Page images
PDF
EPUB

with wings on his shoulders ; and that with one of these he overshadowed Asia, and with the other Europe. Now Darius, who was then about twenty years of age, was the eldest son of Hystaspes son of Arsames, one of the Achæmenides; and he had been left in Persia, for he had not yet attained the age of military service. When therefore Cyrus awoke, he considered his dream with attention; and as it seemed to him of great moment, he summoned Hystaspes, and taking him aside, said, “Hystaspes, your son has been detected plotting against me and my empire ; and I will show you how I know it for a certainty The gods watch over me, and forewarn me of every thing that is about to befal me. Now, in the past night, as I was sleeping, I saw the eldest of your sons with wings on his shoulders, and with one of these he overshadowed Asia, and Europe with the other; from this vision, it cannot be otherwise than that your son is forming designs against me; do you therefore go back to Persia with all speed, and take care, that when I have conquered these people, and return home, you bring your son before me to be examined.” 210. Cyrus spoke thus under a persuasion that Darius was plotting against him; but the deity forewarned him that he himself would die in that very expedition, and that his kingdom would devolve on Darius. Hystaspes however answered in these words: “God forbid, o king, that a Persian should be born who would plot against you! But if any such there be, may sudden destruction overtake him, for you have made the Persians free instead of being slaves, and instead of being ruled over by others, to rule over all : but if any vision informs you that my son is forming any plot against you, I freely surrender him to you to deal with as you please.” Hystaspes, having given this answer, repassed the Araxes and went to Persia, for the purpose of keeping his son Darius in custody for Cyrus.

211. Cyrus having advanced one day's march from the Araxes, proceeded to act according to the suggestion of Cræsus. After this, when Cyrus and the effective part of the Persian army had marched back to the Araxes, leaving the ineffective part behind ; a third division of the army of the Massagetæ attacked those of Cyrus's forces that had been left behind, and after some resistance, put them to death. Then, seeing the seast laid out, as soon as they had overcome their enemies

they

lay down and feasted ; and being filled with food and wine, fell asleep. But the Persians having attacked them, put many of them to death, and took a still greater number prisoners, and among them the son of Queen Tomyris, who commanded the Massagetæ, and whose name was Spargapises. 212. She, when she heard what had befallen her army and her son, sent a herald to Cyrus with the following message: “Cyrus, insatiate with blood, be not elated with what has now happened, that by the fruit of the vine, with which ye yourselves, when filled with it, so rave, that when it descends into your bodies, evil words float on your lips, be not elated, that by such a poison you have deceived and conquered my son, instead of by prowess in battle. Now, however, take the good advice that I offer you. Restore my son ; depart out of this country unpunished for having insolently disgraced a third division of the army of the Massagetæ. But if you will not do this, I swear by the sun, the Lord of the Massagetæ, that, insatiable as you are, I will glut you with blood.” 213. Cyrus, however, paid no attention to this message ; but Spargapises, the son of Queen Tomyris, as soon as he recovered from the effects of the wine, and perceived in what a plight he was, begged of Cyrus that he might be freed from his fetters; but as soon as he was set free, and found his hands at liberty, he put himself to death. Such was the end he met with. 214. But Tomyris, finding Cyrus did not listen to her, assembled all her forces, and engaged with him. I think that this battle was the most obstinate that was ever fought between barbarians. And I am informed that it took place in the following manner : it is related, that, first of all, they stood at a distance and used their bows, and that afterwards, when they had emptied their quivers, they engaged in close fight with their swords and spears, and that thus they continued fighting for a long time, and neither were willing to give way; but at length the Massagetæ got the better, and the greater part of the Persian army was cut in pieces on the spot, and Cyrus himself killed, after he had reigned twenty-nine years. But Tomyris, having 'filled a skin with human blood, sought for the body of Cyrus among the slain of the Persians, and having found it, thrust the head into the skin, and insulting the dead body, said: “Thou hast indeed ruined me, though alive and victorious in

battle, since thou hast taken my son by stratagem; but I will now glut thee with blood, as I threatened.” Of the many accounts given of the end of Cyrus, this appears to me most worthy of credit.

215. The Massagetæ resemble the Scythians in their dress and mode of living ; they have both horse and foot ; for they have some of each ; and bow-men, and javelin-men, who are accustomed to carry battle-axes : they use gold and brass for every thing ; for in whatever concerns spears, and arrowpoints, and battle-axes, they use brass ; but for the head, and belts, and shoulder-pieces, they are ornamented with gold. In like manner with regard to the chests of horses, they put on breastplates of brass ; but the bridle-bit and cheek-pieces are ornamented with gold. They make no use of silver or iron, for neither of those metals are found in their country, but they have brass and gold in abundance. 216. Their manners are as follows : each man marries a wife, but they use the women promiscuously ; for what the Grecians say the Scythians do, is a mistake, for they do it not, but the Massagetæ; for when a Massagetan desires to have the company of a woman he hangs up his quiver in front of her chariot, and has intercourse with her without shame. No particular term of life is prescribed to them ; but when a man has attained a great age, all his kinsmen meet, and sacrifice him, together with cattle of several kinds ; and when they have boiled the flesh, they feast on it. This death they account the most happy ; but they do not eat the bodies of those who die of disease; but bury them in the earth, and think it a great misfortune that they did not reach the age to be sacrificed. They sow nothing, but live on cattle and fish, which the river Araxes yields in abundance, and they are drinkers of milk. They worship the sun only of all the gods, and sacrifice horses to him ; and this is the reason of this custom ; they. think it right to offer the swiftest of all animals to the swiftest of all the gods.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

AFTER the death of Cyrus, Cambyses sueceeded to the kingdom: he was son of Cyrus, and Cassandane the daughter of Pharnaspes; who having died some time before, Cyrus both deeply mourned for her himself, and commanded all his subjects to mourn. Cambyses then, being son of this lady and Cyrus, considered the Ionians and Æolians as his hereditary slaves ; when, therefore, he made an expedition against Egypt, he took with him others of his subjects, and also some of the Greeks over whom he bore rule.

2. The Egyptians, before the reign of Psammitichus, considered themselves to be the most ancient of mankind. But after Psammitichus, having come to the throne, endeavoured to ascertain who were the most ancient, from that time they consider the Phrygians to have been before them, and themselves before all others. Now, when Psammitichus was unable, by inquiry, to discover any solution of this question, who were the most ancient of men, he devised the following expedient. He gave two new-born children of poor parents to a shepherd, to be brought up among his flocks in the following manner : he gave strict orders that no one should utter a word in their presence, that they should lie in a solitary room by themselves, and that he should bring goats to them at certain times, and that when he had satisfied them with milk he should attend to his other employments. Psammitichus contrived and ordered this, for the purpose of hearing what word the children would first articulate, after they had given over their insignificant mewlings; and such accordingly was the result. For when the shepherd had pursued this plan for the space of two years, one day as he opened the door and went in, both the children falling upon him, and holding

out their hands, cried “Becos.” The shepherd, when he first heard it, said nothing; but when this same word was constantly repeated to him whenever he went and tended the children, he at length acquainted his master, and by his command brought the children into his presence. When Psammitichus heard the same, he inquired what people call any thing by the name of “Becos ;” and on inquiry he discovered that the Phrygians call bread by that name. Thus the Egyptians, convinced by the above experiment, allowed that the Phrygians were more ancient than themselves. 3. This relation I had from the priests of Vulcan at Memphis. But the Greeks tell many other foolish things, and moreover that Psammitichus, having had the tongues of some women cut out, then had the children brought up by these women. Such is the account they gave of the nurture of the children. I heard other things also at Memphis in conversation with the priests of Vulcan. And on this very account I went also to Thebes, and to Heliopolis, in order to ascertain whether they would agree with the accounts given at Memphis ; for the Heliopolitans are esteemed the most learned in history of all the Egyptians. The parts of the narration that I heard concerning divine things, I am not willing to relate, except only their names ; and with these I suppose all men are equally well acquainted : but what more I shall relate of these matters, I shall relate from a necessity to keep up the thread of my story.

4. But as concerns human affairs, they agree with one another in the following account: that the Egyptians were the first to discover the year, which they divided into twelve parts ; and they say that they made this discovery from the stars : and so far, I think, they act more wisely than the Grecians, in that the Grecians insert an intercalary month every third year, on account of the seasons; whereas the Egyptians, reckoning twelve months of thirty days each, add five days each year above that number, and so with them the circle of the seasons comes round to the same point. They say also, that the Egyptians were the first who introduced the names of the twelve gods, and that the Greeks borrowed those names from them; that they were the first to assign altars, images, and temples to the gods, and to carve the figures of animals on stone; and most of these things they proved were so in fact. They added, that Menes was the first mortal who reigned over

« PreviousContinue »