Page images

dians 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. 91. When the Lydians arrived at Delphi, and had delivered their message, the Pythian is reported to have made this answer : “ The god himself even cannot avoid the decrees of fate ; and Croesus has atoned the crime of his ancestor in the fifth generation,' who, being one of the body-guard 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 Croesus, 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 Croesus 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 burnt alive. Then, as to the prediction of the oracle, Creesus has 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, he 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

· Cresus was the fifth descendant of Gyges, if we include the two extremes; for the house of the Mermnadæ was as follows: Gyges, Ardys, Sadyaties, Alyattes, Cræsus. See chap. 13.

[ocr errors]

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.

92. Many other offerings were also consecrated by Cresus in Greece, besides those already mentioned. For at Thebes of Bæotia 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 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 of the same mother as Cræsus ; for Alyattes bad Crosus 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.

93. 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 Cresus, 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 there 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 females 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 pletbra 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.

94. The customs of the Lydians differ little from those of the Grecians, except that they prostitute their females. 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 eat 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, till 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.

95. My history hence proceeds to inquire who Cyrus was that overthrew the power of Cræsus, and how the Persians became masters of Asia. In which narration I shall fol

low 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 : afterwards 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. 96. 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 into 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 throughout the whole of Media, and he knew that injustice and justice are ever at variance. The Medes of the same village, observing his conduct, chose him for their judge ; and he, constantly keeping the sovereign power in view, showed himself upright and just. By this conduct he acquired no slight praise from his fellow citizens, so much so that the inhabitants of other villages, hearing that Deioces was the only one who judged uprightly, having before met with unjust sentences, when they heard of him gladly came from all parts to Deioces, in order to submit their quarrels to his decision; and at last they would commi the decision to no one else. 97. In the end, when the number of those who had recourse to him continually increased as mer heard of the justice of his decisions, Deioces, seeing the whold devolved upon himself, would no longer occupy the seat wher he used to sit to determine differences, and refused to act a judge any more, for that it was of no advantage to him to neg lect his own affairs, and spend the day in deciding the quarrel of others. Upon this, rapine and lawlessness growing far mor frequent throughout the villages than before, the Medes calle an assembly and consulted together about the present state things, but, as I suspect, the partisans of Deioces spoke to th following purpose : “ Since it is impossible for us to inhab the country if we continue in our present condition, lety

constitute a king over us, and so the country will be governed by good laws, and we ourselves shall be able to attend to our business, nor be any longer driven from our homes by lawlessness.” By some such words they persuaded them to submit to a kingly government. 98. Upon their immediately putting the question, whom they should appoint king, Deioces was unanimously preferred and commended; so that at last they agreed that he should be their king. But he required them to build him a palace suitable to the dignity of a king, and guards for the security of his person. The Medes accordingly did so : and built him a spacious and strong palace in the part of the country that he selected, and permitted him to choose guards for his person out of all the Medes. Being thus possessed of the power, he compelled the Medes to build one city, and having carefully adorned that, to pay less attention to the others. And as the Medes obeyed him in this also, he built lofty and strong walls, which now go under the name of Ecbatana, one placed in a circle within the other ; and this fortification is so contrived, that each circle was raised above the other by the height of the battlements only. The situation of the ground, rising by an easy ascent, was very favourable to the design. But that which was particularly attended to is, that there being seven circles altogether, the king's palace and the treasury are situated within the innermost of them. The largest of these walls is about equal in circumference to the city of Athens ; the battlements of the first circle are white, of the second black, of the third purple, of the fourth blue, of the fifth bright red. Thus the battlements of all the circles are painted with different colours ; but the two last have their battlements plaited, the one with silver, the other with gold.

99. Deioces then built these fortifications for himself, and round his own palace; and he commanded the rest of the people to fix their habitations round the fortification ; and when all the buildings were completed he, for the first time, established the following regulations : that no man should be admitted to the king's presence, but every one should consult him by means of messengers, and that none should be permitted to see him; and, moreover, that it should be accounted

? For the Scripture account of Ecbatana, see Judith i. 1—4.

« PreviousContinue »