Page images

they had almost disposed of their cargo, a great number of women came down to the sea-shore, and among them the king's daughter, whose name, as the Greeks also say, was Io, daughter of Inachus. They add, that while these women were standing near the stern of the vessel, and were bargaining for such things as most pleased them, the Phænicians, having exhorted one another, made an attack upon them; and that most of the women escaped, but that Io, with some others, was seized : and that they, having hurried them on board, set sail for Egypt. 2. Thus the Persians say that Io went to Egypt, not agreeing herein with the Phænicians ; and that this was the beginning of wrongs. After this, that certain Grecians, (for they are unable to tell their name,) having touched at Tyre in Phænicia, carried off the king's daughter Europa. These must have been Cretans. Thus far they say that they had only retaliated ; 4 but that after this the Greeks were guilty of the second provocation ; for that having sailed down in a vessel of war5 to Æa, a city of Colchis on the river Phasis, when they had accomplished the more immediate object of their expedition, they carried off the king's daughter Medea ; and that the king of Colchis, having despatched a herald to Greece, demanded satisfaction for the rape, and the restitution of the princess ; but the Greeks replied, that as they of Asia had not given any satisfaction for the rape of Io, neither would they give any to them. 3. They say too, that in the second generation after this, Alexander the son of Priam, having heard of these events, was desirous of obtaining a wife from Greece by means of violence, being fully persuaded that he should not have to give satisfaction, for that the Greeks had not done so. When therefore he had carried off Helen, they say, that the Greeks immediately sent messengers to demand her back again, and require satisfaction for the rape ; but that they, when they brought forward these demands, objected to them the rape of Medea ; that they who had not themselves given satisfaction, nor made it when demanded, now wished others to give it to themselves.” 4. Thus far then they say that there had only been rapes from each cther ; but that after this the Greeks were greatly to blame, for that they levied war against Asia before the Asiatics did upon Europe. Now, to carry off women by violence the Persians think is the act of wicked men, but to trouble oneself about avenging them when so carried off is the act of foolish ones ; and to pay no regard to them when carried off, of wise men : for that it is clear, that if they had not been willing, they could not have been carried off. Accordingly the Persians say, that they of Asia made no account of women that were carried off ; but that the Greeks for the sake of a Lacedæmonian woman assembled a mighty fleet, and then having come to Asia overthrew the empire of Priam. That from this event they had always considered the Greeks as their enemies : for the Persians claim Asia and the barbarous nations that inhabit it, as their own, and consider Europe and the people of Greece as totally distinct.

4 Literally, “had only done like for like."

5 “ In a long vessel.” The long vessels were vessels of war; the round vessels, merchantmen and transports.

5. Such the Persian account ; and to the capture of Troy they ascribe the commencement of their enmity to the Greeks. As relates to Io, the Phoenicians do not agree with this account of the Persians : for they affirm that they did not use violence to carry her into Egypt ; but that she had connexion at Argos with the master of a vessel, and when she found herself pregnant, she, through dread of her parents, voluntarily sailed away with the Phoenicians, to avoid detection. Such then are the accounts of the Persians and Phoenicians : I, however, am not going to inquire whether the facts were so or not ; but having pointed out the person whom I myself know to have been the first guilty of injustice towards the Greeks, I will then proceed with my history, touching as well on the small as the great estates of men : for of those that were formerly powerful many have become weak, and some that were powerful in my time were formerly weak. Knowing therefore the precarious nature of human prosperity, I shall commemorate both alike.

6. Croesus was a Lydian by birth, son of Alyattes, and sovereign of the nations on this side the river Halys. This river flowing from the south 6 between the Syrians? and Paphlagonians, empties itself northwards into the Euxine Sea. This Croesus was the first of the barbarians whom we

6 The Halys had two branches, one flowing from the east, the other from the south : Herodotus speaks only of the southern one. Syria was at that time the name of Cappadocia. See I. 72.


know of that subjected some of the Greeks to the payment of tribute, and formed alliances with others. He subdued the Ionians and Æolians, and the Dorians settled in Asia, and he formed an alliance with the Lacedæmonians; but before the reign of Croesus all the Greeks were free ; for the incursion of the Cimmerians 8 into Ionia, which was before the time of Croesus, was not for the purpose of subjecting states, but an irruption for plunder. 7. The government, which formerly belonged to the Heraclidæ, passed in the following manner to the family of Croesus, who were called Mermnadæ. Candaules, whom the Greeks call Myrsilus, was tyrant of Sardis, and a descendant of Alcæus, son of Hercules. For Agron, son of Ninus, grandson of Belus, great-grandson of Alcæus, was the first of the Heraclidæ who became king of Sardis ; and Candaules, son of Myrsus, was the last. They who ruled over this country before Agron were descendants of Lydus, son of Atys, from whom this whole people, anciently called Mæonians, derived the name of Lydians. The Heraclidæ, descended from a female slave of Jardanus and Hercules, having been intrusted with the government by these princes, retained the supreme power in obedience to the declaration of an oracle : they reigned for twenty-two generations, a space of five hundred and five years, the son succeeding to the father to the time of Candaules, son of Myrsus. 8. This Candaules then was enamoured of his own wife, and being so, thought that she was by far the most beautiful of all women. Now being of this opinion,-Gyges, son of Dascylus, one of his body-guard, happened to be his especial favourite, and to him Candaules confided his most important affairs, and moreover extolled the beauty of his wife in exaggerated terms. In lapse of time (for Candaules was fated to be miserable) he addressed Gyges as follows: “Gyges, as I think you do not believe me when I speak of my wife's beauty, (for the ears of men are naturally more incredulous than their eyes,) you must contrive to see her naked.” But he, exclaiming loudly, answered, “Sire, what a shocking proposal do you make, bidding me behold my queen naked! With her clothes a woman puts off her modesty. Wise maxims have been of old laid down by men, from these it is our duty to learn : amongst them is the following,— Let every man look to the things that concern himself. I am persuaded that she is the most beautiful of her sex, but I entreat of you not to require what is wicked." 9. Saying thus, Gyges fought off the proposal, dreading lest some harm should befal himself : but the king answered, "Gyges, take courage, and be not afraid of me, as if I desired to make trial of you, by speaking thus, nor of my wife, lest any harm should befal you from her. For from the outset I will so contrive that she shall not know she has been seen by you. I will place you behind the open door of the apartment in which we sleep; as soon as I enter my wife will come to bed; there stands by the entrance a chair, on this she will lay her garments one by one as she takes them off, and then she will give you an opportunity to look at her at your leisure ; but when she steps from the chair to the bed, and you are at her back, be careful that she does not see you as you are going out by the door.” 10. Gyges therefore, finding he could not escape, prepared to obey. And Candaules, when it seemed to be time to go to bed, led him to the chamber, and the lady soon afterwards appeared, and Gyges saw her enter and lay her clothes on the chair: when he was at her back, as the lady was going to the bed, he crept secretly out, but she saw him as he was going away. Perceiving what her husband had done, she neither cried out through modesty, nor appeared to notice it, purposing to take vengeance on Candaules ; for among the Lydians and almost all the barbarians, it is deemed a great disgrace even for a man to be seen naked. 11. At the time therefore, having shown no consciousness of what had occurred, she held her peace, and as soon as it was day, having prepared such of her domestics as she knew were most to be trusted, she sent for Gyges. He, supposing that she knew nothing of what had happened, came when he was sent for, for he had been before used to attend whenever the queen sent for him. When Gyges came, the lady thus addressed him: “Gygès, I submit two proposals to your choice, either kill Candaules and take possession of me and of the Lydian kingdom, or expect immediate death, so that you may not, from your obedience to Candaules in all things, again see what you ought not. It is necessary however that he who planned this, or that you who have seen me naked, and have done what is not decorous, should die. Gyges for a time was amazed at what he heard ; but, afterwards, he implored her not to compel him to make such a choice. He however could not persuade, but saw a necessity imposed on him, either to kill his master Candaules or die himself by the hands of others ; he chose therefore to survive, and made the following inquiry : “ Since you compel me to kill my master against my wih, tell me how we shall lay hands on him.” She answered, “ The assault shall be made from the very spot whence he showed me naked; the attack shall be made on him while asleep.” 12. When they had concerted their plan, on the approach of night he followed the lady to the chamber : then (for Gyges was not suffered to depart, nor was there any possibility of escape, but either he or Candaules must needs perish) she, having given him a dagger, concealed him behind the same door: and after this, when Candaules was asleep, Gyges having crept stealthily up and slain him, possessed himself both of the woman and the kingdom. Of this event, also, Archilochus 9 the Parian, who lived about the same time, has made mention in a trimeter Iambic poem. 13. Thus Gyges obtained the kingdom, and was confirmed in it by the oracle at Delphi. For when the Lydians resented the murder of Candaules, and were up in arms, the partisans of Gyges and the other Lydians came to the following agreement, that if the oracle should pronounce him king of the Lydians, he should reign ; if not, he should restore the power to the Heraclidæ. The oracle, however, answered accordingly, and so Gyges became king. But the Pythian added this, " that the Heraclidæ should be avenged on the fifth descendant of Gyges."1 of this prediction neither the Lydians nor their kings took any notice until it was actually accomplished.

8 The incursion here spoken of occurred in the reign of the Lydian Ardys. See I. 15., and IV. 12.

14. Thus the Mermnadæ, having deprived the Heraclidæ, possessed themselves of the supreme power. Gyges having obtained the kingdom, sent many offerings to Delphi ; for most of the silver offerings at Delphi are his : and besides the silver, he gave a vast quantity of gold; and among the rest, what is especially worthy of mention, the bowls of gold, six in number, were dedicated by him: these now stand in the

9 Archilochus was one of the earliest writers of Iambics. All that remains of his is to be met with in Brunck's Analecta.

I See I. 91.

« PreviousContinue »