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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 defence 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
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 Lacedæmonian, 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 ambassador arrived, and requested them to assist Croesus, who was besieged in Sardis; they, however, no sooner heard the ambassadors' report, than they made preparations to succour 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 Croesus 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, endeavoured 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 Hyreades 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 befel Croesus 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, Croesus 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 Crosus, wish not to hear the longed-for voice of thy son speaking within thy palace : it were better for thee that this
should be far off ; for he will first speak in an unhappy day. When the city was taken, one of the Persians, not knowing Cresus, was about to kill him : Croesus, though he saw him approach, from his present misfortune, took no heed of him, nor did he care about dying by the blow; but this speechless son of his, when he saw the Persian advancing against him, through dread and anguish, burst into speech, and said, “ Man, kill not Croesus.” These were the first words he ever uttered ; but from that time he continued to speak during the remainder of his life. 86. So the Persians got possession of Sardis, and made Crosus prisoner, after he had reigned fourteen years, been besieged fourteen days, and lost his great empire, as the oracle had predicted. The Persians, having taken him, conducted him to Cyrus; and he, having heaped up a great pile, placed Cræsus upon it, bound with fetters, and with him fourteen young Lydians ; designing either to offer this sacrifice to some god, as the first-fruits of his victory, or wishing to perform a vow; or perhaps, having heard that Croesus was a religious person, he placed him on the pile for the purpose of discovering whether any deity would save him from being burnt alive. He accordingly did what has been related : it is added, that when Croesus stood upon the pile, notwithstanding the weight of his misfortunes, the words of Solon recurred to him, as spoken by inspiration of the deity, that “no living man could be justly called happy.” When this occurred to him, it is said, that after a long silence he recovered himself, and uttering a groan, thrice pronounced the name of Solon ; that when Cyrus heard him, he commanded his interpreters to ask Cresus, whom it was he called upon ; that they drew near and asked him ; but Crosus for some time kept silence ; but at last, being constrained to speak, said, “I named a man, whose discourses I more desire all tyrants might hear, than to be possessor of the greatest riches.” When he gave them this obscure answer, they again inquired what he said : and when they persisted in their inquiries, and were very importunate, he at length told them, that Solon, an Athenian, formerly visited him, and having viewed all his treasures, made no account of them: telling, in a word, how every thing had befallen him as Solon had warned him, though his discourse related to all mankind as much as to himself, and especially to those who imagine themselves happy. They say, that
Croesus gave this explanation ; and that the pile being now kindled, the outer parts began to burn; and that Cyrus, informed by the interpreters of what Croesus had said, relented, and considering that being but a man, he was yet going to burn another man alive, who had been no way inferior to himself in prosperity; and moreover fearing retribution, and reflecting that nothing human is constant, commanded the fire to be instantly extinguished, and Croesus, with those who were about him, to be taken down; and that they with all their endeavours were unable to master the fire. 87. It is related by the Lydians, that Crosus, perceiving that Cyrus had altered his resolution, when he saw every man deavouring to put out the fire, but unable to get the better of it, shouted aloud, invoking Apollo, and besought him, if ever any of his offerings had been agreeable to him, to protect and deliver him from the present danger: they report, that he with tears invoked the god, and that on a sudden clouds were seen gathering in the air, which before was serene, and that a violent storm burst forth and vehement rain fell and extinguished the flames ; by which Cyrus perceiving that Croesus was beloved by the gods, and a good man, when he had had him taken down from the pile, asked him the following question: “Who persuaded you, Croesus, to invade my territories, and to become my enemy instead of my friend ?” He answered: “O king, I have done this for your good but my own evil fortune, and the god of the Greeks who encouraged me to make war is the cause of all. For no man is so void of understanding as to prefer war before peace ; for in the latter children bury their fathers ; in the former, fathers bury their children. But, I suppose, it pleased the gods that these things should be so.'
88. He then thus spoke : but Cyrus, having set him at liberty, placed him by his own side, and showed him great respect ; and both he and all those that were with him were astonished at what they saw. But Cresus, absorbed in thought, remained silent ; and presently turning round and beholding the Persians sacking the city of the Lydians, he said, “Does it become me, O king, to tell you what is passing through my mind, or to keep silence on the present occasion ?" Cyrus bid him say with confidence whatever he wished ; upon which Cresus asked him, saying, “ What
is this vast crowd so earnestly employed about ?” He answered, “ They are sacking your city, and plundering your riches." “ Not so," Croesus replied ; “they are neither sacking my city, nor plundering my riches, for they no longer belong to me, but they are ravaging what belongs to you.' 89. The reply of Creesus attracted the attention of Cyrus ; he therefore ordered all the rest to withdraw, and asked Croesus what he thought should be done in the present conjuncture. He answered : “Since the gods have made me your servant, I think it my duty to acquaint you, if I perceive any thing deserving of remark. The Persians, who are by nature overbearing, are poor. If, therefore, you permit them to plunder and possess great riches, you may expect the following results : whoso acquires the greatest possessions, be assured, will be ready to rebel. Therefore, if you approve what I say, adopt the following plan: place some of your body-guard as sentinels at every gate, with orders to take the booty from all those who would go out, and to acquaint them that the tenth must of necessity be consecrated to Jupiter : thus you will not incur the odium of taking away their property; and they, acknowledging your intention to be just, will readily obey." 90. Cyrus, when he heard this, was exceedingly delighted, as he thought the suggestion a very good one : having therefore commended it highly, and ordered his guards to do what Crosus suggested, he addressed Croesus as follows : “Crosus, since you are resolved to display the deeds and words of a true king, ask whatever boon you desire on the instant.'
Sir,” he answered, “ the most acceptable favour you can bestow upon me is, to let me send my fetters to the god of the Grecians, whom I have honoured more than any other deity, and to ask him, if it be his custom to deceive those who deserve well of him.” Cyrus asked him what cause he had to complain, that induced him to make this request: upon which Croesus recounted to him all his projects, and the answers of the oracles, and particularly the offerings he had presented ; and how he was incited by the oracle to make war against the Persians. When he had said this, he again besought him to grant him leave to reproach the god with these things. But Cyrus, smiling, said, “You shall not only receive this boon from me, but whatever else you may at any time desire.” When Cresus heard this, he sent certain Ly