Page images
PDF
EPUB

doubt how his army should pass over the river (for they say that these bridges were not at that time in existence), Thales, who was in the camp, caused the stream, which flowed along the left of the army, to flow likewise on the right; and he contrived it thus: having begun above the camp, he dug a deep trench, in the shape of a half moon, so that the river, being turned into this from its old channel, might pass in the rear of the camp pitched where it then was, and afterward, having passed by the camp, might fall into its former course; so that as soon as the river was divided into two streams, it became fordable in both. Some say that the ancient channel of the river was entirely dried up; but this I can not assent to; for how then could they have crossed it on their return? 76. However, Croesus, having passed the river with his army, came to a place called Pteria, in Cappadocia. (Now Pteria is the strongest position of the whole of this country, and is situated over against Sinope, a city on the Euxine Sea.) Here he encamped, and ravaged the lands of the Syrians; and took the city of the Pterians, and enslaved the inhabitants; he also took all the adjacent places, and expelled the inhabitants, who had given him no cause for blame. But Cyrus, having assembled his own army, and having taken with him all who inhabited the intermediate country, went to meet Cresus. But before he began to advance, he sent heralds to the Ionians, to persuade them to revolt from Croesus: the Ionians, however, refused. When Cyrus had come up and encamped opposite Croesus, they made trial of each other's strength on the plains of Pteria ; but when an obstinate battle took place, and many fell on both sides, they at last parted on the approach of night, neither having been victorious. In this manner did the two armies engage.

77. But Croesus laying the blame on his own army on account of the smallness of its numbers, for his forces that engaged were far fewer than those of Cyrus-laying the blame on this, when on the following day Cyrus did not attempt to attack him, he marched back to Sardis, designing to summon the Egyptians according to treaty, for he had made an alliance with Amasis, king of Egypt, before he had with the Lacedæmonians; and to send for the Babylonians (for he had made an alliance with them also, and Labynetus at this time reigned over the Babylonians), and to require the presence of

the Lacedæmonians at a fixed time: having collected these together, and assembled his own army, he purposed, when winter was over, to attack the Persians in the beginning of the spring. With this design, when he reached Sardis, he dispatched embassadors to his different allies, requiring them to meet at Sardis before the end of five months; but the army that was with him, and that had fought with the Persians, which was composed of mercenary troops, he entirely disbanded, not imagining that Cyrus, who had come off on such equal terms, would venture to advance upon Sardis. 78. While Croesus was forming these plans, the whole suburbs were filled with serpents; and when they appeared, the horses, forsaking their pastures, came and devoured them. When Croesus beheld this, he considered it to be, as it really was, a prodigy, and sent immediately to consult the interpreters at Telmessus; but the messengers having arrived there, and learned from the Telmessians what the prodigy portended, were unable to report it to Croesus; for before they sailed back to Sardis, Croesus had been taken prisoner. The Telmessians had pronounced as follows: “That Croesus must expect a foreign army to invade his country, which, on its arrival, would subdue the natives; because, they said, the serpent is a son of the earth, but the horse is an enemy and a stranger.” This answer the Telmessians gave to Crosus when he had been already taken, yet without knowing what had happened with respect to Sardis or Crosus himself.

79. But Cyrus, as soon as Croesus had retreated after the battle at Pteria, having discovered that it was the intention of Croesus to disband his army, found, upon deliberation, that it would be to his advantage to march with all possible expedition on Sardis, before the forces of the Lydians could be a second time assembled ; and when he had thus determined, he put his plan into practice with all possible expedition; for having marched his army into Lydia, he brought this news of his own enterprise to Croesus. Thereupon Creesus, being thrown into great perplexity, seeing that matters had turned out contrary to his expectations, nevertheless drew out the Lydians to battle ; and at that time no nation in Asia was more valiant and warlike than the Lydians. Their mode of fighting was from on horseback; they were armed with long lances, and managed their horses with admirable address. 80. The place where they met was the plain that lies before the city of Sardis, which is extensive and bare; several rivers, as well as the Hyllus, flowing through it, force a passage into the greatest, called the Hermus, which, flowing from the sacred mountain of mother Cybele, falls into the sea near the city of Phocæa. Here Cyrus, when he saw the Lydians drawn up in order of battle, alarmed at the cavalry, had recourse to the following stratagem, on the suggestion of Harpagus, a Mede. Having collected together all the camels that followed his army with provisions and baggage, and having caused their burdens to be taken off, he mounted men upon them equipped in cavalry accoutrements, and having furnished them, he ordered them to go in advance of the rest of his army against the Lydian horse ; and he commanded his infantry to follow the camels, and he placed the whole of his cavalry behind the infantry. When all were drawn up in order, he charged them not to spare any of the Lydians, but to kill every one they met; but on no account to kill Crcesus, even if he should offer resistance when taken. Such were the * orders he gave. He drew up the camels in the front of the cavalry for this reason ; a horse is afraid of a camel, and can not endure either to see its form or to scent its smell: for this reason, then, he had recourse to this stratagem, that the cavalry might be useless to Cresus, by which the Lydian expected to signalize himself. Accordingly, when they joined battle, the horses no sooner smelt the camels and saw them, than they wheeled round, and the hopes of Croesus were destroyed. Nevertheless, the Lydians were not therefore discouraged, but when they perceived what had happened, leaped from their horses and engaged with the Persians on foot: at last, when many had fallen on both sides, the Lydians were put to flight, and being shut up within the walls, were besieged by the Persians.

81. Siege was then laid to them; but Creesus, thinking it would last a long time, sent other messengers from the city to his allies; for those who were before sent requested them to assemble at Sardis on the fifth month, but he sent out these last to request them to succor him with all speed, as he was already besieged. 82. He sent, therefore, to the rest of his allies, and especially to the Lacedæmonians; but at that very time the Spartans themselves happened to have a

quarrel with the Argians about a tract called Thyrea; for this Thyrea, which properly belongs to the territory of Argos, the Spartans had seized; and, indeed, the country that lies westward as far as Malea, both on the continent and the island Cythera and the other islands, belongs to the Argians. The Argians having advanced to the defense of their country which had been thus seized upon, both parties, upon a conference, agreed that three hundred men on each side should engage, and that whichever party was victorious should be entitled to the disputed territory; but it was stipulated that the main body of each army should withdraw to their own country, and not remain while the engagement was going on, lest, if the armies were present, either side, seeing their countrymen in distress, should come in to their assistance. Having agreed to these terms, the armies withdrew, and the picked men on each side remaining behind engaged: they fought with such equal success that, of the six hundred, three men only were left alive; of the Argians, Alcenor and Chromius, and of the Lacedæmonians, Othryades; these survived when night came on. The two Argians, thinking themselves victorious, ran to Argos with the news; but Othryades, the Lacedæmonían, having stripped the corpses of the Argians, and carried their arms to his own camp, continued at his post. On the next day, both armies, being informed of the event, met again in the same place, and for a time both laid claim to the victory; the one side alleging that the greater number of their men survived, the other side urging that those survivors had fled, and that their countryman had kept the field and spoiled their dead. At length, from words they betook themselves to blows; and when many had fallen on both sides, the Lacedæmonians obtained the victory. From that time the Argians, cutting off their hair, which they had before been compelled to wear long, enacted a law, which was confirmed by a curse, that no Argian should suffer his hair to grow, nor any woman wear ornaments of gold, till they should recover Thyrea. On the other hand, the Lacedæmonians made a contrary law, enjoining all their people to wear long hair, which they had never done before. As to Othryades, who was the only one that survived of the three hundred, they say that, being ashamed to return to Sparta when all his fellow-soldiers had perished, he put an end to himself at Thyrea. 83. When the affairs of the Spartans were in this condition, the Sardian embassador arrived, and requested them to assist Croesus, who was besieged in Sardis ; they, however, no sooner heard the embassadors' report than they made preparations to succor him. But when they were now prepared to set out, and their ships were ready, another message reached them that the citadel of the Lydians was taken, and Cræsus made prisoner; they accordingly, deeming it a great misfortune, desisted from their enterprise.

84. Sardis was taken in the following manner. On the fourteenth day after Croesus had been besieged, Cyrus sent horsemen throughout his army, and proclaimed that he would liberally reward the man who should first mount the wall: upon this, several attempts were made, and as often failed; till, after the rest had desisted, a Mardian, whose name was Hyrcades, endeavored to climb up on that part of the citadel where no guard was stationed, because there did not appear to be any danger that it would be taken on that part, for on that side the citadel was precipitous and impracticable. Round this part alone Meles, a former king of Sardis, had not brought the lion which his concubine bore to him, though the Telmessians had pronounced that if the lion were carried round the wall, Sardis would be impregnable; but Meles, having caused it to be carried round the rest of the wall, where the citadel was exposed to assault, neglected this, as altogether unassailable and precipitous. This is the quarter of the city that faces Mount Tmolus. Now this Hyrcades the Mardian, having seen a Lydian come down this precipice the day before for a helmet that was rolled down, and carry it up again, noticed it carefully, and reflected on it in his mind : he thereupon ascended the same way, followed by divers Persians; and when great numbers had gone up, Sardis was thus taken, and the whole town plundered.

85. The following incidents befell Crosus himself. He had a son, of whom I have before made mention, who was in other respects proper enough, but dumb. Now, in the time of his former prosperity, Cræsus had done every thing he could for him, and among other expedients had sent to consult the oracle of Delphi concerning him ; but the Pythian gave him this answer: “O Lydian born, king of many, very foolish Creesus, wish not to hear the longed-for voice of thy son speaking within thy palace: it were better for thee that this

« PreviousContinue »