Page images

joined thee?” But he answered, “Sir, it is not true that your brother Smerdis has revolted against you, nor that you can have any quarrel, great or small, with him. For I myself put your order in execution, and buried him with my own hands. If, however, the dead rise again, expect that Astyages the Mede will rise up against you. But if it is now as formerly, nothing new can spring up to you from him. It appears to me, however, that we should pursue the herald, and find out by inquiry from whom he comes to proclaim to us that we are to obey king Smerdis.” 63. When Prexaspes had spoken thus, as the advice was approved by Cambyses, the herald was immediately pursued, and brought back. When he arrived, Prexaspes questioned him as follows: “Friend, since you say that you come as the messenger of Smerdis, son of Cyrus, now speak the truth, and depart in peace. Whether did Smerdis himself appear in person before you, and give these orders, or some one of his ministers ?” He answered, “I have not so much as seen Smerdis, son of Cyrus, since king Cambyses marched for Egypt; but the magus whom Cambyses appointed steward of his palace gave me these orders, saying that Smerdis, son of Cyrus, was the person who charged me to deliver this message to you.” Thus the man spoke without adding any untruth. But Cambyses said, “Prexaspes, you, like a faithful man, having executed your instructions, have escaped all blame : but what Persian can this be, who has revolted against me, usurping the name of Smerdis 2° He replied, “I think I understand the whole matter, O king : the magi are the persons who have revolted against you, Patizithes, whom you left steward of the palace, and his brother Smerdis.” 64. When Cambyses heard the name of Smerdis, the truth of this account and of the dream * struck him : for he fancied in his sleep that some one announced to him that Smerdis, seated on the royal throne, touched the heavens with his head. Perceiving, therefore, that he had destroyed his brother without a cause, he wept for Smerdis ; and after he had lamented him, and bitterly deplored the whole calamity, he leapt upon his horse, resolving with all speed to march to Susa against the magus. But as he was leaping on his horse, the chape of his sword's scabbard fell off, and the blade, being laid bare, struck the * See chap. 30.

thigh ; being wounded in that part where he himself had formerly smitten the Egyptian god Apis. Cambyses, when he thought that he was mortally wounded, asked what was the name of the city. They said it was Ecbatana. And it had been before prophesied to him from the city of Buto, that he should end his life in Ecbatana. He therefore imagined he should die an old man in Ecbatana of Media, where all his treasures were ; but the oracle in truth meant, in Ecbatana of Syria. When he had thus been informed, on inquiry, of the name of the city, though smitten by his misfortune, as well that proceeding from the magus as from the wound, he returned to his right mind; and comprehending the oracle, said, “Here it is fated that Cambyses, son of Cyrus, should die.”

65. So much he said at that time; but about twenty days after, having summoned the principal men of the Persians who were with him, he addressed them as follows: “I am constrained to disclose to you a matter, which above all others I desired to conceal. When I was in Egypt I saw a vision in my sleep, which I wish I had never seen. I thought that a messenger arrived from my palace and announced to me that Smerdis, seated on the royal throne, touched the heavens with his head. Fearing lest I should be deprived of my kingdom by my brother, I acted with more precipitation than wisdom; for in truth it belongs not to human nature to avert what is destined to happen. But I foolishly sent Prexaspes to Susa to put Smerdis to death : since that crime was perpetrated I have lived in security, never considering whether, now that Smerdis was removed, some other mortal might not rise up against me. But utterly mistaking what was about to happen, I became a fratricide to no purpose, and am nevertheless deprived of my kingdom. For Smerdis the magus was the person whom the deity forewarned me in the vision would rise up against me. The deed, then, has been perpetrated by me; consider, therefore, that Smerdis, son of Cyrus, is no more ; but the magi have possessed themselves of the throne, he whom I'left steward of my palace and his brother Smerdis. Now, he, who of right should have revenged the indignity I suffer from the magi, has perished impiously by the hand of his nearest relation. Since, therefore, he is no more, in the next place, of the other injunctions that I have to lay upon you, O Persians, the most necessary is, to let you know what I would have you do after my death. I therefore, in the name of the gods who protect the throne, charge you, and all of you, especially those of the Achaemenidae who are present, never to permit the government to return into the hands of the Medes: and if they have possessed themselves of it by craft, by craft be it recovered by you; or if they accomplish it by force, by force to the utmost win it back again. And if you do thus, may the earth bring forth her increase; may your wives and your flocks be fruitful, and you remain for ever free. But if you do not win back, nor attempt to win back the sovereign power, I imprecate upon you the contrary of all these things: and moreover, may such an end befal every Persian as has befallen me.” When Cambyses had spoken thus, he deplored his whole fortunes. 66. The Persians, when they saw their king weep, all rent the garments they had on, and gave themselves to abundant lamentation. But afterwards, when the bone became infected and the thigh mortified, it carried off Cambyses, son of Cyrus, after he had reigned in all seven years and five months, having never had any children, either male or female. Great incredulity stole over the Persians who were present, as to the story that the magi had possession of the government; but they thought that Cambyses said what he did calumniously, respecting the death of Smerdis, in order that the whole Persian nation might be made hostile to him. They therefore believed that Smerdis, son of Cyrus, had risen up and seized the kingdom : Prexaspes, moreover, vehemently denied that he had killed Smerdis ; for it was not safe for him, now that Cambyses was dead, to own that he had killed the son of Cyrus with his own hand. 67. Accordingly, the magus, after the death of Cambyses, relying on his having the same name as Smerdis the son of Cyrus, reigned securely during the seven months that remained to complete the eighth year of Cambyses; in which time he treated all his subjects with such beneficence, that at his death, all the people of Asia, except the Persians, regretted his loss. For the magus, having despatched messengers to every nation he ruled over, proclaimed a general exemption from military service and tribute for the space of three years: and he made this proclamation immediately on assuming the sovereignty. 68. But in the eighth month he was discovered in the following maner. Otanes, son of Pharnaspes, was by birth and fortune equal to the first of the Persians. This Otanes first suspected the magus not to be Smerdis the son of Cyrus, but the person who he really was ; forming his conjecture from this circumstance, that he never went out of the citadel, and that he never summoned any of the principal men of Persia to his presence. Having conceived suspicion of him, he contrived the following artifice. Cambyses had married his daughter, whose name was Phaedyma; the magus therefore had her as his wife, and cohabited with her, as well as with all the rest of the wives of Cambyses. Otanes therefore, sending to this daughter, inquired with what man she lay, whether with Smerdis son of Cyrus, or some other person: she sent back word to him, saying, that she did not know, for that she had never seen Smerdis son of Cyrus, nor knew who it was that cohabited with her. Otanes sent a second time, saying, “If you do not yourself know Smerdis son of Cyrus, then inquire of Atossa who this man is, with whom she as well as you cohabits, for she must of necessity know her own brother.” To this his daughter replied, “I can neither have any conversation with Atossa, nor see any of the women who used to live with me; for as soon as this man, whoever he is, succeeded to the throne, he dispersed us all, assigning us separate apartments.” 69. When Otanes heard this, the matter appeared much more plain; and he sent a third message to her in these words: “Daughter, it becomes you, being of noble birth, to undertake any peril that your father may require you to incur. For if this Smerdis is not the son of Cyrus, but the person whom I suspect, it is not fit that he, lying with you and possessing the empire of the Persians, should escape with impunity, but suffer the punishment due to his offences. Now therefore follow my directions: when he sleeps with you, and you know him to be sound asleep, touch his ears; and if you find he has ears, be assured that you cohabit with Smerdis son of Cyrus ; but if he has none, with Smerdis the magus.” To this message Phaedyma answered, saying, “that she should incur very great danger by doing so; for if he had no ears, and she should be discovered touching him, she well knew that he would put her to death; nevertheless she would make the attempt.” She accordingly promised to accomplish this for her father. Now Cyrus, son of Cambyses, during his reign, had cut off the ears of this Smerdis, the magus, for some grave offence. This Phaedyma, daughter of Otanes, therefore, determining to execute all that she had promised her father, when her turn came to approach the magus, (for in Persia the wives visit their husbands in regular succession,) went and slept with him : and when the magus was sound asleep, she felt for his ears, and perceiving without any difficulty that the man had no ears, as soon as it was day, she sent and made known to her father what the case was. 70. Thereupon Otanes, having taken with him Aspathines and Gobryas, who were the noblest of the Persians, and persons on whom he could best rely, related to them the whole affair: they too had themselves suspected that the case was so; and when Otanes had adduced his reasons, they admitted their force; and they agreed that each should associate with himself a Persian in whom he could place most reliance. Otanes accordingly introduced Intaphernes; Gobryas, Megabyzus; and Aspathines, Hydarnes. These six being associated, Darius son of Hystaspes arrived at Susa from Persia, where his father was governor. When therefore he arrived, the six Persians determined to admit Darius to the confederacy. 71. These seven having met, exchanged pledges with each other and conferred together. When it came to the turn of Darius to declare his opinion, he addressed them as follows: “I thought that I was the only person who knew that it was the magus who reigns, and that Smerdis son of Cyrus is dead; and for this very reason I hastened hither in order to contrive the death of the magus. But since it proves that you also are acquainted with the fact, and not I only, it appears to me that we should act immediately, and not put it off; for that would be of no advantage.” Otanes said to this, “Son of Hystaspes, you are born of a noble father, and show yourself not at all inferior to him; do not however so inconsiderately hasten this enterprise, but set about it with more caution : for we must increase our numbers, and then attempt it.” Darius replied to this, “Be assured, ye men who are here present, if you adopt the plan proposed by Otanes, you will all miserably perish: for some one will discover it to the magus, consulting

« PreviousContinue »