Page images
PDF
EPUB

are not to blame, my father, if after such a dream you take so much care of me; but it is right for me to explain that which you do not comprehend, and which has escaped your notice in the dream. You say the dream signified that I should die by the point of an iron weapon. But what hand, or what pointed iron weapon has a boar, to occasion such fears in you? Had it said I should lose my life by a tusk, or something of like nature, you ought then to have done as you now do ; whereas it said by the point of a weapon ; since then we have not to contend against men, let me go.” 40. “You have surpassed me,” replied Croesus, “in explaining the import of the dream; therefore, being overcome by you, I change my resolution, and permit you to go to the chase.” 41. Croesus, having thus spoken, sent for the Phrygian Adrastus, and, when he came, addressed him as follows: “Adrastus, I purified you when smitten by a grievous misfortune, which I do not upbraid you with, and have received you into my house, and supplied you with every thing necessary. Now therefore, (for it is your duty to requite me with kindness, since I have first conferred a kindness on you,) I beg you would be my son's guardian, when he goes to the chase, and take care that no skulking villains show themselves in the way to do him harm. Besides, you ought to go for your own sake, where you may signalize yourself by your exploits; for this was the glory of your ancestors, and you are besides in full vigour.” 42. Adrastus answered, “On no other account, sire, would I have taken part in this enterprise; for it is not fitting that one in my unfortunate circumstances should join with his prosperous compeers, nor do I desire to do so; and, indeed, I have often restrained myself. Now, however, since you urge me, and I ought to oblige you, for I am bound to requite the benefits you have conferred on me, I am ready to do as you desire ; and rest assured, that your son, whom you bid me take care of, shall, as far as his guardian is concerned, return to you uninjured.” 43. When Adrastus had made this answer to Croesus, they went away, well provided with chosen youths and dogs: and, having arrived at Mount Olympus, they sought the wild beast, and having found him and encircled him around, they hurled their javelins at him. Among the rest, the stranger, the same that had been purified of murder, named Adrastus, C

throwing his javelin at the boar, missed him, and struck the son of Croesus: thus he being wounded by the point of the lance, fulfilled the warning of the dream. Upon this, some one ran off to tell Croesus what had happened, and having arrived at Sardis, gave him an account of the action, and of his son's fate. 44. Croesus, exceedingly distressed by the death of his son, lamented it the more bitterly, because he fell by the hand of one, whom he himself had purified from blood; and vehemently deploring his misfortune, he invoked Jove the Expiator, attesting what fle had suffered by this stranger. He invoked also the same deity, by the name of the god of hospitality and private friendship : as the god of hospitality, because by receiving a stranger into his house, he had unawares fostered the murderer of his son; as the god of private friendship, because, having sent him as a guardian, he found him his greatest enemy. 45. After this, the Lydians approached, bearing the corpse, and behind it followed the murderer. He, having advanced in front of the corpse, delivered himself up to Croesus, stretching forth his hands and begging of him to kill him upon it; then relating his former misfortune, and how in addition to that he had destroyed his purifier, and that he ought to live no longer. When Croesus heard this, though his own affliction was so great, he pitied Adrastus, and said to him, “You have made me full satisfaction by condemning yourself to die. But you are not the author of this misfortune, except as far as you were the involuntary agent ; but that god, whoever he was, that long since foreshowed what was about to happen.” Croesus therefore buried his son as the dignity of his birth required; but Adrastus, son of Gordius, son of Midas, who had been the murderer of his own brother, and the murderer of his purifier, when all was silent round the tomb, judging himself the most heavily afflicted of all men, killed himself on the tomb. But Croesus, bereaved of his son, continued disconsolate for two years. 46. Some time after, the overthrow of the kingdom of Astyages, son of Cyaxares, by Cyrus, son of Cambyses, and the growing power of the Persians, put an end to the grief of Croesus; and it entered into his thoughts whether he could by any means check the growing power of the Persians before they became formidable. After he had formed this purpose, he determined to make trial as well of the oracles in

Greece as of that in Libya; and sent different persons to different places, some to Delphi, some to Abae of Phocis, and some to Dodona; others were sent to Amphiaraus and Trophonius, and others to Branchidae of Milesia: these were the Grecian oracles to which Croesus sent to consult. He sent others also to consult that of Ammon in Libya. And he sent them different ways, designing to make trial of what the oracles knew ; in order that if they should be found to know the truth, he might send a second time to inquire whether he should venture to make war on the Persians. 47. He despatched them to make trial of the oracles with the following orders; that computing the days from the time of their departure from Sardis, they should consult the oracles on the hundredth day, by asking, what Croesus, son of Alyattes and king of the Lydians, was then doing; and that they should bring him the answer of each oracle in writing. Now what were the answers given by the other oracles, is mentioned by none; but no sooner had the Lydians entered the temple of Delphi to consult the god, and asked the question enjoined them, than the Pythian thus spoke in hexameter verse: “I know the number of the sands, and the measure of the sea; I understand the dumb, and hear him that does not speak; the savour of the hard-shelled tortoise boiled in brass with the flesh of lamb strikes on my senses; brass is laid beneath it, and brass is put over it.” 48. The Lydians having written down this answer of the Pythian, returned to Sardis. And when the rest, who had been sent to other places, arrived bringing the answers, Croesus having opened each of them examined their contents; but none of them pleased him. When, however, he heard that from Delphi, he immediately adored it, and approved of it, being convinced that the oracle at Delphi alone was a real oracle, because it had discovered what he had done. For when he had sent persons to consult the different oracles, watching the appointed day, he had recourse to the following contrivance; having thought of what it was impossible to discover or guess at, he cut up a tortoise and a lamb, and boiled them himself together in a brazen caldron, and put on it a cover of brass. 49. Such then was the answer given to Croesus from Delphi: as regards the answer of the oracle of Amphiaraus, I cannot say what answer it gave to the Lydia; who performed the accusc

tomed rites at the temple; for nothing else is related than that he considered this also to be a true oracle. 50. After this he endeavoured to propitiate the god at || Delphi by magnificent sacrifices; for he offered three thou- || sand head of cattle of every kind fit for sacrifice, and having heaped up a great pile, he burnt on it beds of gold and silver, vials of gold, and robes of purple and garments; hoping by that means more completely to conciliate the god: he also ordered all the Lydians to offer to the god whatever he was able. When the sacrifice was ended, having melted down a vast quantity of gold, he cast half-bricks from it; of which the longest were six palms in length, the shortest three, and in thickness one palm: their number was one hundred and seventeen: four of these, of pure gold, weighed each two talents and a half; the other half-bricks of pale gold, weighed two talents each. He made also the figure of a lion of fine gold, weighing ten talents. This lion, when the temple of Delphi was burnt down, fell from the half-bricks, for it had been placed on them; and it now lies in the treasury of the Corinthians, weighing six talents and a half; for three talents and a half were melted from it. 51. Croesus, having finished these things, sent them to Delphi, and with them these following ; two large bowls, one of gold, the other of silver: that of gold was placed on the right hand as one enters the temple, and that of silver on the left; but these also were removed when the temple was burnt down; and the golden one, weighing eight talents and a half and twelve minae, is placed in the treasury of Clazomenae; the silver one, containing six hundred amphorae, lies in a corner of the vestibule, and is used by the Delphians for mixing the wine on the Theophanian festival. The Delphians say it was the workmanship of Theodorus the Samian ; and I think so too, for it appears to be no common work. He also sent four casks of silver, which stand in the treasury of the Corinthians; and he dedicated two lustral vases, one of gold, the other of silver: on the golden one is an inscription, OF THE LACEDADMONIANS, who say that it was their offering, but wrongfully, for this also was given by Croesus: a certain Delphian made the inscription, in order to please the Lacedamonians; I know his name, but forbear to mention it. The boy indeed, through whose hand the water flows, is their

gift; but neither of the lustral vases. At the same time Croesus sent many other offerings without an inscription: amongst them some round silver covers; and moreover a statue of a woman in gold three cubits high, which the Delphians say is the image of Croesus's baking woman; and to all these things he added the necklaces and girdles of his wife. + 52. These were the offerings he sent to Delphi; and to Amphiaraus, having ascertained his virtue and sufferings, he dedicated a shield all of gold, and a lance of solid gold, the shaft as well as the points being of gold; and these are at Thebes in the temple of Ismenian Apollo. 53. To the Lydians appointed to convey these presents to the temples, Croesus gave it in charge to inquire of the oracles, whether he should make war on the Persians, and if he should unite any other nation as an ally. Accordingly, when the Lydians arrived at the places to which they were sent, and had dedicated the offerings, they consulted the oracles, saying, “Croesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, esteeming these to be the only oracles among men, sends these presents in acknowledgment of your discoveries; and now asks, whether he should lead an army against the Persians, and whether he should join any auxiliary forces with his own 2" Such were their questions; and the opinions of both oracles concurred, foretelling, “That if Croesus should make war on the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire;” and they advised him to engage the most powerful of the Grecians in his alliance. 54. When Croesus heard the answers that were brought back, he was beyond measure delighted with the oracles; and fully expecting that he should destroy the kingdom of Cyrus, he again sent to Delphi, and having ascertained the number of the inhabitants, presented each of them with two staters of gold. In return for this, the Delphians gave Croesus and the Lydians the right to consult the oracle before any others, and exemption from tribute, and the first seats in the temple, and the privilege of being made citizens of Delphi, to as many as should desire it in all future time. 55. Croesus having made these presents to the Delphians, sent a third time to consult the oracle. For after he had ascertained the veracity of the oracle, he had frequent recourse to it. His demand now was, whether he should long enjoy the king

« PreviousContinue »