Page images
PDF
EPUB

you. Your father Cyrus strictly charged me to admonish you, and suggest whatever I might discover for your good.” He then manifested his good will, in giving this advice ; but Cambyses answered, “Do you presume to give me advice, you, who so wisely managed your own country ; and so well advised my father, when you persuaded him to pass the river Araxes, and advance against the Massagetæ, when they were willing to cross over into our territory? You have first ruined yourself by badly governing your own country, and then ruined Cyrus, who was persuaded by your advice. But you shall have no reason to rejoice ; for I have long wanted to find a pretext against you.” So saying, he took up his bow for the purpose of shooting him ; but Creesus jumped up and ran out. Cambyses, when he was unable to shoot him, commanded his attendants to seize him, and put him to death. But the attendants, knowing his temper, concealed Crosus for the following reason, that if Cambyses should repent, and inquire for Creesus, they, by producing him, might receive rewards for preserving him alive ; or if he should not repent, or regret him, then they would put him to death.

Not long afterwards Cambyses did regret Croesus, and the attendants, knowing this, acquainted him that he was still living ; on which Cambyses said, “I am rejoiced that Creesus is still alive; they, however, who saved him, shall not escape with impunity, but I will have them put to death.” And he made good his word.

37. He, then, committed many such mad actions, both against the Persians and his allies, while he staid at Memphis, both opening ancient sepulchres, and examining the dead bodies ;

he also entered the temple of Vulcan, and derided the image, for the image of Vulcan is very like the Phænician Pataici, which the Phænicians place at the prows of their tri

For the benefit of any one who has not seen them, I will describe them ; it is a representation of a pigmy. He likewise entered the temple of the Cabeiri, (into which it is unlawful for any one except the priest to enter,) and these images he burnt, after he had ridiculed them in various ways: these also are like that of Vulcan ; and they say that they are the sons of this latter. 38. It is then in every way clear to me that Cambyses was outrageously mad; otherwise he would not have attempted to deride things sacred and established

remes.

customs. For if any one should propose to all men, to select the best institutions of all that exist, each, after considering them all, would choose their own ; so certain is it that each thinks his own institutions by far the best. It is not therefore probable, that any but a madman would make such things the subject of ridicule. That all men are of this mind respecting their own institutions, may be inferred from many and various proofs, and amongst them by the following. Darius having summoned some Greeks under his sway, who were present, asked them “for what sum they would feed upon the dead bodies of their parents.” They answered, that they would not do it for any sum. Darius afterwards having summoned some of the Indians called Callatians, who are accustomed to eat their parents, asked them in the presence of the Greeks, and who were informed of what was said by an interpreter, "for what sum they would consent to burn their fathers when they die ?” but they, making loud exclamations, begged he would speak words of good omen. Such then is the effect of custom : and Pindar appears to me to have said rightly, “ That custom is the king of all men.

39. Whilst Cambyses was invading Egypt, the Lacedæmonians made an expedition against Samos and Polycrates, the son of Æaces, who had made an insurrection and seized on Samos. At first, having divided the state into three parts, he shared it with his brothers Pantagnotus and Syloson ; but afterwards, having put one of them to death, and expelled Syloson, the younger, he held the whole of Samos ; and holding it, made a treaty of friendship with Amasis king of Egypt, sending presents, and receiving others from him in return. In a very short time the power of Polycrates increased, and was noised abroad throughout Ionia and the rest of Greece ; for wherever he turned his arms, every thing turned out prosperously. He had a hundred fifty-oared galleys, and a thousand archers. And he plundered all without distinction ; for he said that he gratified a friend more by restoring what he had seized, than by taking nothing at all. He accordingly took many of the islands, and many cities on the continent ; he moreover overcame in a sea-fight, and took prisoners, the Lesbians, who came to assist the Milesians with all their forces : these, being put in chains, dug the whole trench that surrounds the walls of Samos. 40. Some

how the exceeding good fortune of Polycrates did not escape the notice of Amasis, but was the cause of uneasiness to him: and when his successes continued to increase, having written a letter in the following terms, he despatched it to Samos : “Amasis to Polycrates says thus : It is pleasant to hear of the successes of a friend and ally. But your too great good fortune does not please me, knowing, as I do, that the divinity is jealous. As for me, I would rather choose that both I and those for whom I am solicitous, should be partly successful in our undertakings, and partly suffer reverses ; and so pass life, meeting with vicissitudes of fortune, than being prosperous in all things. For I cannot remember that I ever heard of any man, who, having been constantly successful, did not at last utterly perish. Be advised therefore by me, and act thus with regard to your good fortune. Having considered what you can find that you value most, and the loss of which would most pain your soul ; this so cast away, that it may never more be seen of man : and if after this successes are not mingled interchangeably with reverses, again have recourse to the remedy I have suggested.” 41. Polycrates, having read this letter, and conceived that Amasis had given him good advice, inquired of himself by the loss of which of his valuables he should most afflict his soul; and on inquiry, he discovered the following : he had a seal which he wore, set in gold, made of an emerald, and it was the workmanship of Theodorus, the son of Telecles, a Samian ; when therefore he had determined to cast this away, he did as follows. Having manned a fifty-oared galley, he went on board it, and then ordered to put out to sea ; and when he was a considerable distance from the island, he took off the seal, and in the sight of all on board, threw it into the sea. This done, he sailed back again ; and having reached his palace, he mourned it as a great misfortune. 42: But on the fifth or sixth day after this, the following circumstance occurred : a fisherman, having caught a large and beautiful fish, thought it a present worthy to be given to Polycrates ; he accordingly carried it to the gates, and said that he wished to be admitted to the presence of Polycrates ; and when this was granted, he presented the fish, and said, “O king, having caught this, I did not think it right to take it to market, although I get my living by hard labour ; but it seemed to me worthy of you and your em

pire: I bring it therefore, and present it to you." He, pleased with these words, replied, “You have done well, and I give you double thanks for your speech and your present, and I invite you to supper.” The fisherman, thinking a great deal of this, went away to his own home ; but the servants, opening the fish, found the seal of Polycrates in its belly ; and as soon as they had seen it, and taken it out, they carried it with great joy to Polycrates, and as they gave him the seal they acquainted him in what manner it had been found. But when it occurred to him that the event was superhuman, he wrote an account of what he had done, and of what had happened, and having written, he despatched the account to Egypt. 43. But Amasis, having read the letter that came from Polycrates, felt persuaded that it was impossible for man to rescue man from the fate that awaited him, and that Polycrates would not come to a good end, since he was fortunate in every thing, and even found what he had thrown away ; having therefore sent a herald to Samos, he said that he must renounce his friendship. He did this for the following reason, lest if some dreadful and great calamity befel Polycrates, he might himself be grieved for him, as for a friend.

44. Against this Polycrates, then, who was so universally prosperous, the Lacedæmonians made war, at the solicitation of those Samians who afterwards founded Cydonia in Crete. Polycrates, having sent to Cambyses the son of Cyrus, as he was collecting an army for the invasion of Egypt, begged that he would send to him at Samos and demand some troops. When Cambyses heard this, he readily sent to Samos, requesting Polycrates to furnish a naval force to attend him in his invasion of Egypt. Whereupon he, having selected those citizens whom he most suspected of seditious designs, sent them away in forty galleys, enjoining Cambyses not to send them home again. 45. Now, some say that these Samians who were sent out by Polycrates never reached Egypt, but when they were off Carpathius, they conferred together and resolved to sail no farther. Others say, that having arrived in Egypt, and finding themselves watched, they made their escape from thence; and as they were sailing back to Samos, Polycrates met them with a fleet, and came to an en

8 See chap. 59.

[ocr errors]

gagement; and they who were returning gained the victory and landed on the island, and there having fought on land, they were worsted, and so set sail for Lacedæmon.

There are some who say that the party from Egypt conquered Polycrates ; in my opinion, giving an erroneous account: for there would have been no need for their calling in the Lacedæmonians, if they were themselves able to get the better of Polycrates. Besides, it is not at all probable that one who had a numerous body of foreign mercenaries, and of native archers, should be beaten by the Samians who returned, who were few in number. Moreover, Polycrates, having shut up together in the arsenals the children and wives of the citizens who were subject to him, had them ready to burn, together with the arsenals themselves, in case they should go over to those who were returning. 46. When the Samians, expelled by Polycrates, arrived at Sparta, having presented themselves before the magistrates, they made a long harangue, as people very much in earnest. But they, at this first audience, answered them, that they had forgotten the first part of their speech, and did not understand the last. After this, having presented themselves a second time, they brought a sack, and said nothing else than “ the sack wants meal ;" but the Lacedæmonians replied, that the word “sackwas superfluous : it was, however, decreed that they should assist them. 47. Then the Lacedæmonians, having made preparations, set out with an army against Samos ; as the Samians say, requiting a former kindness, because they had formerly assisted them with some ships against the Messenians ; but as the Lacedæmonians say, they undertook this expedition, not so much for the purpose of assisting the Samians who entreated them, as from a desire to revenge the seizure of the bowl o which they sent to Croesus, and the corselet which Amasis king of Egypt had sent to them as a present; for the Samians had robbed them of the corselet the year before they took the bowl. This corselet was made of linen, with many figures of animals inwrought, and adorned with gold and cotton-wool: and on this account each thread of the corselet makes it worthy of admiration ; for though it is fine, it contains three hundred and sixty threads, all distinct. Such another is that which Amasis dedicated to Minerva at Lindus." 9 See Book I. ch. 70.

1 See Book II. ch. 182.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »