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herdsman. If, then, you will follow my counsel, you shall rule over the whole territory that Astyages now governs. Persuade the Persians to revolt, and invade Media; and whether I or any other illustrious Mede be appointed to command the army opposed to you, every thing will turn out as you wish; for they, on the first onset, having revolted from him, and siding with you, will endeavour to depose him. Since, then, every thing is ready here, do as I advise, and do it quickly.” 125. Cyrus, having received this intelligence, began to consider by what measures he could best persuade the Persians to revolt; and after mature consideration, he fixed upon the following as the most proper; and accordingly he put it in practice. Having written such a letter as he thought fit, he called an assembly of the Persians, and then, having opened the letter and read it, he said that Astyages had appointed him general of the Persians : “Now,” he continued, “I require you to attend me, every man with a sickle.” Cyrus then issued such an order. Now the Persians are divided into many tribes; and some of them Cyrus assembled together, and persuaded to revolt from the Medes; these are they upon whom the rest of the Persians are dependent: the Pasargadac, the Maraphians, and the Maspians: of these the Pasargadae are the most noble ; among them is the family of the Achaemenidae, from which i. kings of Persia are descended. The rest are as follows: the Panthialaeans, the Derusiaeans, and the Germanians; these are all husbandmen : the rest are pastoral ; Daians, Mardians, Dropicians, and Sagartians. 126. When all were come with their sickles, as had been ordered, Cyrus selected a tract of land in Persia, which was overgrown with briers, and about eighteen or twenty stadia square, and directed them to clear it during the day: when the Persians had finished the appointed task, he next told them to come again on the next day, having first washed themselves. In the mean time Cyrus, having collected together all his father's flocks and herds, had them killed and dressed, as purposing to entertain the Persian forces, and he provided wine and bread in abundance. The next day, when the Persians were assembled, he made them lie down on the turf, and feasted them; and after the repast was over, Cyrus asked them whether the treatment they had received the day before, or the present, were preferable. They answered, that the difference was great; for on the preceding day they had every hardship, but on the present every thing that was good. Cyrus therefore having received this answer, discovered his intentions, and said, “Men of Persia, the case stands thus; if you will hearken to me, you may enjoy these, and numberless other advantages, without any kind of servile labour; but if you will not hearken to me, innumerable hardships, like those of yesterday, await you. Now, therefore, obey me, and be free; for I am persuaded I am born by divine providence to undertake this work; and I deem you to be men in no way inferior to the Medes, either in other respects or in war: since then these things are so, revolt with all speed from Astyages.” 127. The Persians then having obtained a leader, gladly asserted their freedom, having for a long time felt indignant at being governed by the Medes. Astyages, being informed of what Cyrus was doing, sent a messenger and summoned him ; but Cyrus bade the messenger take back word, “that he would come to him sooner than Astyages desired.” When Astyages heard this, he armed all the Medes; and, as if the gods had deprived him of understanding, made Harpagus their general, utterly forgetting the outrage he had done him. And when the Medes came to an engagement with the Persians, such of them as knew nothing of the plot, fought; but others went over to the Persians; and the far greater part purposely behaved as cowards and fled. 128. The army of the Medes being thus shamefully dispersed, as soon as the news was brought to Astyages, he exclaimed, threatening Cyrus, “Not even so shall Cyrus have occasion to rejoice.” Having so said, he first impaled the Magi, who had interpreted his dream, and advised him to let Cyrus go ; then he armed all the Medes that were left in the city, both old and young; and leading them out, he engaged the Persians, and was defeated. Astyages himself was made prisoner, and he lost all the Medes whom he had led out. 129. Harpagus, standing by Astyages after he was taken, exulted over him and jeered him; and among other galling words, he asked him also about the supper, at which he had feasted him with his son's flesh, and inquired, “how he liked slavery in exchange for a kingdom.” Astyages, looking stedfastly on Harpagus, asked in return, whether he thought himself the author of Cyruss success. Harpagus said, he did, for, as he had written, the achievement was justly due to himself. Astyages thereupon proved him to be “the weakest and most unjust of all men: the weakest, in giving the kingdom to another, which he might have assumed to himself, if indeed he had effected this change; and the most unjust, because he had enslaved the Medes on account of the supper. For if it were absolutely necessary to transfer the kingdom to some one else, and not to take it himself, he might with more justice have conferred this benefit on some one of the Medes than on a Persian: whereas now the Medes, who were not at all in fault, had become slaves instead of masters; and the Persians, who before were slaves to the Medes, had now become their masters.” 130. So Astyages, after he had reigned thirty-five years, was thus deposed; and by reason of his cruelty the Medes bent under the Persian yoke, after they had ruled over all Asia beyond the river Halys for the space of one hundred and twenty-eight years," excepting the interval of the Scythian dominion. At a later period, however, they repented of what they had done, and revolted from Darius, but being conquered in battle, were again subdued: but now in the time of Astyages, the Persians, under the conduct of Cyrus, having risen against the Medes, have from that time been masters of Asia. As for Astyages, Cyrus kept him with him till he died, without doing him any further injury. Cyrus therefore, having been thus born and educated, came to the throne; and after these events he conquered Croesus, who gave the first provocation, as I have already related, and having subdued him, he became master of all Asia. 131. The Persians, according to my own knowledge, observe the following customs. It is not their practice to erect statues, or temples, or altars, but they charge those with folly who do so; because, as I conjecture, they do not think the gods have human forms, as the Greeks do. They are accustomed to ascend the highest parts of the mountains, and offer sacrifice to Jupiter, and they call the whole circle of the heavens by the name of Jupiter. They sacrifice to the sun and moon, to the earth, fire, water, and the winds. To these alone they have sacrificed from the earliest times: but they have since learnt from the Arabians and Assyrians to sacrifice to Venus Urania, whom the Assyrians call Venus Mylitta, the Arabians, Alitta, and the Persians, Mitra. 132. The following is the established mode of sacrifice to the abovementioned deities: they do not erect altars nor kindle fires when about to sacrifice; they do not use libations, or flutes, or fillets, or cakes; but, when any one wishes to offer sa-. crifice to any one of these deities, he leads the victim to a clean spot, and invokes the god, usually having his tiara decked with myrtle. He that sacrifices is not permitted to pray for blessings for himself alone; but he is obliged to offer prayers for the prosperity of all the Persians, and the king, for he is himself included in the Persians. When he has cut the victim into small pieces, and boiled the flesh, he strews under it a bed of tender grass, generally trefoil, and then lays all the flesh upon it: when he has put every thing in order, one of the Magi standing by sings an ode concerning the original of the gods, which they say is the incantation; and without one of the Magi it is not lawful for them to sacrifice. After having waited a short time, he that has sacrificed carries away the flesh and disposes of it as he thinks fit. 133. It is their custom to honour their birth-day above all other days; and on this day they furnish their table in a more plentiful manner than at other times. The rich then produce an ox, a horse, a camel, and an ass, roasted whole in an oven; but the poor produce smaller cattle. They are moderate at their meals, but eat of many after dishes, and those not served up together. On this account the Persians say, “that the Greeks rise hungry from table, because nothing worth mentioning is brought in after dinner, and that if any thing were brought in, they would not leave off eating.” The Persians are much addicted to wine; they are not allowed to vomit or make water in presence of another. These customs are observed to this day. They are used to debate the most important affairs when intoxicated ; but whatever they have determined on in such deliberations, is on the following day, when they are sober, proposed to them by the master of the house where they have met to consult; and if they approve of it when sober also, then they adopt it; if not, they reject it. And whatever they have first resolved on when sober, they reconsider when intoxicated. 134. When they meet one another in the streets, one may discover by the following custom, whether those who meet are equals. For instead of accosting one another, they kiss on the mouth; if one be a little inferior to the other, they kiss the cheek; but if he be of a much lower rank, he prostrates himself before the other. They honour, above all, those who live nearest to themselves; in the second degree, those that are second in nearness; and after that, as they go further off, they honour in proportion; and least of all they honour those who live at the greatest distance; esteeming themselves to be by far the most excellent of men in every respect; and that others make approaches to excellence according to the foregoing gradations, but that they are the worst who live farthest from them. During the empire of the Medes, each nation ruled over its next neighbour, the Medes over all, and especially over those that were nearest to them; these again, over the bordering people, and the last in like manner over their next neighbours; and in the same gradations the Persians honour; for that nation went on extending its government and guardianship. 135. The Persians are of all nations most ready to adopt foreign customs; for they wear the Medic costume, thinking it handsomer than their own; and in war they use the Egyptian cuirass. And they practise all kinds of indulgences with which they become acquainted ; amongst others, they have learnt from the Greeks a passion for boys: they marry, each of them, many wives; and keep a still greater number of concubines. 136. Next to bravery in battle, this is considered the greatest proof of manliness, to be able to exhibit many children; and to such as can exhibit the greatest number, the king sends presents every year; for numbers are considered strength. Beginning from the age of five years to twenty, they instruct their sons in three things only ; to ride, to use the bow, and to speak truth. Before he is five years
7 According to Herodotus, Deioces reigned 53 years 22
Cyaxares . . . . 40
Astyages . . . . 35
If from this number we subtract 28, the time that the Scythians reigned, there remain but 122; so that in all probability a mistake has been made in the text by some copyist.—Larcher.