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his own private advantage: and indeed you ought to have carried out your project immediately, without communicating it to any one else; * but since you have thought fit to refer it to others, and ye have disclosed it to me, let us carry it out this very day, or be assured, that if this day passes over, no one shall be beforehand with me and become my accuser, but I myself will denounce you to the magus.” 72. Otanes, seeing Darius so eager, replied, “Since you compel us to precipitate our enterprise, and will not permit us to defer it, come, do you tell us in what way we are to enter the palace and attack them; for you yourself know, if not having seen them, yet surely by report, that guards are stationed at intervals; and how shall we pass them 2" Darius answered Otanes, “There are manythings that cannot be made clear by words, but may by action: and there are other things that seem practicable in description, but no signal effect proceeds from them. Be assured that the guards stationed there will not be at all difficult to pass by: for in the first place, seeing our rank, there is no one who will not allow us to pass, partly from respect, and partly from fear; and in the next place, I have a most specious pretext by which we shall gain admission, for I will say that I am just arrived from Persia, and wish to report a message to the king from my father. For when a lie must be told, let it be told : for we all aim at the same ends, both they who tell lies, and they who keep to the truth. Some tell lies when, by persuading with falsehoods, they are likely to gain some advantage ; whilst others speak the truth, in order that, by the truth, they may acquire some advantage, and something further may be intrusted to them: thus by different processes we aim at the same end. But if nothing were likely to be gained, as well he who speaks truth would lie, and he who lies would speak truth. Whoever of the doorkeepers, therefore, shall willingly let us pass, shall be rewarded in due time; but whoever offers to oppose us must instantly be treated as an enemy; and when we have forced our passage, we must accomplish our work.” 73. After this Gobryas said: “Friends, shall we ever have a better opportunity to recover the sovereign power, or if we shall be unable to do so, to die?
* More literally, “deliberating upon it by yourselves,” or “having kept your own counsel.”
seeing we who are Persians, are governed by a Medic magus, and one without ears. Those among you who were present with Cambyses when he lay sick, well remember the imprecations he uttered at the point of death against the Persians, if they should not attempt to repossess themselves of the sovereign power: we did not then believe his story, but thought that Cambyses spoke from ill-will. I therefore give my voice that"we yield to Darius, and that on breaking up this conference we go no where else than direct to the magus.” Thus spoke Gobryas, and all assented to his proposal. 74. Whilst they were deliberating on these things, the following events happened to take place. The magi, on consultation, determined to make Prexaspes their friend; both because he had suffered grievous wrong from Cambyses, who shot his son dead with an arrow ; and because he alone of all the Persians knew of the death of Smerdis, son of Cyrus, having despatched him with his own hand; and moreover, because Prexaspes was in high repute with the Persians. For these reasons, therefore, having sent for Prexaspes, they endeavoured to win his friendship, binding him by pledges and oaths, that he would keep to himself, and never divulge to any man, the cheat they had put upon the Persians, assuring him that they would give him every thing in abundance. When Prexaspes had promised that he would do as the magi persuaded him, they made a second proposal, saying, that they would assemble all the Persians under the walls of the palace, and desired that he would ascend a tower, and harangue them, assuring them that they were governed by Smerdis son of Cyrus, and by no one else. This they enjoined him, as being a man most trusted by the Persians, and as having frequently affirmed his belief, that Smerdis son of Cyrus was still living, and having utterly denied his murder. 75. When Prexaspes said that he was ready to do that also, the magi, having convoked the Persians, placed him on the top of a turret, and commanded him to harangue the people. But he purposely forgot what they desired him to say, and, beginning from Achaemenes, described the genealogy of Cyrus's family; and afterwards, when he came down to him, he ended by telling them what great benefits Cyrus had done the Persians: and having gone through these, he declared the whole truth, saying, that he had before concealed it, as it was not safe for him to tell what had happened; but that in the present emergency, necessity constrained him to make it known. He accordingly told them that he, being compelled by Cambyses, had put Smerdis, son of Cyrus, to death, and that the magi then reigned. After he had uttered many imprecations against the Persians, if they should not recover back the sovereign power, and punish the magi, he threw himself headlong from the tower. Thus died Prexaspes, a man highly esteemed during the course of his whole life. 76. The seven Persians, having resolved to attack the magi without delay, set out after they had offered prayers to the gods; and while they were in the midst of their way they were informed of all that had occurred with respect to Prexaspes; whereupon, standing aside out of the way, they again conferred together; and some with Otanes strongly advised to defer the enterprise, and not to attempt it while affairs were in such a ferment; but others, with Darius, urged to proceed at once, and to do what had been determined on, and on no account to defer it. While they were hotly disputing there appeared seven pairs of hawks pursuing two pairs of vultures, and plucking and tearing them. The seven, on seeing this, all approved the opinion of Darius, and forthwith proceeded to the palace, emboldened by the omen. 77. When they approached the gates, it happened as Darius had supposed: for the guards, out of respect for men of highest rank among the Persians, and not suspecting any such design on their part, let them pass by, moved as they were by divine impulse; nor did any one question them. But when they reached the hall, they fell in with the eunuchs appointed to carry in messages, who inquired of them for what purpose they had come; and at the same time that they questioned them they threatened the doorkeepers for permitting them to pass, and endeavoured to prevent the seven from proceeding any farther. But they, having exhorted each other, and drawn their daggers, stabbed all that opposed their passage on the spot, and then rushed to the men's apartment. 78. The magi happened to be both within at the time, and were consulting about the conduct of Prexaspes. When, therefore, they saw the eunuchs in confusion, and heard their outcry, they both hurried out, and when they perceived what was going on, put themselves on the defensive. One of them accordingly snatched up a bow, and the other
had recourse to a javelin, and thereupon the parties engaged with each other. The one who had taken up the bow, seeing his enemies were near and pressing upon them, found it of no use; but the other made resistance with his spear, and first wounded Aspathines in the thigh, and next Intaphernes in the eye; and Intaphernes lost his eye from the wound, but did not die. Thus one of the magi wounded those two; but the other, when he found his bow of no service, fled to a chamber adjoining the men's apartment, purposing to shut to the door, and two of the seven, Darius and Gobryas, rushed in with him; and as Gobryas was grappling with the magus, Darius standing by was in perplexity, fearing lest he should strike Gobryas in the dark; but Gobryas, seeing that he stood by inactive, asked him why he did not use his hand; he answered, “Fearing for you, lest I should strike you.” But Gobryas replied, “Drive your sword even through both of us.” Darius obeying, made a thrust with his dagger, and by good fortune hit the magus. 79. Having slain the magi, and cut off their heads, they left the wounded of their own party there, as well on account of their exhaustion as to guard the acropolis; but the other five of them, carrying the heads of the magi, ran out with shouting and clamour, and then called upon the rest of the Persians, relating what they had done, and showing them the heads; and at the same time they slew every one of the magi that came in their way. The Persians, informed of what had been done by the seven, and of the fraud of the magi, determined themselves also to do the like ; and having drawn their daggers, they slew every magus they could find; and if night coming on had not prevented, they would not have left a single magus alive. This day the Persians observe in common more than any other, and in it they celebrate a great festival, which they call “The slaughter of the magi.” On that day no magus is allowed to be seen in public, but they shut themselves up in their own houses during the whole of that day. \80. When the tumult had subsided, and five days had elapsed, those who had risen up against the magi deliberated on the state of affairs; and speeches were made that are disbelieved by some of the Greeks, however they were made. Otanes advised that they should commit the government to the Persians at large, speaking as follows: “It appears that no one of us should henceforward be a monarch, for it is neither agreeable nor good. For you know to what a pitch the insolence of Cambyses reached, and you have experienced the insolence of the magus. And indeed how can a monarchy be a wellconstituted government, where one man is allowed to do whatever he pleases without control? for if even the best of men were placed in such power, he would depart from his wonted thoughts. For insolence is engendered in him by the advantages that surround him, and envy is implanted in man from his birth, and having these two, he has every vice; for puffed up by insolence he commits many nefarious actions, and others through envy. One would think that a man who holds sovereign power should be free from envy, since he possesses every advantage; but the contrary to this takes place in his conduct towards the citizens, for he envies the best who continue to live, and delights in the worst men of the nation; he very readily listens to calumny, and is the most inconsistent of all men; for if you show him respect in moderation he is offended because he is not sufficiently honoured; and if any one honours him very much he is offended as with a flatterer. But I proceed to relate what is most important. He changes the institutions of our ancestors, violates women, and puts men to death without trial. But a popular government bears the fairest name of all, equality of rights; and secondly, is guilty of none of those excesses that a monarch is. The magistrate obtains his office by lot, and exercises it under responsibility, and refers all plans to the public. I therefore give my opinion, that we should do away with monarchy, and exalt the people, for in the many all things are found.” Otanes accordingly advanced this opinion. 81. Megabyzus advised them to intrust the government to an oligarchy, and spoke as follows: “I concur with what Otanes has said about abolishing tyranny; but in bidding us transfer the power to the people, he has erred from the best opinion; for nothing is more foolish and insolent than a useless crowd, therefore it is on no account to be endured, that men, who are endeavouring to avoid the insolence of a tyrant, should fall under the insolence of an unrestrained multitude. The former, when he does any thing, does it knowingly, but the latter have not the means of knowing, for how should they know who have neither been taught, nor are ac