Page images

But they changed to a good government in the following manner : Lycurgus, a man much esteemed by the Spartans, having arrived at Delphi to consult the oracle, no sooner entered the temple, than the Pythian spoke as follows : “ Thou art come, Lycurgus, to my wealthy temple, beloved by Jove and all that inhabit Olympian mansions: I doubt whether I shall pronounce thee god or man ; but rather god, I think, Lycurgus.” Some men say that, besides this, the Pythian also communicated to him that form of government now established among the Spartans. But, as the Lacedæmonians themselves affirm, Lycurgus, being appointed guardian to his nephew Leobotas,4 king of Sparta, brought those institutions from Crete. For as soon as he had taken the guardianship, he altered all their customs, and took care that no one should transgress them. Afterwards he established military regulations, the enomotiæ, the triecades, and the syssitia,s and besides these he instituted the ephori and senators. 66. Thus, having changed their laws, they established good institutions in their stead : and having erected a temple to Lycurgus after his death, they held him in the highest reverence. As they had a good soil and abundant population, they quickly sprang up and flourished. And now they were no longer content to live in peace; but proudly considering themselves superior to the Arcadians, they sent to consult the oracle at Delphi, touching the conquest of the whole country of the Arcadians ; and the Pythian gave them this answer :

6 Dost thou ask of me Arcadia ? thou askest a great deal ; I cannot grant it thee. There are many acorneating men in Arcadia, who will hinder thee. But I do not grudge thee all ; I will give thee Tegea to dance on with beating of the feet, and a fair plain to measure out by the rod.” When the Lacedæmonians heard this answer reported, they laid aside their design against all Arcadia ; and, relying on an equivocal oracle, led an army against Tegea only, carrying fetters with them, as if they would surely reduce the Tegeans to slavery. But being defeated in an engagement, as many of them as were taken alive, were compelled to work,

* It is generally agreed that the name of Lycurgus's nephew was not Leobotas, but Charilaus.

s For an account of these several institutions see Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities.

wearing the fetters they had brought, and measuring the lands of the Tegeans with a rod. Those fetters in which they were bound, were, even in my time, preserved in Tegea, suspended around the temple of Alean Minerva.

67. In the first war, therefore, they had constantly fought against the Tegeans with ill success; but in the time of Croesus, and during the reign of Anaxandrides and Ariston at Lacedæmon, they had at length become superior in the war, and they became so in the following manner : when they had always been worsted in battle by the Tegeans, they sent to inquire of the oracle at Delphi, what god they should propitiate, in order to become victorious over the Tegeans. The Pythian answered, they should become so, when they had brought back the bones of Orestes the son of Agamemnon. But as they were unable to find the sepulchre of Orestes, they sent again to inquire of the god in what spot Orestes lay interred, and the Pythian gave this answer to the inquiries of those who came to consult her: “In the level plain of Arcadia lies Tegea, where two winds by hard compulsion blow, and stroke answers to stroke, and woe lies on woe. There life-engendering earth contains Agamemnon's son ; convey him home, and you will be victorious over Tegea." When the Lacedæmonians heard this, they were as far off the discovery as ever, though they searched every where : till Lichas, one of the Spartans who are called Agathoergi, found it. These Agathoergi consist of citizens who are discharged from serving in the cavalry, such as are senior, five in every year : it is their duty during the year in which they are discharged from the cavalry, not to remain inactive, but go to different places where they are sent by the Spartan commonwealth. 68. Lichas, who was one of these persons, discovered it in Tegea, both meeting with good fortune and employing sagacity. For as the Lacedæmonians had at that time intercourse with the Tegeans, he, coming to a smithy, looked attentively at the iron being forged, and was struck with wonder when he saw what was done. The smith perceiving his astonishment desisted from his work, and said, 6 O Laconian stranger, you would certainly have been astonished had you seen what I saw, since you are so surprised at the working of iron. For as I was endeavouring to sink a well in this enclosure, in digging, I came to a coffin seven cubits long; and

because I did not believe that men were ever taller than they now are, I opened it, and saw that the body was equal to the coffin in length, and after I had measured it, I covered it up again. The man told him what he had seen, but Lichas, reflecting on what was said, conjectured from the words of the oracle, that this must be the body of Orestes, forming his conjecture on the following reasons : seeing the smith's two bellows he discerned in them the two winds, and in the anvil and hammer the stroke answering to stroke, and in the iron that was being forged the woe that lay on woe ; representing it in this way,

that iron had been invented to the injury of man. Having made this conjecture, he returned to Sparta, and gave the Lacedæmonians an account of the whole matter ; they, having brought a feigned charge against him, sent him into banishment. He then, going back to Tegea, related his misfortune to the smith, and wished to hire the enclosure from him, but he would not let it. But in time, when he had persuaded him, he took up his abode there; and having opened the sepulchre and collected the bones, he carried them away with him to Sparta. From that time, whenever they made trial of each other's strength, the Lacedæmonians were by far superior in war; and the greater part of Peloponnesus had been already subdued by them.

69. Croesus being informed of all these things, sent ambassadors to Sparta, with presents, and to request their alliance, having given them orders what to say ; and when they were arrived they spoke as follows: “Crcesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent us with this message ; 'O Lacedæmonians, since the deity has directed me by an oracle to unite myself to a Grecian friend, therefore (for I am informed that you are pre-eminent in Greece) I invite

you in obedience to the oracle, being desirous of becoming your friend and ally, without treachery or guile.'” Croesus therefore made this proposal by his ambassadors. But the Lacedæmonians, who had before heard of the answer given by the oracle to Croesus, were gratified at the coming of the Lydians, and exchanged pledges of friendship and alliance ; and indeed certain favours had been formerly conferred on them by Croesus : for when the Lacedæmonians sent to Sardis to purchase gold, wishing to use it in erecting the statue of Apollo that now stands at Thornax in Laconia, Croesus gave it as a present to them, when they were desirous of purchasing it. 70. For this reason then, and because he had selected them from all the Greeks, and desired their friendship, the Lacedæmonians accepted his offer of alliance; and in the first place they promised to be ready at his summons; and in the next, having made a brazen bowl, and covered it outside to the rim with various figures, and capable of containing three hundred amphoræ, they sent it to him, being desirous of making Cresus a present in return.

But this bowl never reached Sardis, for one of the two following reasons: the Lacedæmonians


that when this bowl, on its way to Sardis, was off Samos, the Samians having heard of it, sailed out in long ships, and took it away by force. On the other hand the Samians affirm, that when the Lacedæmonians who were conveying the bowl found they were too late, and heard that Sardis was taken, and Croesus a prisoner, they sold the bowl in Samos, and that some private persons, who bought it, dedicated it in the temple of Juno. And perhaps they who sold it, when they returned to Sparta, might say that they had been robbed of it by the Samians. So it is then respecting this bowl.

71. Croesus then, mistaking the oracle, prepared to invade Cappadocia, hoping to overthrow Cyrus and the power of the Persians. Whilst Creesus was preparing for his expedition against the Persians, a certain Lydian, who before that time was esteemed a wise man, and on this occasion acquired a very great name in Lydia, gave him advice in these words (the name of this person was Sandanis): “O king, you are preparing to make war against- a people who wear leather trousers, and the rest of their garments of leather ; who inhabit a barren country, and feed not on such things as they choose, but such as they can get. Besides, they do not habite ually use wine, but drink water; nor have they figs to eat, nor any thing that is good. In the first place, then, if you should conquer, what will you take from them, since they have nothing? On the other hand, if you should be conquered, consider what good things you will lose. For when they have tasted of our good things, they will become fond of them, nor will they be driven from them. As for me, I thank the gods, that they have not put it into the thoughts of the Persians to make war on the Lydians.” In saying this, he did not

persuade Crosus. Now before they subdued the Lydians, the Persians possessed nothing either luxurious or good.72. The Cappadocians are by the Greeks called Syrians; these Syrians, before the establishment of the Persian power, were subject to the Medes ; but then to Cyrus. For the boundary of the Median empire and the Lydian was the river Halys, which flows from the mountains of Armenia through Cilicia ; and afterwards has the Matienians on the right and the Phrygians on the other side ; then passing these and flowing up towards the north, it skirts the Syrian Cappadocians on one side, and the Paphlagonians on the left. Thus the river Halys divides almost the whole of lower Asia, from the sea opposite Cyprus to the Euxine: this is the isthmus of that whole country: as to the length of the journey, it takes five days for a well-girt man.6

73. Creesus invaded Cappadocia for the following reasons; as well from a desire of adding it to his own dominions, as, especially, from his confidence in the oracle, and a wish to punish Cyrus on account of Astyages. For Cyrus, son of Cambyses, had subjugated Astyages, son of Cyaxares, who was brother-in-law of Creesus, and king of the Medes. He had become brother-in-law to Cresus in the following manner: a band of Scythian nomades having risen in rebellion, withdrew into Media : at that time Cyaxares, son of Phraortes, grandson of Deioces, ruled over the Medes ; he, at first, received these Scythians kindly, as being suppliants ; so much so, that esteeming them very highly, he intrusted some youths to them, to learn their language, and the use of the bow. In course of time, it happened, that these Scythians, who were constantly going out to hunt, and who always brought home something, on one occasion took nothing. On their returning empty-handed, Cyaxares (for he was, as he proved, of a violent temper) treated them with most opprobrious language. The Scythians, having met with this treatment from Cyaxares, and considering it undeserved by them, determined to kill one of the youths that were being educated under their care; and having prepared the flesh as they used to dress the beasts taken in hunting, to serve it up to Cyaxares as if it were game; and then to make their escape immedi

6 The long flowing dresses of the ancients made it necessary to gird them up when they wished to move expeditiously.

« PreviousContinue »