasis, and the Egyptians seated in the suburbs; but Psammenitus, when he saw him, weeping bitterly, and calling his companion by name, smote his head. There were, however, spies there who communicated to Cambyses every thing that was done by him at each procession: but Cambyses, surprised at this behaviour, sent a messenger and inquired of him as follows: “Psammenitus, your master Cambyses inquires why, when you saw your daughter humiliated and your son led to execution, you did not bewail or lament; and have been so highly concerned for a beggar, who is no way related to you, as he is informed.” He then asked this question, but Psammenitus answered as follows: “Son of Cyrus, the calamities of my family are too great to be expressed by lamentation; but the griefs of my friend were worthy of tears, who, having fallen from abundance and prosperity, has come to beggary on the threshold of old age.” When this answer was brought back by the messenger, it appeared to Cambyses to be well said; and, as the Egyptians relate, Croesus wept, for he had attended Cambyses into Egypt, and the Persians that were present wept also ; and Cambyses himself was touched with pity, and gave immediate orders to preserve his son out of those who were to perish, and to remove him and bring him from the suburbs into his presence. 15. Those who were sent found the son no longer alive, having been the first that suffered; but having removed Psammenitus himself they conducted him to Cambyses, with whom he afterwards lived, without experiencing any violence. And had it not been suspected” that he was planning innovations, he would probably have recovered Egypt, so as to have the government intrusted to him. For the Persians are accustomed to honour the sons of kings, and even if they have revolted from them, nevertheless bestow the government upon their children; that such is their custom may be proved from many other examples, and amongst them by that of Thannyras, the son of Inarus the Libyan, who recovered the government which his father had ; and by that of Pausiris, son of Amyrtaeus, for he also recovered his father's government: yet none ever did more mischief to the Persians than Inarus and Amyrtaeus. But now Psammenitus, devising mischief, received his reward, for he was discovered inciting the Egyptians to revolt; and when he was detected by Cambyses he * See Cary's Lexicon, v. 'Atriotisw.

was compelled to drink the blood of a bull, and died immediately. Such then was his end. ' 16. Cambyses proceeded from Memphis to the city of Sais, purposing to do what he did effect; for when he entered the palace of Amasis, he presently commanded the dead body of Amasis to be brought out of the sepulchre; and when this was done he gave orders to scourge it, to pull off the hair, to prick it, and to abuse it in every possible manner. But when they were wearied with this employment, (for the dead body, since it was embalmed, resisted, and did not at all fall in pieces,) Cambyses gave orders to burn it, commanding what is impious. For the Persians consider fire to be a god; therefore to burn the dead is on no account allowed by either nation; not by the Persians, for the reason above-mentioned, for they say it is not right to offer to a god the dead body of a man; and by the Egyptians fire is held to be a living beast, and that it devours everything it can lay hold of, and when it is glutted with food it expires with what it has consumed; therefore it is their law, on no account to give a dead body to wild beasts, and for that reason they embalm them, that they may not lie and be eaten by worms. Cambyses, therefore, commanded a thing repugnant to the customs of both nations. However, as the Egyptians say, it was not Amasis that was thus treated, but some other Egyptian of the same stature as Amasis whom the Persians insulted, thinking they insulted Amasis. For they say, that Amasis, having been informed by an oracle of what should happen to him after death, in order to remedy the impending evil, buried the body of this very man who was scourged, near the door of his own sepulchre," and charged his son to deposit his own in the remotest part of the vault. Now, these commands of Amasis, touching his own burial, and this man, appear to me never to have been given, but the Egyptians falsely boast of them. 17. After this, Cambyses planned three several expeditions; one against the Carthaginians, another against the Ammonians, and a third against the Macrobian Ethiopians, who inhabit that part of Libya which lies upon the South Sea. And in forming his plans he determined to send a naval force against the Carthaginians, and against the Ammonians a detachment of his land forces; and against the Ethiopians, spies * See Book II. ch. 169.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »