« PreviousContinue »
and inspected the chests, took back a report to Polycrates. 124. He, though earnestly dissuaded by the oracles and by his friends, resolved to go in person ; and moreover, though his daughter had seen in a dream this vision ; she imagined she saw her father elevated in the air, washed by Jupiter, and anointed by the sun. Having seen this vision, she endeavoured by all possible means to divert Polycrates from going from home to Orætes ; and as he was going on board a fifty-oared galley, she persisted in uttering words of bad omen. But he threatened her, if he should return safe, that she should long continue unmarried; and she prayed that so it might be brought to pass ; for she chose to continue a longer time unmarried, than be deprived of her father. 125. Thus Polycrates, disregarding all advice, set sail to visit Oroetes, taking with him many others of his friends, and among them Democedes son of Calliphon, a Crotonian, who was a physician, and the most skilful practitioner of his time. But Polycrates, on his arrival at Magnesia, was put to death in a horrid manner, unworthy of himself and his lofty thoughts: for with the exception of those who have been tyrants of Syracuse, not one of all the Grecian tyrants deserves to be compared with Polycrates for magnificence. But Oroetes, having put him to death in a manner not to be described, caused him to be crucified : of those that accompanied Polycrates, as many as were Samians, he dismissed, bidding them to feel thankful to him for their liberty : but as many as were strangers and servants he detained and treated as slaves. Thus Polycrates, being crucified, fulfilled the vision of his daughter in every par. ticular ; for he was washed by Jupiter, when it rained, and was anointed by the sun, himself emitting moisture from his body. Thus the constant good fortune of Polycrates ended as Amasis, king of Egypt, had foretold.
126. Not long after, vengeance on account of Polycrates overtook Orætes: for after the death of Cambyses, and during the reign of the magi, Oroetes, continuing at Sardis, gave no assistance to the Persians, who had been deprived of the government by the Medes ; but he in this confusion put to death Mitrobates, governor of Dascylium, who had upbraided him with his conduct to Polycrates, together with Mitrobates son Cranaspes, men of high repute among the Persians; and he
1 See chapters 40–43.
committed various other atrocities ; and a certain courier of Darius who came to him, because he brought him an unwelcome message, he had assassinated on his return, having set men to way-lay him ; and when he had caused him to be slain, he had him and his horse put out of sight. 127. Darius, therefore, when he got possession of the throne, was anxious to punish Orætes for all his iniquities, and especially for the death of Mitrobates and his son. But he did not think it prudent to send an army against him openly, as his affairs were still in a ferment, and he had but just got possession of the throne, and he heard that Orætes had great strength; for he had a body-guard of a thousand Persians, and held the government of Phrygia, Lydia, and Ionia. Under these circumstances, therefore, Darius had recourse to the following plan : having called the most eminent of the Persians together, he addressed them as follows : “ Which of you, O Persians, will undertake to accomplish for me this by address, and not by force and numbers ? for where skill is required, force is of no avail. Which of you, then, will either bring me Orætes alive, or put him to death ? He has never done the Persians any service, but has brought great mischiefs upon them. In the first place, he destroyed two of us, Mitrobates and his son ; and in the next place, he slew the messenger sent by me to recall him, displaying intolerable insolence. He must therefore be stopped by death, before he has perpetrated any greater evils against the Persians.” 128. Darius asked the above questions; and thirty men offered to undertake it, each being willing to accomplish the plan alone. But Darius put an end to their competitions, by desiring them to cast lots ; and when they cast lots it fell to Bagæus, son of Artontes. Bagæus, having obtained it, did as follows: having written several letters relating to a variety of affairs, he affixed to them Darius's seal, and then proceeded with them to Sardis. On his arrival, having come into the presence of Orotes, he opened the letters one by one, and gave them to the royal secretary to read; for all the governors have royal secretaries. Bagæus gave the letters in order to make trial of the guards whether they would listen to a revolt from Oroetes: and perceiving they paid great respect to the letters, and still more to the contents, he gave one in which were these words : “Persians, King Darius forbids you to be guards to Orætes.” They, when they heard this, lowered their lances to him. When Bagæus saw them so obedient to the letter, he thereupon took confidence, and delivered the last letter to the secretary, in which was written : “King Darius commands the Persians at Sardis to put Orcetes to death.” The guards, when they heard this, drew their scimetars, and killed him immediately. Thus vengeance overtook Orætes the Persian, on account of Polycrates the Samian.
129. When the treasures of Orætes had been removed, and had arrived at Susa, it happened not long after that Darius, in leaping from his horse while hunting, twisted his foot, and it was twisted with such violence that the ancle-bone was dislocated ; and at first thinking he had about him those of the Egyptians who had the first reputation for skill in the healing art, he made use of their assistance. But they, by twisting the foot, and using force, made the evil worse ; and from the pain which he felt, Darius lay seven days and seven nights without sleep. On the eighth day, as he still continued in a bad state, some one who had before heard at Sardis of the skill of Democedes the Crotonian, made it known to Darius ; and he ordered them to bring him to him as quickly as possible. They found him among the slaves of Orætes, altogether neg, lected ; and brought him forward, dragging fetters behind him, and clothed in rags. 130. As he stood before him, Darius asked him whether he understood the art. He denied that he did, fearing lest, if he discovered himself, he should be altogether precluded from returning to Greece.
But he appeared to Darius to dissemble, although he was skilled in the art; he therefore commanded those who had brought him thither to bring out whips and goads. Whereupon he discovered himself, saying that he did not know it perfectly, but having been intimate with a physician, he had some poor knowledge of the art. Upon which, when Darius put himself under his care, by using Grecian medicines, and applying lenitives after violent remedies, he caused him to sleep, and in a little time restored him to his health, though he had before despaired of ever recovering the use of his foot. After this cure, Darius presented him with two pair of golden fetters ; but Democedes asked him, if he purposely gave him a double evil because he had restored him to health. Darius, pleased with the speech, sent him to his own wives ; and the eunuchs,
introducing him, said to the women, that this was the man who had saved the king's life ; whereupon each of them, dipping a goblet into a chest of gold, presented Democedes with such a munificent gift, that a servant whose name was Sciton, following behind, picked up the staters that fell from the goblets, and collected a large quantity of gold.
131. This Democedes visited Polycrates, after having left Crotona on the following account. He was harshly treated at Crotona by his father, who was of a severe temper, and being unable to endure this, he left him and went to Ægina; having settled there, in the first year, though he was unprovided with means, and had none of the instruments necessary for the exercise of his art, he surpassed the most skilful of their physicians; and in the second year, the Æginetæ engaged him for a talent out of the public treasury; and in the third year the Athenians, for a hundred minæ ; and in the fourth year Polycrates, for two talents; thus he came to Samos. From this man the Crotonian physicians obtained a great reputation ; for at this period the physicians of Crotona were said to be the first throughout Greece, and the Cyrenæans the second. At the same time the Argives were accounted the most skilful of the Greeks in the art of music. 132. At that time then Democedes, having completely cured Darius at Susa, had a very large house, and had a seat at the king's table ; and he had every thing he could wish for, except the liberty of returning to Greece. And in the first place he obtained from the king a pardon for the Egyptian physicians, who first attended the king, and were about to be empaled, because they had been outdone by a Greek physician ; and in the next place be procured the liberty of a prophet of Elis, who had attended Polycrates, and lay neglected among the slaves. In short, Democedes had great influence with the king.
133. Not long after these things, the following events took place : Atossa, daughter of Cyrus, and wife to Darius, had a tumour on her breast ; after some time it burst, and spread considerably. As long as it was small, she concealed it, and from delicacy informed no one of it ; when it became dangerous, she sent for Democedes and showed it to him. He, saying that he could cure her, exacted from her a solemn promise, that she in return would perform for him whatever he should require of her, but added that he would ask nothing which
might bring disgrace on her. 134. When therefore he had healed her, and restored her to health, Atossa, instructed by Democedes, addressed Darius, as he lay in bed, in the following words: “O king, you who possess so great power, sit idle, and do not add any nation or power to the Persians. It were right that a man who is both young and master of such vast treasures, should render himself considerable by his actions, that the Persians may know that they are governed by a man. Two motives should influence you to such a course ; first, that the Persians may know that it is a man who rules over them, and secondly, that they may be worn in.war, and not tempted by too much ease to plot against you. You should therefore perform some illustrious action, while you are in the flower of your age; for the mind grows with the growth of the body, and as it grows old, grows old with it, and dull for every action.” She spoke thus according to her instructions, and he answered, “Lady, you have mentioned the very things that I myself purpose to do ; for I have determined to make a bridge and march from this continent to the other, against the Scythians; and this shall shortly be put in execution.” Atossa replied, "Look you now, give up the thought of marching first against the Scythians, for they will be in your power whenever you choose ; but take my advice, and lead an army into Greece ; for from the account I have heard, I am anxious to have Lacedæmonian, Argive, Athenian, and Corinthian attendants : and you have the fittest man in the world to show and inform you of every thing concerning Greece ; I mean the person who cured your foot.” Darius answered, “ Lady, since you think I ought to make my first attempt against Greece, I think it better first to send some Persians thither as spies with the man you mention ; they, when they are informed of and have seen every particular, will make a report to me; and then, being thoroughly informed, I will turn my arms against them." 135. Thus he spoke ; and no sooner said than done ; for as soon as day dawned, having summoned fifteen eminent Persians, he commanded them to accompany Democedes, and pass along the maritime parts of Greece ; and to take care that Democedes did not escape from them, but they must by all means bring him back again.
Having given these commands to them, he next summoned Democedes himself, and requested him, when