Page images

whom he had seen next to him. “Cleobis,” said he, “and Biton, for they being natives of Argos, possessed a sufficient fortune, and had withal such strength of body, that they were both alike victorious in the public games; and moreover the following story is related of them: when the Argives were celebrating a festival of Juno, it was necessary that their mother should be drawn to the temple in a chariot; but the oxen did not come from the field in time, the young men therefore, being pressed for time, put themselves beneath the yoke, and drew the car in which their mother sate; and having eonveyed it forty-five stades, they reached the temple. After they had done this in sight of the assembled people, a most happy termination was put to their lives; and in them the Deity clearly showed, that it is better for a man to die than to live. For the men of Argos, who stood round, commended the strength of the youths, and the women blessed her as the mother of such sons; but the mother herself, transported with joy both on account of the action and its renown, stood before the image and prayed, that the goddess would grant to Cleobis and Biton, her own sons, who had so highly honoured her, the greatest blessing man could receive. After this prayer, when they had sacrificed and partaken of the feast, the youths fell asleep in the temple itself, and never awoke more, but met with such a termination of life. Upon this the Argives, in commemoration of their piety, caused their statues to be made and dedicated at Delphi.” 32. Thus Solon adjudged the second place of felicity to these youths. But Croesus, being enraged, said, “My Athenian friend, is my happiness then so slighted by you as nothing worth, that you do not think me of so much value as private men?” He answered; “Croesus, do you inquire of me concerning human affairs—of me, who know that the divinity is always jealous, and delights in confusion. For in lapse of time men are constrained to see many things they would not willingly see, and to suffer many things they trould not willingly suffer. Now I put the term of man's life at seventy years; these seventy years then give twenty-five thousand two hundred days, without including the intercalary month ; and if we add that month" to every other year, in order that the seasons arriving at the proper time may agree, the intercalary months will be thirty-five more in the seventy years, and the days of these months will be one thousand and fifty. Yet in all this number of twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty days, that compose these seventy years, one day produces nothing exactly the same as another. Thus, then, O Croesus, man is altogether the sport of fortune. You appear to me to be master of immense treasures, and king of many nations; but as relates to what you inquire of me, I cannot say, till I hear you have ended your life happily. For the richest of men is not more happy than he that has a suffi. ciency for a day, unless good fortune attend him to the grave so that he ends his life in happiness. Many men, who abount in wealth, are unhappy; and many, who have only a moderat competency, are fortunate. He that abounds in wealth, an is yet unhappy, surpasses the other only in two things; bu the other surpasses the wealthy and the miserable in many things. The former indeed is better able to gratify desire and to bear the blow of adversity. But the latter surpasse him in this; he is not indeed equally able to bear misfortun or satisfy desire, but his good fortune wards off these thing from him; and he enjoys the full use of his limbs, he is fre from disease and misfortune, he is blessed with good childre and a fine form, and if, in addition to all these things, he sha end his life well, he is the man you seek, and may justly t called happy; but before he die we ought to suspend ou judgment, and not pronounce him happy, but fortunate. No it is impossible for any one man to comprehend all these a vantages: as no one country suffices to produce every thin for itself, but affords some and wants others, and that whic affords the most is the best ; so no human being is in all r spects self-sufficient, but possesses one advantage, and is

* If the first number 25,200 is correct, it follows that the year was

360 days; if the number of intercalary days 1050 in 70 years, there will be altogether 26,259, which will give 375 days to the year; so that in happiness to many, has afterwards utterly overthrown them spite of the precaution the seasons will be confused.—Wyttenbach alt

need of another; he therefore who has constantly enjoyed th most of these, and then ends his life tranquilly, this man, in n judgment, O king, deserves the name of happy. We oug therefore to consider the end of every thing, in what way will terminate ; for the Deity having shown a glimpse

the number of intercalary months and days to make it agree with tru Larcher.

33. When he spoke thus to Croesus, Croesus did not confer any favour on him, and holding him in no account, dismissed him ; since he considered him a very ignorant man, because he overlooked present prosperity, and bade men look to the end of every thing. 34. After the departure of Solon, the indignation of the gods fell heavy upon Croesus, probably because he thought himself the most happy of all men. A dream soon after visited him while sleeping, which pointed out to him the truth of the misfortunes that were about to befal him in the person of one of his sons. For Croesus had two sons, of whom one was grievously afflicted, for he was dumb ; but the other, whose name was Atys, far surpassed all the young men of his age. Now the dream intimated to Croesus that he would lose this Atys by a wound inflicted by the point of an iron weapon; he, when he awoke, and had considered the matter with himself, dreading the dream, provided a wife for his son ; and though he was accustomed to command the Lydian troops, he did not ever after send him out on that business; and causing all spears, lances, and such other weapons as men use in war, to be removed from the men's apartments, he had them laid up in private chambers, that none of them being suspended might fall upon his son. 35. While Croesus was engaged with the nuptials of his son, a man oppressed by misfortune, and whose hands were polluted, a Phrygian by birth, and of royal family, arrived at Sardis. This man, having come to the palace of Craesus, sought permission to obtain purification according to the custom of the country. Croesus purified him:—(now the manner of expiation is nearly the same among the Lydians and the Greeks :) and when he had performed the usual ceremonies, Croesus inquired whence he came, and who he was ; speaking to him as follows: “Stranger, who art thou, and from what part of Phrygia hast thou come as a suppliant to my hearth 2 and what man or woman hast thou slain f° The stranger answered, “Sire, I am the son of Gordius, son of Midas, and am called Adrastus: having unwittingly slain my own brother, and being banished by my father and deprived of every thing, I am come hither.” Croesus answered as follows: “You are born of parents who are our friends, and you are come to friends, among whom, if you will stay, you shall want nothing ; and by bearing your misfortune as lightly as postime was amazed at what he heard; but, afterwards, he implored her not to compel him to make such a choice. He however could not persuade, but saw a necessity imposed on him, either to kill his master Candaules or die himself by the hands of others; he chose therefore to survive, and made the following inquiry: “Since you compel me to kill my master against my will, tell me how we shall lay hands on him.” She answered, “The assault shall be made from the very spot whence he showed me naked; the attack shall be made on him while asleep.” 12. When they had concerted their plan, on the approach of night he followed the lady to the chamber: then (for Gyges was not suffered to depart, nor was there any possibility of escape, but either he or Candaules must needs perish) she, having given him a dagger, concealed him behind the same door : and after this, when Candaules was asleep, Gyges having crept stealthily up and slain him, possessed himself both of the woman and the kingdom. Of this event, also, Archilochus 9 the Parian, who lived about the same time, has made mention in a trimeter Iambic poem. 13. Thus Gyges obtained the kingdom, and was confirmed in it by the oracle at Delphi. For when the Lydians resented the murder of Candaules, and were up in arms, the partisans of Gyges and the other Lydians came to the following agreement, that if the oracle should pronounce him king of the Lydians, he should reign ; if not, he should restore the power to the Heraclidae. The oracle, however, answered accordingly, and so Gyges became king. But the Pythian added this, “that the Heraclidae should be avenged on the fifth descendant of Gyges.” Of this prediction neither the Lydians nor their kings took any notice until it was actually accomplished. 14. Thus the Mermnada, having deprived the Heraclidae, possessed themselves of the supreme power. Gyges having obtained the kingdom, sent many offerings to Delphi; for most of the silver offerings at Delphi are his ; and besides the silver, he gave a vast quantity of gold; and among the rest, what is especially worthy of mention, the bowls of gold, six in number, were dedicated by him: these now stand in the treasury of the Corinthians, and are thirty talents in weight; though, to say the truth, this treasury does not belong to the people of Corinth, but to Cypselus son of Eetion. This Gyges is the first of the barbarians whom we know of that dedicated offerings at Delphi; except Midas, son of Gordius, king of Phrygia, for Midas dedicated the royal throne, on which he used to sit and administer justice, a piece of workmanship deserving of admiration. This throne stands in the same place as the bowls of Gyges. This gold and silver, which Gyges dedicated, is by the Delphians called Gygian, from the name of the donor. Now this prince, when he obtained the sovereignty, led an army against Myletus and Smyrna, and took the city of Colophon; but as he performed no other great action during his reign of eight and thirty years, we will pass him over, having made this mention of him. 15. I will proceed to mention Ardys, the son and successor of Gyges. He took Priene, and invaded Miletus. During the time that he reigned at Sardis, the Cimmerians, being driven from their seats by the Scythian nomades, passed into Asia, and possessed themselves of all Sardis except the citadel. 16. When Ardys had reigned forty-nine years, his son Sadyattes succeeded him, and reigned twelve years; and Alyattes succeeded Sadyattes. He made war upon Cyaxares, a descendant of Deioces, and upon the Medes. He drove the Cimmerians out of Asia; took Smyrna, which was founded from Colophon, and invaded Clazomenae. From this place he departed, not as he could wish, but signally defeated. He also performed in the course of his reign the following actions worthy of mention. 17. He continued the war which his father had begun against the Milesians; and leading his army against Miletus, he invaded it in the following manner. When their fruits were ripe on the ground, he led his army into their territory, attended in his march with pipes, harps, and flutes, masculine and feminine. On his arrival in Mikesia, he neither demolished nor burnt their country houses, nor forced off the doors, but let them stand as they were ; but when he had destroyed their trees and the fruits on the ground, he returned home ; for the Milesians were masters of the sea, so that there was no use in the army's besieging it. And the Lydian king would not destroy their houses, for this reason, that the Milesians, having those habitations,

* Archilochus was one of the earliest writers of Iambics. All that remains of his is to be met with in Brunck's Analecta. * See I. 91.

« PreviousContinue »